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Monday, January 31, 2005
Congratulations to the Dayton Daily News

They've managed to come to the "Let's add an 'X' to the beginning of the word and be cool" game only 10 years late. It's like the stereotypical uncool father trying to prove to his kid that he's hip, he's with it... tucka tucka tucka....

And while we're at it, the third Letter to the Editor warrants a reiteration of Friday's post on what I think of this type of overzealous, fanatical, dogmatic anti-smoking demagoguery.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:25 PM in Dayton

Sunday, January 30, 2005
Excuse me while I shamelessly paraphrase a bit from my favorite author...

"...Liberals have been expecting the imminent descent of Iraq into civil war for years."

"But it keeps not descending."

"So far, so good."

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:01 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Saturday, January 29, 2005
I don't think anybody could say it better

From an American soldier in Iraq:

It is now dusk in Baquba, a city that lies thirty-five miles Northeast of Baghdad, along the edge of the Sunni Triangle. The streets are quiet. Vehicular traffic has been banned today, a curfew is due to come into effect soon after dark. Mothers hurry home from the markets. Children scurry to keep up with them. Election posters cling to the walls and streetlights. The city is filled with expectations. The vast majority of the people realize what is at stake here. They are ready to cast their ballots tomorrow, to elect representatives who will govern them and craft a new constitution for their nation. They are eager to write a new chapter in the history of their country. Meanwhile, the enemies of freedom lurk in the dark alleyways of this city. Domestic and foreign terrorists lie in wait. They fear not only the outcome of the vote, but the very process itself. They want to halt the inexorable march of freedom. They may try to disrupt the voting. No matter what happens tomorrow, they are doomed to failure in the long run. The elections will take place, the citizens of Baquba will cast their ballots. The transformation of Iraq is about to commence. Still, this is not the end of the beginning; nor the beginning of the end; it is the beginning of the beginning. Sunday will mark the first step on the long road to political and moral recovery in Iraq – and in the region. When the sun rises, the people will speak.

--The Corner

Posted by Rob Bernard at 4:07 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Friday, January 28, 2005

A study in Virginia has found that red light cameras don't actually reduce the number of injury accidents but instead actually increase the number.

Despite a distinct sympathy in favor of camera enforcement, the researchers found a "definite" increase in rear-end accidents and only a "possible" decrease in angle accidents. Most importantly, the net effect was that more injuries happened after cameras are installed. Camera proponents explain this away by asserting angle accidents are more serious, but this claim has not been scientifically studied according to this report. The rear end collisions caused by the cameras still produce injuries -- the original promise of camera proponents was that they would reduce accidents and injuries, not rearrange them.

Studies in Australia and North Carolina seem to back this up.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:04 PM in Miscellaneous
Oh... my... God... just stop it people!

You don't need to call/write in to the Dayton Daily News and call them irresponsible EVERY BLEEPING TIME they show or refer to someone smoking!

I'm not a smoker, but this constant griping couldn't be more annoying. People smoke. We don't need screeches of "Won't somebody think of the childen!?!" every time that that fact is acknowledged and followed by anything short of "second hand smoke kills 53,000 non-smokers a year".

And let's not even get started on the idiot who thinks the DDN shouldn't do a story on pipe smoking because crack addicts use crack pipes.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:53 PM in Dayton
Good news

Experts seem to have ruled out the prospect of an "unkillable zombie Bin Laden". :)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:34 PM in Media , War/Terrorism/Middle East
P&G to buy Gillette for $57B
Procter & Gamble Co. said Friday it would buy Gillette Co., for about $57 billion in stock, uniting two iconic U.S. producers of household goods ranging from Pampers diapers to Duracell batteries.

The combined company would boast more than $60 billion in annual revenues, giving it increased leverage at stores ranging from discounters to grocers.

The maker of Tide is paying an 18 percent premium for Gillette, best known for its razors. P&G promised cost cuts of up to $16 billion, heralded lay-offs of 4 percent of the combined 140,000 workforce and set a stock buyback of up to $22 billion in the next 18 months.

--CNN Money

While the 4% layoffs may be a little worrisome, I suppose it's always good to see a regionally headquartered company expand. The article also goes in to how the merger could lead other consumer products companies like Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive to do some buying of their own.

More from the Enquirer and the Post.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:21 PM in Cincinnati

Thursday, January 27, 2005
Oh the horror!
The United Nations official charged with election assistance yesterday threw a barb at American troops in Iraq,accusing them of conducting an "overenthusiastic" campaign to promote this weekend’s Iraqi election.

The chief of the U.N. Electoral Assistance Division, Carina Perelli, was asked in a press conference about reports that American troops helped Iraqi officials distribute information on the electoral process to Iraqi citizens, and encouraged them to participate in Sunday’s vote.

Ms. Perelli said that U.N. officials spent time "asking, begging military commanders precisely not to do that," but the time has not been well-spent. The Americans were "overenthusiastic in trying to help out with these elections," she said. "We have basically been saying they should try to minimize their participation because this is an Iraqi process."

--The New York Sun

What the hell are they thinking?! Helping educate people on how their election will be run? We can't have any of that!!!

It's just more of the same old damned if you do, damned if you don't. If the military hadn't helped educate people about the elections the UN would just be complaining that Iraqi's weren't being educated about the elections.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 4:48 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Rice confirmed as Secretary of State


Meanwhile Alberto Gonzales passes the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:30 PM in Politics/Government
Well, that does it...

Sega is officially out of the sports game market, selling their sports game subsidiaries to Take 2 who signed a deal with MLB this week to be the exclusive 3rd party baseball game developer.

Earlier, of course, EA took the NFL and ESPN away from Sega.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:34 AM in Baseball , Technology/Internet

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Reds sign another one

I think you have to be happy about the Reds signing Rich Aurilia to a minor league contract. He's struggled offensively for a couple years but you know he has that offensive potential and it's nice having a more experienced option at short than Lopez and Machado. Plus he gives them another utility infielder option and the 600k price tag is quite a cut from his $3.15 mill last year.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:03 PM in Baseball , Cincinnati
Oscar thoughts...

Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
Jamie Foxx - RAY

I suppose Foxx is the favorite here, but I wouldn't count anybody out. DiCaprio and Eastwood are probably the next most likely followed by Cheadle and Depp. Giamatti really deserves to be there too though.

And though I'd put him as the least likely of the 5 nominated to win, I have to wonder how Depp has managed to not win an Oscar yet. He's never Johnny Depp playing a character, he's just the character.

Jim Carrey was robbed for Eternal Sunshine.


Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
Clive Owen - CLOSER

Ok, I just don't think Foxx should win here. A) I think he really had the lead role in Collateral so putting him up in the supporting category is just an effort to get him two noms. B) I don't really think he gave a better performance in this role than just about anyone else could have.

Personally I'd give it to either Church or Owen, and I think I lean a little more towards Owen.


Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE

In my opinion it's a choice between Swank and Winslet and I'd give it to Winslet.

Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER

Portman. Blanchett and Madsen seem to be the favorites though.


Shark Tale isn't actually in the race and I think The Incredibles beats Shrek 2 hands down.


Of the 5 I'd give it to Neverland, but Eternal Sunshine not getting at least a nom is just a joke.


Eternal Sunshine by a mile, but of these five I suppose I'd go with Aviator.


I'll go with Neverland here.


It's probably a tossup between Marty and Clint. I suppose I'll go with The Aviator, but I'll fess up to not having had a chance to see Million Dollar Baby yet.


The race is probably between Super Size Me and Tupac, and I imagine it goes to Tupac.


I'd give it to Aviator


A little surprised at the lack of House of Flying Daggers and A Very Long Engagement, but I have no idea whether there are release date issues or anything like that... I have no opinion of the 5 nominated. The Passion should have been allowed in this category though.


I imagine The Passion gets it here.


Eh, I'd give it to Neverland.

"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS

Pick one, I couldn't sing a note of any but Accidentally In Love and don't really think it should win.






Yeah right, like anybody has a clue on these...


I'd call it a toss-up between Incredibles and Spidey.


Ray's probably got a good shot at this one being so acoustically oriented.




Sideways probably has the edge here with Baby and Neverland following behind.


I'd probably narrow it down to either Eternal Sunshine or Hotel Rwanda.


The big category... Ray doesn't belong there. Million Dollar Baby probably wins with Sideways and Aviator having shots.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:51 AM in Movies

Monday, January 24, 2005
Just as valid as the pessimistic opinions that always seem to find their way into print...
"I don't just see light at the end of the tunnel, I see light at the start and throughout the tunnel," says [Mohammed Hanash] Abbas, 41, in a typically upbeat remark. His partner [Attallah] Zeidan, 39, agrees.

"We must live like other people," Zeidan says. "Let a million of us die. That's the price of freedom. Have you heard of any society that gained freedom without sacrifices?"

--AP News -

Posted by Rob Bernard at 5:40 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

My life would be sooo much easier if the computer at work would simply decide on one way in which letter size paper should be put in the printer and stick with that. Instead it's an eternal guessing game as to how to orient the paper. I swear to God, yesterday I printed something and it came out sideways on the paper. I flipped the paper 90 degrees, simply printed it again... AND IT STILL CAME OUT SIDEWAYS!

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:44 AM in Miscellaneous

Saturday, January 22, 2005
Worst... snow storm... EVER!

What the bleep happened to the snow storm?! This is the sorriest excuse for a snow storm I've ever seen. I'd barely even classify it as a dusting. (Though I suppose it'd probably still be enough to throw Raleigh, NC into chaos.)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:14 PM in Dayton

Friday, January 21, 2005
Most Iraqis say they will vote
An overwhelming majority of Iraqis continue to say they intend to vote on Jan. 30 even as insurgents press attacks aimed at rendering the elections a failure, according to a new public opinion survey.

The poll, conducted in late December and early January for the International Republican Institute, found 80 percent of respondents saying they were likely to vote, a rate that has held roughly steady for months.

--Washington Post

Assuming all the bombings in Iraq are meant to dissuade people from voting, it doesn't seem to be a very sound strategy. If the bad guys are going to try to blow you up whether it's election day or not then election day seems to be just another day as far as the threat level goes; so why not just go out and vote?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:25 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Thursday, January 20, 2005
Not so peaceful peace protesters
Hundreds of people gathered at both ends of Meridian Hill Park in Northwest Washington for a peace rally sponsored by the D.C Antiwar Network.

But there were interlopers: Thirteen members of ProtestWarror, supporting the Bush administration and its policies in Iraq. When the Bush supporters arrived, about 20 black-clad, self-described anarchists emerged from the crowd, shouting profanity and epithets and demanding that they leave the peace rally.

When the Bush supporters refused to leave, the anarchists tore the sign out of the Bush supporters' hands and stomped on them. When ProtestWarrior leader Gil Kobrin objected, several male anarchists knocked him to the ground, kicking him in the back and punching him. Other anarchists punched and shoved Kobrin's 12 colleagues.

After D.C. Antiwar Network members broke up the fight, the Bush supporters heeded their order to leave the park. Kobrin then called D.C. police, who are now guarding them at the entrance of the park as they hold up their pro-war signs. "We're going to hang tight," Kobrin said. "We're expressing our freedom of speech just as they are expressing theirs."

--Washington Post via The National Review Online

I think it speaks for itself.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 6:37 PM in Politics/Government
President Bush sworn in for second term
At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half-century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical -- and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder -- violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders and raise a mortal threat.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant. And that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

The full text of his 2nd inaugural address.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:51 PM in Politics/Government
Want to talk to a cast or crew member of 24?
On Monday's episode of 24, a woman who was killed received a phone call from her mother. A close-up shot showed the prop phone, which also happened to reveal the real number to the Nextel handset. In short order, the phone began receiving calls from fans worldwide — 6,000 and counting. Marci has been fielding some of the calls, which have come from Miami, North Carolina, Canada and Australia. ... [T]he Fox Web site has been hot with chat about the phone number. Cast and crew have played along with the situation, and callers have spoken to everyone from the on-screen performers to various members of the production crew, Peters said. ... Want to talk to a star on 24? The number to the cell is (310) 597-3781. A star or crew member is standing by.

--Dayton Daily News

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:05 PM in TV

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
"Get over it"

Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., speaking to Europe:

"I spent a little bit of time in Europe recently and I have one simple message: Get over it. Get over it. President Bush is our president for the next four years. So get over it and start to act in your interest, Europe," Biden said.

--ABC News

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:56 PM in Politics/Government
Were machines in the November election allocated unevenly?

Not in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

[A] Plain Dealer analysis shows that, in Cuyahoga County at least, the elections board distributed machines equally to city and suburban polling locations.

The long lines at some locations appear to be more the result of timing, new voters and overwhelmed poll workers, not necessarily a shortage of machines.

Before the Nov. 2 election, the elections board allotted each Cleveland precinct one machine for every 117 registered voters within its boundaries - the same ratio of machines that suburban precincts received.

In other words, the more registered voters a particular precinct had, the more machines it received, regardless of where that precinct was.

And in the end, the busiest precincts - when measured by the number of ballots cast per machine - were actually in the suburbs, not Cleveland, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of records from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Countywide, voters cast an average of nearly 71 ballots on each of the county's 8,000 machines. In Cleveland alone, voters cast an average of 62 ballots per machine. In the suburbs, the average was 74.

--Cleveland Plain Dealer

And likewise, the Columbus Dispatch reported that in Franklin County the busiest precincts were the suburban ones.
In fact, many polling places in inner-city neighborhoods had fewer voting machines than during the last presidential election.

Even so, the busiest places to vote — as measured by the number of ballots cast per machine — were overwhelmingly in suburban areas, according to an analysis by The Dispatch.
Nearly half of Franklin County’s 146 wards had fewer machines than four years ago. Generally, the machines were shifted from city wards to suburban ones, following population swings.

"We have the same number of machines, but they had to be spread over more precincts," Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said.

--Columbus Dispatch

So keep this in mind when you're told that people were disenfranchised because their precinct had fewer machines than in 2000 - They had fewer machines because other precincts gained more voters.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:50 PM in Ohio , Politics/Government
Insurgant confesses that the insurgants have gotten aid from Syria and Iran

The confession of the head of the Army of Muhammad in Iraq, aired on Al-Fayhaa TV and translated by the good folks at MEMRI:

Interrogator: "What is your name?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Colonel Muayed Yassin 'Aziz 'Abd Al-Razaq Al-Nasseri, commander of the Army of Muhammad, one of the resistance factions in Iraq. The Army of Muhammad was founded by Saddam Hussein after the fall of the regime, on April 9, 2003. At first, Yasser Al-Shab'awi was put in charge, until his capture in July 2003. Then Sa'd Hammad Hisham was in charge until December 2003. Then I was put in charge from January 2004 until now. The Army of Muhammad has some 800 armed fighters."
Interrogator: "Did you get support from the countries of the region?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Yes, sir... Many factions of the resistance are receiving aid from the neighboring countries. We in the Army of Muhammad - the fighting has been going on for almost two years now, and there must be aid, and this aid came from the neighboring countries. We got aid primarily from Iran. The truth is that Iran has played a significant role in supporting the Army of Muhammad and many factions of the resistance. I have some units, especially in southern Iraq, which receive Iranian aid in the form of arms and equipment."

Interrogator: "You're referring to units of the Army of Muhammad?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Yes. They received money and weapons."

'[Fighters] Met Personally with Iranian Leader Khamenei… They Even Got Car Bombs'

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "As for other factions of the resistance, I have reliable information regarding the National Islamic resistance, which is one of the factions of resistance, led by Colonel 'Asi Al Hadithi. He sent a delegation to Iran from among the people of the faction, including General Halaf and General Khdayyer. They were sent to Iran in April or May and met with Iranian intelligence and with a number of Iranian leaders and even with Khamenei."

Interrogator: "You mean they personally met with Khamenei?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "According to my information, they met with him personally, and they were given one million dollars and two cars full of weapons. They still have a very close relationship with Iran. They receive money, cars, weapons, and many things. According to my information, they even got car bombs."

'Cooperation with Syria Began in October 2003… Later, Saddam Hussein Himself Authorized Me to Go to Syria'

Muayed Al-Nasseri "In addition, as I've told you, Syria… Cooperation with Syria began in October 2003, when a Syrian intelligence officer contacted me. S'ad Hamad Hisham and later Saddam Hussein himself authorized me to go to Syria. So I was sent to Syria. I crossed the border illegally. Then I went to Damascus and met with an intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel 'Abu Naji' through a mediator called 'Abu Saud.' I raised the issues that preoccupied Saddam Hussein and the leadership. There were four issues: First, the issue of the media; second, political support in international forums; [third], aid in the form of weapons, and [fourth], material aid, whether it is considered a debt or is taken from the frozen Iraqi funds in Syria."

'The Syrian Government is Fully Aware of this, and the Syrian Intelligence Cooperates Fully'

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Through the Ba'th party - the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party operates in Syria with complete freedom. It maintains its relations and organizes the Ba'th members outside Iraq. The Syrian government is fully aware of this, and the Syrian intelligence cooperates fully, as well as the Ba'th Party, in Syria.


Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:02 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East
Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to confirm Condoleeza Rice as the Secretary of State

Only Senators Kerry and Boxer, out of 18 Senators on the committee, voted no. All that's left is for the full Senate to vote.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:51 AM in Politics/Government
Well, I think this officially counts as an inauspicious start to the day

When I went to get into my car for the drive to work this morning my pants were a shade of brown significantly lighter than coffee. I know this for a fact because by the time I finished getting into the car this could no longer be said for about a third of the pair of pants. Gotta say, so far I'm not a big fan of this week.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:27 AM in Miscellaneous
Well it's not exactly the same old Mead, but welcome back to Dayton anyway
The city gained a new $2 billion corporate citizen — and some of its history — on Tuesday when MeadWestvaco Corp. agreed to sell its paper-making business to a New York investment firm that will base the new company in Dayton.

Cerberus Capital Management L.P., a private holding company with more than $14 billion in assets, will pay $2.3 billion for the as yet unnamed new company. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.

Cerberus, formed in the early 1990s, owns a variety of companies including Georgia Pacific Lumber, Fila Sportswear, Formica, Alamo Car Rental and Mervyn's Department Stores.

MeadWestvaco, with 30,300 employees, has 900 in Dayton. The paper-making business, with $2.3 billion in annual sales, will have 6,300 employees, including 200 in downtown Dayton on Courthouse Square. The other 700 employees will remain in Dayton with MeadWestvaco, according to spokeswoman Donna Cox in Connecticut.

--Dayton Daily News

I wasn't happy to see Mead merge with Westvaco and set up their headquarters in Connecticut so I see this as good news.

The employees seem to be upbeat about the announcement.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:57 AM in Dayton

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Can anything stop EA?

First they signed an exclusive contract with the NFL, preventing any other company from making competing video games using NFL teams and players. Yesterday they signed an exclusive 15 year deal with ESPN to use their shows, personalities, branding, etc...

Poor Sega, (who previously had the rights to the ESPN name in video games) between losing ESPN and losing the NFL they're in trouble. They'd been putting some pressure on EA with decent games at 2/5 the price but now...

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:32 PM in Miscellaneous
Ya wanna see something scary?

And I mean really scary... try this.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:14 PM in Miscellaneous

Monday, January 17, 2005
Ok, how does this happen?

How do you go 6 days without realizing you have a 4" nail embedded in your head?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:33 PM in Miscellaneous
Better be careful with the oral hygeine products...

A Michigan woman downed three glasses of Listerine (not a good idea if the bottle's instructions to call Poison Control if swallowed are to be believed) and was arrested for drunken driving after she rear-ended another car.

Police are also looking to charge her with having an open container, the container being the bottle of Listerine.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:05 PM in Miscellaneous

Saturday, January 15, 2005
More from the realm of interesting ideas

Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss bombed. Normally that would mean it would be pulled from the air and they would either burn off the episodes over the summer or just leave it to rot on the shelves. But with MBFOB Fox is choosing another option. They're still pulling it from the air and don't plan to run the remaining episodes, but instead of just letting it sit they're going to show the episodes over the web at the show's website. And they're doing something similar with their failed reality show Playing It Straight only it will be pay per view, $1.99 per episode or $9.99 for the entire season.

It's good to see a network playing around, trying to figure out just what they can do with the web. There's so much more the web can do for Television than simply offering show descriptions, character bios and show recaps.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:49 PM in TV
Ohio supporter of "some abortion rights" tapped to be RNC co-chair

And of course the likes of Phil Burress aren't happy.

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has asked an Ohio Republican who supports some abortion rights to be his co-chairman, stirring the ire of social conservatives.

Mr. Mehlman's choice is Joann Davidson, who was chairwoman of the Bush campaign in the pivotal Ohio Valley region and a former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. In an interview on Thursday, Ms. Davidson declined to discuss her views on abortion. "My focus is on building a stronger party," she said.
Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio-based conservative Christian group, said, "How in the world can you have a vice chair of the Republican Party on such an important issue as this one be on the wrong side of the party platform?"

Mr. Burress, who led the drive for a constitutional ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in Ohio, also faulted Ms. Davidson for failing to take a position on the measure.

The co-chairwoman of the party during the 2000 election, Patricia Harrison, also supported some abortion rights, but Mr. Burress argued that the 2004 election had changed the party.

"They have got to go," he said. "The pendulum is swinging the other way now. We have a seat at the table now."

--NY Times

You're always going to have people like Burress talking the talk, but I believe the real story here is that it's just that, talk. Sure "they" have a seat at the table but it's not at the head of it as Burress seems to think and he's not going to win this argument.

The Republicans aren't purging the party of people who don't agree with the platform 100%, they're making them co-chair of the party. It really is a bigger tent than the detractors would have you believe.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:05 AM in Politics/Government
Some tidbits from P.J. O'Rourke
Fascists do bad things just to be bad. "I'm the baddest dude in Baghdad," Saddam Hussein was saying, "the baddest cat in the Middle East. I'm way bad." This was way stupid. But fascists are stupid. Consider Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. He didn't have any. How stupid does that make Saddam? All he had to do was say to UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, "Look under my bed. Look in the special spider hole I'm keeping for emergencies." And Saddam Hussein could have gone on dictatoring away until Donald Rumsfeld is elected head of the World Council of Churches. ... [Terrorism] is terrifying, hence its name.... But as frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. When someone detonates a suicide bomb, that person does not have career prospects. And no matter how horrific the terrorist attack, it's conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an air force.

--P.J. O'Rourke - Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:42 AM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Friday, January 14, 2005
Dayton Public Schools to open single-gender schools
Dayton Public Schools will open an all-girls school next fall and an all-boys school in 2006, joining only a few public districts in the state to offer single-gender programs. ... Ohio Department of Education spokesman J.C. Benton said there are "very few" public districts in the state now offering them. Toledo opened the first all-girls public school last year. There are four all-boys public schools in Ohio.

"In many respects this is a test for us," Dayton school board president Gail Littlejohn said.
Students in single-gender schools perform better, have better attendance, lower dropout rates and assume greater leadership roles, district officials said. Research also shows that male and female students "learn in different ways."

--Dayton Daily News

At the very least it's an interesting idea. I'd rather they experimented with stuff like this than simply sticking with a failing system for the sake of inertia.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:24 PM in Dayton
I'm impressed

From the Enquirer's Letters to the Editor:

There have been several letters expressing outrage at a recent letter writer's suggestion that taxpayer money should not be used to aid the tsunami victims ("Tsunami aid should not be from taxpayers," Jan. 5).

The letter writer is correct that there is no constitutional basis for such aid. The founders were not opposed to such aid, but they believed that charity was the role of private citizens and organizations, not the government.

Though there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that justifies such spending, people should not be worried. There are myriad government programs without constitutional basis, such as education and welfare.

Everyone should relax. Our country departed from constitutional governance a long time ago, and we are in no danger of returning to it anytime soon.

Dave Matre

White Oak

How can you not admire irony as masterful as that? It's a thing of beauty.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:19 PM in
What would we do without Wright-Patt? :)
A US plan to develop a bad breath bomb and a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other has been revealed in newly declassified documents.

New Scientist's web site reports that the documents show the Pentagon considered a range of non-lethal chemical weapons aimed at disrupting enemy discipline and morale.

The "sex bomb" idea would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, it states.

Also considered were concoctions that would be irresistible to wasps or angry rats to render enemy bases uninhabitable.

And there was the bad breath bomb idea - a weapon that caused "severe and lasting halitosis" to make it easier to sniff out spies.

Other ideas dating back to 1994 from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Ohio included making soldiers' skin react painfully to sunlight.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:52 AM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Losing the battle for the hearts and minds of tsunami survivors

I figure this qualifies as good news as it's the terrorists who are doing the losing.

THE spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiah says he is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of Aceh's tsunami survivors because of the humanitarian assistance from Australian and US military forces.

A spokesman for Abu Bakar Bashir said the Indonesian cleric, who is on trial for terrorism, regarded the relief operations by Australian and US military personnel as a dangerous development, overshadowing the role of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).

"We are suspicious of the presence of foreign soldiers and their show of force and the minimum publicity given to assistance from Arab states," said Fauzan Al Anshari, a spokesman for Bashir's militant Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia group.

"It's dangerous, this idea by Acehnese that US and Australian forces are their guardian angels - more popular than the TNI."

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:36 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

The Dayton Daily News has a story on the state abandoning electronic voting for optical scan ballots. For the most part the story's pretty typical. Blackwell says only optical scan machines can be used... Counties X, Y, and Z were planning to switch from one system to electronic systems... Board of Elections Directors were surprised by the decision... and so on...

But it's the very first line in the article that's mind-boggling:

Ohio voting is poised to enter the 19th century.


How is upgrading to optical scan ballots entering the 19th century?

Unless my knowledge of history is very wrong, Abraham Lincoln never filled out a Scantron form. General Custer didn't require a #2 pencil to fill in the ovals at West Point. Ballots are being optically read and tallied by a computer, this is not 19th century technology here!

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:34 PM in Ohio
Steroid testing in baseball

Major League Baseball and the Players Union have agreed to a stricter drug testing policy. The new agreement includes more frequent random steroid testing and an actual punishment after the first positive test. Before a player testing positive only had to get treatment, now they face a 10 day suspension.

It's about bleeping time.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:20 AM in Baseball
Ohio dumps electronic voting

Electronic voting is out and optical scan voting is in here in Ohio.

Since the General Assembly had already votd to require a paper trail for electronic voting machinss so the decision is really a money one and not a vote verification one. Either way they won't be depending on computers for the vote totals. The money Ohio has received from the feds can cover the cost of optical machines but not the more expensive electronic machines.

I like this decision. I've never been too worked up over the potential fraud and verification problems of electronic voting but it's always seemed like overkill to me. So long as it can be properly recounted and there aren't problems like chads falling out of the ballots with handling I'm all for it.

Michael Meckler has some thoughts on the issue.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:05 AM in Ohio

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Well, that's it. TechTV is officially dead

The name of G$TechTV is being changed to G$ - video game television with an increased focus on gaming.

You know, it's hard not to have seen it coming but this still hurts. To think of all the good shows on TechTV and all the pure crap on G4 and to think that the only decent show to survive was X-Play... *sigh*

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:00 PM in Technology/Internet
The election challenge is officially over here in Ohio
Three dozen voters challenging the presidential election results in the Ohio Supreme Court asked to drop their lawsuit Tuesday, saying it is moot with last week's certification of the electoral vote and the upcoming inauguration.

--ABC News: Lawsuit Over Ohio Voting Dropped

That's odd, I thought the challenges were about making sure everyone's vote counted, not about affecting the result... Whoops, there goes the supposedly idealistic rationale for the whining.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:31 AM in Ohio

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Michael Chertoff nominated to head Homeland Security

Not what you'd call a big name. Chertoff is currently on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and was "assistant attorney general for the criminal division" at the DOJ from '01-'03.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:45 PM in Politics/Government
*grumble* *grumble* Stupid blacklist...

Sometime between the 5th and today it seems it went and broke itself, disabling comments. Everything should be good now.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:29 PM in Miscellaneous

Monday, January 10, 2005
4 (more) out at CBS

Senior Vice President Betsy West, 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard and Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy were asked to resign. Mary Mapes, the segment's producer, was fired.

The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.
The panel said a "myopic zeal" to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush’s National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.
“The panel finds that once serious questions were raised, the defense of the segment became more rigid and emphatic, and that virtually no attempt was made to determine whether the questions raised had merit,” the report concluded.

The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.

But no such investigation was undertaken at that time.

“Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days,” the report said.

--CBS "News"

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:24 AM in Media

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Feel free to let me know what you think of the new design.

For comparison:

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:28 PM in Miscellaneous

Once again I'm working up a revamp of the site design. My main intent was to get away from the lighter blue. Instead it's somehow evolved into an even paler blue. There's a very good chance the revamp will go live by the end of the weekend.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:35 AM in Miscellaneous

Friday, January 7, 2005
Armstrong Williams paid to promote NCLB

The best take I've seen on the Williams kerfuffle comes from Michael King:

Black conservatives like myself work day-in and day-out to promote solid and beneficial causes, which have included NCLB, but with one-fell-swoop, Williams has effectively torpedoed much of that work.

We constantly come under scrutiny by others from both sides of the aisle, from some conservatives who are wary of our presence, and by many liberals who insist that we are "on the take" or "reaching for scraps from 'Massa's' table." We constantly have to prove that we are not some sort of 'spook sitting by the door' when Armstrong comes along and not only accepts taxpayer money, but doesn't see anything truly wrong with it!
Just damn.

--Rambling's Journal

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:48 PM in Politics/Government
You play the game with the players you have, not the players you'd like to have
CBS has a good article on how the Bearcats' lineup makes no sense and yet, or maybe because of that, is giving the rest of the teams so much trouble.

Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has been confronted with the evidence, which is overwhelming. His team is guilty -- guilty of being short where it should be tall, tall where it should be short, this where it should be that.

The Bearcats are guilty of first-degree unorthodoxy, a fact Huggins doesn't dispute. Instead he nods his head at a retired jersey hanging on the wall at Fifth Third Arena, where unorthodox Cincinnati had just battered DePaul 83-54 Thursday.

"I'd like to have Kenyon Martin," he said. "But we don't. We've got what we've got."

What Huggins has is a nonsensical starting lineup. His two wing guards are bigger than his two post players. The only point guard-shaped Bearcat in the starting lineup, 6-foot Jihad Muhammad, isn't a point guard at all.

These are among the reasons why Cincinnati was picked by league coaches to finish third this season in Conference USA, despite finishing first eight times in the league's nine-year history.

Good reasons.

Wrong reasons.

--CBS Sportsline

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:56 PM in Cincinnati
So what's Jesse Jackson up to

Martin Gottlieb's justifiably curious about just what Jesse Jackson thinks he's doing here in Ohio. His conclusion is that it's pretty much about staying in the spotlight at any cost and hoping to lay the smack down on Ken Blackwell.

So, the question arises, what is the Rev. Jesse Jackson up to?

This thing in Ohio — going to court over the re-election of George W. Bush, holding rallies, generally keeping the election alive — seems awfully pathetic, doesn't it?
Like others, [Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune] sees Jackson as keeping himself in the spotlight by rallying a part of his old base, which Jackson is wont to do as various issues come along. Page says that Jackson has been diminished by the revelation that he fathered a child out of wedlock, and that staying in the spotlight — which is necessary to maximize his impact — is not as easy as it once was.

Page also mentions the name of Blackwell as a motivator of Jackson.

"Everything is there," says Page, to get Jackson going. Blackwell is a black conservative Republican — of all things — who is moving toward the governorship and is "cocky" about it. Jackson, says Page, "feels dissed" by this development. He "takes himself very seriously" and doesn't want to be eclipsed as a leader by somebody like Blackwell.

That has the feel of a pretty good summary.

--Dayton Daily News

Gotta agree with Gottleib, it is awfully pathetic.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:44 PM in Ohio , Politics/Government

Thursday, January 6, 2005
And now from the Sore Loser department...

The Democrats will challenge Ohio's electoral votes when the votes are counted today.

Just imagine how up-in-arms they'd be if they'd lost and there actually WAS vote fraud. The best they seem to be able to come up with is that people had to wait in line to vote.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:11 PM in Politics/Government
Oliver Stone's in denial

He's claiming Alexander flopped because of "raging fundamentalism in morality".

Hey, when Roger Ebert, a pretty liberal guy himself, can only muster two stars you've got problems other than the public oh-so-parochially sticking to their moral guns. (Boy, that last sentence can't decide whether it wants to be sarcastic or not...)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:55 AM in Movies
Good riddance to Crossfire

Looks like Tucker Carlson and Crossfire are out at CNN. It's about time. It used to be a fairly reasonable debate show, back when it was 4 people around a table against a black backdrop. Then they brought in the studio audience and it all went to hell. You had Conservatives in Novak and Carlson going up against Democrat shills in Begala and Carville. In the end it resembled the Jerry Springer Show more than it did a dignified political program.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:30 AM in Politics/Government
Note to self...

... stop making major changes on the backend of the site and totally screwing it up 25 minutes before you plan to go to sleep! It was one of those can't sleep because you're worried that you won't get enough sleep nights.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:23 AM in Miscellaneous
A scattershot of TV thoughts

Watched the first ep of Committed that I recorded yesterday and really liked it. That now makes 3 1/2 hours of TV to record between the hours of 9 and 10 on Tuesday. Amazing Race, Veronica Mars, House and now Committed. Would it kill the TV execs to move just a couple of those to one of the dozens of hours throughout the week when there's nothing at all on? I'm using 3 DVRs to handle it.

Craig Ferguson was decent. It certainly had its rough spots but it's almost certainly better than Conan did in his first week. He's got potential.

And now on to weather alerts...

Tonight was insane. First off, we've got the scrolling school closings along the bottom of the screen. There's a fifth of the screen gone right there with everybody on screen squished down to midget size.

And then we have the horrible watch/warning graphics...

I don't say horrible because I don't want them there at all but because they're just badly executed. There are warnings for Winter Storms, Floods, and Flash Floods and watches for Floods and Winter Weather. That's 5 different categories. You really don't need all 5 of those up on screen at once. The words take up huge amounts of the screen, especially with the school closings scrolling. Craig Ferguson has "Flood Watch" stamped in yellow on his forehead. Just put "Winter Storm Warning" up there with its color, and then switch that to "Flood Warning" with its color and so on...

And please people, remember that if you actually want people to be able to read your map YOU MUST ASSIGN DIFFERENT COLORS TO DIFFERENT ITEMS! The Flood Warning and Winter Storm Warning can’t both be pink!

And a note to Fox 45, a water drop icon and county name next to the word "Warning" is not a proper graphic for "Flood Warning". It can just as easily be interpreted as "Rain Warning" or even "Sad Person Crying Warning". How about a little lapping water icon? And then ABC 22 is scrolling its bad, blue logo on a blue background, thinking people will actually be able to read it. Of course this is just one more example of how Fox 45 and ABC 22 come nowhere close to putting a quality local product onscreen. How hard can it be to make your local content look better than cable access?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:53 AM in TV
Buying a Bible

Ended up buying a new Bible tonight, the ones I had just weren't cutting it. I came to find out there are a lot of things to consider when buying a Bible.

What translation did I want? KJV? NRSV? NIV? The Message?

I've got a couple NRSV Bibles so I was really looking for something a little more up-to-date and readable. My choice was pretty much between NIV and The Message.

What type did I want? Reference Bible? Study Bible? Student Bible? How big and thick did I want it to be?

The Bibles I have (I should point out that my 2 NRSVs are both the exact same edition, presented to me on the day of my baptism, one by my parents, the other by my church.) are really just pretty standard Bibles, no extensive footnotes or other explanations which I wanted out of the new Bible. The "The Message" Bibles were really all pretty standard, it's very readable, but it's not what I was looking for in the added features department. That left me with the NIV, and either a Study Bible or a Student Bible.

I also wanted one that wasn't very thick. I wasn't looking for a miniscule one, but I didn't want a big, honkin' one. It had to be portable. The NIV Student Bible came in at 1 1/4" while all the Study Bibles were 3-4 times that and I came to find that I just liked the notes in the Student Bible better.

And with that my search was over, I went with the NIV Student Bible.

(And as an added bonus, it is, as it was dubbed upon returning home, "styligious".)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:47 AM in Religion

Wednesday, January 5, 2005
For the record

After all the stuff that has come out about OSU I will no longer be putting up with accusations of thuggery, low graduation rates or anything else about the UC athletic program from OSU fans.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:18 PM in Cincinnati
Looks like Nuxhall will do at least 6 games next year
Joe Nuxhall probably will add ballpark No. 57 to his list.

Nuxhall and Reds chief operating officer John Allen are working out the details, but Nuxhall will continue to broadcast games next season, and he'll probably do the games from Washington's RFK Stadium and Boston's Fenway Park.

RFK, where the Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos, are to play, will be the 57th stadium Nuxhall has played in or broadcast from. Nuxhall played in Fenway but hasn't done radio from there.

"We're not sure exactly how many games I'll do," Nuxhall said. "But it looks like I'll do Boston and Washington."

Said Allen: "We want to give Joe a chance to add to his total (of ballparks)."


It's nice to se that they seem to have smoothed things over.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:25 PM in Baseball , Cincinnati

Tuesday, January 4, 2005
Get out the grains of salt

Reports indicate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been captured. Take it with the afore-mentioned sodium chloride.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 5:37 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East
On cancelling stuff for disaster funds...
Stop with the politicizing of this tragedy, people. Even Mark Cuban, my favorite billionaire blogger, has called for the cancellation of the presidential inauguration festivities so that funds can be diverted to tsunami relief. Huh? Why not call for the cancellation of the NBA season and take all the dollars advertisers have committed for broadcasting it and send those funds to tsunami relief? What, the advertisers won't do that? Have you asked?

--Rex Hammock (via Jeff Jarvis)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:37 PM in Politics/Government

Monday, January 3, 2005
Would the Angels please just pick a name and go with it?

It was the California Angels, then it was the Anaheim Angels, now it's the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Sheesh!

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:52 PM in Miscellaneous
Mars Spirit rover reaches first birthday

Its mission was only supposed to last for 90 days but today it is heading into its second year studying the surface of Mars.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:37 PM in Technology/Internet
First President Bush and President Clinton to lead Tsunami fundraising
The president's father and Clinton will lead a bipartisan effort to seek out donations both large and small to provide relief assistance to millions left homeless by the Dec. 26 calamity that killed thousands in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.


I don't know about this, it seems awfully symbolic. It seems a fine idea for former presidents to be leading the effort but I don't think it's at all clear how this will actually, practically help a lot. I don't know, we'll see....

As I think about it though I wonder where Jimmy Carter is in all this, this seems like something right up his alley.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:30 PM in Miscellaneous

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Dan Huard and Whil Wheaton each have posts explaining how they ended up leaving G4TechTV and detailing some routine examples of dishonest/unethical activity including questions on The Screen Savers being prewritten and given to G4TechTV staff, friends and family to be read as questions from regular viewers and challenging teams on Arena being made up of G4TechTV employees and being passed off as regular players.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 9:11 PM in TV
Happy New Year!

Perhaps it's a little belated, but may your 2005 be better than your 2004.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 8:03 PM in Miscellaneous


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