Friday, September 30, 2005

Symbolic of all that's wrong

As an old farm boy (though many years removed), the Oklahomilist knows BS when he smells it and certainly when he sees it. This report from the Las Vegas Review Journal (online) has it all.

Soaring gasoline prices? That's small potatoes compared to the elite steaks in Las Vegas.

Along Las Vegas Boulevard and off the Strip, the $20-something steak has gone the way of the $1.99 buffet.

A survey of top eateries reveals the most expensive steaks this side of New York City, if not even higher than there.

Granted, many of the jaw-dropping prices are the result of more Kobe beef being served. Take Shintaro, the Japanese eatery at Bellagio, where the 10-ounce Washugyu Kobe tenderloin is going for $190. Shintaro's 12-ounce sirloin commands $170.

Over at Bradley Ogden, the high-end restaurant at Caesars Palace, the 8-ounce Kobe steak goes for $175.

Also cracking the $100 barrier: Craftsteak at the MGM Grand, with a 10-ounce Kobe filet mignon price at $100. On the cusp: a 14-ounce Kobe ribeye for $98.

That got your attention? Wealthy high rollers are plunking down mucho dinero for prime beef. As Sam would say, it's what's for dinner.

Yes, it's outrageous, agrees Russell Anzevino, assistant maitre d' at Michael's, "but it's got to do with the availability of prime beef. In the days of the $20 steak, prime beef was plentiful. Now one percent of beef is deemed prime now."

Prime beef, he said, "is deemed just like a vintage wine. It goes through an auction. It's very rare, almost like diamonds."

Funny how down at the local Reasors supermarket good beef cuts can be purchased, this very day, for $4.25 a pound.

A fool and his money are soon parted and those Vegas guys can spot suckers coming and going. As P.T. used to say, "There's one born every minute."

The Moon & New Orleans: Let's reconsider

A few voices are starting to be heard challenging the prevailing wisdom that the U.S. government:

a) Should spend billions sending more humans to the moon, and

b) Should completely rebuild New Orleans.

We add our small voice to that growing chorale, and we present our reasoning thusly:

In this First Post, consider the moon. NASA has unveiled a program to get back to the Moon in what it hails as "ambitious" style. Dig into the details just a little and its obvious that there is nothing new or innovative. It's Apollo with an extra passenger, upgraded computers and no clear sense of how it furthers any pragmatic space goals other than assuring the world that there is a U.S. space program.

The target date is not ambitious: 2018. That's 13 years from now. At the beginning of the space program we were able to do the "spam in a can" approach in nine years from close to a standing start. Thirteen years despite all that we have learned? Explains NASA chief Michael Griffin:
"Think of it as Apollo on steroids," Griffin said as he unveiled the agency's lunar exploration plan during a much-anticipated press conference at its Washington, D.C.-based headquarters. "Unless the U.S. wants to get out of manned spaceflight completely, this is the vehicle we need to be building."
This is not "Apollo on steroids" as NASA has boasted. This is Apollo on qualudes. Maybe Griffin, no fan of the space shuttle program (or any program, it seems, that involves human beings in control of mighty machinery), has answered the question for us. Perhaps we should rethink whether the government has any business in manned spaceflight.

Today's NASA is not your father's NASA. Gone are the days in which gung ho test pilots from the military thumbed their noses at fussy civilian administrators and got the job done. NASA has been subjected by the weight and inertia of its own bureaucratic growth, and by both its successes and failures. At NASA's snail pace -- brought about by multi-layered bureaucracy and a culture of indecisiveness borne of fear of accountability -- will never get us there. Add NASA's inability to get past the politics of its funding, and you have a ready-made disaster in the wings. It will take but one more fatal accident to sap what is left of the old can-do spirit.

But why should the taxpayers continue to provide billions of dollars to a risk-averse, foot dragging monolith? Private companies are starting to compete with innovative ideas to get space vehicles into and out of orbit faster and cheaper without compromising safety. If space is to ever become a real frontier for exploration, it will not happen with the government acting as gate-keeper.

With every new detail learned from Mars it appears that there are increasingly good reasons for sending human beings there. They must be men and women of stout hearts and quick minds, schooled in science, technology and cross-trained in survival skills. Not dare-devils per se, but individuals who relish taking risks and overcoming obstacles. People who can think on their feet. People of faith and hope.

You still find those people in the military, and in the private sector, but you will find few of them at NASA. Perhaps the Congress should offer incentive grants to private companies to develop space vehicles and new technologies that will take us farther, faster, safer and less costly, much like in the 19th Century when settlers were encouraged to go west for 40 acres and a mule. The feds didn't tell the settlers to wait until the Great Plains and mountains were safe from bears, bad weather and indigenous native warriors. The pioneers did not have to wait while Uncle Sam developed a perfect vehicle to get settlers across the Oregon Trail.

If the people had been forced to wait on Uncle Sam like we wait upon NASA today, nothing west of St. Louis would be occupied today, except for California. Maybe.

Bottom line: let's pull the plug on NASA and establish incentive grants to private companies. By 2018 we'd not only be back on the moon, we'd have factories mining minerals, and power companies beaming down to Earth microwaved solar energy from huge mirrored collectors built, not on Earth, but of lunar materials. By 2018 there would already be regular space traffic between the Earth, Moon and Mars using accelerants extracted from the moon itself.

Next Post: Let's Rethink New Orleans

Thursday, September 29, 2005

'I now pronounce you menage-a-trois'

Victor (the middle one) smooched by his brides.
First civil unions.

Then gay marriage.

And all the time responsible people -- like Pope John Paul II and others of similar moral view -- warned that each action was a reduction in the sanctity of marriage, and would eventually lead to marriage itself becoming a complete farce.

The above photo is from The Brussels Journal (that's Belgium, by the way) which bills itself as the "essential European blog."
The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from marriage only in name.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

“I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both,” Victor said. He had previously been married to Bianca. Two and a half years ago they met Mirjam Geven through an internet chatbox. Eight weeks later Mirjam deserted her husband and came to live with Victor and Bianca. After Mirjam’s divorce the threesome decided to marry.

Victor: “A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is. We went to the notary in our marriage costume and exchanged rings. We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage.”

Asked by journalists to tell the secret of their peculiar relationship, Victor explained that there is no jealousy between them. “But this is because Mirjam and Bianca are bisexual. I think that with two heterosexual women it would be more difficult.” Victor stressed, however, that he is “a one hundred per cent heterosexual” and that a fourth person will not be allowed into the “marriage.” They want to take their marriage obligations seriously: “to be honest and open with each other and not philander.”

No chance of that happening, Victor. Not with three people of such good track records of rock solid relationships. Not.

(Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin)

Can Ronnie Earle spell mistrial?

Want proof that the indictment Wednesday of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is a Democratic gotcha game with the script pre-written in advance?

You may be able to see it soon at your local movie theatre.

Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle has allowed a documentary film crew "extraordinary access" (in their words) behind the scenes as he has has gone through six grand juries, five of which refused to find an indictable offense. The filmmakers epic, "The Big Buy," was shown as a work-in-progress at the Dallas Film Festival, according to National Review correspondent Byron York.

The brains behind the film already had a story line when they started:
"Raymond Chandler meets Willie Nelson on the corner of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in The Big Buy, a Texas noir political detective story that chronicles what some are calling a 'bloodless coup with corporate cash,'" reads a description of the picture on Birnbaum's website, The film, according to the description, "follows maverick Austin DA Ronnie Earle's investigation into what really happened when corporate money joined forces with relentless political ambitions to help swing the pivotal 2002 Texas elections, cementing Republican control from Austin to Washington DC."
Certainly nice that the story worked out to fit the documentary outline. Or did it? The indictment handed down -- one count of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws -- is so vague as to be ludicrous. Unless there is substantial meat somewhere in all the sauce, two filmmakers may discover that they have a piece of fiction on their hands.

The filmmakers are currently shooting a new ending. Our advice: wait a little longer. A judge may decide that a prosecutor-gone-Hollywood, who's been tipping off top officials in the national Democratic Party on the details of his progress, is a prosecutor who deserves a good public humiliation.

A third ending might be required.

Ever upward, especially in years

Racing over what used to be pristine snow, on a four-wheeler powered by an internal combustion engine emitting ozone-destroying, air polluting toxics, in what has become an annual mountaintop ritual of summer, may we present to one and all:

The Oklahomilist's Brother

Who on this feast day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael was born 43 years ago.

Happy Birthday, Bro!

And may the True Force of the Universe be with you always, even unto the end of the age!

Beyond Stuck on Stupid

This post is a couple of weeks late because we need to catch up on our perusal of and peregrination about the Blogosphere.

The Irish Elk reprints correspondence from a New Yorker who sends his children to a school in vicinity of what used to be the World Trade Center, along with the children of other people who you would think by now would know better, but:
About a year ago, I mentioned on your site that my youngest daughter's school briefly put up the American flag on a school flagpole that had been vacant since the 1960s. After a month of faculty and student protests (oppressive symbol, racist, sexist country, etc.), the trustees voted to take the flag back down. The Calhoun School said, however, that they would fly the US flag on three federal holidays (when the school would be closed), and on September 11th. I walked by this morning to see how they are fulfilling that lame promise.

Answer: the sly boots, they have removed the flagpole. Like good liberals, they are making sure no one is offended. Very much including Osama. This at a Manhattan school where, by Thursday evening, September 13, 2001, you could not breathe because of the smoke and stench of death from the Trade Centre ruins.
Words fail to explain what we really think. You can't even be stuck on stupid if you are brain dead, never mind the lack of a heart.

It's Chief Justice Roberts now

What was the point of all that huffing and puffing by the left before, during and after the confirmation hearings of John Roberts?

After all, wasn't this the man who was going to deprive women of the right to kill their unborn babies?

Wasn't this the dude who would "turn back the clock" so far that public lynchings of minorities would take place in the village square?

Wouldn't John Roberts, so cleverly disguised as a mild-mannered, intelligent, family man with a good sense of humor and an iron-clad grasp of constitutional law, be unleashed to steal little kids' lunch money and turn grandma out into the blizzard without a coat?

John Roberts. According to the likes of Ted Kennedy, Chucky Schumer, Harry Reid, Barbara Streisand and Michael Moore, the most dangerous man of the year.

And, after all their dire warnings, they could muster only 22 moonbat votes in the Senate?

Maybe this country's not as far gone as we had thought.

Literally the Mark of the Beast

Amish farmers in Wisconsin are throwing a theological wrench into plans to put identification tags into the ears of their cattle, declaring that it's the first step toward RFID (radio frequency identification) for human beings. They are being backed in their opposition by the state Ranchers-Cattlemen Assocation. According to its state chairman, David Matthes:
"(The Amish say) it is the beginning of the mark of the beast, and our Bible has told us of the mark of the beast," said Matthes, who met with Amish from across the state at a Cashton farm Sept. 12 at their request. They asked for help in giving voice to their objections, he said.
Some Amish farmers reached Friday say they're OK with premises registration but any computer-based tagging will cost people their salvation, and they referred to Revelations chapters 13 and 14:
Rev. 13: 17-18: It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast's name or the number that stood for its name
Rev. 14: 9-11: A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, "Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God's fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name."
Arguments could be made, we suppose, that RFID is the coming "mark of the beast." While it's not the first newfangled proposal to draw that comparison (Social Security numbers were the feared "mark of the beast" 70 years ago), it's the first candidate that has worldwide potential to regulate buying and selling.

An outfit calling itself the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium says a new registration law that goes into effect Nov. 1 is needed in order to quickly respond to disease outbreaks to prevent economic disaster. The new law exempts no one:
Anyone with livestock - regardless if they're raising fish, or dairy farmers, or a hobby farmer with one chicken - are required to register.
Somehow we doubt that an RFID system will help prevent disease outbreaks and economic disasters any better than the current system of metal ear tags. It's just another case of "we have the technology and the willpower, so let's do it." Nevermind the consequences down the road when the government decides that everybody ought to have an RFID implant.

Go Amish!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Guilty Loner in NYC

In keeping with today's theme (or so it would seem) we notice a story out of New York City about a woman who is facing a thousand dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail for sitting on a park bench. Why? Because she did not bring a child to the park. (No, her name was not Aqualung.)
The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child.

Forty-seven-year-old Sandra Catena says she didn't see the sign when she sat down to wait for an arts festival to start. Two New York City police officers asked her if she was with a child. When she said no, they gave her a ticket that could bring a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.

The city parks department says the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but a parks spokesman told the Daily News that the department hoped police would use some common sense when enforcing the rule.

The spokesman told the paper that ticketing a woman in the park in the middle of the day is not the way you want to enforce the rule.
Translation: enforcement of the rule should be waived if the parks department is going to be embarrassed. "Common sense," a commodity in short supply these days, would dictate that if the existing rule doesn't work, fix it or get rid of it.

How about a rule that says no children should be brought to the playground unattended by parent, teacher, babysitter or nanny? Why is it the role of the police to do a job that a child's parents should be doing? Why should innocent citizens looking for a little fresh air be considered guilty until proven innocent? What's to keep a pedophile from bringing his or her own little child to the park? Nothing.

This is another case of personal freedoms melting away because a small minority of people pose an actual threat.

Child safety is important.

So are civil rights. And the Oklahomilist's sanity.

No way to run an airline

No, we are not talking about the profitability (or lack thereof) of most of today's airlines -- although there is plenty to talk about there. We refer to the continuing debacle known as airport security.

In the interest of full disclosure, we don't fly much and don't even see anyone off at the airport like we used to (one tradition that has pretty much died since 9/11). Thus we don't get selected, inspected, detected and rejected like other innocent folks, and so it would be easy not to care about the story on Sunday in the online Wired of Sister Glenn Anne McPhee. (Not my problem, sister!)

Except that we do care. A lot. For starters we are Catholic and there is a sneaking suspicion that some TSA people have a sadistic sense of humor, giving a nun the third degree instead of some Islamic terrorist bastard. Mostly we are mad as hell because we are patriotic, God-fearing, Constitution memorizing Americans who remember that this used to be a pretty damn good country.
As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretary for education, Sister McPhee oversees Catholic education in the United States, from nursery school through post-graduate. Her job includes working with the Department of Education, speaking frequently at conferences and scrutinizing religious textbooks to clear them with the teachings of the church.

For nine months in 2003 and 2004, Sister McPhee also took on the task of clearing her name from the government's no-fly list, an endeavor that proved fruitless until she called on a higher power, the White House.

"I got to the point I could hardly go to the airport, because I couldn't anticipate what would happen and I couldn't do anything," she said in an interview with Wired News. "I missed key addresses I was to give. I finally got to the point where I always checked my bag, because after I got through the police clearance, then they would put me through special security where they wand you from head to foot all over. They would dump out everything in your bag, then roll it into a ball and hand it back to you."

... thanks to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, her ordeal offers one of the most illuminating illustrations of the failures of the airport screening system that has come to light since 9/11. ...

EPIC obtained the call logs of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency in charge of maintaining and enforcing the no-fly list, and found a pattern of complaints from citizens who charged they were mistakenly scooped up time and time again by the anti-terrorist program. In addition, innocent people whose names wound up matching the suspect list, like McPhee, found they had no way to fix the situation, short of pulling strings.

One caller expressed his humiliation at being pulled off a flight. A woman named Elizabeth Green wanted to know how her name ended up on the watch list. A self-described "well-dressed, 100-pound, 69-year-old, gray-haired grandmother" wanted to know why she was always selected for extra screening. Several expressed frustration at the call center's unwillingness to help them get off a government watch list.

You have to read the whole thing to get the real sense of how difficult traveling became for Sister McPhee. She discovered through friends in high places that she was being stopped because an Afghani man was using the alias McPhee in his "nefarious" travels about the world. We don't know whether he was or is a terrorist, just that he used a westernized name.

She admits that once while undergoing screening, she made a "smart remark" to an officer.

"I said something to the effect that 'If this were Northern Ireland, I would understand,'" McPhee said. "And the police officer said, 'Ma'am, I'll pretend I didn't hear that, or otherwise I would have to arrest you.' After that, I didn't say anything."

McPhee's repeated detainments and growing frustration came to the attention of superiors at the US Catholic Conference:

Finally, in May 2004, word of Sister McPhee's crusade made its way up to the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Rev. Monsignor William P. Fay.

"(Fay) said, 'How are you doing your job?' and I said, 'Barely,'" McPhee said.

Fay then personally wrote to Karl Rove, the top political adviser to President Bush, who contacted then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, who passed the task to a top Homeland Security lawyer.

It still required over a year before the TSA officially granted her clearance. Unbelievable.

Four years after 9/11 the nation's airports are neither safe nor secure. We have implemented a system that combines the worst of all possible worlds.

We have a system that relies on the cold, thoughtless logic of computers and the inevitable cold, heartless apathy of human beings who are more concerned with increasing profit to the bottom line. It's a system that hired thousands of pretend police as the gatekeepers of America's airports. In their zeal to act tough and official, they have neglectedthe first rule of crime-fighting: first, you must think.

Out of political correctness we forbid profiling, the directing of attention toward those most likely to want to do us harm. (Why is Norm Minetta still at the helm of the Dept of Transportation?) Instead, we hold little old grandmothers and lollipop wielding tots at gunpoint, but expedite boarding procedures for surly and unruly foreign nationals from the Middle East. We have "contracted" out security to companies that are not accountable to the public.

Some would say in defense, "But we haven't had any airliners hijacked and flown into buildings in four years!"

We would answer, "Thank God for that. It is a testament to divine oversight and the probability that al Quaida has had survival issues of its own to worry about since President Bush took the fight to their home turf."

Airline security, as it is now constituted, is an oxymoron. Americans deserve, and should demand, better.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Time to fold the 'road map to peace'

Was going to get into the specifics of what's happening now that Israel has pulled its settlements out of Gaza (plus a good number off the West Bank). But we'll give you the short form.

1) Israel pulled out, another step on the so-called "Road Map to Peace" brokered by the Clinton administration and inexplicably embraced by the Bush administration.

2) Hamas, which refuses to recognize the current authority of Palestinian Authority leadership, on Sunday randomly fired 35 plus explosive rockets into Israel, killing two people.

3) Israel responded with a rocket burst of its own, targeting suspected rocket factories in Gaza.

4) Hamas immediately calls for a cease fire.

5) The world media chastises Israel for endangering the Road Map.

Jay Tea at Wizbang does a better job of explaining what's going on, but makes the salient point that while Israel has taken several difficult steps of the peace process, the Palestinians have yet to accomplish their first promise: to stop the violence.
The whole Palestinian attitude towards the peace process reminds me of a couple of historical precedents. Ronald Reagan once described the Soviets' attitude towards arms negotiations as "what's mine is mine. What's yours is negotiable."

The Palestinians have one defining national characteristic: they are losers. Whenever given the chance, they will cheerfully and passionately choose the losing side in any conflict. When the Arabs told them to get out of Israel while they drove the Jews into the sea back in the 40's, they voted with their feet -- and they're still waiting. They've backed every single Arab war with Israel, and watched as the Arabs lost every single one. When Saddam invaded Kuwait back in 1990, they cheered him on. When Al Qaeda struck us on 9/11, they danced in the streets.

One common definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." The Palestinians have consistently backed anyone who attacks Israel and the US, and each time they end up losing even more ground. Hell, they say that Israel was the worst thing that ever happened to them, but Jordan killed more Palestinians in "Black September" than Israel ever did.

Isn't it time Americans woke up to the facts of the Middle East and demanded that our government quit pressuring Israel to surrender on the installment plan? It's time to fold up and put away that worthless road map.

Michael Brown: Revisionist historian

Former FEMA chief Michael Brown is telling Congress that the troubles that led to his "resignation" stemmed from the failure of local and state government in New Orleans and Louisiana. There's a fair amount of truth in that. If the local and state government had been effective, not both corrupt and pathetic, Brown would've come across as Mr. Fix-It, even though it is clear from his own words in the public record that he was clueless during the early days of the Katrina Event.

Michelle Malkin takes a good hard look at Mr. Brown, again, and tells certain people (who are demanding that she apologize to Brown) to check out the facts and shut up.

She says: "Read his own words." And if you click the LINK to her place, you shall indeed!

Second that emotion, Brother Michael!

Anyone who believes that local and state governments are reluctant to take advantage of the Supreme Court's Kelo decision -- the case that says government can take your property away from you and give it to someone else as long as they promise to pay more taxes -- is a fool, and apparently Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry is among the foolish.

Or is it just an act as he tries to be all things to all people?

But don't take our word for it because we hadn't been paying attention until we read today's offering from Michael Bates over at BatesLine in which he dissects the governor's comments printed in the metro's daily disappointment (aka the Tulsa World).
The operative paragraph:
Henry does not think there is any danger of state or local government relying on the decision to take property for private development.
Michael's response:
Our Governor needs to open his eyes. Oklahoma cities have been using eminent domain for private development for a long time. This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly features a current example. The University of Tulsa wants a grand entrance on 11th Street. With the Tulsa Development Authority poised to condemn the property, the owner of the building that houses Starship Records and Tapes has sold it to the University of Tulsa. Holding on to the land was not an option. If the owner refused to sell, the city would have condemned the property and sold it to TU at cost. Condemnation, or the threat of condemnation, has been used to clear homes and businesses to make way for TU's Reynolds Center and the athletic complex between Columbia and Delaware Avenues.
We believe Henry knows good and well what is going on, and it serves his purposes. He'll straddle the fence as long as he can because that serves his purpose -- re-election -- as well. We share the BatesLines outrage, when he says:
Starship Records isn't blighted. Neither is Wendy's or Metro Diner. Nor were the homes east of Skelly Stadium. There's no public purpose at work here -- just a private institution that wants to use its political clout to expand at the expense of those who lack that clout.
Amen, brother Michael. If the governor and the legislature aren't going to act to protect the basic right to property -- a right we all thought was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution -- then we have no recourse but to go the initiative petition route.

And quickly.

House-keeping postscript

True, yesterday we were ready to lead the assault on Blogger HQ after several posts disappeared into that other dimension we call "the ether." (We whisper the name for we imagine that there are Ethernauts who can tune into our thought waves, thus ensuring that they can purloin our best stuff at the very moment of posting. These Ethernauts are wicked and evil, but they crave news from our universe. Go figure!)

After a few emails and a long night of designing work, we have launched It is a site designed to highlight spiritual, moral and religious issues and events within Oklahoma and will have certain standing features and pages. Oklahomily The Blog, however, was created to provide us a forum on just about anything happening anywhere.

We could move the blog to the web site, but that's not our first choice since:

a) It requires work, of which we are loathe, and

b) Blogger seems to be back on good behavior today.

So here we remain.

Of hysteria and hurricanes ...

Interesting news spin. After four weeks of hearing about how terrible conditions were in New Orleans, how dramatic the federal government's failure to respond quickly, how people rioted, ate the dead, died in massive numbers while uncaring presidents slept, etc., etc., etc., we are now witnessing the most rapid, comprehensive DEBUNKING in history.

The LA Times, not always a leader in the truth department, certainly is trying to set the "first draft of history" straight, when it reports:
BATON ROUGE, La. — Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.
"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people.
Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.
To date the death toll in Louisiana stands at 841.
Of the 841 recorded hurricane-related deaths in Louisiana, four are identified as gunshot victims, Johannessen said. One victim was found in the Superdome but was believed to have been brought there, and one was found at the Convention Center, he added.
Could the reporters and public officials who went before the cameras to shed copious tears and inflate the fears of a nation please do us all the favor of resigning in shame?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Issues all over the place

There's a lot that needs to be said today.

But it's going to have to be said by someone else.

Blogger has had "issues" all the live-long day, and after a couple of posts lost in the ether the Oklahomilist decided there was fish to fry elsewhere.

There are big changes in the works for Oklahomily, and whether our address continues at Blogspot is an open question. On the plus side, moving to our own domain would give us greater control and a lot less competition for resources.

On the other hand, you can't beat the Blogger price tag. With the exception of a few days like today we have had little to complain about.

But vaporizing posts has an extremely negative impact on our patience.

Stay tuned.

E Pluribus Unum & a Message of Hope

The first-ever Eucharistic Congress of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Tulsa on Sunday was inspiring and, at least on a personal level, badly needed. So little else is upbeat these days that it becomes easy to fall into a "world is going to hell" mentality.

The truth, of course, is that the world may well be going to hell, but as individuals we do not have to slide along with it. We can choose the Way of Truth and Life for ourselves and, more importantly, we can share the good news -- or gospel -- with others so that we might all become one in Christ. However diverse and different we are as individuals, we come together in the Body of Christ as one. Spiritually, we are more closely related than we appear to be on first examination by our mere human faculties.

Or as the founding fathers of this nation perhaps unwittingly expressed it: E pluribus unum. Out of many, One.

As Father Bruce Nieli, the keynote speaker, expressed it: "No other country on earth has a motto so explicitly linked with the future of the Church."

Needless to say there is a lot of work to be done. But it is not a hopeless cause.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Light posting Sunday

It's Sunday, and we're always predisposed to do church and family things today.

Plus we'll be attending the Eucharistic Congress in downtown Tulsa most of the day.

Keep an eye on the world for us, wontcha?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Not so Lovely Rita

Pleased were we to hear that Hurricane Rita has yet to officially kill anyone directly, although no doubt the 24 senior citizens who died in the bus on I-45 qualify as indirect deaths.

Yet the damage was not inconsequential. Rita's rain and storm surge cracked the levees in New Orleans again, raising new, tough questions about the advisability of whether the city should be rebuilt quickly "as it was" or if it should be re-engineered. (More on this later.)

Meanwhile, and no disrespect to all those who are getting more rain than they need, but we have seen Zilch. Nada. Nothing. It's muggy and overcast, we need a good frog-choking downpour, and the weather people are now telling us it isn't gonna happen.

This is an Official Frump.

Cindy Sheehan she is not

As reported by the AP from Gaza:

Hamas identified two of the dead as Nafez Abu Hussein and Rwad Farhad, local field commanders. Several hundred gunmen, some firing into the air, joined a funeral procession for Farhad, who was 17.

Farhad's mother, known as Um Nidal, said all three of her sons have been killed in fighting with the Israelis. "I am so proud," she said. "I wish I had more sons to offer."
One profanes her son's death; the other honors her sons' deaths for a profane cause.

Still it's a definite argument in favor of the old theory that the extremes of any behavior are more alike than unalike. If both women have their way, radical Islam will triumph and the ideal of true human liberty will be erased in the Middle East.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Red sky at morning ...

... sailors take warning.

Motorists too should be careful if you are driving the interstates and highways of central Texas and even into Oklahoma. The horrific news as the dawn broke was the Greyhound bus fire south of Texas on I-45 in which at least 24 elderly patients, evacuees from the Gulf, died. Apparent cause of the fire was mechanical (brakes, apparently) at first, but the explosions were caused by oxygen tanks used by the passengers.

There are other dangers for those fleeing Rita's wrath: unfamiliarity with the roads, speeds at up to a crawl and the subsequent lack of fuel supplies to keep an exodus of over 1.5 million people moving. Can imagine that tempers may be getting just a bit short among some motorists after spending 12 to 24 hours on the same highways. Buddy, we'll pray for you to have patience!

Here in Okieland the radio stations are telling us to get ready for the onslaught of refugees -- and hell, yes, that's the right term for it! -- who are finding no more room at the inn in Texas. We don't mind them coming at all. Heaven knows enough Oklahomans make the trip to Texas often enough, although only a handful are ever running away from anything.

We've got a couple of hundred Katrina people around the Tulsa area we're helping assist. One woman has been adopted by our parish, has been given a car, lodgings have been found, and she's making application for a job and a new life 750 ft. above sea level. A former school bus driver in New Orleans, those famous photos of acres of buses underneath water may have helped convince her it was time to stay high and dry. We're glad to have her as a new neighbor.

Tulsa forecast today is a bit of a bummer. Hot and humid, again. But rain to the north of us will not likely get here, and Rita rains may not get here either thanks to a change of track. The good news is that we'll avoid a flood event. The bad news is that we need a good rain, again.

Back in New Orleans authorities are
discovering how much rainfall the levees can really take and how much flooding upstream might affect the city of ghosts. Did we say ghosts? Seems like some military units are getting familiar with long-time Big Easy residents. (This is one video clip you gotta view.)

Farther north from the City of Big Shoulders (aka the Windy City, aka Chicago) comes a report of a new, improved superbug that has killed several children after suffering symptoms of a toxic shock like illness. Written in a rather sensational manner, the article notes that the children apparently contracted the germ by breathing it in. In the cases reported in Thursday's medical journal, the baby and two toddlers who died were otherwise healthy before they were separately admitted to a Chicago hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms between 2000 and 2004. Doctors believe the children probably inhaled the germ. ...

The cases show that this already worrisome staph germ has become even more dangerous by acquiring the ability to cause this shock-like condition.

"There's a new kid on the block," said Dr. John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, referring to the added strength of the superbug known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The children died within a week of being hospitalized and autopsies showed they suffered from shock and bleeding in the adrenal gland. The infections were caused by MRSA, which is usually not associated with the syndrome.

Until recently, drug-resistant staph infections were limited to hospitals and other health care settings where they can spread to patients with open wounds and cause serious complications.

Now everyone repeat after us: "We are not living in apocalyptic times, we are not living in apocalyptic times ..."

In recent farcical news, seven horses rears, er, Democratic governors are calling upon President Bush to investigate what they believe is egregious retail gasoline price gouging in the wake of Katrina. We happened to catch one of the equine posteriors, er, governors, talking with Fox Business News chief Neil Cavuto yesterday. Cavuto tried to explain the workings of the free market system, such as it is with the multiple layers of federal regulations piled on top of the energy industry. But to no avail as this governor (who should probably remain nameless but Nooooo!!!! It's BILL RICHARDSON, D-New Mexico) just shook his head and said, "I don't agree with you, Neil," and then explained that some academic egghead had figured it all out with charts and graphs and everything! A real scientist type of guy who knows the inner truth about the nefarious workings of the capitalist pigs who bleed the proletariat dry as they work with the Bushies and Halliburton to further the advance of the New World Order and the Anti-Christ.

Well, maybe he didn't go into that much detail, but it was pretty pathetic, and luckily the shoe we threw at the TV screen missed and only hit Mrs. Oklahomilist's planter, and that can be easily replaced -- maybe even before she notices the damage.

There's a lot more going on but we're gonna put the pool cover on this morning, and mow the back yard One. More. Time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hillary says no on Roberts

Ah, so the world is not completely topsy-turvy. Hillary is talking like a liberal again.
"The Constitution commands that the Senate provide meaningful advice and consent to the President on judicial nominations, and I have an obligation to my constituents to make sure that I cast my vote for Chief Justice of the United States for someone I am convinced will be steadfast in protecting fundamental women's rights, civil rights, privacy rights, and who will respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches. After the Judiciary Hearings, I believe the record on these matters has been left unclear. That uncertainly means as a matter of conscience, I cannot vote to confirm ...
My desire to maintain the already fragile Supreme Court majority for civil rights, voting rights and women's rights outweigh the respect I have for Judge Roberts's intellect, character, and legal skills."
Hillary puts her political constituency ahead of her respect for John Roberts' intellect, character and legal skills. These are her words, not ours.

Good. The last thing this country needs is a bunch of liberals pretending to be conservative on votes that are already decided. Let Hillary show her true colors. The rest of the country (meaning the handful that actually pay attention) saw enough of John Roberts during the confirmation hearings to know that he doesn't have horns, a pitchfork and a bifurcated tail.

These people vote too.

Nice isn't good enough for ICE

Julie Myers is probably a nice young woman. She's an attorney who is the niece of soon to be retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Richard Myers. Or in other words, she's plugged in to the power structure of the Bush administration.

The president has nominated her to head up the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.

It's a bad pick. She isn't qualified. (In fact she is probably better qualified to head ICE than Michael Brown was to head FEMA, but that isn't saying much, is it?)

President Bush has a huge credibility problem with his base -- and with a lot of patriotic Democrats -- on the subject of protecting the nation's borders. It's a problem that requires a solution because this is an issue that could cause Republicans (and thus conservatives) real electoral heartburn in 2006 and 2008.

But that's just the politics. The true damage that is being done is by the overwhelming numbers of undocumented, illegal non-citizens who come trooping over the border each and every day. How many of these are persons of bad intent? Only a fool would say "none." A sane man would conclude that at least a handful of potential terrorists enter the country every month. As we discovered to our horror on 9/11, it only takes a handful to ruin a good day.

The president owes it not to his base but to the entire country to make a strong selection for this vital office. Someone with fire should head ICE.

Want to read more about it? Check out National Review's online editorial here, and Michelle Malkin's original broadside. BTW, Michelle would probably never accept the job, but she would be a perfect fit for it.

News cycle in overdrive

Does it seem like the news cycle has been in overdrive recently?

Woke up today with Rita still at Cat 5 and still on course to hit Texas and drift on up our way. Houston-area residents, being a few IQ points north of their Louisiana cousins, have opted for "run away!" and thus are clogging all routes leading north for a hundred miles or so. Nothing wrong with that as long as you keep moving.

Officials in Oklahoma City are admitting that their $10 million "guarantee" to the "New Orleans" Hornets to play at OKC's Ford Center includes the potential for spending tax money from the State of Oklahoma. Whose idea was that, and where's the legal authority? Plus a state lawmaker wants to pay the team's relocation expenses. More on this later ...

A couple of Chucky Schumer's boys on the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee may have perpetrated a felony or two when they used the social security number of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in order to get their hands on his credit report. This is a federal offense, by the way. Steele is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, so all's fair, right? Wonder if justice will be served or if, as usual, Democratic dirty-tricksters walk away free?

Looks like Oklahoma lawmakers may not have a chance to vote on a bill that would create a Voter ID system to prevent wholesale vote fraud, and the guy responsible is beginning to sound like a DU moonbat, or Howard Dean (not a dime's difference). BatesLine is doing the heavy lifting.

Last but certainly not least, Robert the Llama Butcher has issued a fatwa against Bambi.

There's obviously a lot more going on, and maybe we'll even have a chance to get to it a bit later today.

So it's the first day of autumn?

Who are you gonna believe? Scientists or your lyin' eyes?

Does this look like a tree ready for fall?

Not bloody likely.

What's the temperature today here in the greater Tulsa metro?

Ninety (!!!) degrees with 45% humidity, it feels like 93, and expecting 97 before the afternoon is over.

Equinox may be Latin for "equal nights" (which requires further translation: day and night are equal lengths today) but obviously some things are more equal than others. The heat of the day is considerably stronger than the cool of the evening.

So don't talk to us of football, hayrides, jack-o-lanterns and the delicious smoke from burning piles of leaves (that last is mere nostalgia, the damn government won't let us burn leaves anymore).

It's still summer. There is baseball and (NAFTA) corn and the cover is not yet on the pool.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oh my gosh! How can this be?

We have met the enemy and he is us!

You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(50% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Media advised: Don't get stuck on 'Stupid'

It's the new catch phrase of the 21st Century and, we predict, is destined to have a long shelf life. "Don't get stuck on Stupid."

It is a gift to all Americans courtesy of Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Ragin' Cajun who has kicked butt, knocked heads together and is responsible for saving whatever is left of New Orleans. In a press conference Tuesday, as reporters seemed reluctant to talk about the specifics of evacuations from Hurricane Rita but instead to dwell on the alleged shortcomings of the evacuations four weeks ago from Katrina, this dialogue occurred (courtesy of Radio Blogger):
General Honore: " ... we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on."

Male reporter: "General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time ..."

Honore: "You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months."


Can you imagine what would happen if more interviewees would start demanding intellectual accountability -- that's code for "proof of smarts" -- from media reporters?

Radio Blogger said, "I think the General just started a movement, and he may not even realize it. Every time a reporter, in any situation, starts spinning, or completely misses the point, they need to be peppered with, "Don't get stuck on stupid." has this take.

Political Teen has the video!

Will Collier over at VodkaPundit, observes: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnesses to a rare and wonderful moment: a new catch phrase has been born." Meanwhile Stephen Green, the VodkaPundit himself, points out the the New York Times has re-invented "Stuck on Stupid," perhaps taking it to a new level, by eliminating 500 jobs and moaning about profitability "in the same week the NYT walled off its Opinion page to all but paid subscribers. Stupid."

Scuttling Able Danger probe

We haven't discussed the Able Danger controversy, mostly because others have covered it well, but we're making an exception today because it's something you deserve to hear about.

Briefly, Able Danger was the military intelligence program that identified four of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers over a year before the event. Warnings were sent and were ignored. Attempts to warn the FBI apparently crashed into the infamous "Wall of Separation" between domestic and military intelligence erected by Clinton-era members of the Department of Justice (most notably Jamie Gorelic, author of the "Wall" and inexplicably a member of the 9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Commission that continues to deny ever hearing about Able Danger.)

Several whistle-blowers have emerged from the military ranks, who worked on Able Danger and are willing to testify and present proof that controverts the 9/11 Commission.

So guess what happened today?

The Pentagon is refusing to allow the first of the men, military intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, to testify on the grounds that it will reveal intelligence capabilities the entire world already knows about.

We suggest that you get somewhat familiar with this case as it is likely to explode onto the public consciousness soon. The MainStream Media (MSM) has done little work on it, probably because it reflects badly on members of the Clinton administration (although it is doubtful that Clinton himself knew anything about it).

Some of the best work on Able Danger comes through the Quarters of Captain Ed , who explains that a stonewall by the Pentagon isn't going to stop the truth from its revelation. Highly suggest you spend some time with the Captain getting the dirty lowdown.

No delay on next court pick, please!

Arlen Specter says Sandra Day O'Connor will be willing to stay through June. Arlen thinks it's a good deal. But he says the president, while not actually saying anything, gave him body language suggesting the senator is barking up the wrong tree.

Good for the president.

O'Connor submitted her resignation. It was effective at the end of the last term of the Supreme Court. She can't just "un-resign" on her own say-so, or Arlen's, for that matter.

Specter said the delay would give Congress and the rest of America more time to know John Roberts as chief justice. ``When we know a little more about Judge Roberts it's going to be easier with the next'' nomination, Specter said.
Nonsense. Specter knows that Roberts is his worst nightmare, but for good political reasons he had no choice but to support him. He's looking for evidence that would arouse the pro-abortion (culture of death) advocates to a frenzy so that he (Specter) can look like a moderate peace-maker and suggest a squishy ninth judge.

The Roberts nomination sailed through because he is an excellent pick, and if President Bush can deliver a second knock-out punch with a nominee who is polished AND conservative, there isn't much that Specter or that lefty bunch of Democrat fellow travelers can do about it.

There is also a humanitarian reason to get on with replacing O'Connor. She has stated that she wishes to be at home in Arizona to take care of her husband, John, who is suffering with Alzheimers. Both deserve that opportunity while there are yet memories to share.

A whole bunch of us voted for Dubya in 2000 and 2004 in large part because we wanted, and still desire, to see a shift in ideology on the Court. It's time to get on with it.

Now, Mr. President, is the time to make that second announcement.

Good morning to stay in bed?

It's a bit disconcerting, situated several hundred miles inland, to look at the projected path of a hurricane packing 140 mph winds and see that by 2 a.m. Monday it (or what is left of it) will be directly overhead. But that's what we find with Rampaging Rita today.

If forecasters are right and the strong high pressure system currently giving us unseasonably hot, windy weather slides over the Deep South, it will block Rita from following in the path of Katrina. Instead, Rita will hit the Texas coast, disrupting drilling platforms and refinery operations at least for several days, then in tropical storm force march through Waco, Dallas and into central Oklahoma.

With no disrespect intended for any of those closer to the coast, strong hurricanes are nothing to ignore if you live in Oklahoma, as their impact on the weather can produce powerful thunderstorms and tornados. And so we will be at a higher level of alert this time.

The hurricane is not the only unsettling news today. Authorities in Jakarta warn that bird flu cases in Indianesia are increasing and the E-word, epidemic, is now being tossed into the discussion.

British scientists are advocating
cutting air travel, rather than promoting it, because airliners produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide -- the main greenhouse gas -- at higher levels of the atmosphere.

The Teflon-don, John Gotti, is a
free man again thanks to a mistrial on three charges and an acquital on a fourth.

And U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, while he is voting for John Roberts, is throwing wrenches again by asking the president to delay an appointment to fill the Sandra Day O'Connor seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Arlen has been talking with Sandra, and apparently she might be willing to stick around a bit longer if it will keep a pro-abortion majority empowered, something near and dear to the prickly Pennsylvanian. More later, maybe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Poor, poor pitiful Dan

He "retired" not a moment too soon. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, once King of the World, still hasn't quite figured out why he's on the outside looking in these days if his address at the Fordham University School of Law is any indication. According to the Hollywood Reporter:
"... there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.

Rather famously tangled with President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate years while Rather was a hard-charging White House correspondent.

Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order."

He said this pressure -- along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics -- has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.

Was it this pressure that caused Dan and his team to fake a document to try to influence the 2004 presidential elections? It was the outrage over the obvious fakes that caused "RatherGate" and led to a general acknowledgement that the Pajamahadeen of the Blogosphere had come of age as news analysts.

Appearing with the tearful Rather and reaching out to aid and comfort him was Sheila Nevins, HBO Documentary and Family president. She (predictably) complained about the influence of the religious right.

Nevin asked Rather if he felt the same type of repressive forces in the Nixon administration as in the current Bush administration.

"No, I do not," Rather said. That's not to say there weren't forces trying to remove him from the White House beat while reporting on Watergate; but Rather said he felt supported by everyone above him, from Washington bureau chief Bill Small to then-news president Dick Salant and CBS chief William S. Paley.

"There was a connection between the leadership and the led . . . a sense of, 'we're in this together,"' Rather said. It's not that the then-leadership of CBS wasn't interested in shareholder value and profits, Rather said, but they also saw news as a public service. Rather said he knew very little of the intense pressure to remove him in the early 1970s because of his bosses' support.

Nevins took up the cause for Rather, who was emotional several times during the event.

"When a man is close to tears discussing his work and his lip quivers, he deserves bosses who punch back. I feel I would punch back for Dan," Nevins said.

Isn't that sweet?

Rather was not ditched by a leadership of corporatists but by a hestitant and uncertain group of network officials who finally realized that either Rather should be allowed to gracefully get the hell out of the kitchen that is CBS News or the network might have no credibility left, once the wheels began falling off the Air National Guard story.

This was after he delivered a "Non-apology" apology and refused to even consider the possibility that the truth of a matter might be more important than whether it substantially advanced a "desirable" political goal, in this case helping John Kerry win the presidency.

The fundamentals of news gathering and news commentary is no different than it has ever been, but the monopoly of the Big Three networks is over. There is a new world order of journalism and, for the time being, it remains one of the freer, more responsible versions this country has yet seen. It isn't perfect and it will have its problems, moments of vainglory, treachery and incompetence. At least no one individual will anytime soon wield the kind of unchecked power of a Conkrite or Rather.

Monopolies on news, as with monopolies of anything, cannot long serve the greater good. The body politic is best served when many competing voices strive to identify, defend and/or attack Truth.

Where ever Truth may be found.

It's not Ozone, it's No-zone

But is it our fault?

The U.N. World Meteorological Association is having a cow over the fact that Antarctica's famous Ozone Hole is just about as big this year as it has ever been.

GENEVA, Switzerland (Reuters) -- The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown to near record size this year, suggesting 20 years of pollution controls have so far had little effect, the United Nations said on Friday.

In a bulletin on the seasonal depletion of ozone gas, which filters harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the hole would peak within a couple of weeks.

"It will probably not break any records, but it shows that ozone depletion is going on and that the so-called ozone recovery has yet to be confirmed," Geir Braathen, WMO's top ozone expert, told a news briefing.

Perhaps they were expecting too much too soon. Only last month U.S. scientists announced that although the damage had peaked it would take several years for shrinkage to set in.

Two thoughts:

(1) The report notes that the "developing" countries have not met their obligations under a huge "Let's All Be CFC Free" treaty. The report does not tell you that China is the biggest under-achiever. It surely ought to.

(2) What if CFCs are only part of the problem. What if solar radiation produced by huge, record setting sunspots generate geomagnetic displays (auroras) that, as a by-product of their luminosity, damage the protective ozone layer?

Huh, huh?

Suspicious drilling rig blast

Authorities are less than forthcoming on details of why a natural gas drilling rig explosion last June is now being considered a criminal act.

So we are left to our own speculation.

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) -- Evidence of possible criminal activity has been found in a natural gas drilling rig explosion that killed two workers and injured a third, authorities said Monday.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas State Fire Marshal's office and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the June 2 explosion.

"If this tragedy was the result of a deliberate criminal act, we will not rest until whoever is responsible was brought to justice," Sheriff Stan Veach said in a statement announcing the reward.

Paul Marquardt, an ATF spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., would not discuss the evidence in detail.

The rig belonged to McPherson Drilling of Cherryvale. Shortly after the explosion, one of the owners of the company noted the unusual nature of the blast.

"You could tell the way the pipe blew that something inside the pipe blew out instead of up," Nancy McPherson said on the day of the explosion. "My husband says he has never seen anything like this before."

We find it interesting (though not necessarily meaningful) that the Associated Press report we read was being carried by a Salem, Ore., newspaper. The Pacific Northwest has had is problems with green terrorists who sabotage tree harvesting operations. Could a similar type of operation be taking place in the oil fields of America? Could wacko "let's go back to bicycles and freezing to death in the winter" anti-oil subversives be responsible for some of the rig and refinery explosions we've heard about recently?

Or it could be that it's the work of some mad-as-hell former employee. If there is a point to this, it's that the American people have a right to know if it was eco-terrorism, Islamic terrorism, or just pure home-grown nastiness turned manslaughter.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Freezing gasoline in Russia?

Not the right time of year, nor the right temperature.

The freeze is on the price for gasoline, with several major Russian oil producers pledging to hold prices stable until the end of December.

Of course it's a bad idea. Price controls fail every time they are used, but they increase the power of the central government while the little guy is momentarily grateful. In a few weeks, or even days, the supply of fuel will dwindle because the Law of Supply & Demand cannot be trifled with.

But it might ease worldwide supplies which in turn might ease the perception of the markets which might translate into lower futures bids which directly translate, for some strange reason, into the price at the pump.

One Russian's pain might be one American SUV owner's mini-gain.


News from Saint Januarius

Even after 1,700 years, Saint Januarius' blood flows occasionally.
(ANSA) - Naples, September 19 - Thousands of people packed into this city's cathedral Monday morning to watch the blood of patron saint San Gennaro liquefy in the repetition of a centuries-old 'miracle.' The miracle officially took place at 09.56 (07.56gmt) and was announced by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Michele Giordano, who held up a phial containing the blood while a white handkerchief was waved from the altar to the applause of the crowd. This year the miracle took on special importance because it marked 1,700 years from the martyrdom of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) in 305 AD .

Aside from the faithful, leading local politicians attended the ceremony which was also broadcast live by a host of national and international TV networks.
For the faithful and superstitious, the ritual's success is a good omen for the city while its failure is a sign of impending disaster .

In fact, disaster has struck on at least five occasions when the blood failed to liquefy, including in 1527 when tens of thousands of people died from the plague and in 1980 when 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake which devastated much of southern Italy .

Although now a headline-making saint, little is known about San Gennaro except that he was bishop of Benevento to the south of Naples and was martyred during the persecution of Christians spearheaded by the Roman Emperor Diocletian .

The bishop was beheaded for refusing to bow down to his 'pagan' persecutors. According to legend, his body and head, still dripping blood, were gathered up by an old man and taken to a safe place while a local woman filled a phial with his spilt blood.
The first written record of the liquifaction miracle is dated 1389 A.D. Scientists have examined the contents of the vials and have declared them to be authentic human blood. They have no idea why the dried blood liquifies on certain occasions.

Perhaps that's why this type of event is called "super" natural.

Saving civilization & getting rich

The last "big thing" that came out of Winnipeg, Canada, was Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman and the members of The Guess Who.

But Joe Williams Sr. is also a Winnipeg product, and he's invented something that could save Western civilization. (Or at least the part of civilization that requires energy.) Says the Montreal Gazette:

But before you sniff skeptically and skip to the next story, read on.

Because if Joe Williams turns out to be right, "I think Bill Gates and our group will be shaking hands," he says. "It's that big."

"It" is his Hydrogen Generating Module, or H2N-Gen for short.

Smaller than a DVD player - small enough to sit comfortably under the hood of any truck or car - it could be big enough to solve the world's greenhouse gas emission problems, at least for the near future. In fact, it could make the Kyoto protocol obsolete. Basically, the H2N-Gen contains a small reservoir of distilled water and other chemicals such as potassium hydroxide. A current is run from the car battery through the liquid. This process of electrolysis creates hydrogen and oxygen gases which are then fed into the engine's intake manifold where they mix with the gasoline vapours.

It's a scientific fact that adding hydrogen to a combustion chamber will cause a cleaner burn. The challenge has always been to find a way to get the hydrogen gas into the combustion chamber in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way.

Williams claims he has achieved this with his H2N-Gen. His product, he said, produces a more complete burn, greatly increasing efficiency and reducing fuel consumption by 10 to 40 per cent - and pollutants by up to 100 per cent.

Most internal combustion engines operate at about 35 per cent efficiency. This means that only 35 per cent of the fuel is fully burned. The rest either turns to carbon corroding the engine or goes out the exhaust pipe as greenhouse gases.

The H2N-Gen increases burn efficiency to at least 97 per cent, Williams said. This saves fuel and greatly reduces emissions.

It also means less engine maintenance and oil changes. The only thing the vehicle owner has to do is refill the unit with distilled water once every 80 hours of engine use.

Tests show the unit itself should lasts for at least 10 years, Williams said.

It can be attached to any kind of internal combustion engine: diesel, gasoline, propane/natural gas.

The potential bottom line for Williams' device is two-fold: Williams will get rich and the world will have enough oil to handle ongoing activity and growth for at least a few more decades.

The only downside we see, in fact, is that Williams wants not only to profit from licensing and marketing his device, he'd also like to share in the windfall from the savings generated from its application.

That might make his price tag a little too expensive.

You have every right to be proud of your work, Mr. Williams. Please don't spoil it by getting greedy. How many billions of dollars do you really need to be happy, anyway?