May 16, 2013

Some recent comments deleted by mistake...

Even though I have a "captcha," that thingie that makes you copy some blurry letters to post a comment, I still get some spam comments! One or two every day. I don't know what they are doing to get through.

I was trashing some of them and accidently hosed all the recent comments. Many great thoughts lost forever! Don't take it personally Here at RJ all commenters are above average!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:24 AM | Comments (1)

October 30, 2012

Spam fighting...

I now have a "captcha" for commenting. Copy the fuzzy letters!

Thanks for help from Ed Burns of Trionic Labs. A great blogging resource!

(Here's a rare view inside the blogging machinery.)

Edmund Dulac Alchemist

Posted by John Weidner at 1:18 PM | Comments (1)

June 9, 2012

My dislike of astronauts, part three...

[NOTE: Speaking of space, Rand Simberg writes: Only seven shopping days left until my Kickstarter project on space safety must be funded. I still need about $2800 by next Friday afternoon. Pass the word, via Twitter or whatever....

This is a worthy project. Part of the stagnation of our space efforts is due to an extreme emphasis on safety by cautious bureaucrats. He's asking for $10 (or more) contributions, and I'll do one. (With a twinge of bitterness, 'cause no one will ever kickstart my book.) Rand inspired my space thoughts long ago, and I owe him a debt. Here's a sample I saved from 2002. Read!]

UPDATE: This project is funded! Cool

Now, to the post...

Again, I don't really dislike astronauts. Just their symbolism. And for this yet another disjointed post, I start yet again with a quote from Terry. If he didn't exist I'd have to invent him! Terry wrote:

"Four reasons a nation might make this investment [in space] are national defense, scientific advancement, practical applications, and national prestige."

So, for which of those reasons did the federal government subsidize the building of the transcontinental railroads? Hmm? None of them, really. The reason, the goal, was to settle the west. And part of the same package was the Homestead Act, which subsidized settlers with free land. And the goal was further subsidized by the US Army, which fought the Indians who impeded settlement.

And underlying this goal of settlement was faith in the American people. Give the people opportunities, says the theory, and they will do great things. That's what Americans have traditionally thought.

But over the course of the 20th century a new idea slowly wormed its way into control. And that was the idea that elites, embodied in government, can do great things. That's how European nations have always worked, and it is a very congenial idea if you happen to fancy yourself as a member of the elite. You could also say it was the turning of America from a country into a nation, a development I despise. [Do kindly read my piece: I'm not a "nationalist".]

And it was an insidious idea, one that often produced attractive results, and often mimicked traditional American thinking, so it was able to infiltrate its way into our minds. That is, I suggest, the underlying problem with Terry's comments. He may be right, and I may be wrong, about the economics of space. Perhaps space will be up to government for the next century. But I'm seeing more clearly as I write about this, that the real issue to me is, is America a sort of "collective entity?" Or is she an assemblage of free men?

If the first theory is true, then when NASA sent astronauts to the Moon, "WE" had done something great. If the second theory is true, then Apollo, cool as it was, was just a precursor. A curtain-raiser. And the real story will begin when Americans start homesteading the Moon, or doing similar things.

Astronauts are for me a symbol of the first theory. They are a symbol of the idea that government accomplishes things, and us ordinary couch-potato Americans are spectators, basking in reflected glory.

I'm perfectly happy with government doing most of the spending for space at this point, if it's necessary. The real question is, where are we going? The GOAL should be for government to gradually get out of the way, as Americans find more ways to live in space, and make money off of space. And cheaper ways to get into space.

In Rick Pearlstein's excellent book about the Goldwater movement, Before the Storm, he enjoys pointing out that the Goldwater family fortune originally came from selling supplies to the Army in Arizona. With the implication that this somehow undercut Goldwater's message of small government and free markets. I would reply, "So what?" Arizona could not have been settled without long tough military campaigns. That's the proper job of government. The difference was that everyone looked forward to the day when the Army could mostly leave, and the people get on with building a state.

Today's fake-liberals would look at the Army as a wedge, to start gathering more and more federal control of everything in Arizona. They look at everything as a wedge. "Never let a crisis go to waste."

[The picture has nothing to do with current happenings. It's an illustration by John Schoenherr, for the book Mission Of Gravity, by Hal Clement. Found here.]

Posted by John Weidner at 3:10 PM

March 8, 2012

One of our regular readers...

It was kind of cool just now to notice the name of an old friend on Instapundit:

...UPDATE: Reader Robert Ethan Hahn emails:
I credit the Tea Partiers on the Clermont County Republican Central Committee, who got Jean Schmidt un-endorsed this cycle:


Races where candidates requested endorsement but where none was granted were the following:

2nd Congressional District
...those central committees are where the action is – that's where you go to take the party back....

Yep. Them Tea Parties are fading away into oblivion...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:07 PM

October 5, 2011

Thank you, Mr Jobs...

A Jobs Agenda - By Kevin D. Williamson - The Corner - National Review Online:

...CNN, being CNN, misses the point. Mr. Jobs's contribution to the world is Apple and its products, [instead of corporate philanthropy] along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions — his work — not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit.

Whatever drove Jobs, it drove him to create superior products, better stuff at better prices. Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates. Those who talk about the horror of putting profits over people make no sense at all. The phrase is without intellectual content. Perhaps you do not think that Apple, or Goldman Sachs, or a professional sports enterprise, or an internet pornographer actually creates much social value; but markets are very democratic — everybody gets to decide for himself what he values. That is not the final answer to every question, because economic answers can only satisfy economic questions. But the range of questions requiring economic answers is very broad.

I was down at the Occupy Wall Street protest today, and never has the divide between the iPhone world and the politics world been so clear: I saw a bunch of people very well-served by their computers and telephones (very often Apple products) but undeniably shortchanged by our government-run cartel education system. And the tragedy for them — and for us — is that they will spend their energy trying to expand the sphere of the ineffective, hidebound, rent-seeking, unproductive political world, giving the Barney Franks and Tom DeLays an even stronger whip hand over the Steve Jobses and Henry Fords. And they — and we — will be poorer for it.

And to the kids camped out down on Wall Street: Look at the phone in your hand. Look at the rat-infested subway. Visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, then visit a housing project in the South Bronx. Which world do you want to live in?...

iPhone screenshots, art of Louis Darling

(The above artwork, from a screen-grab from my iPhone, means something. Explanation here. Hint. The book on the table is titled Random Jottings.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:04 PM

September 19, 2011

Blog update....

I've (very belatedly) updated my Movable Type blogging software to the latest version. Or rather, the job's been done for me by Ed Burns of I recommend his services!

One frustration is that my old version was so far behind that comment spammers seem to have mostly given up on targeting it. My new install was instantly attacked. It has more spam-fighting tools included, which I'm starting to learn how to use. Hopefully I'll end up on top, but expect a lot of rubbish in the comments for a while.

"Nemo Me Impune Lacesset" (No one wounds me with impunity)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:36 AM

August 23, 2011

Sad day...

Scott Chaffin, aka "The Fat Guy," is an old friend of this blog. And I think of him as a personal friend, thought I've never met him. Odd how that can work on the Interwebs.

Alas, he's been diagnosed with lung cancer. You can read it here and here.

It's funny, I was very recently thinking of his recipe for Tejas Shredded Beef, and thinking I really ought to make it again. A "fistful" of this and a "palmful" of that--that's how to cook. None of your girly fussing with measuring spoons...

He can surely use our prayers, and tips in his tip-jar.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 PM

July 7, 2011

Google+...possibly interesting...

I hate Facebook, and don't even look at my account anymore. But Google+ sounds intriguing.

Google+ is Awesome. Facebook Maimed, Twitter Mortally Wounded? :

...In Facebook, you cannot friend someone unless they friend you back. And once that person does friend you, for the most part they see all of your updates and you see all of their updates. The result is a privacy nightmare and a news feed filled with everybody's junk. Most of us have not fully appreciated these glaring problems at Facebook because until Google+ came around there was no other game in town to show us how bad they were. Now we know better.

Instead of treating all of your friends as equals, Google lets you put them into different groups, called circles, such as "friends", "acquaintances", "family", "sports fans", and so on. These circles represent a powerful innovation. They allow us to send more personal updates just to our closest friends instead of forcing us to share with all of our hundreds of acquaintances. This simple task is not easy to do within Facebook. Furthermore, Google+ allows us to chop up our incoming news stream based on what circle they are coming from, so that we can focus on just the updates from our family or just the updates from our coworkers...

My real problem is that I'm such an oddball, the stuff I really want to publish doesn't grab anybody. The nice thing about a blog is that I know I'm not imposing. No one has to read, not even friends and family. So I probably won't get into this new thing.

It's like, you know, people post on Facebook about their trip to the pizza parlor... and then about what they are going to order... and then about how it tastes. And I'm thinking, "What is the underlying philosophy here? What does pizza symbolize? How should we think through the process of choosing toppings?" Somehow, mysteriously, those musings don't seem to be a "fit" on Facebook.

I'd guess they won't fit on Google+ either.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

December 31, 2010

Cheers to you all...

old Happy New Year card

Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 PM

November 28, 2010

My list of reasons for climate skepticism (All from Random Jottings archives)

This list, taken from my own blog's science archive, is mostly compiled for my own satisfaction, and to have my ammo dry if anyone challenges me. It is also a cool example of how a blog can be an information storage device.

1. Argo [Link]

2. "Climategate" [Link, link, link, link]

3. Severe problems with weather stations. Pursued by Anthony Watts. [Link, link link, link]

4. Hiding data very common among warmists. [Link, link

5. This overview of ice-core temperatures over tens-of-thousands of years. [Link]

6. The "greenhouse signature" is missing. [Link]

7, Global temps have stopped rising significantly since 1998 [Link]

8. Sunspots [Link, link, link]

9. Skeptics frequently attacked, though skepticism is essential to true science [Link, link]

10. "Hockey Stick" refudiated [Link, link, link, link]

11. Medieval Warm Period airbrushed out [Link]

12. Warmist leaders have large "carbon footprints." [Link]

13. Computer models "tweaked" [Link, link, link]

14. No one "peer reviews" scientific software. [Link]

15. Uncertainty of climate science kept hidden [Link]

16. Hurricanes at 30-year low. [Link]

17. Climate alarmism invariably tied to attempts to increase government power [Link, link, link]

19. Higher carbon levels in past didn't lead to warming [Link]

20. Antarctic ice increasing, "Ice free Arctic" didn't happen. [Link. link, link, link, link]

21. Polar Bear fraud [Link]

22. Methane has not appeared [Link]

23. massive journalistic malpractice [Link, link, link]

24. Wikipedia fraud [Link, link]

25. E.M. Smith's summary [Link]

26. Slippery name changes, "Global Warming > Climate Change > Extreme Weather > Climate Disruption [Link]

27. Many many environmental disaster predictions have turned out to be bogus [Link]

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 PM

July 9, 2010

R.I.P. Seablogger

Blogger and poet Alan Sullivan has died; I have quoted him often here. Charlene and I once had lunch with him and his partner Tim Murphy in Fargo, ND! She and I will both miss reading him. He was always so open about his life and feelings that I feel closer to him than one normally would with an Internet acquaintance. Also, he came to Catholic faith not very long after I did. That was something that astonished and delighted us...

This is the last stanza of Alan and Tim's translation of Beowulf...

High on the headland         they heaped his grave-mound
which seafaring sailors         would see from afar.
Ten days they toiled         on the scorched hilltop,
the cleverest men         skillfully crafting
a long-home built         for the bold in battle.
They walled with timbers         the trove they had taken
sealing in stone         the circlets and gems
wealth of the worm-hoard         gotten with grief
gold from the ground         gone back to Earth
as worthless to men         as when it was won
the sorrowing swordsman         circled the barrow
twelve of his earls         telling their tales,
the sons of nobles         sadly saluting
deeds of the dead.         So dutiful thanes
in liege to their lord         mourn him with lays
praising his peerless         prowess in battle
as it is fitting         when life leaves the flesh.
Heavy-hearted         his hearth-companions
grieved for Beowulf         great among kings,
mild in his mien         most gentle of men,
kindest to kinfolk         and keenest for fame.

Some old posts that mention Alan... Link, link, link, link, link, link.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:53 PM

October 24, 2009

Maybe I'll add this to my already cluttered sidebar...

Bush ready to fight, Obama to dither
Posted by John Weidner at 10:59 AM

July 5, 2009

Knee high on the Fourth of July....

Reg'ler reader & friend Scott Chaffin has some pix he took of the San Antonio Tea Party.

I had to laugh ruefully, seeing pictures of people flocking to the shady spots, escaping the broiling Texas sun. Because the Fourth is always foggy in coastal SF, and I put on a turtleneck shirt this afternoon to go out and grill some burgers!

Mostly I love my burg, liberal nihilist loony-bin though it is, but every fourth of July I have the same thought.... It's WRONG! It's against nature to be cold on Independence Day!!!!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:18 PM

March 22, 2009

My own "Bridge to Nowhere"

The new Random Jottings banner picture above was taken this week, on a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with my older son and his girlfriend. Streamers of fog were pouring through the Gate, and one minute we'd be in bright sun, and the next in inspissated mist, with the city and the towers of the bridge completely invisible. I just got lucky with the shot. (I won't comment on any of the eleven possible symbolic meanings...)

I've lived in San Francisco since the mid 70's, and I've yet to get bored with the bridge! There's always a different angle, a different light, to make it seem like you're really seeing it for the first time.

Here's a sunny moment...

Tower of Golden Gate Bridge

Posted by John Weidner at 9:56 PM

March 21, 2009

Retroactive admiration...

Dr. Weevil: Prediction:

...I don't expect anyone except John Weidner and Orrin Judd to agree with me, but I want to put this on record, so I can gloat if it comes true:

If President Obama does not pull himself together and start acting like a president very soon -- and I doubt that he is capable of it -- retroactive admiration for the decency and (relative) competence of George W. Bush may spread so far and fast that Jeb Bush will have a real chance to be nominated and elected president in 2012. In what will surely be a crowded field, I would not put his chances of winning the nomination higher than 5% or 6%, but that's up from .001% in 2008, when it would have taken a meteor shower wiping out all the other candidates to outweigh pandemic Bush fatigue. I do think that whoever wins the Republican nomination in 2012 has at least a 75% chance of winning the election, and that Bush fatigue and even Bush hatred may (note: may) melt away, leaving only a slight, though extraordinarily foul, odor, like a very small piece of Limburger, or the spot on the road where a dead skunk lay before the highway department or a helpful vulture dragged it away....

Sounds good to me. Charlene and I just bought some   I  miss  W.    bumper-stickers (link). And, if Jeb were President, I would not have to add a new post category; I could just keep "President Bush!"

Of course I'd probably have the same frustrations with Jeb as I did with the President. I mean, the task of explaining things really shouldn't fall to me. Why do I have to give the world a list of 14 reasons to invade Iraq? I'm proud that those who read RJ are among the few who actually know what's happening in the world, but still....It does try my patience.

My guess is that Bush-hatred by the real lefties will never die. Sort of like Nixon-hatred. Come to think of it, there's a real parallel. Let me suggest that leftists hate Nixon because he was right about communists, and because he won the Vietnam War. Watergate was just seized upon ex post facto, to personalize the hatred.

Actually, there's a deeper parallel. Nixon was in many ways a liberal. Us conservatives were deeply unhappy with him on many issues. (remember FAP, wage-and-price controls, end of the gold standard? Probably few of you do--I alone have lived to tell thee!) And of course Bush too is in some ways a liberal. Especially in regards to that classic liberal project, overthrowing a fascist dictator and bringing democracy to oppressed people. They will never forgive him for that.

To a considerable extent my championing of George W Bush was only done because nobody else was presenting the positive side, so it fell to me. I could easily have been a much harsher critic from the right, if conservatives had been supporting the president as they should. But people were not being just. Leftists are unjust by nature of course, but many Republicans and conservatives were failing in this regard too.

What I would really like is a Sarah Palin who could articulate a conservative philosophy. But I doubt if she will hire me to get her up to speed....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

November 27, 2008

Link problem...

A commenter writes that he can't see the link in this post, or the one on the sidebar. (They are little Christmassy things that say "Find the perfect holiday gift.")

Anybody else have problems with them?

I'll pop in another one here...

* Update: Problem solved, (I hope). Ad blockers may be the culprits. Thanks to Kathy K.

Here's a simple link to the amazon page, if you can't see the above ad.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 PM

November 10, 2008


I need to retract one criticism I have made of Mr Obama. I wrote that no one has come forward with any stories of the little good deeds that people do without expecting recompense or praise.

A friend sent me a link that mentions such stories...

....Good stories about Obama abound; from his personal relationship with his Secret Service agents (he invites them into his home to watch sports, and shoots hoops with them) to the story about how, more than twenty years ago, while standing in the check-in line at an airport, Obama paid a $100 baggage surcharge for a stranger who was broke and stuck. (Obama was virtually penniless himself in those days.) Years later after he became a senator, that stranger recognized Obama's picture and wrote to him to thank him. She received a kindly note back from the senator. (The story only surfaced because the person, who lives in Norway, told a local newspaper after Obama ran for the presidency. The paper published a photograph of this lady proudly displaying Senator Obama's letter.)...

Make of it what you will. It's not conclusive evidence, but it is evidence. The rest of the article is preposterous Obama-worship, of the sort I could spend half a day tearing to shreds, if I didn't have to do things like work for a living....

Posted by John Weidner at 12:57 PM

November 7, 2008

This evening's quote...


I can see the future, and it's headlined "48% of Americans still racist."�
Posted by John Weidner at 6:31 PM

October 27, 2008

A good man passes...

One of my favorite bloggers and writers, Dean Barnett, died today. I've quoted him here many times. I feel like I've lost a friend, though I never met him.

You might want to read these tributes by Hugh Hewitt, and Dafydd....


    WHEN mirth is full and free,
    Some sudden gloom shall be;
    When haughty power mounts high,
    The Watcher's axe is nigh.
All growth has bound; when greatest found,
    It hastes to die.

    When the rich town, that long
    Has lain its huts among,
    Uprears its pageants vast,
    And vaunts � it shall not last!
Bright tints that shine, are but a sign
    Of summer past.

   And when thine eye surveys,
    With fond adoring gaze,
    And yearning heart, thy friend�
    Love to its grave doth tend.
All gifts below, save Truth, but grow
    Towards an end.

      -- John Henry Newman, Valletta, January 1833
Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 PM

September 7, 2008

Technical blogging trivia....

For any bloggers with Macs, I'm now using MarsEdit, from Red Sweater Software, instead of Ecto, as a blogging client. I like it a lot so far.

MarsEdit: Powerful Blog Authoring Made Simple.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:04 PM

August 23, 2008

New Banner

As you see, I just put up a new banner picture. Feel free to say what you think.

It only captures a little of the mysterious charm of the light and fog at that moment. My daughter and I were driving home from Marin County, and pulled off into Merchant Road in the Presidio as soon as we got off the bridge, and ran out to a point to take pictures...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 AM

How to tell the genuine from the phony...

...It's a matter of what you DO, not what you say...

I have a few times quoted things by blogger Juliette Ochieng (Baldilocks) but hadn't followed her recently—too many bloggers in the world, too little time. But I was fascinated by this article (Thanks to Rand) about how her life story is amazingly intertwined with Obama's, and how she is trying to make right a failed promise of Mr Obama. (You might want to make a donation.) I recommend the article.

She says that her efforts are not a political stunt, and I believe it. This is the kind of thing that real people, especially Christians, do all the time. I was just thinking about a friend of ours, a surgical nurse, who goes once a year with a surgical team to a hospital in Guatemala. The hospital was founded by an American doctor who visited the town, and decided to help it... (She says they just love the work. Two weeks of pure medicine, with no insurance companies, no parasite-lawyers, no bureaucracy.)

...In August 2006, Senator Obama toured Kenya, his first trip to his father's nation. Thousands of Kenyans welcomed him, international media followed wherever he went, and glowing stories flowed forth.

One spot he visited was the recently renamed Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School in Nyang'oma-Kogelo, a village in equatorial western Kenya where Obama's roots go deep: His father, Barack Sr., was born there. His 86-year-old step-grandmother, Sarah, still lives there in a brick shanty with a tin roof and no running water.

Almost exactly two years ago, Barack Obama visited the school built upon land that, decades ago, Obama's grandfather donated. In anticipation of Obama's visit, the school changed its name to honor the village's most famous progeny, Barack Jr.

The school had only four classrooms. It lacked water, functioning bathrooms and even electricity. A third of its students were orphans. Its extreme need made Senator Obama's speech there all the more riveting for the village residents.

"Hopefully, I can provide some assistance in the future to this school and all that it can be," Obama said. Looking directly at the school's principal, Yuanita Obiero, and her teachers, he added, "I know you are working very hard and struggling to bring up this school, but I have said I will assist the school, and I will do so."

In the two years since, Obama has experienced a meteoric political rise, becoming the Democratic flag-bearer, authoring a best-seller and last year, with his wife, Michelle, earning $4.2 million. He bought a luxury home. Last year, he gave $240,000 to charities.

But apparently not to the Senator Obama Kogelo School. "Senator Obama has not honored the promises he gave me when we met in 2006 and in his earlier letter to the school," Principal Obiero has told the London-based, conservative tabloid EveningStandard. "He has not given us even one shilling. But we still have hope."

As the Standard reports it, Principal Obiero explained, "We interpreted his words as meaning he would help fund the school, either personally or by raising sponsors or both, in order to give our school desperately needed modern facilities and a face-lift."

Enter Baldilocks, who lives in a rough area of Los Angeles, is the caregiver for an elderly relative and worries, like most people, about her bills. She hasn't got millions and didn't attend an Ivy League school.

But she was embarrassed by her fellow Luo-American, Barack Obama. She rushed to fill the financial void, forming a California nonprofit to funnel money to the African school. With a flair for drama, she named it "Save Senator Obama Kogelo School" and held a mini fund-raiser. She's raised $3,500, so she's a long way from the $750,000 she wants to raise within two years...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 AM

July 18, 2008


Like many people who started reading blogs "back in the beginning," I miss Steven den Beste. He used to throw splendid doses of cold water on various areas where fuzzy-thinking is common. One of them is alternative energy sources. He's posted a summary that is worth reading, if you think wind power or some such is in the near future going to take away our need for power generated by coal, oil and nuclear. (den Beste has serious health problems, by the way, that's why he now limits himself to lightweight blogging.)

....I don't blog about that kind of thing anymore. I never enjoyed blogging about energy, anyway, because for too many people "alternate energy" is more about religion than about physics. They believe that if we are just creative enough, we can overcome fundamental physical limitations -- and it's not that easy.

In order for "alternate energy" to become feasible, it has to satisfy all of the following criteria:

1. It has to be huge (in terms of both energy and power)
2. It has to be reliable (not intermittent or unschedulable)
3. It has to be concentrated (not diffuse)
4. It has to be possible to utilize it efficiently
5. The capital investment and operating cost to utilize it has to be comparable to existing energy sources (per gigawatt, and per terajoule).

If it fails to satisfy any of those, then it can't scale enough to make any difference. Solar power fails #3, and currently it also fails #5. (It also partially fails #2, but there are ways to work around that.)

The only sources of energy available to us now that satisfy all five are petroleum, coal, hydro, and nuclear.

My rule of thumb is that I'm not interested in any "alternate energy" until someone shows me how to scale it to produce at least 1% of our current energy usage. America right now uses about 3.6 terawatts average, so 1% of that is about 36 gigawatts average.

Show me a plan to produce 36 gigawatts (average, not peak) using solar power, at a price no more than 30% greater than coal generation of comparable capacity, which can be implemented at that scale in 10-15 years. Then I'll pay attention.

Since solar power installations can only produce power for about 10 hours per day on average, that means that peak power production would need to be in the range of about 85 gigawatts to reach that 1%.

Without that, it's just religion, like all the people fascinated with wind and with biomass. And even if it did reach 1%, that still leaves the other 99% of our energy production to petroleum, coal, hydro, and nuclear.

The problems facing "alternate energy" are fundamental, deep, and are show-stoppers. They are not things that will be surmounted by one lone incremental improvement in one small area, announced breathlessly by a startup which is trying to drum up funding...

It's impossible to argue with most of the people who talk about "alternate energy;" They want to believe, and just don't hear anything like this. Plus, most people can't think. The average person, even with a university degree, can't think clearly about these things, and doesn't want to. For instance, the concept of scaling is basic to all technical discussions. But how many people will even understand, not to mention respond intelligently, if you tell them their favorite scheme "won't scale?" (It doesn't have to be a technical subject; there are things that work in small groups but not in large groups. Or small countries, but not large or diverse countries.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:25 AM

June 30, 2008

Neat things happening...

I use Google SketchUp Pro, a marvelous 3-D drawing/drafting program, in my work, and back in March of 2006 when Google bought SketchUp I speculated on what was cooking:

...So maybe the plan is to model every building on earth, and incorporate them all into Google Earth! Then you could take a virtual stroll down any street, enter any (public) building....Links and databases could be associated with places..."walk into" a restaurant, and see the menu, the hours, maybe even make a reservation for a specific table that has a nice view...

Well, that seems to be just what's going on. I just noticed this post on the Official Google SketchUp Blog:

....With our new Google Cities in 3D Program, we've made it easier for communities to "get themselves on the map". The program provides a way for local governments to share whatever 3D data they have, allowing them to appear in the 3D Buildings layer of Google Earth. Sound interesting? This post on the Google LatLong blog has all the juicy details....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:33 PM

June 24, 2008

An RJ reader does us proud!

Regulars will have noticed that yesterday our friend Ethan Hahn commented for the first time since about last March. You may possibly have wondered where he was.

Well, I knew, but I couldn't tell. Until now. Here's Robert Ethan Hahn, of the United States Army Reserves...

Robert Hahn

Is that totally cool, or what! He tells me that Random Jottings helped inspire him for this adventure....I think he's being too kind; anyway it's he who inspires me right now.

Here's another picture. (He's preparing to fire a "Rumsfeld," one of our new anti-satellite bazookas...)

Robert Hahn, basic training

Posted by John Weidner at 6:16 PM

January 10, 2008

Internet battle areas....

This is from an e-mail that Jonah Goldberg posted at The Corner:

...I know this is terrible, and I feel kind of like a kid separating flies from wings, but believe it or not, there's a sort of conservative underground that's banging on the Amazon 1-star ratings of your book to the point where Amazon is taking them down. And I love it! I mean, they're just disapppearing them. Amazon. Deleting. Liberal comments. About a Conservative (transcends Conservative, I got that) book. Un. F***ing. Believeable. And I speak as someone who's been commenting on Amazon, lo these many years.

In the last day, enough people have rated uninformed 1-star reviews badly enough that Amazon is taking them down. Simply disappearing them. Again, I have to say it, I can't believe it.....

"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in the Industrial Age anymore." People write SF books about a near future when Cyberspace is the main arena where people interact and things happen. But the reality creeps up on us, and nobody quite notices how curious it all is.


Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

December 22, 2007

Seasonal tip...

These things can be delivered by e-mail I think, so you can do your last-minute shopping as late as Christmas morning! And if you click on the link and buy one... or something....or anything from, Random Jottings gets a little pourboire. So, be generous.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:42 PM

November 19, 2007

the "incivility" of the blogs...

This is by Diogenes, who comments with acid humor on religion. It is from a piece on the Anglican Church, but could fit current politics just as well...

....Flames of theological hatred? Not the way I'd put it. It seems to me instead that, with the coming of the Internet, the ecclesiastical bureaucracies lost their communications monopoly and were finally forced to hear what the orthodox had been trying to say all along. Fifty years of frustration at unreturned phone calls and ash-canned letters to the editor have added an edginess to some of the critique, but to label it hatred is a dodge. The boxer who rests on his laurels and refuses to get into the ring for ten years will find that, when he finally does so, his opponent's shots land harder than he remembers. That's why liberals are quick to deplore the "incivility" of the blogs....

I remember when writing a letter to the editor was a big deal. And having one actually published was a very big deal. "Imagine. Me. Little me. Actually being read by thousands of strangers."

So yes, there is a certain testiness to people like me. And I've been told a most amazing variety of ways that I'm "uncivil" and shouldn't say things like that. By people who never dare to get in the ring and slug it out about what is TRUE.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 AM

October 31, 2007

Don't roll over and die...

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle, a piece by J.J. Jackson on the Alinsky tactics of the Left...

...Saul Alinsky is the God Father of the liberal activism that we see in action every day as of late. His strategy is seek power, identify those that can stop you from getting power, find their strengths, convince people that their strengths are really your strengths, attack them by twisting what they have said and stand for, slam them, slam them again, get personal, slam them some more, shout louder if no one is listening and don't give up until you wear the opposition down enough that you win by default. The most recent example of this tactic in action was the left's attack on Rush Limbaugh's patriotism and support for our soldiers over a ginned up controversy using out of context remarks about "phony soldiers".

Now just another failed attempt by disciples of Alinsky, the whole episode proved one very important thing. That is that such a strategy based on falsehoods doesn't get you anywhere should the person you chose to attack decide not roll over and die....

"decides not roll over and die" That's important. It's happened that way way too many times. And trying to use reasoned discourse to fight a deliberate campaign of lies is a fool's game. We must always counter-attack with wit and verve and confidence. And of course it was Rush himself who, by pioneering conservative talk-radio provided the first really new way to route around the obstacles of the leftist news media and "intellectual" establishment. Blogging can be seen as a sort of mass-market imitation of what Rush started, with a million "hosts" using the news as lead-in's to getting their message out...

...But the problem was that the final stage, the point where your opposition simply is supposed to give up under withering pressure, never came to fruition. It never came to fruition because first, the claim was based on a lie. Second, because Limbaugh is a fairly obstinate S.o.B. And third, because Rush was able to turn the tables and counter attack effectively with the facts and did not relent.

He was able to get Mark Mays to give him the letter from the Alinsky 41 and placed it up for auction to benefit the children of the members of the Marines & law enforcement killed in the line of duty. The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation was a charitable foundation that he has supported for years and the action solidified his bona fides as a supporter of our troops no matter what anyone else claimed.

It also showed something else however. It showed that government is not needed to take care of "the children" and provide for them as the left often claims. See the latest SCHIP scuffle for proof of this. The auction showed that private citizens are capable of great things without government involvement. That was just icing on the cake.

In the end, the counter attack put forth by Limbaugh was withering to the point where moments before the auction ended Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate to try and attach his name to the effort to raise money for the charity. In his best whipped puppy look and defeated voice Harry Reid pleaded with people to support the auction and bid on the letter....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

August 27, 2007

It must be the gypsy in her soul...

Our Internet friend Andrea is thinking of moving---perhaps some of you may have suggestions or advice...

Fleeing Florida: Opinions Needed

As some of you may know, I am planning to leave Florida at some point (tentative date -- May 2008, when my lease at the current apartment ends). So far I am considering the following areas for my new lair:

-- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Area
-- Oklahoma City
-- St. Louis

What I am looking for: cheap rent in decent neighborhoods (ie, a low homeboy/crackhead/hooker to normal working person ratio); a job market that isn't all retail/resort/hospital focused (like Florida's); a halfway decent public transportation system (though I plan to have a car by then, I'd still like to be able to count on alternatives); a few nice parks/walking areas. An area of cute shops and nice (cheap) cafés would be a plus, though I don't need it (and my finances certainly don't).

What I don't care about: nightlife -- my clubbing days are over; "activities" -- which usually mean theme parks and golf; weather -- the climate of most of the continental US sucks most of the year, I am resigned to that -- all the places with really nice weather are too expensive to live in; "diversity" -- I live in Diversity Central, so I know what that's really like. Most urban centers are by their nature "diverse" anyway.

Anyway, I'm soliciting opinions of the above three destinations. Oh -- if the urban center in question is undergoing a crime "upsurge" I might become less interested. I'm from Miami, so the idea of crime doesn't faze me much, but the sort of thing that is currently going on in Orlando is annoying.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 PM

August 6, 2007

Yearly-Kos guys...

I found this fascinating. (Because it swells my ego by seeming to confirm my arm-chair theorizing.) Washington Post: "At the Yearly Kos Bloggers' Convention, a Sea of Middle-Aged White Males"

...It's hard to think of another movement that has affected politics in such a short period of time, and the blogging culture is an informal, friendly community that has no one leader or single issue -- except, perhaps, strong opposition to the war in Iraq. Last year's Blogads Reader Survey found that the median political blog reader is a 43-year-old male who has an annual family income of $80,000, and judging by the number of middle-aged men who attended one panel after the next here, it's hard to argue with that... [I'm SO not surprised. Why male? Because women are less logical ooops sorry, are more skilled at holding mutually-contradictory ideas in dynamic tension. (NOTE: Charlene deprecates this comment. Her response is: "Pshaw!" She is, by the way, a very logical person, not given to fuzzy thought.) ]

My theory is that most of the "liberals" of my generation are not liberal in any sense of the word. They've been "hollowed out." They are nihilists, they have no deep principles or system of ideas. They "absorbed" the leftist thought that was in the air in the 60's and 70's, but this was only a habit, with nothing underneath. They are energized now by their anger, anger at how the world is changing in ways they can't cope with or even understand.

...Cooper is worried about generating more "inclusion," using the word no less than six times in 15 minutes.

"I hate using the word 'diversity.' I don't know what we use there. But what we definitely need are voices from different communities," she says. And the problem, she adds, stretches beyond ethnic and gender inclusion. There's a socioeconomic gap, too....
[Getting tripped-up on your words, eh? Not surprising. A common conservative slogan is: "Words mean something." You are trying to slide past the problem, but not quite making it]

As I wrote here, the Iraq Campaign is the flash point. The fake-leftists HATE IT, because it exposes them as the frauds they are. The liberation of Iraq is in fact exactly what a liberal should be FOR. Removing amini-Hitler who has waged aggressive wars using WMD's, stopping genocide and providing humanitarian relief, pushing democracy, pushing tolerance among antagonistic sects, ending a nuclear weapons program....

Lefties at Yearly Kos
The Kos types have been "wearing" liberal ideas as a way of concealing the emptiness inside them. They are in fact All-Clothes-No-Emperor.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:37 AM

July 31, 2007


Don't miss Michael Yon's latest dispatch. We should always keep in mind how damn lucky we are that Information Age technology allows information to bypass the old gatekeepers, and gives us alternative sources besides the lies and dirt we get from the Gasping Media.

He never tries to paint a rosier picture than he sees, and he takes you there like nobody else...

...The foodstuffs are handled through the Ministry of Trade. LTC Fred Johnson was using force of will to get a frightened and inertia-laden local civil leadership to mount a convoy to Baghdad. He brought along an Iraqi journalist because he knew food distribution was a critical battle, and any victory could be hugely accentuated by getting it into the Iraqi media. Most of the Western press was now leaving Baqubah just when the real story began unfolding. Western media mostly missed the initial fight because they missed the signs, and then left immediately after seeing there was no brawl. 3-2 SBCT made no pretension of hiding their motivations for inviting me: they knew I was apt to stay around even if there was no fighting. They are a smart lot....

If you happen to have a few extra bucks, you might just give him a donation. He's supported by readers, and by some sales of his famous photographs....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:57 AM

July 26, 2007

Writers needed...

Charlene and I were invited by Cinnamon Stillwell to meet last night with some of the 9/11 NeoCons, a local group of bloggers and conservatives. I happened to sit next to Ed Driscoll, who you've probably read. They are having a West Coast blog Fest August 18, which we will probably have to miss.

Cinnamon, by the way, is in need of writers for one of her projects. She's doing the West Coast coverage of CampusWatch...

Mission Statement
Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds...

She says there's heaps of information freely available on the web, she just needs people to write it up. (Here's her latest piece.) So, if you've been needing an opportunity to fight the decline of just-about-everything, and this subject interests you....

Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. Campus Watch is currently looking for writers to do paid pieces focusing on California and Western State colleges and universities. Articles should be 750-850 words, research-based and concentrated solely on Middle East studies academia. If interested, please contact Campus Watch Northern California Representative Cinnamon Stillwell at For past examples, go to:
Posted by John Weidner at 2:49 PM

July 23, 2007


Take a look at N.Z. Bear's revamped Victory Caucus. It's very impressive.

I've been able to write with confidence about the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, because I follow New Media sources that give a better picture than what we get from the perverted Old Media. (Or, as one of the Fadhil Brothers termed them long ago, The Gasping Media.)

But now there's a really good aggregator of these sources.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:51 AM

July 3, 2007

Juggle the thoughts back and forth...

Scott writes:

....Other Official Left-Libertarian Blogger Henley Theories I’m interested in hearing addressed: if Iraq is Jihad U., a common-enough complaint and one easy enough for even a dumb hick like me to understand and potentially even buy into, wouldn’t there be whole lot more death-dealing being done in England and Scotland with this spasm of car-bombs? Are they saving the really bright Jihad U. graduates for something or someplace else?....

He's a hick all right. Urban sophisticates can believe two (mutually-exclusive) impossible things before breakfast. It's obvious that Iraq is generating legions of unstoppable terror-bombers (who would otherwise all be peaceful doctors), and also obvious that the War on Terror is a hoax intended to make George W Bush dictator of the world. If you can't think both these thoughts at once, flip rapidly back and forth between them...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:23 AM

June 18, 2007

Nixon "got it" long ago...

Remember "the silent majority?" [ Huh? what's this old guy talking about? ]

From Ace of Spades HQ:

Ah, well. It's always been my contention that the most important function of blogs was to let people know that, despite the official pronouncements from the media and their supposed representatives, their views were actually, in many cases, the majority view, and so they should not act meekly as if they were a small minority doomed to lose but should rather fight like the mainstream representatives of the majority, destined to win, they really are.

That's how the media and political establishment conspire to push unpopular legislation on the public -- by convincing them their views are marginal and could not possibly win, and, in fact, are "extremist" and therefore things to be kept quiet about in secret shame.

What blogs, talk radio, and other non-establishment media are best at is fighting that dishonest meme and thereby letting people know that not only are they not alone, but in fact are part of the true, real mainstream majority opinion. And could, and should in most cases, prevail.

Without some method of national, rapid, widely disseminated messaging, how could millions of people be alerted to the fact that they were in fact the majority and not just a "small group" of "noisy" "extremists" who "don't want what's best for America," as the MSM and Republican leadership itself is telling them?

The most dramatic proof of this: A schoolteacher in France brought down the EU treaty by well-nigh singlehandedly rebutting the French media's and political class's one-sided, enthusiastic coverage of the treaty, offering no contrary opinion... and little hint there was a contrary opinion in France at all. Everyone's in favor of this treaty, they told everyone, so there is no reason whatsoever to even bother showing up to vote against it. Resistance is futile...(Thanks to Andrea).

Lefties think the history book has been chiseled in stone, as far as ol' Richard M. is concerned, and that the deaths of millions of Cambodians and Vietnamese and Laotians were trifles compared to Waaaaaaatergate. Mere eggs to make their omelets. But I don't think the history of our times has even begun to be written. And when it is, the frenzy and desperation of the elites as us little people are increasingly empowered by technology will be a major theme.

And one of the big moments will be Nixon's discovery that he could use television to bypass the press. (Teddy Kennedy and his foul "Democrat" crew will just be footnotes to the paragraph on Pol Pot.)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 AM

May 23, 2007

Tattoo removal, a growth industry...

Andrea linked to a thoughtful blogger, Maclin Horton. A couple of small things I liked...

I Enjoy Being Right
I've been predicting for a while now that the tattoo fashion would lead to a profitable trade in tattoo removal.

My parents had a collection of cartoons from Punch that gave me many hours of pleasure in my youth. I think it was there that I saw one which has come to mind often since the fad began: a tattoo artist drawing something huge on a man's back and remarking "Of course it's the fellows who can take them off who make the real money." [Link]

And this is a thought I have often had myself...

One of my perpetual complaints is the treatment of the 1950s in popular lore, in journalism and entertainment. The way some of these people talk, you’d think they really do not understand that Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver were sitcoms, not documentaries, the silly pap of their time just as Desperate Housewives is of ours. Or even that physical reality was very much the same then as now: that colors, for instance, existed, and that human beings were physically the same creatures we are now, although they dressed differently. The usual view is that life was gray, repressed and miserable from roughly 1945 until 1964, when, as Philip Larkin tells us, sex was invented....

In "popular history," as in so much else, everything is adjusted to fit the perspective of us Baby Boomers. It's really stupid. All the "60's" fads were invented in the 50's or earlier, and just taken up into mass conformity in the sixties. And passed along into mass culture in the 70's, with hideous destructive effects...

Speaking of tattoo removal, there's a great SF book on fads, Bellwether, by Connie Willis. Very funny.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 AM

April 11, 2007

Most original thing this week...

Author's web site...being created...before your eyes...on this dry-erase board....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 AM

March 23, 2007

"At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter"

Dean Barnett, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, has a thoughtful post on Elizabeth and John Edwards.

....Through the years, I’ve come to view serious and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; other items that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.

At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: Family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day that you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left.

But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end. The past several years for me have been a journey to what’s at the center of my life. One of the things I found there that I didn’t expect to was writing. (You lucky people.)

The Edwards have begun their own journey of that sort. Whether they still find presidential politics at the center of their lives a few months from now is an open question. Regardless, the journey is theirs, and one would have a heart of stone to wish them anything other than good luck and Godspeed.

I can't add much to that, except that the smaller crises in life have a similar effect. And life's opportunities too. Imagine being offered the job of your dreams, but in a distant place. Or requiring 60 hours a week. Then you would have to choose what's inside the circle.

And I can tell you that having children does the same thing. I keenly remember some friends of ours, years ago, who had kids about the same age as ours, saying, "We can't wait 'till things get back to normal." Ha. Wrong. Never happens. And that is, of course, a lot of why we have a "Culture of Death." People want to avoid certain painful moments of choosing in their lives.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:40 AM

March 14, 2007

Dusty roads... (and open thread of a sort)

I'm going to be on the road for a few days. If technology allows, I'll perhaps blog a few scenic wondas of the Wild West...

* Update: Note comment by Ethan, soliciting comments. Which might be good; making one post on the road was very difficult. Why, I don't know; perhaps the ether is troubled. I bumped this post to the top...)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:02 PM

February 28, 2007

The end is need to memorize this stuff...

I got this from David Schütz ...

OK, you know that 666 is the Number of the Beast, but did you know that:

660 ....Approximate number of the Beast
DCLXVI ...Roman numeral of the Beast
666.0000 ...Number of the High Precision Beast
0.666 ....Number of the Millibeast
/666 ...Beast Common Denominator
1010011010 ....Binary of the Beast
1-666+ ....Area code of the Beast
00666 ....Postcode of the Beast
1800-666-666 ....Live Beasts! One-on-one pacts! Call Now! Only $6.66/minute. Over 18 only please.
$665.95 ....Retail price of the Beast
$732.66 .... Price of the Beast plus GST
$799.95 ....Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul
$656.66 ....Kmart price of the Beast
Route 666 ...Way of the Beast (I can't Ozzi-fy this one!)
666 deg C ....Oven temperature for roast Beast
666mg .... Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast
Netscape 6.66 ....BetaBrowser of the Beast
i66686 ....CPU of the Beast
666I ....BMW of the Beast
668 ....Next-door neighbour of the Beast

Schütz is an Catholic Australian blogger. I just realized that I've been following his adventures with great interest for a while now, without having any occasion to quote him or leave a comment. It's like a sort of weird one-sided friendship; if I met him on the street I could start talking to him about his life and family like a pal, but he doesn't know I exist. Sometimes I get comments or e-mails from people who write, "I've been reading you for years, but never commented before..."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:35 AM

February 23, 2007

Time for a new banner...

* UPDATE: I've now put in the banner without the fog effect. Any thoughts, anyone? Preferences?

The new banner picture is one I snapped from Golden Gate Heights. Near the top of these steps. I was driving my daughter to karate class, and we were admiring a beautiful sunset. I drove near the top, said, "I'll be right back," sprinted up the hill and snapped some pictures almost at random. One of which I actually liked.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

February 16, 2007


In my previous post I expressed skepticism about the way leftish people divert attention from their own scandals by claiming to have received threatening or abusive e-mails, and I mentioned Amanda Marcott.

My blogging friend Andrew Cory knows Amanda, and tells me he has seen some of the e-mails she has received, and that they look real and abusive. So, my skepticism was at least partially wrong. My apologies.

I didn't blog about the big Marcott affair itself; it was not interesting to me. But I'd have to say that Andrew, when he blogs about it here, doesn't quite express what the flap was about.

...None of this has anything to do with how she has handled her responsibilities with the Edwards Campaign. You may agree with her opinions. You may not. Agreement or disagreement has nothing to do with her ability to do her job. That job is to say the sorts of things about John Edwards that John Edwards thinks will get John Edwards elected President...

Is she capable of doing that? There is probably no one better capable of doing it. Should she be fired from her current job for things she has said before taking that job? Not if John Edwards believes in Free Speech. Free, in this case, meaning—yes—consequence free...

An American Presidential campaign is about the voters trying to get to know the weaknesses of the candidates, and the candidates trying like mad to prevent this. (Of course we also want to discover their strengths, but that's not really a battle—no one's trying to hide those.)

It's sort of like trench warfare, with everyone under cover. There's not much to shoot at. So if someone sticks his finger up above the edge of the trench, a thousand dollars worth of bullets fly through the air. The pundit-attacks on Marcott were 99% about Edwards. He says he can run the country, so the issue of how well he can run a campaign is very relevant, especially since he's never run anything else in his life, not even a popcorn stand at the County Fair. The controversy is about his judgement, in selecting people for his campaign, although it is expressed in the form of outrage over Ms Marcott's opinions. (Which is why I didn't blog about it; there's too much phoniness about the outrage expressed during such campaign scandals. But that's also why I'll never be a popular blogger—writing about issues and ideas does not attract those delicious thousands of hits.)

Andrew in raising the issue of free speech is simply wrong. Her freedom to speak is unimpaired. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from criticism, or freedom from suffering (lawful) consequences due to what you say. When I blog my conservative opinions, I must accept the possible consequences. No Left/Liberal organization would want me for their spokesman. I have no right to complain about that.

I feel somewhat sorry for Ms Marcott; she got hit by bullets that were really aimed at Mr Edwards. But that's what presidential campaigns are like, and have been for 200 years. And Marcott's job was to help conceal from voters things about Edwards they wish to know. She voluntarily went to fight in the trenches, and got caught in a trench raid. (And if McCain or Clinton had made a similar embarrassing hire, she would have been shooting bullets of phony outrage with the best of them!)

An issue that does interest me is how the lines are being drawn more clearly in the war between The Church and the Secularist religion. Ms Marcott's virulently anti-Catholic remarks are, I suspect, an indicator of things to come. I predict that that war is going to keep heating up, and that mushy compromise positions will become harder to hold. To the nihilist, belief is an affront. And it will be more so as it becomes more evident that faith is not a primitive phase that human beings are destined to outgrow. And as it becomes ever more clear that leftist policies have failed to produce the expected felicity.

I predict; we can get together in 20 years and see if I'm right....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

January 18, 2007

Online politics...

Fascinatin' stuff from Micah L. Sifry...(Thanks to Glenn)

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is releasing another of its ongoing reports tracking Americans' use of the internet today (and someone leaked us an advance copy), and this report contains some really important news:

* More than 60 million people (31% of all Americans online) say they were online during the 2006 campaign to get information about candidates and/or exchange views via email. They call this growing group "campaign internet users." This group trends young (duh); wealthy; well-educated; and somewhat more white than of color (33% of white Americans vs 23% of blacks and Hispanics).

* People with broadband connections at home (now 45% of the overall adult population, compared to 3% in 2000) are far more likely to use the net for political news. In particular, people under 36 are twice as likely to cite the net as their main source of political news, compared to newspapers.

* By far the most interesting discovery from their survey: 23% of campaign internet users has either posted their own political commentary to the web via a blog, site or newsgroup (8%); forwarded or posted someone else's commentary (13%); created political audio or video (1%); forwarded someone else's audio or video (8%). "That translates into about 14 million people who were using the 'read-write Web' to contribute to political discussion and activity," the study's authors Lee Rainie and John Horrigan write.

*This group, which Pew labels "online political activists," is disproportionately liberal. "Some 15% of internet users who describe themselves as liberals are such online activists, compared with 9% of online conservatives," Rainie and Horrigan note....

Cool. What does it mean? Maybe when I've had another cuppa coffee, I'll think of the grand insight...(As usual, my customers put off finalizing plans until "after the holidays." Which is now, so I'm plenty busy...

The liberal slant doesn't surprise me too much. It's sort of like the way you find most of the bookstores in the liberal neighborhoods. Doesn't necessarily mean much, if what's selling is the equivalent, in in intellectual terms, of "empty calories." Think memoirs by someone like Barak Obama. It's better to have a few solid ideas, and cling to them stubbornly, even stupidly, than to enlist in the zeitgeist. “I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a Gentle-man and is nothing else”

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

January 6, 2007

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag...

I forgot to mention that Andrea has made her annual move to a new blog. She's Here now.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:07 AM

December 30, 2006

Anybody know this RSS stuff?

A company that's aggregating blog content wants to include Random Jottings. But they need an RSS feed that provides everything on each post, including HTML formatting.

A friend made this feed for me, but it doesn't include things like hyperlinks, blockquoting, italics, line breaks, etc. And we don't know how to do that.

Any experts out there?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 AM

Striking out on his own...

I've long enjoyed the posts by Peter Burnett at Brothers Judd blog, and I've quoted him from time to time. Now he has a blog of his own, Diversely We Sail...

...My goal is to combine serious political and social commentary of a conservtive flavour with what I hope will be light-hearted, literate and even literary insight into the quirky and befuddling cultural zeitgeist we middle-agers must pretend to understand in order to be noticed by our kids. Gigantic curses at the barbarian menaces of statism, rabid atheism and imperialist scientism will be mixed with incisive commentary on things like Britney's new carefree fashion trends, Dr. Phil's latest drivel and the charming conceit of the modern young that they have anything interesting to say. Who said the decline of Rome wasn't fun to watch?...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

December 23, 2006

It's not too late!

Posted by John Weidner at 2:20 PM

November 18, 2006

Our place...

Blogger Gerald Augustinus has posted pictures he took of our church, St Dominic's, in San Francisco. I think you might enjoy them...

(By the way, if you are in Southern California and need photography, he's trying to go full-time as a photographer. You can see his work often on his blog.)

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus
Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

November 3, 2006

Prescient? I blog, you decide...

Ethan mentioned, in a comment to the previous post, that I was prescient. Well, I rarely am, but in this case he's right. I wrote in February of 2003 that there were going to be documents...millions of them. I was right. Here's the link.

And I knew that from reading Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. He knew how lefty totalitarians act (Here's the link)...He wrote:

...Vern Smith and one of the other signers took the petition to national headquarters on 125th Street. There was consternation. It was not entirely due to the breach of discipline. Another peculiarly Communist attitude entered in. Revolutionists have a respect, amounting to awe, for the signed document. They have broken, or are trying to break, the continuity of order in society. By that act, they repudiate tradition, and the chaos they thereby unloose also threatens them, for they can no longer count on the inertia or authority of tradition to act as a brake or a bond on chaos. Hence that fussy attention which revolutionists pay to mere legalistic forms that puzzles outsiders both in the case of the Nazis and the Communists—their meticulous regard for protocol and official papers. Hence the tiresome detail and massive fictions of their legal and constitutional procedures, and the formal pettifoggery, with all the i's dotted, of a secret police that works entirely beyond the law...

If you want to know how the world works, read what Random Jottings recommends. Do not read the crap that your Tranzi professor recommends.

By the way **ahem** oh my faithful readers, if you click on one of these Amazon links and buy the book I get a little cut. What you may not know is that if you click through and then buy something else from, the hungry needy Weidner family also gets a cut. So if you are thinking of buying something, just start here! (One suspects there's some catch, and diamond chokers aren't included. Maybe someone wants to test this?)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:13 PM

October 29, 2006

Take that, Newfoundland!

Though I've been trying to stay out of the blogging hurly-burly on Sundays, I just had to post this...I just noticed I was noticed, by Mark Steyn! Linking to this post. One of my heroes. Too cool.

This is on the sidebar at SteynOnline—in the post titled Campaign Countdown 2006 PELOSIPALOOZA!...(Living as we do in Pelosiville, we have to love that.)

Mark Steyn on my post

Posted by John Weidner at 5:10 AM

October 26, 2006

If you need a laugh...

...check out James Lileks imitating Andrew Sullivan while being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt. (The actual interview with Sullivan is here. Hugh's column on it is here.)

Perfect. Just perfect....

Posted by John Weidner at 2:40 PM

October 24, 2006

Too busy to really blog, so, some quotes...

Excerpt from The Quotable Andrea...

...But getting back to the “truth” fad—I guess this comes from the rise of psychology and psychoanalysis. This “science” was supposed to aid us in understanding human nature, but if you ask me the most hidebound medieval theologian—even the simplest medieval baker or farmer—had a better understanding of human nature than today’s average person with a brain confounded by several decades of psychiatrist-speak. No one before Freud would have even thought of using the word “repressed” to speak of a well-behaved human being, but we have learned that someone who can’t control their “urges” is a “free spirit.” Never mind that the constant need to have Great! Sex! at all times has left a generation of people haggard, wounded, and unable to relate to the opposite sex except as an enemy....
--Andrea Harris (

And from AOG:

...I suppose one major difference is that I place the blame for all of the killing in Iraq on the people doing the killing, not those trying to prevent it. The USA has spent, bled, and died to minimize the deaths. I feel no shame on behalf of my nation because others are mass murdering scum and so I do not regret my support for the invasion at all....

He needs some leftists to explain to him that everything bad that happens is caused by the US (or Israel).

From the Daily Mail:

...A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

It reveals that executives would let the Bible be thrown into a dustbin on a TV comedy show, but not the Koran, and that they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden if given the opportunity. Further, it discloses that the BBC's 'diversity tsar', wants Muslim women newsreaders to be allowed to wear veils when on air.

At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians...

No comments needed...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:46 AM

September 17, 2006

Some blog graphics...

I made a couple of sidebar gizmos, feel free to use them...

B-16, Faith and Reason are not antonyms

Faith and Reason2

"...But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you were not a priest.'

'What?' asked the thief, almost gaping.

'You attacked reason,' said Father Brown. 'It's bad theology.'

The Blue Cross, in The Innocence of Father Brown, by GK Chesterton.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 PM

September 8, 2006

Dean E. could use a hand...

Dean and Rosemary Esmay could use some financial assistance. If any of you affluent urban trendsetters (the main RJ demographic, I'm sure) want a good cause to contribute to, a few sawbucks into the tip jar would be cool...

Besides being one of those people who is obviously a good chap, Dean a few years ago was of great assistance to me and many other bloggers, helping us migrate from Blogger and setting us up with MT blogs at VerveHosting. Without taking a penny for it...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 AM

August 4, 2006

Can't "make a case"...

Dean Barnett writes:

...Here’s the personal irony for me: As Soxblog readers know, Andrew Sullivan is one of the reasons I got into blogging. He was an inspiration. He used to turn out vast quantities of tightly reasoned, well written material. It amazed me he did all this for free.

Now, it’s literally tragic what he has become. The post [link] where he attacks Hugh [Here's HH's essay; judge for yourselves.] is the epitome of all that is wrong with the blogosphere. Sullivan eschews making an argument and opts solely for a personal attack. He makes this attack with no supporting evidence, and a surfeit of clichéd name-calling.

More tragic is the fact that we know Sullivan can do better. That’s perhaps why Sullivan’s latest incarnation so disappoints former colleagues like Mickey Kaus. Unlike Markos Moulitsas, who has shown no indications of possessing outsized talents either as a thinker or a writer, Sullivan in the past has....

For me, Sullivan's incoherence is not surprising. Previously, he was writing from a coherant philosophy. That's easy to do. Heck, even I, in a much humbler way, do it all the time. I can make a case: Here's what I think we should do, and why. Here are examples of where X has worked. Here are examples of where the alternative has been tried, and has failed. Facts + logic, blah blah blah.

When the gay "marriage" issue came up, Sullivan "flipped" to supporting the Democrats. BUT, he gained no leftish philosophy to underpin his new position. The philosophy that underlies Democrat thinking is socialism. And only the looniest of leftists can now openly avow it.

So all that's left for Sullivan is to attack the other side. Attack without any alternative plan. It's pathetic, and it's really the dilemma of the entire "left."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

July 24, 2006

We's back...

I have returned. Great trip, but I'm too tired to blog it now. Lonnnnng day, that started by spending 3 hours sitting outside a Big-O Tires, in Sonora up in the Gold Country, due to a blow-out. Temp over 100. I didn't want to sit inside in the cool, because one is forced to watch television. Bleh. [I wish all the world well, except the television industry--they should die tomorrow.]

But I enjoyed talking to an old-timer, who told me tales about being a 17-year-old P-51 mechanic in North Africa, and then a Kern County Deputy Sheriff and dog handler...

And I've now removed about 200 comment-spams that accumulated while I was away.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 PM

July 18, 2006


I'll be not-blogging for a few days, so just observe the world's events and fill in my comments from your imaginations...

Oh, and don't let anything happen in the war 'till I get back!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

July 2, 2006

Master race...

My daughter recommends Hitler Cats! A blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler..

Well, they do...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

July 1, 2006

New on the blog...

I had left open on my computer a web page for a new web enterprise, LibraryThing, because I thought I might get around to investigating it someday. Charlene, always an early riser, got up this morning, saw it, and went BONKERS! (She's always dreamed of being a librarian.) By the time I woke up she had entered over 100 books...

It's one of the most the most addictive things we've encountered. I've put a blog-widget of our library on the sidebar, displaying random covers of books we own. Scroll down a bit, and you will see them. In fact, you can even see what shelf they are on. (I can just expect some future commenter to tell me I'm wrong and that I've obviously failed to read book X, which I have on LivingRoom 11!)

And if you click on a book, and then buy it from Amazon, we get a percentage, once our Amazon Associates membership activates...

* Update: LibraryThing is apparently having server problems due to rapid growth. So sometimes it just isn't there. (I knew I shouldn't have told anyone about it.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:50 AM

June 22, 2006

Ought blogging

Alan writes:

...Four years ago there was much excitement over weblogs. Now the fever has broken, the bubble has deflated — pick your metaphor. Blogs are familiar, routine, even (horrors!) dull. A few blogs have become new media outlets with large, growing audiences. The rest have stagnated, according to various articles and commentators.

My own numbers accord with the reported trends. They have drifted slowly, slowly down for two years. It’s disheartening, if I think about it. I rarely look at the stats nowadays. I used to watch them closely, when the rare readership was growing. I also used to read other blogs more than I do now. My own reading habits fit the pattern.

What will become of blogging? It will continue. The big names are established. A decade or two from now, the Y2K period will be recalled as the golden era of blogging, as the Sixties were a golden era of rock....I participated at the far fringe of Sixties music, and at the far fringe of Ought blogging. Few people get to live two such periods in one lifetime. It’s been fun...

I started blogging in 11/01. My numbers rose for a couple of years, then have stayed level since. This isn't surprising--the Power Curve rules here, as in so many places.

Fortunately I do this mostly for my own satisfaction. And for the great pleasure of having a circle of virtual friends. Thank you all!

I have this fantasy of a coffeehouse where people much like me hang out, and I could drop in whenever I liked for good conversation and companionship. That'll never happen! But RJ serves the same function...

One neat thing is that, if you stay mentally young enough to develop new interests, then you discover new blog universes. I've been reading Catholic blogs, which are a whole rich new galaxy. (With fascinating similarities to political blogging, not to mention real life. Such as liberals who can't refute conservative arguments, and resort to accusations of "hate-mongering!")

* Update: In response to a comment, I've posted below the fold an image I used in the early days of Random Jottings...

* Update: One more posted..

This is from Mr Bass's Planetoid (sequel to The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet), books which had a big effect on my young mind, and in which are found a notebook called "Random Jottings". The glowing object is actually a lantern which is communicating with a similar one on another planet. The illustration is by Louis Darling, who I admire extravagantly. It actually a made a poor banner picture, because it was never clear to readers, and didn't have the necessary horizontal shape, though I just used a slice of it...
Tycho Bass's lantern

Louis Darling, the Detectives

These are the detectives from Planetoid...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:25 AM

May 27, 2006


Here, for your delectation, is a chinese food blog, Cha Xiu Bao. I recommend the video of the Chinese champ making 龍鬚麵 , Dragon Beard Noodles, repeatedly folding the dough until he has 4096 the sound of the Red Army Chorus performing Kalinka.

Thanks to WDTPRS.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:25 PM

May 16, 2006

Too much...

Too strange...Lorie Byrd has been kicked off of the group-blog PoliPundit because she wouldn't follow PoliPundit's Party Line on immigration.

...The fact is that I believe this is the last time I will be blogging at Polipundit.

I received a lengthy email from Polipundit tonight alerting us to an editorial policy change that included the following: "From now on, every blogger at will either agree with me completely on the immigration issue, or not blog at" I would provide additional context, but Polipundit has asked that the contents of our emails not be disclosed publicly and I think that is a fair request. There has been plenty written in the posts over the past week alone to let readers figure out what happened. Polipundit ended a later email with this: "It's over. The group-blogging experiment was nice while it lasted, but we have different priorities now. It's time to go our own separate ways."...

Absurd. Nootzy. You can come blog at Random Jottings if you like, Lorie....

* Update: Thinking a little more, I have to feel a certain sympathy for PoliPundit. A blog is sort of an extension of one's self. suppose I added co-bloggers, and they started to espouse positions I really hated. It would probably spoil all the fun of blogging for me. I don't mind vigorous debate in the comments, but in the posts themselves? Nuh uh.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:48 PM

May 4, 2006

I'm away for a couple of days...

Enjoy your weekend...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 PM

April 20, 2006

"deeply intricate Mac and web nerdery"

My favorite Macintosh pundit, John Gruber, is trying something awesome...

There’s no other way for me to start this other than by firing away: Last week I left my full-time job at Joyent, for the sole reason so that I can write Daring Fireball as a full-time job.

Two years ago, when I made tentative steps in this direction, it was like I put the idea out there and then poked it with a stick to see what happened. What I’m doing now is like jumping out of a plane with this idea as my parachute.

When I launched the membership program two years ago, I wasn’t sure whether it would be a failure, a bonanza, or something in-between. Ends up it was something in-between. I mean that in a good way, because it was way more successful than I honestly expected. But it was also less than I had sort of secretly hoped.

What I wanted was for this to be easy — for the revenue from the memberships and t-shirts sales to amount to something that, when combined with the money from a modest dose of advertising, would clearly constitute a reasonable full-time salary.

But there’s a reason why you can’t say, “Wow, look at all those people supporting their families with their weblogs devoted to deeply intricate Mac and web nerdery,” or, really, why there aren’t that many people supporting themselves full-time from their weblogs, period. That reason is because it isn’t easy....

I've taken a membership, and wished him the best. Lots of what John writes is too intricate for me. Angels dancing on the heads of GUI pins. (Though this, on the "brushed metal" look in Mac applications, is hilarious.) But he also sometimes writes things that make confusing developements in the world of Apple "make sense" to me. which is very very satisfying. (In this, as in everything in my life, I'm an oddball, because I'm a generalist. The specialists are in way deeper than me, and everybody else is not much interested at all. So I have nobody to talk to. But there is always......The Blog. You must suffer....)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:18 PM

April 8, 2006

"nothing more pernicious when attained by bad measures"

"They ought to have reflected . . . that as there is nothing more desirable, or advantageous than peace, when founded in justice and honour, so there is nothing more shameful and at the same time more pernicious when attained by bad measures, and purchased at the price of liberty."
      -- Abigail Adams, in a letter to John Adams, August 19, 1774.

I just happened upon this quote in an old post, from 11/2002, wherein I noted that I had been blogging for one year...It's kind of cool that I can go back to old posts from then and find nothing I would disagree with now...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:03 PM

March 28, 2006

Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week

This is an -mail I got from Joanne Jacobs, who Charlene and I have met a few times:

Bloggers helped me launch my book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds (Palgrave Macmillan), with a November blogburst for Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book Day. Sales were strong for the first three months, but they’re slowing down, so I’ve declared Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week. I’m not so concerned about spiking the Amazon numbers this time, but March 31 is my birthday and it would be nice to have a birthday spike.

In case you've forgotten, Our School follows the principal, teachers and students at Downtown College Prep, a San Jose charter high school that turns underachievers -- most come from low-income Mexican immigrant families -- into serious students. The charter school’s educational philosophy is: Work your butt off. Students aren’t told they’re wonderful. Teachers tell them they’re capable of improving, which turns out to be true. On California’s Academic Performance Index, which came out last week, Downtown College Prep is a 7 out of 10 compared to all schools, a perfect 10 compared to similar schools. All graduates go on to college; 90 percent remain on track to earn a four-year degree.

While the book discusses the charter school movement as a whole, Our School isn’t written for wonks. Readers tell me it’s a page-turner. So far, it's received excellent reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, New York Post, Rocky Mountain News, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publishers Weekly and others.

The book is in some, but not all, book stores and is available through Amazon

After 19 years as a San Jose Mercury News editorial writer and Knight Ridder columnist, I quit in 2001 to write Our School and to start an education blog,, which averages 1,300 visitors a day.

With all the despair about educating "left behind" kids, I think people need to hear about a school that's making a difference.

Thanks for helping.

-- Joanne Jacobs

One thing Joanne told us that just delighted me, was the story of how her family came to the new world, from (I think it was) Moravia. Farmers from Moravia had emigrated to Canada, and flourished on the abundant farmland. They wrote home that they were very happy, except for one problem--there were no Jews around! There was no one to buy and sell things. So they asked the folks back home to send some Jews, and thus Joanne's family moved to Canada...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 PM

March 27, 2006

Looks like Earthlink is not a company to do business with...

Doctor Weevil had his domain name hijacked! His new address is this. You can read about how it happened here.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

March 11, 2006

Danger or opportunity...

I was writing a response to Scott's comment here, but it turned into something I wanted to post...He mentioned Michelle Malkin.

What's suddenly struck me is how cold she is. I don't remember that she's ever posted anything frivolous and warm-hearted.

I think this issue of Dubai Ports World buying P&O has been very interesting for what it's shown us about people. Very revealing. There are many fault-lines that do not correspond with party lines.

Cold hearts and warm hearts, optimists and pessimists, stasists and dynamists, internationalists versus pull-up-the-drawbridge...

Plus there are the alternatives of seeing the GWOT as a "clash of civilizations," or seeing it as winning friends and helping the oppressed. Or seeing it as either offensive or defensive. Or seeing the world as scary and strange, versus seeing it as fascinating and attractive. Danger or opportunity.

And seeing places like Iran and Iraq as hellish and opaque, or seeing them as future vacation spots once a few short-term problems are fixed! I know where I stand—if we had any money Charlene and I would be on the next plane to Kurdistan or Afghanistan...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:11 PM

February 20, 2006

Texas gourmet...

Today was a rare day without distractions or errands. Just the right time to try this slow-cooking recipe by Scott Chaffin, Tejas Shredded Beef. It was a hit with the Weidners...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 PM

February 15, 2006

Sold Out...

Well, the PJ Media ads have finally arrived. The one place you thought was a refuge from crass commercialism has now joined the huckster crowd...

I actually signed up (long ago) for PJ Media because I'm the world's least clubbable person, and never want to join anything. So occasionally I force myself to join something. The odd thing is, I'm still not sure what Pajamas Media is. "Work in progress" no doubt...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 PM

January 26, 2006

Well, the Pope USED to be a fascist...

I can't get excited about the things I might be blogging about this week. We need a war, or an election or something...

But I happened to click to Penraker, who I hadn't read in a while (there's too many blogs, we need a government program that will pay the marginal bloggers prodigious sums of money to not blog, in order to preserve electrons) and found a lot of items to recommend. Starting with the NYT's take on the Pope's first encyclical...

...Now what does this tell you about the Times reporting? In essence, their shock that the encyclical reveals a nice guy is at odds with their slanted reporting of the past. "WOW! Suddenly Benedict has changed!" is the subtext of the article. Our campaign articles (all articles in the Times are compaign articles of some sort or anther) that portrayed him as an evil ogre were right, but Gee - somehow he has changed now!....


...That is simply a hilarious distortion of what he said. This is like reading Pravda's reporting of a Reagan speech. Here is what he said:...

He meditates on this, referring to Virginia's Bill of Rights to the State Constitution:

...The amendment barring same-sex marriage would be added to Section 15, which begins by saying, "That no free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue....

If you want to know what the Founding Fathers had in mind, you might start with that sentence. We have, in fact, managed to muddle through with self-government with far less of the "Republican Virtues" than they would have thought possible. Still...

On McCain:

....And I agree with Hinderaker that John McCain may end up being a palatable conservative nominee. He has infuriated me many times over the last few years, so it would be a long shot. His posturing on the torture bill was atrocious. He seems a maverick in many ways - but in a possibly flaky, not good, impulsive way. In fact, he seems to be more what Bush is accused of - impulsive, acting on his instincts instead of thinking things through. I bet Bush has read twice as many books as McCain, by the way....

flaky, impulsive...yeah. On Shadegg:

...Republicans are missing a huge opportunity. They should move boldly to REALLY reform and if they made eliminating earmarks a keystone of their platform they could enhance their position and move down the road towards a permanent majority. People hate things like earmarks - back door dealings, stuffing pork in bills at the last minute. It is the creeepy underbelly of politics - and like a soft underbelly, it would be easy to attack...

Hard to attack, I'd say. Like Term Limits, it will skitter away just when you think you have it pinned down...

5 Teachers in California refused to put up "gay pride" banners in their classrooms when ordered to by the school district. This story reveals the latest scam: You have to teach that gayness is desirable and wonderful - because if you don't, students will be "unsafe"

Well, it's not that children will actually BE unsafe. It's that some will FEEL unsafe...

A total disgusting scam. They claim to be "complying" with "state laws requiring schools to ensure students' safety and curb discrimination and harassment." How? By teaching "gay pride." Which, like all such lefty measures, is not about helping gays, but about breaking down traditional morality and community so as to make people more easily manipulated by the state.

And you can bet that the tough things that need to be done to really make students safe will not be done. And if some students happen to be discriminated against because they are Christian, you can double-down that there will not be any "Christian pride" banners in classrooms. Or anything done.

On the new Encyclical:

So far (I am not finished reading it, it appears the meat is in paragraph 28) It reinforces my initial impressions: This is the teaching pope. He is very good at it. His stuff is easy to read and communicates very simply and easily. John Paul issued deep philosophical encyclicals that had to be digested; Benedict takes those profound ideas and brings them down to an easily understood level. What a one-two punch...

On the Attorney General's speech:

Later, on an interview on NPR, he also gave this additional bit of information: The individuals at the NSA who are responsible for determining and certifying that the targets of the surveillance are actually Al Qaeda, or affiliated with Al Qaeda are career professionals. That means, they are not political appointees. They will keep their jobs if they ruffle feathers in the adminstration. That is important...

Keep it in mind when you are told that the Administration tramples on the "career professionals." On the NYT:

The New York Times is the most scared newspaper in the world. I used to subscribe to it, and I detected a recurring theme in the headlines. "Fear and Anxiety plague X (X being a country, or a group, or a geographical place - it doesn't matter...
... we have yet another gem in the FEAR series: "Fear and Death ensnare U.N.'s soldiers in Haiti."

I don't need to read the article to know that the NYT will NOT suggest that the UN's soldiers ACT like soldiers, and inflict "fear and death" on the thugs who are attacking them. They will NOT suggest that "peacekeepers" actually bring peace to haiti, by smashing and killing the monsters who prey upon that poor country. Oh no, that would be wicked.

I'm sure their feelings (when a Republican is in the white House) are deeply pacifist, and like pacifists everywhere, they will gladly accept the necessity of distant brown-skinned people being tortured and murdered and trapped in hopeless poverty, so they, the morally superior beings of the NYT, can have "clean consciences."

Posted by John Weidner at 11:27 AM

January 1, 2006

Up to her tricks again...

Andrea changed her URL and the name of her blog at the stroke of midnight. She's now here. I think it's one of those inverted-snobbery things. "I can hide away, the paparazzi will still find me."

Well, they will.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:58 PM

December 28, 2005


This is pretty silly stuff, but laughing at it is a way to while away a few idle minutes....

Lord of the blogs, by Kathleen Parker (Whose pieces I often enjoy)
...There's something frankly creepy about the explosion we now call the Blogosphere - the big-bang "electroniverse" where recently wired squatters set up new camps each day. As I write, the number of "blogs" (Web logs) and "bloggers"(those who blog) is estimated in the tens of millions worldwide.
And most of them are teenage girls writing for 6 friends.
Although I've been a blog fan since the beginning, and have written favorably about the value added to journalism and public knowledge thanks to the new "citizen journalist," I'm also wary of power untempered by restraint and accountability.
That describes the NYT much more than it does blogs, which are pummeled with comments if they get their facts wrong, and frequently correct stories within minutes...

Say what you will about the so-called mainstream media, but no industry agonizes more about how to improve its product, police its own members and better serve its communities. Newspapers are filled with carpal-tunneled wretches, overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right.

Actually what we see is near-pathological allegiance to getting it LEFT... Here's an example of how hard those wretches work. This ridiculous paragraph is a perfect example of the MSM's reaction to blogs...attacking the critics and heaping puff-praise on themselves.

That a Jayson Blair of The New York Times or a Jack Kelley of USA Today surfaces now and then as a plagiarist or a fabricator ultimately is testament to the high standards tens of thousands of others strive to uphold each day without recognition. Blair and Kelley are infamous, but they're also gone.

Red herring alert. It's not the fabrications of a Jason Blair that bloggers obsess over (actually we mostly felt sorry for Blair, and criticized the NYT newsroom culture that led him to destruction) but the daily bending and selection of facts to fit the Party Line.

Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow. Some bloggers do their own reporting, but most rely on mainstream reporters to do the heavy lifting. Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive.

Red herring alert #2. Few bloggers are CLAIMING to be reporters or to have replaced the MSM. "Most babble, buzz and blurt." So what? For every WaPo or WSJ there are hundreds of trivial and trashy publications babbling and blurting, and no one's claiming that that discredits the reputable ones. It's just Sturgeon's Law at work.

Even so, they hold the same megaphone as the adults and enjoy perceived credibility owing to membership in the larger world of blog grown-ups. These effete and often clever baby "bloggies" are rich in time and toys, but bereft of adult supervision. Spoiled and undisciplined, they have grabbed the mike and seized the stage, a privilege granted not by years in the trenches, but by virtue of a three-pronged plug and the miracle of WiFi.

Nonsense. There's no stage or mike to be "grabbed." Visiting blogs is purely voluntary. The metaphor is a stupid relic of the old media-monopoly days, when a town might have two newspapers and 3 television channels. Back then a few people "had the mike," and others were silenced... (Also I, in blogging my opinions, have had decades "in the trenches" thinking about things.)

They play tag team with hyperlinks ("I'll say you're important if you'll say I'm important) and shriek "Gotcha!" when they catch some weary wage earner in a mistake or oversight. Plenty smart but lacking in wisdom, they possess the power of a forum, but neither the maturity nor humility that years of experience impose.

Oh my heart bleeds for the "weary wage earner." Or it would if those "mistakes" didn't always go in one direction...Actually it's the journalists who tend to lack wisdom, because most of them have never done anything themselves--they just watch from outside, and are often poorly educated in J schools. Whatever the subject, bloggers tend to out-perform journalists in analysis and understanding, because some of them--or their commenters--have actually worked in the field in question.

Each time I wander into blogdom, I'm reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies." Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure. What Golding demonstrated - and what we're witnessing as the Blogosphere's offspring multiply - is that people tend to abuse power when it is unearned and will bring down others to enhance themselves. Likewise, many bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement. When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding's children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.

Golding was writing FICTION. He "demonstrated" nothing. In fact, the influential blogs are usually very careful to be accurate, and often ask for and publish replies from those they criticize. They only really "pile on" the mainstream journalist when he refuses to correct mistakes. Which is...ahem...a Rather problem frequent.

Schadenfreude - pleasure in others' misfortunes - has become the new barbarity on an island called Blog. When someone trips, whether Dan Rather or Eason Jordan or Judith Miller, bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging. Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.

None of those people "tripped up." They all performed deliberate public actions that could bear criticism. Rather and Jordan created malicious falsehoods (and retractions would have ended most criticism). And no Schadenfreude is so keen, no island so barbarous as the MSM when they think they have a scandal that could hurt the Bush Administration.

I mean no disrespect to the many brilliant people out there - professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists and other journalists who also happen to blog. Again, they know who they are. But we should beware and resist the rest of the ego-gratifying rabble who contribute only snark, sass and destruction.

"Professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers..." Yeah, I get it. People with union cards. They have license to speak. Us in the rabble don't.

We can't silence them, but for civilization's sake - and the integrity of information by which we all live or die - we can and should ignore them.
No we should ignore YOU, who are slandering people without bothering with facts.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:57 PM

November 26, 2005

Sidebar stuff...

I've added a picture of me to the sidebar. I read something at Andrea's about how that's one of the seven deadly sins of blogging, to not let people see what you look like...

OK. Duty done.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:18 PM

November 17, 2005

Update on "Open Source Media"

UPDATE: I wrote previously that Open Source Media (Pajams Media) had dumped the minor bloggers like me. It looks like I was wrong. I just got an email from them, telling me to.....Stand by! Stand by because there will be other e-mails coming.....We shall see. I apologize if I've wronged them.

However, my remarks about this being a herd, not a pack, still hold. Communication is still only in one direction.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:20 PM

November 15, 2005

Where's the blog? Where's the "pack?"

"Open Source Media," (formerly called Pajamas Media) is supposed to debut tomorrow. Here's an article. [Many thanks to Dennis the Peasant, who's got the much to tell you]

I was one of the bloggers who originally signed up with Pajamas Media. I wrote then:

...Of course I have this sort of schoolboy feeling that someone will soon tap me on the shoulder and explain that the offer was actually intended for the cool kids who are part of the in-crowd, not me. We'll see what happens....

Well, that's just what happened, although they didn't even have the courtesy to tell the minor bloggers; they just stopped sending e-mails. And that was after we jumped through various hoops, and signed contracts and faxed them back, and promised secrecy, etc, etc. You may be thinking, "What a bunch of capitalist jerks." Actually, I think the problem is that they are not capitalists, not businesspeople. Experienced businessfolk would never be so stupid as to mistreat bloggers who might include in their number next year's rising star. I suspect this is "business" as learned by Roger Simon by writing Hollywood scripts.

I'm guessing they won't accomplish much, not because they are arrogant, but because I never saw, in my contacts with them, anything that wasn't Industrial Age thinking. Top-down thinking. What's Glenn Reynolds's saying? "A pack, not a herd?" Well, maybe things were different among the elite, but us little folk were only treated like a herd. "Sit quiet, and we'll soon tell you all the amazing things we have planned."

Nuh uh. I'm not impressed by even the cleverest Five-Year-Plan. What I wondered was, "Where's the blog?" Where was the PJ Media internal blog or forum where all the "members" could exchange ideas and criticisms and comments, so as to pool their intelligence and skills into a super-organism? That's what bloggers did, for instance, when, in a matter of hours they collated the knowledge of hundreds of people to expose the Dan Rather forgeries. Knowledge ranging from advanced computer typography to remembered abbreviations on Air Guard memos from the 70's!

Maybe I was out of the loop, but I saw not the slightest sign of that in what I heard from PJ Media. And frankly, it's just stupid. I've been a businessman (very small-scale, to be sure) for decades, and my wife is a lawyer who advises businesses. So there is probably a 98% likelihood that we know something that would be useful to this new venture. And the couple of hundred other bloggers who were dropped probably ALL could have made valuable contributions. But there was never a hint that us pygmy-bloggers would ever be expected to contribute anything. Just take orders, and be awed by the brilliance of our betters.


*: UPDATE: I may be wrong. I just got an email from Open Source Media, telling me to.....Stand by! Stand by because there will be other e-mails coming.....We shall see. I apologize if I've wronged them.

However, my remarks about this being a herd, not a pack, still hold. Communication is still only in one direction.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:15 PM

November 1, 2005

Old friend gone....

Kathy Kinsley notes sadly the passing of Momma Bear. Back in the misty past--does anyone now remember 2001, 2002?--Momma Bear used to e-mail comments to me, and send tit-bits from the news that she thought I would find provocative.

I remember when I wrote a post on throwing things as self-defense (which was excellent advice, though no one paid much attention), she would send me news items about grocers driving off robbers by pelting them with canned goods...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:22 PM

October 19, 2005

Jack-boots in Ottawa...

Mr Peparium, on listening to classical music from nearby Canada...

..."Due to labor difficulties, the CBC is not broadcasting it's usual programming..."

In other words, they were just playing a loop of music to fill up the ether. And then I realized that I had never enjoyed the CBC so much.

After all, because of "labor disputes" I was being spared the finicky, over-precise commentaries on new recordings of rare piano suites by guys with names like Vladimir Gryquipschtick. I was being spared news breaks that managed to sound anti-American in a detched, holier-than-thou way, even when they were just reporting the weather over Labrador. And that girl who had the Alternative Music show later at night, who I once heard growl into the microphone something about "Playing music that the government doesn't want you to hear" was nowhere to be heard. Odd, that, considering that it was the government that was paying her salary. Odder still trying to think of Ottowa as the epicenter of some jack-booted regime that supresses Alternative Music. They're much more likely to supress Motherhood and Christmas...

Charlene listens to KDFC a lot, and says they are always strictly neutral. Which, here in the SF Bay Area, is GREAT!

That bit about the Alternative Music girl is funny, and a good example of how the Left has become a cargo cult, re-enacting empty rituals. I wonder if that labor dispute featured denunciations of capitalism and "the bosses"...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:04 AM

September 12, 2005

He'll sleep with the fishes...

A blabbermouth has spilled the truth a bunch of crazy lies about the Republican Talking Points...
...Q. How many other right-wing blogs out there receive talking points? A. I wouldn't know the exact number, but, obviously, most of them do.

Q. How does a blogger get to receive talking points? A. Most blogs were created at the behest of Rove and started out with talking points. I had gained interest from my work as a Republican in college as offered a large sum of money to start a blog to pretend that conservatives are capable of humor (we really aren't). It is possible to start a blog and then be approached by Rove or his henchman, but he seems to like more control over blogs than that.

Q. Do you share the money Rove pays you with the other IMAO bloggers? A. This is "Frequently Asked Questions" not "Showtime at the Apollo," so enough with the jokes.

Q. What happens if you deviate too much from the talking points? A. A certain amount of deviation is expected to make it seem like we're each our own individuals (e.g., hating monkeys is not on the talking points). But the power of the blogosphere is that we Republican shills all act in unison on some issue, so, if one blogger wanders too far off the reservation, then he or she will simply stop receiving the talking points. This will leave the person pointless and having to make things up like Drudge...
(Thanks to Glenn)
Posted by John Weidner at 10:54 AM

test post

Kathy Kinsley once again proves to be a good resource if something goes wrong with your weblog software...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

August 16, 2005

capitalism spoils charming out-of-the-way village....

I'm probably going to join PJ Media [link, link] as an affiliate, so you may see ads on this blog soon. Presumably along the right-hand side. It's not that I have dreams or expectations of making money blogging (though I'm always happy to have a little more). But it's very interesting to be a part of something new and innovative in the blog-realm.

Of course I have this sort of schoolboy feeling that someone will soon tap me on the shoulder and explain that the offer was actually intended for the cool kids who are part of the in-crowd, not me. We'll see what happens....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 PM

March 31, 2005

ante-blogospheric reminiscences

Lastango says:

Remember BB – those decades Before the Blogosphere when you were the only one who knew anything?

Man, it was lonely. I walked around loaded with a mix of good info and useless facts, finger on the trigger in case anyone raised one of my topics. Chances to open fire were rare and folks already barraged wouldn’t risk another salvo.

Not only was society safer once we obsessive types could find each other on the web, but some of us got a surprise: we didn’t actually know much. There was more going on in the world than we had heard about. Issues had more sides and background than we’d seen. Other people had had experiences, read sources, been places we hadn’t. Some even - gasp! - knew more than we did. Umph...

Boy do I remember. I was a neo-con and a supply-sider for decades, with nobody to talk to. Finger on the trigger--yeah, but I was not about to chase off my few friends by upsetting anybody. Maybe just a comment now and then. I still feel a certain pride remembering a pal who said, "I thought you were crazy when you suggested I vote for Ronald Reagan. But you were right."

Good info and useless facts. Useless, that is, until you have children. Mine are great question-askers. It's weird, really. I've never done that. They seem like brainless lumps for days at a time and then they get into these question-asking jags and will hit me with one tough question after another for a half-hour or more. I have to dredge up my useless facts as if my life depended on it. Exhausting. Mostly it's my boys who do it; my daughter is a bookworm like me, and finds her own facts.

But the weblog was made to order for me. I've been doing it since November of 2001, and I still manage to find a few things to say. Actually I was preparing for years, holding debates in my head with imaginary opponents, or thinking of the crushing things i would have said if had thought of them in time...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 PM

January 30, 2005

Simon says

It's late, and voting has been going on for several hours in Iraq. No bloodbath yet, and turnout seems good. I'll risk it and say the election is going to be a huge success. Roger Simon just put this well:

I know it sounds corny, but those of us in the blogosphere--readers, writers, commenters--who supported our government's actions in Iraq and suffered the opprobrium of friends and family, were called warmongers and chickenhawks, this is a time to celebrate. This is what we were fighting for in the war of opinion. It's not much, especially compared to our brave troops, but it's something.

So why am I a hawk? (As I've been asked?) Because I'm for peace! (And no, that's not Orwellian double-speak. Just the plain way things work.) Good night all.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:11 AM

January 28, 2005

Blogs on the ground...

We can be sure the Gasping Media will not INFORM us about the Iraqi elections. The will report the "news," which will look at lot like the "news" we are getting now--pictures of smoking rubble and ambulances... <pompous voice>You don't expect us to report that a plane took off and landed safely!</pompous voice>

But, blogs to the rescue! Friends of Democracy is a giving us ground-level coverage of what's going on. Keep you eye on them over the next few days...If this plane lands safely it will be big news an important historic event.

Campaining in the Iraq election

Picture is a detail of one found here, at Friends of Democracy...

One thing that continues to surprise me is the extant to which people in faraway places like Iraq or Ukraine or Indonesia "get" elections. Give 'em half a chance and parties, posters, debates, poll-watchers, and of course lots of politicians, emerge like mushrooms on a Spring morning.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

January 25, 2005

blogging the blues...

I've discovered an interesting new blog, interesting to me as a blue state conservative, that is. It's called Blue State Conservative. (Thanks to Betsy N)

I noticed some posts concerning California, including this item: ...Calling it the "the last criminal sanction that treats women differently than men," a California laywer is trying to get topless sunbathing made legal for women in the the state...

Bad idea. On aesthetic grounds....

A fine woman shows her charms to most advantage when she seems most to conceal them. The finest bosom in nature is not so fine as what imagination forms.
-- Dr Gregory

This initiative is Blue State thinking at its worst. It's the same logic that thinks poetry will improve if we dispense with rhyme and meter, or that art will flourish if artists don't waste their time learning how to draw. Or that putting pornography on TV will make people more interested in sex. Or that homework is bad for children.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 AM

January 23, 2005

Crazy. Who could live without search engines?

From a Pew study on Internet use:

...Internet users behave conservatively as searchers: They tend to settle quickly on a single search engine and then stick with it, rather than switching as search technology evolves or comparing results from different search systems. Some 44% of searchers regularly use just one engine, and another 48% use just two or three. Nearly half of searchers use a search engines no more than a few times a week, and two-thirds say they could walk away from search engines without upsetting their lives very much.

Internet users trust their favorite search engines, but few say they are aware of the financial incentives that affect how search engines perform and how they present their search results.

Only 38% of users are aware of the distinction between paid or “sponsored” results and unpaid results. And only one in six say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not....

As usual, one is a bit disappointed in the "folk." two-thirds say they could walk away from search engines...! Hmmm. Make that very disappointed. I can't even imagine living without Google. I jump up from the dinner table to Google things that come up. I have thousands of questions in the back of my mind, little things I've wondered about over the years, but have had no inclination to research. Or no way to research. They are almost forgotten, but not completely, and when one pops into mind, I can usually answer it now. (via boing boing)

One such question came to mind yesterday. I once read that the great pianist Gary Graffman had contracted a mysterious ailment that had left him unable to play piano. I felt very bad because I had read Graffman's marvelous memoir, I Really Should Be Practicing, (which I recommend highly). I feel like I know him, and I wondered from time to time how his life had turned out.

So yesterday I googled and found out...

(Also, if you click on the book link, you will discover that the paperback of Graffman's book is selling for $35 and up! Ouch.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 PM

January 1, 2005

They need a weblog...

I recently sent phone cards to Walter Reed Army Hospital, in response to an e-mail that was being circulated around the web. I worried at the time that this was the sort of thing that could get out of hand, because there's no way of controlling how far the e-mail circulates. The problem has indeed materialized...

...At Walter Reed , Lee described a 40-by-60-foot storage room nearly filled to its 12-foot ceiling with gifts from across the country. Another office is filled with letters, many of them with phone cards.

Lee said space became scarce about two weeks ago as scores of phone cards arrived, many in response to a widespread e-mail soliciting them.

The naval center, which began running out of space around Thanksgiving, has "bins upon bins upon bins of phone cards," said Jensen-Withey.Awash in a surplus of free phone minutes, both facilities are urging people to stop sending the cards.

Walter Reed is steering future donors to organizations such as the Walter Reed Society, the Fisher House Foundation and the American Red Cross.

Jensen-Withey said monetary donations are better off going to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, Soldiers' Angels, the Armed Forces Foundation and the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society..

They are lucky it didn't get mentioned on Drudge, they would have to buy a new building just to hold the stuff. What these people need is a web site. In fact, they need a blog. I got a paper thank-you letter, but it should have included a request to check with their web site in the future, to see what was currently needed.

Just thinking about this makes me realize what a powerful tool blogs are. Blogs can change from hour to hour, and, with comments, they are a two-way medium. You don't just tell people things, you can also learn from them. And a blog is usually part of the Blogosphere, so its reach can be prodigious.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:51 PM

December 27, 2004

A wee drop...

David Terron of The Cabarfeidh Pages kindly sent me some HTML to make this sort of drop cap:

Every government must rest on some principle or passion in the minds of the people....the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men'. That is to say men are secured in their rights to life, liberty and property by clear and fair laws, falling equally on all, wisely and justly administered. Any society where rights are bestowed as privileges handed down at the whim of a king, or an aristocracy, or even of a popular assembly, is a society of men, not of laws, and a society that will tend inevitably to despotism and repression.


Posted by John Weidner at 9:23 PM

December 26, 2004


Drop Cap I-1 've been playing around with Drop Caps, as you can see. Feel free to cricketize, since I don't really know what I'm doing—there's probably a better way. But it's fun. And it's a small substitute for what I'd really like to do, which is to have the actual fonts I like display in your browser. Unfortunately, the necessary technology just isn't there. I believe that IE will display embedded fonts, but other browsers don't. (My hat off to Microsoft—the other guys should have copied you on that one.)

Each cap is a little GIF, about 4k. As I go along I shall gradually have a whole Alphabet. By which time I'll be bored with them, and be ready to start over with another font.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:56 PM

December 14, 2004

Thanks Jeff...

I have several times lately been furious at things written by Jeff Jarvis, but I forgive him everything for his slashing response today to the odious Juan Cole's attack on my Iraqi blogger friends. (I sort of think of them as my friends, after reading their stories about their adventures and about all their funny relatives. link link link)

...Make up your mind, Cole: Who's the enemy? Free-thinking Iraqi bloggers? Or the CIA? Or Blogger? Or liberal media? Or free-thinking Iraqi bloggers who happen to disagree with you? Or everyone?

The twit to whom Cole links -- I won't dignify his paranoid crap with a link -- goes on about how the brothers have been interviewed only by right-wing media like The Wall Street Journal. Just one problem with that, fool: They went onto NPR (liberal) radio on Brian Lehrer's WNYC
show -- and held their own. And they met with Howard Kurtz of the notoriously liberal Washington Post and they went to Harvard and met with lotsa notorious liberals there and were scheduled to meet with the notoriously liberal LA Times.

: But I don't need to defend these fine men. Their own brother Ali does a very good job of telling Cole and his confederates to go F themselves
Posted by John Weidner at 7:34 AM

November 23, 2004

"Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

Charlene just discovered a great blog, Irish Elk. It has lots of things odd and whimsical, and serious too. This, from a speech JFK died before delivering, is great:

“We in this country, in this generation, are, by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”

John F. Kennedy
Undelivered luncheon speech
Dallas, Texas
Nov. 22, 1963

Unfortunately, Dems like that are pretty much extinct. Fortunately, we have George W Bush. Less eloquent, but the sentiments are the same.

And for a laugh, scroll down a bit and click on this post where it mentions Three happy chappies in snappy serapes...(Of course, for the full benefit you have to have had children who had the Disney video with that song on it, and to have heard it about 200 times.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:45 AM

October 19, 2004


One of the pleasures of blogging is following the lives of other bloggers. I've been following Rinat for almost three years, since she was Renata, a Brazilian girl thinking of moving to Israel. A long journey, with many a setback, many a humble job. Now she's a journalist, covering the Knesset! What fun. This is from a post about her work:

...There was this humble writer today, running from a place to another today, in a deep stress, ready to kill someone. I was covering the political factions and the committees when, on my way from the 5th floor to our desk, I hear a familiar voice saying me "shalom!". Guess who? Opposition and Labour leader, Shimon Peres, going down with his spokesperson. I smiled, of course... Replied, asked what's up... He remembers me due to the fact he's crazy about Brazil, hehehe. While we waited for the elevator, Justice Minister, Tommy Lapid, joined us. And suddenly I see myself in the same elevator with some of the most proeminent people of the country...

Despite the whole stress, I had a second to think about how I love my job, my country and my new life. Everything seems to suck sometimes, but I have fun. I definitely do.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 PM

October 18, 2004

Too too strange and funny...

You gotta read this post, Tragically Hip by Dawn Eden, who has a life full of hip accomplishments and juxtaposes them with her support for the President...the effect is wacky, but not illogical. Bush is a transformative President, like Lincoln and FDR. He and his party my party are changing things utterly. A new age is being born, and what's so hip about sitting on the sidelines and wishing things were like they used to be?

...Working for a nightclub, I shepherded legendary bluesman Lowell Fulson through the check-in process at the Gramercy Park Hotel, and I support the Bush administration's faith-based initiative. • By the way, I did not go upstairs with him, and he was a perfect gentleman, and I believe our president is right to support school vouchers. • I support my local independent music retailer, and I am pulling that voting-booth switch for George W. Bush on November 2. • I can order sushi in Japanese, and I believe George W. Bush has great insight and surrounds himself with capable advisers. • I got 700 verbal and 640 math on my SATs—before the scores were recentered—and I believe the president cares about the poor and the powerless. • I own every album ever released by Phil Ochs and am thanked in Michael Schumacher's biography of him, There But For Fortune, for research assistance, and I believe our troops are right to overwhelmingly want Bush over Kerry for their commander in chief. • I received my bachelor's degree in communications from New York University, where Neil Postman gave me an A-minus in Media Criticism, and I am thankful to have a pro-life president. • I hugged Timothy Leary, and I am voting for George W. Bush. • I take public transportation everywhere, and I believe the president is right to oppose the Kyoto Protocol. • John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants came to my dorm to give me free passes to distribute for their show at Danceteria—they were opening for an upstate band called 10,000 Maniacs, and I believe the Democratic Party has lost its moral compass...
This is just a small part of her post....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 PM

September 3, 2004

good take on the speech...

I recommend this post, by Alan Sullivan. The full text of Bush's speech, with Alan's interlinear comments. As often, his ideas are similar to mine, but different enough to be very stimulating.

WORD NOTES: I think "fisking" is the wrong word. A fisking is an utter trampling and destruction, not mild disagreement.

"Moms" should not be used in formal speech. YES! Nor "kids." Bush should have said mothers.

"Smarmy." Some writers I've liked have used it to mean an extreme oily over-friendliness, truly sick-making. Lately I've seen it used to just mean something a bit tacky or flowery. It doesn't seem to be in my dictionary. I'm not sure.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:29 PM

August 21, 2004

Don't read blogs...

I'm sure you've seen this sentence from the NYT, it's getting quoted a lot...

...In fairness to Mr. Kerry, his aides were faced with a strategic dilemma that has become distressingly familiar to campaigns in this era when so much unsubstantiated or even false information can reach the public through so many different forums, be it blogs or talk-show radio...
But it reminded me, that yesterday a Republican woman who was visiting Charlene at her office asked, What are Blogs?

Charlene, of course, had no difficulty answering that question. But I bet it's one that's getting asked a lot these days. The New York Times and the mainstream media can't ignore us any more, so they are saying, "Don't read blogs, they are full of unsubstantiated or even false information..." Ha ha. I love it! Ten thousand more people scratch their heads and think, "What the heck is a blog?"

Posted by John Weidner at 2:19 PM

August 15, 2004

"scrambling in the muck"

By the way, Andrea Harris is trying to come up with the cash to get into a better apartment; one that's minutes rather than hours away from where she works. So if you ever had the vague and wistful idea that perhaps you might someday hit a blogger's tip-jar, this is a good time. (I may do it myself if certain overdue checks ever show up.)

Andrea is the real item. If I could write like her I'd call myself a blogger. The kind of writer who can make one pause in the rush and hurry of life and really see the daffodils tossing in the breeze. Here's an example I tucked away:

I'd like to know what kind of bell jar they grow these hothouse flowers in. I'll bet she's the sort of person who would blame her daughter for getting raped. She obviously thinks that only Westerners are capable of self-control; obviously one must speak softly around brown foreigners lest they go haywire. The patronizing little bint. God forbid we ever suggest that people everywhere should learn self-control -- ooh, that's imperialistic. I recognize her sort as the hypocritical type of woman who swans about boasting of how "nonconfrontational" she is until her privileges are threatened -- and then out come the knives and the insults. After civilization falls she'll be scrambling for bones in the muck with the other mutants. Me, I'd rather be dead than live on an earth ruled by the likes of her. And we will end up being ruled by the likes of her as long as we keep allowing people like her positions of privilege.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:07 PM

July 18, 2004

At long last...

Note: Arrival of the Random Jottings coffee mug.
I finally got around to creating an RJ mug, which is available here, at CafePress for $11.95. You'll love it, it's very Multicultural.

What next?

Note: These are supposedly dishwasher-safe, but I'm not sure. I bought a couple of instant-press mugs two years ago for Charlene. (They read: "Charter Member, Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.") The one at her office is still bright, but the color has faded in the one at home, which is washed in the dishwasher...

UPDATE: Lance confirms they are NOT dishwasher-safe. See comments.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 PM

July 8, 2004

dancing without a misstep....

For years I've been waiting for Miss Natalie to come through on her claim to be the world's only sewing blogger. Others might have wavered in their faith, but, if I may be permitted to say so, we conservatives are steadfast. If I'm your friend now, I'll be your friend in 2050. And today, the payoff! It was worth the wait:

....In that instant she regained control and cooly brought the needle to a halt that crucial three stitches on. In a fraction of a second the presser foot had been flicked up and the fabric yanked round by ninety degrees. Once more the pedal moved beneath her foot. Once more the MyLock motor gave voice. "Okay, honey," Solent muttered through clenched lips, "let's see what you can do." This time there was no holding back. Blades and needles seemed less to cut the surplus fabric than to vapourise it. Solent was no novice but it was all she could do to hold the seamline flat as the twin HA-1 SP needles ate up the yards. There was no time to wonder at the marvels of engineering that kept loopers, needles and blades dancing without a misstep even as the speed hit maximum.

Yet the end was in sight. As the pressure on the pedal eased the roar of the machine dropped to a purr. She gently brought it to a halt a precise two centimetres past the end of the seam. Presser foot up - thread on the cutter - snap! Securing the thread-tail could wait. For now the job was done.

"Coffee?" said a voice. Her trusty groundcrew was at her elbow.

"Coffee," she confirmed, flicking closed the power switch and leaning back. "Shaken, not stirred."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 PM

July 1, 2004

Mac back

Good news. Glenn (Mac) Frazier is blogging again after a long hiatus. Back in 2002 he was the guy gathering all the Iran news. Here's a quote by him from an old brings back memories.

It's things like this that make me question my own sanity.

According to several trusted email correspondents, Michael Ledeen, and a website run by a pro-democracy Iranian student organization, yesterday saw demonstrations across Iran that erupted into violence.

According to Reuters, UPI, AP, CNN, BBC, and everyone else in the whole universe...nothing. One of the biggest stories out of Iran, according to them, is that a male bellydancer has decided to continue living there despite being barred from teaching dance. What's going on?

I haven't heard from any of my sources for quite awhile, now. The SMCCDI site reported a temporary lockdown of international phone calls in Iran, then went silent ...

I'm guessing the people of Iran and their struggles will be back on the front burner before too long. Iraq has absorbed most of the attention lately, but I bet Prime Minister Allawi will think up some nasty surprises for the terrorists. And much of what's been happening in Iraq probably really is a fight with Iran, or its agents. And that's good. It seems bad at the moment, but fighting is much better than letting the problems fester and grow worse.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 PM

June 23, 2004

Over the swan-road...

One treat of our little vacation was a stop in Fargo for lunch with Alan Sullivan and Tim Murphy. We liked them a lot. Alan's a blogger who seems to think a lot like I do, but with enough difference to often irritate me into thinking. But I have to say it's damned peculiar to have lived in San Francisco for decades and then have to go all the way to North Dakota to meet our first gay venture-capitalist/poet! Or should I say poet/venture-capitalist? That's Tim.

We got Alan and Tim to autograph a copy of their translation of Beowulf, recently published. Here's a little bit of it. I think they get the flavor of Old English better than anybody...

...A thane of Hygelac     heard in his homeland
of Grendel's deeds.     Great among Geats,
this man was more mighty     than any then living.
He summoned and stocked     a swift wave courser,
and swore to sail     over the swan-road
as one warrior should     for another in need.
His elders could find     no fault with his offer,
and awed by the omens,     they urged him on.
He gathered the bravest     of Geatish guardsmen.
One of fifteen,     the skilled sailor
Strode to his ship     at the ocean's edge

He was keen to embark:     his keel was beached
under the cliff     where sea currents curled
surf against sand     his soldiers were ready.
Over the bow     they boarded in armor,
bearing their burnished     weapons below,
their gilded war-gear     to the boat's bosom.
Other men shoved     the ship from the shore,
and off went the band,     their wood-braced vessel
bound for the venture     with wind on the waves
and foam under bow,     like a fulmar in flight...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:35 PM

June 20, 2004

We're back...

We've just returned from seeing some stupendous chunks of the USA...I'll try to blog this and that as I find time. Though I hardly feel adequate to the task. This country is so big, so beautiful...

Most of all I was deeply affected by the Great Plains. Mountains and forests, well, California's got some of the best. I'm used to them. But those vast open spaces...vast and green. (We have wide lands too, but ours are brown! Brushfire warnings are up already.) Of course the greenness takes a somewhat different meaning when friends in N Dakota talk about how nicely Spring is coming on. In California June is Summer...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 PM

June 10, 2004

blogging break

I'm off and away for about ten days. If the chance offers I may do some blogging from the road, some "Random Red State Jottings," as our friend Dave said...

But perhaps, if I'm lucky, as the reality of vacation sinks in, all this Internet and warblogging stuff will seem impossibly remote and trivial, and I won't think of it at all. Just read books and enjoy some scenery...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:04 PM

June 3, 2004

CONTEST! ... Gratuitous References, Superfluous Digs...

I invented, in this post, an imaginary "gratuitous reference to Abu Ghraib." Something we are seeing in the press way too often these days. Tom Bowler suggested a contest. I like it. Then Lyle mentioned another oft-seen gratuitous dig at the President: "...seeking to reverse his declining poll numbers..."

And I'm sure you can think of others. In what many see as an attempt to subtly distance himself from the shadow of his father, President Bush today hailed National Broccoli Month.

So, in a spirit of inclusiveness, all superorogatory jabs at the President are eligible! Invent!

"So what's in it for me?" you ask. That's a pretty selfish attitude in wartime, pal! But in fact, you can win big! Glory, of course, is the only prize sought by a Preux d'Homme Littérateur, but in addition you can win a Random Jottings Coffee Mug! This is a very rare item! In fact it is so rare, it was only thought of half an hour ago. But it will probably eventuate sometime soon.

* Update: The problem with this contest is that the New York Times may win! Read this, by Tom Smith, on the NYT's reporting on the President's commencement address at the Air Force Academy. a sample:

...The president's remarks appeared to try to strike a balance between frightening Americans and offering himself as the only choice to lead the nation out of danger and to shore up his credentials as commander in chief in an election year when polls show support for the Iraq war and his presidency declining...
The President's speech, by the way, is well worth reading.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:17 AM

May 24, 2004

New blog on block...

Tom Bowler, who leaves comments around here from time to time, has his own blog now, Trilateral Protocols of the NeoCon Brotherhood, Oooops, just kidding. Pretend you didn't see that, or I'm a dead duck.

The one you want is Libertarian Leanings. Check it out...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

May 13, 2004

Question for the teeming masses who read my blog...

Yesterday I posted this, Sunshine patriot, in response to something Andrew Cory wrote. He responded with this. We are obviously not on the same wavelength.

SO, question: Was my post not comprehensible? Not clear? It is admittedly an odd and rambling thing, but I thought my point was simple enough. (And I don't think it was a defense of torture. Does it sound that way to you?)

I'm not asking if I'm right or wrong here. Just if I was clear. And what do you think my point was? Maybe everyone sees something different...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:28 AM

April 16, 2004

And yet, and yet...

I wanted to post part of this piece by Bill Quick, partly because it's really fine stuff about life in San Francisco, and partly because some leftish-bloggers I've encountered excoriate him as the very type of the ranting right-wing evil blogger. That bugs me, since I once met Bill, so it's fun to present a little of the real person...

...I heard the series of shots that killed the policeman in the story above. I heard eight shots, in rapid succession (though not the distinctive chatter of full-auto fire) , sharp pops that sounded to me like pistol or light caliber rifle fire. This is my neighborhood. This is the neighborhood I live in. [Bayview] Most San Franciscans, when they learn where I live, recoil in horror. "You live there?" they gasp. "How can you stand it?"

I smile inwardly. These are the same "good" San Franciscans who marched for civil rights back in the sixties, who would never, ever use the "N" word, who vote for every nanny-state do-gooder program that funnels taxes to black people collectively, who worship at the altar of affirmative action, and who, on occasion, even try their hand at a bit of ebonics, to show how "down with it" they are.

They are appalled at even the thought of living where I do.

And yet, and yet... My neighborhood is about sixty percent black, twenty percent Hispanic, ten percent Asian, and ten white. Some of the worst, most dangerous public housing projects are within five or six blocks of my house. But my neighbors are good people. We are like most other neighbors. We wave at each other, stop and chat, exchange tips on how to encourage the grass on our tiny lawns, bitch about the condo association, worry about our spouses and our kids and our car payments, gripe about the politicians, and in general are indistinguishable from any other group of suburban town-house owning, mortgage carrying, weed-whacker-wielding, backyard-barbecuing denizens you could find anywhere in the U.S.

The "bad part of town," for us, at least, is "over the top of the hill." We don't go there, not if we can help it, none of us black or white, yellow or brown. It's dangerous up there. That's the land of welfare, subsidized housing, entitlement, ghettoization -- and drug wars and gangs and murder at the drop of a hat. Yet even there, the hard core of the hard core - those who do the actual slanging and banging - number less than a hundred. The rest are hangers-on and wannabes, but they aren't killers. Not yet. And everybody else pays the price for the reluctance of the government - for racist reasons or whatever - to pull those hundred off the street, lock them up, and throw away the key...

...We've got some of the best weather in San Francisco, some of the best views, the sort of quiet you usually only find in suburbs, the sound of wind in the trees, the smell of the Bay, and the occasional red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. My roses are about to burst into bloom, and I've been harvesting my own kumquats and oranges for weeks now...

I used to live on Mission Street near Holly Park. Also an iffy neighborhood, with whites a minority. But I never met an unpleasant neighbor. And the black church downstairs, a tiny storefront affair, had singing that was out of this world.

What fascinates me is how in the city things can change drastically from one block to another. When I lived there I never walked east. Things got dangerous in that direction, and I doubt I ever went half a block. But I would take long walks at night, in the other direction, with one block to the west taking me into Diamond Heights, another world entirely.

Charlene saw the funeral procession for the policeman today. She said it was at least three miles long, with hundreds of motorcycle cops.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 PM

May 28, 2003



Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 PM