Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Amazing and yet not too surprising

MSNBC - And who says I want to be rescued?
Boy, 3, crawls up into pizzeria claw toy machine, doesn’t want to leave

I can certainly believe that a 3 year old would want to get into a claw toy machine and not want to leave. What amazes me is that he could fit.
He said the gap Devin squeezed through was about 7 inches by 9 inches.
And apparently there have been similar incidences in the past. Maybe it's time the manufacturers rethink their design.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On politics and sports

Over at Poliblog and OTB there is talk of how politics is being treated like a sporting event and I feel the need to chime as I have some strong opinions on both.

James says:
Aside from following the occasional link during a blogstorm here and there, I quit reading the most virulent blogs on both sides years ago. What’s the point, really? Unfortunately, most blog readers, like talk radio listeners, gravitate to those sites where the host’s views mirror their own. This actually encourages over-the-top language, villification of the other side, and shoddy reasoning. Echo chambers tend not to reward nuance.
And then adds:
Yay us! Boo them!” is not particularly helpful in framing a public policy debate.
And I couldn't agree more. I've gone to some blogs that were way far left or way far right, but I quickly determined they were not worth my time. When it is all just regurgitated rhetoric from the party line (either party) with no original thought or analysis, what is the point.

Steven makes the original comparison to sports:
The notion that politics is a sporting event, and not a serious discourse that affects the lives of actual people, contributes to such attitudes, clearly.
I have often felt the same way and made a similar comparison. My feelings about sports and my feelings about politics are actually very similar. As previously noted, I do watch sporting events on occasion, but I'm not an avid sports fan, largely because of what "sports" have become. It is a game but so much of the sportsmanship has been lost. During the recent basketball games, I think Alabama was playing UCLA, and everytime Alabama got the ball, the fans started booing or making some distracting noise. It just really annoyed me. Why can't they just watch the game and let the teams play, but that is not what "sports" is about. Politics, unfortunately is the same way.

Political affiliation, for so many individuals has become as irrational as football in Alabama. There are so many people who are Auburn fans or Alabama fans who have no real affiliation with the school, but they practically bleed either orange and blue or crimson and white. The same is true of political affiliation for many people these days (or maybe always) it seems. The new addition of "red state"/"blue state" terminology only proves to accentuate the comparison. People support a political party that has no practical benefit for them personally and actually give very little thought to all the things that the party actually stands for. Consequently, political "debate" turns into name calling and political campaigns are like sporting events with the home crowd booing the visiting team. I just can't stand to watch.

The actual games of sport, like baseball and basketball, actually interest me. "Sporting events" do not. The actual study of politics and political theory interest me. "Politics" does not. It's rather sad actually.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The agony of defeat

I know I'm a little late to be blogging on the UCLA-Gonzaga game, but this is the first chance I've had. As previously mentioned, we were out of town during the game. We had cable t.v. but no internet access.

What a heartbreaker for Gonzaga! That had to hurt to lead the ENTIRE game and lose it in the last minute. UCLA made an amazing come back when it counted the most. My sister equated it to the tortoise and the hare, but I really don't think that Gonzaga took a nap on this one. In the second half, UCLA really played aggressively and clawed their way back. You really had to feel for Adam Morrison there at the end. It was obviously a really emotional loss.

I'm back from DeSoto

We spent a couple of days at DeSoto State Park in north Alabama. It was nice and quiet. We mostly hiked and enjoyed the beauty of nature for a few days.

That's me with my boys. I made a new webshots photo album and put a few of the many pictures from the trip in it. Hopefully I'll have time to add more later.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Of course they don't listen

MSNBC - Iraqi diplomat gave U.S. prewar WMD details

The CIA had secret information from a top Iraqi official about the status of Saddam's weapons program and they didn't believe him. Of course they didn't believe him. He wasn't saying what they wanted to hear.

In this case, they paid him money for the information, so they must have thought the info he had would be useful, but then they didn't believe it once they got it. To me this provides an excellent example of why torture for information is completely useless, on top of being completely immoral. If they don't believe the information they pay for, why should they believe the information they torture out of people.

Think about it. If you are being tortured and you deside to talk, are you gonna tell the truth or are you gonna tell them what they want to hear? IF you tell them the truth and they don't believe you, they keep torturing you. What is the incentive to be honest?

The bottom line is, people have the tendency to accept as truth those things that back up what they already believed in the first place. What is the point in gathering more information if you are just going to discount it. Why not just act on your prejudices outright, if that's all you're willing to believe anyway?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Is Impeachment a Good Idea?

‘Impeach Bush’ chorus grows - Times online

With Dubya's approval rating at a record low, the talk of impeachment has begun to heat up.

THE movement to impeach President George W Bush over the war on terror began with a few tatty bumper stickers on the back of battered old Volvos and slogans such as “Bush lied, people died” on far-left websites. But as Democrat hopes rise of gaining control of Congress this autumn, dreams of impeaching Bush are no longer confined to the political fringe.

The question arises, is it a good idea to impeach President Bush or not?

Republicans are practically begging them to “bring it on” in the hope that the chatter will tar their opponents as loony leftists who care nothing for national security. “This is such a gift,” said Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio chat show host.

And the limited record seems to indicate that impeachment can have a negative impact on the opposition party

Some seasoned Democrat counsellors are warning party activists that voters are rarely interested in vengeful politics. In the 1998 mid-term elections, for example, the Republicans’ often mean-spirited efforts to impeach Clinton cost them seats that they had been expected to win.

However, when one considers the rediculous charges the Republicans were willing to use to impeach Pres. Clinton, it seems to me that what Pres. Bush has done is far more deserving.

The problem remains, however, that this is likely to be seen by many as a simple revenge tactic. I remember hearing last year, that people were only saying that Bush lied because the Republicans had said that Clinton lied. It's almost like the Republicans now have a free pass on anything they do, because of what they did to the Democrats during Clinton's terms. The article ever says:

The urge to impeach is partly payback for the Bill Clinton era when Republicans dragged the president through the mud over his dalliance with the intern Monica Lewinksy.
Anything that the Democrats try to do is just seen as petty retaliation.

Judged on it's own merits, what the Bush administration has done, misleading us into a war that we will likely never win and throwing the Constitution out the window whenever they feel like it, may be grounds for impeachment. It certainly deserves a closer look. And judged in the light of what Clinton was impeached over, it certainly merits impeachment.

However, judged in the light of all of US history, it's really just politics as usual. Is the Patriot Act or the wire taping issue any worse than Adams's Alien and Sedition Act? Is the intellegence used to mislead us into the war in Iraq that much different than the Maine incident that led us into the Spanish American War or the Gulf of Tonkin incident that got us full scale into the war in Vietnam?

Maybe those acts were impeachable too. But I don't believe the American people are ready for impeachment to become the norm of every administration. I don't believe the American system of government could survive if it did.

The Congress needs to take back its powers and stop abdicating to the Executive Branch. The executive branch has gained too much power in general, this administration is simply exploiting those powers. The checks and balances are there for a reason, USE THEM! Don't wait and use the last resort of impeachment.

In sum, does Bush deserve it? Yeah, probably so. Is it a good idea? Ultimately, probably not.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bush in a Word

The Pew Institute shows the changing view of President Bush, in one word.

Incompetent moves up to the #1 answer, and Honest moves down from #1 to a tie for 5th.

The top 5 are:
#1 - Incompetent (29 respondents)
#2 - Good (23 respondents)
#3 - Idiot (21 respondents)
#4 - Liar (17 respondents)
#5 - Christian (14 respondents)
#5 - Honest (14 respondents)

In total, only 28% use a positive word, while 48% use a negative word, and 10% remain neutral.

Can I go too?

Oh Eric, you make Michigan sound so good.
Snow - I know it is nostalgiac to think this way, but I miss snow. Ice skating, snowmen, and skiing!
. . .
All of the culture that Detroit, Toronto and Chicago have to offer. All of the great museums and musical shows/concerts that come each year. Ecspecially the car show and the Electronic music festival (Detroit is the birthplace of electronic music!). I can't wait to go the Detroit zoo and see Dave Matthews in Comerica park.
. . .
Four distinct seasons. If I wanted to sweat to death then I would go to a sauna. Not natural.
. . .
Being in a blue state again and not living in the Bible belt.

A must read for all Alabamians who wish they weren't.

A little fun . . .

at Dick Cheney's expense. Always worthwhile. Click!

h/t: The Wilson Tag Team Blogfest

Good Night and Good Luck

Last night my husband and I watched a movie, which is actually rather rare in our household. We rented Good Night and Good Luck, a movie about Edward R. Murrow's stand against Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunt. I found the movie particularly interesting in today's context of the war on terrorism, as many conservative pundits cry "treason" or "terrorist sympothizer" to anyone who dares to exercise his or her constitutional right to free speech. I must say, however, that we are still far from McCarthyism at this point, but a little reminder of where we have been in the past is probably good at this point.

The movie also gives an interesting look into world of mass media and the affects that profit motive and advertising have on what we see on the news.

The movie begins and ends with Murrow addressing a crowd at the 1958 convention of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. In his address, he warns against television becoming simply entertainment and not being used to educate and inform, a good message even today.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in politics or American history.

Crossposted at Troy PoliSci

Friday, March 17, 2006

Smile of the Day

If you ever thought your job was bad. . .

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

The day to celebrate all things Irish, like


and U2

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Site Meter Strange-ness

I use Windows XP and so there are several user accounts on my home computer. Mostly I go on under my own account name, but sometimes, if the kids are already logged on, I go online under their account name. I have my site meter set not to recognize my visits from my computer. I have noticed that if I visit my blog when I'm using another Windows XP account it registers my visit. That's really not that odd I guess because the cookie, or what ever, is probably only on my account.

Here is were the real strange-ness comes in though. When I look at the details for the visit, it lists the visit as coming from Dallas, Texas, and I'm in Troy, Alabama. If it is not me that it is picking up, then someone in Dallas is going to my blog at the exact same time as me every time, which seem more than just unlikely. Does anyone have a reasonable explanation for this? It makes me doubt the reliability of site meter.

I just don't understand. . .

why this falls to the government.
WSFA - Montgomery Water Park Not a Done Deal
If developers want to build a water park in Montgomery (or anywhere for that matter) let them, but why should the local government pay for construction? I really don't understand. The article says:
Four developers have expressed interest in operating a water park at Gateway. But in order to make a profit, they need the city to pay the up-front costs.
What I don't get is why they should be able to make a profit off of something the city builds. I know that cities often build stadiums for pro sports teams, and some are comparing it to the building of the baseball stadium,
"When you look at baseball in Montgomery, there were a lot of nay-says who didn't see the vision," said council member C.C. Calhoun. "Now look at the development downtown behind baseball."
Maybe there is some room for government spending it stimulate the economy; I am familiar with Keynesian economics, but I just don't understand things like this. I really don't even get why the city should pay for stadiums and equating a water park to a baseball stadium is quite a stretch in my opinion.

It is my understanding that the city doesn't even pay for new roads in a new subdivision, nor do they even maintain them for the first 6 months to a year, but these developers think they should have millions paid for them, up front, so that they can make a profit on a water park? Do we believe in liberal capitalism or not? I think if the government is building it, it should be like a public park, either free or usable at minimal cost, not something that private owners make a profit from.

At least it seem that at this point it not going to happen.
The mayor and some city council members say they feel obligated to finish Gateway as planned.

"A vast majority of people in the neighborhood had input on the way this plan was put together," the mayor said.

Ok, I'm done ranting . . . for now.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Is depression grounds for suspension?

Washington Post - GWU Suit Prompts Questions Of Liability
Apparently George Washington University thinks so:
About 2 a.m. one sleepless night, sophomore Jordan Nott checked himself into George Washington University Hospital.

He was depressed, he said, and thinking about suicide.

Within a day and a half of arriving there, he got a letter from a GWU administrator saying his "endangering behavior" violated the code of student conduct. He faced possible suspension and expulsion from school, the letter said, unless he withdrew and deferred the charges while he got treatment.

Over at University Diaries the take is "sued if you do sued if you don't" and her sympathies are with her university. But I have to take a little different perspective on this one.

I can understand not wanting to be sued over suicides, but it seems to me that threatening to suspend or expel the students that seek help is ultimately detrimental to their cause. It seems to me that this would discourage treatment and possibly lead to more suicides. Ones that could be considered their fault because their policy penalized those who sought help. It seems like a wiser policy to encourage treatment and threaten suspension to those who will not consent to treatment, if they want to have a policy on the issue.

Additionally, it seems that if you truly are going to be "sued if you do and sued if you don't" then the best policy is to do what is best for the students. Turning your back on them at a vulnerable time hardly seems to fit that bill. And even if the university doesn't see it as turning their back on the student, the student obviously saw it that way. To a depressed and suicidal individual, his or her impression of the situation is really all that matters at that point.

I certainly hope our university doesn't have a policy like that.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Real or Hoax - Update

In an earlier post, I directed you to a fun sight called, which debunks several urban myths. My eldest son got a real kick out of the sight and was reading a lot of their stories. At the dinner table last night, he mentioned that one of the stories snopes marked as true, he had seen proven false on the TV show Urban Legends. So I decided to check into it a little more.

On the sight, there is a subsection called "The Repository of Lost Legends (TRoLL)" and that is the section where Eldest Son had seen the story in question (about the showing of the Poseidon Adventure on the Titanic). I read one of the stories it called true and it sounded completely bogus to me, so I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page that said "more information about this page." Which took me to this page, which said everything in the TRoLL section was made up. So, a word to the wise, you can't even trust the people who claim to be setting you straight on what everybody else told you. In the world wide web of information, apparently A LOT is actually misinformation. They do make a good point in their explanation of why the TRoLL section exists:
This section graphically demonstrates the pitfalls of falling into the lazy habit of taking as gospel any one information outlet's unsupported word. We could have put up a page saying "Don't believe everything you read, no matter how trustworthy the source," but that wouldn't have conveyed the message half as well as showing through direct example just how easy it is to fall into the "I got it from so-and-so, therefore it must be true" mindset. That's the same mindset that powers urban legends, the same basic mistake that impels countless well-meaning folks to confidently assert "True story; my aunt (husband, best friend, co-worker, boss, teacher, minister) told me so."

No single truth purveyor, no matter how reliable, should be considered an infallible font of accurate information. Folks make mistakes. Or they get duped. Or they have a bad day at the fact-checking bureau. Or some days they're just being silly. To not allow for any of this is to risk stepping into a pothole the size of Lake Superior.
To that I must say, Well said! In fact the whole "False Authority" page is worth a read.

On a Personal Note. . .

This week, on Wednesday actually, my eldest son turned 17 years old. During the day, I had thought about it being his birthday, but I hadn't really thought about the age he was turning. That evening, it just sorta struck me that he was now 17. Somehow, all of a sudden, 17 seemed so much older than 16. Maybe it was because I thought about the fact that I was 17 when he was born. It is just hard to come to terms with the fact that he is now the age that I was then, but it helps me to realize just how young I was then. I just hope he won't make as many mistakes as I made.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Is Nessy and Elephant?

MSNBC - Was Loch Ness monster actually an elephant?
Apparently that's the newest theory floating about.
Neil Clark, curator of paleontology at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, sees striking similarities between descriptions of Nessie and what an Indian elephant looks like while swimming. And perhaps not coincidentally a traveling circus featuring elephants passed by the misty lake in the 1930s at the height of the monster sightings.

I can see the resemblance between the two, and the some of his arguments sound reasonible.
Clark noted that in 1933, impresario Bertram Mills promised anyone who could capture the monster for his circus a 20,000-pound reward, which Clark reckoned would be equivalent to nearly $1.8 million today. Perhaps Mills dared offer such a huge sum because he knew it would never be claimed, Clark speculated.

Others argue:
"Ah! Bloody dismissive, that's what people are," said George Edwards, skipper of the Nessie Hunter, a tour boat on Loch Ness.

Reached by phone, Edwards said he didn't think much of the pachyderm hypothesis. For one thing, he said, "How does it account for more recent sightings? Yes, it's possible -- you can never say never, but I think its very, very unlikely."

It seems quite possible to me that the 1930s sightings could have been elephant enduced. The ancient sightings could have been anything, but once the idea is placed into people's heads that there is a monster in the lake, anything can and will look like a monster to the person who wants to see one. An elephant is as good as anything else.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


What do David Allen Coe (singer/song writer), Edgar Allen Poe (author/poet), and Vincent Van Gogh (artist) have in common? Well, their names rhyme and apparently my 14 year old gets them confused with each other. One has to wonder what is going on in that brain.

Real or a Hoax?

I'd really like to thank "anonymous" and Jay for directing me to this really cool website Although the picture I was sent was a hoax, snopes has some good pictures they insist aren't hoaxes, including a scary picture of Michael Jackson and a somewhat humorous tombstone. Check the website out and keep them in mind the next time you get an email with a story that seems a bit incredible. They address all sorts of urban legends and email hoaxes. It's definitely worth a look.

Update: Always be cautious with anything you read on the internet. Click.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Should teachers teach kids to think? - Teacher suspended for Bush remark
Stories like this one really bother me, especially considering the fact that I hope to teach political science and history courses someday. Of course I haven't heard the actual tape recording of what the teacher said, but the excerpts don't sound that unreasonable.

"Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say," Bennish told students at the suburban high school. "We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward, and our job is to conquer the world."
If what Bush said sounded similar to what Hitler said, the teacher has a right, and in my opinion a duty, to say it. The article goes on to say:

The teacher quickly made clear that he wasn't equating the president with Hitler, but the damage was done.
and then adds:

According to the transcript, Bennish concluded by saying: "I'm not implying in any way you should agree with me. ... What I'm trying to do is to get you to ... think about these issues more in depth."
It's possible that this teacher went over the line in what he had to say, but trying to get students to think is an intergral part of a teacher's job. I had a teacher in high school that often played devil's advocate just to make us think about our beliefs.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons to study history is to learn from the mistakes of the past. People did listen to Hitler and he led them down a terrible path, but it seemed reasonable to many of the German people at the time. Heck, eugenics was even popular in the United States at that time too. We, the United States of America, are not immune to falling prey to evil ideas. One of the reasoning for educating the populace is to make them better citizens, one capible of carrying on democracy. We need people who can think for themselves.

I know, from being in the schools, that children can be easily led. I agree that teachers should not try to indoctrinate their students into their own political beliefs or punish them for holding beliefs different from theirs. But teachers have the responsibility to encourage their students to think about things. I think everyone should challenge their own beliefs. Think about the things you believe and why you believe it. Think about the things you do and why you do them. Are they really right? Is there really a good reason to believe it or do it?

Think about the days in the United States when slavery was the common accepted practice for agricultural production. Everybody did it, but it didn't make it right. It was wrong and it took people challenging the norm and rethinking old ideas to finally make it right. Think about it, rethink about it and never stop thinking. That's what I want to teach my kids.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Amusing Picture

I received this picture in an e-mail and found it very amuzing. I thought I'd share. Make sure to read the print underneath the photo. The picture is supposedly from an issue of Popular Mechanic magazine in 1954.

Hint: click on the picture if you have trouble reading the text underneath.

UPDATE:Never believe forwarded e-mails. Here is a link to the real story. My thanks to "anonymous" for setting me straight.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Atlantis in the Persian Gulf

Scotland on Sunday is reporting that Dubai plans to build the world's first underwater hotel.
IT ALREADY has the world's most luxurious guesthouse, the biggest artificial island and the largest indoor ski resort. Now the tiny Arab state of Dubai has come up with another global first: an underwater hotel.
And these people are going to be running our ports? Ok, I'm not worried about the fact that they are Arabs, I'm just beginning to think they are NUTS!

I like Bruce Reed's take on the whole situation,
It's bad enough that Dubai wants to take over our ports. Next, it will make us live in them.
Too funny!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Alabama - Not So Bad?

We've had such nice weather lately that I found myself thinking that living in Alabama isn't so bad. It was a brief thought. Then I said to my husband "You know, if it weren't for the hurricanes, the stinking hot summers, the state politics and the provincial attitudes, south Alabama wouldn't be such a bad place to live." Ultimately, it was the best I could do.