Friday, April 28, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The mayors of several U.S. cities have gotten together to discuss gun control. I feel safer already. Forgive my incredulity, but have you noticed the municipalities with the worst gun violence have the strictest gun control laws? By definition those who break the law are hardly constrained by any new law. It's like plugging a leak in the bottom of your boat with a band aid, and when that leaks, you apply still more bandages because you have to do something. Here's a tip, it's better to do nothing than to do harm. The Second Amendment to our Constitution says "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Period. One can argue what a well regulated militia consists of, but I think it's evident the founding fathers thought it important that the people, i.e. you and me, be allowed to be armed.
Believe me when I say I'm no gun nut, I like them and enjoy shooting them but if I could wave a magic wand and get rid of every gun in the world I probably would. Then, of course, the squirrels would take over. I like the way Switzerland does it, every one of legal age is required to serve in the national defense force and required to keep arms in their home. Any weapon that army can have, any citizen can have. Would that work here? Probably not. We seem to have more than our share of crazy bastards, so I have no problem with background checks and gun safety education. When I went to get my permit I already had a gun that my brother traded to me and I just wanted a permit so that when I went to the range, I didn't have to worry about breaking the law. Getting my permit from the town was a colossal pain in the ass, they delayed and delayed and requested additional paper work and generally dragged their feet. I thought it odd that I had just been released from active duty in Air Force where I was obliged to maintain weapons proficiency and held a security clearance, but now the town of Willimantic thought it would be better if I was unarmed. Finally I demanded a meeting with the Chief of Police, who always seemed to be out, and demanded my permit. He asked me why I wanted it and I said something to the effect of I was planning on going to church on Sunday and voting next November too and did he want to know why I wanted to engage in these Constitutionally protected activities as well? Clearly presented with a wise ass, he informed me that permits were issued at his his discretion. I said I understood, but that if he denied my permit, he would have to show cause in front of the state board of appeals- usually mental illness or past felony convictions are considered cause to deny a permit, and since I was a decorated veteran with a security clearance he would be S.O.L.. I think he just wanted to see if was serious, I was, so he gave in and signed my permit. This was 16 years ago and it still pisses me off. In that time I have carried a concealed weapon maybe two dozen times. Once it even saved my bacon, but that's an entry for another day.
No not this, but the philosophy that "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity". I practice this theory all the time when trying to determine people's motives. Usually I assume that the simplest and most pedestrian explanation is usually the most accurate. I find this to be roughly 92% accurate. An excellent example, on a sunny Thursday afternoon I wasn't answering my phone or returning any calls. A client might assume many things from this behavior, but the simplest explanation is that I had gone fishing, which is indeed what I had done.
When a public figure does something exceeding stupid or harmful it's tempting to think them nefarious when in fact they are usually just stupid and/or lazy. The best line in Scent of a Woman is when Lt. Col. Frank Slade says something to the effect that all through his life when given a choice between right and wrong, he always knew the correct course of action and chose the wrong one. Was he evil? No, like everybody else he chose the easier path. Napoleon once said that men are more easily governed by their vices than their virtues. I find this to be true as well, mainly because vices are more dependable than virtues. If you needed to collect $100,000 in week for a children's orphanage you can call everyone you know and explain the situation and hope they will do the right thing. But you would probably have better success if you told them about the right thing to do and told them their name would be published in the paper as a benefactor of the poor and homeless.
I've been trying to find the 33 year old Glendronach Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. No luck, the distiller won't ship directly to the U.S. and no one seems to be able to order it for me. I did find a 25 year old 1968 vintage Glendronach Single Malt Scotch Whiskey for a very reasonable price, reasonable compared to what the 33 year old stuff is going for.
If you never had good hooch it's understandable why you might think whiskey tastes like rubbing alcohol. Trust me, next time your in a decent bar ask the bartender to recommend a good single malt and order it on the rocks with a splash of water. There are those purists who think that the rocks part of my suggestion is heresy and there are numbnuts who would quibble with the splash. The rocks are optional, though recommended, the splash of cold water is a must because it releases the flavor of the booze. Try it and you can say stuff like this from the liquid log:
Next: the Glendronach 25yo 1968/1993 (43%, OB, 100% Sherry). Nose: Aaaaaah... This is MUCH more like it. Kiwi fruits. Deep sherry. Good wood. Unique. It has a 'light' and subtle fruitiness, despite the fact that it's obviously from a sherry cask.This is really something - it has a combination of features I never found in any other malt. Taste: Surprisingly soft start, developing into something medicinal with smoke and liquorice.You can taste the age. Pink bubblegum. Dry, woody and distinctively 'winey' finish.That might have lost it some points if it didn't keep surprising me at every corner. Score: 94 points - it earns one or two extra points for uniqueness. Simply stunning. That makes it the highest scoring malt at a 'normal' proof (40% or 43%) in my book..Also, it's the highest scoring Speysider on the Hit List . Really amazing stuff. But then again I guess I'm a sherry freak. This may be too much fun for some.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Hartford hired private investigators to follow around city employees to see if they were doing any work, and guess what? They weren't. The Hartford Courant led with this shocking discovery on the front page, apparently useless municipal employees seem novel to the editors of the Courant. Or maybe they thought the expense of the private investigator was the interesting part of the story. What the story doesn't say is why these people still have a job.
I liked this book better the first time I read it, back then it was called Foucault's Pendulum it was written by Umberto Ecco and was much, much better. If were lazy and mean spirited I'd say something like, "The Da Vinci Code is Foucault's Pendulum for poli sci majors", but I'm not, so I won't.
From a Roman Catholic perspective there are too many doctrinal and factual errors in this book to explore, so I will mention only the first one that jumped out at me. Brown's depiction of Silas the Albino Assassin's mortification as some bizarre ritual. Millions of people throughout the world practice this spiritual exercise in one form or another, few if any flail themselves to hamburger. Dag Hammarskjöld the Swedish Secretary General of the United Nations wore a hair shirt as means of mortification yet he was neither an albino nor was he an assassin, he wasn't even Roman Catholic. I suppose it is too much to ask that writers of popular fiction have a clue about the religious sensibilities of the people they purport to write about.
Read this book if you must, it's not a horrible read but I would recommend that you read Foucault's Pendulum first.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
She Walks in Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
I love this film. In an era of silly remakes, big budget flops and lame t.v. shows on the big screen, it's refreshing to see a movie that's clever, engaging and funny. Rent it or buy it for $9.99 at Best Buy - but see it, you won't regret it, unless you have zombie phobia.
Shaun is guy who has a friend Ed. Ed has no other friends and this causes problems with Shaun and his girlfriend, Liz. Simple story, boy has girl, boy has big loud oaf friend, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back while fighting a horde of zombies. It's like something out of Aeschylus. What separates this film from all the crap coming out of Hollywood is that someone went to the trouble of writing a good story with fleshed out characters (if you forgive the pun). If you liked Eating Raoul you'll like this one too.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Tom Cruise really needs to get a editor or a publicist or whoever it is that keeps prominent people from blurting out asinine things. It seems the erstwhile seminarian and now Scientologist plans on eating the placenta of his expected child. Good for you Tom, now please shut up and go away. I, for one, wouldn't care if he ate the child and his wife too, I just don't want to hear about it.
Every year, about this time, the Hendricksons (Ephemerella rotunda) hatch on the West Branch of the Farmington River. Big deal I know, but the trout feed with abandon on these things and it's not uncommon to catch 20+ trout in an afternoon during the peak hatch, all on the surface with dry flies.
For a bug they're pretty and elegant looking, they must taste pretty good too because birds, bats and trout go nuts for them. Some times the birds will alert you to the presence of Hendricksons before you see a single trout rise and at dusk when the females Hendricksons dive bomb the water to lay their eggs you'll see bats swooping in on them.
"We are of two different kinds," the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. "It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe."
"Hombre, there are bodegas open all night long."
"You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves."
"Good night," said the younger waiter.
By Ernest Hemingway
Monday, April 17, 2006
States are helping school evade responsibility by hiding the test scores of minority children. What the hell are these people thinking? The whole point of the NCLB is to create an environment of strict accountability, kind of like the real world. (Please argue amongst yourselves as to whether or not you believe this to be the case.) By targeting minority children to be excluded, the schools escape sanctions and minority children may get short changed from the education they need and deserve.
"I can't believe that my child is going through testing just like the person sitting next to him or her and she's not being counted," said Angela Smith, a single mother. Her daughter, Shunta' Winston, was among two dozen black students whose test scores weren't broken out by race at her suburban Kansas City, Mo., high school.
(Nice name for a girl by the way, I'm sure no school yard bully could think of anything mean to say or no bigoted HR person will preemptively exclude her from consideration due to racial stereotypes.)
Am I naive to think it would be a good for the schools, governments and people in general to ignore racial, ethnic and religious differences as much as possible? I can see why the NCLB law wants results broken down by race so that they can make sure that no group is being adversely effected, but it seems like every other day some educational wonk in some position of authority is tinkering with things racial, either for advantage or to CYA.
Jane Fonda won't tour the U.S. to oppose the war in Iraq because she feels she has too much baggage from opposing the Vietnam War. No shit.
"I wanted to do a tour like I did during the Vietnam War, a tour of the country," the Oscar-winning actress said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "But then Cindy Sheehan filled in the gap, and she is better at this than I am. I carry too much baggage."
Just once I would like to hear some 60s lefty admit they were wrong about, among other things, the Khmer Rouge, the Viet Cong and the nature of Communist regimes in general from the Soviet Union to Cuba. It would also be refreshing to see Jane Fonda have a sit down with John McCain, I wonder how that would play?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
A terrible beauty is born.
Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
By William Butler Yeats
After Natasha Santiago, a 7 year old girl with Downs Syndrome, was horrifically abused by her mother and her mother's low life boyfriend, Hartford Police Lieutenant James Bernier had to do something beyond his capacity as a police officer:
Natasha was coming home from the hospital after Easter, Bernier found out. And yes, there was something that would make her life easier: a ramp, so the girl, who uses a wheelchair, could get in and out of the house. Bernier began fundraising, asking fellow officers to chip in for materials. He turned to his brother-in-law, a carpenter who has years of experience making homes accessible for the handicapped. Bernier's brother-in-law quickly drew up a design, and tapped a fellow carpenter to help. The crew went to Hartford Lumber to buy the wood, but when the company found out who the project was for, refused to take payment. On Saturday, when he could have spent opening day of the fishing season on the water with his 5-year old son, Bernier arrived in front of Natasha's foster home before 7 a.m. So did his brother-in-law, his brother-in-law's assistant, and four fellow police officers who hadn't even worked on Natasha's case. One of them had to use up a personal vacation day to be there. By 3:15 p.m., they had finished the ramp."It's the right thing to do," said Sgt. Martin Miller, when asked why he was spending his day away from his wife and 5-week-old daughter, but with a handful of fellow police officers, constructing a ramp in preparation for the homecoming of a child he'd never met."It was the right decision," said Natasha's new parents, who have asked not to be identified, when asked why they took Natasha and her three siblings into their home - already full with soccer trophies and mementoes marking the achievements of their 10- and 16-year old sons."It was just the right thing," Bernier said.
I hope the child, the adopting family and the police involved in this story find peace and healing. There is so much wrong in the world and guys like Bernier see it everyday. Unlike the project you didn't finish, or the call you didn't return, work like this goes home with you.
We get the idea from books and movies that evil is some special form of malevolent intelligence - which may be true on some universal level. But ask any beat cop and he'll tell you that on a practical level there is nothing special or intelligent about the abuse of a 7 year old girl, it's tragically mundane. By giving of themselves Bernier, his friends and the kind folks at Hartford Lumber opposed this mundane evil with plain old grace, which is the antidote for evil on any level.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
"May you live in interesting times", the old Scottish curse certainly applies to our generation . Maybe I'm just a worry wart, but I would sleep much better if Iran and North Korea did not have nuclear weapons. Why signal out these two nations? Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the annihilation of Israel and this weirdo running North Korea can't be trusted alone with the family pet.
But what to do? Nuke these countries and their citizens into glowing cinders? Nothing? Something in between? I don't know. I'm glad it's not my call. But I do know this, appeasement in the face of aggression only begets more aggression. Do we really want to see a world in which the hopes and dreams of Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are realized?
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
All you need to know about our immigration problem is summed up in this statement by an illegal alien who was fired for missing work to attend a pro immigration rally:
"It was not fair,'" said Mercedes, a 31-year-old Detroit woman who attended the rally and was fired. "We went to fight for our rights." Mercedes is undocumented and asked that her last name not be used.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Went out to pester the fish for the first time yesterday and was shut out completely. It was a fine day and fish should have been rising to the abundant Blue Wing Olives all over the water, but I guess the trout had made other plans. What's worse getting shut out when fish are rising everywhere or getting shut out when nary a trout is seen? That's the bad news, the good news is that my new G. Loomis rod casts like a dream and it's only a matter of time before the Hendrickson Hatch.
Good news for Red Sox fans everywhere, Big Papi is staying in Boston for the foreseeable future. A great guy who is a positive force in the club house, a team leader and perhaps the best clutch hitter in the game, Ortiz is the sort of guy everyone wants on their team and we have him at least until 2010.
"I'm proud to be a Red Sox player," said the player, who just last year was awarded a plaque by ownership, honoring him as the "Best Clutch Player" in Red Sox history. "We had a long talk about myself staying here in Boston. What can I say? I want to finish my career as a Red Sox player. Thanks to Mr. Lucchino, Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner and Theo, we worked this out so I'll be around a while."
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Remember those professors in college who made you buy their book even though it was entirely unrelated to the course? I'm not sure what's worse the fact that these books were unreadable, the fact that you had to spend "college money" to read them, or that it took time from reading real books or fishing.
In Hartford there's a flap over a book some have decried as explicit, I don't know I haven't read it. But what pisses me off is that the book in question is a self published effort by a Hartford magnet school principal Steve Perry. So here we have a principal assigning a book he wrote, but somehow couldn't get published, to his own students. Is it me or does this strike any of you as too cozy by half? I admit, I could be very, very wrong and this book could be the next Confederacy of Dunces, but I doubt it. I would love to read it just to see if my worst suspicions are confirmed.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Beckett pitched a great game against a very good offensive lineup, but the story of the night had to be Jonathan Papelbon throwing absolute gas to close out the ninth while Foulke sat and watched. Keith Foulke was on the mound when we won the big one back in ought four so, like The Sports Guy, I wish him well and cut him some slack, but the I fear he's all washed up. Manager Terry Francona, unlike Grady Little, did the right thing last night by playing to win instead of trying to balm egos or raise confidence levels. That's the good news.
The bad news; Mike Timlin pitched poorly, David Ortiz went 0 for 4, and if not for the ghost of Wendell "Send Em In" Kim possessing the Texas third base coach the game would have been tied and God knows what would have happened. Still a win is a win.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I know it's early but this yahoo may be hard to beat. Brian J. Doyle a deputy press security for the Department of Homeland Security was busted for talking dirty online to a undercover detective posing as a 14 year girl. What the hell was he thinking? Besides the whole ick factor and the morality thing, did this ostensibly intelligent man think he could engage in this behavior without consequence? What scares me is that he probably did, because he had been getting away with stuff like this for quite some time. It is indeed the unlucky felon who gets caught in the act of his first crime.
Note to parents: If your kid has internet access in their room and a web cam, what the hell are you thinking? Do you realize that anything you can find in the world, both sublime and horrible, can be found on the net and with a web cam those who would find your child have a window into their bedroom?
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, the tireless defender of the poor and down trodden, has come to the defense of Barry Bonds. Oddly enough I agree with the good Reverend to the degree that players on the field shouldn't have to worry about pointy objects being tossed at their coconuts. With that said, Barry Bonds and all other baseball players who use/used illegal performance enhancing drugs should be banned from baseball and any records they have amassed should at the very least have an asterisk the size of Delaware. I think it's safe to say that Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron did not use steroids or HGH so it would be unfair to have their accomplishments bested by players who do. Would I feel differently if Bonds were a great guy, probably. But he isn't, and regardless of how we feel about these players the integrity of the game and the health of thousands of athletes at all levels of MLB need to be protected.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Where I fish on the West Branch of the Farmington river there is no closed season. Before I became fat and lazy, I would fish there 12 months a year. Now that I'm a responsible business owner and pater familias, every minute away from home or office is spent carefully, so I rarely go out there when the fishing can sort of suck. Like when it's 20 degrees and windy. Ice forms on your rod, your fly line is uncooperative and there are no hatches to speak of and the fish are finicky. But all that is over, it's the time of year you can hear the trout calling you out to play. I'm coming my spotted little friends, I'm coming.
Red Sox Defeat Rangers 7-3 on Opening Day 2006, Schilling looked great, Ortiz went 3 for 5, Coco Crisp is so much more than a cereal, it's 6:38 p.m. and it's still light out. If the Yankees lose tonight it will be a near perfect day.
What to make of this whole silly, sordid episode? Ms Mckinney would have us believe it's just another example of the man keeping her down. Possible, I think it's pretty much settled that blacks often have a rough time with the police, and vice versa. But a more likely scenario is that as a person who is used to getting her way, Mckinney over reacted when stopped by police. Ask any security guard, waiter or flight attendant who they most have problems with, other than drunks, it's hands down VIPs with an enormous sense of entitlement. If she did hit a police officer let the punishment fit the crime, just like any other citizen. If the cop was in the wrong and jacked her up in an unprofessional manner, he/she should be punished accordingly as well.
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