February 14th, 2009 -- Posted in A Political Break |
Apparently our troops are suffering from increasing levels of obesity. Here’s what’s on the menu at chow halls in Iraq:
Barbecue ribs, fried chicken, rib-eye steak, lobster tails, crab legs, roast turkey, stir-fry, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, egg rolls, breaded shrimp, buffalo wings, chili, crepes, pancakes, omelets, waffles, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, quiches, bacon, polish sausages, pulled pork, corned beef hash, milk shakes and smoothies–and that’s just for starters.
There’s also dessert:
At one dinner last week at Speicher, the dessert menu included — now take a deep breath — carrot cake, triple chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, black forest chocolate cake, devil chocolate cake, banana nut cake, apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate and vanilla pudding, three types of cookies, three types of ice cream bars, cones and popsicles, and five flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream with all the fixings, including caramel and chocolate syrup, crushed nuts, whipped cream, and blueberry and strawberry toppings.
Things have changed since my time in the Air Force in the 1980’s. Back then we had steak available about once a month. They were these slightly-larger-than-a-hockey-puck things that were made from shredded beef that was packed in a tube, frozen, and then sliced into identical servings. They were actually fairly tasty, compared to typical chow hall fare. Veterans older than I did tell us that the food we had in 1982 was far better than the stuff served in 1972.
Whatever they’re serving today, I doubt it’s good enough. After a 12-hour patrol in 110-degree heat, carrying 60-80 pounds of body armor and combat load, they deserve whatever they want.
From James Taranto at WSJ’s Best of the Web.
February 9th, 2009 -- Posted in A Political Break |
Our Aussie friends are suffering mightily. 108 are confirmed dead in Victoria. Whole families were trapped in their cars. Arson is blamed in many of the fires.
The Daily Telegraph has audio, video and interactive charts here.
Imagine 1600 dead here. That’s how big this is.
Update: The death toll is now 168. At least one arsonist is in custody.
Apparently brushfires are not uncommon. They’ve had deaths before, but not so many. Like the gulf coast of the US, more people live in the danger zone than before. It is possible to survive; many residents have fire-fighting kits. Homes can be designed to be fire resistant. Those with swimming pools have pumps to use the water to protect the home.
Oddly, one of the survival strategies is to stay in the home; the fire front passes fairly quickly, and if the home catches, you can get out of the home after the fire front passes. Trying to evacuate by car at the last minute is a bad strategy.
December 19th, 2008 -- Posted in A Political Break |
One of the more frequent commenters here is Bridget Annunciata O’Flaherty Kelley, better known by her blogonym, Shaw Kenawe. Her birthday is this week, and I wanted to give you all a chance to help celebrate it with her. Please do go to Shaw’s blog and wish her the best!
Shaw has had an interesting life so far. She was born on a commune near Taos in New Mexico. Her parents had joined the commune in an effort to create a new world of peace and understanding and really good skunk weed. While they brought with them great hopes, and a supply of carefully husbanded cannabis seed, they failed to bring enough agricultural knowledge to realize that you can’t grow wheat at 7,000 feet. They also learned that there is indeed, a limited market for macrame plant holders.
Back in their ancestral home in south Boston, the Kelley family was helped by connections to the organization there, and Shaw’s father found work as a policeman. As the seventh of twelve children, Shaw grew up in that confusing middle child world where she was often forgotten. Shaw was once left at a rest area near Casper, Wyoming, for more than a week during a family vacation (counting was not her parents’ strong point) where she survived by catching field mice and cadging potato chips from other travelers.
In school, she was a frequent target of jealous nuns. Her ethereal, unworldly beauty, combined with a razor-sharp intellect, got her in trouble with the nuns often. Few of her friends know that the reason she always wears gloves in public today is not her lifetime fascination with Micheal Jackson, but instead shame and embarrassment about the scars left on her hands by the incessant swats of the nuns’ rulers.
Indeed, one might expect such an experience to have permanently alienated Shaw from the Roman Catholic Church. But the love of an aunt, a nun herself, who works in the brothel neighborhood of Amsterdam ministering to the patrons and workers alike, helped bind Shaw more fiercely to the church.
The aunt, Sister George Wenceslaus, was a middle child herself, and knew the bitter frustrations. Most importantly, she knew that Shaw’s family lived on a policeman’s salary (unlike other Boston cops, Shaw’s father refused any graft). On that tight budget, something has to give, and with Shaw’s birthday in December, what gave was any separate celebration of her natal day. Instead, her birthday was folded into the family Christmas celebration, and Shaw received only the presents for the holiday.
Sister George knew this, and every year sent Shaw a Precious Moments ™ figurine. They formed the nucleus of her lifetime collection, which now numbers over 400 figurines, and is recognized as one of the premier collections in the world. If you want to send a gift to Shaw, you now know what she loves!
Such was Shaw’s gratitude and respect for her aunt that Shaw had decided to take a vocation herself, and was planning to take vows and join her aunt’s order. School was an agony, a situation not helped by the fact that Shaw’s prodigious talents in mathematics, physics and dance had outpaced the nuns’ abilities to teach her. She had in hand full scholarship offers from the Joffre School of Ballet, MIT and Cal Tech. But she took a different path, when, at the age of 16, she entered into a tumultuous, off-again on again relationship with Mick Fleetwood, drummer for Fleetwood Mac.
Shaw met the musician when, after attending a concert, she sneaked aboard the tour bus and hid herself in Fleetwood’s bed. By the time the band realized she was not just another groupie, Mick and Shaw had fallen in love, and she spent the rest of the tour as his lover. She lived with Fleetwood for a time in his Malibu home, but the relationship was filled with screaming fights and passionate reunions.
In the meantime Shaw was completing her studies by correspondence, and recieved her doctorate in applied particle physics at the age of 20. Ninety percent of her thesis was immediately classified by the Pentagon. Of the rest, physics researchers worldwide agreed that it was surely brilliant, and deserving of not one but two Noble prizes; commented Stephen Hawking, “if we could understand it, which we can’t.”
Family ties also loomed large for Shaw; there were eleven other brothers and sisters who needed tuition for school and colleges. She responded by using her dancing talents in the exotic arts, choosing as her stage name “Shaw Kenawe,” a play on “shock and awe.” Shock and awe were indeed some of the emotions felt by those who viewed her work, either on stage or in lap dances. Her abilities brought her much fame, and offers from producers of adult movies, but she concentrated on her stage performances.
Two of those are indeed legendary in the field; as a special commission for a UAW convention in Las Vegas, Shaw performed “The Fan Belt Dance,” to high acclaim and dozens of sold-out audiences. Another of her works was done for the International Federation of Construction Workers, and “Dance of the seven nails” was so powerful and had such an effect on the audience that her premiere performance was the only one. It was immediately banned in nearly every state, and to this day bootleg cell phone videos of the event circulate around the internet.
Shaw continued her relationship with Fleetwood while developing her stage career. Professional jealousies led to many fights between Shaw and her drummer-lover. But despite the drama, upon the retirement of Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter keyboardist Christine McVie, Shaw was invited to join the band. Preparations were underway for a tour featuring a new album. Shaw’s heretofore unknown talent for songwriting led to her writing and arranging ten of the twelve songs on the album. This didn’t sit well with singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks, but even Nicks acknowledged Shaw’s talents, saying, “the bitch writes better sober than I do coked up.”
The album and tour were cancelled (and the recorded masters destroyed) when Shaw suddenly threw over Mick Fleetwood for guitarist John Mayer. The new relationship lasted less than a week before Mayer had to be hospitalized, suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. After a long recovery, Mayer recognized that Shaw was to much for him, and resumed his relationship with Jennifer Anniston.
Shaw has never commented publicly about her brief time with Mayer, but a source close to her has suggested that Mayer, despite his youth and apparent virility, simply could not keep up with the voracious appetites of Shaw. Mayer’s only comment about the affair was simply, “Oh, my God.”
What’s next for Shaw? For a time, politics seemed her next career. Shaw was confirmed to be first on the short list of those considered for the New York senate seat, but multiple published sources reported that Shaw had declined the appointment, suggesting instead Caroline Kennedy. President-elect Obama, according to sources inside the transition team, had offered Shaw her choice of positions: secretary of defense, secretary of energy, and White House Chief of Staff.
But when word reached the ears of Michelle Obama, the response was curt. “If that ***** gets within a mile of my husband, she’d better have Secret Service protection,” was the reported comment, although no one will confirm that on the record. Instead, Shaw may be part of Obama’s kitchen cabinet, available for consultation by phone as need arises.
December 14th, 2008 -- Posted in A Political Break |
I don’t know how many people have heard about this site but it is useful for sending yourself reminders in the future. It is called futureme.org and I often use it when there are things I would like my older self to remember. Here goes:
Here are the predictions you made in 2007 for 2008, lets see if they are right:
1. Open Source will continue to grow as stated in IBM’s future predictions but I think more average people will come to know the term as lets face it, 50,000 brains are better than one or even 50.
2. Gaming Sales will increase steadily with more and more average people playing games. The PS3’s sales with catch up with the XBOX360 but Nintendo will stain reign supreme.
3. A private equity firm will inject billions of dollars into AMD to help them compete with Intel a bit better in the CPU and GPU market.
4. More people will sign up to Gmail as I have done with Microsoft realizing that Windows Live and Hotmail are a dying product which they will slowly reduce their efforts in respectively.
5. The Big 4 Accounting firms will continue to be hit with scandals this year as more people realize that they are too large for their own good and they go with the small-medium sized firms.
6. The increasing inflation in China reaches a breaking point and the Chinese stock market crashes with millions of people losing money around the world. The government does not have an explanation and the people of China become angry, companies start pulling out of China and move to more stable democractic economies.
7. Vietnam and South Korea prove to be what investors need, stable fast growing economies with a talented population. Both of these countries will prosper as the Chinese economy falters.
8. Hillary Clinton is elected the first female president of the United States along with Barrack Obama her vice-president. Many of the political initiatives started by the Bush Administration are reversed however the Supreme Court still fights for the conservative view of life.
9. The American economy makes a resurgence in the 4th quarter of 2008 with many analysts optimistic about the new change in presidency. Growth rate of 2% predicted for November and December.
10. People around the world continue to automate with the ideas of the “internet fridge” and other such devices not so foreign anymore. The automated home networked computer system becomes more common place.