Sunday, April 29, 2007

Red Sox watch

So, we'll exit April up on the Evil Empire 5-1 for the season series. Not. Too. Shabby.

Old style service

The Plaza hotel in Buenos Aires was built in 1909. Now a Marriott property, the hotel still carries the original name and, I think, still provides the style of service most of us think of as out of style.

I ordered a glass of wine at the bar, and this is how it was served. The plate on the left holds potato chips, which I believe are made on the premises and are possibly the best chips I've ever had. There are almonds on the plate on the right, and in the middle is a small platter containing various cheeses and canapes.

Now that's service.

Help drive PETA nuts

Click here to make your own KFC sign extolling the virtues of eating meat!

Hat tip: Hot Air

Forging fact out of falsehood

The single most popular theme among Bush haters is the one that George W. Bush is, well, something less than brilliant. To be fair, Dubya's often less than brilliant oration skills contribute to the leftists' cause.

To make matters worse, the "dumb president" falsehood is starting to creep into popular literature. A favorite writer of mine for his books that make for fast, run reads is Stuart Woods. In his most recent book, Fresh Disasters, the main character, Stone Barrington, is talking with his cop friend, Dino Bachetti, about a young ne'er do well who apparently has passed the bar exam. Stone remarks that someone must have taken the exam for him, to which Dino replies, "Probably the same guy who took G. W. Bush's exams at Yale and Harvard".

There's also a subliminal negative reference to Halliburton later in the book, which leads me to believe that this was more than just an attempt at humor in the context of current events.

This isn't so bad because it swings readers' opinions one way or another today, but because it becomes part of the "historical" record. Not that I think too many people will be reading Stuart Woods as classic early 21st century literature a hundred years from now, but hey, it's out there and it's not the only such example.

The irony is that most of the people perpetuating the meme haven't accomplished much themselves, while they sneer and snicker over the "lack of intelligence" of a man who:
  • Received an undergraduate degree from Yale
  • Received an MBA from Harvard
  • Was commissioned a US Air Force officer
  • Was selected for fighter pilot training by the Air Force
  • Flew hundreds of hours in the F-102 Delta Dagger
Stuart Woods is himself a pilot. Even if he really believes Bush faked his way through Yale and Harvard, he should know better than to believe that someone with hundreds of flight hours in the F-102, a notoriously difficult plane to fly, is anything less than intelligent.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Buenos Aires street music

I was doing some shopping yesterday on Florida Street in Buenos Aires before heading to the airport for the flight home, and happened upon these guys.

They were using amplified acoustic guitars, and you can see the little Honda generator they used to power the amps behind the guy on the viewer's right.

Sorry for the image quality...I recorded this with my cell phone's camera.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Red Sox watch

The good news: With a 14-7 record, Boston has the best record in the majors.

The bad news: It's April.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Delta now knows they suck

While browsing my site meter stats, I noticed a visit from Atlanta, Georgia. The ISP was identified as Delta Airlines, and they arrived at the site by running a blog search for "delta". The visit entry page was my earlier post on Delta's recent poor performance.

I wonder if it's someone's job at Delta to check up on what bloggers are saying about them, or if it was a random visit by a bored employee.

Monday, April 23, 2007

When Delta sucks, they REALLY suck

I've been a frequent flyer with Delta airlines for quite a few years now, and have maintained Platinum status with them for the last couple of years. When you travel a lot, it pays to try and keep the majority of your frequent flyer benefits with a single carrier, and you really hate it when you have to take a long trip and can't get your preferred airline because all those miles are going into the wrong bucket. So I was pretty happy when our corporate travel folks put me on Delta for my trip to South America.

So yesterday (Sunday) I had a flight at 18:45 to JFK, then a 21:05 flight from there to Sao Paulo. Due to air traffic congestion in the NYC area, ATC put a ground stop on flights departing for JFK. This meant we had to sit on the tarmac in Richmond for over an hour before we were released.

We actually got to the gate at JFK at 21:00, and I thought I might still make my flight to Brazil. It's common practice for an airline to hold departure of a flight when they know passengers are arriving on delayed flights, so I was pretty sure I'd make it. Adding to my optimism as I entered the terminal building was the fact that my departure gate was only two gates down from my arrival gate. Sweet.

Alas, it was not to be. As I trotted up to the gate, I saw the plane was still there and hadn't started pushing back yet, but the boarding door was closed. The gate agents said, without apology, that I'd have to go to the service desk for reticketing. The time was 21:10...I'd missed departure by 5 minutes and Delta wouldn't hold the plane.

At the service desk I was greeted by intruded upon an agent by the name of Kris. Kris seemed bewildered by my presence there, since according to him the area was closed. I advised him that I was directed his way by his colleagues at gate 23 and that I was in need of reticketing. Reluctantly, Kris pulled up my information and reticketed me.

My original flight plans had me arriving in Sao Paulo at around 08:00 local time Monday morning. My new arrangements have me arriving at 06:05 Tuesday morning...nearly 24 hours later than planned! My buddy Kris made no effort whatsoever to even try to put me on another carrier that might have gotten me into Sao Paulo even a little bit earlier.

I can only wonder about the fate of my luggage.

As I was writing this, I received the following e-mail response to the flame I left Delta on their web site last night:
We regret you were inconvenienced because of a missed flight connection.
Delaying a flight for a confirmed passenger is a difficult situation for the airlines. In the past, our policy was to wait for passengers whenever possible even at the expense of on-time performance. Now, our customers tell us that being on time is a high priority, and we have changed our practices to better meet these expectations.

Once our gate personnel relinquish control of the airplane to the crew and operations team, it is considered dispatched even though the aircraft may still be at the gate. To stop our processes after the crew is given a takeoff priority may result in a lengthy delay. We are trying to achieve a balance between reliability and good customer service.
Yes...being on time is a high priority. When flying, I regard an on time departure as anything within 20 minutes or so of planned departure. Arriving at my destination 24 hours late does not constitute being on time.

As I fully expected, my luggage didn't make it. When I arrived Tuesday morning, the baggage service guys told me that it was still at JFK (WTF??) and would be put on that night's flight for arrival Wednesday morning. Nice. As it turned out, the bag had been placed on Monday night's flight out of JFK, and was delivered to my hotel Tuesday afternoon. Still, I had to go out and buy clothes and toiletries Tuesday morning, so Delta will be getting a bill from me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blatantly disrespectful post

I spotted this on the Telegraph's "week in pictures" section and couldn't resist posting it. Here's the caption accompanying the pic:
Mona Hussein Abu-Bakr, the first female chief of a political party in Jordan, attends the first general conference of the Jordanian National Party in Amman
Mona Hussein Abu-Bakr...Tammy Faye Bakker. Could it be? Nah...

Good news from Venezuela: Chavez arming future foes

Still under the delusion that the US will invade his country, Venezuela's commie Buffoon-in-Chief Hugo Chavez has taken the unusual measure of arming "community groups".
They talk excitedly about plans to repair crumbling walls, clear sewage and help local enterprises. It is the business of civic leaders everywhere - yet this gathering is also the vanguard of Leftist president Hugo Chávez's 21st-century "socialist revolution".

By the time they have been trained and armed, they will also be ready to defend Venezuela against outside interference, including the US invasion that Mr Chávez says he expects.

"El Comandante (Mr Chávez) told us to create communal groups and to tackle problems ourselves," said Lenny Guerrero, 35, to nods of assent from others in the room. "Some government officials came here to help us create the groups. Power will now rest with the people."

On Mr Chávez's order, 17,000 communal councils have now been set up across the country, and an estimated £1 billion earmarked to fund them. As the official slogan, "Build power from below", proclaims, their stated purpose is to promote grass-roots democracy and hand power directly to the people - in particular the urban poor who make up the bulk of his most fervent supporters.

But as well as grappling with the grim conditions in slums such as Catia, members of these voluntary groups will constitute a nationwide militia, schooled in Cuban-style tactics for both guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency.
No word yet on how El Commie-dante plans on dealing with the mob he's armed when they turn on him.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Urban sprawl

Here's a shot of Mexico City I took this morning that gives some idea of the size...
...the city basically goes on for as long as the eye can see.

I'm doing a trip through Latin America this week and next, and I'm in Mexico City at the moment.

I think with the immigration and borders debate, a lot of Americans have this perception of Mexico as being a country full of desperately destitute people looking for a way out--into the US, more often than not. There's no question that there's poverty in Mexico, but one trip to Mexico City will put things into perspective.

I'm a bit too lazy right now to do any research ('s been a tough week, and I still have to hit Brazil and Argentina next week), but last I checked, Mexico City is the world's largest city at something like 22 million people. Even if it's not the largest, it's still pretty freakin' big.

When I was here around four years ago, the Polanco district was pretty nice, as it is now, but there just wasn't much going on in the immediate area of the major hotels here. This year is considerably different.

Directly across the street from my hotel are Bentley and Hummer dealerships, and the many bars, of which there were precious few four years ago, are packed every night. Not with tourists or business travelers, but with locals. The atmosphere is different.

I don't know what the rest of the country is like--I've never been to any part of Mexico besides Mexico City--but if the capitol is any indication, I think Mexico is in for a period of economic growth.

Here's another shot taken from the same spot, but focusing in a bit closer.
One thing about Mexico City is that any open space is occupied by trees.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VT shooting rampage

I've got nothing to say on this that hasn't already been said by others, but I couldn't let something of this magnitude pass unnoted.

Let the second guessing begin.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Maya Angelou: Bush supporters = lynch mob?

Maya Angelou was interviewed tonight on the CBS Evening News (hey...I was waiting for the local news to come on!), and of course the topic was the Imus Affair.

All was well insofar as Ms. Angelou was consistent in her condemnation of vulgarity. But then she set off a bomb, which I'll paraphrase because I don't make a habit of capturing CBS News on my DVR and I can't find a transcript.

When asked about the various hip-hop artists that use language similar to what Imus got fired for, Ms. Angelou said something like "Just wait until a hip-hop star writes vulgar lyrics about Laura Bush, and there won't be enough rope for the hangings."

I'm sure one of the news watcher blogs will pick this up. It was pretty incendiary stuff, which I think even caught the anchor off guard.

Pravda: Back to the future

I haven't paid much attention to Russia's Pravda online edition, but this article on the Imus Affair proves that they're every bit the government mouthpiece today as they were back during the height of the Cold War. Don Imus wasn't fired for being a jack-ass, you see. He was silenced by America's War Leaders!
In a clear sign of its intent to reign in dissident American media personalities, and their growing influence in American culture, US War Leaders this past week launched an unprecedented attack upon one of their most politically 'connected', and legendary, radio hosts named Don Imus after his threats to release information relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks upon that country.

According to European reports of the events surrounding Don Imus that have gripped the United States this past week, it was during an interview with another American media personality, Tim Russert, who is the host of a television programme frequently used by US War Leaders, wherein while decrying the state of care being given to American War wounded stated, "So those bastards want to keep these boys [in reference to US Soldiers] secret? Let's see how they like it if I start talking about their [in reference to US War Leaders] secrets, starting with 9/11."

Unable to attack such a powerful media figure as Don Imus, directly, the US War Leaders, and as we have seen many times before, resorted to a massive media attack against him using as the reason a racial slur against a US woman's basketball team, but which has been pointed out by other media outlets was not by any means a rare occurrence for the legendary radio icon to make.
This is exactly the same clumsy anti-US propaganda "reportage" that appeared during the Cold War. It shows a complete ignorance of American culture in that to believe this tripe, one would have to believe that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are in the employ of the Bush administration.

Absolutely laughable.

Hat tip: Hot Air

Knut the polar bear: Ugly truth revealed

Is that dirt on his fur, or something more foul?

Behind closed doors, after the crowds have gone home and the paparazzi's cameras have stopped flashing and whirring, an ugly scene plays out at the Berlin zoo. Knut, the pathologically cute polar bear cub, shits all over the place and bites the hand of his handler when he tries to tidy up.
[Knut's keeper Thomas] Dörflein said in a newspaper interview that he has often cursed the world-famous ball of fur. "I could throw him against the wall when everything comes together and he's shat all over his cage at three o'clock in the morning," he told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.

"When he's shat on everything and then bites me because he's unsettled, it's enough to blow a fuse sometimes. But what can I do. He's a little baby and wants attention."
How adorable.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ralph Peters: No 'Eurabia' in the making

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star carries an interesting item this morning in the form of an interview by Paul Kengor of Grove City College (Pa.) with Ralph Peters, noted author, columnist and retired US Army officer.

In the interview, Mr. Peters articulates something that's been at the back of my mind for some time, namely that Europeans will return to their old martial form before allowing their respective countries to be turned into an Islamified Eurabia.

Conventional wisdom holds that western Europe is too old, too enervated to resist radical Islamism, and that given their declining birth rate, European nations will evolve one by one to majority Muslim countries. I've long wondered whether native Europeans might act while they're still a significant majority in their own countries. Mr. Peters certainly thinks so, as the following excerpts show...
Immigrants don't want to assimilate, but neither do Europeans really want them to assimilate. The miraculous North American model, in which "America makes Americans," has no counterpart in Europe. For all their pacifist masquerading, Europeans remain really good haters--you can still smell the smoke of the ovens of Auschwitz.

[ ... ]

Native Europeans despise Muslims, while Muslim immigrants despise Europeans and their values.

Europe is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing--and that has exported more man-wrought death than any other continent.

[ ... ]

I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which American naval vessels and U.S. Marines are in European ports to evacuate Muslims expelled from their countries of residence. Compounding the tragedy, Muslim countries would attempt to refuse to repatriate them.

The Muslims of Europe may end as the 21st century's displaced persons, a mass without a home, confined to holding camps. Of course, there are many other less-dramatic potential scenarios. But one does sense that Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time.

Good Lord, consider how thoroughly the Jewish middle classes had integrated into Europe over the centuries--and virtually every European state happily packed them off to Bergen-Belsen.

[ ... ]

There may be abortive, if lurid, Muslim uprisings in Europe--it all depends on how a very complex equation plays out--but if there are, they will fail miserably and swiftly. There will be no "Eurabia." Jihad in Europe is doomed. There will be no continent-wide war, although each country would be glad for an excuse to participate in continent-wide repression.

When their welfare is sufficiently threatened, Europeans will return to form as heartless killers and ethnic cleansers.

[ ... ]

There is zero chance of Europe becoming Eurabia or of parts of Europe being governed formally by sharia law.

The whole Eurabia/"the-Muslims-are-taking-over" hysteria is nuts. Even if Swedes will no longer fight for Lutheranism, by God, they'll kill without remorse to keep their saunas.
I think that last sentence I emphasized is a somewhat flippant over simplification, but it makes the point. Interesting reading, to be sure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No sex please, we're British doctors

The Daily Mail reports that doctors and nurses will be barred from having sexual relations with anyone they've ever treated.
Doctors and nurses will be banned from having sexual relationships with former patients, it has emerged.

Health professionals will only be allowed to date those they have previously treated when the clinical contact they had with each other was 'minimal'.

New guidance will formally set out the sexual boundaries between doctors, nurses and patients for the first time - following a string of sex abuse scandals.
So, let's say a physician treats someone for a broken bone. Over the course of a couple of months, the patient visits the same physician. Now, let's say a year or so later, the physician and former patient bump into each other at a cocktail party and hit it off and the patient asks the doctor out for a date. Nope, can't do it. How stupid is that?

It's good to see that bureaucrats in Britain are no more immune to knee-jerk over reactions than American bureaucrats.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus in the mourning

Imus is a dick. I don't like him and never have. If he never comes back on the air, I won't miss him. But I'm almost compelled to come to his defense. Almost.

What he said was stupid, sophomoric, infantile, offensive, etc. But not truly racist. Even if Don Imus is an asshole, I don't think for a minute he's a racist. Narcissist? I'll buy that.

But this whole episode has amused me to no end. Imus is a relentless Bush critic, making him a favorite of the lefties. But what's a lefty pundit to do when one of their own goes so far off the reservation? Throw him under the bus, of course.

I'm still looking for a link to it, but this morning I caught Jesse Jackson on TV classifying Don Imus as a "political figure". In Jackson's world, any journalist who hosts a political figure becomes a political figure himself. As a political figure, of course, suspension isn't good enough. He must burned at the stake.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has been no more forgiving. I think after Jesse's done burning him at the stake, Reverend Al will draw and quarter what's left.

As long as it's some one like Don Imus, I say let them.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Marine signs with Padres

Here's a follow-up on a post I put up in early March about Cooper Brannan, the Marine with two tours in Iraq making a run at the big leagues.

I can't find any links on this yet, but it seems Brannan was good enough--he signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres and will get his chance to prove himself good enough for the majors.


Pilot goes batshit; flight canceled

A Northwest Airlines captain locked himself in the forward lavatory of his airplane before it departed Las Vegas and carried on an obscenity-laced tirade.
Transportation Security Administration workers at McCarran International Airport responded Friday and noticed the pilot was "acting strange," Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told The Detroit News.

"He entered the forward lavatory, locked the door and continued his animated conversation, but passengers who were boarding could hear the end of the conversation," Gregor said. "At some point he came out."

Gregor said the pilot, when confronted by a passenger, cursed at the passenger.

There were 180 passengers on the flight to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus. The flight was canceled after officials spoke with the captain. The name of the captain, who Gregor said was a veteran pilot, wasn't released.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines Corp. said in a statement that said the flight was canceled due to inappropriate language by a crew member. Northwest also issued an apology to its customers for the delay.
Must have been a bad night at the craps table for the good captain.

An Easter post...sort of

It's about hassenpfeffer, so that sort of makes it an Easter post, right?

A German rabbit breeder sold 12 unusually large rabbits to North Korea at a steep discount so that the Norks could establish their own breeding program and ease their chronic food shortage.

There's just one problem. The North Korean commie leadership may have eaten the rabbits themselves before the rabbits had a chance to, uh, you what rabbits do.

Those rabbits, by the way, just in case you don't read the linked article, are huge, as evidenced by the picture at left. They weigh around 23 lbs. and produce around 15 lbs. of meat.

The market price is €200, about $266 at the current exchange rate, but the breeder sold them to the Norks for a mere €80 ($106).

In case you're keeping track, that's $17.73 per pound at market price that the Norks received for $7.06 per pound.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Did Iran admit to kidnapping op?

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Iran is warning of "further kidnappings", and indeed, the noise coming out of Teheran has an in your face ring to it. Most worrisome, it sounds like Britain has suspended boarding and searching operations while the Royal Navy reassesses its operational procedures.
Hardliners in the Iranian regime have warned that the seizure of British naval personnel demonstrates that they can make trouble for the West whenever they want to and do so with impunity.

The bullish reaction from Teheran will reinforce the fears of western diplomats and military officials that more kidnap attempts may be planned.

The British handling of the crisis has been regarded with some concern in Washington, and a Pentagon defence official told The Sunday Telegraph: "The fear now is that this could be the first of many. If the Brits don't change their rules of engagement, the Iranians could take more hostages almost at will.

"Iran has come out of this looking reasonable. If I were the Iranians, I would keep playing the same game. They have very successfully muddied the waters and bought themselves some more time. And in parts of the Middle East they will be seen as the good guys. They could do it time and again if they wanted to."

Americans also expressed dismay that the British had suspended boarding operations in the Gulf while its tactics are reassessed.

"Iran has got what it wants. They have secured free passage for smuggling weapons into Iraq without a fight," one US defence department official said.
Here's where Iran threatens more kidnappings, and as much as admit to piracy in the case of the 15 Brits:
Conservative parliamentarian Amir Hassankhani, a former member of the country's Revolutionary Guard and supporter of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the country's semi-official Fars news agency: "The arrest and release of the British sailors proved that if Iran's issues and demands are overlooked at the international level, the Islamic republic can create different challenges for the other side."
Blockade. Now.

Spring Offensive

The warrior strode confidently across the tarmac. His war machine sat waiting, eagerly anticipating the carnage to come. Another year, another Spring Offensive. An offensive that would last until the bitter winter wind started to blow.

The warrior climbed into the seat and looked over the familiar controls and gauges. It was time. He ran down the pre-start checklist from memory...

Brakes: Engaged
Mower deck: Up
Blades: Disengaged
Throttle: 100%
Choke: 100%

Another year, another Spring Offensive.

Big brass balls watch

Now that Iran has freed the 15 British sailors and marines they never should have taken hostage in the first place, they're looking to Britain for some quid pro quo. Specifically, they'd like help in getting their spies and saboteurs back from the US and in persuading the world to look the other way while they build nukes.
An Iranian official has called for Britain to respond with a gesture of good will following Teheran's release of the 15 Royal Navy personnel.

Rasoul Movahedian, Iran’s ambassador to Britain, said Teheran wants help to secure the release of five Iranians captured by US forces in Iraq and to ease global fears about its nuclear programme.
This is how Tony Soprano might operate. You know..."So, I do ya this one ting, and maybe someday, you do someting for me, capish?".

Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking the response should be a rather loud "sod off!".

Friday, April 06, 2007


Subverting foreign policy

While the Dems and the lefties crow over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's foreign policy coup, more rational people worry about the precedent set by her unsanctioned state visits. The door is apparently now open for any functionary of the US government to unilaterally engage with representatives of foreign governments.

Pelosi's defense is that she's "enforcing" recommendations put forth by the Iraq Studies Group. That's complete and utter bullshit. The Iraq Studies Group report isn't a piece of legislation, and wasn't even produced by a government body. How the hell does one "enforce" recommendations, anyway?

I have just two words: Logan Act.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

God hates baseball...and Al Gore

With temperatures like this in the first week of the baseball season, can there be any question that God hates both baseball and Al Gore?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

When work attacks

I've got a few posts I want to put up, but work (the paying kind) has been crazy lately.

I hope to get back to a more normal schedule soon. In the mean time, Go Red Sox!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

15 Brits held hostage in Iran; 58 million more Brits held hostage in Britain

While Islamist freakazoids hold 15 British sailors and marines hostage in Iran, the rest of the country is being held hostage by Islamist freakazoids at home, according to the Daily Mail.
Schools are dropping controversial subjects from history lessons - such as the Holocaust and the Crusades - because teachers do not want to cause offence, Government research has found.

[ ... ]

Some teachers have even dropped the Holocaust completely from lessons over fears that Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic reactions in class.

And one school avoided teaching the Crusades because its "balanced" handling of the topic would directly contradict what was taught in local mosques.
If the British government can't stand up to the rabble in their own country, how can they be expected to stand up to the rabble running Iran?