Saturday, December 31, 2005

Gotta love PeTA

For comic relief, anyway.

A 19-year-old PeTA staffer has legally changed his name from "Chris Garnett" to "". Really.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Our pals the Germans

Germany has set Mohammed Ali Hamadi free. This is the oxygen thief who murdered a US Navy diver and threw his body onto the tarmac during the 1989 hijacking of TWA 847.

Denials that the action was taken in response to the release of a German hostage being held by terrorists working in Iraq have been issued. I, for one, am ignoring those denials.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Breaking: the sky is blue, and grass is green

.. and media bias is real.

A UCLA study has confirmed what anyone with a clue has known since they first learned to read or work a TV remote: the American mainstream media has a leftward bias.

Twenty media outlets studied; 18 lean left. Only Brit Hume's show on Fox News and the Washington Times lean right.

Anyway: check it out. This appears to be a serious study, not just some blowhards giving their opinions.

UPDATE: This appears to be the work product of the study.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The NSA kerfuffle

I'm a bit taken aback by the extent of liberal crowing over today's claim by the NY Times that Bush authorized secret surveillance of international communications originating from within the US after 9/11.

The NSA has monitored electronic message traffic for years, both foreign and domestic (the latter when the message had a foreign origin). The only real change here is that of surveillance of international messages originating in the US.

Additionally, the persons so monitored were those who appeared in the phone lists and email address books of terrorists captured or otherwise compromised overseas - in other words, some obviously very bad people. The program has thwarted attacks on the Brooklyn Bridge as well as British pubs and rail assets, saving possibly thousands of lives.

And yet, despite the fact that it seems impossible, the Angry Left is an order of magnitude angrier with Bush today than they were yesterday - and not only Bush, but anyone who dares contradict the notion that he be impeached, hanged from a lamppost, or worse - I've been called a pig f-cker and a piece of sh-t within the last hour.

Sure, I wish there could be some sort of middle-between-two-ends solution here - perhaps requiring that the FBI obtain a warrant and take over such surveillance after the initial involvement of the NSA, and of course the NSA itself should have to justify such acts after-the-fact. But in case nobody's noticed, there is a war on, and sometimes there just isn't time for peacetime niceties. But the Angry Left will have none of this; better that 1000 Brits should burn in their pubs than one person of indeterminate citizenship standing on US soil should have his conversation listened in upon by someone working in an alphabet agency.

I just don't get it. It's an interesting time to be alive, but I just don't get this.


Well, the company I was working for turned off the lights and closed the doors on Wednesday. This was not unexpected - in fact, we've known it was inevitable for a few weeks now - but it's still infuriating. If you're going to open a startup, make sure your investors know at least something about your market space,that's all I have to say.

Any of my several readers out there know of any hiring going on in the Electronic Design Automation or semiconductor design spaces?

Drop me an email at You won't get a reply from there (take a look at to see why), but you will get my undying gratitude....

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Democrats lose yet another election

Not that you'd notice. Coverage of today's historic Iraqi elections - with Sunnis participating in droves this time - was off the CNN web page by late evening.

Ah well. I'm travelling, so blogging will be light (lighter than normal, even), and that's pretty much all I have to say about this today. We'll see what the results look like when we start seeing them in another month or so.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gotta love Iowahawk

Faithful readers of The Onion will no doubt recognize who's being parodied in this piece damn near immediately.

Others might never get it, but something tells me that the humor won't be lost on them either.

Osirik Redux

True to form, it looks like the Israelis are not going to take the threat of Nuclear Iran lying down.

Note El-Baredei's warning that "the world [is] 'losing patience' with Iran."


And of course everyone will be shocked - shocked! when Israel and/or the US takes action.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Forget Tookie and Mumia

Here's a death-penalty fight worth getting behind.

Certain facts about the case are not in dispute. Prior to the events of December 26, 2001, Mr. Maye had no criminal record. On December 26, 2001, Cory Maye shot a police officer carrying out a search warrant. However, the warrant being served was not for Mr. Maye, nor for his residence. The execution of the warrant involved a ‘no-knock’ entry, late at night. Mr. Maye relinquished his weapon, and ceased resisting when it became obvious that the people that burst into his home were law enforcement officers.

Subsequently, Mr. Maye was charged with capital murder, for killing a police officer in the line of duty. A trial was held in Prentiss Mississippi, a jury convicted Mr. Maye, and sentenced him to death.

The above is an excerpt from a letter to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Read the whole thing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts

This is so easy that I'm just going to list the steps. And since I'm feeling extra-lazy at the moment, I'm just going to cut-and-paste from a posting I made elsewhere, along with commentary and a response from some other guy:

> >[1] Clean, trim, bisect through the radial axis, blanch, shock,
> >dry, saute in olive oil, add lots of minced garlic about halfway
> >through, and be sure to get the cut sides nice and brown.

> Sounds good. Easy, too.

Oh, it's damn good. Brussels sprouts are the Queen of Vegetables anyway; this just makes 'em even better. Just be careful not to burn the garlic.

When I was about nine, my younger brother was horrified to find a brussels sprout on his plate. In a rare moment of fraternal comity, I decided to help him through this crisis by explaining to him that it was nothing more than "a little baby cabbage." He's been a very serious vegetable eater ever since.

Now, if I could just get my SO to eat them....

> ("Shock"?)

Plunge into ice water to halt the cooking process.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rumsfeld out?

I've heard (and read) some rumors to the effect that Rumsfeld will resign early next year, perhaps to be replaced by Joe Lieberman. No cite as it's just rumors....

Frankly, I don't see the Lieberman angle, unless he's decided not to run for Senate again when his term expires.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Political cartoons

Michelle Malkin points to Pat Oliphant's latest outrage and wonders whether there is any cartoonist working in the MSM who doesn't have BDS.

Well, there's Chuck Asay, of course.

Our broken military

The Democrats and the popular press seem to be all over the idea that the US military is on its last legs and that morale is in the toilet.

Geoff Davis, a former Army officer and a congressman from Kentucky, sees plenty of progress. “I’ve talked with hundreds of soldiers and Marines, ranging from junior-enlisted soldiers to my West Point classmates who I’ve known for nearly 30 years and served with in the Middle East myself as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, and they believe in the mission. They see the success. And they ask me, why is politics consuming this mission that we are clearly winning?”

That’s strange, how could America be “clearly winning” when the media tells us every day that we’re losing?

The good news includes Army re-enlistments. As of August, all of the Army’s 10 divisions had exceeded re-enlistment goals for the year to date. Those with the most experience in Iraq have the best rates. The 1st Cavalry Division is at 136 percent of its goal; the 3rd Infantry Division, at 117 percent.

“This is unprecedented in wartime,” said retired Army officer Ralph Peters. “Even in World War II, we needed the draft. Where are the headlines? ...The ugly truth is that much of the media only cares about our soldiers when they’re dead or crippled. That’s a story.”

And then, of course, there's the country we've occupied, subjugated, and left in ruins:

The Iraqi economy is humming along and, yes, even booming. Iraqis are better off financially they have been for two decades. Per capita income has doubled since the U.S. ended Saddam Hussein’s regime, note the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. There are more than 3.5 million cellular phone subscribers in Iraq, up from zero in Saddam’s day. Electricity output exceeds pre-war levels, and the September oil revenues were the highest in Iraqi history.

Largely spurred by the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is anticipated to grow at an eye-popping 16.8 percent in 2006. The Brookings Institution’s Iraq index says there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam’s time, five times more telephone subscribers and a 32-fold jump in Internet users.

As of September, there were 40 buildings nine stories or higher under construction in the Kurdish city of Sulaymani; as of five years ago, there were none.

In one of the most important areas, security, there has been steady if uneven progress. For example, terrorists were only able to launch 19 attacks on polling places during the October referendum, a significant drop from the 108 attacks during the January election.

Another indicator is the vastly improved safety of the four-lane, six-mile stretch of highway from central Baghdad to the airport that U.S. soldiers call “Route Irish.” Once one of the most dangerous roads in the world, the highway has been transformed into one of the most secure routes in all of Iraq. While 13 people were killed and 24 injured in ambushes on the airport road during April, only one person was injured in October, said U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lest we forget

I can't believe I've never run into this before.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Film: Aeon Flux

Much better than I'd expected. It was a bit silly in the mold of "The Matrix," with quite a lot in the way of not-very-credible stuntwork and marksmanship, but an enjoyable time nonetheless.

And while such flicks really don't require much in the way of acting, Charlize Theron did a pretty damn good job anyway.

If you like this sort of thing, it's worth a watch.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Congressional Redistricting

I see that the Texas congressional redistricting of a few years ago is in the news again.

Some time ago I came up with what I believe to be the perfect way to draw congressional districts:

  • Choose, at random, a voting precinct anywhere in the state.

  • Choose, at random, any precinct contiguous to the first. Compute the total population. Choose another one contiguous to the set consisting of the first two. Recompute the total population.

  • Continue as above until the total population reaches or exceeds that specified for congressional districts, within some tolerance. This is District 1.

  • Choose, at random, an as-yet-unchosen voting precinct and repeat the process for District 2. Repeat again for District 3, etc.

  • After all precincts have been assigned to congressional districts, perform an annealing step: using contiguity as the primary cost function and population as a secondary cost function, trade precincts back and forth until all of the districts are contiguous and more or less the same size, population-wise.

A third-year computer-science student could write this as a class

(But: who will bell the cat?)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Liberal Lies About Iraq

Insight Magazine is back. And apparently raring to go. From Mona Charen:

One Marine, Sgt. Todd Bowers, who did two tours in Iraq, described the attitude of many press types. "They didn't want to talk to us." Why? I asked. "Because we were gung-ho for the mission." Sgt. Bowers, who was saved from grievous injury when a bullet lodged in the sight of his rifle (a sight his father had purchased for him), is chary about the press.

In his first tour, he noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. Yet Sgt. Bowers saw plenty that would have made fine snapshots. In Baghdad, Al Kut and Al-Nasiriyah, Sgt. Bowers reported no signs of anti-American feeling at all among Iraqis.

Fallujah, of course, was different, as the city was a hotbed of terrorism, and the battle of Fallujah was one of the fiercest engagements of the war. During the battle, Sgt. Bowers found himself sharing a ride with an embedded reporter for the Associated Press. He was asked what he thought of the destruction. Sgt. Bowers responded that it was "Incredible, overwhelming. But it definitely had to be done."

He also stressed that because the enemy had fought so dirty, tough calls had to be made. Later, he saw himself quoted in newspapers around the country to the effect that the destruction was "overwhelming" as if he could not cope. He had also made some anodyne remarks about rebuilding the damaged areas of the city, and responded "Where to begin?" when asked about the plans. He was speaking of the water treatment plants, medical facilities, and schools American forces were about to help build, but his comments were offered as evidence of the futility of the situation—the very opposite of this eager Marine's intent.

There was plenty of progress to report, if the press had been interested. When the battle of Fallujah was over, the Marines set up a humanitarian relief station in an abandoned amusement park. Together with Iraqis locally hired and trained for the purpose and with an assist from the Iraqi ministry of the interior, they distributed rice, flour, medical supplies, baby formula, and other necessities to thousands of Iraqis.

For six weeks, Sgt. Bowers reports, the distribution went beautifully, "like a well-oiled machine." Not worth a story, apparently. Only when something went wrong did the press see something worth reporting. A small group of Iraqis were turned away from the food distribution point, though they had been waiting in line for hours. They were given vouchers and told they could come to the front of the line the next morning when supplies would be replenished. These few unhappy souls were then besieged by press types eager to tell their story.

At the same site, the Marines had repaired an old Ferris wheel. The motor was dead, but when two Marines pushed and pulled by hand they could get the thing turning to give rides to the children of the Iraqi employees. They did so for hours on end. A photographer from a large American media company watched impassively. "Why don't you take a picture of this?" demanded one Marine. The photographer snorted, "That's not my job."

"Not my job," indeed. What about the "peoples' right to know?"

Link to Insight through makeashorterlink - Blogger would not accept the very long Insight link.

Timetables and Deadlines

Calls for timetables and set schedules for military action seem to be all the rage these days. Here's one I can get behind, as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

Israel "can't accept a situation where Iran has nuclear arms" and "is making all the necessary preparations to handle a situation like this," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday.

Iran's enemies have "the capability" to use military force to disrupt Iran's bid for nuclear arms, he said at the annual Editor's Committee gathering in Tel Aviv, adding that "before exercising it, every attempt should be made to pressure Iran into stopping its activity."

Sharon stressed that "Israel doesn't lead the struggle" to keep Iran nuclear-free, and he hoped the UN Security Council would neutralize "this great danger."

Sharon's comments raised Israel's rhetoric against Iran and came on the heels of assessments by IDF brass that, after March, diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear program will be pointless.

"Israel is not without hope and is taking all necessary measures, as it should," he said.

Another Osirik on the horizon?

Moral and/or legal dilemma

Let's say a Wall Street Journal reporter knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, but refuses to divulge that information in order to protect her confidential source.

Can she be jailed? Or should we just throw up our hands and say "Oh well, she's protecting a confidential source. The sanctity of the press must be maintained!"

Maybe this is a bit too close to the decision edge to call correctly. So let's say, instead, that she knows the code which will, via remote control, disable atomic bombs set to go off in 100 American cities at noon today. Can steps be taken to coerce her to divulge that code?

Believe it or not, some people I wrestle with on a closed newsgroup on a daily basis are actually holding forth with the idea that we can't - and shouldn't - do anything.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Film: Across the Pacific

I was raised in the Panama Canal Zone. As such, any bit of popular culture that includes a reference to my homeland interests me.

I've seen "Across the Pacific" more than a couple of times. It's a Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor film set in just-prewar Panama. I've never noticed this, though:

During the opening credits a map of the Canal Zone is displayed. The map is turned around a bit, so that the Carribean is on the left and the Bay of Panama is on the right, with the Canal itself pretty near to the horizontal.

Well, that's okay; nobody says that North has to be at the top of the map.

But although they labelled the two bodies of water properly, they have the cities of Colon and Panama - and, more importantly, the Pacific and Atlantic (or "other") sides of the Isthmus reversed.


Well, I guess this kind of thing probably doesn't matter to more than a handful of people today.

The Journal Editorial Report

Excellent news: the Wall Street Journal Editorial Report is moving from PBS to Fox News. This is particularly good news for those of us here in the Dallas area, since the wretches at KERA have consistently refused to carry it.

Read about it here.

Recipe: Margarita

I'm kind of a precise sort of cook. Much of what I do is by instinct and feel, but when I hit upon the right combination of ingredients, process and cooking times, I tend to write it down and get pretty anal-retentive about doing it exactly the same way the next 10,000 times. And my margarita recipe is like that:

First, obtain the biggest, juiciest limes you can find. Buy one per margarita. If you can only find sad little hard limes, buy two or three per margarita.

Oh, and buy Persian limes. If you can only find Key limes, just forget it and buy some nice Belgian beer.

For each margarita:

  • Place a large cocktail glass in the freezer. Wait half an hour or so; two hours would be better. The kind with etched designs on the outside and which look like over-sized martini glasses are best.

  • Roll the lime on the counter, kind of hard, to loosen it up just a bit. Cut it in half through the "equator." Rinse your knife off, particularly if it's that nice Henkels with the fresh edge. Squeeze the lime with a hand squeezer (the kind that looks like a bowl with a central ribbed squeezy-thingy). Throw one half of the lime shell in the compost pile, and put the other half aside for the moment.

  • Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer and into a cocktail shaker. (If you don't have a cocktail shaker, run out and buy one. Get a good stainless-steel one, or a professional glass-and-stainless combination with a separate strainer.) Use your (clean!) finger or a muddler (if anyone's looking) to break up any lime sacs; you want all the juice you can get.

  • Get out your graduated cylinder. (If you don't have a graduated cylinder, use your volumetric measure with the smallest units; preferably milliliters.) Measure the volume of the lime juice.

  • If measuring in ml, round off to the nearest integer divisible by three. This makes the arithmetic easier. If not measuring in ml, read on and (shudder) fake it.

  • Double the amount obtained in the last step, and divide by three. This is the amount of triple sec you will use.

  • Pour the lime juice back into the shaker, and measure out the triple sec. Add it to the lime juice in the shaker.

  • Using the doubled amount obtained in the lime-juice-measuring step, measure out your tequila. Pour it into the shaker. This gives you a ratio of triple sec : lime : tequila of 2:3:6, which is the definition of a margarita. Anything else is, well, something else.

  • Add ice cubes (or, yeah, crescents) to the shaker. Leave enough head space for a medium-sized apple. (No, don't add an apple, just leave that much space. Sheesh.)

  • Close up the shaker, and shake very vigorously 128 times. (To keep count easily, count four repetitions of four shakes, and repeat that four times; then do it again.) What you're after here is for the mixture to be VERY well mixed, the shaker to threaten to give you frostbite, and the ice to be broken up into pieces; some small enough to get through the strainer and into the glass. If you can obtain this last feature, you are very close to margarita nirvana indeed.

  • Put the shaker on the counter, and catch your breath for just a moment. Particularly if this is your third or fourth margarita. Ignore any expectant glares from your housemates or guests.

  • Take the glass out of the freezer. Rub the reserved lime shell around the rim. Throw it (the lime shell) onto the compost heap. Pour a bit of kosher salt into your (clean!) palm, and coat the now-wet rim of the glass with it. If you don't have kosher salt, pour the whole mess down the drain and call it a day.

  • Strain the margarita into the glass. You may have some left over; if the margarita is for you, just let it sit till you want it. If it's for a guest, this is your portion; add it to your own glass.

  • Repeat as required or requested.


Use a middle-of-the-road triple sec and Jose Cuervo white tequila. Cuervo Gold is for undergraduates, who don't know any better. If you're making "top-shelf" margaritas, use Cointreau and Sauza Hornitos Reposado and be sure to let everyone around you know about it.

Be sure to build the margarita in the order given. The tequila helps rinse out the sugary reside of the triple sec from your graduated cylinder.

If someone asks for a margarita "on-the-rocks," it is permissable to sigh heavily and proceed as above - only instead of straining the margarita into a proper cocktail glass, just dump the whole thing, ice and all, into a (salted!) rocks glass and add more ice as necessary.

If someone asks for a frozen margarita, it is permissable to give them the back of your hand and order them off your property.

If someone asks for a frozen margarita with fruit (other than lime juice) in it, it is permissable to shoot them through the head with a small-frame, large-caliber handgun and order their friends to remove the corpse from your property.

If you are making margaritas for a house party, it is common practice to ask guests to squeeze their own limes. The reason for this become obvious after the eleventh or twelfth margarita. The host's prerogative (taking the leftover from the shaker after pouring the drink) evaporates (so to speak) under this policy, however.

Have fun - and, as always, play safe.

Bush tweaks the NY Times

Just about a month ago, the blogosphere was all a-twitter over a bit of creative quoting by the NY Times. It seems that, on the occasion of the moonbat celebration of the 2000th American soldier killed in the Iraq war, they chose to quote from a letter found on a dead Marine's laptop - but did so in such a way as to completely change the meaning of the man's words and to obscure his great depth of character.

You can read all about it here.

This morning, in a major war-policy speech at the Naval Academy, President Bush read from Cpl. Starr's letter. But he left the important bits in. I can't interpret this as anything but a pointed dig at the Old Gray Lady - and if anyone deserves it, it's her.

Here's the text of the letter:
Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.

The Times published only what's seen in boldface. The President put the rest of it back in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I have GOT to get one of these

What's the buzz? Teens don't want to hear it


The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he says, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

Who am I?

First off, forget about getting my real name. There are too many horror stories out there about people who've lost their jobs or lost out on business or employment opportunities over their blogs. I'm not going down that path.

Otherwise: I'm an engineer. I worked for a major semiconductor manufacturer for over ten years, until they got tired of paying me and hired two Indians to do my job. To hell with them. I'm still an engineer, but today I work in the electronic design automation industry - we sell software to major semiconductor manufacturers, so they can keep putting chips in Xboxes and other such crap.

I live in Texas. I'm not a Texan, though - apparently you have to be born here to claim that. It's fine, except that it's bloody hot in the summertime and there are way too many biblethumpers.

I don't like children, Democrats, Eurotrash or other such whiners. I don't believe in God or the Devil, although I sure as hell believe in the active presence of Good and Evil. I'm heterosexual and am in a long-term, stable relationship, but I don't believe in marriage - so for you gays out there, go ahead and knock yourselves out; I don't care.

(Okay, well not all of that is literally true. My mom was a Democrat, and some of my best friends are Democrats, and I like them just fine. But they're still Wrong. And children are fine if they're clean and quiet and behaving themselves, which they're usually not, but still. Some of them are even cute. Sometimes.)

What do I like? I like dogs, guns, beer, wine, whisky, cooking and film. Not necessarily in that order, and certainly not all at once. I like being outdoors and out of the city, although I almost never am either. I must like arguing with people about politics, since I seem to spend most of my time at that.

And if you haven't figured it out by now: why yes, I am an obstreperous curmudgeon.