April 19, 2002


Veggie Tales takes on the JYB, I suppose. Ok, Jimmy ( brother to blogger Louder Fenn and writing over at Louder's place) says "Hippies, keep your guitars and tambourines at home." This, after describing the guitar as a "profane instrument." Well, Jimmy says one thing but the Psalms say another. I hate to get all Biblical on ya Jimmy, but Psalm 33 says:

1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
2. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
3. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

I especially like the "loud noise" part. This psalm is describing the praise God wants from us. Ten strings....sounds like the rockabilly gear of its day. But you can't base doctrine, soundly anyway, one one passage--so here's another:

1. Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
2. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
4. For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
5. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

That's from Psalm 149. Here's Psalm 150:

1. Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

You've practically got "Innagoddadavidda" there, friends--trumpets, timbrels, organs, cymbals, psalteries and harps--the works. And no restrictions--it doesn't say "but not in church," or "only on your own time." It just says to praise God, and says to do it with all ya got and include everybody ya can.

Three, count 'em three quotes, all agreeing that praising God should be a festive, noisy, raucous affair. For the rest of Jimmy's anti-guitfiddle take, it's mostly opinion and not a doctrinal reading. He says of guitar music that "the music played on them is qualitatively worse than the sound of sewage bubbling up through the basement drain (and only slightly better than the odor of same). The music in church should be of the highest caliber, to befit God."

Ever heard a Flamenco guitarist? Or Stanley Jordan? Or Phil Keaggy? Or Kerry Livgren? Those guys play entirely distinct styles of music, some ornate and naturalistic, some loud and baroque--but it's all varied and all great stuff because the skill demonstrated is amazing. Keaggy and Livgren, particularly, are among the greatest living guitarists, and both happen to be solid Christians--they play music that's of the "highest caliber."

Jimmy, you may hate guitar music, but I don't--telling me I can't praise God with a six string, three chords and the truth (man!) is like telling me I can't approach God without pretending to be someone else. We Christians get too wrapped up in making people conform to our way of thinking rather than looking at God's way of thinking--he wants us to come before Him as we are, and he'll take care of the changing that needs to be done in us. He wants our praise, and He wants us to enjoy praising Him. I'm a rocker, always have been and probably always will be. I've been a Christian since age 7 and that's one thing God's never seen fit to change in me (though He's bent pretty much the rest of me this way and that over the years to get lessons though my concrete skull). And since the Word backs me up, I'm going to praise God with all I've got. You don't have to go along--you can stay 50 miles from the nearest guitar and still praise God they way He wants and in a way that matches your own personality. Have at it, and have a good time--and I'll have a good time too.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


From the Washington Post:

On Wednesday, the Jerusalem-born actress objected tartly in the Harvard Crimson to law student Faisal Chaudhry's April 11 essay on U.S. policy concerning Israel and the Palestinians. Chaudhry framed the Arab-Israeli violence as "Israel's racist colonial occupation" in which "white Israeli soldiers destroy refugee camps of the brown people they have dispossessed for decades."

Natalie Portman in the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones." (Industrial Light & Magic - Lucasfilm, LTD. via AP)

Portman, who immigrated to the United States with her family in 1988 and lived briefly in Washington, wrote to the student newspaper that Chaudhry's racial rhetoric "is a distortion of the fact that most Israelis and Palestinians are indistinguishable physically. The Israeli government itself is comprised of a great number of Sephardic Jews, many of whom originate from Arab countries. The chief of staff of the army, the minister of defense, the minister of finance . . . and the president of Israel are all 'brown.' One might have an idea of the physical likeness between Arabs and Israelis by examining this week's Newsweek cover on which an 18-year-old female Palestinian suicide bomber and her 17-year-old female Israeli victim could pass for twins."

Portman continued: "Outrageous and untrue finger-pointing is a childish tactic that disregards the responsibility of all parties involved."

Yesterday the 25-year-old Chaudhry speculated that the Crimson published the letter only because Portman is a movie star. (She signed it with her family name, which is well known on campus, and we agreed to her request not to publish it here.) But the Crimson's editorial page editor, David DeBartolo, told us: "We thought that it was a very good letter on its own. It presented an important point of view. Basically, we ran the letter on the merit of its contents."

Just like a race-baiter--when confronted with the facts on the ground, Chaudry retreats into conspiracy theories and attacks of a personal sort. You go, Natalie! I like Episode I better already...
Posted by B. Preston at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Since I picked on his anti-guitar (in Mass only) musings, it's only fair to highlight a brilliant, snide and eloquent piece by Louder Fenn in criticism of the slippery arguments put out by pro-cloners. One of the best things about his post is that there are no straw men under assault--Louder takes on the real, bona fide arguments of pro-aborts and pro-cloners and beats them into a fine, silky paste. That's in contrast to the Virginia Postrels of the world, who love taking on windmills and men of straw but seldom actually engage the true positions of their opponents. And she never links to her critics.

On the guitar front, I guess it does highlight one of the real differences between a Catholic and a Protestant. The Real Presence during a ritual is something we reject, preferring the constant spiritual presence instead. I guess my own take on the matter is that, first, no rite of man can command the presence of God--God's the one doing the commanding around here, and second, we're commanded to make a joyful noise, and what's more joyfully noisy than a bass, some drums, a hot keys player and a rollicking guitar? Add in some truth-inspired, uplifting lyrics and you've got yourself some praise, brother.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Andrea highlights story about a guy who claims a cat attack in a local library was a "hate crime." Turns out the attackees owner (the cat attacked a dog, and apparently won) was a reporter for a local rag, I mean newspaper, at the time. No doubt one of those fine, upstanding J-school grads who are so superior to us hacky bloggers.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I'm sure you've heard, Robert Blake is in the clink on suspicion of murdering his wife last year. The news nets were breathless in their coverage--Larry King hunched over that desk and talking over video of a white sedan (not a Bronco) carting Blake to jail (not running away) along an LA freeway (that part's the same from the last bizarro trial). Fox and MSNBC got into the act--the best moment was when an acquaintance of Blake's made reference to Geraldo's Al Capone vault disaster. Greta van Suction said "I'll defend my colleague Geraldo" and then let the attack pass without actually defending anyone or anything. Cable: $40 a month. TV: $600. Geraldo getting smacked around by an unknown hick on national tv--priceless.

The nets think the Blake trial will be the next OJ. I don't think so. We've got a real war on, planes crashing into Milan highrises (turned out to be an accident, but didn't your heart sink when you heard the news), and friendly fire deaths in Afghanistan (my honest and deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wounded). And the Blake trial won't have the racial overtones. It'll get wall-to-wall coverage all right, for a while, but won't be a watershed like OJ, won't divide us like OJ, and if he did it he'll actually get convicted, unlike OJ.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Sarge is back with a vengeance. I would say "Advantage: JunkYardBlog," but he said he'd be back--a lot of people just didn't check in on his Comments section (note to self: get one of those things).
Posted by B. Preston at 12:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The National Association of Broadcasters conference, the reason I went to Las Vegas last week, is known for a few things: the new technology on display, the new programming trying to find a broadcast home, the sheer magnitude of the conference itself (it’s enormous—by far the largest conference I’ve ever attended), and the presence of TV, radio and movie stars milling around. This year’s show was fairly slim in the programming and movie star departments, but we did have a brush with celebrity.

On the first day, my co-worker and I made the rounds of the booths in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s north hall, where vendors like Canon, Panasonic and a zillion others showcased their new toys. We wandered by NewTek’s booth—they make the Video Toaster and Lightwave, which are a couple of products we use at Space Telescope. Video Toaster has a long history in broadcasting, being among the first computer-based editing and graphics systems to hit the market, back in the mid-80’s. Lightwave is a high-end 3D animation program, and its capabilities are demonstrated all across the sci-fi genre, used chiefly in all of the recent Star Trek series and quite a few movies. We stopped by their booth to watch a demonstration and to meet the people behind the gear—that’s one of the other great things about NAB, you get to meet the programmers and engineers who make the stuff you use.

So we met them and chatted with them, and one of them invited us to a little soiree they were hosting at the MGM Grand that night (one of the other great things about NAB—the soirees). So after dining at another get-together we’d been invited to, we struck off for the MGM. The NewTek folks were pretty excited about the party, since they were announcing some new products and giving away a ton of hardware and software. That was supposed to happen at 9 pm, so my co-worker and I set out from party #1 to make sure and arrive at NewTek’s party in time for the drawings. We barely made it—the MGM turned out to be huge, practically a city within a single building, but we made it and watched a lot of other people win drawings. We became bored, especially when I realized that most of the folks in attendance were in the low-tech video fields—wedding and event videographers, that sort of thing. I probably shouldn’t, but I do turn into a bit of a production snob sometimes when I’m around wedding video types, and this gathering was definitely bringing out the snob in me.

That all changed when a commotion began to stir around the entrance. Lots of eyes, lots of murmuring, hushed whispers of “Is that…?” So I look over, and this white-haired gentleman has entered and is standing near the doorway. I squint to get a better look (like most soirees, the room was a bit dark), and am very surprised—it’s Dick Van Dyke! I grew up watching reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show, loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins and just about everything he’d done, and there he was, a smiling elderly fellow standing in the doorway. He’s just standing there, flanked by a couple of non-descript guys who appear to work for him. The MC of the show carries on with the announcements and entertainment, asking for a show of hands for who uses which of NewTek’s products. The MC asks “Who here is a Lightwave user?” I’d just started playing around with it, so I raise my hand, and I look over at Dick Van Dyke, and he’s got his hand up—the guy is an animator! Another round of whispers ripples through the crowd—“Dick Van Dyke uses Lightwave?”

Pretty soon the party is breaking up, and Mr. Van Dyke and his two friends are heading out. My co-worker and I think fast and head out with them—we were ready to leave anyway, and it would be nice to meet Dick. We exit, to find him signing a few autographs in the hallway. I’m not much of an autograph hound, but he is a TV legend, so I figure I’ll go say hello and ask him to sign something. I walk up to him and the first thing I notice is that he isn’t any taller than I am. From his shows and movies, I’d always had the impression that he’s at least 6’2”, but he’s about my height at 5’10” or so, with white hair and mustache but looking very healthy. He smiles and laughs a lot, shakes hands with everyone, and I speak briefly to him, telling him I’ve been a life-long fan. Several others are all gathered around him and we all get him to sign an autograph. I had him sign my conference badge, which identified me as “Bryan Preston: NASA/Hubble Space Telescope.” He’s taken aback when he sees that, and asks me a little bit about the telescope and what I do there. As I explain, the others in the crowd start to listen to me, and I soon realize I’ve just upstaged Dick Van Dyke—everyone’s wanting stock footage, images, animations, all of which I can provide free of charge (it’s my job, after all, to get the science in the hands of the public). Dick and his two employees start to go, and my co-worker and I hang around for a couple of minutes answering video queries. After a few minutes we beg off and head out, only to find Mr. Van Dyke and his group strolling down the hallway through the MGM Grand. We catch up to them, and my co-worker leans over to him and asks “Mr. Van Dyke, I noticed you raised your hand as a Lightwave user back there—if you don’t mind my asking, what do you use Lightwave for?” It may seem like an odd question, but in our field you don’t normally run into people who’ve been in the business as long as he has that do their own anything, especially animation, which is a highly specialized and technical occupation. He answers “Oh, I make models, animate them. And I do some editing, compositing, effects, that sort of thing.” It’s very weird—it’s the kind of conversation we normally have with our peers—people in their late 20s or early to late 30s, not people who’ve been in the business longer than we’ve been alive. We then chat with him about the show, what he thinks about it, which editing software he likes and dislikes—it’s all surreal. Then he and his group wander off, and my co-worker and I head back to our hotel, talking all the way about the strange case of Dick Van Dyke: animator.

He was the only celebrity we saw at NAB. We saw lots of engineers, lots of big-name effects creators from places like Industrial Light and Magic and all the networks and zillions of production companies, and lots and lots of “booth babes”—those model types that are hired to attract middle-aged conventioneers into booths and showrooms for a sales pitch. But it was great to meet a childhood favorite—he was friendly and engaging, looked healthy and smart, and is apparently embarking on a whole new career in broadcasting—doing a job that’s very similar to what I do day in and day out. I never thought I’d have the same job as Dick Van Dyke, but apparently I do, and I’ve apparently been at it longer than he has. Weird.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2002


Man, I wish, but thanks for the kind words, Mark.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


gets a pass from Charles Murtaugh, who says that the use of such tactics "never happens in the real world (Or in the surreal world of Washington, DC)." Uh, Charles, yes it does--the last and possibly most infamous use of rope-a-dope was by the Groper in Chief. In order to outlast, outplay and outwit the impeachment forces in Congress, Clinton publicly subscribed to a rope-a-dope strategy--he let the charges all swirl around him for months without saying much himself (his surrogates were busy doing the rhetorical dirty work for him), then did the mea culpa speech, the testimony and the rest of it. He must've said publicly a hundred times that he was operating a rope-a-dope campaign against the Republicans in Congress.

That's not the only instance of rope-a-dope's application to Clinton: here's a 1996 campaign story about his strategy to defeat Dole using, you guessed it, rope-a-dope. Here's a Time story that's admittedly tongue in cheek, but there's that strategy again. In fact, here's the results of a Google search using "Clinton rope-a-dope" as the terms. Pages and pages of references. Here's a Washington Post story from those dark days of Lewinsky, anonymously quoting one of Clinton's own aides in dredging up the rope-a-dope strategy:

Clinton advisers said they considered but ultimately rejected various dramatic gestures to defuse the controversy -- a lengthy ask-me-anything news conference, for instance, or a prime-time speech or interview. The consensus was that such things probably would not work.

Instead, Clinton and his team will continue to assert innocence but not respond to the steady stream of sensational new leaks and allegations that continue to pour forth about Clinton and his alleged sexual relationships. One aide invoked a boxing metaphor -- "the rope-a-dope strategy," in which a fighter simply absorbs punches while waiting for his opponent to tire out -- to describe the approach.

Clinton aides have little (ok--zero) credibility with me, but when they describe their own strategy in those terms, I tend to believe them. The fact that the whole mess basically played out the way they foretold doesn't hurt, either.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, in an otherwise solid post about misusing terms like "liberal" and "conservative" in matters of faith, slips into curmudgeonly tones when addressing the use of guitars in church services. It's 2 am so I'm not going to dwell on this much, but what's the problem with guitars? Why do so many people have a problem with playing them in church? It makes no sense to me at all.

When I was in 9th or 10th grade, I was sort of iffy on church--I believed, but was pretty uninterested in attending services. That changed when the music director of our church approached me about playing in the church orchestra. I'd been a drummer in junior high, and our church had just had a set donated. We already had a terrific drummer who played the set most of the time, but the church needed a backup and turned to me, an already washed-up drummer at age 14. Not only did I accept--I just about jumped for joy! I hated the school band--loathed its songs, the conductor, everything about it--but loved the drums. Now I had the chance to play again, and learn from the main drummer as well, and not on a stupid snare drum, but a whole set. It was great, and it truly helped renew my faith as well.

Kids today grow up hearing drums, guitars and keyboards all the time--on the radio, on tv, on downloaded mp3's--everywhere. That constant bombardment will generate interest in some of them, and they'll want to play. What better way to feed their artistic interests, and bring them to faith, than to just let them learn and play in church?
Posted by B. Preston at 02:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Title

Posted by B. Preston at 01:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2002


How about this little gem, from Robert Kennedy, Jr.--

HAS celebrity environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. taken leave of his senses, or did he ever have any to begin with?
The question arises given the furor that has broken out in Iowa after Kennedy flew in to inform state residents that - as the Des Moines Register last week quoted him as saying - "large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network."
Kennedy offered that bizarre comparison at an April 5 rally on hog farm issues in Clear Lake, Iowa, sponsored by his Waterkeeper Alliance.

Let's see--one wants to get us to eat more bacon and ham, the other wants to destroy us and turn us into a Muslim megalopolis. Um, I think I'll disagee with Mr. Kennedy on this one, with all due respect.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It's coming up this weekend, so you only have a couple of shopping days left. I plan to drive around at least twice as much as normal in my gas-guzzling Dodge Caravan, fire up the b-b-q and grill some bovine tissue, and go out into the woods and shoot aerosol hairspray cans with a Colt .45. If you happen to be in Kalispell, Montana on Friday (and who isn't planning on a trip to Kalispell sometime in the near future?), you can watch radio station KGEZ's station owner John Stokes burn a green swastika in honor of the green holiday. I'm not much for burning stuff unless it's in my fireplace or under a big ol' rib eye, and it seems to me that a big green hammer and sickle might make a more appropriate effigy to burn, but this seems to have ticked off the local lefties, so it has its amusing side:

The Flathead Valley Human Rights Coalition and the Montana Human Rights Network, two Montana organizations that preach hate and intolerance against all conservatives, are currently taking financial pledges based on the number of times the terms "nazi" and "swastika" are used between 8-11 AM, April 17th through April 19th and again April 22nd through the April 26, 2002 on KGEZ 600 AM. This means they are left without an argument, only name calling. The Flathead Valley Human Rights Coalition and the Montana Human Rights Network are among many left wing organizations which will celebrate "Earth Day", which (speaking of Nazis) just happens to be the same day of Adolf Hitler's birthday on Saturday, April 20th.

I just like the name "Flathead Valley." But besides that, it seems the lefties always respond with a name-calling campaign and a pledge drive. Always using other people's money to fund their causes.

(thanks to Mark Rice for the heads up)
Posted by B. Preston at 04:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Here are some pics. To date, the only footage of the rally I've seen on any network is of the Wolfowitz boo, and honestly I think he deserved it. I'd probably have booed too.

The whole coverage of the boo reminds me of an incident back in the '88 campain--Bush the Elder vs Dukakis the Tank Commander. Dukakis came to my college, which was like most college campuses--heavily liberal--to speak at a campaign rally. He drew a large though not necessarily supportive crowd, about a fifth of which heckled him endlessly. I was among the hecklers, and it was probably the most fun I've ever had at a political rally. We interrupted him, made him stutter, made him stop and wave his hands--it was joyously antagonistic. ABC's Sam Donaldson was there, rug flapping in the Texas breeze, and he filed a report that night on the network newscast. I didn't see the report, but my father did. Sam reported that Dukakis had received a strong showing of support in Bush's home state, that it spelled doom for the "Third Term" of Reagan, and so forth. And Sam did get around to mentioning the hecklers, but only in passing, and his report contained an actual lie--he said there were only a few hecklers, and that Dukakis had shouted us down. Reality was that there were dozens of us, and we only quieted down when we got hoarse.

Seeing the footage of the Wolfowitz boo reminded me of this because, at least in the footage I saw, the booing doesn't sound like much. It sounds like only a handful of the 100,000 present actually booed--the rest were quiet. But to hear the media talk about it, you'd think they all booed, then demanded that Wolfowitz be tarred and feathered and his family rounded up and hung.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Letter From Gotham, a witty, snitty and fun site that has, among other things, queried the American Red Cross about its position on admitting Israel's counterpart, Magen David Adom. They actually responded.
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Sgt. Stryker (whom I still think I may have been stationed with in Japan, though I'd never divulge his true identity if I verified it) has caused a storm with his "I shall not return" post. People, the Sarge isn't hanging it up for good--he's moving cross-country, and is understandably too busy for the blog game right now. And he's got the blogging blues, common to bloggers who post furiously for weeks on end and then burn out. I've done that and come back, and I suspect the Sarge will too. He can't help himself--he's an addict just like the rest of us. Besides, he says himself in the comments section (memo to self: get one of those things) that he's not dead yet, merely resting. Still, he did say a lot of interesting things in the blog-is-dead post, and Mark Byron does an effective job of refuting much of it.

Just to refute one small part--Sarge says blogging is a flash in the pan. I've said as much myself, arguing in a post somwhere that we're not revolutionaries. But then the "real" journalists started reacting to us as though we are trying to overthrow them--suggesting that we're sucky writers, that we're broken records (and Eric Alterman and Robert Wright aren't?), that we should abide by some fancy "code of ethics" and all be kidnapped and forced into a J-school re-education program. They're scared of us--and we are revolutionaries now. We're not overthrowers, but viable alternatives to the stasis of "real" journalism (and by the way, more than a few of us have been "real" journalists at some point in our careers--heck, I've even had my own radio talk show a couple of times).

Sarge will be back. The Blog Revolution needs him as much as he needs it.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


did someone get into this site by querying Yahoo about pictures of people, um, losing their inhibitions at an annual New Orleans bead festival?
Posted by B. Preston at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Remember a few weeks back, which is a couple of centuries in Blogistan, when National Review's Jonah Goldberg and Rich Lowry were under a mass email assault from CAIR over some remark of Lowry's? He'd said something about threatening to flatten Mecca, or nuke it or something, but not as though he were actually endorsing such a move, but just as a tactical thought. He and Jonah, who'd said nothing about the flattening of Mecca, were soon taking heavy spam from CAIR for it, and they published a lot of it in The Corner. Well, they have been avenged: CAIR's idiotic poll about Ariel Sharon and war crimes has vanished from their site like a pizza in front of Michael Moore. The Weekly Standard is now running a clone of that poll, with a heavy majority voting against trying Sharon as a war crinimal (which is the direction CAIR's own poll was running prior to its disappearance--it was 86-14 against when I voted). InstaPundit reports that his readers are Freeping CAIR's web site one step further, using CAIR's hate-crime report section to report various actions of Arafat's, the homicide bombers, and the anti-Semitic violence in Europe. Appropriate justice, I think. Let them see what freedom of speech really means--it means not always getting the results you want, and it also means sometimes having to say you're sorry. Since they won't say it, I'll say it for them--CAIR, you're truly, very sorry indeed.

And by the way, have you notice the verse they're displaying on the site? Here it is:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "A time will come when the murderer will not know why he has committed the murder, and the victim will not know why he has been killed." - Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1356

It's suggestive of a wider purpose to the machinations of Arafat, to say the least. Murderers not knowing why they're really doing the killing, the innocent not aware of the real powers behind their deaths. Ollie North suggested last night on Fox that Saddam was really behind the renewed violence in the West Bank. No surprise there, but think about it--Arafat and Jordan's King Hussein were the only Arab leaders to side with Iraq during the Gulf War. Jordan ended up more or less neutral, but Arafat publicly embraced the Iraqi "cause" of feasting on its neighbors. Now, Saddam sees himself in the crosshairs of an angry US and puts out the Bat Signal for Arafat to open up a second front that will buy him time. Saddam then rewards the killer bombers by paying off their families handsomely. And behind it all, the Saudis continue to fund Al Qaida, Arafat, CAIR and Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Hhhhmmmmm. Nice of CAIR to state publicly what we bloggers have suspected all along.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


That's about the only memorable line from the rancid Western flick Young Guns, which twists the life of Billy the Kid inside out. Billy, played I think by Emilio Estevez or maybe his brother Charlie Sheen or maybe it was Keifer Sutherland (no, wait, he played one of the other outlaws--anyway), says "I'll make ya famous" to some unnamed gun-fodder before blowing him away, making him famous for being a Billy the Kid victim. Well, the LA Times is making one of our own, Susanna Cornett of Cut on the Bias, famous in a pretty good story about Andrea Yates. Susanna, a criminal justice and media expert, had blogged the subject better than anyone else, seeing the story from angles few others picked up on. Way to go, Susanna! It seems like it was just yesterday, when it was in fact 6 weeks ago, that my blog actually sent traffic your way. Now it turns out you'll be the rising tide that lifts all the other blog-boats around you. And by the way, welcome to everyone who found this blog through her generous link yesterday. Make yourselves comfortable, kick off your shoes and stay a while if you can.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2002


Eve Tushnet defends NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru's stance against cloning, cutting pro-cloner Virginia Postrel to pieces in the process. One of the things that bothers me most about Insta and Postrel et al's pro-clone juggernaut is their smugness and flippancy. As polls show, a majority of Americans is very uncomfortable with the idea of cloning for just about any reason, yet in from the pro-cloners' arguments you'd likely get the impression that only backwards hayseeds are against cloning. Further, the prospect of cloning, whether for "therapeutic" reasons (a misleading term as Ramesh has pointed out, since the possible therapeutic benefits of cloning are likely many years off) or for reproductive reasons, may well amount to a revision of the definition of what it means to be human. As the father of a two-year-old who will grow up in the world my generation creates, I am highly skeptical that people who rush into cloning in such a cavalier fashion will responsibly handle that revision process and its outcome.

I'm also offended at the equation Postrel makes between anti-cloning and being anti-science. I think it was Louder Fenn who popped off a pretty solid rejoinder the other day arguing that the Nazis used humans for all sorts of evil experiments--to call those experiments and the scientists behind them evil doesn't mean one has become anti-science. It means one has the ability to distinguish between responsible science and irresponsible science. In lunging into a field that may well alter the definition of what it means to be a human, it's hardly far-fetched to view cloning as possibly, maybe, a potentially irresponsible scientific pursuit. Postrel is engaging in demagoguery when she says anti-cloners are trying to stigmatize science. I'm not anti-science--I work for the Hubble Space Telescope project, for goodness' sake--but I'm skeptical of anyone who repeatedly uses Postrel's tactics.

My own position--I'm against cloning in general. Yes, I'm staunchly pro-life and that informs my cloning position, but I've wrestled with the issue from all angles. My anti-clone stance is something the pro-cloners have mostly themselves to thank for. They insult their opponents (except Charles Murtaugh, who's been civil throughout), they warp the issue to make it seem more promising that it may turn out to be, and they tend to dismiss arguments contrary to their opinions without ever really engaging them. Add to that the flippancy with which they embrace such a profound issue, and I just don't trust them to deal responsibly with cloning should they ever reach the position to do so.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Council on American Islamic Relations ran a poll asking its dear readers whether Ariel Sharon should be tried for war crimes. InstaPundit urged his legions to freep it, they did, and CAIR shut it down when it began to run against the result they wanted. Losers. Guess they were hoping for one of the 99.9% majorities that typify "election" returns in their homelands.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


A fool and a coward. If our government was really as bad and oppressive as the likes of Blair says it is, he and Noam Chomsky and Ted Rall and a whole bunch of others would already be decomposing an an Appalachian forest by now.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


of the Arab states, whose end-game is and always has been the destruction of Israel. To that end, they don't care a bit if the Palestinians live in peace or live at all, so long as they remain a wedge against Israel. Letter From Gotham has dug up a little proof to back me up. Thanks, Diane and....Advantage JunkYardBlog!
Posted by B. Preston at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Emily's carrying the Bellicose Woman gig to new heights.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 15, 2002


has begun running radio ads in the Baltimore-Washington DC market that claim to promote peace in the Middle East. I heard one for the first time this morning, and what I heard promoted only the Arab vision of peace--it touted the non-starter Saudi Arabian plan that demanded the Palestinian right-of-return to Israel, but disguised that plan as only calling for withdrawal from the occupied territories. I've been digging around the web looking for more info on the group, and have found this site, for the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice. I can't say for sure if this Alliance is a part of the one that's funding the radio campaign, but its ideals are the same. It links to stories alledging that CIA agent Mike Spann, killed in the Mazir-i-Sharif prison riot, was a war criminal. It links to stories claiming that Bush has staged a Constitional coup since 9-11. But worse than that, the Manhattan Alliance's web site treats Noam Chomsky like he actually makes sense. It would be nice to dig into this group's finances the way others have exposed Rep. Cynthia McKinney's. I bet the Alliance isn't as "random" as they seem either. Like McKinney, they're probably a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Arab lobby.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Air Force is getting its first upgraded and refirbed U-2, now called the U-2S, for service. Good news for us, bad news for them.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


and the Murderous Loonies, but from what I've heard about it, his death just seems all the more certain. We still need some DNA to prove that we splattered him in February, but this tape doesn't seem to show him talking and doesn't seem connected to recent events. For that, we get only emails and postings on web sites. He's dead. I just hope our troops gathered up enough to be able to prove it.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


From Slate:

It is easy, I know, to be misled by the trappings of diplomacy—by the TV shots of Powell's motorcade entering Ramallah, by the leaders smiling and shaking hands in front of cameras—but, in fact, nothing of substance has yet been changed by Powell's visit.

That's the point, isn't it--let the Israelis dig out the bad guys while trying to look even-handed. Our leaders may not be controlling the Mid-East situation, but I think they're managing it about as well as can be hoped.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The pictures of John Walker Lindh which have recently surfaced, showing him bound up and so forth, caused a stir from the human rights groups who think nothing of killing innocents with a "suicide" bomb but think everything of symbolism, especially if that symbolism somehow damages the US. I thought the photos showed reasonable restraint of someone who had just been caught participating in a prison riot that lasted several days and resulted in the death of American agent Mike Spann. But the new photos, showing soldiers from the Army's 5th special forces group posing with Lindh, who sported a blindfold with profanities written on it, are more of a problem. They may show a real violation of his Geneva Convention rights--and this in turn shows, among other things, the difficulty of arresting terrorists when they are in fact foot soldiers sworn to destroy you. They do truly belong in a military court as opposed to a criminal court, not because it's easier to get a guilty verdict (it isn't), but because military courts are more difficult arenas for lawyers to play their flim-flam games on juries. The Lindh case belongs where the administration once said all the terrorists' cases would belong--in a military court.

But leaving that aside, Slate's Scott Shuger has written a fairly cogent piece on the whole affair, arguing that the soldiers involved and their entire chain of command should come under scrutiny to ferret out the extent of the alledged rights violation. It's cogent except for a couple of points, that is. He's right that the chain of command should be investigated--to not do so may let guilty parties go free and may tarnish by association the good names of the innocent--so investigate away. But Lindh himself was in violation of the Geneva Convention in siding with a group that fought out of uniform and deliberately targeted civilians, and as such isn't eligible for Convention protection. Additionally, Shuger, a former military man, makes this claim:

So, the Pentagon has every reason to treat these pictures as seriously as the Lindh defense team does. And the troopers who snapped them and appeared in them did not do so merely on their own whim—they would only do so because they operated in a command environment that permitted and even encouraged such behavior.

As Shuger knows, not all military personnel follow the directives of their command. That's why so many get in trouble all the time--finding themselves causing international incidents in bars, carousing in areas that are marked off limits by the brass, and generally testing the system to see how much they can get away with. Shuger is already pronouncing 5th's command guilty because a few (or possibly more than a few) soldiers did something wrong and stupid, and that's not fair. If Lindh deserves the consideration of innocence until proven guilty, surely the command of one of the Army's most elite units deserves at least as much.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


that Andrew Sullivan's been on lately. In fact, I've refrained on commenting about most of his stuff lately because I've disliked quite a bit of it. For instance I'm no apologist for the Catholic Church, but saying that the recent scandals prove that it should immediately, without delay and forthwith, rip out a thousand years of tradition by allowing priests to marry, and then allow openly gay priests, is just grossly opportunistic on his part--that's been part of his agenda within his church for years now. But then he goes off on that circumcision bit and I begin to think he's obsessed with, um, something or other. I didn't want to say much, but thanks to Slotman I don't have to. The Paglia-channelling is inspired.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


New York's AMNH is one of the top scientific institutions in the country and is a major promoter of Darwinism. As such, it's big news that Intelligent Design's two leading proponents--Michael Behe and William Dembski--will face off in a debate with two of Darwinism's top proponents, Kenneth Miller and Robert Pennock, at the AMNH next week. The April 23rd debate (scroll down a bit--I couldn't link directly to it) will be moderated by Eugenie Scott, which is kind of like having Arafat moderate a debate between Ariel Sharon and Saddam Hussein, but at least there will be a debate at all (ok, bad analogy but you get the idea--Scott is well-known Darwinist and is likely to take sides). This could be a sign that ID has gained sufficient momentum that the AMNH feels the need to try and destroy it in public.

If I didn't have a doggone NASA press conference to produce next week, I'd be there for what should be a barn-burner of a debate.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


seems to have been huge, according to InstaPundit and the Washington Post. But, as of yet, no other major news outlets have given it any coverage. One of my co-workers commutes to Balitmore from near Washington, and says that this morning's radio traffic reports suggested avoiding the downtown DC area because a rally would be taking place--but the reports never identified the rally's purpose or any of the guest speakers. By my reckoning, the traffic reporters failed to deliver two of the cardinal facts in good journalism--the Why and the Who. By ignoring the story entirely, the rest of the media has so far failed to practice any kind of actual journalism. And we bloggers need a code of ethics?

All of this brings to mind a question that I'd like to pose to the anti-Semites (or anti-Zionists if you want it that way)--if the Jews control the American media, why isn't a large-scale pro-Israel rally in the nation's capital getting wall-to-wall coverage?

As for me, I wish I'd been there. It was a gorgeous day but I thought I had office conflicts. The conflicts never materialized, fortunately, but it was too late to hit the road by the time I'd figured it out.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby has has come up with a handy way to tell one side from the other.

The history of this conflict can seem complicated, but its moral dimensions now are clear-cut.

One side sends its soldiers to wipe out suicide bombers. The other side sends suicide bombers to wipe out guests at a bat mitzvah.

One side publishes maps showing how Israel and a Palestinian state can coexist. The other side publishes maps on which Israel doesn't exist.

One side apologizes when its explosives kill the wives and children of the killers it targeted. The other side targets wives and children.

One side was grief-stricken on Sept. 11 and declared a national day of mourning. The other side danced in the streets and distributed candies in celebration.

One side has never deployed a suicide bomber in its 54 years of existence. The other side has deployed more than 40 in the past 12 months alone.

One side developed a mandatory ''peace curriculum'' to prepare its children to live in peace next to a Palestinian state. The other side steeps its children in hate, extolling suicide bombers as ''martyrs'' they should emulate and operating summer camps to train them for jihad.

One side is an unshakable ally of the United States and fully backs our war against global terrorism. The other side is armed and financed by Iraq, Iran, and Syria, three of the world's most notorious terrorist states.

One side repeatedly gave up land for peace. The other side took the land and made war.

That should clarify things a little.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Arafat, holed up in his Ramallah compound, surrounded by Israeli tanks and chatting it up with world news nets via his cell phone because the power's been shut off, says Israel must withdraw before the homicide bombings will stop (so does he control them or doesn't he?). Uh, Yasser, the IDF could, any time it wants to, drop a bomb on you in any one of a half dozen ways and end your miserable murderous life. You now owe your very existence to their mercy--you might want to stop calling them names. You're in no position to demand anything from them--well, you wouldn't be if the whole freakin' world didn't treat you like a statesman instead of handing you the summary judgement you deserve.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Lately I've run across a site or two containing prominent laments--low hit counts, no reader feedback, no new permalinks on the hip new blogs, etc. I even moaned similarly myself once, and in an online chat or two referred to myself as an "obscure blogger"--which I am if you judge by the hit tallies that Bravenet keeps for me. In six months of blogging and about four months of counting, I've yet to top 10,000 total hits. Now, I was linked on InstaPundit during my first week of blogging and didn't have a counter at that time, so my actual totals are likely much higher than my counter indicates, but still--my daily averages are low, reader feedback is minimal though always interesting, and I am, alas, obscure. When thinking about this, several reactions seem common--I could whine and pitch a fit, I could quit blogging, I could beg the dear reader to tell me, please, what do you want? and promise to deliver it, or I could adopt an attitude. I'm not going to whine or pitch a fit--it's unseemly. I'm not quitting, because I don't want to. I'm not going to go begging because I'd be pandering and, well, I just hate panderers (read any post I've written about The HillBilly Administration if you doubt the depth of that hatred). So I chose the latter, and the attitude I choose is--screw the hit counter.

That's right--screw it. I didn't get in to blogging to drive up hit meters. If I'd wanted to do that I would've hidden references to the kind of stuff that really drives up the numbers--beer, naked women and rock 'n' roll. But I don't drink beer, I won't be posting nudie pics and while I do love rock 'n' roll, there are more important things going on in the world right now. And if I'd wanted to drive up the numbers, I could've made this blog like a thousand others that say "So and so has a great column about such and such today--go read it" followed by a pithy line or two. That's fine for bloggers that want to operate that way, but it's not me--I'm not here to command anyone to do anything. I just want to engage minds and hearts and keep focused on the end game--keeping America, liberty and democracy alive and well. I got into blogging to provide a perspective that I saw was lacking, and to counter the garbage that was already beginning to slip into the mainstream media just a couple of months into the war. I'm still doing that, cutting up the media elites whenever the opportunity arises and standing up for my faith whenever it's attacked. I also got into blogging to force myself to write, and it has done that--the volume of stuff I've churned out in the past few months amazes me sometimes. Not that it's all good or even worth reading, but just the act of committing nebulous thoughts to words, sentences and narratives makes one sharper and more skillful over time. Well, hopefully.

So there you have it. Screw the hit meter. Click your way into this site if you want, or don't--it's up to you. Write to me if you want, or don't--that's up to you too. But I'll still be here, as irritable as ever, churning out post after post.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack