Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Gone For Awhile

I am dealing with some difficult circumstances personally right now and thus do not have the mental energy to continue with this thing for awhile. I doubt many care, but for the few that do, I thought I would let you know. Thanks for your interest.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Star Wars Underwhelming

I finally broke down and watched the latest and last Star Wars movie. It certainly was not boring and had some nice parts here and there. Overall, though, the best I can say about the movie was that it was mixed. What hurt the movie the most was the role of Natalie Portman’s character in the end and the bad dialogue present throughout the movie.

For example, Ewan McGregor, playing Obi Wan Kenobi, says the following (or close to it) to Anakin Skywalker:

“Only Sith deal in absolutes!”

Is that not itself an absolute? So by making that claim, Kenobi is immediately contradicting himself. I thought the Jedi were supposed to be the smart ones in the Star Wars world.

Well, at least I have been hearing good things about the new Batman movie. Maybe I will enjoy that more.

Oh, have they found a cure for laziness yet?

Today’s Links of Note:

American Guards Discuss Their Experience Guarding Saddam

NY Times: Stadium Designs Around the World

Lowenstein: Freakonomics

Restaurant to Stop Putting Gold in Food

Brain Scans Find Female Orgasm Fakers

On this last story, am I the only one wondered how they were getting brain scans of people having an orgasm? Does it surprise no one that this was done by Europeans?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

JohnnyBlog Weekend Edition: Notable Stuff From Web

New York G.O.P. Clashes Over Candidates for 2006

Father Found Guilty of Killing 9 Children, Incest, Rape

BBCNews: Not Long for the Cassette

As TVs Grow So Do Electric Bills

WP: Javanomics 101: Today's Coffee is Tomorrow's Debt

Barnes: Prospective on Bush's Poll Numbers

Krauthammer: Assimilations is Key To Immigration Policy

Friedman: As Toyota Goes...

And The Others...

German Wal-Mart Employees Win Right To Flirt

I Remember "Grandpa's" Smile Very Well, He Never Paid for It

The Cleanest Cities

The Sweatiest Cities

Friday, June 17, 2005

Whiny-Ass Professors

Note: The following is a somewhat over-the-top rant meant to attack only asshole professors and not the good kind. Peace.

Cornell University, my alma matter, recently announced that President Jeffrey Lehman would be stepping down immediately from his position after being on the job for less than two years and that his predecessor, President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, would be taking control on an interim basis.

While the likely reason for Lehman’s departure was figured out by many, it remains unknown for many others. It was obviously a popular topic of gossip among professors and others involved with the university; I have no problem with this fact. By the same token, it is understandable that many in authority at the university would want to discourage gossip, innuendo and other conspiratorial talk from damaging the university’s reputation and slandering those involved with the transition. So I was not surprised when I learned that Dr. Charles Walcott, a tenured biology professor and elected dean of faculty, had sent out a memo asking many to stop the overheated and damaging gossip.

Dear Fellow Faculty Member:

I am certainly aware of, and concerned about, the many questions and concerns that have arisen since Saturday's announcement by President Jeffrey Lehman that he will step down as president of Cornell at the end of June. There have been many who want to discuss this and speculate beyond what was contained in the press announcements and University statements. Speculation, however, is neither constructive nor productive. Instead, we need to look to the future.

If you are contacted by members of the press or other outside groups who wish to discuss these issues about which you have no information, please refer them to the office of Tommy Bruce, the University's Vice President for Communications...

For most people this would seem not only a reasonable move by a large organization, but also a wise and restrained response to inflammatory speculation coming from reckless faculty. Ah, but we forget how childish and arrogant many professors are when anyone dares tell one or some of them to stop acting like a dumb ass.

According to the Ithaca Journal, this memo has sparked “outrage” from those tireless defenders of “academic freedom.” (Please insert a picture of face making lame air-quotes and making sarcastic rolls of the eyes while I say these words.) Apparently just asking faculty members to stop spreading rumors around and damaging the reputation of the school they depend on is a near violation of their constitutional right and certainly an outrageous threat on their academic freedom.

Nowadays, the idea of academic freedom has simply become ridiculous. Suddenly academic freedom means not only its original meaning of the ability for tenured faculty to freely explore and discuss ideas without fear of professional consequences but now also includes the right to spend a biology class lecture railing against the Bush administration, protection from ever being challenged on what they say by officials and the unwashed masses as well as the general duty to spew whatever random crap they feel like riffing on (as long as it is supports liberal ideology). Suddenly academic freedom is “a constitutional right”, according to Boalt Law Professor Jesse Choper, and not just a tradition shared by all universities.

To just about everyone else who work in jobs where what you say during work hours and sometimes outside of work hours can potentially risk your employment, the hyperbole from these childish professors seems ridiculous. “You mean you already have no risk of losing your job, can say whatever you want and now you are bitching about someone telling to stop being retarded? Get over yourself!”

University faculties are becoming increasingly intellectually-inbred and yet many professors cannot understand why their stature has decreased among their students and among the public at large. Many professors act like spoiled children when anyone disagrees with them or when any of their feelings of superiority and entitlement are threatened. Many in the humanities spend most of their time thinking up pointless new ways of overanalyzing every part of the arts and society, thinking of irrelevant new departments like “Post-Modern Lesbian Sociology” and using their classes as compulsory political indoctrination for young college students. The subject of this post is just another of the thousands of examples where faculties have acted like spoiled children and it will not be the last.

I am left with a few final questions.

Do these professors realize that students are not producing work mirroring their point of view not just because students have acceded to their instructors' superior intellect but often because students do not want to risk a bad grade because the professor does not agree with what they believe?

Where were the calls for academic freedom when Larry Summers made his controversial remarks a couple of months ago?

Does this feeling of entitlement come from the fact that most of these angry professors never had to do real work in their lives and do not know how lucky they are to be in such privileged positions?

Why is it okay to question business ties of someone and the requisite conflicts of interest but not the conflicts of interest that professors have coming from the fact that they often rely on government spending, fed by other’s taxes, to support their research and salaries?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The JohnnyBlog's Lazy-Ass Thursday Post

Yeah so, I am tired and have no energy to think about life's big questions and controversies right now. But what the hell, I am going to go ahead and just give you a bunch of interesting articles to read instead:

TCS: PETA Equals People Enabling Terrorist Atrocities

NY Times: Demand for Natural Gas Brings Big Import Plans, and Objections

[Irony Department] Author of Book on Chicago Fire Jailed For Arson

NY Times: Dark Was the Young Knight Battling His Inner Demons

Operation Babylift Orphans Return to Vietnam

Trust Those Who Look Like You, Lust for the Ones Who Don’t

NY Times: All That Calcium, and Maybe Weight Control Too

David Brooks: Joe Strauss to Joe Six-Pack

NY Times: Studies Rebut Earlier Report on Pledges of Virgnity

Washington Post: Crab Part Male, Part Female, Fully Mysterious

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Marrital Idiocy

In the Science section of the New York Times on Tuesday, Claudia Dreifus interviews Stephanie Coontz who is promoting a book she wrote on marital history. The majority of the interview is humdrum, but I have to quibble with a couple of the questions and responses. It is pretty clear that Coontz is promoting a feminist prospective on marriage in this book, which I do not mind per se, but I do mind some leaps she makes.

Q. Some critics wonder whether the changes in marriage have been good for children. Are you sympathetic to their concerns?

A. Certainly the situation for modern families is not easy. But you know, when people romanticize the marriages of the past, they say, "Marriage is about making sure that every child has a mother and a father." But for thousands of years, marriage was about getting in-laws, making alliances, determining which child had a right to parents and inheritance. Illegitimate children had no rights. A lot of these traditionalists idealize a paradise that never was.

Where in her response does she actually address the fact that children, especially male children, are being hurt by single-mother househoulds? In econometric analysis of crime rates, for example, 50% of crime is linked, controlling for poverty, to single-mother households. What about the fact that children are now being more raised by day-care workers than by one of the parents? It seems like a non-sequitor response to avoid addressing a legitimate concern.

Q. What do you make of the fact that divorce rates are especially high in many "red" states like Oklahoma and Alabama?

A. I see it as a sign that families are changing so rapidly that stated values are poor predictors of actual behavior. Educated individuals are more likely to have a value system that says it's O.K. to be divorced, but they are less likely to do it. Blacks are more likely to disapprove of cohabitation than whites, but much more likely to cohabit. Oklahoma and Alabama have high divorce rates. Massachusetts, the poster state for liberalism, does not.

This was a rather loaded question by the interviewer and is the standard rebuttal by liberals on the values issue. The fact of the matter is that these statistics are very misleading. Perhaps the higher divorce rates in "red states" come from that fact that instead of cohabitating or fucking around a different person each month, people with a strong value system are much more likely to get married at a younger age especially if they are staying virgins until they are married. Perhaps people in “red states” are much less likely to do bullshit like open marriages and other perversions popular among the moral-relativists

Alternatively, perhaps the lower divorce rates in some “blue states” come from the differing numbers of Catholics in respective states. Contrary to idiotic stereotypes, Catholicism is one of the few Christian sects that actually has strong language against divorce. While many evangelical groups do not encourage divorce, they usually do not actually persecute the members who do it. There are simply more Catholics in Massachusetts than there are Oklahoma or Alabama. Any “scientist” like Coontz should be statistically rigorous enough to test other possibilities or at least suggest them.

Q. What's the upside to the marriage revolution?

A. How much men have changed in these past 30 years. You never used to see men with their children. Husbands may now believe they do more housework than they in fact do, but they are doing some. When I see the wonderful, respectful relationships that my son and his friends have with the women in their lives, I see something really new.

I assume Coontz is talking about the upside for women and not for men. She backs up none of what she is saying with evidence here and is just spouting out her assumptions and anecdotal observations. Men did not used to be seen with their children? Perhaps that was because in the past parents did not feel the need to bring out their children in public as some sort of expensive accessory to flaunt. Perhaps they believed more in spending quality time with the children at home rather than over-scheduling their children into pointless, structured activities. Perhaps men had to work a lot more back in the day or did less housework in the past because they were doing things like yard work, fixing appliances etc.

The truth of the matter is that being a man is no longer respected anymore among the establishment anymore. Now boys in school are pussified, restrained and forced to conform into feminine ways of learning. A father’s contribution to parenting and to a marriage is mocked by popular culture. Men are always portrayed as the bumbling idiots in sitcoms and advertisements. Positive masculine attributes of self-sacrifice, bravery, and strength are belittled and viewed as outmoded. Now we don’t usually bitch about this because we can take it but sometimes men do not know what the fuck they are supposed to be doing now. While woman needed to have their full potential for success opened up to them as well as full rights as citizens, the accompanying social side-effects have not necessarily been all candy and rainbows. Being blind to this is dangerous for the long term health of our families and our society.

Why are strong marriages so good for society? Well, there are a number of reasons but the key is that women make men not be stupid. They force men to stop taking dumb risks, stop sleeping around with anything that has a hole and stop starting fights with every damn person. They also are more likely to get on men to eat better, take showers and other frou frou stuff. I hear this is good for quality of life, but what do I know.

That’s enough for today as I am hungry. Sorry if I offended anyone as I am stupid sometimes.

Lou Costanza

Is it just me or does Lou Pinella seem to be acting like George in the Seinfeld episode where he was trying to get fired by the Yankees in order to get a better job with the Mets? (For those who have not been following the story, the D-Rays manager keeps on blasting the stingy Tampa Bay ownership for not providing him with enough talent to win.) More on the story here.

Costanza dragged old Yankee trophies from the back of his car while he drove, ate strawberries while he wore Babe Ruth’s old uniform and said outrageous things to Yankee employees. The result? Steinbrenner calls George into his office to laud him for his efforts to forget the past and look towards the future. In a similar fashion perhaps Pinella will end up with a raise, but I think Sweet Lou would rather be released from his contract so he can manage a team more likely to contend.

Stuff of Note from the Web

NYTimes: Rockies' Fans and Revenues Are Vanishing Into Thin Air

Real Clear Politics: United We Fall

The Onion [Humor]: Chinese Factory Worker Can't Believe The Shit He Makes For Americans

The Onion [Humor]: Portugal Finally Gets Its Act Together

John Tierney: The Old and the Rested

Samuelson: The End of Europe

AP: Teen Charged After Vomiting on Teacher

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

People Magazine JohnnyBlog Style

Late on Monday afternoon, CNN.com had a poll on whether or not you would change your religion to date Tom Cruise. How sad is that? At least when I last checked, the vote was something like 95% No to 5% Yes. However, since the poll was unscientific, perhaps more than 5% of Americans would compromise on this topic for TC in reality.

I have not followed the Michael Jackson case much at all, but it seems rather dubious that the case was not strong against him for all of the ten counts. The celebrity even got off on the most limited counts leveled against him. It feels like Jackson benefited from how big his name was and how good a lawyer he could afford.

People are much more likely to get all “12 Angry Man” and shit if the guy is famous. Seriously, I do not know if the holes in this case constituted true “reasonable doubt”. However, people nowadays expect a case to be like some cheesy TV court drama where there are two eyewitnesses to a crime being committed and a suspect confessing on a stand due to a blistering barrage of questions from a hotshot prosecutor. Reasonable doubt does not mean that it is possible that the person is innocent, but that there is significant and real doubt that he is guilty. Jurors’ desire to obtain some high form of judicial virtue has perhaps swung things a little bit too far towards letting off anyone rich enough to afford a good attorney.

In the end, perhaps it is much harder to win a case where it is possible that a crime never happened (child molestation) versus one where it is clear that something did happen (a murder). Then again, people usually are so enraged about molestation that when a non-celebrity is accused of it, the jury is itching to send the guy away for a long time.

News and Opinion From Around the Web:

ESPN: Tyson, the Tortured Soul

Reuters: Cat Piss in Fax Machine Causes House Fire in Japan

BBC: French Serial Imposter Posses as 15 Year Old Student

AP: More than 1 Million Americans HIV+, Blacks Now Majority of New Cases

ESPN: Crowe on Cinderella Man

AP: Identical Twin Brothers Could Lead Poland

Volokh: Religious Reasons for Lawmaking

Steyn: The 21st Century Will Be an Anglosphere Century

Monday, June 13, 2005

JohnnyBlog's Manic Monday Quickies

Cinderella Man Excels

I saw Cinderella Man on Saturday and it was a wonderful experience. The movie tugged at the heart strings just enough to affect you, but not too much as to make the whole plot seem contrived and corny. The film was fast-paced and the boxing choreography was top-notch. Russell Crowe was amazing as Jim Braddock and he overcame an obnoxious performance by Renee Zellweger.

Seriously, you would be throwing cell phones at everyone in sight if you had had to work with such a grating actress. The fact that Russell Crow limited his rage to a snooty hotel clerk is a testament to the man’s restraint. In the end, though, I heartily recommend the movie as it outshines most of the half-hearted efforts the studios have thrown out to the viewing public recently.

Macintel Concerns

My main concern with Apple Computer’s transition to Intel x86 based chips from IBM/Freescale’s PowerPC based chips is that Apple will throw us PowerPC owners under the bus. Certainly the operating system can easily be maintained on the PowerPC platform and it will be easy for third party developers to continue dual-platform development.

However, companies are often happy to shave the most miniscule cost savings if they think it will benefit their bottom line in the slightest. The only thing keeping Apple from abandoning old PowerPC owners is the revenue they generate from their operating system upgrades. Perhaps this is not enough. Apple will need to have a firmer guarantee on PowerPC support should they expect to sell anymore PowerPC machines during the two year transition phase.

Drop in Triple Crown Interest

The Belmont, the third jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown, had a significant decrease in interest both on TV and in the stands down in New York City. This is obviously due to the fact that last year, Smarty Jones had a chance for the Triple Crown going into the Belmont. Contrast last year’s situation with this year’s where the best racing fans could hope for was a horse taking two of three races. Obviously, interest will be done. However the results of the Belmont confirm that Afleet Alex was a special horse well capable of winning the Triple Crown for the first time since Seattle Slew did it in the 1970s. Afleet Alex’s close third place finish in the Kentucky Derby could have easily been a win for him and his jockey.

Articles and Opinions of Note

The Straight Dope: The Forgotten Armenian Genocide
Mark Steyn: A Win for the Jihad Spindocs
Noonan: Hilary Clinton and the Rage Against Republicans
NY Times: Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The JohnnyBlog's HBO Review

I have tomorrow off from work since my ladyfriend visits me, so today is sort of like a Friday. Along with this feeling comes a strong desire to be lazy. So, I give you my apologies for not really caring about having a focused JohnnyBlog post today.

There is little on television outside of sports to watch right now. Well, let me correct that… All the shows I used to watch are either cancelled or not producing any new episodes. I have no idea of what shows, TV movies, miniseries or whatever that are worth watching, so my viewing hours are pretty limited as I make little attempt to try find something of value to watch. The one major exception to this is that I am happy to find that HBO’s “Entourage” is back on its second season.

At first, the idea of the show turned me off. Seriously, why would I want to watch another Hollywood-insider-type show based upon the assumption that we, the slack-jawed yokels, cannot get enough of the “glamorous” world of show business? Since it was HBO, though, I gave it a shot and must say that it is pretty enjoyable. The writing and acting is very tightly entertaining and the plotlines actually are more interesting than I assumed the subject matter could be.

People sort of say that just about every show HBO does is good, but I highly disagree. For me there are six very entertaining, top shows that I have seen since I have had the channel.

1. “The Wire”
2. “Sopranos”
3. “Oz”
4. “Entourage”
5. “Deadwood”
6. “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Then I would say that Carnival and Sex and the City, while not really my thing, were all right when I was bored enough to watch them.

Despite HBO’s usual strength in original programming, there have been three shows that I wish they had never made: “Six Feet Under” “Mind of the Married Man” and “K Street.”

“Six Feet Under” is pretentious crap in the vein of American Beauty (suburban life is a lie, everyone who doesn’t fully embrace gay rights is actually gay, etc). The Mind of the Married Man was inane in that it acted like every married man cheats, obsesses about cheating or is a pussy. K Street was just a screwy idea doomed to failure. A lobbying firm that doesn’t really exist pretending like it’s real? The show was boring and the overacting by politicians made the audience feel awkward. Thankfully the latter two shows are no longer with us and SFU is ending after this season.

Oh crap, I actually just wrote about one main thing. Well, you ain’t going to get me to proofread. I am still going to be lazy about that!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

JohnnyBlog's Boring Spring Cleaning Post

In preparation of moving on to a new place, I usually try to thin out my possessions so that moving will be a simpler process. In general, I feel more content to have less “stuff” or at least stuff that takes up less space. Nevertheless, at the same time I find myself trying to balance my sentimental side and pack-rat tendencies against my desire to have a lighter load.

I struggle with three major things when deciding what to keep and what to keep, sell, give away or throw away.

1. Notebooks from college courses. I always frantically and obsessively took down notes while in lectures through my four years at Cornell. Even if I knew something was pretty irrelevant or that I knew the fact like the back of my hand, I felt uneasy if the words from the professor were not instantly transcribed to my notebook. Needless to say, there are currently two large boxes full of notebooks taking up significant space in my room. The significant effort that I put into keeping the notebooks, the fact that I think I may want to look them up later on and the sentimental value of the notebooks make it difficult to part with these notebooks. An autofeed scanner would certainly be helpful, but I have not found them at any reasonable price. I am not even sure if they make them anymore.

2. Things that have a useful purpose and are worth very little, but I feel like I should keep around. For some reason I have several compasses and protractors. I think they have accumulated due to physics and math classes in the past; I am not sure. I also have a lot of magnets, they seem like they should be useful, but not having a magnet-friendly refrigerator, I am unable to find any use for them.

3. I am pretty firm on keeping gifts from others as much as possible, but at what level do I keep gifts that no longer serve their usefulness. Guilt prevents me from moving on any of these items.

I thought that I was not writing enough self-absorbed and boring pieces like this so, you’re welcome.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Recent articles discussing the sad state of movies feature studio executives blaming new digital technologies for their poor business. While they concede that the quality of movies has declined in the last few years, TiVo, DVR, Netflix, and On-Demand take the brunt of the blame. No one seems willing to mention the real culprits behind the recent decline in movie business.

The first of these is something I'm sure everyone can agree has become quite intolerable. The movie theater says the movie starts at 8 pm. So you show up at 8 pm. Does the movie start? You think so, until you realize you are at the movies watching, of all things, COMMERCIALS! Isn't this the point of movies? That there aren't any commercials? So now you're stuck sitting through 15 minutes of extended television commercials.

Ok, surely NOW the movie will start. What's this? Trailers! I understand that trailers have always been shown at movies, but back in the day, you only had to watch one or two trailers. Now it's more like 5 or 6. And with the admittedly poor quality of movies nowadays, it's about 4 or 5 horrible trailers and one halfway decent one. Now it's about 30 minutes after start time, and FINALLY the movie is starting.

There's nothing you can do to protest those commercials either. If you show up late to skip them, you're still paying full price and now you're attempting to find a seat in the dark, which is both awkward and embarrassing. This recent addition of commercials brings me to another point. By showing these long NATIONAL commercials before movies, the theaters are making a lot more money. Have they lowered the ticket prices because of this? NO!!! They've RAISED them!!

Then there's movie snacks. A popcorn and a soda are now pushing $10! And the prices are like super-sizing, with a quarter separating a small and a large. So now you have a gallon of soda and a barrel of popcorn, you should be set for the movie right? Usually, but now by the time you sit through the commercials and previews, you look down in horror to realize you've somehow FINISHED all of your snacks, and the movie hasn't even started yet!

This is the main reason I feel movie attendance is rapidly declining. When movies like Jurassic Park came out, an evening show was probably in the ballpark of $6 or so. Now it's $9 or $10!! With the questionable quality of so many movies now, why should movie-goers risk that much money for a potentially ok movie? This is the real reason why people are turning to digital technologies. They're MORE AFFORDABLE, and if it turns out I don't like what I'm watching, I haven't lost much.

Furthermore, I'm tired of hearing about how every year there is a new box office record. Of course there is, theaters keep raising the prices! CDs don't go platinum when they make a million dollars, it's when they sell a million copies. Why aren't movie records based on ticket SALES and not ticket PRICES?

Folks, this stuff isn't going to change if we keep going to the theaters for so-so movies. My suggestion is this: Stop going! Unless it's a movie you've been dying to see, or that was MEANT to be seen in theaters (a la War of the Worlds), DO NOT GO! Studios will keep putting out bad movies if people keep PAYING TO SEE bad movies! And theaters are going to continue to charge outrageous prices if people continute TO PAY OUTRAGEOUS PRICES!

Studio executives can complain all they want about digital technologies, but they only have themselves to blame.

A Timely Tribute to the Allied Soldiers on D-Day and A Late One for Memorial Day.

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers -- at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine-guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your 'lives fought for life...and left the vivid air signed with your honor'...

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

Ronald Reagan's speech at Pointe de Hoc, Normandy, on June 6, 1984

One More Controversial JohnnyBlog Pondering, Sorry

I think there are a lot of good reasons to question whether or not going into Iraq was a good thing to do or not. What I do not understand, however, is why people act as if all these terrorist attacks, beheadings and the like are all America’s fault. Certainly the attacks may not have been happening in Iraq should the country still be under the iron-fist of Saddam (although I bet that some of the foreign terrorist energy would have been directed at other targets instead) but that does not mean that the blame for the attacks should be placed anywhere else than at the feet of the terrorists actually committing these atrocities.

This may seem strange, but think about it, intent and personal responsibility should be what matters.

Is it all right for a woman to be blamed for being raped if she put herself in a dangerous neighborhood and wore questionable clothing? No, although her actions may have been unwise, we always blame the actual rapist committing the act.

If someone delays you from leaving work and then you are t-boned by a reckless driver because you were there at the very second, would you blame the guy who just wanted to spend a few extra moments chatting with you?

Now I am exaggerating the comparison a little, but American intentions were not to trigger massive terror attacks but rather to do something positive for the country it invaded. Certainly the terror attacks would be less likely to occur if we had not gone into Iraq two years ago, but the people responsible are those actually committing the deliberate slaughter of innocents.

I am not saying that it is morally wrong to oppose this war, think it was a mistake or criticize some of our excesses in prosecuting it. Nevertheless, there should be no question that anger over the funeral bombings, the marketplace bombings, etc. should be aimed squarely at the cowards planning and financing this mass-murder, not at the soldiers and the leadership trying to prevent it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Iraqis Happier than Americans?

The New York Times runs an interesting chart periodically where it use statistics and polls to find out the "State of Iraq." It is a nice way to have some idea of how things are progressing in everyday life for the Iraqis outside of news reports of another suicide bombing claiming more innocent lives in the embattled country.

Well, this week the New York Times ran this chart again and had some interesting numbers. Most surprising of them was the result that 65% of Iraqis believe the country is on the right track including 40% of the often bitter Sunni minority. (This is up from 50% and 33% for all Iraqis and Sunnis respectively.)

Now compare this to the same question in this country. In just about every poll significantly less than 50% of Americans feel that the United States is on the right track. One recent poll had the right track/wrong track split at 30/56.

Seriously, how pathetic is this? While we live in comfort and have the benefit of plentiful resources, services and a growing economy with low unemployment, Iraqis-who often have to live in fear of daily terrorist attacks-are twice as likely to be optimistic about the fate of their country.

Yeah, high gas prices and a president who flubs the English language is justification for this attitude. The pessismists in this country need to grow up, seriously... Iraqis are shaming you.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hate It or Love It the JohnnyBlog's On Top

I do not really feel like thinking too much today, so I am just going to rattle off a few thoughts in my head and laziate the rest of this Friday.

Isn’t it funny that everyone was all about the Euro and now people want to the throw the currency under the bus after the Euro constitution is dying a slow death.

See the problem with the currency in relation to the dollar, is that although the United States might have budget and trade deficits, we have the most dynamic economy around and have a currency backed by the US Marines and not some inept bureaucracy like the European Union leadership in Brussels.

Do people refuse to flush the urinal after they take a piss just because they are lazy or also because they want to save water? Either way, I don’t like risking someone else’s piss splashing back to me so I will always thwart any of these efforts to conserve water.

A whole bunch of people seem to be skipping work today. Didn’t we just have a three day weekend? Perhaps it says something about the work people do when they cannot stand the idea of working three days in a week after tasting the sweet taste of an extended weekend.

Am I the only one who hears 50 Cent singing “clickety-clank, clickety-clank the money goes into my piggy bank” whenever I get paid for something or when my stocks go up?

Do other people get annoyed when letters to the editor repeatedly say “wake-up America” and claim that the media is not obsessing enough over their conspiracy theory?

Did anyone else play Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker for the Sega Genesis? A friend across the street had this game when I was a kid and I often played it when I had the chance. The point of the game was to free children from car trunks and other enclosed spaces. After you charged up your dancing meter, you could kill a whole bunch of gangsters by doing dance moves they could not keep up with. Weird.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Short Thoughts for Thursday

The Contender’s Failure

Did “The Contender” fail because people just don’t like boxing or was it because people do not like reality shows where it’s difficult to make fun of the contestants?

Or perhaps I am just an idiot who has no taste and likes bad reality shows? I do not doubt that I have bad taste in television shows, but most people who actually gave the show a shot enjoyed it. It is unfortunate that in order to placate advertisers, networks are much less likely to give a show an opportunity to grow an audience.

The movie of the same name was on TV last night. I saw it once and have to say it was one of the worst movies ever made. Lamest scene: Joan Allen's father is playing tennis with his grandson. The grandfather asks him how backspin is caused. Grandson responds by saying "Jesus" creates backspin. Grandfather goes apeshit about church and state. You cannot help but laugh at the randomness of this scene. Man, I could write a whole post about that stupid movie.

The Coming NBA Lockout

A lockout would be very damaging to the popularity of the NBA, but the league is popular enough both in this country and abroad to survive a work stoppage.

The same obviously could not be said for NHL which risks losing all national television exposure after just being dumped by ESPN. Ice hockey will never be able to break into the top three sports, nor will it ever be secure as the nation’s fourth sport since so few Americans actually have played the sports themselves. This disconnect will always hurt the sport.

I feel that a lockout may be inevitable for the NBA. The players feel that they gave up a lot last time around and the owners are demanding contract length restrictions and other cuts in benefits from the highest paid players in American sports.

Jim Kelly for Mayor?

Former Buffalo Bills quarterback and hall of fame member, Jim Kelly, is being asked to consider entering Buffalo/Erie County politics by Republican leaders. While the automatic reaction by many is asking what right does Jim Kelly have to run for political office, I believe one should not be so dismissive of the idea.

Bureaucrats, technocrats, and scions of powerful families have come and gone and done little. A former quarterback just needs common sense and leadership to be an effective government leader just like everyone else. To those living in the area, should Kelly decide to join the political fray, I suggest you wait to see his ideas and plans before you disqualify him prematurely.

Certainly Kelly will have an advantage of being a popular sports figure should he run, but politicians often unfairly benefit from things seemingly irrelevant to their government competency. Being from a famous political family and having great wealth both make it easier to run for office as well. Besides, another Buffalo quarterback ended up having a pretty successful political career…. Jack Kemp ring a bell for anyone?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Nine Dollar Deep Throat

I took a break from this whole blog thing over Memorial Day Weekend, but I am back now to riff on a couple of things today: Deep Throat and Ticket Prices

Deep Throat

With the revelation about who “Deep Throat” is, memories of Watergate have come flooding back to public consciousness. While many can criticize the methods of the man, I think most can agree that what Nixon was doing as a president needed to be exposed and may not have been without the help of Mr. Felt.

At the same time, I think it is unfortunate how the Watergate episode has ended the short-lived practice of tape-recording the business of the White House, leaving all future presidents paranoid about what they keep on record. Since Nixon's scandal, history has lost some important information about the men who occupy this important office. President Bush, for example, will not even email his daughters for fear that private letters will be exposed in some sort of investigation. It seems like some line needs to be drawn as to what information is available in scandal investigations. Otherwise, posterity will continue to lose out.

Maybe it’s the Ticket Prices?

Perhaps I can eventually cajole Joslin to once again write for this blog, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some a perceptive point by her on lower theater attendance…

Basically, the film industry has started to notice that people are buying fewer tickets to their movies in the past few years. Of course, the movie moguls immediately point their fingers on piracy and DVD sales. Some are willing to take the blame and say that the movies simply are not as good as they used to be. In the articles that probed this phenomenon, however, no one mentions the rapidly increasing ticket prices as the culprit, Joslin points out.

Seriously, when a standard evening show can cost $9 people are less-likely to risk their hard-earned money on suspect fare. While the DVD/Home Theater experience cannot match the experience of seeing a movie in the theater, it is getting closer. So when a date at the movies can cost more than BUYING a DVD, why should it be surprised that many are opting for the more intimate home setting?

Of course, the film industry is no stranger to distorting the truth whether it comes from leftist political documentaries, politically-correct historic epics or from judging a movie’s success by its inflated revenue rather than the number of tickets sold. Seriously does anyone care anymore when each year another movie breaks a revenue record? It is starting to lose its effect.