Friday, February 24, 2006

Confessions of a Crackberry Addict

As the Super would say - true story - which was usually an indication that there wasn't a grain of truth in it. I thought this was apropos given the impending doom of Blackberry. These are excerpts from my personal diary, which I kept as a coping method through a very trying time:

Day 1: I’ve looked everywhere – and I cannot find the Blackberry. It has been 10 minutes since I discovered it was missing and all of the usual spots where I might have placed it are turning up empty. It was bad enough that it had been at least three hours since I checked for e-mail, but now every minute feels like an eternity with e-mails I am unable to access pouring in.

Day 2: Still no sign of the Blackberry. Had trouble sleeping. I patiently asked the kids if they by chance had been playing with it, and if they know something they are not telling me. They seem convincingly innocent, but I have my doubts – some kids are better than average liars. Hands are starting to shake and every once in awhile I think I hear vibrations signaling a new e-mail and reach for my belt to find nothing. Starting to get irritable.

Day 3: Interrogate kids again, this time playing bad cop the whole time. Wife of Hatcher catches me and scolds me and I break down crying. She says I have to learn to live without the Blackberry, and slaps me to bring me out of my delirium. She’s right – I have responsibilities to her and the kids. I can beat this Blackberry thing. I resolve to fight my addiction, and for inspiration I buy a memoir about some guy who beat his substance abuse problems.

Day 4: Halfway through the book and it has moved me deeply. One day at a time, I tell myself, and reading this fella Frey’s story of recovery and redemption is inspiring. I think I am going to make it.

Day 5: Went to lunch today with a couple of friends. Each of them had their Blackberry’s and were checking them constantly at lunch. Tough day. They don’t know what I am going through, so I cannot blame them for checking in front of me. Found myself on the brink of buying a new Blackberry after lunch, but called my sponsor on a land line and he calmed me down. I might need to find a new set of friends.

Day 6: Finish reading the Frey book – life changing. I think this is going to be easier than I thought.

Day 7: What? This guy Frey is a fraud – his book is a pack of lies? My recovery is inspired by a pack of lies! Man, I need to check my f%^&*(# e-mail with a handheld or someone is going to get hurt!

Day 8: Jake finds Blackberry out on the back deck embedded in the snow. Screen stays frozen for a tense six hours, but then begins to function normally. I double-click the tracking wheel and I am home again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Cartoon Wars

I recently subscribed to the Economist, altogether an informative rag, but certainly with a liberal tilt in its editorials. One such editorial dealt with the Muslim rioting inspired over the Danish cartoons. I think they rightly criticized the stream of apologies coming from the West in connection to the cartoons, but for all the wrong reasons, foremost among them an obsession with their own importance as journalists.

When western newspapers lawfully publish words or pictures that cause offense – be they ever so unnecessary, insensitive or disrespectful – western governments should think very carefully before denouncing them… When such a freedom comes under threat of violence, the job of governments should be to defend it without reservation.

First off, when was the last time a western government thought? How does one interview a western government to get its thoughts? People think, and people comprise western governments, and although a person’s position may require that in some cases he be more careful in his pronouncements, most people are used to shooting their mouths off whenever asked to comment. In no cases do such pronouncements immediately constitute the law of the land, except of course in oppressive Moslem states.

And why is it that “such” a freedom requires protection from violence without reservation, read here to mean that a government representative should never criticize the event that precipitated the violence. Suppose, for example, that the KKK had assembled on Martin Luther King day, or even outside the funeral of Coretta Scott King, and proceeded to get its collective ass kicked by the crowd. Would we expect a similar editorial from the Economist vaunting the importance of the right to free assembly, and criticizing the government if it were to criticize the KKK for provoking violence. If, in fact, some member of government were to say that they were going to aggressively seek the prosecution of those responsible for kicking the KKK upside its head, because the right of free assembly is so important, without at the same time censuring the KKK, we’d be hearing about the troubling suspicion of racism in regard to that official.

The media ought to show special sensitivity when the things they say might stir up hatred or hurt feelings of vulnerable minorities.

This is what I call the Christian exception – keep insulting Christianity – submerge crucifixes in urine, throw elephant dung on pictures of the Virgin Mary, make movies where Jesus has sexual relations with Mary Magdelane or even one of his disciples - because Christians are not a minority, and their religion requires them to pray for the enemies of the faith. Not so with the Muslims in Europe – they are a vulnerable minority who are encouraged to kill infidels. So you should tread carefully, but even if you screw up, it is not half as bad as if a member of government criticizes you for it.

In Britain and America, few newspapers feel that their freedoms are at risk. But on the European mainland, some of the papers that published the cartoons say they did so precisely because their right to publish was being called into question.

This is why the cartoons themselves, especially in the aftermath of the murder of the Dutch filmmaker who made a film critical of Islam, are an encouraging sign that continental Europe is beginning to wake up to the fact that their intergenerational Ponzi scheme can only be supported by immigration, and that they had better start cranking out kids or their 1 kid family will, in a matter of 2 or 3 generations, be bowing to Mecca each day. But is it Britain and America’s fault that continental European freedoms are at risk? It should come as no surprise that populations that clearly value security over freedom will see them both erode.

It is no coincidence that the feeblest response to the outpouring of Muslim rage has come from Britain and America. Having sent their armies rampaging into the Muslim heartland, planting their flags in Afghanistan and Iraq and putting Saddam Hussein on trial, George Bush and Tony Blair have some making up to do with Muslims. Long before making a drama out of the Danish cartoons, a great many Muslims had come to equate the war on terrorism with a war against Islam.

Absolutely classic. All of continental Europe reacts feebly to terrorism for five years, and as soon as a Dutch embassy is burned to the ground, the Brits and Americans are accused of feebly dealing with the Muslim threat. And this is the old, “we will make no comment that the perception is accurate as opposed to being spoon fed to oppressed populations by their benevolent Moslem masters, but we’ll blame America and Britain for the perception, wrong as it may be. We won’t even acknowledge that it is wrong, and we will assert that in fact Bush and Blair have to make nice.” All of the people Saddam tortured were Muslims. Same for the Taliban. The vast majority of those killed by the current terrorists in Iraq, which elements of the press insist upon calling insurgents, are Muslims. There were Muslims killed in the World Trade Center. At that time, there were 30 some small wars or ongoing military confrontations going on around the world, and all but one involved Moslems on at least one side, and many involved Moslems on both sides. And guess what, if Al Queda defines the war as a war against infidels, then any military response to such a declaration is obviously going to be interpreted by those who define the war in that matter as a war against Islam. Would the Economist just have us stand here and take it, lest we be perceived as fighting against our own slaughter?

And the freedom of expression, remember, is not just a pillar of western democracy … It is also a freedom that millions of Muslims have come to enjoy or aspire to themselves.

Gee, I wonder why millions of Muslims have come to enjoy or aspire to freedom of expression? Must be the inspiration of the French standing up to US and Britain in the Security Council of the UN. Yeah, that’s it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happiness is Being ... A Republican

I am sure I am opening myself up to the ignorance is bliss comment, but I read this recently (February 14th post on

The Pew poll mentioned below confirms a longstanding trend: Republicans say they are happier than Democrats. This year, 45% of Republicans said they were “very” happy as opposed to 29% of Democrats. That’s a big gap!

This stability is interesting in part because, I take it, that the demographic composition of Republican and Democratic voters has changed not insignificantly over the last 30 years. Is that right? Anyway, what accounts for Dem.-Rep. gap? Well, it’s not income. Republicans report themselves as happier at all points on the income distribution.

I was reminded immediately of the post-2000 election discussions, when the result hung in the balance, and the popular wisdom was that, psychologically, Gore would be more affected by the loss than Bush; indeed, that Bush wouldn't be all that affected, whereas Gore would be relatively devestated. No way to test the reaction of Bush, but Gore has seemed to jump off the deep end, most recently when he decried the assault on freedom in the U.S. on Saudi soil, where freedom is a joke.

Let me offer my two cents on the happiness thing: the defining moment for many idealistic liberals was the Civil Rights movement, when a few people could truly change, and did truly change, the course of the country. It was a clearcut issue from the perspective of who had the moral high ground, and victory went to those on the moral high ground (not that it was exactly a Dem vs. Rep issue). In any event, the thought that the small guy mattered in the course of a big and great nation's policies was evervating to Democrats, and it spilled into Vietnam as well. But post-Vietnam, there are no lay ups - in the form of the good guys against the bad guys where victory is eventually assured for the Dems. Abortion, the War on Terrorism, welfare, the Cold War - standing on the liberal side of these issues in the past 30 years has not exactly been a winning political strategy, nor one where the moral consensus has even swung in their direction.

But why does political loss for Dems lead to more comparative unhappiness? My guess is that it follows from a more utopian (and mistaken) view of the way things could be (creating a greater sense of grief when opportunities are perceived to be lost), coupled with a declining lack of religious faith. Politics is, for many of them, their religion, but there is no after-life reward for the battle fought well but without victory; in contrast, we Republicans can lose but rest happy in the belief that when Democrats "win" they have just secured their place in the eternal fires of hell. Either way - through direct political victories or the shadenfreude over the fates of our political enemies when they win - Republicans are happy. Or maybe we just drink more Chartruese. Either way, I'm happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Shot A Man in Texas Just to Watch Him Die

You only get one shot at a joke, and as far as having Cheney singing 911 is a Joke, I thought I chose pretty good, but at some point I should have had him humming Johnny Cash's Fulsome County Blues, with the famous lyric "shot a man in Texas just to watch him die."

The Washington Times today had an article with interviews of several hunters who unanimously say, based on their understanding of the story, that it was Cheney's fault. Now that is informative, because I had read that the guy had violated protocal by not announcing that he was coming up from the rear. Interesting that it takes the Washington Times to do the very simple task of interviewing a couple hunters, whereas NBC ties themselves in knots trying to understand what the President knew and when he knew. Because the story is always the scandal. Of course, the Washington Times is a conservative rag, so they need only interview each other to talk to a hunter. The Washington Post, in contrast, wouldn't know where to find a hunter.

Many funny comments and stories yesterday. Professor Vic's craving the Colonel's chicken forthnightly deserves mention, as does the story of Garrett's thwarted assassination attempt of GWB in New Hampshire. Greg Hindsley (a cousin of the Hatcher) made us all feel old and entirely unhip by cleverly inserting the entire catalog of Public Enemy songs into a comment. And I especially enjoyed Lime's parallel universe press conference concerning the Clinton shooting of a blue dress - inspired. The Chartruese alcoholic lawyer, Snake, chimed in several times. That's what it is all about.

On an entirely separate note related to the Super Bowl, a co-worker informed me that on ESPN's the Sports Reporters, one of the participants was trying to make the point that the offensive pass interference call that negated the Seattle touchdown was an absurd call by saying that if that was offensive interference, then Michael Jordan's push off of Byron Russell prior to sinking the game and championship series winning shot against Utah was also a foul. Now, they are 2 separate sports, so I hate to have to tie them together, because I'd like to cling to conspiracy theories in both sports - in the case of the Super Bowl, the refs were on the payroll; in the case of the Bulls, Jordan was spotted 10-15 points per game due to favorable calls or non-calls, whichever the case may be.

But I cannot believe that someone would actually bring up the Jordan push-off as an example of a very obviously clean play. I always thought that the conspiracy involved showing it over and over again without ever having a sportscaster make the very obvious point that it was a clear and obvious blatant foul, for fear of exposing professional basketball as a sport one notch above professional wrestling (only without the personality). And that by force of not pointing it out, but showing it over and over again, we would all just question our own vision. But now it appears to me that the powers of David Stern extend to downright brainwashing. Impressive.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A New Political Tradition

An old college roommate of mine, who nicknamed himself the Sedentary Melon contra my Flying Tomato, has asked that I comment on Cheney's attempted murder of his hunting partner. Well, maybe it wasn't attempted murder, but you wouldn't know it from the hysterical reaction of the White House press corps. They want to know when Bush knew about it, and why it took so long to tell the press about it. And they are huffing and puffing at poor Scott McLellan, who must be thinking what everyone else is thinking - who f$%&ing cares? There is concern among the press over whether White House protocol was followed by Cheney. So here is the scene.

Guy who got shot: "Ouch, you just shot me with your shot gun. I am bleeding from the neck and the head. I fell faint. I already have a heart condition. My wife begged me not to go hunting today because she had a vision of me dying. I am extremely allergic to shot gun pellets. Call 911 so I can at least have my life prolonged indefinitely by every imaginable medical machine in existence"

Cheney: "Of course, guy who got shot, but you must understand there are certain White House protocols I must follow. And if I don't alert the President right away that you've been shot, all of those really tough and smart reporters back in Washington D.C. will turn this into a scandal that will unravel the Bush presidency. In the meantime, hunting partner #2, cauterize his wounds with your Chartruese."

Hunting Partner #2: "No way. He can have a swig if he wants it, but I'm not wasting good Chartruese."

Cheney: "Fair enough, give him a swig, but give me one first. Does anybody have a cell phone? (Gets a cell phone from a Secret Service guy). Damn, I cannot remember his phone number and I left my Blackberry in the car."

Secret Service Guy: "Call 911, they'll know the number."

Guy who got shot: "I see a dark tunnel with a light at the end. I am heading towards the light."

Cheney, singing to himself the song "911 is a Joke" by Public Enemy, dials 911: "Hey, Dick Cheney here, VP of the US of A. I'm in a little bind here trying to follow White House protocol to alert the President immediately that I just shot my quail hunting partner."

Liberal 911 Operator: "You just shot your whale hunting partner?"

Cheney: "No, I said quail. As in birds. Not whales. Geez, if I was whale hunting, I'd really be hearing it from the press corps."

Liberal 911 Operator, in a very hopeful tone: "Was it Scalia?"

Cheney: "No, it was some guy you never heard of."

Liberal 911 Operator: "Well, where are you guys right now?"

Cheney: "The more important question is where is the POTUS right now. I got White House protocol to follow, and that takes precedent over our situation. You have to give me the POTUS phone number."

Liberal 911 Operator: "Sir, they don't give out the phone number of the POTUS to a 911 operator."

Cheney: "Public Enemy was right, 911 is a joke."

I think this could be the start of a great new political tradition, although personally I wish it started with the Clinton administration. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then surely the friend of my enemy is my enemy. Given the great political divide in this country, and the venomous hatred many who lack proper access to psychiatric care feel towards Cheney in particular, having him shoot one of his friends has to be the next best thing to him bringing calamity upon himself. In fact, the only rational explanation for the press being pissed off is that they didn't get to celebrate the shooting on Saturday night, and since Sunday is a school night, they couldn't properly celebrate when they did find out. True to their bipartisan and compassionate ways, I am beginning to think the event was planned by Bush and Cheney to provide a feeling of shedenfreude (joy in the misery of others) to those who, like I said, otherwise lack proper psychiatric care.

Every administration should have the VP sacrificially do great harm to a friend. It will be easy for the Republicans, because they are hunters. I don't know how the Democrats will do it - maybe pushing someone off of the stage at the Barbra Streisand concert - but I'm sure they could figure it out. Maybe the Dems can get behind this initiative with a show of good faith by having Gore inflict great harm upon Sidney Blumenthal. Not sure what protocol Gore has to follow these days, but if he scheduled the event around one of his bitter paranoid delusional speeches the press would be right there on the scene. And let's schedule the event for early Saturday morning, leaving time for a real celebration.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Flying Tomato

Back from vacation, rested and ready. I won $25 bucks on the Steelers in the Bowl off of a co-worker, but I had to take a shower afterwards because I just felt dirty. I guess lousy refereeing was the theme of this year's playoffs, and the Bowl brought that theme to a whole new level. If you bet the other side and feel extremely cheated, and need closure in some way through verbally abusing a referee, Professor Vic himself is an accomplished soccer referee and could represent the general profession in the capacity of the recipient of such abuse. He's been chased off the field by illegal immigrants from every continent save Antartica, so a little "you suck, ref" is nothing to him.

So now all we have is the Winter Olympics. The upside is that, normally when watching highly trained professional athletes at the top of their game, you feel guilty being glued to the couch, washing down pork rinds with a bottle of chartruese. But chartruese is part of the pre-event preparation for the skier Bode Miller, so somehow it feels right. The other bright spot in the Olympics - Shaun White, winner of the snowboard halfpipe event just yesterday. He's got red hair! His nickname is the Flying Tomato. Finally, an athletic role model for the Hatcher to emulate other than Bill Walton, who I cannot stand. For awhile there I was clinging to a two-week stretch where Rodman dyed his hair red, but now I got gold medal winner Shaun White to look up to.

Vacation was good - they just opened up an indoor waterpark at the ski resort where we have a time share. So we did two days of waterpark and three days of skiing. I also laid out some money for a private snowboard lesson, during which I agitated to get to the half pipe the whole time and made the instructor refer to me as the Flying Tomato. She would say something like - "Look, dumbass, when you are doing to the toe turn, lean your torso back rather than forward." And I'm like - "Flying Tomato is my nickname! I know you may have heard my kids or the wife of Hatcher call me dumbass, but my real nickname is the Flying Tomato." The one and only time I had snowboarded before was at Professor Vic's bachelor party. The only thing I recall about that painful experience was the comparative joy of watching Carl on a snowboard. Disaster. It's like I tell my boys when they become obsessed, as they often do, with their comparative status - don't compare yourself to others unless you compare favorably.

At the waterpark, they have one of those standing waves, where jets shoot 1000 gallons of water per second up a hill, and you jump onto the top of the wave with a boogie board in hand. In true Hatcher fasion, my first run was a great one - I had total control of the board, and even did a roll without incident - not an easy feat. The crowd was wowed. So I then let myself drift to the side, where you get off the wave, and I am stoked, as the kids say these days. I hand the boogie board to the liefguard at the bottom of the wave, and not wanting to wait for him to clear out of my way, I step with my left foot to the side, right into the jet stream of water. I do a face plant and get swept right up the fabricated hill and thrown off the top of the ride. Chicks dig that. That's why I'm the Flying Tomato.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Run, Cindy, Run!

Saint Cindy got herself bounced out of the State of the Union address the other day, fresh off of her trip being coddled by a Venezualan commie, and not long after her announcement that she is contemplating running for the Senate in California. Run, Cindy, Run! Having an actual position of authority within the Democratic party would be the greatest electoral gift ever granted to the Republicans. In the months long coverage of this obviously sick woman, I wonder why no one has asked her in connection to her comments that George Bush is the world's biggest terrorist what that makes her now deceased son? Was he just the good Nazi soldier taking orders from Hitler, not to be held responsible for his decisions? By the same logic, were the guys who flew the planes on 9/11 just dupes of OBL, not to be held morally responsible for simply following orders? Maybe if someone in the press would just ask her that simple question, it would shake out of her dementia, and she'd finally see that she has surrounded herself with a bunch of lunatics.

But it won't happen. And maybe soon she'll take a trip across the pond to meet the most vocal anti-war member of the UK parliament, one George Galloway, who recently extended his fame by being on the UK version of the television show Big Brother. Drudge had linked to several articles concerning his behavior on that show last week, one of which pictures him doing a robot dance in a red leotard next to a transvestite former lead singer of some band I never heard of, who donned a teal leotard. Here is the most recent link: The one refreshing quote in the article is from an MP in Galloway's own Labour Party, who plans to lambaste the guy when he shows up again in Parliament. George, have you met Cindy? Maybe together you could play with some clay in a room with no sharp objects. But don't let that stop you from running for Parliament again. Run, George, Run!

His appearance on Big Brother, where he willingly makes an ass of himself in front of a nation of viewers (although arguably he made an ass of himself a long time ago) is to me indicative of a disturbing trend spurred on by reality TV. It's not enough for some people to be accomplished at what they do anymore without having to parlay their success into fame, and to extend their fame on TV they'll seemingly do anything. Witness Donald Trump and the Apprentice. Or Martha Stewart and the Apprentice. Or Richard Branson and his knock-off the Apprentice. Or Paris Hilton's mom and the show where she was going to teach some country bumpkins the ettiquette necessary to be a tramp like her daughter within the classiest circles. At least with Trump, the show was successful, but most people already viewed him as a guy who is famous for being famous - few probably knew how he made his money, and fewer still probably cared. As they say, any press is good press.

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