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Archive for December, 2005

Boo!

Have any of you guys seen "Most Haunted" on the Travel Channel? What an incredibly stupid show.

Most of the show involves a bunch of highly impressionable Brits wandering around in the dark, filmed in glowy green night-vision. They pick their way through various "haunted" buildings and talk themselves into thinking they’ve sensed a mysterious ghostly touch, a cold draft, or an inexplicable thumping sound. Which, of course, indicates a spirtual presence. Then they scream like scared schoolgirls and run from the room in a blind panic.

The woman of the group is the worst of them and even the others in the group seem to get a little impatient with her hysterics. There’s also a white-haired guy who channels spirits by waving his hands a lot and conducts seances in which the group senses ghostly presences by noting vibrations in a wobbly endtable. 

It’s a hoot. Where else can you see silly people take themselves so seriously? Except in Congress, I mean.

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Merry Christmas

  1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree
    from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
  2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of
    Syria.)
  3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
  4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth,
    into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;
    (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 2:5 To be taxed
    with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  5. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were
    accomplished that she should be delivered.
  6. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in
    swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room
    for them in the inn.
  7. 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
    keeping watch over their flock by night.
  8. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of
    the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  9. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you
    good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  10. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
    which is Christ the Lord.
  11. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped
    in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  12. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly
    host praising God, and saying,
  13. Glory to God in the highest, and
    on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:1-13, King James Version

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It’s good to see Bush back in fine form again. He’s taken a more agressive and more open approach to recent events. He’s got his sense of humor back, seems more relaxed and focused. It’s nice to see him defending his position instead of reacting days or weeks after the fact. And it’s done wonders for his approval ratings too.

If you haven’t already, you should watch his press conference from the other day. It’s always enlightening to watch the whole thing instead of reading the itty bitty fragments of quotes chosen by reporters. AnkleBitingPundits has his liveblogged reaction, too. I agree with his disdain for the reporter’s generally dumb and pompous questions. For heaven’s sake, how many times and in how many ways does the President have to explain that the NSA intercepts were approved by Congress before they stop asking why he didn’t tell Congress? How many times does he need to explain the difference between a quick intercept on a throwaway mobile phone and the slower FISA monitoring process?

I don’t have a lot to say about that subject, or about the Patriot Act renewal. I’ve been a fan of the NSA for a long time. They do their work in silence and generally without much fuss or attention. The reason they exist is to intercept and analyze communications going into and out of the United States, within the bounds of the law. We’re at war now, and they’ve been doing their job.

People want to kill us. That indesputable fact trumps the vague fear that intelligence might possibly be abused by our own law enforcement agencies. Frankly, I trust our own elected officials and sworn law enforcement personel more than I trust bin Laden and his terrorist friends. People who refuse to recognize such a choice must be made in time of war cannot be taken seriously.

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Retouching

Here’s a neat before and after demonstration of some Photoshop retouching, as applied to a female model on a magazine cover. Requires Javascript and Flash.

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Here’s a very interesting article on a topic that’s new to me. The British are apparently ready to pull out of the Joint Strike Fighter project. This would be very bad, for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that it’d mean the British would be forced to ally themselves millitarily more closely with other countries instead of with us. And that includes other countries who will also likely get cold feet if England withdraws. Read the whole thing:

Winds of Change.NET: Britain’s F-35 Pullout Threat, And The Future of the Anglosphere (updated).

One interesting item in the story is the potential danger posed by hostiles getting ahold of the JSF source code, essentially the operating system for the plane. The Brits want the source code so they can maintain their equipment, and that demand seems perfectly reasonable to me.

I’m going to read up on this later, but at this time it seems to me
that we should give Britain what it wants. We need the JSF, and we need to finance it by sharing it with our Allies. If we can’t manage that then somebody has screwed up. I think we can be flexible here.

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Ok, I admit it. I’m posting this mostly because I wanted to make that Shaft joke.

From his obituary, The Earl of Shaftesbury.

That marriage, too, ended acrimoniously, in 2000, and he embarked on a string of short-lived and expensive love affairs with younger women distinguished by their exotic looks and equally colourful past histories.

He became a familiar figure in some of the loucher nightspots on the French Riviera, where he cut a curious figure in leather trousers, pink shirts and large red-and-black spectacles; he was notable for his habit of flashing his money around as he bought drinks for a succession of nubile female companions.

Later that year, he married Jamila M’Barek, a Tunisian divorcee with
two children, whom he had met in a Paris bar where she was working as a
hostess. She separated from him in April 2004, claiming that he had
become an alcoholic and "sex addict", regularly overdosing on Viagra
and having testosterone injections. Among several bizarre stories, she
alleged that, on one occasion, she had returned unexpectedly to their
flat in Cannes to find her husband in the company of a large Arab
gangster and two Arab women who were rifling through the wardrobes. Her
husband was on a stool singing and dancing; the women left with a
car-load of her belongings.

I think England has a permanent supply of weird people with long-running hereditary titles. And British obits sure are different from the American variety.

Seen down on The Corner

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Routemaster’s last ride

The venerable Routemaster, the famous London double-decker bus, is being retired from regular service:

Why such mourning? Our affection for the Routemaster goes beyond the postbox red of its colour, the retro glory of its design and the ease and convenience of its use. Routemasters, born amid the optimism of post-war regeneration, now seem to incarnate a bygone age: one squeezed out of existence by health and safety regulations on one side and, on the other, the feral hoodies of the Asbo generation.

Fortunately they’re keeping some of them around for certain routes popular with tourists, and it seems that the retired buses are being snapped up by private companies interested in preserving them.

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