Monday, December 18, 2006

A Very Long Term Investment

I want to respond to Dov Menkes of Fullerton's letter to the Los Angeles Times on December 14.

Mr. Menkes complains that Bush's proposed missions to the Moon and Mars are "boondoggles". He thinks we can find a better way to spend $500 billion.

I have to say that I disagree. In my opinion and in the opinion of many of us who truly think of the future, the pursuit of space is the noblest, most worthwhile endeavor the human race can take. I know many will agree with Mr. Menkes and state that we should be spending our time and money on fighting diseases, feeding the poor and such. I'm not about to say those opinions are wrong but don't dismiss space exploration as anything less, a priority.

The paradox of human beings is we focus so much on improving the quality and length of our own lives and our children. Yet, as we do this, we have overpopulated our planet to the point where it gets so crowded and polluted that we jeopardize the quality and lengths of our lives that we think we are improving on. We may have already reached that point. It has been speculated that the next generation will have a lower life-span expectancy than the current one.

If you truly think ahead, think beyond your children or even your grandchildren. Instead, think about your children's children's children and where they will be. On a planet ravaged by war and environmental disasters, are they going to find it any easier to take the human race beyond our planet? Space is a tremendously long term investment. We won't really reap the rewards in our lifetimes. That doesn't mean we should make the investment, though.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NFL Power Rankings

It sure can be messy ranking these teams. One must look at their season as a whole and not just pay attention to who recently beat whom. After 13 weeks, here's how I see it.

1. Chargers (Only Shottenheimer can stop them)
2. Patriots (Not winning pretty, but winning)
3. Bears (Ditto)
4. Colts (Flaws are appearing in their armor)
5. Cowboys (Where did these guys come from?)
6. Seahawks (Starting to look like last year's team)
7. Ravens (I hope we don't see the Bears and Ravens in the Superbowl)
8. Bengals
(They need to be more consistent)
9. Saints (They are still surprising everyone)
10. Broncos (Bad decision to put Cutler in now)
11. Jaguars (They need to stop losing to lower teams)
12. Falcons
(Great one week, lousy the next)
13. Eagles (Don't quite have it together)
14. Chiefs (Ditto)
15. Steelers (Late run is probably too little, too late)
16. Jets (The AFC's surprise team)
17. Panthers (Good defense, bad offense)
18. Giants (Need to play better and stop blaming coach)
19. 49ers (Playing better, found defense and running game)
20. Bills
(A tough team at home this time of year)
21. Vikings (Typical mediocre NFC team)
22. Titans (Vince Young is starting to find his place)
23. Rams (Another mediocre NFC team)
24. Packers (Favre can't save this team)
25. Dolphins (Harrington finally shows some talent)
26. Browns (Another typical Brown season)
27. Redskins (Remember when the NFC east was supposed to be all good?)
28. Texans (Beating the Raiders isn't a big deal)
29. Buccaneers (They need a passing game)
30. Cardinals (They have a passing game, now they need everything else)
31. Lions (This has become such an inept franchise)
32. Raiders (Not as bad as earlier in the season, but still bad)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bond Films Part 5

This will be the last installment of the James Bond series (you can stop applauding now). The top five Bond films are:

5. You Only Live Twice: This will always be known as the Bond film where you finally get to see Bond's (Connery's anyway) arch enemy - Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Coldly played by Donald Pleasence, he is the model for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. In this one, Bond travels to Japan where S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is stealing American and Soviet rockets. The story moves along very well until the end where there is an overly long battle sequence that just gets tiring.

4. From Russia with Love: Where Dr. No introduced us to James Bond, From Russia with Love has all the features that make a great Bond film. Connery is excellent and has really become his character. This film features some great action sequences including the big boat chase at the end and the fight on the train. There are two good henchpeople in this film Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb and Robert Shaw as Donovan Grant. Rosa Klebb served as the model for Frau Farbissina in the Austin Powers movies.

3. Diamonds are Forever: This flick is often disregarded by Connery fans as being too glib. While it did work as a prelude to the less serious Bond films of Roger Moore, it is a great film, nonetheless. Charles Gray re-interprets the personality of Blofeld. He is charming and witty as opposed to the deadly serious type. Even better, though, are Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as the gay assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. I love every scene these guys are in. Jill St. John is funny as the somewhat ditsy Tiffany Case. This film is unique in that Bond actually loses his temper and calls Tiffany a "stupid twit".

2. Goldfinger: This is a good cerebral Bond film. Bond is tracking Goldfinger and his assistant Oddjob (Gert Fröbe and Harold Sakata respectively) only to get too close. Who can forget the laser beam scenario, it's almost right out of Batman. What make it great though is Bond didn't have a "toolbelt" with a nifty ant-laser device. Bond didn't work the straps loose. Bond didn't fight his way out of it. Instead, he saves his manhood and himself (in that order) by subtle suggestion. Then the added challenge of dealing with the man-hating Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) makes this a true classic.

1. The Living Daylights: This one contains great villains, a great story, and several of the best action sequences of all the Bond films. The opening scene on the Rock of Gibraltar is great. The car chase is superb. The fight on the cargo plane is spectacular. I really like the plot twist in the middle of the film when we find out who the bad guy really is. During all this, Timothy Dalton is the definitive Bond. He is suave and charming one minute, edgy and a lethal weapon the next. The chemistry between he and Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy is unique in a Bond film. This one has it all. It is the perfect Bond film.

While I'm at it, here is my list of favorite Bond theme songs:

1. Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey
2. Thunderball - Tom Jones
3. You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra
4. Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings
5. For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton
6. All Time High (Octopussy) - Rita Coolidge
7. The World is not Enough - Garbage
8. The Man with the Golden Gun - Lulu
9. A View to a Kill - Duran Duran
10. Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) - Carly Simon

Worst theme songs

1. We have All the Time in the World (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) - Louis Armstrong
2. Moonraker - Shirley Bassey
3. Goldeneye - Tina Turner
4. Tomorrow Never Dies - Sheryl Crow

Best "Bond Women"

1. Pam Bouvier - Carey Lowell in License to Kill
2. Tiffany Case - Jill St. John in Diamonds are Forever
3. Pussy Galore - Honor Blackman in Goldfinger
4. Melina Havelock - Carole Bouquet in For Your Eyes Only
5. Kara Milovy - Maryam d'Abo in The Living Daylights
Honorable mention - Octopussy - Maud Adams in Octopussy

Worst "Bond Women"

1. Mary Goodnight - Britt Ekland in Man with the Golden Gun
2. Anya Anasova - Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Holly Goodhead - Lois Chiles in Moonraker
4. Stacey Sutton - Tanya Roberts in A View to a Kill
5. Solitaire - Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die
Dishonorable mention - Jinx - Halle Berry in Die Another Day

Best Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger - Gert Fröbe in Goldfinger
2. Francisco Scaramanga - Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Charles Gray in Diamonds are Forever
4. Georgi Koskov - Jeroen Krabbé in The Living Daylights
5. Franz Sanchez - Robert Davi in License to Kill

Worst Villains

1. Hugo Drax - Michael Lonsdale in Moonraker
2. Karl Stromberg - Curd Jürgens in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Elliot Carver - Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies
4. General Ourumov - Gottfried John in GoldenEye
5. Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Best Henchman/woman

1. Mr Wint and Mr. Kidd - Bruce Glover and Putter Smith in Diamonds are Forever
2. Oddjob - Harold Sakata in Goldfinger
3. Donovan Grant - Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love
4. Fatima Blush - Barbara Carrera in Never Say Never Again
5. Mayday - Grace Jones in A View to a Kill
6. Fiona Volpe - Luciana Paluzzi in Thunderball

Worst Henchman/woman

1. Jaws - Richard Kiel in Moonraker
2. Jaws - Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Xenia Onatopp - Famke Janssen in Goldeneye

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bond Films Part 4

We've arrived at the top 10. The following films are essentially, very good Bond films.

10. Octopussy: Roger Moore's best performance as Bond. He actually shows anger and frustration when there is a nuclear bomb about to go off and nobody believes him. (Apparently it takes something that extreme to take the smirk off his face.) Louis Jourdan plays a sly villain and Steven Berkoff is also good as the mad Soviet general. (He always seems to play the bad guy. i.e. Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop.) There is a good action scene involving a train. Unfortunately, there's a dumb action scene involving a "tiger hunt" where Bond is the tiger.

9. The Man with the Golden Gun: This is my favorite of the Moore Bond films. It's almost Star Wars-like as Christopher Lee plays a man very much like Bond, but uses his talents as a gun for hire instead of for Queen and Country. In other words, he went to the "dark side". I like the wordplay between the two men and how Bond outwits him cleverly in the end. This film also features a second showing of Clifton James as JW Pepper in a pretty good chase scene. Unfortunately, this film contains Britt Ekland as Miss Goodnight, the dumbest "Bond girl" of them all.

8. The World Is Not Enough: This is, by far, the best Bond film featuring Pierce Brosnan. This one actually has a strong, coherent plot. It deals with the modern day issue of terrorism. Everybody is good in this one. The betrayal aspect of this film is especially well done.

7. License to Kill: This is perhaps, the most realistic Bond film. Until the end, it is very believable. It's about a drug cartel from a pseudo-fictional country (It's pretty obvious that Isthmus City is really Panama.) Dalton is exceptionally strong as a man determined to avenge the mutilation of his CIA friend Felix Leiter. Equally strong is Robert Davi as the drug lord and Carey Lowell's role as Pam Bouvier. She is the best "Bond girl" ever and as I mentioned in my earlier post My Name is Bond, James Bond, Bond appears to truly love her.

6. Never Say Never Again: In 1983, Sean Connery reminded theater audiences everywhere of how good a James Bond he is. While not a Broccoli/Saltzman project, Never Say Never Again marks a glorious reprise of Connery as Bond. Basically, it's a remake of Thunderball but it is far superior. One great thing about it is Connery does not try to hide his age. His character fully realizes he's not so young anymore. Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are back and steal nuclear missiles and hold them for ransom. A typical early Bond plot, I know, but the actors make this one great. It includes Barbara Carrera as a delightfully wicked Fatima Blush. Her final scene is truly memorable.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bond Films Part 3

Now that I've gotten past the Thanksgiving holiday, I'll continue.

15. Live and Let Die: The debut of Roger Moore (and a downturn for the series overall, in my opinion) is a story about the drug trade from Jamaica to the U.S. Like the previous film Diamonds are Forever, much of Live and Let Die takes place in the United States. The highlight of the film is the bayou boat chase. Unfortunately, it goes on too long but it features some good comic relief from Sheriff "JW Pepper" (Clifton James). The downside of this film is Jane Seymour's stiff performance as "Solitaire". Also, they re-made the train-fight sequence that was so good in From Russia with Love. This time, Bond's nemesis is the man with a steel-claw for a hand - a pretty weak predecessor to an even worse henchman - Jaws.

14. For Your Eyes Only: This Cold War - themed film has a pretty good ski chase and a distinctive mountain climbing scene. Carole Bouquet has to be one of the most beautiful "Bond women" ever. She does a nice job in an understated performance, contrary to the horribly annoying Lynn-Holly Johnson character. Julian Glover is a great villain and Topol is equally good as Bond's cohort.

13. Thunderball: The weakest of the Connery films. The best character is Luciana Paluzzi as the femme-fatale Fiona Volpe. Otherwise, this is rather boring with a lot of underwater shots and a weak cast. This film was remade as Never Say Never Again, which was much better.

12. Dr. No: The debut film is also the most dated. It starts off slow and gets more interesting as it progresses. Probably the most memorable scene in the film is the entrance of Ursula Andress. This film does not have a lot of gadgets or gimmicks. Connery has a physical presence. He fights with his fists. He shoots his Walther PPK (which is presented to Bond as "standard issue" by M).

11. On Her Majesty's Secret Service: This one is more or less known as the "James Bond weds Emma Peel" movie. Bond finally falls in love in this one and even gets married to the sassy Tracey Di Vicenzo played by Diana Rigg. It has a ridiculous comic book plot and Telly Savalas plays a mild-tempered Blofeld trying to destroy everybody on Earth with a virus. It's still fun though and George Lazenby's single performance as Bond is surprisingly good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bond Films Part 2

Here are some more James Bond films that aren't the best.

18. Die Another Day: Except for a pretty good fencing sequence, this one is pretty forgettable. I personally don't like the idea that Bond was captured and held prisoner for a long time. It doesn't fit the whole "invincible Bond" concept that is the very essence of a Bond film. Halle Berry tries unsuccessfully to be Ursula Andress. The plot is confusing and I have the sense that the writers were stumped in coming up with a good story.

17. Tomorrow Never Dies: I really don't mean to pick on the Pierce Brosnan films but this is another turkey. It has the usual problems that I mention in #18 and 19. That is the plot is unclear. This one just throws action at you. It has an overly long chase sequence that gets ridiculous (even for a Bond film). This film really hyped Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl. She has a short role and is killed off so what was the point of that?

Bad to Awful
Fair to Good

16. A View to a Kill: Roger Moore's swan song as Bond. This film actually isn't bad. I consider it the weakest of the good Bond movies. Christopher Walken was a very good villain in this one. Grace Jones is an interesting henchwoman. Essentially, this is a remake of Goldfinger with silicon instead of gold. If you look carefully, you will see a lot of similarities between the two. The weak point of the film of course, is Moore. He is old and bored in this film. Equally bad is Tanya Roberts as a geologist.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bond Films Part 1

Now that I've rated the actors, I'm going to start rating the films. I'll start with the worst and move up to the best.

21. Moonraker: This is a remake of an already bad film - The Spy Who Loved Me except that its about a madman intent on destroying the world and living in outer space instead of under the sea. (See #20) These two films represent the worst of Bond films. Producer Broccoli decided to go with Moonraker in 1979 due to the sudden popularity of space films - namely Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 1979 was also the year of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, and The Black Hole. Unfortunately, Moonraker's special effects were not up to the standards of these other pictures. Indeed, some of the space shots looked almost as bad as the B movies of the 1950's and '60's. More than that though, Bond never drives a car, Bond never even fires his Walther PPK. Instead, you get Star Wars-like laser blasts. Apparently, in 1979, we had laser gun technology which disappeared soon thereafter. Returning Jaws as the henchman was a bad idea. He was a stupid character in the previous film (Again, see #20). The "Bond girl" in this one is Dr. Goodhead (please!) played by Lois Chiles. She is so wooden as a superintelligent female astronaut that she rivals the ineptitude of Roger Moore.

20. The Spy Who Loved Me: This is another very cartoonish Bond film. Barbara Bach as Russian agent XXX (Yeah, I get it. The extra 'X' means she's superwoman.) is an absolute joke. The dialogue exchanges between her and Moore are absolutely laughable. I'm talking about having no chemistry and just going through the motions. This film introduces the most ridiculous of all Bond's nemesis', that being Jaws as he hulks around "chasing" Bond like Frankenstein's monster. Jaws can't even seem to be able to run so how he keeps catching up to and cornering Bond is beyond me. The plot is an evil scientist tries to create a nuclear war to kill everyone on Earth, while he and his "super race" can live safely under the sea.

19. GoldenEye: This debut of Pierce Brosnan is just plain boring. It has a convoluted plot. This is the first Bond film to come out after the Cold War. It appears the writer's weren't sure how to handle this. It relies on a gimmicky henchwoman, Xenia Onatopp to make it interesting. Unfortunately, she doesn't.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Name is Bond, James Bond

I'm a big James Bond fan and since there is a new film out, I'm going to dedicates some time to these films.

Up until the recent film Casino Royale, there had been 5 actors to play James Bond. Just for the record, I am aware that David Niven played Bond in the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, but I don't really consider that a true James Bond movie. I am going to start off by rating the actors from worst to first:

5. Roger Moore: He was just horrid. Some of the films he was in were pretty good, but that was never due to Moore. While Bond is supposed to be fearless, Moore came off as being completely oblivious to any danger he was in. He always just seemed to have this empty, smirking, expression on his face. He was always stiff, but in latter films, especially A View to a Kill, he was downright robotic as he was just too old in 1985. He was never convincing as James Bond and he played the part too long.

4. Pierce Brosnan: While, certainly a more well-rounded actor than Moore, Brosnan just seemed too obvious a man to play Bond. He had the accent, he looked good in a tuxedo, but he lacked the physical presence that the better Bond actors had. He appeared smaller and nimbler and had a more martial arts style when he had to get physical against the bad guys. He just never came across as tough.

3. George Lazenby: He was in only one film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but it was a good performance. Lazenby played a very human Bond who didn't get much of a chance to prove himself. Unfortunately, Bond audiences weren't very responsive as OHMSS didn't do so well at the box office. This prompted producers Broccoli and Saltzman to dismiss Lazenby and pay Sean Connery a huge salary to do another Bond film, Diamonds are Forever.

2. Sean Connery: Yes, I know. Many Bond fans would consider it blasphemy to not hail Connery as the James Bond. Don't get me wrong, Connery was great. He found a way to be suave and tough at the same time. His very dry humor worked perfectly. He treated women in the same manner he treated the bad guys, that is with utter dispassion. Connery's Bond was with many, many women, but he could never love them. He used them for pleasure or as a means to get at the bad guy. Such chauvinism would never work today but Connery made it an art form.

1. Timothy Dalton: Always professional, grim, and tough, Dalton is the best actor to ever play Bond. Dalton's Bond was completely believable. It is easy to imagine that if there ever really was a James Bond, he would have been like Timothy Dalton. He could be as physically brutal as Connery was, yet he had more depth. He came across as both physically and mentally tough. There was a precision in every movement and every phrase he uttered. In fact, he was almost too good an actor to play Bond. Both films he was in (The Living Daylights and License to Kill) had him falling in love with the lead female character. The problem is that Dalton made the love seem so genuine that it felt wrong to see him in another film with a different woman. Of course, never having the same woman twice is an essential Bond quality. Still, Dalton is number 1 in my book.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Democrat's Plan

"That's easy Bill, it can be summed up in three words, we can do better."

Howard Dean when asked by Bill Schaeffer on what the Democrats can offer?

Is this what Bush meant by fuzzy math? This is pretty much all I can expect from Democrats. They criticize and criticize. They attack, and yes, they lie and constantly attempt to mislead the public into believing that Republicans are so evil. You'd think that since Republicans are so wrong in everything, and I mean everything, that they would have some great ideas on how to do things. Do they? If they do, it must be a closely guarded secret because they sure aren't letting us in on their great plans.

Think of it this way. If Democrats have such good ideas and care so much for the country, shouldn't they offer constructive criticism to the Republicans? Shouldn't they say something like, "Hey Republicans! Instead of doing A, you should do B and here is why." Wouldn't they look good doing this? Wouldn't this garner a lot more support than their current plan of bitch, bitch, bitch, and whine, whine, whine?

It's pretty obvious that Democrats don't have a clue. Saying things will be "done better" is not a plan or a strategy. It is a result. Results are easy to say. "Today is going to be a great day" is also a stated result. But how does one make it a "great day"?

On Political Parties

I've made it no secret that I'm a political conservative. I'm what many would call a "Reagan Republican". In 1999, I decided my beliefs were not really in line with the Republican party anymore. I believe the party changed its platform significantly and I had probably changed as well. Members of the Republican party seemed too quick to quote the Bible, too thick-headed about "Creationism", and too willing to submit to the idea of the government's social responsibilities.

I'm not alone. As Larry Elder says in his book The Ten Things You Can't Say in America, that there is maybe a dime's worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican parties. Some Republicans who are true conservatives have gone to the Libertarian party. The Libertarian party is intriguing to me. They are very tough on limiting the power of government, like true conservatives. However, I have difficulties in subscribing to the Libertarian solution to the drug problem, which is, essentially, to legalize them.

So I decided to be Independent until I find a party that I feel I can get on board with. In past elections, I have tried to be agnostic and vote for the person or issue I believed in, regardless of party. This election, however, I just refuse to vote for anything the Democrats want. I'm going to link to another video. It is really excellent.

Vote Republican

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More on Democrats

Keeping the previous post in mind, let's see how the Democrats dealt with North Korea during the Clinton administration.

Democrats and North Korea

While intended to be humorous, there is a kernel of truth in this video. In fact, this is an ad that the Republican party was going to show, but decided it was too politically incorrect. This video points out why the Democratic party appears so generally weak when it comes to national security.

Let's Talk Politics

Today, I'm going to get a bit political. To get things started, I'm posting a link to a video clip from the 1940 film "The Ghost Breakers" starring Bob Hope. It features one of the best quotes in cinematic history.

What is a Zombie?

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Letter

Dear ----------,

You are receiving this letter because you have recently registered to vote. If you are a U.S. Citizen, I urge you to participate in the democratic process of voting.

Be advised that if your residence in the United States is illegal or if you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration and possible deportation for voting without the right to do so.

In the same way, be advised that the U.S. government is installing a new computerized system to verify names of all the newly registered voters who participate in the elections in October and November. Organizations against immigration will be able to request information from this new computerized system.

Not like in Mexico, here there is no benefit to voting. In the United States there is no registration card to vote. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote in any election if you are not a citizen of the United States.

Do not pay attention to a politician who may try to tell you otherwise. They only care about their own interests. They just want to win elections and it doesn't matter to them what happens to you.


Sergio Ramirez

The above is a letter written to approximately 14,000 Democrats in Orange County, California. It is an obvious attempt to discourage those whose legal status in the United States is questionable from voting in the upcoming midterm election. It was written by an aide to Tan Nguyen to support Mr. Nguyen's campaign for a seat in Congress. The incumbent, Loretta Sanchez was accused in the previous election for registering illegal immigrants to vote for her. Indeed, there was strong evidence that this was the case.

I've looked carefully at the above letter, which has caused Democrats to cry for Nguyen to withdraw from the election for illegally threatening voters. My finding is that most of it is perfectly legitimate. I don't condone this letter and think its a low tactic but in light of the Democrats going out on the streets of inner cities and deliberately targeting and registering illegal immigrants to vote, it seems to me, a fairly mild retaliation.

Be advised that if your residence in the United States is illegal or if you are an immigrant...

This is the only part of the letter that is wrong since it includes the word "immigrant" without a preceding "illegal". This makes the entire letter illegitimate.

Consider this, though. I wonder if this letter will actually discourage someone from voting. I can only imagine two types of people who would be affected by this letter.

  1. An illegal immigrant or non-citizen, who shouldn't be voting anyways.
  2. A legal immigrant and citizen, who apparently isn't aware of his/her rights as a citizen. Well, if you're not aware of your rights, you shouldn't be voting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kerry Belongs in Iraq

"You know, education. If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

- John Kerry in speech at Pasadena City College in support of candidate Phil Angelides.

Former and perhaps future presidential candidate John Kerry said the above words. He also claims it was a "botched joke" intended at George W. Bush. Nevertheless, this statement has caused quite a stir. John McCain and others have demanded an apology from Kerry. Instead, Kerry went on a Republican-attacking tirade.

Okay, Kerry, I'm willing to accept that you didn't mean the words above. I'll give you the benefit of a doubt. However, whether you meant it or not, you did make this statement. Why won't you just simply apologize and move on?

When Cheney accidentally shot his hunting partner, did he say "I'm not going to apologize for shooting him when he, who got shot should be doing the apologizing."?

Kerry has lost what little respect I had for him. How he can not hold himself accountable for his own words is just unbelievable to me. He followed Bill Clinton's lead from last months infamous Fox News interview. Like Clinton, Kerry goes on an angry rant that was completely uncalled for. I guess Bill Clinton is still leading the Democratic party.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Way it Ought to be Done

An incredibly stupid company (my opinion, anyway) decides to market an energy drink and call it "Cocaine: The Legal Alternative". The drink began appearing in stores over the past month or so and due to its name, caused quite a stir.

Personally, I find the brand name offensive. I would never buy such a drink and if it were manufactured by a company that made products I use, I would switch companies due to my strong dislike of companies that would stick such a label on their product in an obvious attempt to gain notoriety, and supposedly sales from that notoriety. I'm obviously not alone on this as apparently the company (Redux Beverages of Las Vegas, Nv) received letters and phone calls from people who found the name offensive.

What's more is that retail outlets got flak for selling the product. So much in fact, that 7/11 decided to pull the product from its shelves.

(From MSNBC)
"Our merchandising team believes the product's name promotes an image which we didn't want to be associated with," said Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven.

What I like about this whole matter is that it fits a particular belief I have. That is: Yes, we have free speech, but free speech runs hand in hand with responsibility. In this case, Redux had the right to name its product as such, but it was an irresponsible decision to give it that particular name. I am hopeful that the company ends up losing money for this decision and finds it to have been a mistake.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NFL Power Rankings - Updated

Now that we are about 1/3 of the way through the season, here's my up to date rankings:

1. Bears - No team dominates every single game but other than Monday night, they have been impressive.

2. Colts - They've struggled quite a bit, but are always on top at the end.

3. Seahawks - No Superbowl hangover for them.

4. Chargers - Perhaps the most talented team in the NFL. Too bad they have such an average head coach.

5. Giants - They have a very difficult schedule. I still consider them an elite team.

6. Broncos
7. Patriots
8. Panthers
9. Saints - The surprise team of the year.
10. Bengals
11. Falcons
12. Eagles
13. Ravens
14. Jaguars
15. Steelers - They look like the team with the Superbowl hangover.
16. Rams
17. Cowboys
18. Vikings
19. Chiefs
20. Jets
21. Cardinals - Almost a good team. Watch out for them.
22. Buccaneers - One of the two disappointments this year.
23. Packers - Let Aaron Rogers have shot at it. Favre is done.
24. Redskins
25. Bills
26. Lions - Another team that has to get past it's losing ways. They are dangerous.
27. Titans
28. Texans - Think the Houston fans are unhappy about the decision not to pick Bush?
29. Dolphins - The other team that has really disappointed.
30. Browns - In their usual spot.
31. 49ers - Occasionally show improvement but aren't consistant.
32. Raiders - I can't say I'm disappointed that the two worst teams are from the bay area.

I'll post these every few weeks. My initial Superbowl prediction of Steelers vs. Giants is pretty shaky, but there is a lot of season left.

Monday, October 16, 2006

An Officer and a Guardian

A young and cocky military signee is going through training that is brutal. A seasoned instructor who is putting the young men and women through the hellish training is mostly concerned with their character. The young protagonist finds a local young woman, has casual sex with her, and tries not to get emotionally entangled because he knows it will all end when the training is over. The young protagonist also has a history that he has to overcome in order to pass the training. The young protagonist makes a mistake and is singled out to endure extra hardships to improve his character. These extra hardships, which include having a garden hose spraying water continually in his face while exerting physical activity, strengthen his resolve to become a better human being. Towards the end of the training, the protagonist abandons his young lady. Finally, at the end, our protagonist, who has successfully passed the training and established himself as a leader, decides he loves the young lady and shows up at her place of work to tell/show her.

Yeah, An Officer and a Gentleman was a great, landmark film but that's not the movie I saw yesterday. Michelle and I went to see The Guardian with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. It didn't take either of us very long to realize this was basically, a remake of a film made 24 years earlier. There are some details that are different, of course. It's about becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, as opposed to a Navy pilot for one. It was so similar to "Officer", though, that I was half expecting Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warren to chime "Love Lifts Us Up" at the ending scene.

The Guardian didn't just mimic An Officer and a Gentleman, it also borrowed scenes from Top Gun and Heartbreak Ridge. For the former, there is a bar scene where two military guys make a bet as to whether one of them will "get the girl". For the latter, there is another bar that is owned by an older, salty woman who is friendly with the older, salty man. She understands him and boasts about his heroics to the young trainee.

One of the reasons I don't see as many new movies as I used to is that there are so many remakes. (The Omen, The Poseidon Adventure, for example.) The Guardian is a remake in disguise. Overall, it was actually pretty good if you can get past all the repeated scenes.

The Many Paths to 9/11

Michelle and I finally got around to watching The Path to 911 last week over the course of a three days. It is a five hour docudrama without commercial interruption and I didn't want to stay up late watching it so I recorded it so we could watch it at our convenience.

I found the film to be very well done. The cast, pacing, cinematography, and storyline were superior. I kept reminding myself that this is more drama than documentary. ABC reminded the audience several times that some characters were combined, some scenes were fictionalized, and that this film should not be taken as a factual documentary.

I'm not an expert on 9/11 and I'm not going to try to point out what was done with historical accuracy and what wasn't. I have been curious about all the hype and criticism this movie has received. Most of the criticism has come from left-wingers, including Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Madeline Albright. They complained that the film emphasized that the attacks were primarily their fault.

I listened to an interview with one of the film's producers, who incidentally and interestingly, is of Iranian descent. He responded to the criticism from the left by saying that he was not politically affiliated with any party and they took particular care to make an accurate account of the actions or inactions made by specific individuals, no matter what political side they were on.

As for my take on this. I believe Clinton and others, who have bashed this movie are way off base here. I've read and heard some ridiculous comments that this film virtually pins all the blame on the Clinton administration. No way! There is very little about Clinton's involvement or lack of involvement. It does get into some of his staff members dropping the ball. From everything I've heard and read outside of this docudrama, Madeline Albright and Sandy Berger did forewarn the Pakistani government that they were going to send missiles at Al Queda many hours beforehand. Maybe it didn't happen exactly the way it was portrayed in the movie but it apparently did happen. The film showed ineptitude by government agencies as well where the CIA and FBI wouldn't share information.

And yes, the film does point out how the Bush administration chose to ignore the information and warnings given by the previous administration. Similar, actually, to how the Clinton administration chose to ignore Iraq, but that's another discussion. Bush was shown in the classroom reading to children when informed of the attacks. It also indicated that Bush didn't take it too seriously right away.

I just don't see why people, (many of whom I would guess never bothered to watch the movie) are bashing this movie so. Sometimes I really wonder if we're forgetting whose to blame for 9/11. No, it's not Clinton, it's not Bush, it's Al Queda. That's who our anger should be directed at.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Baseball in October

For the first time in years, I am actually optimistic about the Dodger's chances this postseason.

My predictions:

Dodgers over Mets
Padres over Cardinals
A's over Twins
Yankees over Tigers

World Series prediction: It will be 1988 all over again - Dodgers over A's.

I realize as I write this that some games have already been played. I can honestly say that these were my predictions two days ago.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm Still Here

I'm still here. I've actually got several half-written blog entries in progress. They will start to appear soon. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, September 08, 2006

1 Year of Drivel

Today, Sept 8, 2006 marks the 1 year anniversary of Pure Drivel. I'd like to do a little reflection of how it went.

September 2005 marked the introduction of Pure Drivel. In my first post, I state my intentions.

"This is not to say that this will be a total politically-oriented site. I'm not really that into politics. I usually try not to think about how people I select in November are abusing my rights and my hard-earned money. So I'll write about sports, science, technology, or whatever I happen to feel like mentioning on a particular day."

I think I have stayed true to this purpose in not making this blog too focused on any particular topic.

However, I did emphasize some of my political views last September with Presidential Power, A New Kind of Liberal, and Where Do We Go From Here? I am a political conservative and I show some of that here. The latter was first of a two-parter where I state my strong belief in having a space program.

October 2005 had more variety. I wrap up the space program entry with The Solution and I expose another blogger's utter lack of logic in Facts. After one year, I have more reservations than ever about calling something a "fact". It's a dangerous word to use and one can only be proved wrong in using it. I got into baseball and hockey this month as well.

November 2005 is where I got into the liberal media. This is a common complaint amongst us conservatives where mainstream media takes liberal views and paints them as "normal" while conservatives are always "extremists" or "out of touch". Instead of pointing out what is considered traditional media such as TV news or newspapers, I point out how the liberal media has insidiously infected the movies we watch.

December 2005 was a month I had looked forward to for some time. I had my first vacation in years and I really enjoyed going back east and visiting relatives I had not seen in 33 years. I managed to sneak in two blogs. One, The Arctic Issue Continues concerns the now old argument of whether or not to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Unfortunately, this debate has not settled and I still feel we would be better off investigating in wind and solar research, as opposed to perpetuating our dependence on oil. Speaking of long debates, The DVD Situation is about a battle between two hi-definition DVD standards that is still unresolved. HD-DVD looked like it was in the lead about a year ago but suddenly, the slightly more technically advanced Blue-Ray has made strides and titles are starting to trickle in. I, personally don't know anybody who is using either technology at this point, though. It's still too early to tell.

January 2006 featured a favorite topic of mine, cars. I go to the L.A. Auto Show almost every year. This year, I noted how much horsepower that even, the most modest of cars has today in Cars, Cars, Everywhere but Not a Road to Drive. I had already decided that 2006 was going to be the year I bought a new car so the Auto Show had more than normal appeal to me. On a similar note, I got into how we got into the urban sprawl, driving mess that is the Los Angeles area, where I live. The Freeway Factor was where I graphically point out how the best intentions to make commuting fast and easy actually lead to the opposite effect.

February 2006 featured my bad prediction of the Superbowl outcome. I also wrote a piece on an argument I had had with my father-in-law during my Christmas vacation. In End of Faith, I was dismayed at how my father-in-law had lost his faith and was now blaming religion for all the problems in the world. My father-in-law is a devoted liberal and I now find it funny and ironic how he'd be a perfect poster boy for Ann Coulter's Godless book.

I also changed the appearance of the blog to the form that it is currently in today.

March 2006 started out with my "AutoQuest" series where I had the misadventures of buying a new car. All I can say about that is watch out for those scheming auto salespeople. They have no scruples. Later on in the month, I dive into the controversy that is illegal immigration with the somewhat satirical Welcome! In the past, people jumping the border looking for a better life in America never really bothered me. It always seemed unfair to me to think that I deserve to live in this country more than someone else. That's not fair, is it? However, in light of terrorism and our need to try to keep our nation safe, I am now forced to agree that something needs to be done concerning the ease of coming into America from Mexico or Canada.

April 2006 did not feature a lot from me. I probably did not have much to say that month. I did get into baseball's free agency issue where I lament that I hardly seem to know who is playing for the Dodgers anymore. I also bid Luc Robitaille farewell.

May 2006 was a more interesting month. I start off with The Threat where I express my concerns over Iran. Boy was I dead on right with that one! Iran is a scary nation right now. Kudos was my thank you to my fellow employees for showing up to work on a day that people of their nationality were encouraging them to take off and protest the very people who were providing them jobs. I can't help but notice that this past labor day was supposed to feature large rallies around the United States to protest our anti-illegal alien policies. Apparently very few showed up at these rallys. These protesters don't seem to have a problem leaving work or school to protest, but they must have a problem using a day off for such activities.

I got into the liberal media again with my It's About Time post. I sarcastically point out how some in the mainstream media are finally bothering to point out the U.S. has seen unprecedented economic growth in virtually all phases. The economy is usually at the forefront of news but amidst the stories of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, 911, and Brittany Spears, this little tidbit of news was seemingly forgotten. Of course, this wouldn't have anything to do with the media not wanting to cause Americans to think that maybe Bush's tax cuts weren't such a bad idea after all.

Da Vinci points to another film with a liberal agenda.

June 2006 did not see too many posts by me. I had a busy time at work. I posted my review of Cars, a film that I felt didn't have a liberal bias, by the way. June 2006 was when I posted my most notorious entry The Godless Religion. I call it notorious because of the response I got from it and not just from the usual suspect. It was another post about the liberal media. This time they targeted someone who could really fight back, that being Ann Coulter. While I can't quite agree with Coulter's style or the assertions she makes, I do admire how she faces her enemies and holds nothing back.

July 2006 featured a return to two favorite subjects of mine, cars and energy. In The 2.78% Solution, I point out the misleading promises of switching from gasoline to ethanol to power our vehicles. In What is an American Car?, I list what cars are actually made in America for those who think this is of importance.

Then the whole falling out with Erik occurred. I won't re-open that wound.

August 2006 started off with a topical discussion of the Mel Gibson drunk-driving occurrence. In Drunk Driving is Okay - Just Don't be an Anti-Semite, I point out how the media picks on Mel Gibson's anti-semitism, yet almost ignores his drunk driving, which, in my opinion, was much more potentially harmful.

I then revisit issues in baseball with This is Why They Fail. I predicted the Izturis for Maddux trade by the Dodgers would hurt the team in the long run. The Dodgers have done quite well since I posted that and actually might make the postseason. I personally don't attribute that to acquiring Maddux but I'm sure there are those who will disagree with me on that.

I do have a hidden counter going that doesn't click when I visit so it's pretty accurate (Thanks to As of right now, I've had 913 non-me hits. July was by far, the biggest month with 181 hits. That was, not so coincidentally, the month of the Ann Coulter post and the crap about Erik.

It's now September of 2006 and I'll trudge onward. I've learned a lot in the past year and fully intend on spewing out my pure drivel. For anyone who reads me, I thank you for putting up with me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Power Rankings - 2006

I always enjoy Fox Sports' and ESPN's NFL power rankings. It's so hard to predict how a new season will end, but I'll try anyways. I'm throwing in my own personal power rankings.

1. Steelers
2. Giants
3. Seahawks
4. Patriots
5. Colts
6. Panthers
7. Bengals
8. Cowboys
9. Broncos
10. Eagles
11. Dolphins
12. Bears
13. Jaguars
14. Buccaneers
15. Cardinals
16. Redskins
17. Rams
18. Chargers
19. Falcons
20. Ravens
21. Vikings
22. Lions
23. Chiefs
24. Titans
25. Bills
26. Texans
27. Jets
28. Raiders
29. Saints
30. Browns
31. 49'ers
32. Packers

My pick for the Superbowl is Steelers over Giants. Anybody else want to throw in their predictions?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Minimizing Choices

When dealing with complex issues, paradoxes become commonplace. In 1931, the federal government of the United States decided that minority construction companies were taking jobs away from white construction companies. The reason was that the minorities were willing to perform the work for less pay. The government's solution was to create legislation called the Davis-Bacon Act. It's purpose was to require the government to allow construction bids to contractors who pay "union wages". This allowed the white-run companies to reclaim many of the jobs they were losing. It didn't end there. The Davis-Bacon Act was successful at pricing minorities out of jobs, but it applied only to government contracts. Companies not under government contracts wanted in on this idea as well. They got there way and the minimum wage laws were enacted.

So, here's our paradox. We are always hearing arguments favoring hiking up minimum wage, whether it's on a national or state basis. The arguments always take the stand that raising minimum wage will aid low-end workers and minorities. Politicians, who want to be seen as the type who "looks out for the little guy" use minimum wage to perpetuate that persona. Yet, minimum wage was never there to help these low-end workers. Not only that, study after study has shown the following. This is from the Joint Economic Committee:

The minimum wage reduces employment.
Currie and Fallick (1993), Gallasch (1975), Gardner (1981), Peterson (1957), Peterson and Stewart (1969).

The minimum wage reduces employment more among teenagers than adults.
Adie (1973); Brown, Gilroy and Kohen (1981a, 1981b); Fleisher (1981); Hammermesh (1982); Meyer and Wise (1981, 1983a); Minimum Wage Study Commission (1981); Neumark and Wascher (1992); Ragan (1977); Vandenbrink (1987); Welch (1974, 1978); Welch and Cunningham (1978).

The minimum wage reduces employment most among black teenage males.
Al-Salam, Quester, and Welch (1981), Iden (1980), Mincer (1976), Moore (1971), Ragan (1977), Williams (1977a, 1977b).

The minimum wage helped South African whites at the expense of blacks.
Bauer (1959).

The minimum wage hurts blacks generally.
Behrman, Sickles and Taubman (1983); Linneman (1982).

The minimum wage hurts the unskilled.
Krumm (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low wage workers.
Brozen (1962), Cox and Oaxaca (1986), Gordon (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low wage workers particularly during cyclical downturns.
Kosters and Welch (1972), Welch (1974).

The minimum wage increases job turnover.
Hall (1982).

The minimum wage reduces average earnings of young workers.
Meyer and Wise (1983b).

The minimum wage drives workers into uncovered jobs, thus lowering wages in those sectors.
Brozen (1962), Tauchen (1981), Welch (1974).

The minimum wage reduces employment in low-wage industries, such as retailing.
Cotterman (1981), Douty (1960), Fleisher (1981), Hammermesh (1981), Peterson (1981).

The minimum wage hurts small businesses generally.
Kaun (1965).

The minimum wage causes employers to cut back on training.
Hashimoto (1981, 1982), Leighton and Mincer (1981), Ragan (1981).

The minimum wage has long-term effects on skills and lifetime earnings.
Brozen (1969), Feldstein (1973).

The minimum wage leads employers to cut back on fringe benefits.
McKenzie (1980), Wessels (1980).

The minimum wage encourages employers to install labor-saving devices.
Trapani and Moroney (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low-wage regions, such as the South and rural areas.
Colberg (1960, 1981), Krumm (1981).

The minimum wage increases the number of people on welfare.
Brandon (1995), Leffler (1978).

The minimum wage hurts the poor generally.
Stigler (1946).

The minimum wage does little to reduce poverty.
Bonilla (1992), Brown (1988), Johnson and Browning (1983), Kohen and Gilroy (1981), Parsons (1980), Smith and Vavrichek (1987).

The minimum wage helps upper income families.
Bell (1981), Datcher and Loury (1981), Johnson and Browning (1981), Kohen and Gilroy (1981).

The minimum wage helps unions.
Linneman (1982), Cox and Oaxaca (1982).

The minimum wage lowers the capital stock.
McCulloch (1981).

The minimum wage increases inflationary pressure.
Adams (1987), Brozen (1966), Gramlich (1976), Grossman (1983).

The minimum wage increases teenage crime rates.
Hashimoto (1987), Phillips (1981).

The minimum wage encourages employers to hire illegal aliens.
Beranek (1982).

Few workers are permanently stuck at the minimum wage.
Brozen (1969), Smith and Vavrichek (1992).

The minimum wage has had a massive impact on unemployment in Puerto Rico.
Freeman and Freeman (1991), Rottenberg (1981b).

The minimum wage has reduced employment in foreign countries.
Canada: Forrest (1982); Chile: Corbo (1981); Costa Rica: Gregory (1981); France: Rosa (1981).

Even the New York Times published an article in 1987 called “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00” Whenever minimum wage rises, employers are forced to evaluate the situation and make some hard decisions about cutting hours, cutting benefits, or just cutting out the workers altogether. In many low-wage situations, there are automation alternatives (i.e. computers or robotics) that are available. There is a threshold to the employer as to when it's time to replace humans with machines and that threshold is often dependent on the minimum wage.

Most politicians are aware of many of these studies, yet they continue to jabber on about how necessary the minimum wage is. Why would they do this? They are pandering to an American public they feel is too dumb to figure this stuff out. Paradoxes can be difficult to explain so they don't want to bother because they can appease more people quickly by just raising the minimum wage. This is similar to the way politicians deride "taxes for the rich". These taxes have helped our economy immensely but left-wing politicians refuse to accept that. It's another paradox that's easy to believe in the wrong choice.

Think of it this way. If you are making minimum wage, then your employer is only paying you what he is forced by the government to pay you. Therefore, you are overpaid.


As college football season begins this week, I can't help but be stunned that the USC Trojans are ranked number 6 in the nation. This is a team that has lost a Heismann-winning quarterback and running back. Also, they lost one of the best power-running backs in the country. Last year, I felt coach Pete Carroll was the greatest coach in college football. He led a team that had lost virtually, an entire defense from the previous year including all-americans such as Tatupu, Patterson, Cody, and Udeze (who now all happen to be budding NFL stars). Despite these significant losses, USC almost won a third consecutive national title. If this Trojan team finishes in the top 10 this year, Carroll will have to be considered one of the greatest coaches in NCAA history.

Personally, I believe this is going to be somewhat of a down year and they'll finish around 8-4.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Something's Fishy

I commute by Metrolink train every weekday. On Monday morning, Aug 14, 2006, we were delayed 2 hours. Our destination of Union Station in Los Angeles was visible from the window. The conductor repeatedly apologized, but gave no explanation as to what was going on. That afternoon, I saw a news bulletin from It stated the following:


Many Metrolink trains bound for Los Angeles today encountered delays of between 30 and 75 minutes this morning due to a signal system malfunction at the entrance to Union Station. This malfunction prevented switches on the lead tracks at the entrance to the depot from being operated properly and greatly limited the number of trains that could enter and depart the station at any one time. In addition, the malfunction caused the cancellation of 7 other trains this morning.

An investigation into the situation has revealed that metal clips used during the installation of a new crossover switch at Union Station this weekend caused an electrical short in the signal system at that location as trains began to pass over early this morning. These clips help hold the metal rails to the ties underneath. The clips have been removed and the installation of replacement clips will take place shortly.

When I read this, it occurred to me that maybe this talk of metal clips causing problems with the switches was perhaps, not just a mere accident. Something seemed to have happened to the clips over the weekend. Was it vandalism or even terrorism? I didn't give my own conspiracy theory too much credit until the next day.

On Tuesday, I wanted to look at the news bulletin again. I went to and found that the bulletin I had read a day earlier was gone! Instead, a new bulletin, titled with the same name, had taken the other one's place.


Metrolink would like to apologize again for the delayed and cancelled trains on the morning of August 14. The signal system malfunction that occurred at Union Station was resolved later that morning and trains operated on schedule into the depot today. Our staff is reviewing our procedures and will make any changes necessary to insure our passengers are not inconvenienced again.

Updated on 8/15/06

Now I really wonder if my little theory was right. Did someone perhaps, try to get some trains to collide coming into L.A. that morning? I doubt it would be anything like Al Queda, but I can definitely see some local degenerate behind such an action. I'll probably never know.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

This is Why They Fail

I am still shaking my head over the recent Dodger trade. I shouldn't really because this has just become an annual event. Dodger management, which lately has turned over almost as often as the roster, decides it has to trade some key personnel for some rent-a-star. This year, it was Cesar Izturis for Greg Maddux. As a Dodger fan, this just makes no sense. Izturis is as good a defensive infielder in the game as anyone. He proved himself the past few years as a premier shortstop. This year, he showed he was equally amazing as a 3'rd baseman. His hitting improves every year. He is dedicated ballplayer who takes extra practice and prides himself on his defense. He is all upside.

I've been a fan of Greg Maddux for years. He has been the most consistently good pitcher in baseball for the past 20 years. While other hurlers make more press with no-hitters and lots of strikeouts, Maddux just wins and wins. But even great ones like Greg Maddux decline. His 9-11 record and 4.69 ERA are strong indications that he is not what he once was.

Are the Dodgers better now? It seems very doubtful to me. Maddux may win, what? 4 games between now and the end of the year? That's about as optimistic as I can get about this. Is that going to put the Dodgers in the playoffs? Right now, they are 51-55, in 3'rd place and 4 games out of the wild-card. I just don't see Maddux getting us over the hump. I haven't given up on this season, but if the Dodgers should get hot and overcome their deficit, I don't think anybody is going to see this trade as that turning point.

What really kills me, though, is what about next year? and the year after that? Maddux will likely be gone, and unfortunately, so is Izturis. General Manager Colletti should have done the brave thing and just said "no". Instead he did this trade so he can explain at the end of the season when the Dodgers have failed, yet again, that he tried.

Drunk Driving is Okay - Just Don't Be an Anti-Semite

I am going to talk about the recent Mel Gibson incident. First of all, I am not going to defend Mr. Gibson's actions in the slightest way. Drunk driving is despicable. There is no excuse for it. If you are an alcoholic, then at least be responsible enough to know you can't drive. This is a crime that I believe should have severe consequences, even for your first offense. I'll embellish that statement in an upcoming blog entry. I understand he had a blood-alcohol level around .25% That's 3 times the legal limit and its not his first offense. If someone goes out and drinks the 10 drinks or so it takes to get that much alcohol in his/her bloodstream, getting behind the wheel is the equivalent of taking a rifle and shooting it repeatedly in random directions. Someone might get injured or killed, maybe not. Gibson should be in prison for life.

I guess celebrity drunk driving just isn't a big issue. Patrick Kennedy got caught last month. It seems to be a fairly regular occurrence. It's apparently, not a very big deal. However, it is a big deal when Gibson goes on an anti-Semitic tirade. I'm not going to defend Gibson at all. On television, his remarks are everywhere. The drunk driving part of the story is just used as a framework around the focal point of his statements.

In his drunken state, Gibson's car was a deadly weapon. He could have killed or injured one or more people. Gibson's words are going to hurt him more than anyone in the Jewish community. Gibson threw the proverbial stone from his glass house. He works in Hollywood where rumor has it that there are a few Jews with a great deal of power there. Gibson is going to be subjected to boycotts and refusals by studios. In fact, I understand that ABC has already cancelled the work on his holocaust mini-series.

Gibson was compelled to apologize to the Jewish community for his remarks. I say Gibson should also apologize to the city of Malibu for putting its citizens in mortal danger.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

All Class

Its getting close to August. I feel like I'm supposed to be concentrating on baseball and my beloved Dodgers. Unfortunately, they are letting me down again, in a big way. It's been two weeks since the All-Star break and the Dodgers have won 1 game. So, like most recent years, my attention, sports-wise starts to move on to football.

As a long-time devoted Rams fan, I am saddened that Marshall Faulk continues to have problems with his knees. He will miss the entire season and go through, yet another, in a long series, of knee surgeries. Faulk represents the epitome of class in the NFL. In a league known for it loud-mouthed showboats, Faulk, in his prime was a better player than the Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnsons out there. That's because he knew it was never about him, it was always about the team and about winning.

I remember the 2002 season, after the Rams went to the Superbowl, they were having a bad season. Bob Costas interviewed Faulk and began asking him what was wrong with this team that was heavily favored to go back to the Superbowl. Faulk began trying to answer the questions, but had to finally walk out of the interview, apologizing as he walked out "I'm sorry but I just can't do this." Costner later explained on his show that Faulk had told him that the Rams poor start that year (I believe they were 0-5 at the time) was just eating him alive.

In last year's off-season, there were speculations that the Rams would trade or even release Marshall Faulk. Instead, Faulk voluntarily took a cut in pay and demoted himself to the number 2 running back. Why? Because he knew his role had changed and he could best serve the team by being a mentor to the Ram's new running back, Stephen Jackson. Again, it was team first with him.

It is a shame if this marks the end of the playing career of Marshall Faulk. If it is the end, I am really hoping the Rams keep him on staff. He's going to be a great head coach someday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just trying to Clear my Good Name

"YOu on the right. That's you. You sick demented psychopaths...That's you"

"...take no responsibility for the current problems of the world. That's you!"

"And it's obvious you have never learned of the effects of a nuclear blast"

"Just also remember Robert being a conservative puts you in the same bed as Rush, O'Reilly etc. whether you agree with them or not."

Over the past year, Erik Weinberger and I have engaged in numerous debates. In this time, I've been directly called "demented", a "psychopath" and indirectly called ignorant. Erik, on numerous occasions has called me a "Republican" even though I've repeatedly told him I'm an Independent. So, that's even more disrespect. I soaked all this in. I didn't like it but I figured Erik was just lashing out his anger. Anyone who reads Erik's blog or the comments he has put on mine will realize that Erik holds a lot of hostility. Erik places the bulk of his anger conveniently on right-wingers, of whom, he obviously hates. I'm not a psychologist so my assessment ends here.

Yes, I took the abuse and I'm proud to say that I did not reciprocate. I looked at all my comments and postings and I can honestly say I never called Erik names or drew conclusions about him simply because of his political views. The most I ever did was call Erik childish, only because he was. Erik also accuses me of getting offended by his political views. I never have. I will take issue however, when he attacks me personally.

"It's funny how it's ok if you are a conservative how it's ok for you to be openly racist AS THEY ALL ARE"

I drew the line here. Now, I'm a racist? According to this remark, not only am I a racist, but so are many members of my family, many of my friends, and many people whom I've never met but have great respect for. When I got angry for this and asked for an apology, Erik said I have sour grapes and also said the following:

"I'm not apologizing for stating facts for what your party and your views stand for and that's what they stand for."

He not only indirectly calls me a Republican again, he reaffirms his earlier statement.

"I will not apologize for calling conservatives racists WHEN THEY ARE"

This was his own response on his own blog. So, not only does Erik not apologize for calling me (a long-time acquaintance and someone I believed was my friend), a racist, he has repeated the accusation twice.

This is a blow I am not going to sit and take. Calling someone racist, in my mind, is very serious. I take personal responsibility and strive for fairness at all times. I know too many good people who are not racists to let this slide.

Of course, the irony really is that Erik tagged an entire group of people with a negative label. That's the very basis of racism - applying a belief on an entire group of people based on what one perceives in one or a few. Erik's statement doesn't apply to people of a different skin color than his, but the principle is still there.

I am angry. His accusations are uncalled for and have no basis, whatsoever. I have deleted the link to his blog. I will no longer contribute to his site. If any readers want to see his narrow-minded blog, just click on his name in any of his comments. I just will not openly endorse him. This isn't about freedom of speech. I am not censoring anybody but I am attempting to clear my name.

And Erik, if I am a racist, that doesn't say much for you. After all, we did hang around together all those years.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Right Over Wrong

I have removed the link to Erik's site due to a particularly offensive, and ridiculous ad hominem remark he made today, July 20. 2006. He basically stated that all conservatives are racists. Speaking as one of the 99% of conservatives who aren't racists, I won't endorse or contribute to Erik's site until there is an apology to the vast majority of us conservatives who aren't racist.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What is an American Car?

It's funny how we are such creatures of habit. In the case of car brands, most of us tend to look at the industry in traditional ways even though it has gone through huge changes in the past decade or so. Ask most people what an American car is and you'll most likely get an answer of "GM, Ford, and Chrysler" or some mixture of their subsidiaries (Chevrolet, Mercury, Dodge, etc). Those who answer this way will most likely think of cars with the badges of Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, and Mazda as Japanese and Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen as German.

As I already stated, the auto industry has changed. While the above answers would be fairly true had the question been asked in the 1980's, the answer today is much more muddled. The U.S. government began putting higher tariffs on imported vehicles in the 1980's. This led to foreign manufacturers to be incented to build their cars and trucks here in the United States. Meanwhile, the "Big 3" American automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) set up plants in Mexico and Canada to take advantage of cheap labor. So, paradoxically, manufacturers seen as foreign are building as many cars in America as the manufacturers thought of as American. In fact, the large pickup trucks made by Nissan and Toyota (the Titan and Tundra, respectively) were designed and are built and sold exclusively in North America. Orange County, California is now the automobile design capital of the world. Almost any modern car, SUV, or truck you see on the road today was designed in Irvine or somewhere close to it. The Honda Accord is sold world-wide but the Accord you see in the United States is not the same one the rest of the world has. The U.S. Accord is larger. If you want an Accord like the rest of the world, you can buy an Acura TSX.

If you are wondering what cars actually are manufactured in the United States. I've compiled a list (Thank you Autobytel). Most vehicles today are comprised of a certain percentage of foreign parts and this list does not cover that. Note that I include the parent companies and their subsidiaries. Many people aren't aware of how few actual companies there are. Also note that some vehicles by one manufacturer are built by another manufacturer. Such is the case where Dodge builds the Mitsubishi Raider pickup truck, which is, in fact, a modified Dodge Dakota.


  • X5 - Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Z4 - Spartanburg, South Carolina


  • Sebring Convertible - Sterling Heights, Michigan
  • Sebring Coupe - Normal, Illinois
  • Sebring Sedan - Sterling Heights, Michigan
  • Town & Country - St. Louis, Missouri


  • Caravan - St. Louis, Missouri
  • Dakota - Warren, Michigan
  • Durango - Newark, Delaware
  • Grand Caravan - St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sprinter - Gaffney, South Carolina
  • Stratus Coupe - Normal, Illinois
  • Stratus Sedan - Sterling Heights, Michigan
  • Ram - St. Louis, Missouri and Warren, Michigan
  • Viper - Detroit, Michigan


  • Commander - Detroit, Michigan
  • Grand Cherokee - Detroit, Michigan
  • Liberty - Toledo, Ohio
  • Wrangler - Toledo, Ohio

Daimler-Mercedes Benz

  • M-Class - Vance, Alabama
  • R-Class - Vance, Alabama


  • E-Series - Lorain, Ohio
  • Escape - Kansas City, Missouri and Avon Lake, Ohio
  • Excursion - Kansas City, Missouri
  • Expedition - Wayne, Michigan
  • Explorer - Louisville, Kentucky and Fenton, Missouri
  • F-Series - Dearborn, Michigan; Wayne, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia
  • Five Hundred - Chicago, Illinois
  • Focus - Wayne, Michigan
  • Freestyle - Chicago, Illinois
  • GT - Wixom, Michigan
  • Ranger - Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Taurus - Atlanta, Georgia
  • Thunderbird - Wixom, Michigan

Ford - Lincoln

  • Aviator - Fenton, Missouri
  • LS - Wixom, Michigan
  • Mark LT - Dearborn, Michigan
  • Navigator - Wayne, Michigan
  • Town Car - Wixom, Michigan

Ford - Mercury

  • Mariner - Avon Lake, Ohio
  • Montego - Chicago, Illinois
  • Mountaineer - Louisville, Kentucky and Fenton, Missouri
  • Sable - Atlanta, Georgia

General Motors - Cadillac

  • CTS - Lansing, Michigan
  • DeVille - Hamtramck, Michigan
  • DTS - Hamtramck, Michigan
  • Escalade - Arlington, Texas
  • SRX - Lansing, Michigan
  • STS - Lansing, Michigan
  • XLR - Bowling Green, Kentucky

General Motors - Chevrolet

  • Cobalt - Lordstown, Ohio
  • Colorado - Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Corvette - Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Express - Wentzville, Missouri
  • Malibu - Kansas City, Missouri
  • Malibu Maxx - Kansas City, Missouri
  • Silverado - Flint, Michigan; Pontiac, Michigan; Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • SSR - Lansing, Michigan
  • Suburban - Arlington, Texas and ; Janesville, Wisconsin
  • Tahoe - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin
  • TrailBlazer - Moraine, Ohio
  • TrailBlazer EXT - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Uplander - Doraville, Georgia

General Motors - GMC

  • Canyon - Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Envoy - Moraine, Ohio
  • Envoy XL - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Envoy XUV - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Savana - Wentzville, Missouri
  • Sierra - Flint, Michigan; Pontiac, Michigan; Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • Yukon - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin
  • Yukon XL - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin

General Motors - Hummer

  • H1 - Mishawaka, Indiana
  • H2 - Mishawaka, Indiana
  • H3 - Shreveport, Louisiana

General Motors - Pontiac

  • G6 - Orion Township, Michigan
  • Grand Am - Lansing, Michigan
  • Montana SV6 - Doraville, Georgia
  • Solstice - Wilmington, Delaware
  • Sunfire - Lordstown, Ohio
  • Vibe - Fremont, California (by Toyota)

General Motors - Saab

  • 9-7X - Moraine, Ohio

General Motors - Saturn

  • Ion - Spring Hill, Tennessee
  • L-Series - Wilmington, Delaware
  • Relay - Doraville, Georgia
  • Vue - Spring Hill, Tennessee


  • Accord - Marysville, Ohio
  • Civic - East Liberty, Ohio
  • Element - East Liberty, Ohio
  • Odyssey - Lincoln, Alabama
  • Pilot - Lincoln, Alabama

Honda - Acura

  • TL - Marysville, Ohio


  • Sonata - Montgomery, Alabama
  • Santa Fe - Montgomery, Alabama


  • 6 - Flat Rock, Michigan
  • B-Series - Minneapolis, Minnesota (by Ford)
  • Tribute - Kansas City, Missouri (by Ford)


  • Eclipse - Normal, Illinois
  • Endeavor - Normal, Illinois
  • Galant - Normal, Illinois
  • Raider - Warren, Michigan (by Dodge)


  • Altima - Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi
  • Armada - Canton, Mississippi
  • Frontier - Smyrna, Tennessee
  • Maxima - Smyrna, Tennessee
  • Pathfinder - Smyrna, Tennessee
  • Quest - Canton, Mississippi
  • Titan - Canton, Mississippi
  • Xterra - Smyrna, Tennessee

Nissan - Infiniti

  • QX56 - Canton, Mississippi


  • Baja - Lafayette, Indiana
  • B9 Tribeca - Lafayette, Indiana
  • Legacy - Lafayette, Indiana
  • Outback - Lafayette, Indiana


  • Avalon - Georgetown, Kentucky
  • Camry - Georgetown, Kentucky
  • Corolla - Fremont, California
  • Sequoia - Princeton, Indiana
  • Sienna - Princeton, Indiana
  • Tundra - Princeton, Indiana (Soon to be San Antonio, Tx)
  • Tacoma - Fremont, California

You may be thinking that some vehicles are missing on this list. If you were looking for any of the following:

Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet HHR
Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Tahoe
Chrysler 300
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Dodge Charger
Ford Fusion
Ford Mustang

They aren't on the list because they are built in Mexico or Canada.

You may also have noticed that there are few imported luxury cars made in America. That's because these are high priced vehicles anyways and the tariffs don't represent as much a fraction of their sticker price.

Now, whether the vehicle you drive is American-made or not is a personal decision up to you. I, personally would hate to see virtually all of my car-buying dollars get converted to yen or euros. It's not the only factor for me though. I actually came close to buying a Japanese-built Toyota Rav4 this year. Instead, I ended up buying a U.S. built Jeep that is now of course, branded by a German company.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The 2.78% Solution

There's a terrific article in July's Car and Driver magazine titled Ethanol Promises. For the most part, this has been a one-sided argument where ethanol sounds like the holy grail of alternative fuel. I must admit, ethanol sounds very compelling as a fuel source. It's made from corn or soy. What better place in the whole world is there for growing acres upon acres of corn than in the huge corn and wheat belt of the United States (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, etc) ? It sure sounds better than importing smelly, pollution-causing oil from the world's trouble spots (and they are trouble spots mostly because of oil). Before we Americans get too convinced that ethanol is the salvation of all our transportation fuel issues, let's look at these "promises" of ethanol. (From Car and Driver)
  • Ethanol will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
  • Ethanol will cut out dependence on foreign oil.
  • Ethanol will protect us from gas price shocks.
  • Ethanol will clean up the air.
  • Ethanol will save us from global warming.

Ethanol will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.

This is very unlikely. First of all, the government is currently mandating that gasoline sold in the United States is to comprise of 2.78% ethanol. It's not to hard to figure out that our expanding car-driving population is consuming more gasoline every year, even in this age of hybrids and the return of the small econo-car (Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Honda Fit are the primary examples), and $3 plus gas prices, Americans are going to burn 5 to 10% more gasoline this year than last. Very simple math tells us that the 2.78% is not going to cover this increase. What's more is that it takes fossil fuels (mainly coal or natural gas) in order to produce ethanol. More on that further on.

Ethanol will cut out dependence on foreign oil.

The same arguments generally apply here. Car and Driver even states that if we devoted all our production of ethanol to replace foreign oil, we would reduce foreign oil imports by a mere 1.4%. That's assuming, of course, that our demand for energy stays the same, which is not happening. I know, I know, you're asking by now; "Why not produce a lot more ethanol, then?" Read further, I'll get to that.

Ethanol will protect us from gas price shocks.

The arguments shown above indicate why this is very unlikely to be true. Ethanol isn't that cheap to make. In fact, it is only because gasoline has gotten to the $3 mark that justifies even using ethanol.

Ethanol will clean up the air.

Nope. With ethanol, you're substituting one pollutant for another. Ethanol produces less carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide than gasoline. However ethanol produces a relatively large amount of acetaldehydes that quite harmful to the environment. Don't forget that coal and/or natural gas are required to make ethanol and they are capable of contributing plenty of CO (carbon monoxide) and other nasty stuff to the air.

Ethanol will save us from global warming.

Assuming that human-produced emissions really are significantly warming the planet (this is a highly contestable assertion that I will discuss another time), ethanol's carbon dioxide output is only about 4% less than gasoline's. If we assume that your gas tank is 3% ethanol, that means your car is outputting 4 percent of 3 percent which equals .12 percent less carbon dioxide. That's hardly a big deal.

What Car and Driver Didn't Say

Anyone who has ever studied thermodynamics knows the first rule of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred. Your car, for example, cannot generate enough electricity to run itself and it never will. It's totally impossible. This basic rule is why fossil fuels have such appeal. The amount of energy needed to extract and refine fossil fuels is minimal compared with the amount of energy yielded by the fuel. That's because the energy was already there, having been absorbed over millions of years of just sitting there. The problem with ethanol and most other alternative energy sources is we must use significant amounts of energy to get the energy we want.

Ethanol comes from corn. To make corn requires fertilizing soil. Let's think about that one for a minute. Fertilizer comes from manure. There is already a pollution issue in the nation's heartland from all the cows and pigs. When you concentrate these animals, as we have, you get a major source of methane and carbon dioxide, not to mention one hell of a stink. This has been a rising issue in the nation's corn production before ethanol came into the picture.

Ethanol doesn't just squeeze out of the corn. It has to be processed. This is similar to refining oil and here is where we need ovens powered by oil, natural gas, or coal. Wait! you say. Why not use ethanol-powered ovens? If you are thinking this, you've forgotten the first rule of thermodynamics shown above.

Ethanol is not as energy efficient as gasoline. You can expect a small mpg hit when using fuel that is laced with ethanol.

I have to wonder how big an incentive it will be for farmers to start producing corn for ethanol production. I suspect we will see a rise in food prices that will offset any savings (if any) we would get from ethanol.

So who benefits from increased use of ethanol? It appears to be the farmers and the politicians being lobbied. It's not likely to be most of us.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Another New Link

I've added Grendel's Lair to my list of links. Grendel (a.k.a. William Wilson) is my brother. Having known him most of my life, I know he has many worthwhile things to say. Contrary to Erik's insinuation in my previous post Godless, we are not a tag team. I know we will disagree on certain issues and agree on others.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Godless Religion

I've never been a fan of Ann Coulter. She always has been a bit too sharp-tongued for my taste. I do not, however, put her in the same league with blowhards like Rush Limbaugh. Coulter is very intelligent, perceptive, and demonstrates personal integrity. I do admire her for these attributes. What I don't like about her is her need to lace her book titles and content with shock catchphrases. These phrases are obviously meant to anger liberals to such a point, that the inevitable retaliations give her the publicity she obviously craves. In this regard, Coulter is the 'Madonna' or Michael Jackson of political satire.

I feel a strong need to opine on the onslaught of anger that is being spewed at this insightful woman. The reason I want to comment on this is the backlash against Coulter's newest book Godless: The Church of Liberalism just seems to exemplify the whole liberal vs. conservative conflict.

The title alone obviously qualifies as a "shock" title. It is obviously intended to ruffle feathers and stir up controversy. The title implies that liberals don't believe in God and that the liberal philosophy is in itself, a religion. I haven't read the book although I intend to (I'll wait for it to come out on paperback.) but I have read of it and watched and listened to several interviews with the author. Here are some of the assertions she makes:

  • "No liberal cause is defended with more dishonesty than abortion...To them, 2,200 military deaths in the entire course of a war in Iraq is unconscionable, but 1.3 million aborted babies in America every year is something to celebrate. "

  • "The thesis of 'Godless' is: Liberalism IS a religion. The liberal religion has its own cosmology, its own explanation for why we are here, its own gods, its own clergy. The basic tenet of liberalism is that nature is god and men are monkeys. (Except not as pure-hearted as actual monkeys, who don't pollute, make nukes or believe in God.)"

  • Liberals believe we shouldn't use DDT to save people in Africa because "that might kill birds"

  • "It's one thing if it's 'Tookie' but it's another thing when it's Marines, who are always guilty"

  • .. And of course, the now infamous

  • "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

  • I could spend much more time than I care to if I was to address each one of these comments. It is the last one that I'm going to discuss because it is the uproar concerning this statement that reveals the gross amount of liberalism that permeates the media.

    The statement strictly concerns four particular women, who lost their husbands on 9/11 and campaigned for John Kerry in 2004. Most of the reports I've seen on television, in the newspapers, and various web sites fail to mention this. They want people, who haven't read the book to believe that Coulter stated this about all 9/11 widows.

    I now notice that most web sites omit the first half of the quote. A week ago, the quote in its entirety was spread all over the Internet. Now, you will usually see just: "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Why is this? It's because the first half of the quote softens the blow as Coulter indicates how the widows have benefited from their celebrity.

    Ann Coulter was interviewed on the Today show by Matt Lauer. I could swear that whenever an author is interviewed on a show, the topic is going to be about the author's just-released book. This is similar to how actor's are usually on Jay Leno or David Letterman to promote the movie they starred in that is opening. So, you'd think that Matt Lauer would allow Ms. Coulter to say some things about her book. Instead, he begins the interview by challenging her on why Republicans are focusing on gay marriage instead of Iraq and gas prices. He persists in this kind of questioning and just plain hounds Coulter on this. Coulter clearly gets exasperated with him. Lauer clearly doesn't want to be a gracious host and seems to want to use this interview to just simply attack his subject. Coulter manages to sneak in a plug for her book 2 and a half minutes into the interview as she reminds Lauer that "there's an important book that comes out today, Matt." Lauer pays no attention to her and continues on with more challenges about Bush's approval rating, immigration, and more Iraq. He finally decides to move on to Godless 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the interview. Of course, he just goes on to attack her there too, particularly about the "broads" quote.

    I don't agree at all with Coulter's views on Darwinism. In fact, there's a lot of things she says I don't agree with. I do think she is cold dead on right on the "broads" quote.

    The thing about Coulter is that she is all about satire. Unfortunately, many don't understand this and choose to take her completely literally. That's not what satire is about. It's a semi-comedic form of expressing viewpoints by being extreme. George Carlin does similar stuff from the left point of view. It is common in Carlin's monologues to suggest that killing Republicans would be a good thing. Somehow, he doesn't get smacked around for his comments. I wonder why? (Just kidding, and by the way, Carlin is one of my favorite comedians).

    The real irony is that the more the Left attacks Coulter, the more attention she creates, and hence: the more books she sells. Godless: The Church of Liberalism has been a huge seller.