Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Strange Hollywood Heist

Now, I like Gregory Peck as an actor. But this is just strange:
A Hollywood Star Is Torn
Thieves cut through terrazzo and concrete to carry off the Walk of Fame's tribute to Gregory Peck.

Someone has walked off with Gregory Peck at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Thieves equipped with a concrete saw cut through terrazzo and concrete to hoist out the pink, five-pointed star that frames a movie camera emblem and the late actor's bronzed name, authorities in Hollywood said Tuesday.
What would you do with a big pink concrete star? It's not like you can sell it - I think they would notice.

Another question for you - how did they get away, apparently unnoticed? "Excuse me, is that a star from the Walk of Fame?"

"Why no, it's my new doorstop."

Weird.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The science of love.

Molecule gives passionate lovers just one year - Yahoo! News

ROME (Reuters) - Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It's all part of falling passionately in love -- and scientists now tell us the feeling won't last more than a year.
ADVERTISEMENT

The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF), according to Pavia University researchers.

The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term relationships.

But after a year with the same lover, the quantity of the 'love molecule' in their blood had fallen to the same level as that of the other groups.

The Italian researchers, publishing their study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, said it was not clear how falling in love triggers higher levels of NGF, but the molecule clearly has an important role in the "social chemistry" between people at the start of a relationship.

Signs Of Your Impending Doom

Just so you know - the world may be ending.

  • The Seattle Seahawks have the best record in their entire conference. (You've gotta understand - they've been so bad for so long...)
  • I have a date this Friday.
Get your affairs in order. You've been warned.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Disturbed Peace

Michael Totten reports from Lebanon:
Whether the Lebanese government likes it or not, Lebanon will remain in a state of war with Israel as long as Syria says that it has to, and as long as Syria and Iran continue supporting Hezbollah's "resistance" and control of the border.
Actual get out of the office and report journalism. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

'Alice's Restaurant' turns 40

Arlo Guthrie, Remembering 'Alice's Restaurant'

If you haven't heard this song you should. It only takes a mere 18 minutes to listen to!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Portal websites beware...

Google has added the "personalize this page" to the main site at www.google.com.

I can see my MyYahoo! page slowly being replaced...

Happy Thanksgiving

The history of the Thanksgiving holiday is facinating; the tradition of declaring days of Thanksgiving goes back to colonial days, but did not become an annual holiday until 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. Lincoln in his own words:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863."

Since then, Thanksgiving has been observed every year in the United States.

And we have so very much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

iPods become more enticing every day...

TiVo-recorded shows soon viewable on iPod, PSP
TiVo is looking to pull in more customers by hooking up with two of the most popular mobile devices on the market: Apple Computer's iPod and Sony's PlayStation Portable.

The Alviso, Calif.-based company, whose box that has become synonymous with the digital recording of television programs, said on Monday that it will be testing a version of its TiVoToGo mobile service so that customers will be able to synchronize downloads of their programs from their TiVo Series2 boxes and transfer them to portable devices via their PC.


Full story available here

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - In For A Penny
Having failed in his attempts to purge the Pledge of Allegience of any possibel refernce to God, Michael Newdow has found another cause to get reporters to chase after him again. Yes, now he's going after "In God We Trust" on our money.

What the harm in this is, I couldn't say. I'm no royalist, but I have no problem spending money with Queen Elizabeth's portrait when I'm in Canada. Is this really an urgent issue, a crisis that demands refocusing from the troubles of a dangerous world to worry about? Hardly.

Why is Mr. Newdow tilting at this windmill? I have no idea. Sometimes I wonder if he is intentionally going about reinforcing every negative stereotype of both atheists and lawyers that exists, or if that is just a serendipitous effect of his crusades. A recent gem: He is claiming that atheists are second-class citizens, unable to hold public office. (Sorry, no link - I was unable to find a transcript. It was an audio clip played on the Glenn Beck radio show on Wednesday, November 16.)

Well, it turns out he is right - sort of. The states of Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas all have clauses in their state Constitutions stating that atheists cannot hold office. (You read that correctly - Utah is not one of them.) However, that violates the Constitution (no religious test) and the first amendment, and thus that language has been rendered about as effective and relevant as laws against fornication and regulations regarding the proper use of buggy whips.

However, I believe Mr. Newdow is correct that he will never hold public office. Not because the state of California forbids atheists from holding office (it doesn't) - rather, because he is a jackass to such a degree that even a field of endeavor as replete with jackasses as politics couldn't make room for Mr. Newdow and the gigantic chip he carries on his shoulder.

But if we need to remove "In God We Trust" from our currency in order to avoid the possibility of offense, why stop there? Indeed, the phrase "United States of America" is offensive to many...

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson, today in NRO: "War & Reconstruction"
A bewildered visitor from Mars would tell Washingtonians something like: "For twelve years you occupied Saddam's airspace, since he refused to abide by the peace accords and you were afraid that he would activate his WMD arsenal again against the Kurds or his neighbors. Now that he is gone and for the first time you can confirm that his weapons program is finally defunct, you are mad about this new precedent that you have established: Given the gravity of WMD arsenals, the onus is now on suspect rogue nations to prove that they do not have weapons of mass destruction, rather than for civilization to establish beyond a responsible doubt that they do?"

Jonah Goldberg: "Harry's Mirage."

A review of the new Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line.

Patrolling the Front
Been kind of quiet around here, lately. Is everything OK out there? Hello? Hopefully everybody's just busy...

Jamo's been trying to post daily, while I'm currently working off a week-long blogging hiatus. While I can't speak to the quality, the quantity has been prodigious...

Thought of the Week
"Unlike an animal, man is not told by drives and instincts what he must do. And in contrast to man in former times, he is no longer told by traditions and values what he should do. Now, knowing neither what he must do nor what he should do, he sometimes does not even know what he basically wishes to do. Instead, he wishes to do what other people do -- which is conformism -- or he does what other people wish him to do -- which is totalitarianism."
- Viktor Frankl

Churchill Quote of the Week
"A love for tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril."
- Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pithy

Jay Nordlinger, writing in National Review Online:
An indication of how times have changed: When Philip Agee blew agents, he got some of them killed. When some Bushies revealed the identity of Joe Wilson’s wife, they got both of them in Vanity Fair.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Didn't See That In Star Trek

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:


TRACTORS

IN

SPACE

Actually, it's a proposed means to deflect threatening asteroids into a new orbit - one that wouldn't involve pulverizing some portion of Earth.
Now, two NASA astronauts have presented a plan for an “asteroid tractor”—an unmanned, 20-ton spacecraft that uses the invisible bond of gravity to gently pull an asteroid into a new, non-threatening orbit.

“You can think of it like a big elastic band between the two pulling them together,” said Edward Lu, who presents the concept for the spacecraft with fellow astronaut Stanley Love in the Nov. 10 issue of the journal Nature.

The tractor would hover above the surface of the asteroid, without touching it, and use gravity as a towline. If the spacecraft maintains a consistent distance between it and the asteroid, and always tows in the same direction, this method won’t disturb the asteroid’s rotation or composition.
Personally, I'd think a Death Star-type laser would be better. Plus, the light show would be fun to watch. But that's just me.

So - anybody know if John Deere is available?

Ahhhh Google.

GoogleBase... the world's newest database.

Ah, Google. What would we do without your innovative prowess?

http://base.google.com/base/step1offer

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tortured Debate

I set off to write a piece on Senator McCain's latest antics, but it got way too long-winded. So I posted it over at the Pacific Slope instead.

What's going on? Well, once again, Senator McCain (R-Media) and the Senate are pushing a bill that looks good to the media but doesn't accomplish a blasted thing. Yeah, I know - like that's unusual.

If you're short on time, just read
Andrew McCarthy today in National Review Online.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back From Bah-stun

I have returned from New England. Had a great time. The business end of the trip went very well, and I was able to play the tourist for two full days. Thanks to our own Maine Man and his lovely wife for showing me around their hometown.

A few quick thoughts:

  • One of the things that sticks out is how much older everything is back there. For example, Salem was established (as a township) over 220 years before anyone ever settled in Utah. Gives a new persepective.
  • There are old homes, grand old churches, and old graveyards all over the place.
  • Lexington and Concord are cool. There's a stretch of the old road between them that looks pretty similar to April 19, 1775.
  • Everyone I dealt with face-to-face was very polite and friendly. Even when they didn't have to be.
  • I never compain about Utah drivers again. Massachusetts drivers are far, far worse.
  • Boston is the most car-unfriendly city I have ever been in. I spent as much time lost in Boston as I did seeing things in Boston. I wish I was kidding.
  • Massachusetts, at least up-state eastern Massachusetts, is very pretty. There were just enough leaves left to hint at the spectacular fall they must have had a few weeks ago. And there are rivers, lakes, and ponds everywhere.
So I had a good time. I'll try to get some pictures up soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

News Releases - State of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Taken directly from the source:

News Releases - State of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.: "Utah Takes Nuclear Waste Issue To Court
News Release
November 09, 2005

Salt Lake City, Utah * The State of Utah is asking the courts to review the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recent decision to authorize the issuance of an operating license for Private Fuel Storage LLC, a company seeking permission to store spent nuclear fuel in Skull Valley, Utah. In documents filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the State outlined its legal objections to the NRC's rulings.

Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., has vowed to stop at nothing in his efforts to keep spent nuclear fuel out of Utah. 'With each passing month,' Governor Huntsman said Tuesday, 'we are expanding our efforts to oppose the PFS plan. We are urging Congress, the Bush Administration, and the courts not to let PFS force us to accept nuclear waste that we didn't produce, we don't want, and shouldn't have to take.'

Although PFS has yet to obtain a license from the NRC, the latter has indicated that it will soon issue a license. However, if the NRC proceeds with issuing a license, it will be years before spent nuclear fuel could be stored in Utah. After obtaining a license from the NRC, PFS must still obtain administrative approval from two other federal agencies."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mwah mwah mwaaaaah....

If Windows Leaves Korea, Linspire Offers to Move In
When Microsoft threatened to leave Korea if the Korean government forces it to remove some applications from Windows, the company probably hadn't expected to see a Linux company offer to replace them for hundreds of millions less.

Monday, November 07, 2005

CNN.com - House bill counters eminent domain ruling


While I don't believe that the use of eminent domain is always a bad thing, I was unhappy with the Supreme Court's ruling in June. Here's some news relating to that subject.

CNN.com - House bill counters eminent domain ruling - Nov 4, 2005

Good news:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Contending that the Supreme Court has undermined a pillar of American society -- the sanctity of the home -- the House overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday to block the court-approved seizure of private property for use by developers.

The bill, passed 376-38, would withhold federal money from state and local governments that use powers of eminent domain to force businesses and homeowners to give up their property for commercial uses.


And a good point to counter:
But opponents argued that the federal government should not be interceding in what should be a local issue. "We should not change federal law every time members of Congress disagree with the judgment of a locality when it uses eminent domain for the purpose of economic development," said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia.

And some more info:
Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in Kelo, said in an August speech that while he had concerns about the results, the ruling was legally correct because the high court has "always allowed local policy-makers wide latitude in determining how best to achieve legitimate public goals."

Several lawmakers who opposed the House bill said eminent domain has long been used by local governments for economic development projects such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and the cleaning up of Times Square in New York. The District of Columbia is expected to use eminent domain to secure land for a new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - A Peculiar Institution
Polygamy is in the news again. Just great.

Just to clarify - polygamy was banned by the LDS Church in 1890. Banned. As in, if you enter into a plural marriage, you are tossed out of the church.

So just because the people in Hilldale, Utah, call themselves the "Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ," does not mean they are Mormon fundamentalists. They are a splinter group. Just like the Reorganized LDS Church, or the Community of Christ as they call themselves now. If these people were fundamentalists, then they would still be following the directions given by the Presidency and General Authorities of the LDS Church. (If you want to find Mormon fundamentalists, try Provo.)

One question that comes up from time to time is, why isn't polygamy more aggressively prosecuted? Well, a lot of lame-duck don't-want-to-upset-the-apple-cart reasons are given from time to time, but there's one more people ought to think about - how realistic are the odds of making the charges stick? Can the anti-polygamy law survive a successful prosecution?

The the institution of marriage is being undermined from many sides. Gay marriage proponents want marriage to include same-sex couples. Couples which stay together but won't marry want equal protection and benefits that are given to married couples. And marriage is devalued by virtue of the 50% of all marriages which end in divorce.

If the concept of marriage is in flux, can plural marriage continue to be held as illegal?

This is the reason that the Steed case, which Jamo has been following, has not involved prosecuting Judge Steed for practicing polygamy. Any defense attorney worth his salt would immediately place the law on trial, rather than the defendant.

In a time when many are agitating to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman, it will be increasingly hard to hold polygamy as a crime. If the gender of the parties in a marriage is immaterial, then why limit the number of parties as well?

Recommended Reading
VDH, "The Real Global Virus."
Most Americans think that our present conflict is not comparable with World War II, in either its nature or magnitude. Perhaps — but they should at least recall the eerie resemblance of our dilemma to the spread of global fascism in the late 1930s.
John Derbyshire, "What's with Guy Fawkes?"

Henry Miller, "Flummoxing the Flu."

Andrew McCarthy, "Islam, Democracy & Assimilation."

Patrolling the Front
...is back!

I was expecting at least applause, if not cheers. Hmm. Well, same to ya. Moving on.

Jamo (j.m.) has been following the local story of one Judge Walter Steed, who is fighting his removal from the bench. The reason for his removal? He's a polygamist.

e.gage has been doing some more photoblogging, and wonders if it's really necessary to warn people not to surf a tsunami. Well, it is California...

The Unknowable wants to know - have you heard of Google Earth? (So Google owns the Earth now? Not that it would surprise me...)

The Niem shows some of the interesting things LOST is doing.

Matt is MIA, and Maine Man and Nathan have been quiet lately, mainly hanging around in the comments.

And me (Tyler)? Well, I'm starting to get worried about Iran, worried about France, had some thoughts on milestones, and am looking forward to the model train show this weekend.

Thought of the Week

Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter.

I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here--until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely" creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, "No--the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure--and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence."

Mark Twain, Roughing It
(In the interests of dating again sometime in my life, I would like to note that Mr. Twain's opinion of LDS women in no way reflects the opinions held by me or any other member of The Wasatch Front.)

Churchill Quote of the Week
"I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."
Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The "Peace" Movement In Action

From the San Francisco Chronicle, and offered without further comment:
An anti-Bush demonstration in San Francisco ended with the arrest of 10 people, including one who was found carrying several Molotov cocktails after such a device was thrown at The San Francisco Chronicle building on Wednesday, police said.

...At one point, as the small group marched along Mission Street, somebody pulled out a Molotov cocktail, lit it and threw it against the Chronicle building, where it exploded, sending fiery material onto the shoulder of San Francisco police Officer Gary Constantine, who was not injured...

Utah high court hears case of polygamous judge - MSNBC.com


Utah high court hears case of polygamous judge - Crime & Punishment - MSNBC.com

Boo!!!

“The question is whether polygamy rises to a different level of disrepute than something else,” attorney Rodney Parker said.

I disagree. The question is to whether or not he hs abiding by the law, not whether his breaking the law has tarnished his office. This is a "letter of the law" not "spirit of the law."

But those seeking to remove Steed argue that he shouldn’t break the laws he took an oath to uphold. “Judges are expected to live to a different standard,” said Colin Winchester, the commission’s executive director.

I agree. Even if not a different standard, at least the standard itself.

“As long as I can do my job, why should I (be removed)?” Steed asked outside the courtroom with one of his three wives standing by his side.

Would you say the same thing to a drug dealer who was also an elementary school teacher?

Both the Utah attorney general and the Washington County prosecutor have declined to prosecute Steed.

Why?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Google Earth - Home

Google Earth - Home

Try It. It totally rocks.

The Joys of Jury Duty

Sorry for my abscence yesterday - I was called into jury duty. Fortuntely, it was a civil trial, and I was able to be selected, sit through the trial, and render a verdict in a single day.

A few quick thoughts:
  • Law is a very human endeavor. Which means the best result isn't always the one you get once both sides and the jury have had their say.
  • That said - I would rather trust my life to a jury than just a single judge. I'm not sure about my livelihood, though.
  • A good lawyer can still screw up.
  • The judge, the bailiff, and the court staff were excellent. They were friendly, helpful, and did all that they could to make jury duty as painless as possible. The judge in particular went to great lengths to keep us informed as to what was happening and what it meant.
  • I'm also glad no one can make me do it again for two years.
The process was interesting. The judge gives the jury a set of instructions, basically giving a rundown of what the juror's duties are and how the proceedings will unfold. Later, before closing arguments are made, the judge gives additional instructions, mainly consisting of quotations of relevant law. As I understand it, the lawyers make suggestions and get some input, but the judge makes the final decision as to what makes it into the jury instructions.

In a Utah civil trial, there are eight people on a jury, and only six of the eight have to agree to a verdict. I was a holdout - but it didn't matter. Six agreed, and the verdict was made.

I do have to say - seeing the law at work was an interesting process. Civil trials aren't discussed very often, but you and I have a better chance of being involved in a civil case than a criminal one. It reinforced my overall faith in the courts - and made me a little more nervous about trials in civil cases.

Oh, yeah, *THIS* looks good for Utah.

CNN.com - Utah judge with 3 wives fights for job - Nov 2, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A judge will ask the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to let him stay on the bench after a commission that oversees judges ordered him dismissed because he has three wives.

Those pursuing the case against Judge Walter Steed say his plural marriage creates a conflict: After taking an oath to uphold the law, he shouldn't be breaking it.

"You can't have it both ways," said Colin Winchester, the executive director of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission.

The commission issued an order seeking Steed's removal from the bench in February, after a 14-month investigation determined Steed was a polygamist and as such had violated Utah's bigamy law.

Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah punishable by up to five years in prison, but Steed's attorney, Rod Parker, said Utah's attorney general and the Washington County prosecutor have declined to prosecute his client.

Steed has served for 25 years in the southern border town of Hildale, handing down rulings in drunken driving and domestic violence cases. Parker contends the bigamy statute is only enforced in rare cases, such as when someone has been duped into marrying someone who already has a wife.

"There is no allegation that it's affecting his performance on the bench," Parker said. "It really is truly only about his private conduct."


He should be removed from the bench. "Do as I say, not as I do" is a terrible creed. He's not above the law.