July 29, 2004

Don't Worry, Help Kerry Poppins Is On The Way

Kerry almost lost me tonight with his "reporting for duty" salute. So I blew off the tedious family tributes to go walk the dog. I would rather watch my dog produce sh_t than listen to John Kerry's sh_t.

A short while after tuning back in, I picked up the vibe that we are in dire straits. We need help. Forget W and his corporate puppet-masters, we need help: "America can do better, and help is on the way."

Heh. Don't worry. We're from the government and we're here to help you.

Inspiration struck. What we need is a nanny. A nanny with a funny-talking sidekick:


Update: On a similar wavelength:

"Ok, so if we elect Kerry-Edwards, people will never have any bills to pay, we won't have to work long hours ever again, and there will be no more dangerous wars? And I suppose everyone gets a pony, too?" - The Poliblogger, via Wizbang.

Posted by JohnL at 11:09 PM | Comments (6) |

Very Baddiwad My Droogies

O my brothers, have you got a malenky malchick or devotchka who likes the old in-out in-out, like lubbilubbing? Are you tired of the like sarky chumble of the little bratchnys? Do the little kiddie widdies have any problems with drugs or are they puffing like on the cancers?

Hear me now, o my brothers: A real like horror show place for pee and em to send them off to. Not a Staja, but better.

Now if you don't mind, it's time to slosshy some Ludwig van Carlos, my droogies.

(Hat tip: Hit and Run).

P.S. Having problems remembering your Nadsat? Here's a glossary.

Posted by JohnL at 08:39 PM | Comments (3) |

July 28, 2004

Frodo Bogart


This represents the best argument I think I have ever seen for a vibrant public domain. It technically infringes the trademarks and copyrights of Warner Bros and the Tolkien estate, at a minimum. But who cares?

Humphrey Bogart as Frodo Baggins in a brilliant 9-minute rendition of The Lord of the Rings. Particularly inspired -- Peter Lorre as Gollum at around 6:30 into the film.

I bet even Robert the Llamabutcher would enjoy this.

Hat tip: Chalybeous.

Posted by JohnL at 10:37 PM | Comments (3) |

All Systems Check T-Minus 59 Days

It's official.

The Scaled Composites team yesterday gave their 60-day notice to the X-Prize Foundation that they will make an official attempt at the X-Prize: two flights into space within a two-week period carrying two passengers (or the weight equivalent of two passengers).

That means the first flight could take off at least as early as September 29 and the second flight no later than 14 days later than the first.

The Canadian Da Vinci team also announced that they will roll out their balloon-lofted launch vehicle next week. No official announcement of an attempt at the prize by them yet.

"Technology high. . . on the leading edge of life."

Very cool. More details to follow.

Posted by JohnL at 10:12 PM | Comments (2) |

Channeling Lileks

A great photojournal of a June 1968 trip to Disneyland.

Hat tip: BoingBoing.

Posted by JohnL at 10:04 PM | Comments (2) |

Waffles Galore

Do you like waffles? I like waffles. Mmmm. Good.

Wafflers? Nope.

Here is an extensive video showing the gradual deterioration of John Kerry from being a legitimate war hero candidate to just another pacifist has-been tool ready to surrender to the jihadists.

Posted by JohnL at 09:48 PM | Comments (2) |

Lucky 13

Yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of my marriage to my lovely wife. Hence, the lack of blogging last night.

We go out to dinner a fair amount, but almost never see first-run movies, so we went to see The Bourne Supremacy. Two thumbs way up.

We both read all of Ludlum's Bourne books about 15 years ago, and recently checked out The Bourne Identity on video.

We have been pleasantly surprised by both movies. Matt Damon fits our mental image of Jason Bourne, and even though we have forgotten all of the finer plot details (from which I understand the movies depart in some key ways) the overall characters and settings fit our memories of the books.

Now, where is that Amazon wish list. . . ?

Posted by JohnL at 09:35 PM | Comments (4) |

July 26, 2004

Reagan Feedback

Well, the voice of Reagan in his prime appears to be propagating into cyberspace nicely, thanks to the efforts of Timothy Sandefur (who I think was the first to link to it), Virginia Postrel, Stephen Macklin, both Llama Butchers, Southern Appeal, and Chris Berg.

I appreciate the traffic, but I love the thought of Reagan's message spreading to a wider audience than the AMA originally intended even more.

While turning back socialism may seem a Sisyphean task, Reagan and Thatcher both showed it could be done. This 40-year old recording is still relevant today. Medicare persists, and President Bush recently expanded it in an astonishing abandonment of "conservative" principles. As Stephen Macklin points out in his comments linked above, Kerry offers an even worse alternative with his health care plan. People who believe that the national government should not interfere with the doctor-patient relationship need to write their Senators and Representative, following the advice spelled out by Reagan here.

Thanks again!

Posted by JohnL at 09:50 PM | Comments (2) |

July 25, 2004

Armstrong Rides Into History

Texan Lance Armstrong has won a record sixth Tour de France.

No point in my linking many stories, since you can Google "Lance Armstrong" as easily as I. Here's a decent one to get you started.

In a game of six degrees of Lance Armstrong, I would come in at only one degree of separation, as I bought my current bike from Jim Hoyt at the Richardson Bike Mart just a couple of miles from here. Jim sold Lance his first bike, and got Lance into racing back in 1987.

A big Texas yee-haw goes out to Lance!

Posted by JohnL at 11:53 PM | Comments (5) |

July 24, 2004

LEGO Millennium Falcon

LEGO has re-issued an updated model of one of the most popular SF ships of all time, the Millennium Falcon. A few years ago, LEGO mostly discontinued selling their first version of the Millennium Falcon, leading to much dismay in our household (I had promised it for Christmas, but it was gone from the stores before we could get it, and was then unavailable online -- grrr).

I'm not planning to repeat that mistake this time around.

Still, it's nice to know that several people have developed their own versions of the Millennium Falcon, so we could always do the same (and probably will -- my elder son wants to use this latest model to help make the Ebon Hawk, the ship from Knights of the Old Republic).

Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (2) |

Llama Tech Support

Steve the Llamabutcher provides some helpful graphics for the technically impaired to demonstrate the effect of a trojan virus.

Posted by JohnL at 10:20 PM | Comments (2) |

July 23, 2004

Operation Coffeecup

I know it's about a month late, but this is my tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan, may he rest in peace. He was not a "libertarian" in all aspects, but he truly loved liberty and believed in the American experiment.

I offer for your consideration a wonderfully-preserved example of pre-Internet, multimedia political opinion, produced and distributed by the American Medical Association and deployed via the "Women's Auxiliary" (not the Spouse's Auxiliary): Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine:

Coffeecup Cover.jpg

Enclosed in this record, I found a letter addressed to my grandmother (actually, to "Dear Auxiliary member"):

woman's auxiliary

April 15, 1961

Dear Auxiliary member:

The Woman's Auxiliary has been charged with the most important assignment in its history.

Physicians have asked doctors' wives to assume full responsibility for OPERATION COFFEECUP, an all-out effort to stimulate as many letters as possible to Congress opposing socialized medicine and its menace as proposed in the King bill (HR 4222).

OPERATION COFFEECUP hinges upon use of the enclosed record, "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine" in informal groups in individual Auxiliary members' homes to stimulate friends and neighbors to write their congressmen.

Instructions for OPERATION COFFEECUP are printed on this record jacket. Informational literature is also enclosed. When you receive this package, don't waste a minute. Follow through with your part in OPERATION COFFEECUP at once. To be most successful, this record must be kept moving.

When you have finished with it, please complete as many of the enclosed report forms as you need and mail them to the Woman's Auxiliary headquarters, 535 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago 10, Ill.

American Medicine has given the Woman's Auxiliary this opportunity to prove its value as helpmates in this vital campaign. Let's demonstrate we can accept this challenge and meet it successfully.


Mrs. William Mackersie, President
Mrs. Leo Smith, Legislative Chairman
Mrs. James Morrison, Vice Chairman

Much more in the extended entry:

Open the cover to this vinyl album and see:

Coffeecup 2.jpg


Here are ten good suggestions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how to write your Senators and Representative.

1. ADDRESS THEM PROPERLY--don't confuse a Senator with a Representative.

2. BE LOCAL--tell them how a national question affects your business, your industry, your community.

3. BE BUSINESSLIKE--if you're for something, say so, and tell why. If not, don't hedge, but tell why not.

4. BE SPECIFIC--make your letter brief and to the point.

5. BE POLITE--members of Congress deserve respectful treatment.

6. BE REASONABLE--ask only practical action.

7. BE YOURSELF--use your own letterhead and your own letter style.

8. REQUEST ACTION--your representative is elected to do something.

9. ASK FOR AN ANSWER--you've told him where you stand and why. Now ask him where he stands.

10. BE APPRECIATIVE--thank him for good votes, compliment his better speeches, and praise his staff, too.

Good advice still, I'd say.

Coffeecup 3.jpg

In case you can't read the text in the picture:


Coffee and conversation with friends and neighbors about a crucial issue facing America today.

The legislative chips are down. In the next few months Americans will decide whether or not this nation wants socialized medicine . . . first for its older citizens, soon for all its citizens. The pivotal point in the campaign is a bill currently before Congress. The King bill (HR 4222), another Forand-type bill, is a proposal to finance medical care for all persons on Social Security over 65, regardless of financial need, through the social security tax mechanism. Proponents admit the bill is a "foot in the door" for socialized medicine. Its eventual effect--across-the-board, government medicine for everyone!

Medicine and its allies must stimulate as many letters as possible to Congress opposing such legislation.

To the Woman's Auxiliary American medicine has assigned complete responsibility for OPERATION COFFEECUP.

It is the Auxiliary's major part in this campaign to defeat socialized medicine.

Will you help launch it today?


On the enclosed record film star Ronald Reagan effectively expresses his own views about the dangers of government in medicine. This new, thought-provoking record is the property of the Woman's Auxiliary. It can be the instrument for eliciting thousands of letters opposing the King bill and similar legislation.

Here's what you can do:

As soon as you receive this package, listen to Reagan's record. You can play it on any 33 1/3 monaural phonograph. Then, read the enclosed literature and learn as much as you can about the King bill and why it is "bad medicine."


Invite some of your neighbors and friends in for coffee and play the record for them. Tell them briefly why you want them to hear the record. From the enclosed leaflet, "Medical Aid for the Aged," you can draw information to state the case against legislation like the King bill. You can also point out that Reagan volunteered to make this record because of his own strong personal convictions. He was not paid to do so.

Remember--this record is especially created for playing to informal groups in homes of individual Auxiliary members.

When your visitors have heard the record, discuss the issue thoroughly. This means that you'll have to do your homework on the King bill and others like it before your friends arrive. They'll raise questions you'll have to answer.

Out of discussion should come action--in the form of letters from your guests to congressmen in your district and senators in your state. These letters should express personal opposition to socialized medicine in general and to the King bill (HR 4222) in particular.

Make letter-writing easy. Provide guests with stationery, pens and stamped envelopes. Don't accept an "I'll do it tomorrow" reply--urge each woman to write her letters while she's in your house--and in the mood! Advise your guests that letters should be short and to the point, objecting to the King bill (HR 4222) and giving reasons for opposing it. Each woman should write her own letter in her own words, not merely copy a stereotyped form. See that each woman addresses her own letters to her own congressmen on the spot. You can mail them all later. A list of congressmen, with instructions for addressing letters to them, is enclosed.

Start all over again with a new group of friends. Use the record as often as you can. When you've played it to the women in your circle of friends and neighbors, pass it along to another Auxiliary member. Every moment counts . . .

Each letter you help send off is a step along the way toward stopping socialized medicine. So join the COFFEECUP CORPS today!

And now, in mp3 format, the Great Communicator on Socialized Medicine:

Intro -- The recording opens with humble and self-deprecating comments about Reagan's show-business background. He quickly (around 45 seconds into the program) summarizes his theme, using the enemy's own words, in this case from American Socialist Norman Thomas: "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Part 1 -- Having established the theme, Reagan now moves the topic to medical programs as being particularly suited to the goal of getting the socialist camel's nose under the tent. He covers the history of attempts to introduce socialized medicine. The Socialists and labor unions approve of the approach. Again, using the socialists' own words: ""Once [this medicare bill] is passed this nation will be provided with a mechanism for socialized medicine capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population."

Part 2 -- The call to action. After summarizing the legislative background, Reagan offers a heartfelt ode to the framers who created a system that protects the rights of individuals and minorities from encroachments by the majority. He emphasizes that the American people must write their Congressmen and Senators in opposition to socialized medicine, and closes with this appropriate quote from James Madison: "Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Posted by JohnL at 12:01 AM | Comments (6) |

July 22, 2004

Hot Shock

I like hot and spicy foods. I love jalapenos and green chile. I add tabasco or picante to about half of my foods. So far I'm the only one in the family who really likes foods that have "the burn." (That might be changing; my second son eats pepperoncinis -- the halting first steps toward more challenging peppers. And both boys like hot link sausages now, too).

Still, I don't really seek out the "nuclear" hot sauces described in this Tim Blair post and comments. Check out the eating habits of some heavy-weight blogging talent -- Lileks, Jarvis, Treacher, and, of course, Blair. As Lileks puts it: How many different ways can you say “my mouth hurt and I blew napalm from my hindquarters�?

(Query: what kind of mind looks at the handicapped rails in a bathroom stall and thinks of Elvis' last moments?).

Posted by JohnL at 10:49 PM | Comments (4) |

80s Music

I came of age in the 1980s, graduating from high school in 1986. At the time, I didn't much like the "popular" (teenybopper) music, preferring 70s progressive rock (ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd), Rush, some metal, and other "serious" music. (That included some intelligent punk/new wave). Now, I can appreciate most 80s music from a nostalgic perspective, even the top-40 songs.

Rae at A Likely Story has compiled a long if not all-inclusive list of songs that exemplify the 80s sound. I added a couple of suggestions in comments to her list, and she's promising to extend the list soon. Check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (4) |

Bipartisan Humor

I've seen links to this brilliant play on Woodie Guthrie's "This Land" several places, but most recently at Catallarchy.

Finally watched it tonight.

Hilarious throughout, but the jokes on the Donks seemed funniest -- especially the John Kerry as a "UN pu--y," the Howard Dean "yeeargggh," and the brief cameo by William Jefferson Clinton ("To the New York I---" [slap!] -- "Hey wha'd I do?").

The jokes on Bush were predictable and fell flat (he's dumb, can't pronounce nuclear, he's a crusader), but they were well-executed.

As they say, the no-hot-beverages-rule is in effect.

Posted by JohnL at 12:07 AM | Comments (1) |

July 21, 2004

Big X-Prize Announcement?

It looks like the X-Prize Foundation will be making "several key announcements" on July 27. Perhaps formal 60-day notices of one or more attempts at the prize?

That's an auspicious day, in any event, as I will be celebrating 13 years of wedded bliss with my lovely wife.

Posted by JohnL at 11:47 PM | Comments (2) |


I've trimmed, pruned, and supplemented my blogrolls.

I'm also experimenting with the style and layout (although not publishing it here yet). Look for a revamped look here soon.

Posted by JohnL at 11:41 PM | Comments (2) |

Happy Anniversary to SFSignal

When you have the chance, drop by SFSignal and leave a congratulatory note on their recent one-year bloggiversary.

Posted by JohnL at 11:34 PM | Comments (2) |

July 19, 2004

Alien Reenactment

Via Mixolydian Mode, a 30-second reenactment of Alien with bunnies.

Posted by JohnL at 11:13 PM | Comments (3) |

Big @$$ Machine Gun

While we're on military topics, jump on over to SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse, where he has penned an ode to the M2 ("Ma Deuce") .50 cal Browning Machine Gun.

Check out some of these links for more on this classic weapon.

Posted by JohnL at 10:51 PM | Comments (3) |

Aircraft Aesthetics Revisited

In his comments to this post, Robert the Llamabutcher reveals himself as a P-51 man, over the, to me, far sexier P-38.

But we can find common ground in our admiration of the B-25 Mitchell. I especially like the B-25 "G" and "H" variants, with the nose-mounted 75mm cannon (a predecessor of the AC-47 and AC-130 gunships).

Aviation historian Martin Caidin wrote an entertaining, if fictionalized, history of the B-25 gunship in Whip, which I read many times in my teen years.

Another of my favorites -- developed but not flown in WWII -- is the B-36 Peacemaker.

(For earlier posts on aircraft aesthetics, check here and here).

Posted by JohnL at 10:35 PM | Comments (3) |

Vacation Photoblog - Part III

This should be the final entry. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures. All (except for the one of me in front of the P-38) were taken with our new Sony Cybershot P-100 5.1 megapixel digital camera. Easy to use, nice optics for its size, ergonomic, and small. Highly recommended.

Despite some minor complaints from the kids, we were able to haul them on several hikes this time, including one at high altitude. Here's the view at lunchtime, close to timberline:


And here's the view at 11,900 feet above mean -- highest point on the trail:


What's funny is that some people don't really grok this. They prefer the beach, or, [shudder] the plains. James Lileks thinks mountains are too obvious. Funny, I grew up in a city on the plain and have seen clouds like mountain ranges, but I have never experienced in Texas anything close to the awe I feel in the Rockies. (More pics in the extended entry). . .

The view from our balcony:


Morning jog scenery -- looking back at the condo from the other side of the valley:


A view of the narrow-gauge locomotive and bridge from our trip on the Historic Georgetown-Silver Plume loop railroad:


We heard a patriotic concert from the jammed town center and saw a surprisingly large and professional fireworks show on the Fourth of July:


Finally, we took my daughter horseback riding for her birthday:


If you've made it this far, thanks for indulging me.

Posted by JohnL at 10:09 PM | Comments (2) |

July 17, 2004

Vacation Photoblog Part II

Our vacation took us from nice-but-not-so-scenic Plano, Texas to Breckenridge, Colorado (elev. 9,600 feet).

Our first day was spent driving to Colorado Springs, where we spent one night. The next day, we visited the US Air Force Academy. (Pictures and more commentary in extended entry).

My wonderful family:


Yours truly in front of one of my favorite planes (and note the tasteful Rush 30 concert T-shirt):


From the Springs, we drove straight up into the Rockies, heading toward Colorado Hwy 9, but taking a brief detour in Florissant to see the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, notable for its petrified giant redwood tree stumps:


We then headed to Breckenridge to check into the condominium that would be our home for the next 10 days:


More later!

Posted by JohnL at 10:22 PM | Comments (2) |

July 16, 2004

Vanity of Vanities; All Is Vanity.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities was a rather "Fly By Night" affair.

(Via fellow Rush-head and junior Vodkapundit Will Collier).

Posted by JohnL at 09:51 PM | Comments (2) |

July 15, 2004

Vacation Photoblog - Part I

Strange to start a vacation photoblog with pictures of food joints, eh?

Well, this vacation was different from previous years in that we decided to take a stand against McDonalds, BurgerKing, and other cheap, artery-clogging food in favor of non-chain, locally-owned, less cheap, artery-clogging food. (Actually, we ate pretty healthy, with most of our meals home-cooked in the huge kitchen of the condo we rented in Breckenridge).

I think we chose pretty well. (See extended entry for pics and critiques).

The Bun 'N' Wrap -- Dumas, Texas. Most Texans, Coloradoans, and New Mexicans are familiar with Dumas as primarily a cross-roads town between Amarillo and Texline in the Texas panhandle. Heading north on US287, you'll find this bright, clean, and well-run hot dog stop on the right-hand (east) side of the road just before the US287/87 split. Exceptionally good corndogs and seasoned curly fries. My lunch (brat with kraut and fries on the side) sure hit the spot. Owned by a transplanted Yankee. Great ballpark-themed atmosphere to match the food. A great excuse to visit Dumas, even if you're not driving to or from Colorado.


Old Chicago -- Downtown Colorado Springs. Not living in Colorado or the Midwest, we didn't know this was a chain, and technically a breach of our rules. Still, it was a restaurant we had never eaten at before, and had a great selection of beers, pizzas, and American-style pub food. I enjoyed a Fat Tire while snarfing down a Buffalo chicken sandwich for dinner at the end of our first day's drive:


The Best Western Pike's Peak Inn -- Colorado Springs. Not really conforming to the rules either, but I had to include this to point out that our "hot" (note scare quotes in picture) breakfast was indeed hot (pancakes, sausage, and eggs).


Horseshoe II Restaurant -- Breckenridge, Colorado. Nice view of the mountains from the upper deck. Reasonably-priced kids menu, and another good selection of local beers:


The Crown -- Breckenridge. My wonderful family standing outside this comfortable coffeeshop/ice cream parlor/pub that we visited multiple times:


Alpine Inn -- Georgetown, Colorado. On July 3, we took a ride on the Georgetown Loop steam train. We ate at this Inn for lunch. I was sad to hear the conductors say this will be the last season this train runs, as it will definitely impact local business like the Alpine Inn (but see this more optimistic assessment of the railway's future).


Mi Casa -- Breckenridge. Good Mexican food in Colorado? A dream come true for any true Texan. I had a very good beef fajita salad, while my wife, more daring, tried their Avocado Frito (deep-fried avocado with chicken -- mmmm).


Downstairs at Eric's -- Breckenridge. A great hang-out. I had Buffalo Wings (spicy enough for this Texan) and a buffalo (as in bison-meat) burger, all chased down with some "Hazed and Infused."


Sam Hill Pit BBQ -- Clarendon, Texas. Finally, we mourned our departure from Colorado and celebrated our return to Texas with some real Texas BBQ in this dusty panhandle town.


If you get a chance to visit or have previously visited one of these, please leave a comment!

More domestic bliss coming soon, along with some space, politics, and SF commentary as I get plugged back into cyberspace. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 10:44 PM | Comments (2) |

Seven Staples and a Headache

My second son (7) attempted a backwards flip/dive at our neighborhood pool when I was almost home from work today. My wife took him to the ER after dropping off our 5-year-old daughter to stay with me (eldest son is at scout camp, thankfully).

This is the son I expect to be the first (if not only) one of my kids to jump out of an airplane someday. He managed to expose his skull lining, but seven staples and a vicious headache later, he is doing fine.

Time for some adult refreshments. . .

Posted by JohnL at 08:39 PM | Comments (2) |

July 13, 2004

Reagan Teaser

OK, OK. Just what is Operation Coffeecup?

A brief foray by me into Lileks territory. About a year ago, I found an old vinyl record that my parents had recovered from my grandmother's house. Here's the cover:

Coffeecup Cover.jpg

I'm converting it to digital. Soon you can hear the mellifluous strains of the Great Communicator speaking out against the evils of socialized medicine. Too bad our current President doesn't share Reagan's principles on this issue.

I'll soon include more cover art and transcriptions of the "liner notes," which are charmingly anachronistic.

Posted by JohnL at 10:55 PM | Comments (5) |

Life's Highway

I've recently gotten off the highway (from Breckenridge, Colorado to Plano, Texas) so I think it appropriate to kick off blogging again with this puzzling little diversion found at the Llama Butchers:

texasbestgrok Highway
Tower of Commitment7
Fame City16
Bewilderment Avenue116
Please Drive Carefully
Where are you on the highway of life?
From Go-Quiz.com

Coming soon: a brief vacation photoblog, commentary on what I've missed, and maybe even a complaint or two about returning to the salt mines of lawyering.

Posted by JohnL at 10:24 PM | Comments (2) |