Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Flying Imams - Are They Trying to Set Us Up?

I've been following the story of the "Flying Imams" since the incident at the Minneapolis airport on November 20. I thought at the time that their behavior was odd and had a sneaking suspicion that they were trying to draw attention to themselves, not just innocently praying, as they claimed in the aftermath. I wasn't sure if it was a ploy to create a lawsuit for money (and let's not forget sensitivity training for all involved - shame on you!) or something more sinister. As more and more details come to light I am convinced it was the latter case.

These guys are trying to raise a big stink, trying to embarass US Airways, the crew of the aircraft and the other passengers by invoking those terrible twins, the R-word, racism and the B-word, bigotry. They are calculating that if a similar incident occurs in the near future the next group of passengers or crew will hesitate to say anything for fear of having the dreaded labels of racist or bigot attached to them. This is a cynical manipulation of most American's basic decency and desire to get along with everybody. We see this tactic from grievance mongers all the time. Don't buy it.

It seems like my suspicions are shared by quite a few people. Richard Miniter has a post at Pajamas Media today with lots of detail about the incident, including links to the police report of the incident and to a letter written by one of the passengers to US Airways. Powerline has also been following the story with posts here, here, here and here.

If someone tries to stick you with the label of bigot or racist, and you know damn well you aren't, ignore it and do what you think is right. I'd rather be falsely accused than dead. The Flying Imams are counting on you to appease their faked outrage by backing down or not speaking up in the first place. In other words, call "bullshit" on them with a clear conscience.

UPDATE: Debra Burlingame, the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, pilot of American Airliens Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon by the 9/11 hijackers, has a column in the December 6 Wall Street Journal. She is quite unequivocal about what she thinks is going on here and really nails the situation perfectly.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Favorite Holiday Recipe

The holiday season is coming around again (wasn't it just here!???) so it's time to pull out the old recipe file and start cooking. My favorite is Chestnut Soup. I posted it here last year. Unfortunately, Williams-Sonoma didn't have any pre-peeled chestnuts on sale after last year's holidays so I'm going to have to do it the hard way, but it's worth it.

Update: Trader Joe's has frozin peeled chestnuts for thos lucky enough to live near one.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Loss We Needed

As disappointed as I am that Republicans lost the House and as seems increasingly likely, the Senate, perhaps the loss will provide a much needed corrective to a complacent Republican Party, as long as it takes away the right message. From what I've seen so far, it seems to be doing that. Representative Mike Pence, Chair of the Republican Study Committee said:

"while the scandals of the 109th Congress harmed our cause, the greatest scandal in Washington D.C. is runaway federal spending." He noted that pork-barrel earmarks, midnight votes to pass entitlement programs and lack of Congressional oversight were "not in the Contract with America back in 1994 and Republican voters said 'enough is enough.'"
Senator Tom Coburn had similar remarks (via Instapundit) so I'm feeling reasonably good that some good can come out of all this.

Finally, Bill Whittle also has some wise words. I think he's probably right. This isn't the end of the world. The Democrats have the keys to the car back for the time being. It remains to be seen whether they can drive responsibly. The Republicans have about a year to undertake some introspection and to bring in new leadership that can steer the party back to core principals before the next election cycle gets underway in earnest. If the Democrats give in to their worst impulses a suitably chastened Republican Party has a good shot at coming back in 2008. Here's hoping the lessons of 2006 take.
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Monday, November 06, 2006

New Bill Whittle Essay

Fresh on the heels of another great Mark Steyn column, we have another great Bill Whittle essay (does he write any other kind?). What can I say? Go read it. As always, it's long but worth your time.
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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mark Steyn on Democrat Unseriousness

Mark Steyn has another great column (does he write any other kind?) about John Kerry and the Democrats attempts to have it both ways on the war in Iraq.

So their [Democrats] "support" is objectively worthless. The indignant protest that "of course" "we support our troops" isn't support, it's a straddle, and one that emphasizes the Democrats' frivolousness in the post-9/11 world. A serious party would have seen the jihad as a profound foreign-policy challenge they needed to address credibly. They could have found a Tony Blair -- a big mushy-leftie pantywaist on health and education and all the other sissy stuff, but a man at ease with the projection of military force in the national interest. But we saw in Connecticut what happens to Democrats who run as Blairites: You get bounced from the ticket. In the 2004 election, instead of coming to terms with it as a national security question, the Democrats looked at the war on terror merely as a Bush wedge issue they needed to neutralize.
I wonder if they really think we're stupid enough to believe them when they say they support the troops [you know they do - Ed]. The best way to support the troops is to get behind the mission and see it all the way through. If we don't, the resulting defeat will be worse than a dozen Vietnams.

Read the whole thing of couse.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

World's Biggest Windbags Thinkers

SMASH has a great post up about a conference of "the world's biggest thinkers" to be held in Berlin where 112 conferees will sit around a table and atttempt to come up with answers to 100 questions distilled down from a list of 10,000 questions submitted by people around the world. SMASH has taken the liberty of giving them a good head start by answering the first 20 (individuals do, after all, work far more efficiently than committees) for them with his trademark humor, accuracy and conciseness. Some of his commenters also have some good answers. I particularly like this from Tantor:

U.S.A.: If all the world's current goods were evenly distributed, what would we each have?

Not much. We'd have even less the day afterwards when everyone realized they couldn't keep what they earned and the rest learned they could get free stuff from the people who worked.

Go read the whole thing.
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Breaking the Code....

....The IRS Code that is. Over on my sidebar, under the "Pet Causes" heading, you will see a link to the website. I've been following the various debates over how to fix the tax code for several years. There have been efforts to reform or simplify the present code ranging from tweaking rates or deductions to replacement with a flat tax. They either haven't worked for long (1986 tax reform) or not gone anywhere (flat tax). The one thing all of the various proposals had in common is that they were all variations on how to tax income. What constitutes income has turned out to be a very elastic concept and the IRS Code is a system that is designed to be gamed. I think I've finally seen the solution to this problem. Stop taxing income. Tax consumption.

Congressman John Linder and Libertarian radio talk show host Neal Boortz have collaborated on the writing of a book,The FairTax Book. I bought a copy last year. It lays out the case for ditching the current tax code and replacing the income tax with a national sales tax. The details of how it works are best left to the book but some of the main points are:

The FairTax

  • Abolishes the IRS
  • Closes all tax loopholes and brings fairness to taxation
  • Maintains our current Social Security and Medicare benefits
  • Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy
  • Allows American products to compete fairly
  • Reimburses the tax on purchases of basic necessities for everybody up to the poverty line, so effectively the poor don't pay.
  • Enables retirees to keep their entire pension
  • Enables workers to keep their entire paycheck
  • Transfers power from Washington DC back to the people, where the Founding Fathers intended it to be (oh be still my libertarian heart).
A question about the FairTax was on the ballot in three Georgia counties during the recent primary election. Not only did it get people out to vote in what was otherwise expeced to be a low turnout primary, it garnered 85% approval. Just this morning, I listened to a rally for the FairTax held in Orlando, Florida streamed by AM 580 WBDO. Between 10,000 and 12,000 people showed up in the Florida summer heat to show their support for this. It's got legs.

I really urge you to get the book and educate yourself about this. Don't listen to those who criticize it after first rewriting it to say what it doesn't and then proceed to critique their strawman. Go to the sources. Again those are:
FairTax Groups and
The FairTax Book
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sometimes It's Better Not to Stop a Fight....

I found this post by Treppenwitz (via Hugh Hewitt) the other day. Read the whole thing but the bottom line is:

" This is one time an Arab aggressor must be allowed to be beaten so badly that every civilized nation will stand in horror, wanting desperately to step in and stop the carnage... but knowing that the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and finally admits defeat. "

It has to be done sooner or later or we will just find ourselves right back where we started in the very near future.
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

More on Alt Energy

Instapundit linked to this post by Donald Sensing a couple of days ago. It is related to the post I pointed to last week by Will Collier on solar power. Sensing quotes extensively from Steven Den Beste about several forms of alternative energy. An interesting point is that there is energy and energy sources or outputs and inputs. For example, electricity is a form of energy, but it is not a source of energy. It is produced (mostly) by burning fossil fuels. Unless we are willing to look again at nuclear power, it looks like we will be dependent on coal or petroleum for a long time to come.
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Villainous Company Is Good Company

I've just discovered this blog in the last couple of weeks. I really like what I am reading there and this post from today is a good example of why. It's another brilliant and whithering critique of the New York Times. The proprietress, Cassandra is a frequent poster and a good writer. From now on she is on my daily Blog Patrol. Now, go and read the whole thing (via Instapundit and Powerline).
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Alternative Energy for People Who Never Had to Take a Physics Class"

Will Collier had this great quote over at Vodkapundit "alternative energy for people who never had to take a physics class." As a former E. Cobb County resident myself I don't think I'd want Georgia paved over with solar panels either. As appealing an idea as solar energy is I don't foresee it becoming a practical large-scale power source for a very long time to come. Read the post and you'll see why.
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The NY Times Takes Charge of National Security

I found this (via Instapundit) this morning. Villainous Company: Bill Keller: The Unitary Editor. It is an excellent summary of the controversy surrounding the NY Times and its penchant for publishing classified information to the detriment of our national security. I don't recall getting a chance to vote for putting Bill Keller in charge. The man needs to be muzzled. This is the second time in the last few of months (the first was the NSA data mining) that he has taken it upon himself and the NY Times to blow a secret program that was effective at identifying and tracking terrorists. Why isn't he being prosecuted?
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Saturday, July 01, 2006

RIP Acidman

(originally posted 6/27, toasted by Blogger 6/29)

One of my daily stops on Blog Patrol has been Acidman, a.k.a. Rob Smith. Rob passed away sometime over last Sunday night/early Monday morning. Rob was a cantankerous, politically incorrect and brutally honest guy who wore his life on his sleeve and a very good writer. We need more men like him and now we are one more short.

As difficult a character as he could be I think he was really pretty soft-hearted and it showed in the way he talked about is children, Quinton and Sam. There could be no question as to how much he loved them. It also accounts for how hard he took the betrayal of she whom we shall not name.

I never met Rob but did have a chance about 3 years ago. He was going to be at a blogmeet for Georgia bloggers up in Dahlonega. It was early Fall and I was still living in Georgia at the time. Rob put up a post asking if anyone knew what condition the foliage was in. As luck would have it I had just been on a little road trip through the North Georgia mountains and had taken some pictures. I sent a couple of likely suspects along to him so he could see for himself. I got a very gracious reply thanking me for the pictures and inviting me to drop in on the blogmeet and say 'hi.' I was going to be up in the mountains again, horseback riding with my daughter but even though I was passing close by I elected not to stop as I was running later than I thought. My mistake. My loss. I'm sorry now that I didn't do it.

Rest in peace old man. Maybe we'll meet at the great blogmeet in the sky someday.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thai Me Up

We’re just wrapping up a 2 week vacation in Thailand. It has been a bit of a marathon with an itinerary that had us moving all the time but we have seen a lot, from Phuket in the South to the Golden Triangle in the North and quite a bit in between. We have taken over 1,400 photos. Most of them are somewhat large files so I wil only post a couple of them here. The first is a bit of tsunami debris on Phi Phi Le Island, the only computer on the island I'm sure. It’s strange how the wave completely wrecked some areas and others were more or less untouched. Generally anything facing Southwest took the full brunt of it. The beach where we found this monitor was spared and just trapped some debris. Seeing as how I work on a computer everyday and how much I needed this vacation, this is just the way I liked to see a monitor. I worry about the fate of its owner though.

We found this on the same beach; a colony of monkeys. They didn’t appear at first but as we were puttering around on the beach they came down from the surrounding cliffs to see what we might have to offer. We had brought along some bananas and other fruit in anticipation of seeing them and so everyone was satisfied. We were entertained and they ate pretty well.

My favorite place on the whole tour was a hotel on a working tea plantation in Chiang Rai province, called Phu Chaisai. We all had (did I mention there were 10 of us? Two families of 4 plus two single ladies.) individual cottages built in the Lana Thai style with teak floors and teak panel walls. Our cottage had its own swimming pool with a waterfall feature.

Of course a visit to Thailand would not be complete without seeing lots of temples. One of the most beautiful of all is Wat Prathat on Doi Suthep, the mountain above Chiang Mai on the West side of the city. Here’s a picture of the Happy Campers on the steps (306 of them) leading up to it. And now, alas, it’s time to pack and head for home.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Well, I took a Serenity personality quiz and here is what it concludes about me....

Your results:
You are Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
River (Stowaway)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Honest and a defender of the innocent.
You sometimes make mistakes in judgment
but you are generally good and
would protect your crew from harm.

See who you are and let us know the answer in comments.......
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Poking Around at FFZ

I went up to Falcon Field today to shoot a few touch and goes to stay current. The FBO called while I was on my way there to tell me the plane I had booked had just been grounded for a maintenance issue. There was no other airplane available so I didn't get to fly and decided to shoot a few pictures instead. It was as great day for that as it was for flying, perfect weather and lots of activity. In the space of 15 minutes I saw this beautiful Stearman, a Russsian Yak, a B-25, a Twin Beech and a candy-apple red Aeronca Champ.

It was some consolation for not getting to fly myself but after 30+ years of it, I'm used to this happening once in a while. I'd rather wait and fly another day than take off in an aircraft that's having issues.

The Stearman and the Yak took off one right after the other and immediately broke to the left, almost right over where I was standing and giving me a perfect profile for the pictures. Showoffs. I think I'm going to have to find out who owns these babies and chat them up a little. Who knows. I might be able to cadge a ride out of them.

I haven't seen this B-25 around FFZ before. I suspect it's visiting the Commemorative Air Force Museum down at the other end of the field.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

I'm Hooked

Newly Minted Firefly Junkie

No, not the small self-lighting bugs, the TV series "Firefly". I've always been a fan of science fiction, specifically space science fiction, ever since I saw the first Star Wars (or is it the fourth?) in the theater ( The rest of those are a subject for another post). This one-season (2002) series is one of my favorites. I just discovered it and its theatrical movie sequel (2005) "Serenity" recently. I was turned on to it by several blogs, most notably Instapundit (who in turn links to several reviews), Vodkapundit, and most recently Samizdata's Johnathan Pearce . When I took the quiz linked to by Johnathan and came up as most likely to be a Serenity crewmember, I finally had to buy the series and check it out. This is all your fault guys.

I saw all 14 episodes, including 3 that never made it onto the air, in about 3 sittings. Fox had a real winner on its hands here but really screwed it up by showing it out of order. Consequently, the first two episodes (in lieu of a pilot) which were really quite critical for laying the groundwork were shown back to back as the last two episodes in the series and 3 completed episodes were never shown at all. If I had watched them in the order shown, I might have found the story a bit lacking in coherence. That being said though, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series.

The basic basic story line is that several hundred years into the future, humans have migrated away from an over-populated earth and colonized a number of planets. There are a number of "core" planets and many less developed ones, at ever increasing distance from the core. The series has an American old-west sensibility. It's kind of the Wild West with spaceships. There has been a war between the core planets, known as the Alliance, and the outer planets, known as the Independents with the latter coming out on the losing end. It all has a very post Civil War (US) feel.

The nine-member crew of Serenity consists of a couple of former Independent soldiers, including the Captain, and various people, each with a story (Whenever the Captain walks into a bar, every eye is on him. None are on stalks.). It's not just about one person and that makes for some very good story possibilities and creator Joss Whedon doesn't pass any up. The crew live on the fringes of human-occupied space, eking out a living moving cargo in Serenity, sort of a space-borne tramp steamer, some legitimate, some not, while trying to avoid drawing unwelcome Alliance attention.

I don't want to say more because I'm afraid I'll end up putting spoilers in. You really need to see the series to appreciate it . If you're not sure, rent the movie, Serenity first. That was what hooked me and if you like sci-fi and westerns, you'll like this.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

No Risk to Dissidence in a Democratic Society

My sister sent me this article by Amir Taheri commenting on the movie "Syriana." The money quotes: Evelyn Waugh: "There is no more agreeable position than that of dissident from a stable democratic society." and Taheri's reason why that is: "The reason is simple: In a stable democratic society in which you are protected by law you can lie, cheat, and mislead, all in the name of political dissent, and be rewarded with fame and fortune."

Read the whole thing.
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