31 October 2005

Top 6, Bottom 4

Strung out on Pop Tarts and Diet Dr. Pepper, I take a break from our Madden 2006 league and a history paper to bring you this week's list of 10. There are good things and there are bad things. This list brings you a little of both.

Top 6

1. University of Southern California Trojans
Does anyone or anything else even come close to deserving the Top Spot? They steam-rolled Wazzu and continue to defy the East Coast Bias--kind of like my flag football team. They, like us, will only end their run with a championship. Hey NCAA (and flag football chumps), why don't you just concede SC's (and our) complete and total domination? Do Vince and Co. or Vick and Co. honestly think they have a snowball's chance of beating SC at the end of the year? Give me a break.

2. BYU Cougarettes
Once I tired of watching BYU and Air Force trade TDs I became engrossed in counting the leg kicks of the Cougarettes--BYU's elite dance team. Though I lost count once they got into triple digits, I'm told they did in excess of 300. What athleticism.

3. Cookies
I like chocolate chip, oatmeal, and the ones with frosting and candy corn. I like 'em with nuts, without nuts, with peanut butter chips and peanut butter filling. I like 'em hot, with milk, and at breakfast--I once lived off my Aunt's famous "monster" cookies for a week. If you haven't had a cookie before I highly recommend you try one.

4. Paul Walker
He burst onto the scene with an amazing performance in "She's All That"--a performance that should have netted him the award for Best Supporting Actor. In Fast and the Furious he showed his incredible ability to carry a film on the sheer genius of his acting ability. That he didn't win Best actor for that effort was a travesty. In 2 Fast 2 Furious the Academy had a chance to redeem themselves. In what can only be explained by an ice-skating-judge like scandal (think Winter Olympics 2002) he lost once again to far less deserving actors. In "Into the Blue" he teams with the always-excellent Jessica Alba to create a movie that should win John Stockwell his first Academy Award for Best Director. The Academy should also take advantage of this opportunity to right a wrong and give PW the Award for Best Actor.

5. ConSource
On Friday I watched BYU women's soccer play a tough match against Utah. They played hard and well against their rival to the north and ended a cold, wet night in a tie. While at the game my friend and I discussed many of the world's problems. After a bucket o popcorn and several cups of hot chocolate we had most of them resolved--all in a night's work. Among the topics we discussed was his involvement with ConSource. This is a project that seeks to "[create] the first complete and fully searchable online database of original source materials for the United States Constitution." This is an endeavor that deserves much more press and support. Look for a lengthy post on ConSource in the days to come.

6. Southridge Suns
I think their snub in the last couple Top 10s inspired them in their destruction of cross-town rival Kamiakin. Braves head coach Craig Beverlin had this to say about SHS and Suns QB Jason Munns, "I've been coaching for a long time, and that's one of the better teams I've ever coached against," Beverlin said. "Being one of the oldest guys (in the Big Nine) sometimes I get deja vu; I thought I saw (Drew) Bledsoe out there. I coached against Bledsoe, and I've felt that Munns is an oncoming Bledsoe-type athlete. He did nothing to change my opinion tonight." I've been saying this for a year now and I will repeat it on the record here: Munns will be the top recruit out of the state of Washington and probably the top QB in the West next year. I could probably make a good case for him this year as a junior. BYU would do well to offer (a scholarship) early and follow up often. To read more about the game and see video highlights of the #1 team in Washington click here.

Bottom 4

4. Fantasy Football
When I win all is good and I can enjoy NFL Primtime, popcorn, chicken nuggets, peanuts, and a Sunday nap. When I lose (like this week) I cuss my players, beat up my roommates, and turn my Top 10 into a Top 6. How is it that my kicker scores more points than my QB, RBs, & WRs combined?

3. "Prime"
This film with Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman is not worth the film on which it was recorded. Gratuitous discussions of human anatomy didn't help its cause. You'd be better served viewing "Into the Blue" or renting some other movie with the iconic Paul Walker.

2. Hurricane Wilma
I'm tired of hurricanes hitting my country and countries I want to visit over Thanksgiving break. I call on all responsible members of government to pour endless amounts of money into R&D in an effort to discover the cure to hurricanes. Stop them before they take another American city or Mexican vacation spot.

1. Halloween
I know I'll take heat for this one, but I really don't like this holiday. Thanksgiving I love and Christmas too. I like fireworks on the 4th and waterskiing on Labor and Memorial days. President's and MLK days are great for snow skiing. Halloween is great for... what? During the aforementioned world-problem-solving session at the women's soccer game, my friend and I discussed this holiday. We think (and I'd be interested to read comments) that Halloween presents an opportunity for members of both sexes to dress and act in ways that they would not otherwise. This much is obvious. What makes our theory unique is the thought that the way they dress and act is how they would like to all the time--were there no societal restrictions or repercussions. People-watching at not a few Halloween gettogethers provided the evidence for this admittedly unscientific theory. What's more is the general tomfoolery that goes on during this weekend. Have you ever been "egged" before? I have and it sucks.

30 October 2005

Just Win Baby

I write this as I sit in front of the TV watching my fantasy football team suck it up. Dang it, another loss to Mike Lowe.

My brother and I showed up about an hour and a half before the game yesterday. Under the stands waiting for the game to start, Matt and I discussed whether the circumstances existed which would cause us to miss the game. Rain, snow, blowouts, hot girls--barring a trip to Cancun, we couldn't come up with anything. We love BYU football.

If you love scoring yesterday was a good day. You could be excused if you thought the final score looked like a BYU vs. AF basketball score. Despite the loss last week to ND the team came out with a lot of confidence. I think they realized that they had their chances against ND (a couple of drops away from going up 17-7 or better) and could hang with a Top 10 team. Too bad UW and WSU can't say the same. BYU stayed close for 3 Quarters and proved to themselves that they were better than the team that lost to SDSU. I think that game fed this week's solid offensive outing against Air Force.

Offensive Game Ball goes to Curtis Brown, again. By the end of the season he will have a locker-full of these things. A couple more games like this (219 rush yards, 4 TDs) and he will have MWC Player of the Year Honors locked up. It was great to see BYU gain 300 yards rushing on 42 carries. I think that if there were less balance (read: more passing), this game might have been more like the game against TCU. Running the ball was probably our best defense against Air Force.

A couple of thoughts about defense: The secondary continues to take a lot of heat and some of it is deserved. How our CBs get beat by WRs(Air Force) who are neither faster nor more athletic is completely incomprehensible. What is even more incomprehensible is that the coaching staff insists on blitzing rather than giving safety help to our beleaguered cornerback corp. Our run defense is good enough that they don't need the extra man in the box. We held ND to around 50 yards rushing and they only got that many because they started running exclusively for the second half of the 4th quarter. We shouldn't be so wedded to a defensive philosophy (always blitzing) that we allow deficiencies to become glaring weaknesses. The secondary has made mistakes, but I put the bulk of the blame on the coaches for not putting them in a position to succeed. Why do you allow Maurice Stovall, who already had 3 TDs, to get single coverage? Even my grandmother wondered why they called such an obviously dumb defensive coverage.

27 October 2005

Put a fork in her... (Miers nomination withdrawn)

Conservative Republicans (the qualifier is necessary) and many Democrats (oddly enough) got their wish today as Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court. Apparently borrowing Charles Krauthammer's Exit Strategy both President Bush and Ms. Miers pointed to Executive privilege as the reason for her withdrawal.

In posts on the 8th and again on the 12th of this month I mourned the lost opportunity of debate that a conservative, pro-life nominee would have brought to the Senate. I hoped that it would lead to a more general debate of Roe v. Wade among the general populace. Well, it looks as though I will get my wish.

I understand why many conservatives are happy with her withdrawal. What I don't understand is why many Democrats are also glad she is out. Everything I have read seems to indicate that she is moderate to liberal on many social issues (despite Dr. Dobson's claims). What's more, her judicial philosophy trends in the direction of judicial activism. The following comes from comments Miers made about the involvement of the court in a Texas education funding dispute.
"At the time [of the speech], Texas was embroiled in an education funding dispute. The Texas Supreme Court had threatened to shut off most school funding if the legislature could not quickly devise a plan for fair funding. Some lawmakers pushed to remove school funding from the court's jurisdiction.

But Miers blamed the legislators for what she called an "unacceptable" school funding plan and for ducking tough issues such as imposing a state income tax.

"My basic message here is that when you hear the courts blamed for activism or intrusion where they do not belong, stop and examine what the elected leadership has done to solve the problem at issue," she said.

At a speech later that summer titled "Women and Courage," Miers went further. Citing statistics that showed Texas's relatively high poverty rates, Miers said the public should not blame judges when courts step in to solve such problems.

"Allowing conditions to exist so long and get so bad that resort to the courts is the only answer has not served our state well," she said. "Politicians who would cry 'The courts made me do it' or 'I did not do that--the courts did' should not be tolerated."
This type of judicial involvement ventures into ground held by elected legislators. We have a term for that--legislating from the bench--and it certainly doesn't abide a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Credit Dems if their relief over her withdrawal is because of her lack of experience and qualifications. However, if they were disappointed because she was too conservative, they had better prepare for more of the same, as President Bush will no doubt nominate someone with a more conservative view of Constitutional interpretation. And if, as I predict (and hope) President Bush nominates someone who is more open in their opposition to Roe v. Wade, they (Dems) had better prepare themselves for a battle royal.

SL Tribune Makes BOTW

A piece in today's Best of the Web by James Taranto includes a comment from a member of the Utah National Guard. I include it here in its entirety.
"Strange Bedfellows

The New York Times reports that Jeanine Pirro, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, has received an unlikely endorsement--and probably an unwelcome one:

Cindy Sheehan, who has crusaded nationally against the war in Iraq since her son was killed there, called on antiwar activists yesterday not to support Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking re-election next year. "I believe that any candidate who supports the war should not receive our support," Ms. Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview. "It doesn't matter if they're Senator Clinton or whoever."

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Tribune has a wonderful quote from First Lt. Bruce Bishop, a 31-year-old fireman, who explains that he plans to re-enlist in the Utah National Guard "because as I look around at the state of this nation and see all of the weak little pampered candy-[posteriors] that are whining about this or protesting that, I'd be afraid to leave the fate of this nation entirely up to them."

26 October 2005

Mossberg--At last

The Mossberg Solution
By Walter S. Mossberg

A Screen Test
For the Video iPod

It Plays Short Clips Well,
But Downloads Can Be Slow;
Christopher Walken Dances

October 19, 2005; Page D1

As always, Apple Computer's charismatic CEO Steve Jobs caused quite a stir last week when he introduced his latest product at a big media event -- in this case, a sleek new full-sized iPod that, for the first time, can play video as well as music. In addition, he announced Apple would start selling videos online for $1.99 each, including music videos; short films; and fresh episodes of five ABC and Disney TV shows, including the hit series "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

To answer those more practical questions, my assistant Katie Boehret and I this week took a couple of the new video iPods -- officially called simply "the iPod," or the "fifth-generation iPod" -- for a short test drive.

Because of production schedules, we had only about 24 hours to try out the units Apple lent us -- two white 30-gigabyte models that will sell for $299 each. There's also a larger, 60-gigabyte version that will sell for $399. Both editions come in black as well as white. The iPods are already available in some stores, and will reach more over the next few days.

We tested nearly every aspect of the gadget -- which works on both Windows and Macintosh computers, with Apple's iTunes software and its iTunes Music Store -- starting with its familiar music functions. But we focused most of our testing on the new iPod's sexiest capability -- video.

Our verdict is that this new iPod is an excellent music player. It has all of the strengths that have made prior iPods monster hits, and a few subtle refinements. Plus, it's a surprisingly decent video player, with crisp, smooth vivid playback of TV shows, music videos, short films, video podcasts and home videos.

We wouldn't want to watch a full-length movie on this iPod -- the screen is just too small. But, for short things like music videos, video podcasts or even hourlong TV shows shortened by stripping out the commercials, as Apple is doing, the new iPod provides a pretty good experience.

However, there are some significant downsides to the video function on this iPod. Some of them are due to Apple's design decisions, while others are due to restrictions imposed by media companies, or to the simple human factors that go into watching video. For instance, the media companies have made very little content available, and have forced Apple to rig the video files so they can't be burned to CD or DVD disks. And, we found in our tests that it can get annoying to hold the new iPod in a good viewing position for long enough to watch a TV episode, because it doesn't come with a stand.

Just as Apple wasn't the first company to introduce a high-capacity, portable digital music player, it isn't the first with a portable digital video player. Firms like Archos, Creative Labs and Samsung got there first, some using software from Apple's archrival Microsoft. But, just as the original iPod blew away the existing products with a superior combination of design and functionality, the video iPod has a good chance of doing so, provided enough video content becomes available for it, and people prove willing to view video on a 2½-inch screen.

Because these conditions are unknown, even by Mr. Jobs, Apple wisely calls this primarily a music player, with video playback thrown in, at no extra cost, as a bonus. And that description seems both fair and right. In essence, this iPod's video capability is kind of a business or social experiment.

The new iPod is the slimmest, most pocketable portable video player I've seen. The $299 version is about 30% thinner than the previous $299 model, yet it holds 50% more material, and has a larger high-resolution color screen. Apple somehow enlarged the screen without enlarging the width. Still, the 2½-inch screen is smaller than on most other portable video players, and it's much smaller than the screens on the most frequently used mobile video viewers -- laptops and portable DVD players.

Apple claims that the 30-gigabyte hard disk on the model we tested can hold up to 7,500 songs, or 75 hours of video, or 25,000 photos. The 60-gigabyte model doubles that capacity for $100 more.

The base model claims 14 hours of battery life for music; three hours for photo slideshows accompanied by music; and a measly two hours for video playback. In our tests, video playback lasted a bit longer -- two hours and 20 minutes. The slightly fatter $399 model, which has room for a bigger battery, can do 20 hours of music, four hours of slide shows, and three hours of video.

Apple skimped on included accessories for this iPod. As in some other recent models, the new iPod has no wall charger in the box. It's a $29 extra. Unless you buy one, you'll have to charge it from your computer. The new iPod can display its video on a TV, with the right cable. But the cable costs $19 extra. And there's a nifty dock, which might even double as a viewing stand -- but it's $39 extra.

Like the tiny iPod nano introduced last month, the new full-sized iPod can display song lyrics, if you have added them to the song file using iTunes. Unlike the nano, however, the video iPod allows you to keep the lyrics, or a picture of the song's album cover, on the screen for the duration of a song, or even a series of songs.

To test the video, we downloaded two episodes of "Desperate Housewives" from the iTunes Store, including the one that ran this past Sunday night. These videos are about 43 minutes long, because they omit the commercials that swell the shows to an hour on TV. Each download took a bit over 20 minutes using an average DSL connection. That's a little bit longer than the 10 to 20 minutes Apple predicts. Your experience may vary, depending on the speed of your connection.

We also downloaded a short film, Pixar's "Boundin'," and were surprised that it took more than five minutes to retrieve -- longer than the film itself. We downloaded a music video, "Weapon of Choice," by Fatboy Slim, which features the deadpan actor Christopher Walken doing a fantastic dance. It also can take about as long, or longer, to fetch as its playing time. And we also downloaded from iTunes a free video podcast called "Rocketboom," featuring a woman reading a homemade newscast.

In addition, we obtained from a friend an illegally downloaded episode of the TV show "Battlestar Galactica," which she had converted to one of the video formats the iPod supports.

All of these videos played very well on the iPod, though each looked better on our Windows and Mac computers, where they play back in a window that is much smaller than the computer's screen, but much larger than the iPod's. In fact, I suspect some video fans will simply buy videos from Apple for playback on a computer, rather than on the iPod.

Still, the iPod did a good job with this material. It can easily scroll back and forth in a video. But there's no way to control screen brightness and contrast.

Unfortunately, the new iPod won't play most of the many millions of downloaded video clips and home videos people have acquired over the years, which are in older formats produced by Apple's own QuickTime video program, and by other common video programs on Windows. To play these files, you must use extra software to convert them to one of the three video formats the new iPod can handle -- MP4, H264, or M4V.

The rub is that iTunes itself doesn't perform these conversions. Instead you have to buy software to do so, or dig up free conversion software from various corners of the Internet. The $29 "Pro" version of Apple's QuickTime program can do the job most of the time, but not always.

Using QuickTime Pro 7.03, I was able to convert clips of some TV ads and some home videos so they would play on the new iPod -- even a video taken on my Treo cellphone. But some of my old video clips wouldn't convert at all, and a couple of old music videos I downloaded years ago converted improperly, omitting the sound.

This video format and conversion problem is a mess that will hold back the video iPod unless Apple fixes it by incorporating free, reliable, and easy video conversion in iTunes. The original iPod had no such problem playing most existing music files people had collected.

Apple should also include a stand with the video iPod, to get around the problem of holding the thing in viewing position for long periods. But, some other issues aren't as easily solved, such as laughing out loud in public, like a deranged person, at a funny scene only you can hear or see.

The new iPod is a handsome product that works well and is a good value. If you don't expect too much from its video function, you will find it a nice bonus. But, for now, we urge you to think of it primarily as a music player, just as Steve Jobs does.

25 October 2005

Immigration - Cornerstone of the American Dream

There has been a decidedly anti-immigration tone to some of the comments attached to my politically bent posts. Looking through op-ed pieces written for my opinion writing course I found the following column on immigration. I think it appropriately addresses some of the questions of immigration and I hope it adds to the discussion on immigration. I am interested to know your collective thoughts on immigration; please comment at length.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
- taken from the Statue of Liberty

America has always been a nation of immigrants—a literal melting pot or tossed salad of races, religions and ethnicities. They came (and come) from all parts of the globe—from all parts of Europe, Africa (many pressed in to slavery), Asia and points between. With the aforementioned (and obvious) exception of African slaves, they came of their own free will. They came, some seeking one thing, others, fleeing another. Whether escaping poverty, persecution or some other privation, America, and all she stands for, gave these people hope—hope for a better life for them and their families.

As sure as they have come, their coming has caused resistance on the part of immigrants who had the fortune of getting here first—though not by much. It is all too easy for those resisting immigration to blame every societal problem from crime to joblessness on the immigration. This accusation is neither new, nor unique. Simply Google “immigration” and on any given day there will be dozens of articles and columns addressing the issue of immigration. So long as America offers protection to the weak and jobs to the poor, they will continue to come and we must form a consistent and workable plan to allow those who come with good intentions, to enter legally.

Guarding our borders and protecting the Homeland from terrorists is a serious issue whether you are from a border state like Texas, California or Washington or from the heartland. A terrorist entering through the Mexico- or Canada-US border can easily travel to any other point nationwide to launch their attack. American citizens, regardless of state, must be aware of the threat this presents to them. They must understand that immigration policy affects them in more ways than simply providing cheap labor to mow their lawns, clean their houses, or work their farms. Successful border and immigration policy will allow foreign workers to come to the US to enjoy those dreams of freedom and prosperity. These immigrants will raise families, send their kids to school, learn English and better work skills and will gradually improve their socio-economic position. They will, in effect, live the American dream circa 2005.

The principle remains the same—let all who want to come who have good intentions enter the US and work—but let them come legally. Nuts and bolts rules can be worked out on the basis of this idea—this idea that brought my own ancestors from Germany and Norway five generations ago. They will come and they will work and they will live and in so doing, continue to add to America, making her strong and great. Let us extend the hand of welcome to those who seek this freedom, this opportunity and actively and strongly resist those who want to destroy our way of life and the very freedoms and privileges that encourage so many want to live in America.

23 October 2005

South Bend Top 10

From my desk in the Standard Club of Chicago, this week's Top 10...

1. USC
Dear Sons of Troy: Can you be beat? You killed my Huskies. Next week you will embarrass my Cougars (WSU). Who will win the Heisman--Matt "thanks for the push" Leinart or Reggie "I just made you look silly on national television" Bush? Thank you for letting me jump on your bandwagon.

2. Seattle Seahawks
I told you they would beat the Cowgirls, and they did. I talked to kicker Josh Brown before the game and told him he was going to have the chance to redeem himself for losing the Redskins game. I suggested that if he lost another game I was going to banish him to the Vikings. Looks like my pep talk had the desired effect, he was 2-2 with kicks of 50 and 55 yards--game ball goes to JB.

3. Notre Dame
I haven't been to many BYU away games (USC, UNLV, Utah, Notre Dame) but ND has been the best experience (minus the loss). The fans were great and helpful, giving directions and good-natured jabs. I was impressed with how classy and friendly everyone was. It started with the students in the airport in Atlanta and continued in the same vein the whole weekend. The Salt Lake Tribune's Gordon Monson had the best take on the game: "If there's a finer place and time on God's green earth to take in a college football game than on a Saturday afternoon under a blue-but-mostly-gray October sky at Knute Rockne's house, it's unimaginable.
Nor is there a finer time and place to take it in the shorts."

4. My Boss
Thank the powers that be for a boss who understands that sometimes you need to miss work so you can go to the BYU vs. ND game in South Bend. Thanks a bunch KB. Thanks also to my fellow TAs who filled in for me in lab on Friday. Y'all are awesome.

5. BYU girls
My brother and I walked ND campus with my dad for about 4 hours before the start of the game and didn't see anything to compare to what we have back in Utah Co. Maybe they were sleeping off the last night's activities?

Are you like me? Do you check OL&L several times a day just to read the comments? I read everything everyone writes and am always entertained and often amused, even laughing out loud. I think its safe to say that the comments are more interesting than my posts.

7. Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
With the ox in the mire we were forced to go to Giordano's for dinner. I've had deep dish-style pizza at places in Washington and Utah and it doesn't even come close. Its worth mentioning that the cutest-coolest girls we saw all weekend met us for dinner--friends of ours attending Northwestern--thanks Hayley and Ashley.

8. Delta Airlines
They used to give you a meal on trips going cross country--now they just give one of a choice of snacks. Thank you Gladys from Atlanta for giving me "all of the above." I was hungry.

9. Brady Quinn
I'll take heat from my Catholic friends for dropping him so low on the list, but this list is already heavy on praise for ND. Before the game I tried to trick BQ and JS into having a bad game telling Quinn, "good luck Brady, don't throw any picks," and to Samardzija, "don't drop the ball Jeff, you pretty boy." I guess they didn't know I was being sarcastic.

10. Homework and Tests
What's better than going home to midterms and history papers? Nothing, that's what.
I guess you didn't know I was being sarcastic.

21 October 2005

Dateline Chicago

I write this from the desk in my hotel room at the Chicago Marriott.

We first flew from SLC to Atlanta this afternoon. While waiting for our connecting flight to Chicago (O'Hare) Matt and I encountered our first ND fans. After talking to us for a few minutes they offered to sell us four tickets to the game--at face value. Considering that tickets are being sold for upwards of $200 per ticket on eBay, I thought that was rather generous. It was interesting getting their perspecitve on their game last week against SC. They sounded like some of the anti-SC comments attached to my last Top 10. Which reminds me of a caveat I left out of last week's Top 10--my loyalty to USC comes with some degree of legitimacy (a not so subtle swipe at the fair-weather fans). My grandfather, aunt, and uncle all graduated from USC dental school--which also explains #6 in the same Top 10.

After attending the BYU football game last week and seeing the way BYU fans cheer at games, I wished I had the chance to give a forum address about how to cheer at football games. Since it is highly unlikely that I will ever address a group gathered for a BYU devotional I figured I would create a post with a few of those thoughts.

1. Loud on defense, quiet on offense.

I place part of the blame for this on the cheerleaders. Why they insist on starting noisy cheers when Beck is trying to audible at the line of scrimmage is beyond me. Perhaps someone should instruct them in the finer points of football--when we have the ball, be quiet.

2. Please, for the love of Cosmo, don't do that dumb running-man cheer.

Still wondering what cheer I'm referring to? The drum inspired, Star Wars themed cheer, which calls for students to alternately raise their arms in a sort of running motion (think Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber).

What is that? Is it meant to intimidate the other team? The FSU tomahawk chop I can understand--this one defies all comprehension.

I hereby call for a universal boycott of this inane cheer. Please pass the word to your fellow sheep--excuse me--byu fans.

3. A few thoughts on "booing" your own players:

Generally, I am against booing your own team. For the most part, players and coaches work hard, dedicate countless hours and expend untold blood sweat and tears preparing for and playing football. When they give their best, regardless of outcome, we should reciprocate by being good fans.

The only exception to this rule would be if a player was not giving their best effort--and even then it is not always justified. Allow me illustrate this with an example. Probably the biggest target for BYU football fan disgust this year has been CB Nate Soelberg. This track speedster turned defensive back is often criticized for his poor coverage skills and inability to tackle. What is often ignored is the fact that he has been playing with a broken hand. How difficult must it be to tackle with one hand in a cast? In the last game Soelberg broke his other hand. Some ignorant fans, thinking he was "wimping out" or perhaps taking a play off started to yell obscenities and suggested that their grandmothers could perform better. What they didn't know (at least not then) was that he had just broken his other hand, effectively ending his season. Too many times too little is known to merit antagonizing our own team. Direct your frustration and aggression to more noble pursuits--like playing countless hours of Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas.

I wish Tom Holmoe, BYU AD would read this next one...

Why don't we have open seating in the student section? Look to BYU basketball as an example. Aside from the fact that student seating in the Marriott center is limited, they did get one thing right, they allow the most rabid fans to get the best seats. The result is that the loudest BYU fans get seats closest to the court where they can do the most damage--needling opposing players and cheering loudly thoughout the game. With the rotating seats of Lavell Edwards Stadium, loud fans are dispersed throughout the stadium with many seats close the field often occupied by indifferent, fair-weather fans--if, indeed, they are occupied at all.

19 October 2005

Danny "real estate" Fortson

I love professional athletes who speak in the third person. Ricky Henderson is probably the most famous for this sometimes annoying (often amusing) habit. Faithful Seinfield viewers have also seen a great caricature of the 'third person speaker' (can anyone remember his name?) going head to head with Jerry on the hardwood.

Well, Sonics forward Danny Fortson is at it again. Held out of practice and games for much of the preseason with a toe injury and viral infections, one of Fortson's teammates was recently critical of the supposed double standard in team rules. "An unnamed teammate suggested the team had 'two sets of rules ... one for Danny and one for everybody else.'"

This isn't the first time DF has been "trashtalked" to the press. "Two seasons ago, Fortson was suspended for three games after his flagrant foul against Zarko Cabarkapa broke the Phoenix Suns rookie's wrist. Afterward, Suns chairman and CEO Jerry Colangelo called Fortson a "thug." New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey referred to him as a "meaningless mass" and "vacant lot."

Watch out "unnamed source." Fortson has pending lawsuits alleging defamation against both men.

Calling the "unnamed source" a "little girl"(worthy of a defamation lawsuit?) Fortson had the following to say about what he would do, "be careful," he said. "Whoever's saying anything bad about Danny Fortson that's not true is going to be held accountable."

Does that mean he's not a vacant lot?

Fantasy Football and other wastes of time...

Who knew fantasy football was this much fun? Apologies to Matt for telling him to sub for Bears RB Thomas Jones. He promptly scored 2 TDs Sunday which would have more than made up the difference in his loss to Jesse Jenkins and his jugger'not' of a team--"Get Off My Lawn." When we held our draft before the season we all sat around and made fun of Morgan for his bad draft picks. Since Week 1 we have taken turns getting beat by Morgan's Crips. Just remember Morgan, your wins come on the back of Shaun Alexander and the #1 offense in the NFL.

I've had an ongoing conversation with several people about the nature of text messages. Some friends use them extensively and almost exclusively. Another friend refuses to text and considers them the lowest form of communication. One friend recently showed me his typed copy of a three day textathon with a girl he had not yet met. Apparently he successfully set up a dinner-date. I'll find out tomorrow if it was what he expected. Still others are wholeheartedly disgusted when they receive mass texts. I must admit, I have sometimes been guilty of the latter, but am determined to personalize in the future. I'd be interested to see comments on text messaging...

Thanks to Fernando ((thanks also for teaching me how to write hyperlinks into my posts)) for his abbreviated evaluation of the new video iPods. I generally read Walt Mossberg of the WSJ (Wall Street Journal) for my tech reviews. You can't access them without a membership so when he writes his review of the new iPods I will post excerpts here.

Final thoughts- Please attach names to comments. Please keep them clean, I don't want to delete, but I reserve that right if necessary. Please address me as "Jake" or if you must, "Mr. Lybbert." If you have requests on topics to address, let me know. Right now I'm working on a column of sorts about immigration in response to some of the comments and emails I have received.

18 October 2005

Rumble at Larry's Nightclub

It has been reported that Seahawk FS, Ken Hamlin got into a fight outside a Seattle club after the game with the Texans last Saturday. Apparently he was beat badly enough that he was in the hospital with a skull fracture. This whole situation is disappointing for several reasons: firstly, the Seahawks were supposedly emphasizing character (they cut some of the more shady members of the team in the off-season) and yet KH is picking fights at clubs. Secondly, this is a black eye for the team and comes just before an important game with the Cowgirls. Reportedly he was given every opportunity to walk away from the fight but hit the man when a club security guard turned his head--as a Ken Hamlin fan, I hope that's not accurate. The man who put KH in the hopsital was allegedly found at a nearby park, if this is true and the two events are related then we could see a Ray Lewis-like situation in Seattle. Less I come across as callous, let me state my regret at the man's death. But I hope the two events are unrelated--if his death were retaliation for KH's beating then the conspiracy will mount. My best wishes go to Hamlin for a speedy recovery, hopefully there are no long term effects and he can quickly return to the field. I would appreciate any info from the Seattle crew (led by MJ). What have you heard?

17 October 2005

Weekend Referendum (The Iraqi Constitution)

After a busy weekend I am madly trying to get caught up on all my reading. Days are full with school and nights are filled with homework. You may have noticed the post time of "fairly reasonable." That was when I started writing the post, not when I finished it.

I haven't had time to put together something all my own on the recent Iraqi constitutional referendum, but here is an excerpt from today's Best of the Web (James Taranto). This weekends referendum lends evidential credence to my views on the state of Iraq and potential future. I think (though I may be wrong) that regardless of political ilk, we should all be optimistic supporters of the development of democracy in Iraq. You may not agree with reasons for going to war, you might think much of post-war policy has been poor, but its hard to argue with the success of this last weekend and the response of the Iraqi people.

Alright, enough bloviation from me, here's James Taranto...

The Bush Legacy

Forget about Hurricane Katrina, the Valerie Plame kerfuffle, the federal deficit, even Harriet Miers. Forget about the things you've already forgotten about--Enron, Halliburton, the Texas Air National Guard, that kook who camped out in Crawford all those months ago. The reality is that President Bush's legacy will be judged on two things: whether America is successful in Iraq, and, if so, whether success in Iraq helps promote democracy and discourage terrorism elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

If the former happens, history will recognize Bush as a near-great president; if the latter, as a great one. That's why Bush's foes in politics and in the media, here in America and overseas, have, with unseemly eagerness and impatience, embraced the idea that America is destined to fail in Iraq. And it is why they have to be feeling pretty blue after Saturday's successful constitutional referendum in Iraq.

"Iraqis streamed to the polls on an unusually peaceful Saturday, and preliminary results indicate that the country's new charter is likely to be approved, clearing the way for the formation of a permanent government," the Christian Science Monitor reports:

"Better security in many Sunni towns and a general feeling among Sunnis that last January's parliamentary election boycott hurt their cause more than it helped made many of them want to make their voices heard this time."

The Washington Post notes that "turnout reached 93 percent in the heavily Sunni western city of Fallujah after clerics and others went door-to-door telling residents it was safe to venture out of their homes, election officials said." Blogress Bridget Johnson notes that terror attacks were way down compared with the last balloting: "During the Iraq elections last January there were 347 terrorist attacks on voters and polling places. [Saturday] there were 13":

The liberals are upset today. They discovered once again the Iraqi people agree with Bush: That their freedom is worth fighting and dying for. And they proved it by risking death to make a statement. They proved it by creating a remarkable Constitution in ten months--when it took us years.

The Iraqi people are our allies in the War on Terror. And judging by their grit, restraint in the face of violence for a bigger cause, and bravery, we are lucky to have them.

Sorry, liberals, no Civil War here. Move on. Nothing to see. Maybe elsewhere you can propagandize on behalf of mass murderers to hurt the Bush administration, but not in Iraq. Not in Iraq.

How will history remember those who argued that America would be better off if only we had a leader with (swallow coffee before reading on) the integrity of John Kerry or the maturity of Joe Biden? Well, we suppose more favorably than it will remember those who will insisted Iraq was better off under Saddam Hussein."

16 October 2005

This Weeks Top 10

After a week of tests, a weekend of college football, a huge Seahawks win and a good visit from my mother, its time for another Top 10.

1. USC
This is why they're the best. Losers make excuses and champions find ways to win. Reggie Bush is the best, most exciting player in college football. Vote Bush for Heisman. I'll take SC, Cal, AZ St., UCLA, Oregon and Oregon St. against the top six teams in any other conference in the country. Go Pac-10, long live the Pac-10.

2. Seattle Seahawks
Sure, we knew they were going to beat the Texans, but it doesn't make a 42-10 pasting any less sweet. Next watch as they continue dominating the state of Texas and beat down the Cowgirls.

3. Curtis Brown
He didn't get the OGB in my previous post but he easily fills the #3 slot in this week's Top 10. 31 carries for 147 yards and 2 TDs? Game breaking run on 4th down? MWC player of the year? Remember, you heard it here first.

4. My Momma
In town for her sister's bday, my mother went to the BYU football game with us Saturday night. I think my friends liked talking to her more than me. Is that a bad thing?

5. Rob Jones
Call this my ex-roommate of the week slot. After reading through the entire blog and finding he wasn't included he turned to me in disgust and said, "this blog sucks." Thanks Robbie.

6. Kanye West
'Now I ain't sayin she a gold digger, but she ain't messin with no hist'ry major.' Thanks to Kanye for finally explaining to me why some girls don't give me the time of day. And that when I do get married, I should ask for a pre-nup. Dang it, I should have been pre-dental.

7. NFL Primetime
Quite possibly the best show on television and definitely better than going to yet another Belmont dessert party where dudes outnumber the girls at least 3 to 1. I'm told there are more girls at BYU than guys. Where are you? Watching NFL Primetime?

8. BYU v. Notre Dame
The football gods heard my prayers and gave us tickets to the game this Saturday. I will make my first pilgrimmage to the Mecca of college football, and, if my sacrifice is satisfactory, maybe BYU will win the game.

9. My Friends
Please excuse the sentimentality... Call this a general shout out to my peeps who make this list just because of who they are. Megan, thanks for smiling. Mandee, congrats on being a "statistician." Marc and Kenty, for being great roommates. MJ for being my best old friend. Justin for making me think. Matty for being the best brother ever. Caroline, happy bday. Friends are what makes life good.

10. The Smokehouse
I ate yet another pulled pork sandwich at the smokehouse Friday night and it was as delicious as the first. We got there just before close and the crew there at TS treated us great.

Another Win

Maybe I didn't overstate things last week when I said the win at NM could be the turning point in the season. Tonight's win against CSU was great and very important for the team and visiting alumni.

I could give the Offensive Game Ball to Curtis Brown this week if only because of his 1st down run on 4th and 2--to say nothing of his 147 yards and 2 TDs. However, I think the man who deserves the OGB is our Offensive Coordinator, Coach Anae. At the end of the first half I looked at the scoreboard and couldn't believe what I saw--we had 158 yards on 27 rushing attempts. For a pass happy offense with the alumni in town expecting to see us air it out, this was a huge shock. The result? We controlled the ball in the first half and shut out a good CSU offense. Coach Anae had the guts to curb his desire to throw it on every down and take advantage of something backup QB Matt Berry pointed out to me earlier in the week--when CB does well, BYU wins.

Defensive Game Ball goes collectively to the entire defense. Strong efforts by the line, linebackers and secondary combined (mentioned before) to shut out CSU in the first half. Were it not for a questionable call on a fumble, an incredibly poor pass interference call and a gift of a TD (was that really a catch?) they would have only scored a single TD. The last three times we played CSU, David Anderson lit us up. This time our secondary played incredibly well against him limiting his touches and effectiveness.

Congrats to the entire football team for showing resilience when in the first quarter two drives ended in turnovers. They could have said, "here we go again" but they didn't. I think Bronco's mindset is beginning to take hold.

On a personal note, late last night Matt and I found out that our old man had somehow acquired four tickets to the BYU v. Notre Dame game. Its a little early, but all I want for my bday is to beat ND. Go Cougs.

15 October 2005

Notes on Comments

I am still figuring out the format for discussion but I have a few requests... First and foremost, let me thank you all for your comments--either in email, attached to posts, or in phone and personal conversation. Your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are invaluable. Now my requests: please try and attach your true name to your comments. It helps me to understand background and better prepare my response. However, if you feel that full disclosure will prohibit you from an honest telling then continue as before.

I don't want this last point to come across as censorship, but in making your posts, keep in mind that my little sister will, from time to time, read the posts and comments. I think that the intent and feeling of a comment can be maintained without venturing into more colorful critiques of my posts.

Finally, please excuse the delay in posting. This past week has been filled with 4 tests and innumerable other things that suck the time out of the day--things like checking Alta's webcams.

Fairly Reasonable

Of all my posts--both political and pop cultural--the one that has drawn the most attention is the first one. Written over a year ago, my positions on Iraq were, I felt, based on principles. I have watched with great interest the developments in Iraq over the last year and wondered at some of the difficulties and wrong turns. The questions posed me by some of my anonymous critics are questions I had long since asked myself. They are questions I neither took lightly nor dismissed quickly. If my thoughts on the topic seem somewhat disjointed, I apologize, I want to ground my statements in sound reason and logic.

One of the early and continuing criticisms of the war in Iraq was that it was not a war against terror. I think that this critique is fundamentally wrong and misguided for several reasons. At the outset of the war on terror, the stated litmus was any organization or state that sponsored, harbored or aided and abetted terror groups like al-Qaida. In direct response to 9/11 we took the war on terror to the first and most obvious location--Afghanistan. Nearly four years after the invasion and eviction of the Taliban, a stable, democratic, "fiercely anti-terrorist" government is in place and assisting us in our cave to cave manhunt for Osama. Granted, we have not killed Osama, but I think a strong argument can be made that he has been marginalized. We also cannot ignore the fact that since 9/11 there has been no terrorist attack on the US--think about that. In the 4+ years since 9/11, we have been safe from threats on the homeland. I think that is significant. Now, if the goal were simply to kill Osama, we have failed. But remember, the goal was reduce/eliminate the terror threat to the US. Unfortunately that threat neither began nor will it end with OBL. To suggest that our war on terror has been a failure because of our inability to kill OBL ignores the obvious fact that, 'yes Virginia, there are other terrorists.'

It is just this recognition that took us to our next most obvious terror sponsor. It's generally understood in foreign policy studies that those wars that are most successful find themselves grounded in self interest (in this case, for the US) and virtue. This explains why, when given justification for going to war in Iraq we were told that they possessed WMD--at the very least that they had the capacity to produce WMD (still not denied) and there were a list of links between Saddam and terror groups. I mentioned these thoroughly in my first post (remember, money for palistinian suicide bombers, meetings between al-Qaida and Iraqi officials, agreements between the two groups, harboring al-Zarqawi etc.) The virtue portion of the argument was the desire to liberate the oppressed, freeing them from a reign of terror, mass murder, rape and subjugation.

A recently declassified letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi confirms what Bush has been telling us all along:
- al Zawahiri explains, the centrality of the war in Iraq for the global jihad
- That, from al Qa'ida's point of view, the war does not end with an American departure.
- He acknowledges the appeal of democracy to the Iraqis.
As well as these points, he shows that he understands the war to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqis and that they must fight for popular support until they can gain jihadist rule. He further admits that more than half the struggle is taking place in the "battlefield of the media,"--not the least of which is our own media and its portrayal of the Iraqi struggle for democracy. If, after considering these things, you still doubt the efficacy of fighting the war on terror in Iraq rather than the US, ask yourself, what aren't we doing in the war on terror that we could? Is there some pocket of terrorists hidden away somewhere that we are not fighting? Two of the most important and notorious al-Qaida leaders acknowledge that the fight is in Iraq. This letter brings a lot of vindication to the Presidents stated goals in the war on terror and should be getting more press--unfortunately most major news networks have given it only passing mention.

In the long list of rhetorical questions posed about the situation in Iraq it is suggested that the ongoing struggle in Iraq somehow indicates that it was not the right fight. I could use the same reasoning to suggest that it is. Because we are fighting terrorists and because of the emphasis placed there by al-Qaida (al-Zawahiri and al-Zarqawi), we are engaged in exactly the right battle. The vast majority of Americans, though still unsure about the reasons for going to war, understand the need to stay the course. In a Senate vote this last week, members voted overwhelmingly (97-0) in favor of increased funding for the war. They (dems and reps alike) may spew anti-Iraq rhetoric, trying to distance themselves from the decision to go to war, but they understand that it is important that we finish the job. In a recent article written by George Melloan, he notes that it is important that we don't let the fanatics derail the democratic process. In January Iraq had their first free elections and they were an overwhelming success. Images and stories of Iraqis defying threats and showing their thumb stamps (sign they had voted, symbolic of their stand for democracy) were many, and in many cases overwhelming as we watched the story of democracy unfold. Melloan notes that we dealt with similar religious fanaticism in Japan. There the suicide bombers were called kamikazes and they were responsible for killing 4,900 US servicemen. Even after occupation of Japan, we still spent many years helping Japan to build a democracy. They transformed from our most bitter enemies to being one of our closest allies--an ally with whom we trade heavily and who has supported us if not militarily, then financially and in non-combat support in Iraq.

The refrain that our war in Iraq has created more terrorist than it has killed is repeated ad nauseum. Just because you say it doesn't make it true. Charles Krauthammer points out in an article from Time magazine dated July 18, 2005 that al-Qaida's terror network was established and their terrorists recruited during the 1990's. All this occurred during the "successful" term of President Clinton. He further notes that it was during this period that we came to the aid of three muslim groups, the Bosnians, Kosovars, and the Kuwaitis. "Yet," he notes, "it was precisely during that era of good feeling that al-Qaeda not only recruited for but also conceived, planned and set in motion the worst massacre of Americans in history. So much for the connection between American perfidy and anti-American terrorism." His column merits quoting at greater length. He continues, " let's assume, for the sake of argument, that there are Muslims energized by Iraq--who were not energized by Western colonialism, American imperialism, Hollywood decadence, the Roosevelt-Saud alliance, the Afghan war, Zionism, feminism or other alleged outrages against Islam. They were living contentedly, tending their shoe shop in Riyadh, and all of a sudden they discovered the joys of jihad and the lure of heavenly posthumous sex awaiting them at the other end of a suicide bombing. The fact is that the war on terrorism is a very long war. It is not decided by a battle here or there. It would not have been won by stopping in Afghanistan and spending the rest of our lives going cave to cave looking for bin Laden and his henchmen. Kill him and shut the cave, yet jihadism would continue. It would continue because it is a sickness incubated within Arab/ Islamic culture, a toxic combination of repression, corruption, intolerance and fanaticism, fed by tyrannical regimes eager to deflect popular anger from themselves onto the American infidel. Until that political culture changes fundamentally, jihadism will thrive."

He concludes (and I wholeheartedly and in very principle agree) that the the only long-term answer in the war on terror is the spread of democracy. Today, instead of listing Iraq and Afghanistan as threats we can list them as allies, catalysts, examples of democracy and defiance--defiance against religious fanaticism as our allies in the war on terror, and catalysts for change in the Middle East. Already we have seen voluntary disarmament by Libya, democratic uprisings in Lebanon, freer elections in Jordan, Egypt and even Palestine. Rather than cause instability, I firmly believe that staying the course in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to greater stability--not a deceptive stability like the stability of the '90's that lead to 9/11 but the stability that comes from the spread of democracy and the eradication of the very things that foster and cultivate radicalism and terrorism. We can, as some have suggested, cut our losses and get out of Iraq. This would, I think, be a huge mistake. The consequences of withdrawal, as Caleb Carr, a professor teaching military history at Bard points out, is a loss in the war on terror. Pulling out of Iraq would simply show fear and disunity and would only serve to feed terrorists desire to thwart the spread of democracy and appease them in the tradition of Chamberlain and Hitler. Democracy, liberty and freedom--all too often nebulous or amorphous and taken for granted in the US--are being felt and experienced for the first time by Iraqis. This week they will vote to ratify their Constitution--one conceived and written and debated by their own elected representatives. That is power terrorists cannot mimic.

12 October 2005

Disagree? Email me.

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog is still very much a work in progress. Just yesterday I added an appropriate email address to the blog. If you agree, disagree, or have other ideas, critiques, leads on future posts, corrections, jokes, insults, topics you want addressed, questions you want answered, or just want to poke fun at my bad grammar and spelling, email me at onlifeandlybberty@gmail.com--shoot, email me just to let me know you gave it a look. My goal is to make this the best it can be and the only way it can get better is with the feedback of my ever-growing (hopefully) readership. Thanks.

PS. Tell your friends, family, classmates and other associates about On Life and Lybberty. The more critical eyes the better.

Notes on Cell Phone Etiquette

Are these things only problems in Provo?

1. Present company should be priveleged over phone conversations. If you are engaged socially with a group or a date and it is not a pressing call, simply decline or allow it to go to voicemail.

2. Current phone calls should be privileged over incoming calls. In other words, begin and end one conversation before starting another one. I am of the opinion that call waiting is among the ultimate insults. Set your phone so that calls go straight to voicemail while you are speaking with someone else. Obvious exceptions to this rule are in the case of emergency--but honestly, how many emergency phone calls require you to end what is generally a five minute (max) phone call just one minute early? Is it life or death?

3. When you call it is your responsibility to end the conversation. Do so cordially and be aware the other person may have more pressing things to attend to than your call.

There are others but these are the three most that stand out the most. I'm sure I'll address others in the future...

More thoughts on Miers

After speaking with my chief political consultant (my old man) I realized that I needed to qualify my disappointment in her appointment. I am not critical of Miers as a potential Justice, I am upset that an opportunity was missed to publicly debate things like abortion. I think that an appointment of someone who has publicly expressed disagreement with Roe v. Wade or even made rulings against Roe would instigate a debate about this decision cum Constitutional Amendment. For the most part, appointing Miers avoids this debate.

However, I understand that the War on Terror and crises resulting from Rita and Katrina probably cause President Bush to want to avoid yet another battle. After long experience with Ms. Miers he trusts her implicitly. President Bush has been applauded for great appointments to lower courts and many of the recommendations on potential candidates for these appointments have come from a group led by Miers. If she is partially responsible for recommendations like John Roberts and others we can conclude that she is a like-minded individual (read: conservative & constructionist).

Another point that merits mention: she was the first female partner and eventual President of one of the most prestigious law firms in Texas. I was reminded and instructed (again, thanks dad) that things were not then, (20-30 years ago) what they are now. In other words, opportunities for women were not as prevalent, or in any way the norm. In a profession and a state that lend themselves to being the ultimate "boys club," her accomplishments there should not be overlooked. How good must she be to have overcome the obvious gender hurdles in Texas circa 1970? My guess--good.

Accusations of "cronyism" are hardly worth noting. Simple association with President Bush should not disqualify (or qualify, for that matter) anyone for any position. One President historically noted for his supposed "cronyism" was Harry Truman. My reading of his David McCullough biography shows that many of his closest associates who became his appointment were also some of the best. Granted, there are always exceptions. Those that end up being bad appointments are bad because of their own ethical problems or incompetence--not because of their association with the President.

09 October 2005

Top 10 Again

1. BYU Football Team
At New Mexico, against his former team, Bronco's Cougars got it done. Offensive game ball goes to Curtis Brown--he always plays hard; I wish he would get more touches(way to go CB). Defensive game ball goes to Cameron Jensen. I know it can't be true but it seems like he makes every tackle. Go cougs.

2. My Baby Sister
Her first Homecoming coincided with our (matt's and my) surprise trip home for my dad's 50th bday. It's clear that the youngest got the looks in the family AND it is impossible to spoil her too much--she deserves all she gets. Love ya babe.

3. The Miracle of Flight
Props to the Wright Brothers for making it possible to go from SLC to PSC in less than the time it takes me to drive from Provo to the airport with traffic. Sure beats driving an air-conditioner-less, (the old man says it builds character) Trooper for 9.5 hours.

4. Seattle Seahawks
With the baseball season done the Mariners can no longer bring embarrassment to themselves and pain to me. This was a good weekend as all three of my teams won. The Seahawks are 3-2 atop the NFC West, the Southridge Suns remain 4A #1 and BYU got Bronco his first Div I victory. Does it get any better than this?

5. Costco Chocolate Cake
If this list were ordered based on things that bring me the greatest amount of pleasure then CCC would be higher on the list. This cake is one of the biggest reasons Costco is among my favorite places on the face of the earth and possibly the best thing bought with $15.

6. Wayne's World
We put this classic in the old VCR sometime after midnight last night. Are you like me? Have you forgotten how good this movie truly is? If you're a Braves or Padres or Red Sox fan, dust off your copy and settle in for an hour and a half of good laughs. On a side note, isn't it great that the Red Sox got swept and the Patriots are struggling? Its about time that smug look got wiped off the face of all those New Englanders.

7. Snow on Timp
This one would have been higher if the snow had lasted longer than a day. If you board or ski or like mountains, there is nothing more beautiful than a snow covered Mount Timpanogos. Here's to hoping that the snow falls fast and furious and doesn't let up till May of '06.

8. DVR or Tivo
Possibly the greatest creation since Gushers Fruit Snacks, DVR and College Gameplan allow me to watch all the football I can stand, plus some. My roommate (no names) uses DVR to record the OC and then lure girls to the apartment to watch episodes they've missed. Meanwhile, I spend my Saturdays in the library and watch college football saturday night while the roomies do the social thing. It works for everybody.

9. Best of the Web
Written by the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, this daily round-up of all things political and humorous in the media makes for a really good read--best of all, its free. Simply go to wsj.com and follow the links to Best of the Web. Sign up and they will email you a copy every day.

10. David McCullough
This is a belated Top 10 listing as McCullough visited campus nearly two weeks ago. Matt (my brother) and I spoke with Mr. McCullough at a breakfast reception where he signed our copies of 1776 and imparted a little advice. It is rare that someone meets expectations and even more rare that they exceed them. As the most renowned popular American historian and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes he could have been exceedingly arrogant. Instead he was incredibly gracious and interested in our educational experience. Thanks Mr. McCullough for leaving a lasting impression.

BYU wins

They were mentioned in the #2 spot of the Inaugural Top 10 list because of their loss to SDSU. Their win this week guarantees that they will take the top spot in the next Top 10. Congrats to BYU for their win in Albuquerque against a tough New Mexico team. Excuse the cliche of an eternal (BYU football) optimist, but this win could be a turning point in BYU's season and (should I blow it completely out of proportion?) the program. At any rate, I'm just glad my sacrifices to the football gods finally paid off...

08 October 2005

Initial thoughts on nominee Miers

This story is still developing, and we still don't know much about Ms. Miers, but there are a few things we can conclude about Bush's latest Supreme Court pick.

She is no John Roberts. Nominating Roberts first as his pick for the Supreme Court and then as the Chief Justice was a home run. Though Democrats were concerned about his political beliefs, they could not question his qualifications. His judicial experience, intelligence and articulate presentation of his knowledge were on display during his Senate Judicary committee hearings.

Democrats are too happy with this appointment. With a 54 - 45 - 1 majority in the Senate (1 being Jim Jeffords, an Independent in name only) many Republicans--especially the right-wing base of the party--are dissappointed with a singularly uninspiring nominee. Dems and moderates had argued that Pres. Bush had to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a similar justice. This line of argument was of course based on... nothing. In the Presidential election of last November it was clearly understood that President Bush would nominate justices for at least one and possibly two retiring Supreme Court Justices. Those voting for the President understood his personal politics and could justly assume that he would appoint a Justice with similar views. There never has been a precedent that suggested that justices should be replaced by someone the same views--as though there were ideological slots that must be filled. The truth is that those who suggested such a policy were afraid of what they would lose with Justice O'Connor--a swing vote who sided with them on the important issues of abortion and affirmative action. In case after case Justice O'Connor was the swing vote affirming policies that had never been subjected to democratic consent.

Thus the disappointment of this nominee becomes clear. Many, including your humble blogger, saw this as a chance for a true national debate about abortion. With the Republican majority, this debate would force Democrats (and Republicans) to clearly delineate their positions in the great life versus choice debate. This debate could educate and inform a populace that has lived in a country in which abortion had become a part of the Constitution by judicial fiat. Hopefully, people would begin to question the legitimacy of a policy that had been legislated by nine people never elected rather than the citizens of the United States.

04 October 2005

Inaugural Top 10 (apologies to Fox Sports' Chester Voltaire)

1. Black Hell Death
Big ups to Mike Lowe and his demolition of our fantasy football league, broke phi broke. You get the last laugh

2. San Diego State
The Aztecs handed it to us on Saturday--especially humbling our offense. Apologies to those who traveled to see the game (Ammon Sullivan).

3. Kent Breard III
Horrible fantasy football team names aside ("YM'sP"), kent deserves this ranking for getting play right in the middle of the afternoon session of conference on Sunday. Way to go Kenty.

4. Mike Lowe
Mike occupies two spots in this list because of his recent engagement. I can often trace good things back to the state of Washington and this is no exception: Mike's fiancee's mother is from Moses Lake WA.

5. Destructive Female-Named Hurricanes
Thank the powers that be that we haven't had a destructive hurricane named after a dude this year...yet

6. Facebook
The most entertaining waste of time on the web EVER lands in the six spot this week. Depending on how many girls add me as a friend or message me the facebook will move up or down.

7. PJ Wong's
That's right, you know it as P.F. Chang's. Well, I finally remembered (thanks to Matt) who it was that mistakenly called it PJ Wong's--Jesse Jenkins. Jesse, if you had done it on purpose it wouldn't be as funny.

8. Aaron and Kristin Lee Briggs
Call them my cute couple of the week. I haven't seen them since I've been back to school but they are still two of the coolest people I know.

9. Southridge Football
When I kneel down at night I give thanks that at least one of my teams is winning. Its a tough time to be a BYU football/Seattle sports fan. Keep throwing TDs young Munns.

10. My Old Man
On the 10th he hits 50 and he ought to be higher in the rankings. Credit for being able to water ski and snow ski with your twenty-something sons. None of my friends' dads are in good enough shape to do any of that.

Give it a chance

After a whole lot of talk I am finally beginning my blog. Whether it lives up to its mild hype (mostly from me) is a whole other question. The genesis of this blog is my long held desire to have a forum for thoughts and ideas on myriad topics. Should you care to read with any frequency you will find entries on topics ranging from politics, to sports, literature, history, pop culture and everything in between. You will excuse any self-promotion as an obligatory part of any blog. My hope is that entries will be at times serious, humorous and always interesting and entertaining. Regardless of readership, I will have finally found a forum to air the many thoughts and passionately held opinions bouncing around my head. I'm sure my friends and roommates will be grateful they are no longer forced to listen to my diatribes but will be able to take my opinions in more measured and (hopefully) tempered doses. To those who care to read and even comment: thanks.

Bush & Iraq

I post the following material at the request and behest of several friends who have asked for my reasons behind my support of President Bush and the war in Iraq. Though this was originally written by me over a year ago, as I re-read it I find much of the material and arguments to remain solid and appropriate.

(Note: the following selections are taken from an ongoing correspondence between a good friend of mine and I. You can justly conclude from the tenor of my arguments that his views on the war and our President are different from mine. Originally dated 7 September 2004)

Iraq-Al Qaida
In case you missed it, one of Al-Qaida's main dudes and certainly one of the worst terrorists still at large in the world, Al Zarqawi was aided and abetted by Saddam Hussein. After being injured he convalesced in Baghdad and had several meetings with Iraqi intelligence agents. Zarqawi also established a poison and explosives camp in northeastern Iraq--a camp we have monitored via satellite. Knowing the tight grip Saddam had on Iraq we can easily conclude that Saddam was at least aware of the camps existence. Even if all he did was not eliminate it he crosses the threshold of "aiding and abetting a known terrorist"--an important lieutenant of bin Laden who was re-building his network in Iraq. Also, noted in a column from the National Review is the fact that the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan served as the liaison between Saddam and al Qaida. This is simply one example of the link. Consider also that Saddam offered rewards to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. Can you honestly believe that after being kicked out of Kuwait in the early '90's he wouldn't aid a terrorist going after the US? Consider the failed assassination of attempt of the former President Bush. It is a known fact that Baghdad trained Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives. Saddam's intelligence agents were involved in dozens of attacks and assassinations throughout the '90's. In addition, we have learned that during the mid-'90's bin Laden and Saddam reached a "tacit agreement" to end activity by one against the other and we know members of both groups met at least eight times since the early 1990's--bin Laden himself met with the director of the Iraqi intelligence service. Lest you think they discussed the latest Iraq vs. Pakistan soccer match, think again. These are just a few examples, a quick "google" search would produce more. In order to truly understand what is going on one must get past the editorializing of the liberal media and into the substance of the news. Documents in Iraq are still being recovered and reviewed, I believe that further terror links will be established.

Weapons of Mass Destruction
People like the demagogue Michael Moore (see Webster's for a definition, b/c he fits it) continue to insist that Pres. Bush "lied" about WMD in leading us to war. The fact remains: the intelligence agencies of the US, Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, and Israel all concluded that Iraq had WMD--there was never any debate about this There were something like 17 separate UN resolutions regarding Iraq and the WMD. If this is the information President Bush received in making decisions about whether or not to go to war, how did he "lie." It was not President Bush who collected and analyzed the intelligence--heck, it wasn't even just the US. Several other nations independently confirmed this fact. Based on the intelligence he received he made a decision. It is also worth noting that Congress--especially the various caucus leaders and members of intelligence committee's in both the House and the Senate all saw exactly the same intelligence presented to President Bush and a vast majority of both the House and Senate (including John Kerry) voted in favor of the War Resolution. Also, we are just beginning to get reports of heavy transport activity over the Iraq-Syrian border and then on into parts of Lebanon. Could this possibly be transport of Bio/Chem weapons produced by Saddam? We have long known that the Bekaa Valley has been a favorite hideout for terrorists from the Hezbollah, to al-qaeda and everything in between. This point of transport into Syria and Lebanon is one that needs to be investigated more deeply. Also, and this is a point that is not disputed, Saddam had the "capacity" to develop both chemical and biological weapons and used such weapons in the past against his own people (the Kurds) and in his war against Iran. Based on the intel possessed at the time it would have been irresponsible to have not gone to war to disarm Saddam. Hindsight is 20/20, Bush made the best decision with the best information. With Kerry or even Gore as President Saddam would still be in power and somehow this would make the world better/safer?

The UN
If you think the UN had any degree of legitimacy before going to war in Iraq you need to check yourself. The UN security council is populated by governments who embrace a policy of appeasement. Think they learned their lesson after Hitler? Think again. Resolution after resolution after resolution was passed by the UN Security Council with little resort. In 1998 the weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq with little to no recourse other than to pass another resolution, another resolution to do what...? The only reason Iraq even let weapons inspectors back in is because they thought (rightly so) that the US was serious about going to war and Saddam wanted to stay in power. We've had mass extermination in Rwanda and now Sudan not to mention Somalia. As you say, "talk is cheap." All the UN does is talk and pass meaningless resolutions which it relies on the US to enforce. All the talk and resolutions in the world plus a quarter will get you a cup of coffee and hundreds of thousands of dead in Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq... Dictators and terrorists know they can get away with anything because they know the UN will never act. Where the UN fails to defend the weak the US steps in. I don't want to wait on a UN resolution before we decide to defend our country nor do I want to wait on Germany and Russia. Why is it that a coalition isn't a coalition without Germany and France? There are more than 38 nations "with us" in Iraq including Japan, the UK, Italy, Australia, just to name a few. The French have been retreating since Napolean lost to the Russians and somehow we miss their involvement?

Reasons for Going to War
It is true that WMD was the central reason for going to war, but it certainly wasn't the only one. Of note is the fact that there were over 600,000 civilian deaths under Saddam's regime and many of these were because of his use of chemical weapons on Kurds in the northern part of Iraq and their use during his war with Iran. Human Rights violations were rampant and that combined with his support of terror against Israel were reason enough for Congressman Tom Lantos D-California (his district encompasses an area in and around San Francisco--fairly liberal I would guess) when I spoke with him in early March 2003 before the war. He and his grandson Tomicah Tillaman--then a student at SAIS (John's Hopkins prestigious international relations grad school) argued that they were in support of the war regardless of WMD. Remember, terrorizing, torturing, imprisoning, raping, killing his own people, supporting terror, WMD--there were a multitude of reasons for invading Iraq.