Monday, April 03, 2006

Time to move along. Did I mention Anconia’s Customer Support Blows?

As I mentioned previously, I have been examining the possibility of moving the blog elsewhere for a variety of reasons. Blogger’s interface, while OK for basic blogging, lacks a number of features present in other blogging systems. Blogger’s response to their users is glacial, at best, and getting anything more than a “check the FAQ” response is nearly unheard of.

So, I am moving this blog away from Blogger after 2 1/2 years here. The good news is that I’m moving somewhere that allowed me to keep all the content that exists here. The new blog is at The name’s the same, the author’s the same. The look’s a little different and I’m still getting the pieces in just the right places. I invite you to follow me over there for a (hopefully) improved experience.

The other issue is with this blogging software I also mentioned. This application, Anconia’s RocketPost, has turned into a bug-laden, eternally-crashing piece of crap. The worst part is the absolute silence from the company in response to a paying customer’s request for support I paid for. I’ve sent 4 requests for them to help me out and I have not gotten a. Single. Response. Not even a form-generated receipt of my messages has been forthcoming. So I’m switching over to an application that appears to be working well and crashless. Take a hint, Anconia - an application can have all the bells and whistles in the world and if it won’t run consistently, it’s still a pile of crap. (Interesting note: I’m using RocketPost to publish this note and it’s crashed twice in the process.)

My advice to you bloggers is to stay the hell away from Anconia and all its products. Use them at your own risk.

In closing, please click on the link and follow me to my new home. I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Nebraska becomes 40th State to permit concealed carry of firearms

From Instapundit, I find this wonderful write-up by David Kopel over at the Volokh Conspiracy regarding Nebraska's passage of a "shall issue" law for concealed carrying of a firearm permits.

Yesterday the Nebraska legislature defeated a filibuster, and passed a Shall Issue law for licensing the carrying of concealed handguns by adults who pass a background check and a safety class. Nebraska's governor has said he will sign the bill into law.

With Nebraska, there remain 15 States that do not have such laws. 2 of those actually don't require permits at all to carry but will provide one if asked. (Read David's article on that.) 3 more have so-called "Do issue" laws that are like the "Shall issue" laws but allow local cops some discretion. The "shall issue" law basically instructs State government agencies that they must issue the permit if certain qualifications are met. While you might think that's a no-brainer, there are 8 States whose laws are such that the local governments will issue you a permit basically if they feel like it. The laws allow them to issue permits to celebrities while denying low-life scum - such as the common citizen.

Do read up on it if you have any interest in it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Changes coming soon

Well, I’ve gotten a bit fed up with my blogging lately. No, I’m not running out of things to comment upon. My experiences here at Blogger are, frankly, leaving me a little flat. I know you get what you pay for, and all, and it is a free service. But they’ve never been really good at actually answering questions. The interface, while servicable, doesn’t offer many of the features other blogging platforms do. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Then there’s the matter of the blog authoring software I’m using. I switched over to Anconia’s RocketPost almost 2 months ago. At first, it was stellar. The company then put out an update to the program and it’s been all downhill since. The program crashes repeatedly. It does so between each and every post I try to publish and, after this morning’s “update” from Anconia, it actually crashes whenever I try to put a hyperlink in the post text on the 1st try. I’ve tried to contact their tech support - reachable only via a web form on their site - and have received no reply after 4 messages. Not the way to keep paying customers, Anconia. In fact, this one’s about ready to take a walk somewhere else.

Bottom line: expect changes here at HoodaThunk? soon. I’ll keep you advised. Assuming I can actually post the notice.

Analysis of daily attack stats in Baghdad show decline in averages

From Pajamas Media, there’s this link to Soldier’s Dad who provides a map of the districts in Baghdad along with the average daily attacks for the past 2 weeks. There’s an overall decline. Not that you’d know that from the media coverage, but the numbers are the numbers. Have a look.

I note, interestingly, that the once-lethal Sadr City - you know, the area the media held up as the example of how we couldn’t assist the Iraqis in securing their country - had precisely zero (0) attacks last week. Also note that every district but 3 saw declines. One of those 3 was steady - at an average of 1 daily attack - while the other 2 went up by less than 1. All others were lower.

Hardly what a civil war looks like.

Where’s the riot?

Something interesting happened on my way to work yesterday. As I was driving in DC’s wonderful traffic and listening to the local news station (hoping their traffic reports might guide me around the worst of the traffic snarls), a commercial came on. The very happy-sounding narrator began telling the story of Genesis. You know, the part of the Bible that describes how God made the universe. When the narrator starts up his rendition by stating that, in the beginning, “there was nothing - not even a bagel!”, you just know this isn’t going to turn out well for the story.

As the narrator continues, he pauses in various places to allow another voice-actor, playing the part of God, to speak his lines about how whatever was just created was “pretty good.” This fast-forward retelling of the Bible’s opening story culminates when the narrator tells us that God, after creating man and woman, notes that something’s missing, and it’s not bagels. It’s fun, and that means God needs to create bikes. Yes, you read that correctly: bikes. As in: bicycles. As in: here’s where “God” and the narrator put in their plug for some bike seller’s big sale and ya’ll should just come on down!

Or something to that effect.

As I listened to this commercial spot I realized several points.

  • Some marketing group somewhere thought that hijacking the story of Genesis was not only not offensive, it was downright clever.
  • That same group thought that having that story - and God, I might add - depicted as rather goofy was also not only not offensive, it was downright clever.
  • That the production house, director, and actors clearly had no issue with making the spot.
  • That the radio station advertising people had no issue with accepting the spot and running it on the air with no disclaimers about how their station respects the beliefs of all its listeners and intends no offense.

And as quickly as I thought of these points I was able to identify why they were so. Because none of those people are, in any way, concerned that their actions would garner death threats, get them killed, or light off a riot that would burn DC for a week. These people feel completely fine with co-opting components of the Christian faiths and broadcasting them. If some Christian has a problem with that, well then they just get to live with it. Freedom of Speech, and all, right?

Can you imagine them performing the same commercial based on the Koran?

I have stated before that our media and the Left in this country have no issue with disrespecting Christianity while loudly thumping their chests and proclaiming their “tolerance” and desire to avoid offending any religion. When I point out to some of these folks that their actions say that every religion is to be respected except mine, they get steamed and tell me I’m imagining things. When the attitude that Chistianity is fair game becomes so ingrained into our media that commercials like this are casually made and aired without a second thought, they prove my point more eloquently than any words I have.

What I am asking is not that they muzzle themselves where Christianity is concerned. Witness the lack of any rioting to give weight to the argument that we Christians are confident in our religion to the point where we can endure people who speak ill of it. What I’m asking is that they treat other religions no differently. If Islam is worthy of the media self-censoring, then so should Christianity. If Christians aren’t worth that level of action, then neither should Muslims be. Equality of consideration is what we’re asking for. I think our tolerance of the treatment we get deserves it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Virginia muslim gets 30 years for assassination conspiracy

Next up on the good news list:

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum — a life sentence — for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Va.

"The facts of this case are still astonishing," prosecutor David Laufman said. "Barely a year after Sept. 11 the defendant joined the organization responsible for 3,000 deaths."

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said 30 years was sufficient punishment. He compared the Abu Ali case to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who received a 20-year sentence... Prosecutors had asked for the maximum — a life sentence — for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Va.

"The facts of this case are still astonishing," prosecutor David Laufman said. "Barely a year after Sept. 11 the defendant joined the organization responsible for 3,000 deaths."

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said 30 years was sufficient punishment. He compared the Abu Ali case to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who received a 20-year sentence.

Much more information is available here at the Jawa Report. There’s been some commentary about the proper sentence for treason being the death penalty, and I agree. However, that’s not was Ali was charged with. I guess you’d have to take that up with the prosecutors. My reaction to the judge’s comment, comparing Ali to Walker Lindh, isn’t a matter of Ali getting 10 more years than Lindh. It’s that Lindh only got 20 years. That guy tried to light off a bomb in a passenger aircraft and he only got 20 years?

Note this little item near the end of the story:

In February, defense lawyers asked for a review of the conviction in light of the disclosure that the Bush administration had eavesdropped on suspected terrorists' conversations without search warrants. Abu Ali's lawyers said they suspected, but had no firm evidence, that Abu Ali had been a target of the surveillance program.

The government's response was not made public, but the judge decided to go ahead with the sentencing after receiving it.

Thank you, New York Times, for handing the defense a ready-made trial-delaying tool. Unfortunately, this probably backfired on them when the general consensus came out in the judiciary that the surveillance program was legal. The judge in this case likely got to get a brief on the communications Ali had been having with known terror cells abroad and that couldn’t have been too helpful to the defense. Come to think of it, that might have weighed in on the judge’s decision on the length of the sentence.

Hostage Jill Carroll freed (Unconfirmed)

Just got on-line this morning (and, for the 1st time in a few days, on my own computer instead of a company one working a project from the second I wake up) and noted this bit of good news:

Kidnapped U.S. reporter Jill Carroll has been released after nearly three months in captivity, Iraq police and the leader of the Islamic Party said Thursday. Her editor said she was in good condition.

"She was released this morning, she's talked to her father and she's fine," said David Cook, Washington bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor.

Carroll was kidnapped on Jan. 7 in Baghdad's western Adil neighborhood while going to interview Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her translator was killed in the attack about 300 yards from al-Dulaimi's office.

This has not yet been confirmed by the State Department or the DoD, so I’ll keep looking for more information.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Catch-and-release, again?

Deja vu, all over again?

When a Colorado state trooper pulled over a van crammed with 15 illegal aliens headed for Iowa City, it looked like their plans to visit the Hawkeye State had come to a screeching halt.

Instead, Trooper John Lopez released the van and its occupants after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent told the Colorado State Patrol that he didn't have the staff to detain the admitted illegal aliens.

Immigration officials now say that the decision Thursday to let them go was based on a miscommunication about the van's location. Even so, the release has fueled frustration over what critics see as the federal agency's inability to handle the unabated flow of undocumented workers. [Link]

The problem is the state troopers don’t have the jurisdiction to do anything about illegals when they find them. The proposed legislation coming up in the Senate would address that. Moreover, we clearly need to prioritize funding and focus into ICE. Of course, if we were serious about our border security, we wouldn’t be having so many calls in Colorado that ICE’s agents can’t respond.

Additional immigration protest views

Michelle Malkin has been, for as long as I’ve read her stuff, a strong advocate for immigrations laws enforcement and for a strong border security posture. She writes a wonderful post here on the matter of the immigration laws protests I mentioned below.

Erma Byrd, wife of Senator Robert Byrd, dead at 88

Noted with saddness:

Erma Ora James Byrd, the wife of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, has died after battling an illness for five years. She was 88.

Erma Byrd, who met her husband of nearly 69 years when they were in grade school, died Saturday at the couple's home in McLean, Va., according to Byrd's spokesman, Tom Gavin. He would not say what the illness was.

The senator and members of their family were with her when she died.

Some things transcend the question of Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, right-wing/left-wing. This is one of those, or should be. My sympathies go to Senator Byrd and his family in this time of loss.

“Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.”

Mass Protests supporting illegal entry

Over the past few days there have been protests regarding new immigration laws, specifically one that would make it felony to illegally enter this country. Some of those protests have seen support numbering in the thousands. My take on it?

Big deal. So what?

First off, just what are these people protesting? The law at the heart of the protests and demands does not make a new classification of crime. It does not, as is constantly cited by so-called “immigrants rights” groups, “criminalize” immigration. There is nothing in the law that makes something that’s legal today illegal tomorrow. What it does is raise the classification on an existing crime to a felony level, permitting the application of law enforcement assets that currently cannot act upon the crime. And that, really, is what the protests are all about. It’s not that any of those people (who have bothered to educate themselves on the matter) are suggesting that illegal entry isn’t or shouldn’t be a crime. It’s that they understand very well that the current classification allows for a rather anemic law enforcement response. Raising it to a felony would put a more serious law enforcement threat onto their radar screens and they want to re-frame this debate so as to hide that essential fact.

Protests organized to keep our nation from effectively enforcing our laws do not impress me much. My stance on illegal entry and immigration - and those are 2 very separate and distinct concepts - are well documented right here on this blog. I approve of the latter when it’s done legally and I disapprove of the former with no reservations. All the sign-carrying in the world won’t change that. If these thousands of people want to make sure that neither they nor anyone they know run afoul of our immigrations law, then they would be better off putting down the signs and helping themselves and others out in complying with the law.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stonewalling at Yale

Courtesy of a link from Power Line, I bring you this wonderful tale of supression of a free press by that bastion of free thought: Yale.

After getting the door literally slammed in his face in the administrative building that houses the office of Yale President Richard Levin, Evan sauntered outside where he interviewed Natalie Healy, a woman who lost her son Dan - a Navy SEAL - in Afghanistan last year. Naturally, Ms. Healy is outraged that a man who was an official of a murderous regime that killed her son has been given a place at Yale while many thousands of better qualified American kids are sent rejection letters every year.

Apparently this was too much for the Yale administrators who sent the police to give Evan and our cameraman the same message that is sent to ROTC and military recruiters every year: Get off campus!

Wouldn’t want people to think too much about Yale’s actions, now would we? You gotta love a University that cheerfully accepts public funding sending the cops to shut down a journalist doing an interview.

Christians worship rabbits? Say, what?

I just saw this post over at Power Line wherein they detail the efforts by a St. Paul official in removing a decoration from city hall there:

Sorry we missed this story in our own backyard yesterday: "City hall evicts Easter bunny." As reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press story: "A toy rabbit decorating the entrance of the St. Paul City Council offices went hop-hop-hoppin' on down the bunny trail Wednesday after the city's human rights director said non-Christians might be offended by it." [Link]

First, a quick nod to a note from Jay Nordlinger over at Impromptus. Since when does an American city have a public official with a title “human-rights director”? Skipping lightly past that one, may I now bring up the screamingly obvious fact that Christians don’t include rabbits in our religious observances? Easter is about the risen Son of God, not some bunny rabbit hopping around with painted eggs. The whole bunny routine is a secular observance, not a Christian one. The ones who should be offended by this spectacle are the Christians who are getting blamed for some tight-assed city official’s too touchy trigger on her “offend-o-meter.”

I guess Santa Claus is going to get the bum’s rush in St. Paul next.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Whiney=Conservative story

I’ve had a few e-mails from folks about why I’m not writing about the recent story on the study released from Berkeley that concludes that whiney (read that: can’t cope with anything without hysterical fear/crying/generally inferior behavior) children will grow up to be conservatives while kids who aren’t (read that: highly intelligent, deep-thinking, easily adaptive to new situations, generally superior) will grow up to be liberals. The answer is simple: it’s pure, unadulterated bullshit masquerading as an allegedly scientific study. And I don’t need to go very far into the study to find all the proof I need of it.

At first, I didn’t write about it because the story, which appeared in a newspaper, didn’t provide a link back to the source material. Searches for the study on-line proved fruitless. So, this was a giant assertion without any back-up. Why waste my breath? Anyone who reads that story and triumphantly points to it with a big “Ah-HAAAAA” expression on their faces without so much as looking for the source material have already made up their minds. The story is merely something physical for them to point to rather than having to rely on their own expounding to make their points. These people can’t be rationally argued with, so why bother?

Fortunately, there are bloggers who actually do care about the debate in question and will act rationally even in the face of a study asserting that which might be abhorent to them. Thus it is that Michelle Malkin goes to the trouble of not only addressing the argument but also posting the actual study so the source material can be seen. Go have a read for yourself, if you like.

Here’s the basic foundational problem with this study: it is statistically insignificant and it suffers from the lack of solid definitions of terms. It also commits the logical fallacy of assuming causation that does not conclusively explain a result.

The study takes data from 95 individuals from the Berkeley area. 95 people. That’s the sample being used to assess the behavior of a population of millions. Billions, actually, since the study isn’t purporting to explain behavior of only the population of the United States, but of humans in general. Selecting 95 people from a geographically very small area doesn’t even rise to the level of absurdity in terms of a reasonable statistical sample. It would take over 1500 such individuals selected from as wide a geographic area as possible (within the target area) to even rate as a blip on the statistical relevance screen. The fact that these 95 people are all from the Berkeley area would tend to create the expection of similar behaviors and value sets which may or (more likely) may not reflect the value sets held by the majority of the wider population. What’s considered “conservative” in Berkeley might not pass for even moderate in Kansas. That’s the definition problem I spoke of.

Then there’s the logical problem of assuming that whatever makes the kid whine in preschool is going to be the determining factor in his or her politics in college. What is it that makes the kid “whiney” to begin with? Who decided that one kid’s whines met the criteria where another’s did not? This measure is extremely subjective which makes it a poor benchmark. What if the thing that makes a kid whine is a set of parents being consistent in what they allow and disallow as opposed to simply caving in to whatever desire strikes the kid at the moment? If the former set of parents are considered conservative and the latter liberal, then we’ve just proven that the parents’ politics forms the basis for the child’s politics in life, a fact we’ve already known for centuries.

It’s been suggested that the reason child whiners grow up to be conservatives is that they’ve gotten their whining out of the way in preschool instead of making it a lifelong effort like liberals. What, in this study, contradicts this conclusion? Nothing, that’s what. I would imagine the Kos Kids wouldn’t be cheering the study were it to be used to advance that conclusion.

So, it’s all just so much gas vented into the atmosphere and just so much wasted paper. Having seen the study, I am left with exactly the same sense of the situation I had before it was available. It’s a waste of time.