Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fantasy World Cup Soccer...You Bet

FIFA World Cup - Germany 2006 begins on 9 June with the final scheduled for 9 July. The U.S. has its work cut out -- predicted to finish group play behind Italy and the Czech Republic (but ahead of Ghana).

The U.S. plays the Czech Republic on 12 June, Italy on 17 June, and Ghana on 22 June.

As in all major sports, there is a fantasy league. My 23-man squad is as follows (I'll keep my line-up cofidential in case you want to play):
GK - CECH Petr (CZE)
GK - DIDA (BRA)
GK - VAN DER SAR Edwin (NED)
D - CARVALHO Ricardo (POR)
D - CANNAVARO Fabio (ITA)
D - LUCIC Teddy (SWE) (swapped for GK - Gianluigi Buffon (ITA))
D - CARLOS Roberto (BRA)
D - PUYOL Carlos (ESP)
D - TOURE Kolo (CIV) (swapped for Philipp Lahn (GER))
M - SMOLAREK Ebi (POL) (swapped for Xabi Alonso (ESP))
M - BALLACK Michael (GER)
M - KRANJCAR Niko (CRO) (swapped for Tranquillo Barnetta (SUI))
M - DONOVAN Landon (USA) (swapped for Francesco Totti (ITA))
M - GERRARD Steven (ENG)
M - RONALDINHO (BRA)
M - ROSICKY Tomas (CZE) (swapped for Ruud Van Nistelrooij (NED))
M - RIQUELME Juan (ARG)
M - LAMPARD Frank (ENG)
F - BORGETTI Jared (MEX) (swapped for Miroslav Klose (GER))
F - SHEVCHENKO Andriy (UKR)
F - FREI Alexander (SUI)
F - HENRY Thierry (FRA)
F - CRESPO Hernan (ARG)
UPDATE 7/10/06 -- Finished with 607.5 points in 2,046th place (97th percentile) in the Fans of United States fantasy group; group winner had 871 points. It was fun.

Rocket Relaunched: Part 2


Roger Clemens agreed to terms Wednesday on a one-year deal with the Astros to come back for a 23rd season, or at least the remaining four months of the current season.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner ended his seven-month retirement by accepting a deal that will pay him approximately $12.8 million -- the pro-rated value of his $22,000,022 seasonal contract.

Not sure if this elitism is good for baseball, or for any sport. There are a limited few who can set their work terms like he has done. Talk about your privileged...no spring training, no need to bother with April and May...

I am just glad he did not sign with the Yankees.

UPDATE 6/23/06: Clemens returned; pitched 5 innings; gave up 2 runs; lost to Minnesota; bettered my Liriano.

Haditha ... Here We Go Again

The headlines are all about military cover-ups and conspiracies: "military investigator uncovered evidence that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb."

The Left and their MSM spokespersons demand justice for acts committed by our Marines, showing their true colors. They only care about civilian lives when it involves our troops. They did not care about Saddam's killings. They do not care about the killings in Darfur, Uganda, Somali or East Timor. If they cannot put blame on the current administration or the military, by and large they ignore it.

Thanks to the bloggers, we get additional views and opinions. Let's not convict prior to charges being filed. Let's not pull a "Murtha." The truth will come out. If there was improper behavior, the guilty will pay the price. And if so, that would not be the norm.

We do not want the media and their elected cronies to establish our close-quarters-battle and house-to-house military techniques.

East Timor - Same Old Song and Dance


It has been nearly seven years since East Timor went on its own as an independent nation, after two decades of occupation by Indonesia and four centuries of colonial rule by Portugal.

This small (5,641 sq miles), poor (GNI per capita: $550) nation of 857,000 (mostly Christians) continues to battle its internal demons. This latest conflict initiated as the final 1300 UN peacekeepers (from a high of 9000) began scaling down.

The coffee, oil and gas economy is not creating enough jobs. The poor seem to keep getting poorer. Corruption is the rule -- police, military and government officials. The 1999 murdering marauders have not been tried for their crimes, and probably never will. Pro-Jakarta militia will continue to ploy their murdering and extorting ways.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says he will not resign, despite being blamed for not ending the unrest in Dili. President Xanana Gusmao announced emergency rule and claims he is in sole charge of the country's security.

A group calling itself the "International Donor Community," comprised of 15 major aid donors to East Timor, including governments and financial institutions, released a statement: "all involved must now grasp the opportunity for dialogue amongst each other and with the population in pursuit of a peaceful solution."

The statement was issued on behalf of the governments of Australia, Brazil, Finland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Britain, United States, European Commission, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Our hearts go out to the poor of East Timor. However the outlook for peace and prosperity is dim. With self-serving power-brokers, government officials and military leaders leading their respective conflicting parties, the nation will suffer and the few will prosper.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Morally Acceptable

Recent Gallup poll on marriage provides an interesting insight into the generation gap. The younger you are the more okay you are with divorce, pre-marital sex, and having a baby outside of marriage.

Could it be that those with experience are more accurate at assessing the role and value of marriage and relationships? Absolutely.

Acting on Assumptions with Iran

Despite what the erroneous bla bla of the left -- Bush misled the nation about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, etc. -- we have well-established facts about Iran. Michael Barone does a good job outlining this:
We have every reason to believe that the mullahs' regime is developing nuclear weapons. We know that Britain, France and Germany in three years of talks with Iranian officials have made no progress in persuading them to stop. And we know that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to destroy Israel and to attack other countries. His letter to President Bush, taken by some as an invitation to talks, reads like a demand for capitulation to fundamentalist Islam.

What to do in these circumstances? First, assume that Iran is bent on getting nuclear weapons -- and don't rely totally on estimates that it won't get them for 10 years. Second, understand that the case for military action is not as strong as it was in Iraq. Iran is a much larger country, and the nuclear program sites are widely dispersed and probably strongly fortified. Third, -- and most importantly -- there is every indication that the Iranian people hate the mullahs' regime and like the United States.

That means that direct negotiations with the Iranian government, which seem sure to be futile, could give the regime prestige and reduce the chances of its peaceful overthrow. But be clear about maintaining the military option: It seems likely that air strikes could substantially delay if not destroy Iran's nuclear program. And keep stepping up direct communications with the Iranian people.

There's no easy answer on Iran, as there has been no easy answer on Iraq. But we can't assume there is no problem, as Bush's critics say he should have done on Iraq. We need to keep up the pressure on the mullahs. And keep our nerve.

'Against All' Ballot

Russia has a law that allows an "Against All" option on the national election ballot. The State Duma is now thinking of removing this option.

The "against all" option, which serves as a protest vote, has become popular among Russian voters. The election is declared invalid if the "against all" option garners more votes than any candidate.
In the last Duma elections, in 2003, "against all" came in fifth place, with 4.7 percent of the vote, on a ballot of 23 parties and blocs. "Against all" beat out all the candidates in three single-mandate district races for the Duma. In the 2004 presidential election, "against all" took fifth place, with 3.45 percent of the vote. Six candidates ran in the race.
Interesting, the "against all" is a vote -- a recorded vote. It is very different than not voting at all.

If something like this were offered in U.S. elections, there have been and will be many elections won by "against all." Problems are incumbents stay in power and no progress is made.

Gitmo Prisoner Hunger Strike

Do we really care that 75 prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are on a hunger strike? Not me. Especially when the main reason is to bring attention to a series of hearings (commissions) scheduled in June by the U.S. war crimes tribunals. The lengths we go to protect terrorist, sorry, enemy combatant, rights.

Safety Impact of Raised Speed Limits

How are speed limits decided? Why do we allow bureaucrats decide how fast we should be able to drive on remote high-speed roads? Are policymakers smarter than you and I?

NCHRP Project 17-23, Safety Impacts and Other Implications of Raised Speed Limits on High-Speed Roads explores these and other related questions. NCHRP Project 17-23 provides guidance for state highway officials and transportation policymakers concerned with evaluating and setting highway speed limits.

Three major changes in national-level speed limit policy have occurred since 1974:

-- On January 1, 1974, President Nixon signed into law a National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) of 55 mph. The law established a maximum speed limit applicable to all states and roadways and provided for penalties (the withholding of federal highway funds) for states that allowed traffic speeds in excess of 55 mph.

-- The Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, enacted on April 2, 1987, relaxed the 1974 federal NMSL mandate by allowing states to set speed limits of up to 65 mph on interstate roadways passing through areas with population less than 50,000 (rural interstates).

-- The NMSL was completely repealed by the National Highway System Designation Act, which President Clinton signed into law on November 28, 1995. This law returned to states the authority to set speed limits (or, indeed, to not establish speed limits at all) on the roadways within their boundaries, effective December 8, 1995.

Key NCHRP Project 17-23 findings include:

-- A speed limit increase on a high-speed road is generally associated with a less-than-equivalent increase in average vehicle speed: a 10-mph speed limit increase, for example, corresponds to average speeds around 3 mph higher -- a speed limit of 65 mph results in an average speed of 78 mph.

-- The project identified a relatively small but statistically significant correspondence between speed limits and total crash rates: a speed limit increase from 55 to 65 mph on an average high-speed road section would be associated with a crash rate increase of around 3%.

-- The project found a statistically significant association between speed limits and the distribution of injury severities following a crash. From the table below, in the lower speed limit range (55 to 65 mph), data analyses suggest a 3.3% increase in the total number of crashes and a 24% increase in the probability that a crash results in a fatal injury. Together, these increases combine to a 28% increase in the number of fatalities following the speed limit increase. In the higher speed limit range (65 to 75 mph), on the other hand, the increase in the total number of crashes is considerably smaller (0.64%). No reason given, only speculation.

-- Higher speeds resulting from a speed limit increase lead to travel time savings that have an economic value.

-- Vehicles have higher operating costs at higher speeds; for a typical passenger car trip, the operating cost increase associated with a speed limit increase of 55 to 65 mph is roughly one-half the value of the reduced travel time.

-- Little is known regarding the air quality and noise impacts of speed limit changes; the few available studies suggest that these effects are very small to negligible.

-- No reliable information was found regarding possible effects of speed limit changes on business and commerce. Similarly, available data do not allow definite conclusions to be drawn regarding the effects of differential light/heavy vehicle speed limits.

Conclusion: it is not expected that the results are sufficient to affect regulatory decisions.

We all have preconceived notions of "generally accepted facts" that unfortunately are not backed up by science. For example, we probably all think that driver education makes our novice drivers better and/or safer. Unfortunately this is not backed by science. Likewise, most of us have a tendency to think slower driving is safer -- it is safer to drive 65 than 75 mph. However, this study does not support this premise.

Transportation’s Role in Public Health Disasters

TRB's 134 page Surface Transportation Security - Volume 10 addresses transportation's role in public health disasters, specifically chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) threats.

Five modes are considered within the national transportation system: highway,
maritime, rail, air, and mass transit. There are many controlling agencies for each of these, each with their own emergency response organizations and general historical emergency response activities.
-- About 77% of the highway system is owned by local governments, 20% by states, and 3% by the federal government. Emergency response plans for highways are developed by state departments of transportation (DOT). These plans address emergency response modification of traffic flow, determination of roadway soundness, and provision of trucks and personnel per the request of incident command. Counties and municipalities also have transportation and emergency response offices with plans for emergency re-direction of traffic.

-- There are about 150 deep-draft ports in the U.S. These are overseen by state and local port authorities, with the primary objective of promoting commerce. There are significantly more shallow-draft ports, which are run by local governments and commercial entities. Regardless of port, vessel size or ownership, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) , has primary responsibility for safety and emergency response over the nation's waterways and in its ports. The USCG develops Area Security Plans that address emergency operations. During emergency events, temporary ferry lines have been established to supplement other compromised transportation modes and assist in evacuations. Many large tugboats are equipped to assist with firefighting needs, and varioupublicic and private vessels have assisted with search and rescue operations.

-- More than 90% of freight railroads, including rail track, are privately owned and operated. While there are only 8 large, Class I carriers that operate 68% of the track, there are more than 500 smaller railroads. The activities of these companies are coordinated through the Association of American Railroads (AAR) ,which maintains a single-point database of rail shipments through Railinc. Decisions about emergency changes in security and operations are typically made at a corporate level, where there are rotating shifts, around-the-clock, of top decision-makers. During emergency response events, resources provided by railroads have included use of freight cars, shipping of supplies free of charge, and increasing on-duty staff as needed to meet emergency shipping needs. The single-point contact for initiating emergency response activities that affect the rail system is the AAR, which in turn, can quickly identify the appropriate organizations for the region, and assist in the coordination of traffic among various carriers.

-- The air transportation system consists of three segments, each with different types of ownership. Airports are typically owned and operated by state or local governments. Aircraft are primarily owned by commercial and private entities. Communications, navigation and the air traffic control (ATC) system are primarily owned by the federal government. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released an advisory for State and Regional Disaster Airlift (SARDA) Planning. SARDA may be developed and implemented by a state or regional DOT, or office of aviation, its resources may include those within state and local governments, the Civil Air Patrol, and other volunteer organizations of commercial and private operators such as the Emergency Volunteer Air Corp (EVAC), etc. When a state emergency is declared, National Guard resources are available; and when a national emergency is declared, more resources may be provided by the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Not all states have developed a SARDA plan. In these cases, the Civil Air Patrol may provide the first line of aviation support. Aircraft and helicopters may transport supplies, first-responders, and evacuees. Limitations are typically not with aircraft availability, but rather with airport capacity.

-- The mass transit systems predominantly are owned and operated by county, city, or metropolitan area governments. Some transit service is provided by private entities, often in affiliation with local mass transit agencies. All transit agencies have some level of emergency plans that often include preset alternate routes and schedules to allow them to move around problem areas and to provide assistance to first-responders as needed. The 30 largest public transit agencies have plans that specifically address weapons of mass destruction. Emergency response decisions in mass transit organizations are typically made at the operations level. In addition to re-routing around isolation areas and assisting with evacuations, mass transit vehicles may be modified to assist with transport of supplies. In general, emergency response decisions follow pre-set plans that can be superseded by the incident command. These actions do not require explicit consultation or approval within the transit agency beyond the operations division.
Coordination between thousands of private and public entities is difficult at best, practically impossible. When disasters do strike, these men and women and their agencies do a remarkable job, given their constraints. So the next time we have a major natural or man-made disaster, put this in the back of your mind as you witness the blame game.

And You Want to Be My President?


Jerry says to George, as George lays on his floor with his pants down on his ankles, falling after running out of the bathroom as he tries to stop Kramer from blowing his unemployment scam: "and you want to be my latex salesman?"

We have a real world George Costanza in Al Gore, fresh from the Cannes Film Festival, giving his end of the world speech to attendees at the Hay Festival in central Wales.

"We face a challenge in the conversation of democracy that we must be up to in order to save the climate balance on which our civilisation depends."

Talk about singular in purpose and moralistic scare tactics. How in the world does this guy think anyone will ever take him serious as the leader of "the greatest nation on God's green earth?"

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bonds Now Second All-Time HR Leader


Barry Bonds hit home run 715 on Sunday in San Francisco, a week after he hit 714. The 41 years old lefty is now 40 home runs behind the right-swinging Hank Aaron, the Hall of Famer, who is the all-time leader with 755. (As a side note, Aaron leads with 2297 RBI vs Bonds' 1853 -- 11th place all-time.)

Bonds passed the Babe with a two-run shot to center field in the fourth inning off Colorado right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim, coming after a leadoff walk to Steve Finley. The milestone homer, on a full-count pitch, landed halfway up the bleachers, 445 feet away, and was fumbled by a fan into the batting eye. The historic ball was retrieved by Andrew Morbitzer, a 38-year-old fan from San Francisco, who was waiting on line below the bleachers to purchase a beer.

Under normal conditions, passing Babe Ruth would a cause for celebration. However MLB isn't recognizing it. Bonds gets booed wherever he goes on the road.
In a way, it is sad and unfortunate for Bonds and for baseball. Under normal circumstances, we would be carrying this guy around on our shoulders and proclaiming as he walked down the street, "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived."

He slugged .809 in a five-year period: Ruth is the only other player ever to slug .800 in any season. Bonds is the sole member of the 700-home run, 500-steal club; only four players are in the 300-300 club, and no one else is in the 400-400 club. Bonds is the first player since Williams in 1941 and '42 to lead the major leagues in home runs one year and in batting the next (Bonds did so in 2001 and '02).

Bonds has been pitched to more cautiously than any player in history. He is the all-time walks leader; in 2004, he walked 232 times, more than Willie Mays' two highest season walk totals combined, and 62 more than the Babe's season high. Bonds has more intentional walks in this decade than anyone has in his career since the statistic became official in 1955. In 2004, he had more intentional walks -- 120 -- than any team in baseball history. That year, he was walked intentionally eight times with no one on base. In his career, he has been walked intentionally 69 times with first base occupied; the next four active players have 28 combined.

Since turning 35, he has hit a home run every 8.3 at-bats, nearly double his home-run rate for the first 13 years of his career. And that is where the story gets confusing to some, and completely clear to others. If "Game Of Shadows" is accurate, Bonds' home run rate was directly affected by his steroid use, which is enough of an allegation to have people screaming for asterisks, abolishment of his records and "no" votes for the Hall of Fame.

It's going to get more awkward as he continues his pursuit of a number even bigger than 715 -- 755. Maybe his knees won't hold out that long. Maybe he'll tire of the daily scorn aimed at him. Maybe the federal government will find something that will force him to stop playing. Or maybe he'll pass Aaron, something that MLB surely is hoping will not happen.

In Ruth's final season in 1935, he was 40, fat, tired and hitting .181 for the Boston Braves. His final three homers came in one game, in Pittsburgh. One cleared the roof at Forbes Field, a shot that was estimated at 600 feet. It would have been a perfect way to end his career. But Ruth played a few more games (no hits); Braves management made him play because he was such a road draw, adoring fans wanted to see him one last time.

That's how it would ideally end for Barry Bonds. But in most places, sadly, it won't.
The Giants are in the NL West race and probably will be contenders all year with the other four teams. At this point, Bonds' pursuit of the record is not worth his slot in the lineup. He can barely run. He's liability in the field and on base. Bonds' playing time should start to drop off. Sadly, he will begin to fade away. His greatness will go into the history book with a asterisk.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of my favorite holiday's because of its origins and purpose.
Memorial Day was originally set aside to honor the Civil War dead from the North by decorating their graves with flowers and it at first called "Decoration Day." In 1866, the first commemorations were held in Waterloo, New York, and in Columbus, Mississippi. The American flag was flown at half-staff and a veterans" parade marched to the village cemetery, where patriotic speeches were given. The first national Decoration Day was held on May 30, 1868 by Union Army veterans known as the Grand Army of the Republic. The May 30 date was close to the date of the final surrender of the Confederate Army (May 26, 1865). The Southern states started remembering their soldiers on a Confederate Memorial Day on various dates. After World War I, the American Legion took over the observance, renaming it Memorial Day, setting it for the last Monday in May, and dedicating in honor of all those who died in U.S. wars. Some southern states continue to observe a separate day to honor the Confederate dead.

Memorial Day is observed with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and by religious services, parades, and speeches nationwide. Flags, insignia, and flowers are placed on the graves of veterans in local cemeteries.
Consider Armstrong William's Recipe for Celebrating Memorial Day:
As we approach yet another Memorial Day, it hardly seems enough to remember these soldiers in cliques of gallantry. It is not appropriate to dress up in historical garb and fondly re-enact the bloodiest chapters of our history -- as to Civil War and world war enthusiasts. It is not enough to reduce the service of our patriots to an excuse for a really big sale -- as do retailers. It is not enough to dilute this holiday with ostentatious displays of consumerism and pageantry.

After all, the importance of celebrating Memorial Day is not to celebrate per say, but to confirm the significance of lost lives.

By coming together in a large communal ritual, we reinforce the notion that these soldiers, that these people, have actually died. And that they died to strengthen our individual freedoms. After the fighting in their various wars, some of our soldiers returned home with tattered minds and spirits, only to be held in lower regard than the enemy they had struggled to defeat. Some were still relegated to the back of the bus because of the color of their skin; others never lived long enough to see the civil rights legislation of the '60s. Yet they fought for an idea so powerful that it moved many of them to die for their country. We cannot forget that what is best about this country rests on their shoulders.
I am eternally grateful for those who gave their lives in the service of their country. Their number is large. Their sacrifice is great.
All you've forsaken
And all that you've done
So that I could live out
This undying dream

Won't be forgotten
Or taken for granted
I'll always remember
Your endless sacrifice

-- John Petrucci

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Who's Fighting In Somalia?


In Somalia, many have no idea who is fighting who.

The fighting pits Mogadishu's notorious warlords against Islamist leaders attempting to turn the country into a religious state. But for many of the people running for their lives, the fighting is as incomprehensible as so many past wars, a shootout between rival militias in which civilians are the ones bleeding the most.

The warlords have been disputing with each other for centuries. If there is an eventual winner, it will not bring an end to their conflict. Unfortunately, this country will never be at peace.

Marines and the Murder Charges


On 19 November 2005, a Marine battalion (3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton) conducted the sweeps of homes in Haditha, Iraq (a hotbed of Sunni insurgents and foreign terrorists who operate out of residents' homes) after one of its members was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED). It is reported that the sweep resulted in the deaths of more than 20 Iraqi civilians.
The Marine Corps initially issued a statement Nov. 20 disclosing the Haditha raids, that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed by an IED blast and that a firefight followed.

Time magazine investigated the deaths earlier this year and found that the civilians -- including women and children -- were not killed by a bomb, but by Marines' gunfire. Time took its information to the U.S. military command in Baghdad, which then ordered the NCIS criminal probe.

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, top operational commander in Iraq, also ordered Army Brig. Gen. Eldon Bargewell to do an administrative investigation into the chain of command's role in misreporting the incident. He also is investigating Marine operations in Anbar, the country's most restive Sunni province, and how Marines are trained to sweep villages and distinguish insurgents from civilians.

[snip]

Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and a former Marine, used the Haditha killings to argue, as he has for six months, for a U.S. troop pullout from Iraq. "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," Mr. Murtha said. "That's what the report is going to tell."

[snip]

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican, held a press conference last week to warn reporters. "I don't want to see our troops tarred by whatever happens with this investigation, by the activities of one squad, in one place, on one morning. "There has been no war in our history in which you didn't have incidents in which people did the wrong thing at one time or another," said Mr. Hunter, a strong supporter of the Bush administration's war policy.
Everytime these controversial military actions and alleged cover-ups raise their head, red flags go up: editors looking to sell stories; journalists looking to gain reputations.

It is sad to see how difficult it is to wage a modern war. Every action is second-guessed. We lose men because of how cautious we ask our soldier to be. 60 years ago in Germany, after their surrender, we went house to house looking for Nazis (insurgents). When found, they were take out back and shot. This is not going to happen today. However a compromise in tactics seems in order.

We have fought this war in Iraq with both hands tied behind our backs while blindfolded. What happened in Haditha will place one more handicap upon our soldiers as they try to do a very difficult job.

Friday, May 26, 2006

NOAA - Anticipate Active Hurricane Season

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the North Atlantic region will likely experience a very active hurricane season (1 June through 30 November).

UPDATE (and related): The Senate just confirmed David Paulison as FEMA's chief.

SCADA Security

SCADA and process control systems are the computers that control nuclear power plants, chemical plants, power stations, pipelines, dams and other major critical infrastructure facilities. Some comments from SANS:
Bad News: Two SCADA systems have been penetrated for criminal (extortion) activity. You can count on rapid expansion of this type of crime.

Good News: The SCADA Security Procurement Project has made extraordinary progress on developing procurement specifications so all buyers can ensure they are acquiring the best security they can for their control systems. Three SCADA/process control users are part of the Vanguard Group, putting the new specifications to work in their
current procurements. The team at Idaho National Laboratory says they can work with several other organizations planning procurements and that such cooperation will help make the procurement language better.
It is encouraging to know of the March 2006 established SCADA Procurement Project. Its stated goal is for federal, state and local asset owners and regulators -- public and private sectors -- to come together using common procurement requirements and to maximize the collective buying power to help ensure that security is integrated into SCADA systems.

Cyber Security Industry Alliance - Identity Theft


Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) -- an advocacy group dedicated to ensuring the privacy, reliability and integrity of information systems through public policy, technology, education and awareness -- published their 3rd Internet Security National Survey. The key finding is that identity theft continues to be the top consumer complaint. Americans are not experiencing a gain in confidence when it comes to the computers and other machines that bind them. Other finding in the survey of 1,150 U.S. adults include:
-- 66% feel the need to make protecting our information systems and networks a higher priority; 72% believe that business needs to be doing more.

-- 79% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans thought that new laws needed to be written.

-- 95% of voters consider identity theft a serious problem; only 19% believe today that existing laws are enough to protect their privacy.

-- 79% (158 million adults) use the Internet; 44% of Internet users are confident that their financial information is safe when they make purchases on the Internet.

-- At $116 per month each, they report making over $8B in purchases each month.

-- 50% are worried about their financial information being safe and just under half of them don't make on-line purchases as a result -- an potential $3.8B impact to the American economy per month.

-- 64% believe that banking on-line is un-safe.
The survey concludes that neither government nor industry has made any headway in the past 6 months when it comes to putting consumers at ease when it comes to network security. For industry, the consequence has been billions of dollars lost in on-line revenue even as the growth in on-line sales has grown. For government, the open question is how will voters respond if decisive action is not taken on the data security legislation coursing through Congress.

This is not yet a make or break campaign issue. However, it is bubbling up and could and prehaps should be made sigificant by those running against the incumbents.

Cybersecurity & Data Protection Act


H.R.5318 -- the Cybersecurity Enhancement and Consumer Data Protection Act of 2006 -- attemts to strengthen existing federal cybercrime law and provide law enforcement with increased enforcement tools.
-- The use of botnets [programs remotely controlled by a hacker] would become a federal crime.

-- Cyber extortion would extend to criminals who threaten to access a protected computer and demand a promise from the victim.

-- Convicted criminals who violate some portions of the would-be-law face up to 30 years in prison.

-- Provides an additional $10 million annually to the Secret Service, FBI and Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes.

-- Makes failing to report breaches to the FBI or Secret Service that involve at least 5,000 customers a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
This is a good bill. As frequency and sophistication of attacks and technical methologies evolve and improve, the cyber protection laws will need to be ammended. The problem we all face, including lawmakers, is that the criminal tools and tactics will always stay one step ahead of the accepted countermeasures.

Senate's Immigration Bill

Although they approved an immigration bill, it is dead on delivery. It goes from bad to worse. It starts with a partnership (co-sponsors) between Brownback, Graham, Hagel, Martinez, Kennedy and McCain -- the later two not up for re-election in 2006 are probably the worse Senators we are blessed to have looking out for us. It ends with the actual content of the S.2611 bill itself:

-- BORDER ENFORCEMENT
-- INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT
-- UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT OF ALIENS
-- NONIMMIGRANT AND IMMIGRANT VISA REFORM (Temporary Guest Workers)
-- BACKLOG REDUCTION
-- WORK AUTHORIZATION AND LEGALIZATION OF UNDOCUMENTED INDIVIDUALS

There is a lot of text to read. However, most of it does not adaquately address the core immigration problem -- border control and the fact that immigrants are here illegally. Senators still feel immigrants are doing jobs Americans refuse to do. They think a round up and deportation program is impossible. They think illegals need Congressional representation and the support of our laws. Senators are rewarding those that steal the identities of others. Most illegals do not want to be Americans; they are here for the jobs. These senators are truly wack-jobs -- totally removed from reality.

This Senate bill is not a real plan to control the borders. It is an amnesty bill. Amnesty is a general pardon granted by a government. Lawbreakers will be rewarded -- they will be granted a pardon despite paying a token fee. They will not be asked to follow the path of legal migration.

Most of the measures in this bill will not be enforced. It will create a bigger document forgery industry. Rights of illegals will continue to trump those of Americans and legal immigrant. It will expand illegal immigration not control it.

Our Senators are a bunch of prima donnas, always running for President. (While 15 of the nation's 43 presidents served in the Senate at some point in their public careers, only two -- Warren Harding and John F. Kennedy -- won their presidential races as incumbent senators.) They have proven again and again they are not looking out for what's best for the country, rather what's best for them or for their special interests supporters.

If a bill gets out of House/Senate committee and signed by the President, it will be very different than this Senate bill. Hopefully the compromise will be closer to the more appropriate House bill.

The Pain of Removing a Position Player


The box states that the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros (and Andy Pettitte) 8-5. Those that watched the game and the post game press conference saw something else.

Rarely in baseball, especially at the professional level, is a position player pulled during the middle of inning for poor performance. However, Matthew LeCroy's play left Hall of Fame Manager Frank Robinson little choice.
LeCroy started at catcher for the Nationals yesterday afternoon at RFK Stadium. But once the Astros realized LeCroy not only hadn't thrown out a base runner all year, but had little chance of reversing the trend against them, they began running -- and they didn't stop. Seven steals and two throwing errors from LeCroy into this affair -- with the Nationals in danger of blowing a six-run lead -- Robinson made the only move he thought he could make. He pulled LeCroy off the field in the top of the seventh, replacing him in mid-inning in front of an announced crowd of 24,733 with Robert Fick, a man who hadn't caught a major league pitch all season.

"I wasn't trying to embarrass him in any way," Robinson said haltingly. "It was just a move at the time, at that moment, I just felt like I had to do it," he continued, before pausing again, "for the good of the ballclub, [to] try to win that ballgame."
Frank Robinson was in tears afterwards, because this just is not done in baseball. The ex-Twin, Matthew LeCroy took it like a man, agreeing with the action, stating he'd expect his dad to do the same if he were the coach.

Both men are to be admired for this. Small things can oftentimes bring out the greatest in our characters.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Speaker Hastert Under Investigation


ABC NEWS reports (video) its sources tell them that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has led FBI investigators to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

According to the Department of Justice, "Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department;" and Hastert might sue ABC News for libel and defamation.

Whereas this may turn out to be true, this thing reeks of bad journalism, along the lines of Dan Rather's attack on President Bush's military service.

Skepticism rules when the reporter starts a breaking story (want-a-be-scoop) with, "our sources say..."

Punish These Wayward Republicans?


Conservatives are frustrated with the Republicans, especially with the White House and the Senate. And rightly so. Just take the most recent: out-of-control spending, the Gang-of-14 compromise, Harriet Miers, Dubai port deal, immigration and double criminal standards / separation of powers claim. Most of them have lost touch with their core. Does this mean we should not vote or that we should vote for any non-Republican candidate--to send a message? No it doesn't!

The solution to the GOP's problems is never "more Democrats."
That doesn't mean that we conservatives should engage in a bunch of fake 'rah-rah' or refuse to criticize Republicans if they deserve it, but it does mean that when November rolls around, conservatives should show up at the ballot box and pull the lever for the GOP.

Philosophically, that doesn't sit well with some conservatives. They believe, with some justification, that if we don't punish these wayward Republicans, their performance will continue to disappoint. But that's only half the equation. It's not about just the Republicans who'd be losing, its about the Democrats who'd be taking their place. Would we be better off replacing the most wishy washy Republicans with Democrats who believe that taxes are way too low and that Rep. John Murtha would make a fantastic Secretary of Defense? [Nancy Pelosi a better House Speaker? Harry Reid a good Senator Majority Leader?] I think not.
All politics are local. We must wage this battle in our communities, counties and states. We need to either get our incumbent politicians to listen and act according to their constituencies or we should nominate those who do share our ideologies.

I have written in the past that the Constitution Party better suites my political stance. The problem with supporting a 3rd party is it will not win. It is better to move the Republican Party towards a conservative agenda than to abandon it.

The country will be better off with the current GOP, despite their wimpiness, in control rather than the alternative and their proven policy failures.

Israeli and PA Peace Talks


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged the Palestinian Authority to meet his terms for peace talks or face a unilaterally imposed settlement in the West Bank.

Olmert, as well as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, acknowledges Palestinian "national aspirations" and asserts that Israel has no desire to rule or oppress them. However, Israel cannot wait indefinitely for the Palestinians to become acceptable negotiating partners.

Given the ideology of his negotiation partner, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) -- committed to vehement anti-Semitism, the glorification of terror and the total destruction of Israel -- an optimistic outcome is not anticipated. A unilateral settlement for the West Bank is more likely, imposed by Israel.

Enron Chiefs Guilty


Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.

My reaction, like every one of these public trials, is that they were found guilty by a jury of their peers. I was not in the court room nor on the jury. I was not privy to the details. I put my trust in those that made the decision and live with it.

Emotionally, they got what they deserved.

Ford's Homosexual Agenda


I really do not get it...from a business perspective...but apparently Ford does.

The AFA reports Ford sponsored the 6 June issue of the homosexual publication The Advocate. The cover reads: "Polygamy & Gay Men. Dirty laundry or sexual freedom? How gay men handle multiple partners." The article promotes homosexual polygamy.

Ford sponsored the publication with a full page back cover and a full page ad for all Ford brands with the line: "Ford Motor Company. Standing strong with America's families and communities."

Ford is struggling financially like the other U.S. automakers. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Ford's overall sales. Are you more inclined to buy a Ford product because of their aggressive promotion of the gay agenda? Perhaps if you were gay.

I have never owned a Ford. Doubt I ever will. I see their products as poor in quality, non-durable and built to not last. Their anti-traditional family stance is not wooing me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Party Committee Fundraising

Vicente Fox in Utah


What to make of Vicente Fox's visit to Utah? Governor Jon Huntsman invited him here as part of a multi-state tour including Washington and California (we don't want to be associated with those political jokes).

Despite being our neighbor, there is nothing redeeming about Mexican politics. We should be offended by this man who comes here denigrating our demands for strong border security. The corruption and problems he oversees in his country are why we need strong border security including a fence.

He stated "today, Mexico has the soundest, safest, most stable economy of our lifetime." This is not saying much because Mexico is third-world nation with a third-world economy and rampant corruption. Only a politician would take credit for a cleaner mud puddle.

On immigration, Fox said border policy whould be a shared responsibility. That would be nice. Except he has no intent to spend the money and deploy the countermeasures to address it. Why doesn't he start by telling his people to respect the law and come here legally?

On a positive note, I hope his business and trade meetings with Gov. Huntsman and his discussions with the Church leaders are profitable.

Double Standard

The headline reads F.B.I. Raid Divides G.O.P. Lawmakers and White House. The concern is over a team of warrant-bearing FBI agents demanding entry to the office of Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) and spending the night going through his files.

Despite the fact that Jefferson is under investigation for bribery, caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills (most found later in his freezer) from an FBI informant whose conversations with Jefferson were recorded.

Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Boehner are claiming separation of powers -- that this will need to be settled by the Supreme Court.

My initial reaction is that if a non-elected person was caught doing what Jefferson did, his home, office, car, etc. would be raided, and he would have been arrested, arraigned and had a large bail set.

This appears to be a double standard -- politicians, regardless of party or crime, feel they are entitled to special investigative processes and procedures. Why should there be different rules of criminal investigation for an elected official?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Big 10


Hugh Hewitt has listed ten crucial Senate races for 2006. Half of them are Republican incumbents -- Jon Kyl (AZ), Conrad Burns (MT), Mike DeWine (OH), Rick Santorum (PN) and Jim Talent (MO); the other half are trying to unseat the Democratic incumbents -- Michael Steele (MD), Mark Kennedy (MN), Pete Ricketts (NE), Tom Kean (NJ) and Mike McGavick (WA). Republicans must win six or more of these contests.

Democratic Urban Legends - Iraq

Despite the facts that the Iraqis have i) participated in three historic elections, ii) passed the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and iii) formed a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations, for the Democratic talking heads, these are minor successes. Instead we hear:

-- The President misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
-- The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments.
-- Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat.
-- Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.

This MSM propoganda is tiring. Many of those who created and support these urban legends are on record claiming the opposite.

Ahmadinejad at World Cup in Germany


With Iran qualifying for the FIFA World Cup this June/July in Germany, there is a question and concern over whether Germany will allow Iranian President Ahmadinejad to enter the country and attend the Iranian matches.

Iran should be allowed to participate. They met all of the qualification requirements. On the other hand, Germany is within its right to prohibit certain individuals; i.e., criminals, terrorists, etc., from entering their country, be they players, coaches, support staff, Iranian fans, state leaders.

Senate To Vote On Homosexual Marriage

On 6 June, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the constitutional Marriage Protection Amendment:
Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
The Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), was approved by the House in 2004 with a 227-186 vote, short of the two-thirds (290) majority needed for passage. At the same time, a move to stop debate on the MPA for a vote in the Senate got only 48 votes, 12 votes short of the 60 needed to stop a liberal filibuster. Sixty-seven Senate votes are needed to pass an amendment.

On 18 May 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 (along party lines) to advance the MPA to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has promised a vote on a marriage amendment on 5 June.

Events over the past two years illustrate that a vote on a federal constitutional amendment is warranted. It is an hard and uphill battle but one worth fighting for.

Madonna is a Fraud

Madonna just kicked off her Confessions world tour at LA's Great Western Forum. From the reviews, she proves to all what a greedy fraud she is. Why anyone would pay money to see her "demonstrate controversy" and "show off her art"?

To her fans and those that bash the Madonna bashers, there is no such thing as value-free entertainment. You pay to see, you directly support her message. Deny it and you are a hypocritic; support it, you are just a value-less loser.

"24" Season Five


Monday brought the end to another very long day in the life of Agent Jack Bauer, his CTU co-workers, White House associates, and a whole bunch of evil doers (albeit most are dead). Season Five ended with two events that will carry on into Season Six -- one obvious and one not so.

1) Eighteen months ago, in Season Four, Jack snatched a Chinese national out of one of their embassies, directly invading a "sovereign nation". The Chinese had strong proof but the U.S. denied his involvement. So to protect Jack, his death was staged and he disappeared. He was forced out of hiding in Season Five because those limited few who knew he was not dead began to be attacked and/or killed.

So after the long day that was Season Five, it ended with Jack being kidnapped and beaten up by these same Chinese, and apparently on his way to China on an ocean transport, where he will spend the rest of his life rotting in a Gobi prison.

2) The first 20 minutes of the 22nd hour of Season Five (hours 5am - 6am) was arguably the best 20 minutes of Season Five. A handful of CTU agents raided and took over a terrorist-captured Soviet sub, killing all on board and neutralizing 20 cruise missiles. Captured Chris Henderson, President Logan's evil conspirator and Jack's ex-CTU boss, was allowed to help Jack kill Bierko and disarm the missiles. Jack agreed to help him disappear afterwards, as Jack disappeared in Season Four, if they killed Bierko. Supposedly, Henderson did not trust Jack and he escapes from the sub. Jack goes after him, but Henderson confronts Jack from behind with a handgun, the gun Jack gave him prior to raiding the sub. They exchange a few words -- off CTU microphone -- and Henderson pulls the trigger on an empty gun, attempting to kill Jack. They exchange a few more words and Jack shoots him twice. Henderson falls dead. Rooney, the young sailor / engineer, witnesses the exchange. Jack and Rooney look at each other; Jack walks away.

I propose Henderson is not dead. Jack said he'd make him disappear as Jack disappeared at the end of Season Four. Jack's word has always been gold. Henderson trusts Jack. Henderson's death was staged; and they have a naive witness.

Henderson is key -- he knows all about Logan's plans as well as the involvement of Logan's shadowy co-conspirators. He will be back. I also wonder about Chase, Jack's field partner and his daughter Kim's (ex-)boyfriend in Season Three. Despite his missing hand, which Jack had to cut off, Chase is a Bauer-like, man's-man. Curtis, likewise is a stud, is still alive and presumed well. One or more of these guys will return to save the day, as Tony (and Curtis) did multiple times in previous seasons.

Finally, what is it with these stick-like women in Jack's life -- Teri Bauer (dead), Nina Myers (double dead) and Audrey Raines (wish she were dead). I hope Diane Huxley returns; she's is a much more appealing girlfriend.

Season Five was good TV. It had its good and not so good parts -- I do mock the absurdities and unrealistic. I have watched all five seasons. I'll keep watching subsequent seasons. It is still the best programming on TV.

Monday, May 22, 2006

GI Grow

Da Vinci Code Movie - Don't Go

I've read The Da Vinci Code - average at best. Dan Brown's engaging writing style is not bad but this book just goes on and on with this anti-Christian dialogue. When the movie was announced, I was not really interested. The book did not lend itself to a good movie foundation (like his Angels and Demons does). Nevertheless, I knew that people would pay big money to see it.

It opened huge in the U.S. and globally, despite the critics' predictions (always bet against the experts).

People say "it is just fiction" or "it's only entertainment". There is no such thing as value-free entertainment. The truth does matter. How many people will go to this movie and believe some or most Brown's antidotal evidence?

It is anti-Christian at it crux. He could have made up a body-mutilating "cult" but he chose to use a real group, Opus Dei, and smear it with falsification. The book and movie falsifies the history of Christ for the sake of greed.

Christianity is core to America (as well as Canada, Europe, Latin America, much of Africa and the southern Pacific). When we participate and fund anti-Christian activities, we denigrate America and the essence of our faith.

Formal boycotts and protests are unwarranted -- they never are. However, we should see this as pure, pagan propaganda and spend our money elsewhere.

Global Warming Greater Risk than Terror?

Bill Clinton, speaking to business leaders and politicians in Glasgow and at a University of Texas graduation ceremony, said global warming will pose a greater risk than terror in the future. I thought Clinton said it was AIDS [sic]?

Gay Sex Advice In Scottish Sex Education

Booooo Scottland!
Official guidance on how to teach Scottish schoolchildren about gay sex is being issued for the first time since the abolition of laws which banned "promoting" homosexuality in schools.

Teachers will be told they can discuss issues including safe gay sex and where to get advice on homosexual relationships, in a move which has already set religious groups and health professionals at loggerheads.

10 Biggest IT Happenings

The top ten information technology issues over the past twenty years, according to Computerworld:
1 - The Internet Goes Commercial
2 - Monopoly Musical Chairs
3 - The Y2k 'Problem'
4 - The New Foreign Face of Outsourcing
5 - The Rise of Personal Computing
6 - Open-source Rides into Data Centers
7 - Security: From Nuisance to All-Out Assault
8 - The Rise of Client/Server Computing
9 - Elusive Software Quality
10 - The Geeks go to Business School

Supreme Court and Foreign-Law


Few of us are fans of seeing state or federal courts, including the Supreme Court, referencing foreign law in their rulings. However, creating a Constitutional Amendment baring this seems overboard.

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia told Congress to halt its efforts to try to ban the Supreme Court, or any federal court, from applying foreign-law principles to domestic rulings. "It's none of your business," the Justice said to Congress. "No one is more opposed to the use of foreign law than I am, but I'm darned if I think it's up to Congress to direct the court how to make its decisions. Let us make our mistakes, as we let you make yours."

For every good thing one might find in foreign laws, one can probably find hundreds of things not worthy to emulate.

Heavy Metal in Jiddah


Hasan Hatrash doesn't smoke or drink. He prays five times a day and considers himself a good Muslim. Yet even in Saudi Arabia, he, along with others, are able to show their love for the language Of Megadeth and Marley, despite the need to listen in covert settings.

16 Important Facts About Jews, Arabs and Israel

1. Israel became a state circa 1030 B.C., more than two millennia before Islam.

2. Arabs from Israel first began to be called "Palestinians" in 1967 by Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders, two decades after modern Israeli statehood.

3. After conquering the land in about 1250 B.C., Jews ruled it for more than 1,300 years and have maintained a continuous presence there for 3,300 years.

4. For over 3,000 years, Jerusalem was the Jewish capital. It was never the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even under Jordanian rule, (East) Jerusalem was not made the capital, and no Arab leader came to visit it.

5. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, but not once is it mentioned in the Qur'an.

6. King David founded Jerusalem; Mohammed never set foot in it.

7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem; Muslims face Mecca. If they are between the two cities, Muslims pray facing Mecca, with their backs to Jerusalem.

8. In 1948, Arab leaders urged their people to leave, promising to cleanse the land of Jewish presence—some 70% of them fled without ever being ordered by Israel to leave, most of those without ever having seen an Israeli soldier.

9. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Muslim countries had to flee as the result of violence and pogroms.

10. Some 650,000 Arabs left Israel in 1948, while about 850,000 Jews were forced to leave Muslim countries.

11. In spite of the vast territories at their disposal, Arab refugees from Palestine were deliberately prevented from assimilating into their host countries. Of 100 million refugees following World War II, they are the only group to have never integrated with their coreligionists. Most of the Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands were settled in Israel, a country no larger than New Jersey.

12. There are 22 Arab countries (with 800 times the land mass of Israel), not counting the Palestinian territories. There is only one Jewish state. Arabs started all five wars against Israel, and lost every one of them.

13. The Fatah and Hamas constitutions still call for the destruction of Israel. Israel has agreed under several proposals to cede most of the West Bank and all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, and even supported the arming of its police force after the Oslo Accords in 1993.

14. During the Jordanian occupation, Jewish holy sites were vandalized and were off limits to Jews. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian holy sites are accessible to all faiths and maintained in good order at Israel’s expense.

15. Out of 175 United Nations Security Council resolutions up to 1990, 97 were against Israel; out of 690 General Assembly resolutions, 429 were against Israel;

16. The U.N. was silent when the Jordanians destroyed 58 synagogues in the old city of Jerusalem. It remained silent while Jordan systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and it remained silent when Jordan enforced apartheid laws preventing Jews from accessing the Temple Mount and Western Wall (Kotel).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Happy Birthday to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh -- the creator and genius behind Sherlock Holmes.

Opus Dei, etc.

Over the weekend, The History Channel showed a bunch of Da Vinci Code programming. One of them was Opus Dei: Unveiled. Like most documentaries, they try to cover both sides of the story.

The documentary did a decent job explaining Opus Dei -- about what you find on their Web site.
Opus Dei is made up of a prelate, a presbyterate or clergy of its own, and laity, both women and men. There are not different categories of member in Opus Dei. There are simply different ways of living the same Christian vocation, according to the different circumstances of each one: married or single, healthy or sick, etc.

The majority of the faithful of the Prelature (about 70% of the total membership) are supernumeraries. Generally they are married men or women, for whom the sanctification of their family duties is the most important part of their Christian life.

The rest of the faithful of the Prelature are men and women who commit themselves to celibacy, for apostolic reasons. Associates live with their families, or wherever is convenient for professional reasons. Numeraries usually live in centers of Opus Dei, and are completely available to attend to the apostolic undertakings and the formation of the other faithful of the Prelature. Numerary assistants dedicate themselves principally to the domestic responsibilities in the centers of the Prelature, which constitute for them their ordinary professional work.

The priests of the Prelature come from the laymen of Opus Dei: numeraries and associates who are freely disposed to be priests and, after years of belonging to the Prelature and having done the studies required for priesthood, are invited by the Prelate to receive holy orders. Their main pastoral ministry is to serve the faithful of the Prelature and the apostolic activities promoted by them.
And the other side of the story is where the documentary falls apart. Opus Dei is what it is. There really is no other side here.

If they were doing a documentary on the Mormon Church, would there be a need to cover the other side? Of course not but they'd attempt to cover that angle anyway.

There is a saying in the Church that applies to Opus Dei and any other religion that society at large deems different or zealous: people leave the Church but they cannot leave the Church alone.

If one desires to participate in Opus Dei or any religion, they need to realize that each is what it is and people can leave any time. People who leave and spend much of their waking hours in efforts to "expose" that religion, are insecure and selfish to a fault.

Take these anti-religion X organizatons with a grain of salt. Their core premises are faulty.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bonds Hits 714


Under normal circumstances, this would be an enormous event -- Bonds tying Babe Ruth's career home run record of 714. But given Bonds' association with steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, his reputation and integrity are shot.

It is sad to see a great player like Bonds resort to drugs. His ego got the better of him -- seeing McGuire and Sosa take "his" limelight a few years back.

Armed Forces Day


Today is Armed Forces Day. It honors those currently serving in our military.
Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson came up with the idea as a means of showing appreciation for those who were presently serving our nation. He reasoned that those who had previously served had Veteran's Day -- once called "Armistice Day" for the date in which World War I ended -- and that Memorial Day was a tribute to our war dead -- but that those who presently served on freedom's frontiers were given scant recognition. The president and Congress agreed and on May 20, 1950 President Harry S. Truman said, "Armed Forces Day...marks the first combined demonstration by America's defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense."
New York Times, on May 17 1952, said of Armed Forces Day, "This is the day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces ... to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won't be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in the line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty."

Our military deserves better from the MSM and politicians than the get. We need fewer John Murtha's and more Oli North 's.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gettysburg Address via PPT


The PowerPoint version of the Gettysburg Address tends to lose some of its subtilise when compared to the written text.

Clean EDGE

Senate Democrats' Clean Energy Development for a Growing Economy (Clean EDGE) is their plan to reduce U.S. petroleum consumption by 6 million barrels a day in 2020-or 40 percent of America's projected imports.

Given the Democrats (the entire Senate for that matter) hardly ever have any good, workable ideas, this appears more political posturing than creative thinking. Consider the proposed items:
- Mandate that 25 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2010 be flex-fuel capable, rising to 50 percent by 2020.

- Sets a national goal of installing alternative fuels at 10 percent of American gas stations by 2015.

- Accelerate and extend incentives to purchase and manufacture vehicles that rely on advanced fuel efficiency technologies.

- Make gas price-gouging a Federal crime.

- Provide additional assistance to Americans struggling under the weight of rising energy costs.

- Create disaster loan assistance for small businesses and farmers trying to cope with rising energy costs.

- Revoke subsidies for profit-rich, major oil companies, and make sure they pay their fair share in royalties owed to taxpayers for drilling on public lands and in federal waters.

- Rather than subsidizing the petroleum industry, use these savings to provide greater certainty for clean energy development, by extending incentives for renewable energy and efficiency technologies.

- Require the Federal government reduce its petroleum consumption by 20 percent in five years and 40 percent by 2020, increase its renewable electricity use to 10 percent of total consumption by 2013, and employ advanced, efficient, and renewable technology to help drive innovation and jumpstart markets.

- Provide enhanced bond issuing authority to states and local governments, for projects to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, to develop non-petroleum fuels, invest in efficient vehicles, alternative infrastructure and transit.

- Set a national renewable portfolio standard requiring that 10 percent of all electricity produced in the country come from renewable sources by 2020.

- Create an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to develop cutting-edge technologies that will reduce oil consumption, improve electricity efficiency and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

- Create a clean energy investment administration to help deploy new, on-the-ground solutions and a skilled domestic workforce in advanced energy technologies.
Some of these ideas are worthy of debate; others are welfare expansion and anti-oil company rhetoric.

Ouch!

And willing to be interviewed...only in Philly

Immigration At the Tipping Point

David Limbaugh has really nailed it:
The overwhelming majority of people exercised about immigration are not remotely racist, prejudiced, bigoted or nativist. They are, however, unapologetic patriots, believers in the American ideal, the American identity and the American culture. They are not slaves to an exclusively capitalistic perspective, realizing that economic considerations -- pro and con -- are only one part of the equation.

It goes without saying that immigration is a multi-faceted problem because it touches on so many issues, including the rule of law, national security, national sovereignty, our national identity, the welfare state, demography, the economy, and politics.

With all due respect to the casual elite, we are talking about nothing less than the destruction of America as we know it. This will come about not so much by "foreigners," but through our own complicity in devaluing the rule of law by neglecting immigration enforcement and the disgraceful abandonment of our national identity. This will prevent us from promoting the English language, our own sovereignty, our unique constitutional system and our traditional values.

Though we are the greatest nation in the history of the world, we often project anything but pride about that. We act as though we are ashamed of the American culture and Western civilization and must promote a destructive, euphemized multiculturalism, instead of an American blend of multiethnicity. We must celebrate our multiple ethnicities, but promote our common cultural identity. To do otherwise is national suicide. Not only will we become a hopelessly balkanized nation if trends continue, but we'll bankrupt ourselves in the process.
UPDATE: and this one from Phyllis Schlafly is not bad either.

Unrest in Turkey


The unrest in Turkey is something we all should follow. A new member of NATO, the Turks are waging, in a very public manner, a battle over Turkish-defined democratic secularism and a Turkish-define Islamic state.

NRA Annual Meeting


This weekend (19-22 May), the NRA is holding its 135th annual meetings and expo in Milwaukee.

As an NRA member, I applaud and support the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) -- the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America.

The NRA-ILA is the main force out there committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This right should be cherished by all Americans.

Consider receiving weekly NRA grassroots emails; contributing to grassroots activism; and check the voting record of candidates in your state and district.

MLB Interleague Play


The 10th year of interleague play begins today. Purists scoff but this long-time MLB fan loves it. Who would have thought in March that Cincinnati v Detroit or Toronto v Colorado would have been appealing.

This weekends match-ups are (with their respective win-loss records) mostly good:

Chi Cubs 17-23 v Chi White Sox 26-14
Pittsburgh 13-28 v Cleveland 20-21
Boston 23-15 v Philadelphia 22-18
Baltimore 19-22 v Washington 14-27
Cincinnati 24-17 v Detroit 27-13
NY Yankees 23-16 v NY Mets 24-16
Florida 11-28 v Tampa Bay 17-24
Texas 21-19 v Houston 22-19
Minnesota 17-24 v Milwaukee 22-19
St. Louis 26-15 v Kansas City 10-28
Toronto 23-17 v Colorado 22-19
San Francisco 21-20 v Oakland 21-19
San Diego 23-18 v Seattle 17-25
LA Angels 17-24 v LA Dodgers 21-20

English as the Official Language

The Inhofe (R - OK) amendment which would make English the nation's official language passed 63-34. Then, in a confusing jester, the Senate also agreed by 58-39 to an alternative by Ken Salazar (D - CO) which states "English is the common and unifying language of the United States that helps provide unity for the people of the United States."

Hopefully the House will settle on the former.

Harry Reid (D - NV) lowered the tone of the debate when he said: Although the intent may not be there, I really believe this amendment is racist. I believe it is directed at people who speak Spanish."

Like so many things that Reid does, that comment was contemptible. No one will benefit more from an insistence on English as the country's language than those who come here speaking other languages, and--above all--their sons and daughters. But Reid, as always, focuses on politics, not principle. Right next door, in Canada, we have the starkest possible evidence of the catastrophic consequences of bilingualism.

Language is a unifier. It is essential for effective communications.

The government should not be using taxes to fund their services and communications in multiple language (BTW, not what this amendment does). If businesses choose to do so, that's a business decision they can make.

This is not racism, this is an economic and cultural issue.

Dress Code In Iran

There is value in dress codes. What we wear helps set the tone and attitude of the event and the attendees. Be it church, dinner, work, school, etc. -- we dress the part showing respect.

The Iranian parliament -- the Islamic Majlis -- created a law to mandate that all Iranians wear "standard Islamic garments". The stated purpose is to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate "the influence of the infidel" on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress.

Okay; this seems reasonable for an Islamic state. But the law does not stop there -- and this is the troubling component.

The law goes on to envisage separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct color schemes to make them identifiable in public. The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean).

This is identical to the Nazis mandate that Jews wear identifying armbands in the 1940s.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

California's 'Gay History' Bill

SB 1437 reads in part: "No textbook or other instructional materials shall be adopted by the state board or by any governing board for use in the public schools that contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race or ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion." Okay. But then the bill also requires all social studies textbooks to "study the role and contributions of...people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender...with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society."

Californians, I feel so sorry for you -- both those of you that actually voted for these individuals and support their politics and those that did not vote for them but live in the state. I lived in the state for 4 years. I have had many opportunities through my professional life to return. It would take such a financial incentive for me move there (work there) that it would never materialize.

National Security & Kennedy

Anti-Campus Military Recruiting...Elsewhere

Anti-military libs will be libs regardless of the country. The Scots are also angry over growth of recruiting visits to schools. Luckily, cooler legal heads prevailed in the U.S. allowing this to continue at those institutes that receive federal funding.

Race and Ethnicity in Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes

NHTSA just released a report entitled Race and Ethnicity in Fatal Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes 1999 - 2004.
Leading cause of death data from 2002, showed that 6.8 percent of deaths from all causes were attributable to motor vehicle traffic crashes for Native Americans and more than 4.7 percent for Hispanics or Latinos. For the non-Hispanic White population, the percentage of those dying from traffic crashes was just below 1.6 percent, and for Black or African Americans and Asians and Pacific Islanders, the percentages were 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The Native American population is comparatively small and does not appear to be growing proportionally. However, the Hispanic-Latino portion of the United States population in the year 2050 is projected to be double that population in 2000, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Alcohol plays a major role in the deaths of both drivers and pedestrians. Additional factors have been lack of valid drivers licenses, and lower usage of safety belts and child safety seats.
Here is another cost of illegal immigration that goes unmentioned by the MSM.

The document concludes, as do most government funded research projects, that more detailed research on the relationships among socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and the risk of death or injury in a motor vehicle traffic crash is
warranted.

This is purely an education problem. There is no need to waste any more taxpayer money on this.

Albinos of the World...Unite!


It was only a matter of time.

Silas, the Opus Dei character in The Da Vinci Code who is Dan Brown's murdering hitman who is attempting to silence the Merovingian blood line, is an albino.
Michael McGowan, an albino who heads the National Organisation for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, said The Da Vinci Code was the 68th film since 1960 to feature an evil albino.

"The problem is that there has been no balance," he said. "There are no realistic, sympathetic or heroic characters with albinism that you can find in movies or popular culture."
Not only has Dan Brown, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks upset the Catholic/Christian world, now they have ticked off the albino community. As they say any publicity is good publicity...we now know there is an organization (NOAH) for albinos and those with hypopigmentation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Senate Okays Southern Fence

Fences make good neighbors. The Senate voted to build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border. This is a good start. However, consider the 16 "no" votes. All are Democrats. This clearly conveys that Democratic Party is simply not serious about security at the borders. The list of senators refusing to vote for this measure:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Sarbanes (D-MD)

UEFA Champions League Champs - Barcelona


In the 18th minute, Arsenal and German national keeper Jens Lehmann got a red card, denying Barcelona a goal. In the 37th minute, Arsenal and English national Sol Campbell put the 10-man squad up 1-0. Barcelona and Cameroon national Samuel Eto'o evened it up against the Arsenal defense in the 76th minute - the first goal against them in nearly 1000 minutes of Champions League soccer. Five minutes later, FC Barcelona sealed the win 2-1 on a goal by Brazilian Juliano Belletti through the legs of Arsenal replacement keeper Manuel Almunia. Arsenal played a good match but could not recover from the lose of their keeper. Congrats FC Barcelona.

American Citizenship Comes With A Price

Many illegal aliens protestors are denouncing all of the major legislation under consideration, along with President Bush's proposals. There are also those demanding they be given full citizenship now.

These people do not get it. They have no idea what it means to be an American.

Our nation's history has always been defined by one set of laws, one language and one flag of unity. This is what defines the United States of America!

In an op-end piece entitled A Letter from a Slave to an Illegal Alien, Herman Cain makes some great points: "The public perception is that you [illegal immigrant] want a different set of laws, and you want to ignore current laws. You even want an accommodation of your language in our national anthem, and some of your people are flaunting flags other than the flag of the USA. As a reminder, USA stands for United States of America. It does not stand for 'Under Special Assumptions'."

American wants the best. We want people who cherish freedom. We want people willing to contribute. We want people willing to adopt our culture and language. The path to citizenship should not be automatic. There should be a price to pay.