Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans. Gone.

When levees keep breaking like they did yesterday, the city has been ruined, destroyed. All of those houses with water over the rooflines, it's unbelievable. How will people be able to rebuild even if the city gets dried out? Right now, we need to take care of our fellow Americans affected by the hurricane.

For immediate disaster relief needs, please give to the American Red Cross.

For long-term relief, I'd like to direct you to Catholic Charities to help them assist with housing, medical and counseling services.

We all may not be able to drive to the area and lend a hand, but we should support those who can provide the help our fellow citizens need.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Whoo! That's a spicy rant!

A little floating around the blogosphere today leads me to this rather angry rant directed towards the "anti-war" (anti-military would be better) groundlings. You'll need a raincoat and umbrella to avoid the vitriol, but it's another of those "they said it better than I did" posts I find all over the blogosphere. I don't know how close it is to the truth, but it definitely ascribes motivations I would accept when I listen to or see the anti-military protestors.

Hat tip: MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Monday, August 29, 2005

Seems to Me We've Seen This Before

At least Michael Brenner, our erstwhile SIU student journalist, has a long line of modern predecessors to imitate. From Janet Cooke to James Guckert, Mr. Brenner has the requisite number of journalist-fabulist (journofabulists?) to claim that "everybody else is doing it."

Thankfully, SIUC's student paper the Daily Egyptian is coming clean with what it knows and what it has. I hope this will give other aspiring reporters pause. The business of newspapers is to sell papers, yes, but if you falsify information, create information out of nothing, or misrepresent what you report, you will be found out. A newspaper that gets a reputation for repeated factual errors soon loses customers.
SIUC Student Journalist Scams School Paper

I tell you, SIUC students always wait until I'm sick or on vacation to do something dumb. In this case, our student fabulist-- pardon, student journalist created a heart-wrenching story about a little girl whose only parent was serving in Iraq. Instead of doing this as part of the Creative Writing department, he presented it as news, as fact.

I'll check in with the Daily Egyptian to see what's going on as well. According to the article, the SIUC student has an internship with my hometown paper. I hope they watch him like a hawk.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ugh. Long week. No posting. Fighting a cold. I hate colds. Thanks to sinus pressure, it's tough to concentrate on the issues of the day. At least my friends and I have been gathered 'round the tv after work in order to mercilessly heckle the Roger Moore-era James Bond films.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thinking about this whole Cindy Sheehan thing near the President's home in Crawford, Texas, I am finally able to take a good look at the whole situation.

Cindy Sheehan got her chance to meet with the President, and she decided to ask for more by throwing a fit in Crawford. I understand that she's grieving about her son who died last year. President Bush met with her then, so she had her chance to talk directly with him. Now she wanted another time to talk with him, a special exception because her son died for our country?

What about the other women whose sons and daughters died for our country, Mrs. Sheehan? Do you realize that you're taking time away from them? You claim to speak for your son, but your son already spoke for himself when he re-enlisted. This says a lot to me about how some mothers refuse to admit that their children have grown up. If you constantly infantilize your children in your mind, you'll never be able to comprehend that they're capable of independent thought. I am so happy that my mother never treated me like this. Sure, she wasn't happy when I joined the Air Force, nor was she happy when my unit deployed around the world. She understood, though, that as an adult I made my own decision and stuck with it no matter what.

Also, does one woman have the moral authority to speak for every family member who has lost a loved one in this war on terror? Not a whit. She speaks for herself, and certainly not for her son. The "peace movement" losers who are trying to make her a paragon of motherly suffering and wisdom should get a life in both collective and individual senses. Because I've served in the military and risked my life for their right to speak freely, perhaps I should have more moral authority than the peaceniks to tell Mrs. Sheehan how to grieve than they do? After all, what have they done for me other than dress badly and think that not getting haircuts is sticking it to The Man?

So, since I have this newfound moral authority based on my past actions that makes me a far better adviser to Cindy Sheehan than her protest pals, my advice is this: go put your life back in order. Stop trying to use wacky "The Jews Run Everything" conspiracies as justification for being mad. Grieve for your son as is your right. Admit that whether or not you disagreed with your son's decision, it was his right to choose to re-enlist, and you had neither the power nor the right to force him to change his mind. Finally, leave the President alone because you had your chance to confront him already. I hope she will take my advice with intent in which it is given. It's to get her away from the tv cameras and keep her from being held up as a symbol for a still-unpopular movement as they're keeping her in an echo chamber where she's rewarded with more attention for further tantrums, and it is to give others the chance to have their say with Mr. Bush.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

LaHood Not Running for Governor

This is a real shame. Ray LaHood would make a great governor for Illinois, but I can understand his decision to stay in the House of Representatives. He's still a good fit for the 18th District, and his constituents have said as much according to the Sun-Times report. (In the interest of full disclosure, my mother is on Ray's staff so I do have an interest in the Congressman's future career plans.)

The field of Republican challengers to Rod "Ol' Blaggie" Blagojevich has narrowed just a little. It's still too early to tell who is going to get the nomination. I know a lot of people are hoping that Jim Edgar will run again, but does he really want another term as governor? What about Ron Gidwitz? Is he going to do anything to back up his early advertising push? The sooner we know, the better.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

National Review on Dick Durbin

The latest flap our senior Senator has landed in is his statement that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts said he would recuse himself from cases that contradicted his Catholic beliefs. The person to whom Durbin made this statement, LA Times writer Jonathan Turley, says that Dick Durbin is full of it, and that Durbin contradicts everything that John Roberts has said in previous confirmations.

So, is Jonathan Turley lying, or is Dick Durbin trying to smear a fellow Catholic? For shame, Senator Durbin. Perhaps you should leave the Church before you manage to insult the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Disney Ends Its Hand-Drawn Animation Production

I don't know if Walt is spinning in his grave or not over the end of cel animation, but it is a shame to see it go away. I just hope that Disney doesn't go overboard with 3-D animation. I still like my 2-D animation, even if it's switched over to being animated on a computer instead of using thousands of painted slides.

A lot of newer Japanese animation is rendered in what I call "the halfway." Backgrounds are computer graphics, but the characters and foreground pieces are still based off of hand-drawn models. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex on Cartoon Network is a great example of this. Watch the way the vehicles move, look at the textures of the insect-like Fuchikoma robots, and you'll see that they're CG. Now watch the people. They're still hand-drawn, and it blends together seamlessly unless you study it very carefully. The 1998 series "Cowboy Bebop" also uses the mix of hand-drawn and CG effects to create its "Space Western" atmosphere. This is "the halfway:" a place where an animator uses human insight for the important parts of the story, and leaves the details to something that can hyperfocus on those details, his computer.

Mind you, this won't become the standard for a few more years. Shows like Samurai Champloo still use the hand-drawn style, even when they're drawn on a Wacom tablet instead of paper.

Still, though, when the Rolls-Royce of animation studios drops its traditional production line, you wonder what the future of animation is going to be.

Friday, August 05, 2005

DePaul gets in the line of FIRE

Tom Cieselka sent this link to me showing DePaul University's downward spiral of speech codes and censorship in light of the Thomas Klocek affair. FIRE is doing a great job of listing schools that stamp out the exchange of ideas in exchange for making people feel safe. While FIRE hasn't rated DePaul in terms of freeom of speech, it looks like they're contradicting a commitment to freedom of speech.

My alma mater, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, rates a yellow. Their policies on free speech are ambiguous and prone to abuse, as we saw with Jonathan Bean's troubles with the SIUC History department.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

First, they came for the history professors, and now they come for the Christian lawyers

Moonbat Central, a blog run by David Horowitz' crew at Frontpage Magazine and dedicated to exposing leftist insanity, brings up another round of campus stupidity at my alma mater Southern Illinois University. If the Jonathan Bean affair in the History Department wasn't bad enough, now the school has revoked RSO (Registered Student Organization) status for the Christian Legal Society. The student group has appealed on the grounds that they have never denied entry into the organization based on religion. The most interesting reading is here:
Incredibly, SIU claims the Christian Legal Society chapter’s requirement that its voting members and leaders adhere to basic Christian beliefs violates the university’s affirmative action policy. A campus group devoted to promoting jihad and terrorism would of course be permissible.
The last sentence is extremely inflammatory, but also sadly true. I remember a spring of 1999 rally for Palestine where the students in charge called for open violence towards Israel and its sympathizers.

The Christian Legal Society has not denied membership or leadership positions to those with differing religious beliefs according to the article. How many people of differing faiths have applied to join isn't known, but if you profess to be open to all faiths (or lack thereof) and no one shows up from those other groups, how can you be accused of not being welcoming? The welcome mat is out at the Christian Legal Society, and yet they're still told that they're discriminatory.

I'd like to ask all SIUC professors, students, and administrators to please pull their heads out of the sand and stop these attacks on academic freedom. Southern Illinois University is too good of a school to use such measures. Are you really so afraid of hurting other people's feelings that you'll deny RSO status to a group? Where's all that open debate that students are supposed to have? Where is the confrontation in the marketplace of ideas? For the sake of this alumnus, please stop ruining our school's good name.
They call this "victory?"

Let's see.

An Iraq War veteran runs as a Democrat in a solidly conservative district. This candidate's ads feature President Bush in a positive light, he is an NRA member and talks about lowering taxes. He sounds conservative despite his party affiliation, right? Maybe the Democrats have found a new Zell Miller, you'd think. His Republican opponent makes weird policy choices like talking ethanol with suburban voters and staying close to Governor Robert Taft's policy lines.

Then it's revealed what our Iraq War veteran really thinks of President Bush. He thinks the President is a "son of a bitch" and says so in interviews with left-leaning radio networks like the local NPR and Pacifica Radio.

Said Democrat goes on to lose the special election by a narrow margin, 52 to 48 percent. The DNC considers this a victory for their platform, despite the fact that their candidate didn't get elected. Is their new platform, pretending to be small-government conservatives, attacking the ethics of their opponents while not cleaning up their own internal messes? Hello, Democrats! It's not 1994 anymore! The Republicans did this already!

While you may be free to call a sitting President a son of a bitch, it's not always the smartest thing to do. Some people take it as a sign of impoliteness and will vote for your opponent as a consequence. I think that's why our neophyte Democrat candidate lost. Criticize the President's policies all you want, criticize his private life when he brings it into public, but never call him names. It makes you look like a smaller man.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A little personal history about today

August 2, 1990...

I was sitting at home watching CNN when I got news of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. With summer vacation came a little more extra time off, and a little more time watching cable and reading the news. I may not have been a Bush the Elder policy wonk at the time, but I remember telling my Dad that we'd be going to war in a few months to pull Kuwait's backside out of the fire, not to mention keeping Saddam Hussein away from a large portion of the world's oil supply. Dad wasn't so sure. It was an interesting way to preface my senior year in high school. I think maybe two, three guys at my school were running around shrieking about the draft, the rest of us saying that we'd enlist before a draft occurred, and besides, the shooting part of the war will end before we graduate. We were right, so we go on with our lives as if nothing happened. Then I start meeting guys who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm while in college, and realize something was wrong. I wasn't doing anything to defend this country.

August 2, 1992...

After a year in college, I decide to join the Air Force. I go to Lackland AFB later that year and then to Lowry AFB to learn to fix one of the workhorse aircraft of the war, the F-111. My term takes me through Europe and the Middle East repairing these beautiful warbirds. Even after going through it all, I still don't question my desire to serve. I just wonder if should have joined right out of high school instead of go to college for a year.

August 2, 2005...

I look back through the past 15 years and wonder if it was Desert Storm or 9/11 that affected me more. On this day, I see which one it was. As horrific as 9/11 was, as hard as it is for me to remember that day without anger, it's what happened 15 years ago today that made me realize the need to grow up and to take up my share of the nation's burdens. That was the day when I decided to be more serious, to act like the adult I was going to be very soon.

It doesn't mean I gave up my sense of humor, though...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Senate Stem Cell Battle Begins In Earnest

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has thrown his support to embryonic stem-cell research, and this AP report states that he doesn't have enough votes to override a Presidential veto if he passes a bill opening up federal funding to embryonic stem-cell research using new stem-cell lines. Currently, federal funding is not allowed for embryonic stem-cell research, but allowed for adult stem-cell and fetal tissue research. State and private funding for embryonic stem-cell research is allowed, so there is no ban on the research.

Once again, the government is stuck in a battle over when life begins and how to use it. Do frozen embryos count as human life? Can they be used as test subjects at their parents' whim? Is it moral to use these embryos without letting them achieve their designed goal of becoming a fully-formed human being? It appears the law is on the side of the parents who wish to do so.

Morally speaking, I don't like it one bit. Legally speaking, I can only voice my opinion on the subject to try to change people's minds. I still don't know if there are going to be as many tangible benefits to this research as in adult stem cells. I've also heard that some of these embryos develop uncontrolled cellular division, which pretty much turns the cells into cancer cells. Cancer isn't a pretty way to go at any stage of life if you ask me. Can anyone out there point me to research showing the rates that these stem cells have converted from healthy cells to cancerous ones?

There had better be some kind of reward to this research, otherwise we really are throwing away our future. I also hope that those who do this have a moral and ethical code that is far more respectful of life than Ethics Professor Peter Singer of Princeton, who has views on bioethics that seem more to purely generate controversy than anything else. I wonder if he really has any concept of living outside of academia? It doesn't look like it.

Anyway, this is one of those issues where morals and law clash. Can anything be done to reconcile the two without surrendering either?
Now we can add "Stupid" and "Teenagers" to "Disgusting"

One of my posts below references an act of vandalism to the home of a family who had lost their son-in-law, Pfc. Timothy Hines, in Iraq. The little bastards who committed these acts were 15 and 13, and apparently decided to do this as part of a vandalism spree:
After their arrests, the boys were released to their parents. Police and Wessel family members said Thursday they were confident that the fire was a random vandalism and not a political statement against the invasion of Iraq.

On Thursday, Jim Wessel [father-in-law to Pfc. Hines] stood outside the police department and asked the community to show no ill will to the boys or their families.

"We feel that this crime was a random act of violence. It is our understanding that the juveniles who have been accused in this case were unaware of the circumstances surrounding our family," Jim Wessel said.
So in this case, do we blame the boys for destroying someone else's grieving process, do we blame the parents for not inculcating their sons with things like respect for other people's property (not to mention at least a little bit of respect for the flag), or do we blame society?

My vote is for the first and second choices. With luck, the boys will get to spend some time in a juvenile detention facility and pay restitution and their parents will bear the shame brought on by not teaching their children to behave properly.
Senator Christopher Dodd Calls John Bolton Damaged Goods; Connecticut Democrat Possibly Jealous of Mustache

Well, for all of the hemming and hawing on the John Bolton issue, ABC news is reporting (via WLS-AM in Chicago) that President Bush has indeed appointed John Bolton as our new UN Ambassador.

Now, if we can get John Bolton and Donald Trump to work together on fixing the UN's financial and moral mismanagement, the organization might be useful once more.