Friday, July 13, 2007

Best Fiction

I am convinced that some of the world's finest fiction is composed in thousands of office cubicles across the land on Monday mornings, under the title "Last Week's Status Report", subtitle "Tasks Worked On".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary

Where to go for info and photos... Email me for the password

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Memorial HS 30th Reunion

I hardly remember anybody that's put their info up on the site, except Melinda Matthews was my prom date. I'm not going, but I did post some band pictures (as of June 7, still awaiting approval from the site administrator).

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tatum's Ivy League Class

Tatum's Cute Ivy League Class Picture Pose

Tatum's Ivy League Graduation

Cynda and Tatum at Spencer Trail Salon Day

For Mother's Day the kids treated their moms to the Salon treatment -- presenting, hair by Tatum...

(Belated) Happy 20th Anniversary Andy & Melissa

April 4, 2007 was Andy and Melissa's 20th. Happy Anniversary, you guys!

And Happy 15th Birthday to Jessica coming up on Friday -- Love from Uncle Mike, Aunt Cynda and your cousins. Can't wait to see you guys in Branson.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sad Fate of the Raffaello and Michelangelo

In 1971 Dad worked for the US State Department and somehow managed to qualify for a little-known government subsidy of shipping interests whereby we could return to the States for home leave by ship, in first class. So Mom and Dad and my brother Andy and I sailed aboard the Raffaello, one of the Italian Line's twin superliners (the other was Michelangelo), from Genoa to New York.

Raffaello was designed specially for the transatlantic service. She was very big -- 902 feet overall -- and very fast, with a top speed of almost 31 knots and cruising speed of 26.5 knots, enabling her to cross the Atlantic in 5 days. Before she and her sister Michelangelo made their maiden voyages in 1965, though, the advent of jet airplane travel spelled the end of the era of the great ocean liners. Raffaello took seven years to build, and her career on the transatlantic run lasted barely longer than that before the Italian government could no longer afford the massive subsidies to keep her sailing. A brief attempt was made to use her as a cruise ship, but her design, ideal for a passenger liner, was not suitable for cruising. She was too big, too fast and fuel-hungry, and had too many windowless, spartan third-class cabins for the cruise market. An overhaul was deemed too expensive, so she was retired and put up for sale. The Italian Line refused a bid from a cruise operator who planned to rebuild her, no one seems to know why -- perhaps they thought they could get more for her. It was not to be. In the end the Raffaello, which cost $45 million to build, was sold to the Shah of Iran for use as a floating barracks for only $2 million. In the riots when the Shah was overthrown, the ship was looted and badly damaged, and her drinking water distillation system was destroyed. For years she lay at her moorings, inhabited only by rats, until in 1983 in the Iran/Iraq war she was torpedoed by Iraqi jets. Finally, the hulk was accidentally rammed by a harbor tug and sank. Michelangelo survived as a barracks ship until 1991, when she was sold to Pakistani scrappers. It is said that by 1992 all that remained of the beautiful Italian Twins were a few toilet seats for sale in the markets of Karachi.

Some photos (click on the thumbnails to enlarge):

A fabulous view... Michelangelo and Raffaello at "Andera Doria" pier in Genova (Italy)
The Italian Twins

Raffaello - first class suite
First-class suite on Raffaello

The end of Raffaello, in Iran
Raffaello in Iran

The end of Michelangelo, in Pakistan
Michelangelo being broken up

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Taste of Things to Come

Victor Davis Hanson
What is disturbing about the Iranian piracy is that it establishes a warning of what we can come to expect when Iran is nuclear, and how organizations like the UN, the EU, and NATO will react. If a few Iranian terrorists in boats can paralyze an entire nation and the above agencies, think what a half-dozen Iranian nukes will do. This was the hour of Europe to step forward and show the world what it can do with sanctions, embargoes, and boycotts, and how such soft power is as effective as gunboats—and it is passing.

The incident also redefines "asset". A European naval vessel, under current rules of engagement, seems to me more a liability, a floating diplomatic embarrassment waiting to happen. In this Orwellian logic, the British decision to mothball some of the ships now on duty in the Gulf makes sense: fewer chances that one will be challenged, humiliated, or attacked by Islamists.

Birth of the US Navy

I've been reading the new book Six Frigates by Ian W. Toll. It is the story of the first 22 years of the US Navy.

The single most important factor in persuading the infant United States to fund the building of the eponymous six frigates (USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Constitution, USS Congress, USS President, USS Chesepeake) was the kidnapping of American merchant sailors by the Barbary pirates -- Muslim corsairs out of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli (modern Libya), and Tunisia.

When asked, in 1786, by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams why Tripolitan corsairs attacked and enslaved the crews of American ships, the Tripolitan ambassador in London told them:
That it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.
The European powers of the day, busy with wars on the Continent, were content to pay tribute and ransom to the Barbary pirates to protect their shipping and sailors; and at first the United States did as well. But lo and behold, appeasement only bought demands for ever greater amounts of annual tribute.

Thomas Jefferson proposed that an international naval force be established to protect shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. But the European powers, out of parochial concerns, refused to participate in Jefferson's high-minded plan. Eventually, the United States Navy and Marines, in the Barbary Wars of 1801-1805 and again in 1815, took on the pirates alone and twice defeated them, ending the payments of tribute.

Throughout the early period of the Navy, significant factions of the US Congress opposed a military response and advocated quietly paying for protection.

Kidnapping of sailors, justifying aggression by the Koran, appeasement, European non-cooperation, unilateral action by the United States, and obstructionism and defeatism in the US Congress... why does this all sound so familiar?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Kidnapped British sailors

"There is now no NATO, no EU, no UN that can or will do anything in anyone’s hour of need", says Victor Davis Hanson.

Or as Mark Steyn says, "transnational diplomats ... just sit around talking till everyone’s dead."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tatum Stars in Octopus's Garden!

Mrs. Peterson's AM kidergarteners presented Octopus's Garden at the Spencer Trail School "Fun in the Sun" show last night. Tatum did great!

I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus' garden in the shade

I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus' garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade.

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus' garden near a cave

We would sing and dance around
because we know we can't be found
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves)
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they're happy and they're safe
(Happy and they're safe)

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden with you
In an octopus' garden with you
In an octopus' garden with you
In an octopus' garden with YOU!.

The glow from Al Gore's self-satisfaction must be contributing to global warming by now.

- Mark Steyn on the Hugh Hewitt show

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blonde Joke

A blonde lady motorist was about two hours from San Diego when she was flagged down by a man whose truck had broken down. The man walked up to the car and asked, "Are you going to San Diego?"

"Sure," answered the blonde, "do you need a lift?"

"Not for me. I'll be spending the next three hours fixing my truck. My problem is I've got two chimpanzees in the back which have to be taken to the San Diego Zoo. They're a bit stressed already so I don't want to keep them on the road all day. Could you possibly take them to the zoo for me? I'll give you $100 for your trouble."

"I'd be happy to," said the blonde. So the two chimpanzees were ushered into the back seat of the blonde's car and carefully strapped into their seat belts. Off they went.

Five hours later, the truck driver was driving through the heart of San Diego when suddenly he was horrified! There was the blonde walking down the street and holding hands with the two chimps, much to the amusement of a big crowd. With a screech of brakes he pulled off the road and ran over to the blonde. "What the heck are you doing here?" he demanded, "I gave you $100 to take these chimpanzees to the zoo."

"Yes, I know you did," said the blonde, "but we had money left over -- so now we're going to Sea World."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Imagine that

I can laugh at this, seeing as how I am a former UU (Unitarian/Universalist) myself. Today's "Bleat" from James Lileks had this gem:
Conversational line not pursued with woman [at an anti-war protest] wearing a white trash bag that said “IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE”: since that Lennon song also encourages imagining the absence of religion, how do you feel about all those Unitarians here today? Or are they okay, because deep down you think that Unitarians are what you get after you’ve successfully imagined no religion?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Johann Hari review of America Alone

Johann Hari, in his nearly interminable review of America Alone, criticizes Mark Steyn's supposed "gaping holes of logic and fact”. He knows something on that score: he brazenly asserts that Steyn predicts a European Muslim population of 200 million by 2020; in fact that prediction is Hari’s own manufactured straw-man of Steyn’s thesis.

He goes on (and on and on and on and on) to trot out the usual liberal debate-stopper: racism. But here Hari is faced with a problem. Unable to find any actual examples from the book, he resorts to psychoanalysis and innuendo. He writes that Steyn "… uses openly racialized language, albeit with a post-ironic smirk" (what's a "post-ironic smirk"? Comes after the pre-ironic and ironic smirks, I guess), then produces as evidence out-of-context quotes wherein Steyn was deriding previous generation’s explicitly racist alarums about the “Yellow peril”; or he has Steyn invoking “shades of Enoch Powell's untraceable ‘grinning picanninies’” -- needless to say, it’s quite a stretch.

In the book, Steyn predicted the “racism” attack and carried out a pre-emptive strike (now there’s a tactic sure to agitate liberals): it’s not about race, it’s about culture. Hari counters that “for [Steyn], culture is merely a thinly veiled homologue for race” and proceeds to roll out his “gotcha” quote --

[Steyn] writes: "Those who pooh-pooh the United States' comparatively robust demographics say they reflect nothing more than the fecundity of Hispanic immigration... In fact, white women in America still breed at a greater rate - 1.85 or so - than white women in Europe or Canada." So after saying it is "grotesque" to count out "white" babies, he does just that.

But hang on a second. Is Steyn really counting out white babies? A closer look reveals that he does no such thing. It is those who “pooh-pooh the United States' comparatively robust demographics” who are doing the counting. Their argument, not Steyn’s, is that America’s birth-rate is higher than Europe’s solely because of the Hispanic birth rate; it is they who separate American and European birth rates into white vs. non-white; Steyn merely refutes that thesis by pointing out that even adjusted for non-whites, America’s birth rate beats Europe’s.

Hari continues at great length (did I mention that the review is really, really long?) in this vein before finally allowing that Steyn is right in branding multiculturalism as an obstacle to fighting radical Islamism and in calling (“half-heartedly”) for Muslim women’s rights. Of course Hari won’t concede for a moment that Steyn, being a “religious follower”, might really believe in women’s rights, since he has failed to endorse abortion, which, to liberals, is the hallmark of authentic concern for women.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

America Alone

CBS on European population decline.

The Crossed Pond has a snarky remark on Steyn's stats. See my rebuttal in the comments (#16).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Controversy in your coffee...

I saw this at Telic Thoughts this morning:
Cue outrage in three, two, one...

It links to this item:
Coffee and Darwinism

It's about #224 in the Starbucks "The Way I See It" series.

Darwinism’s impact on traditional social values has not been as benign as its advocates would like us to believe. Despite the efforts of its modern defenders to distance themselves from its baleful social consequences, Darwinism’s connection with eugenics, abortion and racism is a matter of historical record. And the record is not pretty.

Dr. Jonathan Wells

The militant internet atheist crowd will doubtless let fly with the slings and arrows soon. The name Wells is to them as the red cape is to the bull. Too bad they're already boycotting Starbucks over Wesley Smith's relatively benign quote (#127). Guess they'll have to start picketing Starbucks outlets now.