Monday, July 31, 2006

The Third Circle Of Pregnancy Hell

All is now well, but my 29-weeks pregnant wife has been in the hospital for the past 32 hours, thus the light blogging. The stay was precautionary and consisted of about two hours of tests and exams, and about 30 hours of waiting for the medications and shots that resulted from said tests and exams. After much worry, Mrs. Occidentality has been declared well but has been commanded to bed for the next two weeks. The baby, of course, is oblivious, and swimming around healthily and happily inside the comfort of the womb.

I'd only offer one little pointer to any future OB/GYNs. Let's say a 29-weeks pregnant patient calls you and complains of bad pain, and let's further say that you tell that patient to go to a particular hospital. When the patient asks you why you have chosen that particular hospital, do not give the answer, "Because they have excellent facilities for premature babies." Trust me: that's the wrong answer.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006


IDF jets bombed a building in the Lebanese village of Qana and killed at least 50 civilians, mostly women and children. Israel claims that the village was used to launch Katyusha and longer-range rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, and thus was targeted. The civilians injured claimed Hezbollah had never used their town for assaults. The media is tightly controlled by Hezbollah, and the citizens it controls are deeply loyal to that faction. I have my doubts, especially given this article posted last night at Captain's Quarters (via AJ Strata), which is almost prophetic.

For the West, the killings make a cease fire more urgent, given the profound interest in alleviating the pressure of unpleasant headlines. For Israel, there is a possibility that the bombing will break the deep unity of the populace in fighting Hezbollah. A similar event effectively halted an operation in Lebanon 10 years ago. It would be a disaster fro Israel to stop fighting now, on their own, even if many Israeli leftists do not believe so.

For Hezbollah and Hamas, the bombing is a jackpot. In fact, the whole point of operating within civilian areas is to produce an event such as this. Hamas has already announced that they will retaliate, since Israel has now crossed "all red lines". This is nonsensical propaganda: Hamas sends teenagers to blow up civilians in pizza parlors, so we know they don't really need a reason for murderous terror attacks. Qana is simply the perfect excuse for them to resume such attacks. They can kill as many teenagers as they wish, yet the world will talk instead about the wrongs done by Israel. The world will forget that the IDF had warned villagers to leave that area in the preceding days, and simply won't care that Hezbollah brought the attack by ambushing Israeli soldiers, kidnapping two, and launching random rocket attacks intended to kill Israeli citizens.

Fortunately, immediately after the bombings the Israeli government apologized for the civilian deaths and commenced an investigation. Yet at the same time, they reiterated the need to fight Hezbollah, and put the responsibility for the deaths squarely on that illegal, private army's use of civilian areas for operations. This may defuse any political repercussions within Israel and allow operations against Hezbollah to continue.

Unfortunately, Secretary Rice immediately cancelled her trip to Beirut and will instead return to the U.S. She suggested a cease fire was urgent, indicating greater pressure on Israel, but also seemed willing to allow further Israeli operations.

What Qana will do to American plans is also uncertain. Indications are that a cease fire plan is imminent. While Israel should not be interested in a rushed cease fire, Carl in Jerusalem notes rumors that the U.S. had indicated its own interest in hostilities continuing, which would mean that Qana significantly changed American plans.

UPDATE: Via lgf, video from the IDF showing Hezbollah rockets being launched from behind a thre-story residential building in Qana, as well as the warning to leave the area issued to civilians days before.

Here's a map showing I think the location of Qana. Corrections or confirmations welcome.

UPDATE 2: At Judeoscope, proof that a few dozen dead Lebanese women and children are as valuable to Hezbollah as the damage their rockets have done to northern Israel (via Solomonia). As I said earlier, Hezbollah pretty much hit the jackpot.

Haaretz reports that the IDF believes the building didn't collapse until hours after the strike: "...the attack itself occurred near midnight, while reports of an explosion and the structure's collapse were only received at around 8:30 A.M."

Their story includes this nice little insight into the value of the repoerting that comes out of Hezbollah areas:

Arab media began reporting on the incident after dawn Sunday, approximately seven hours after the strike. The reports did not note, however, that the building collapsed a short time prior to Arab journalists' arrival on the scene.

While Israel is determined to continue their actions against Hezbollah, they have agreed to allow a 48-hour window for civilians in south Lebanon to evacuate. Hezbollah will probably prevent them from doing so. The more Qanas the better for them.


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Adblogging: The Fruit Guys

Selling cheap, functional underwear can be neither easy nor fun. For Fruit Of The Loom, they've taken to a strategy that mostly emphasizes brand recognition probably because, after all, underwear is underwear. They have three ads running in a regular rotation right now, all based on the pretense that the four guys dressed as fruit that have populated their commercials for a number of years are really the members of a band. Two of the three have music video-type credits at the start of the commercial; the one that does not was perhaps filmed before the "band" idea fully matured.

"Blue" is the best of the ads -- here's the full video, which is cut down for the commercial (the lyrics are here). It's a catchy version of the falsetto white-boy ballad popularized by the likes of Ben Folds. The song makes no sense, and it helps that the lyrics are hard to follow. The last line of the songs sounds like, "the world embraced my sacred underpants." It sounds better set to the music, which is very appealing. (NOTE: The lyric is probably "slate blue" and not "sacred", but it's still pretty weird.] The visual appeal is also strong and the product is inserted into the setting almost imperceptibly. The underwear shown mixes with the setting and the mood. That the "band" is four men dressed as fruit just heightens the surreality of it, and makes us remember the brand -- the whole point of these ads.

"You Can't Over Love" is somewhat less effective, and is frankly kind of creepy -- the full video, which like "Blue" was cut down for the ad, is here (the lyrics are here). The song is a maudlin country ballad about a father, a son, their comfortable underwear, and a dead hamster. Seeing the shot of the father sitting at the edge of the son's bed for a profound talk about the nature of life and death is not improved by the fact that both are wearing only underwear. I'm not sure I trust the intentions of a dad who doesn't put on his pants for that talk. The bizarre implications perhaps bothered the producers, because they defuse the weirdness by cutting away to the "band" in the studio supposedly previewing the video. One complains bitterly that there's "a lot of Apple", the lead singer, in that video. Apple is oblivious; he's captivated watching his own performance. They don't cut away like that for the other ads, preferring instead to show as much "music video" as possible.

But the third ad is perhaps creepier than the second. It's the one probably produced before the "band" idea took hold, as there's no music video style credits at the start. It shows the band standing on pedestal playing a fast, hot, sexy rhythm on bongo drums. All around them, underwear-clad models are dancing joyfully and in unison. Unlike the other two ads, this one primarily highlights the characteristics of the product. The way the women dance shows potential buyers that the underwear is comfortable, easy to move around in, and comes in a variety of colors and styles. But what kills the ad for me is the expression of the faces of the "fruit". Alongside a pulsing beat and juxtaposed against the legion of scantily clad beauties dancing around them, their straining, earnest expressions recall an activity other than playing bongos.

The Fruit Guys have been around for a while, and there's now even a Hispanic version of the quartet. Hopefully we'll see more ads as strong as "Blue," and fewer as weird as "You Can't Over Love".

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Midnight News -- 7/30/06

On the day that Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez signed a massive arms deal, a Russian journalist was found murdered.

A former junior high teacher was convicted of executing an elaborate plan to kidnap and rape his ex-wife. He paid another man to break into his wife's home and abduct her. Then, according to the husband's plan, the man pretended to force the husband to have sex with his ex-wife. One of these times, the couple's 14-year-old son was tied and bound in another room during the rape.

The denizens of Chez Occi will not be viewing or renting any Mel Gibson movies anytime soon. It's not the alcoholism so much as the rabid anti-Semitism (via Hot Air).

An 85-year-old Japanese man plowed into the patio of a Starbucks in a Los Angeles suburb, injuring 10. He claims that he accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, but that's what they said about Pearl Harbor.

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Yankees Hammered By Devil Rays, Really

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays demolished the New York Yankees tonight, beating them 19-6. I'll repeat that: the Devil Rays beat the Yankees 19-6. To be fair, the Rays have been slowly but steadily growing to respectability, but a blowout like this against a team that led for the wild card at the start of the game could not have been predicted by anyone.

The losing pitcher was Randy Johnson. After struggling earlier in the year, he'd had a run of good starts in his last 4 games, including an 11 strikeout game. But tonight he recorded no strikeouts and gave up 9 runs, 6 earned, and a home run in 3.1 innings. Shawn Chacon, who was a starter through the All Star break but is in the bullpen now, couldn't do much better, and neither could any of the other Yankees pitchers.

Every Rays starter got a hit and scored a run, and light hitting Tomas Perez, playing third tonight, managed 4 doubles.

What's telling in the box score is that the Rays outscored the Yankees by 13 runs, but only had 9 more baserunners; they left 13 runners on base while the Yankees left 14. A horrible game for New York.

In Baltimore, the White Sox beat the Orioles again, this time winning 13-11 in a nearly 4-hour slugfest. Every pitcher for both teams gave up an earned run, except Sox lefty Matt Thornton, who only faced one batter. John Garland suffered through a sinus infection during the game and pitched poorly over 5 innings. Since he was sick, it's hard to say whether this was a fluke or he's hitting a slump like every other pitcher on the staff. More concerning was Bobby Jenks giving up a run in the ninth. He came into the game less than 24 hours after his save last night and was less effective in obtaining the same result. The Sox are back on top of the wild card standings by a half game.

The Red Sox also won, beating the LA Angels in 11 innings, and now stand 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees. Naturally, David Ortiz drove in the winning run. I'm not a great believer in the notion of a "clutch" hitter. Ortiz might convert me.

Also aiding the victory was a defensive play by Manny Ramirez. Yes, you read that right. In the top of the 11th, he threw out a runner trying to score from second, holding the tie.

No trades today. The deadline is on Monday.

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Clock Ticking On Israel's Right To Self Defense

The concern any American or Israeli ought to have about the "international community's" efforts establish a cease fire in Lebanon is that the "international community" has no interest in peace, merely quiet. Islamofascism is a totalitarian political movement, and such movements always treat peace agreements as precursors to their next demand.

So Israel is in a nearly impossible position. Hiding in civilian areas, buying the loyalties of the Shia population in Lebanon, Hezbollah can absorb Israel's blows knowing that sooner or later, the democratic nations on which Israel depends will grow tired of all the ugly headlines coming out of the Middle East and will force the two sides to negotiate. Each will concede some point, Israel will return to it's normal state, and Hezbollah can rebuild and plot the next step of its campaign to destroy the Jewish state. The "international community", having successfully defended itself against the recognition of Islamic terrorist goals, will then return to the delusions that allowed Hezbollah to grow so powerful to being with. A cease fire now will quell the headlines, many of which are staged by Hezbollah's propagandists, but will effectively trade Lebanese lives now for Israeli lives later.

Apropos the "international community's" concern for quiet, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss the fighting in Lebanon. The sense of the Israeli's is that they have another week to ten days to continue fighting Hezbollah. After that, Secretary Rice proposes a "stabilization" force of 10,000 to 30,000 to enter southern Lebanon to assist the Lebanese army to enter the area and disarm Hezbollah.

Even if a "stabilization" force were to enter southern Lebanon, there is little to no guarantee they wouldn't eventually become as corrupt and useless as the U.N. peace keepers in Lebanon and elsewhere. And why shouldn't they? Hezbollah has the money to corrupt them and the will to intimidate them into blindness. Once the bombs stop the "international community" will turn to other matters: no one would notice until it's too late.

The rumor prior to the meeting was that an Israel concession would be that it would give up its claim to the Shebaa Farms. This is a demand of the Lebanese government, but the Israelis don't wish to give up the land in the current circumstances. First, they have the superior territorial claim under a U.N. resolution. Second, while they no longer have any security interest in the area, they do not wish to give a victory, however indirect, to Hezbollah. The U.S. believes it would be a peaceful, reassuring gesture, but the cost of showing weakness to Hezbollah might be to high for the benefit of the Lebanese government's goodwill.

The most fortunate piece of information to come out of the meeting is that the U.S. agrees that the return of two kidnapped soldiers would be required for any cease fire deal. How many Hezbollah prisoners Israel would have to give back is not mentioned.

Secretary Rice will travel next to Lebanon.


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Muslim Jihadi Murderer May Hide Behind Mental Illness

The current line on the Muslim murderer in Seattle is that he suffered from some kind of mental illness. Bipolar disorder has been mentioned. This is a trivial fact that distracts from the salient feature of his attack, his choice of Jews and Israel as the target. Many people suffer from bipolar disorders; most do not kill random Jewish women. The abstract character of a mental illness is the same for every person who suffers from it, but the specific manifestation of that illness is mostly unique. That an anti-Semitic hate crime is how his mental illness manifested itself indicates a great deal about this person's surroundings, upbringing, and culture. The other day, Debbie Schlussel, almost prophetically, described the kind of community activities in which Muslim Americans will indulge. A mentally ill Muslim murderer emerging from such communities does not surprise.

Of course, that assumes he truly had a mental illness, and that story is not simply a cover story that the media has eagerly chosen to accept. Michelle Malkin has more on the case here and here, as does Jihad Watch.

The killer, 31-year-old Naveed Afzal Haq, faces a bail hearing today. The Seattle police have put both mosques and synagogues under watch:

"We are also protecting mosques, because there is always the concern of retaliatory crime or retaliatory incident," Kerlikowske said.

Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz said police had no specific information about any threats, but his department had issued an alert on Thursday "reminding officers to be vigilant to monitor synagogues and mosques in the city."

Has a "retaliatory crime" ever happened when Jews have been murdered in this country? Did that happen after the El Al shootings, or the North Carolina SUV rampage, or when that white racist went on a spree and shot up a Jewish school and killed a Filipino mailman? That police chief is a grandstanding PC twit.


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Midnight News -- 7/29/06

Elections will be held Sunday in the Congo, if violence doesn't interfere: "Columns of smoke rose over Kinshasa on Thursday as political violence claimed the lives of three policemen and at least three civilians ahead of Sunday's elections...."

The Indian Muslim terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba have been gathering intelligence on additional terror targets, including "the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the big business centres, major BPOs and also a Maharashtra minister and a top politician from Gujarat."

Also in India, a spy scandal has erupted. Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh claims he knows the name of a mole in a former government who passed secrets of India's nuclear program to the U.S. He has dared the government to take legal action against him for withholding the mole's identity.

A government minister was murdered outside a mosque in Somalia, the second such murder this week. Riots ensued.

A corrupt congressman has convinced a court to allow him to review documents seized by the FBI so that he can remove privileged legislative material. Its a pyrrhic victory: the court will get to decide if the documents really are deserving of privilege.

The U.S. economy grew by 2.5 percent in the last quarter. Economists officially lowered its status from "blistering" to merely "stinging".

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Freelance Muslim Terrorism In Seattle

A Jewish woman was murdered Friday at a Seattle Jewish organization. The killer is a freelance Muslim terrorist who took it upon himself to kill Jews on Mohammed's behalf.

Amy Wasser-Simpson, vice president for planning and community services at the Jewish Federation told The Seattle Times that a man got through security at the building and told staff members: "I'm Muslim American. I'm angry at Israel," then began shooting.

Police said they had also found a car belonging to the man, who was not immediately identified, and were searching it for explosives and evidence. A handgun had been found at the scene and was taken into evidence.

What follows is a singularly ignorant comment about the motives of the killer.
"We think this is a lone individual acting out with antagonism toward the organization," said David Gomez, assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI's office in Seattle.

If this is the guy in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, then Seattle's totally screwed.

The killer has a problem with Jews. His faith teaches hate towards them and rewards their murder, and he took it upon himself to be a vanguard of that faith. This is not some disgruntled loner. This is a person acting on the exact same values as those held by heads of Islamic states. He's not an aberration; he's close to the mainstream.


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Live Blog: Chicago White Sox @ Baltimore Orioles

Box score and wrap ups.

The White Sox are in Baltimore after getting swept by the remarkable Minnesota Twins. To say the Sox are in the doldrums is an understatement. They're the World Series champions, and unlike some teams do in the year after a championship, they improved the team in the offseason with two major free agent signings: Jim Thome and Javier Vasquez. That they would play so poorly for so long could in no way be anticipated.

Starting for the Orioles is Erik Bedard, a lefty who has won his last seven starts. He won against the Sox on July 3, pitching two-hit ball over 8 innings, giving up 1 earned run. His opponent in that game is his opponent in this game, Freddy Garcia. Garcia had been struggling, but pitched well in his last start, giving up 1 run over 7 innings and striking out 5. He needs another good start, because Buehrle looks to be in a very deep slump and Vasquez can't be trusted past the fifth inning. That means Contreras and Garland are the only reliable starters, and they alone are not nearly enough to keep pace with the Yankees, Twins, and Tigers.

Below is the typical lineup for the Sox against lefties. I'll change it as needed, as well as fill in the Oriole lineup, as the game approaches. First pitch is set for 6:05 pm CDT.

P. Ozuna lf - l
T. Iguchi 2b - r
J. Thome dh - l
P. Konerko 1b - r
J. Dye rf - r
J. Crede 3b - r
A.J. Pierzynski c - l
J. Uribe ss - r
B. Anderson cf - r

B. Roberts 2b - r
B. Fahey ss - l
M. Mora 3b - r
M. Tejada dh - r
J. Conine lf - r
C. Patterson cf - l
R. Hernandez c - r
K. Millar 1b - r
N. Markakis rf - l

5:37 -- pregame
I've done three of these live blogs, and I'm getting a better idea of what I want them to do. One of the reasons I do these is to relive the game later, like a score card. I think my last effort was a little weak for that, so I'm going to track the inning, outs, and score with the time in each update to better track the flow. I'm also going to try harder to summarize the action, rather than just repeat it.

Hawk Harrelson, one of the Sox announcers, just called closer Bobby Jenks the MVP of the season, because he's come in to salvage games for the starters. He hasn't been an MVP in his last several appearances. Far from it in fact, though in his most recent appearance he didn't give up any runs. Harrelson is at least honest about admitting that the Sox don't quite know what's gone wrong these last few weeks. It's a mystery that everyone has just sort of gotten very average all of a sudden.

There's a chance that Miguel Tejada, normally the shortstop but DHing tonight, will switch jerseys over the weekend. There's been a lot of rumors in Chicago that the Sox will trade for him, and the Orioles are shopping him hard.

The game will start in about ten minutes. I'm off to heat up some chicken wings and pour myself a cocktail. I so love Fridays.

6:05 -- top 1, 0 outs, 0-0
Podsednik's off tonight so Ozuna leads off. Two pitches later and he's out on a chopper to third. Iguchi, the Sox best all-around player, hits nearly the same pitch to nearly the same place, but harder. It bounces off Mora's glove. Scored a hit, but closer to an error; his cousin must be scoring the game. Thome strikes out looking swinging and Konerko hits a high pop-up that Markakis catches on the foul line behind first base. He almost didn't get there in time. Iguchi left at first.

6:14 -- bot 1, 0 outs, 0-0
The first batters for Garcia: a hard line drive to right center, a hard line drive single to center, a high fly ball to right, a broken bat single down the third base line. The ball rolled so slowly into outfield foul territory that Fahey, still at first, made it all the way home.

This could be a long night.

The fifth batter, Conine, also hits the ball down the third base line, but Crede snags it and throws him out at first.

6:21 -- top 2, 0 outs, 0-1
I'm drinking a Brooklyn -- not quite a Manhattan but it'll do in a pinch: bourbon, cherry juice, ice. Delicious.

We get a break. Dye went to a full count then hit a slow grounder to third. But Mora's throw sailed high and pulled Millar off the bag. This time it's scored an error: even Mora's cousin couldn't pass that off as a hit.

But wouldn't you know it -- Mora redeems himself. Crede hits another grounder to third and Mora starts a successful 5-4-3 double play.

A.J. comes up and pops foul to third.

There's a lot of balls being hit to third off Bedard.

6:30 -- bot 2, 0 outs, 0-1
My wife called. She's the most considerate woman in the world because the minute I told her I was blogging the game she blurts out, "I'll be home from work by 8:00" and hangs up to let me get back to this. I'm lucky.

Garcia did a little better in the second inning. He gets an easy grounder to first and then two strikeouts.

I'm feeling a little better.

6:36 -- top 3, 0 outs, 0-1
Three pitches from Bedard and Uribe strikes out. Now I'm not feeling so good. Bedard looks like a pitcher who has won 7 in a row.

6:38 -- top 3, 1 out, 0-1
Okay, now I feel better again. Brian Anderson, who's really been hitting well, hits a long, loping double to left center. A runner on second for Ozuna, who can maybe be patient for more than two pitches.

Okay, so he doesn't get past the second pitch, but he does hit a hard grounder to left for a single. Not enough to score Anderson, but runners at first and third for Iguchi.

Sac fly to right, deep and near the foul line. Anderson scores easily.

6:41 -- top 3, 2 out, 1-1
Thome's up. He needs to just put the ball in play; he's mediocre against lefties.

And he does put the ball in play. A lazy single to center. Runners at first and second for Konerko, who is awesome against lefties: 1.146 OPS.

Uh-oh. Konerko goes down 0-2, but hits a ball off the top of his foot, and he's having a hard time walking it off.

6:46 -- top 3, 2 out, 1-1
Very relieved: Konerko steps back in.

Wild pitch! It hit the dirt a few feet in front of the plate and spiraled past the catcher. Runners at second and third now.

Konerko's having a great at bat -- he went down 0-2 quick but he's being patient and fouling off a lot. After 9 pitches the count is full. On the 10th pitch he walks.

Awesome at bat.

Now Jermaine Dye, who really doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

Of course, it doesn't help when he hits into a fielder's choice to third on the first pitch with two outs and the bases loaded.

At least they loaded the bases. Haven't seen that too often recently.

6:53 -- bot 3, 0 outs, 1-1
After a pop up to center, Garcia gives up a high home run to center to Roberts. It was a low breaking ball that Roberts just scooped off the ground and sent very, very far.

6:57 -- bot 3, 1 out, 1-2
A high pop up to second makes it look like Garcia will get out of the inning without too much damage. But Mora hits a grounder to short that Uribe bobbles, then on the throw Uribe sails it past Konerko.

The ball bounced back towards the infield, so Mora couldn't get to second on the error. The umpires were about to award him second, but they discussed the ground rules for a few minutes and, to loud boos from the Baltimore crowd, sent Mora back to first. It might not make a difference, because Tejada's up.

Nope, doesn't matter. All that sending Mora back to first does is make Mora run an extra 90 feet. Tejada sends a ball down the right field line this time, so far into the corner that Mora scores from first. They can't get the ball back quick enough to make a play. Conine goes down on the next pitch to end the inning.

Uribe's error really hurt.

7:05 -- top 4, 0 out, 1-3
Crede hits a ball deep to center, but it's just a long out. I thought it would be another solo homer. A.J. hits a first pitch single to left, his first hit in ten tries against Bedard. Darrin Jackson points out the Sox hitters are working on opposite field hits. It's working for A.J.

Uribe hits a double play ball to short, but Fahey doesn't handle it smoothly and A.J. breaks up the play after being thrown out at second, so it's just a fielder's choice.

As an aside, Brian Anderson looks like he should be a surfer. He might want to think about it: Bedard got him to swing at an awful pitch. Seriously, Anderson's been hitting well, but he looked awful on that pitch.

Time for another Brooklyn.

7:13 -- bot 4, 0 outs, 1-3
Cubs castoff Corey Patterson hits a leadoff single against Garcia. Patterson steals second and A.J. sends the ball into center on the throw. So Patterson's at third with no outs. He may as well have hit a triple.

Either good luck or good pitching: a chopper to third by Hernandez gets the first out and holds Patterson at the bag.

Millar hits a ball down the line past Crede. A pretty weak chopper but out of Crede's reach. Patterson scores and Millar is safe at second after sliding in and sending Iguchi tumbling.

Garcia's losing it a little. He went 3-0 on Markakis before the first strike, the walked him on the fifth pitch. Pitching coach Don Cooper comes out to calm him down.

7:21 -- bot 4, 1 out, 1-4
Roberts lines out hard to Dye in right. That's the third hard hit ball to right or right center he's hit, and one of them left the park.

David Riske is up in the bullpen. Garcia needs to get the third out from either Fahey now or Mora next, because after that is Tejada and there's no way Ozzie Guillen will let him pitch to Tejada again.

Garcia gets a grounder to deep second. Iguchi gets to it and snaps the ball to Uribe at second base for the third out. A lesser second baseman and it might have bled through for a single.

Garcia gets out of trouble but I don't know that he'll be back.

7:27 -- top 5, 0 outs, 1-4
Ozuna leading off shows bunt early, then eventually draws a walk. Maybe he can steal a base. Haven't seen that too much recently from the Sox.

Bedard gets Iguchi to strikeout on a breaking ball down and inside. Bedard misses low again on the first pitch to Thome.

Pow! Thome blasts a double off the high right field wall. Hit so hard it's just a long single, but lefty Thome gets another hit off tough lefty Bedard, and Ozuna gets to third for Konerko.

Konerko doesn't have nearly as strong an at bat this time. He strikes out on low breaking ball similar to the one Iguchi struck out on.

Bedard is pitching the way you expect from a good pitcher: he bears down and gets a strikeout when he needs one. That's something the Sox pitchers haven't been able to do.

Dye flies out to right and leaves the runners stranded.

7:37 -- bot 5, 0 outs, 1-4
Garcia manages to get Mora swinging, then get Tejada looking. So Garcia is bearing down, but just an inning too late. He needed those strikeouts with Patterson on third.

A fly ball to center ends the inning.

7:45 -- top 6, 0 outs, 1-4
After Crede flies out to right, A.J. gets another hit to left, a single. Ozuna then rolls a ball down the left field line. Everything is going through third for the Sox. It's a double for Ozuna and now the Sox have runners on second and third for Anderson. Hope remains.

Anderson pushes a ball to the other way, and the first baseman has no other play but a toss to Bedard covering first. A.J. scores and Ozuna moves to third. Good baseball, like the Sox played last year.

Now Ozuna falls behind trying to bunt. Maybe a little too much small ball there. Ozuna strikes out on another good curve ball from Bedard. At least one run gets in. If Garcia's still in, hopefully he'll get another quick inning.

7:56 -- bot 6, 0 outs, 2-4
The Red Sox got rained out hosting the Angels; the Yankees lead the Devil Rays (it was Scores Around The League time at the break).

Garcia's still in, but Ross Gload is in for Konerko, presumably because of the ball he hit off his foot. Garcia gets the first out on a pop foul to catcher, but Neal Cotts is up in the bullpen.

DJ is trying to be hopeful, saying each day he feels like the Sox will bounce back. Hawk pours cold water all over that notion, saying he hasn't seen enough positive signs yet to think the Sox are out of their slump. Sort of painful how he shut DJ's optimism down like that. Hawk makes sense, but it was still sort of sad. Poor DJ.

A pop up and a ground out, both to third, end the inning.

8:05 -- top 7, 0 outs, 2-4
It looked like it would be an easy inning for Bedard: Iguchi out on a high fly ball to right center, then Thome strikes out on a check swing. Gload, in his first at bat, hit a slow chopper to short, but the throw was off and he's safe when Millar got pulled off the bag.

Todd Williams is up in the bullpen, but after a short conference, Bedard decides he wants to stay in against Dye.

Dye's 0 for 3 and due, but can only manage a high pop foul that Millar catches near the stands.

The Sox have 6 more outs to get two runs and hold the Orioles to four runs.

8:12 -- bot 7, 0 outs, 2-4
Garcia gives up a lead off single to Markakis and is done for the game. Cotts is coming in with Roberts, who hit three hard balls off Garcia, coming up.

8:22 -- bot 7, 2 outs, 2-4
Ad notes: I am eternally grateful that there's only one Bob Rooohhhrrrrrman!

Cotts came in and got Roberts to act like the light hitting leadoff hitter he is by striking him out. Then Fahey bunted Markakis over to second. So with two outs, new acquisition Mike MacDougal comes in to face Melvin Mora. He gets him out on a hard line drive to first.

The bullpen held the core down, now the hitters need to bear down and get some runs across.

8:26 -- top 8, 0 outs, 2-4
Chris Britton comes in for Bedard, and on the first pitch gets Crede out on a high pop foul to nearly the exact spot as the ball that ended the top of the seventh.

Bedard's line is pretty impressive, and he deserves to get his eighth straight win: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

Garcia's line is not impressive, though not completely horrible: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR. He earned the loss.

A.J. grounds out weakly to second. That pitch would have been the third ball and taken him to a 3-1 count. Uribe flies out weakly to left.

Three more outs for the sox.

8:26 -- bot 8, 0 outs, 2-4
MacDougal still in against Tejada, who hits a high pop up to second for the first out.

The Oriole closer Chris Ray is getting warmed up. He's got 26 saves in 27 opportunities, and batters are hitting .260 against him. I hate closers. Or at least, I hate the other teams closers when they're that good. All the more reason to have a lead going into the 8th and 9th.

MacDougal gets Conine to strike out, then gets pulled for lefty Matt Thornton.

Patterson comes up. Unlike other Cubs castoffs, he still sort of sucks since leaving the Cubs. Well, that's not entirely fair: he's average, which is less than people expected. He grounds out to third.

8:42 -- top 9, 0 outs, 2-4
Last chance for the Sox. Three outs to get two runs, with Scott Podsednik hitting for Brian Anderson leading off, followed by Rob Mackowiak to hit for Ozuna, then Iguchi.

Pods gets a base hit, but is held to a single when left fielder Luis Terrero, in for Conine knocks the ball down before it gets past him. Next Mackowiak gets a grounds a ball between short and third for hit, and it's runners on first and second for Iguchi.

The Orioles play the bunt, but it doesn't matter because Iguchi drops the bunt down in front of the mound and moves the runners over to second and third.

Thome comes up next, but they intentionally walk him to copious boos from the crowd. They don't want to get beaten by Thome. They'll take their chances on backup Gload, who came in for Konerko earlier. It's righty against righty. Alex Cintron comes in to run for Thome.

8:50 -- top 9, 1 out, 2-4
Bases loaded for Gload. Every player on the field right now is a replacement, and only one of them, Podsednik, is a regular starter. Two pinch hitters got hits for the Sox to start the inning, and no a backup first baseman can tie the game with a single. I don't recall when I last saw backups and pinch hitters be so effective.

Gload gets ahead 3-0. DJ called it: he said, when they walked Thome, that Ray might lose some of his concentration after being asked to throw an intentional walk. It looks like he has. More boos from the crowd.

The Sox are standing at the edge of the dugout, as Ray gets a strike looking then a foul for the second strike.

The sixth pitch, and Gload sends it high and deep to left.

It's gone! A grand slam! Sox up 6-4.

Amazing. You never see that. Pinch hitters, pinch runners, backups, all in the game for what might be a winning grand slam.


8:53 -- top 9, 1 out, 6-4
It was Gload's first home run of the season and his first grand slam ever.

I love baseball: the damndest things happen.

Gload is a 30-year-old, 6-year veteran who only once played in more than 100 games in a season. He is the quintessential bench warmer.


Much joy in the Sox dugout.

After all the excitement, the inning ends sort of weakly. Dye strikes out swinging and Crede grounds out to short.

Now the Sox have three outs for a win. Jenks gets to come in for a save. Finally.

9:00 -- bot 9, 0 out, 6-4
Jenks gets Patterson on a high chopper to first for the first out. The ball went so high that Patterson nearly beat the throw. Javy Lopez comes in as a pinch hitter, but Jenks gets him swinging on a pitch in the dirt.

One more out left.

Two balls and then a nasty strike to Markakis.

A grounder to short, a high, overexcited throw from Uribe, Gload leaps to grab the ball and lands on the base just before Markakis gets there.

Sox win.

I almost don't believe it.

9:10 -- postgame
Amazing win. I don't know if this will turn things around, but it was win that came from Ozzie making moves. Not that he hasn't been before, but this time they actually worked. That has to make the players feel better. And even though they won on another homer, they had the tying runs in scoring position the old fashioned way: two singles and a bunt. That's more like last year's Sox.

During the game, Hawk observed that the players seemed distracted. Maybe a win like this will get them feeling better and more focused on the game. They have two more games in Baltimore before going to Kansas City and then to Toronto.

Thornton gets the win tonight, but really any of the Sox relivers deserve it. Ray gets the loss.

Lee To Texas For Cordero And Mensch: Que?

The Milwaukee Brewers traded White Sox castoff Carlos Lee to the Texas Rangers for Francisco Cordero and Kevin Mensch. Some minor leaguers were included, among them Brewers prospect Nelson Cruz, who may help the Rangers down the line.

I see how this helps the Brewers. I don't see at all how this helps the Rangers, who are much closer to a playoff spot than Milwaukee is.

Lee has become a competent left fielder in the time since he left Chicago for Milwaukee, and has always been an excellent hitter. He's on pace for more than 30 homers and more than 100 RBIs. But Mensch is also a competent outfielder, and the Rangers offense improves only marginally by replacing him with Lee. Right now, the Rangers are about average offensively for the American League. Though Lee is more consistent, he'll only add about 30-40 more RBIs and 15-20 more runs. This moves Texas into the slightly above average category, but no higher. Maybe he gets them 2 or 3 more wins.

But what the Rangers give up is even worse. The Rangers play in a hitters park. Though it is large, hitters do quite well in their park and pitchers do quite poorly. Cordero, who was an All Star closer in 2004, throws strikeouts, average over 1 per inning. Not only does that make him an effective reliever -- he's dropped down to the role of righthanded set-up -- it is essential for a team playing in a hitters park. The Houston Astros, who play inside of a shoebox, made it to the world series last year because they had three effective strikeout pitchers in their rotation: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt. They also had a closer in Brad Lidge who threw 103 strikeouts in 70 innings.

Without strikeouts, the Rangers can't win. They just gave up 35-40 strikeouts. Put another way, there will be 35-40 innings over the coruse of the rest of the season where the ball will go into play, and they will have to field the ball successfully to get one of the three outs. In a park like Arlington, I don't like their chances.

How they'll fill the hole they just made in their pitching staff, I don't know.

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No End In Sight For Israel

Israel enjoyed a respite from international condemnation in the days after Hezbollah's attack. That state of affairs appears to be ending. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has roundly condemned Israel for its "disproportionate" offensive. From

Mr Straw, who is privately unhappy at the UK-US support for the Israeli action, issued a statement after meeting community leaders in his constituency of Blackburn.

He echoed the words of Middle East minister Kim Howells that the current tough Israeli action was "disproportionate".

No doubt this will please the denizens of Londonistan (picture from Islamic Evil) . It has certainly pleased Iran.

The Scotsman story offers additional reason to doubt Britain's continued support:
But sources said the Prime Minister was now ready to urge the US President to back a ceasefire "as a matter of urgency".

Mr Blair is said to be concerned that pro-western Arab governments are "getting squeezed", giving a boost to militants. Reports claimed the Prime Minister's private view was that Mr Bush is "prevaricating" and allowing the conflict to run on too long.

The Arab press is attacking the U.S. for steadfastly supporting Israel's attempts to defend itself. They ignore a very simple legal point: Hezbollah has no right to exist as a military force, and its refusal to disarm means that it's right to exist as an organized political force, the effective government of south Lebanon, is also forfeit. Referring to the attacks on Lebanon without referencing the attempt to selectively target Hezbollah is fundamentally dishonest. Referring to the attacks without referencing the fact that Israel is doing the job that resolution 1559 commanded Lebanon to do is similarly dishonest.

At Soccer Dad, a handy comparison of the above, dishonest point of view, and one which recognizes the true character of Israel's campaign and Hezbollah's attacks. The former is from Eugene Robinson, the latter from Charles Krauthammer. (Scroll to the "Assignment Desk" at the end of the post.)

Hezbollah rockets continue to strike northern Israel, but now Hassan Nasrallah's illegal, private army is using a rocket with a much larger warhead. The IDF fortunately destroyed one of the launchers for the larger missiles. They also claim to have killed a senior Hezbollah official. One down, how many left to go?

Encouraging thoughts at Abajo Fidel.

UPDATE 11:21 am CDT: Another Bint Jbeil satellite photo (click image for larger view):


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North Korea Rejects Six-Party Talks, Again

North Korea wants nothing to do with six-party talks. The reason the North gave for leaving the talks in the first place was that the U.S. froze some of its overseas accounts in the belief they held the proceeds of Pyongyang's counterfeiting scheme. North Korea wants the freeze lifted before it returns to the table:

"The U.S. says it's difficult to lift the financial sanctions, but there is nothing difficult. If the U.S. wants to, it can do it easily," North Korean spokesman Chong Song Il said in Kuala Lumpur. "We believe if the U.S. earnestly wants dialogue, it can do this."

The defiance may be because the North really isn't interested in talks, but rather is pursuing what Joshua Richardson at Korea Liberator calls "strategic disengagement". From the Washington Post again:
The North's diplomatic isolation was evident in the decision by the United States and other nations to hold a separate meeting on the sidelines of ARF without Paek, ostensibly to discuss northeast Asian security.

"They are completely isolated," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. "If it's isolation they want, it's going to be isolation they get."

It may be what they want. Leaving the negotiations means they can develop and sell their weapons without restraint, and will be beyond the reach of international responsibilities.

The greatest advantage North Korea has right now is that China and South Korea desperately want that state to survive: they are petrified at the tought of a North Korean collapse, perhaps only for economic reasons. The North can be as reckless as it wishes knowing that the wealthy states at its border will ultimately choose to support it with trade and charity, and that those states will oppose any sanctions that might cripple the Pyongyang regime.


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Midnight News -- 7/28/06

The U.S. has sanctioned Indian firms for "missile related" transfers to Iran, a violation of the Iran-Syria Non-proliferation Act. Had the sanctions been announced sooner, the votes needed to allow the President to sign the recent nuclear technology agreement with India might have been delayed. There are political problems surrounding the agreement in India as well.

Some members of the American Psychological Association are protesting that group's statement that it is permissible for its members to assist the U.S. military in interrogations. I'd like to say I'm glad I can put my life at risk so a few psychologists can remain pure of heart. I'd hate to think my continued existence might force them to get their hands dirty.

Tour de France winner and former Mennonite Floyd Landis denies doping allegations raised against him yesterday. The benchmark for intelligent discussion on the matter is this: he did not have high testosterone levels; rather, the levels were high in relation to his epitestosterone levels, and there are many reasons why this might be the case. I know little about how doping works, but I know when a commentator stresses the above facts that at least I'm listening to someone who cares about the truth.

A year after the Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan suffers from corruption and economic crises.

Liberia is beginning to come back to life after a long civil war. Light and water have been restored to the capital. However, the Presidential Palace caught fire on that nation's 159th Independence Day.

A recent heat wave has killed over 100 people in California.

Here is a link to donate money to help Lebanese children. Here is a link to help Israeli children. Pick one, both, or neither. Your call.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Worse Than Useless

The Jerusalem Post sent a reporter to the UNIFIL post in charge of the area around Maroun a-Ras. The soldiers seemed good-natured, but useless:

The small group of Ghanaian soldiers manning UNIFIL Position 6-52, to the west of the village of Maroun a-Ras, less than a kilometer from the border, hasn't left its base in the last two weeks.

"Those are the orders of our superior officers," explains one of them who presents himself as commander of the post, but refuses to give his name. "We have been visited by our officers three times since the fighting began and a supply truck arrives here every three or four days."


The current contingent from Ghana has been in Lebanon for three months. The soldiers at the post are charged with patrolling and monitoring, with their single jeep, the area where the heaviest fighting has been going on for the last 10 days. The fact that Hizbullah has been well entrenched in the area ever since Israel's withdrawal six years ago - with hundreds of fighters, well stocked ammunition depots and extensive fortifications - seemed to have escape the Ghanaians notice. "I have never seen one of them," says the soldier. "You cannot easily identify them in the population."


"The problem is not UNIFIL," says the soldier at the gate. "It's the mandate we have from the UN. That is what decides our job. In my personal opinion, if UNIFIL's mandate was changed and the force increased, it would be more efficient."

At the beginning of the fighting, a number of bombs exploded around the UNIFIL post, including one 150 meters from the gate. Two weeks later, the area around the post is quiet, except for the distant thud of artillery fire. Hizbullah has been banished from this small part of Lebanon. IDF Merkava tanks roar through a nearby opening in the border fence. There isn't even a guard at the border and Israeli and foreign journalists pass in and out unhindered.

The Ghanaian soldiers weren't even aware of the breach in the fence they are supposed to monitor, by mandate of the United Nations.

At least they're not helping Hezbollah, which is more than can be said for other U.N. troops.


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Six Weeks To Football!

The football season starts in 6 weeks, with Miami at Pittsburgh on a Thursday night.

The Bears training camp is currently getting underway, and one of the most important and most troublesome players is already injured. Thomas Jones "tweaked" his hamstring while running during a physical. He'll be out a couple of weeks. Jones, a serviceable running back who blossomed into an excellent back while with the Bears, had earlier this year boycotted a "voluntary" mini-camp. He thought he deserved a kick up in pay because of the two great years he had with the Bears. He didn't get the raise. Coach Lovie Smith met with Jones and claims the past is behind them, but Jones is now the number two back behind Cedric Benson.

The Bears had a dismal playoff game against the Carolina Panthers last year, and now have to rebound. My hopes aren't real high for this season. They didn't seem to do much for their offense during the off-season, and their recent history is basically big years followed by sharp downturns. But the NFC Central is still pretty weak, so they might make the playoffs again.

At this point though, I don't really care if their good or bad. I'm just ready to watch football again.

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North Korea Talks Without North Korea

The U.S. will hold talks concerning North Korea, but North Korea will not be invited. Instead, Condoleezza Rice will meet with representatives of seven other nations during the ASEAN talks in Kuala Lumpur.

Having successfully led the passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the July 5 North Korean missile tests, the task now is to convince the world to do more than talk. This is always the hard part. It's simple enough to get the U.N. to say something; it's nearly impossible to get them to do something.

"We are prepared to have as many bilateral meetings as they can stand," [Assistant Secretary of State Chris] Hill said.

But for the time being, Rice has "zero plans" to meet with the North Koreans who are also at the ASEAN conference, he said. "What we are not prepared to do is let them jettison the six party talks which would be moot while they try to turn this into a bilateral problem.... We do not have any intention of engaging them bilaterally, until they are back in the diplomatic game."

This puts the North Koreans in a nice little bind. They'll have the bilateral talks they want provided they do something they manifestly do not want.

It's still a long time before anything meaningful might happen to Pyonyang, and China, Russia, and South Korea will still have many opportunities to derail the process.


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Shalit Release, Possibly

The cease fire in Gaza was a bust, and the IDF has maintained operations against Palestinian terrorists. However, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and President Mahmoud Abbas are still trying to broker some truce, and are negotiating with various Palestinian factions to attempt to obtain the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. But the release is probably not imminent, as Abbas had claimed, and may not occur at all. The factions holding Shalit are intractable:

[T]he armed wing of Hamas, Izaddin al-Kassam, which is believed to be holding Shalit together with other groups in the Gaza Strip, denied that it had agreed to release the soldier. The group said it did not know what Abbas was talking about and that Shalit would be released only after Israel meets all the demands of the kidnappers.

We'll see.


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Lebanon Mire And Muck

Lebanese doctors from Hezbollah strongholds are insinuating that Israel is using phosphorous bombs. Security Watchtower and PoliBlog clearly articulate what is obvious to everybody except the story's author: its all about the propaganda. See also, Jenin, claims of phony massacre at.

Hezbollah warlord Hassan Nasrallah is in Damascus to talk strategy with his handlers, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian security chief Ari Larijani. Nasrallah is in disguise and moving about Damascus with the help of Syrian security.

The Israeli security cabinet has decided against expanding the ground campaign in Lebanon.

Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahri has declared his organization's support for the Hezbollah war on Israel:

"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims for more than seven centuries until they were driven from power in 1492.


"Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Quran)," al-Zawahri said.

The Counterterrorism Blog discusses the battle Bint Jbeil and Hezbollah's tactical skill. Its a depressing read. Less depressing: Hezbollah's casualties were three times Israel's.

Kofi Annan's claims that Israel deliberately attacked a U.N. post may unravel in the eyes of everybody who didn't already know that Annan was a bastard anti-Semite.

UPDATE 2:34 pm CDT: IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said that hundreds of IDF operatives were killed at the battle of Bint Jbeil. (via Israellycool)

UPDATE 3:12 pm CDT: Gateway Pundit, discussing Spain and al-Zawahri's latest missive, has a map of the Islamic empire circa 750 AD. Here's a few more, from the Perry-Castaneda map collection:

(I love maps.)

UPDATE 3:56 pm CDT: Hezbollah is claiming to have killed 35 IDF troops. They do not report their own casualties, much less the names of their own troops. Individual lives don't matter to them.

The IDF had hoped for a quick fight in Bint Jbeil, but it instead it was a tough fight that took days:
When Israel's generals sent infantry forces across the border to engage Hezbollah directly, they knew one of the first major fights would be for the town.

A swift victory in Bint Jbeil - "daughter of the mountain" in Arabic - would have provided a boost for the Israeli campaign.

But long-standing Hezbollah associations with the town ensured the group's men would fight until the end.

The "daughter of the mountain" is a whore.

The town of Bint Jbeil has a website. The Whois info indicates its managed by a person in Dearborn, Michigan.


Via this comment at an lgf thread.

6:07 pm CDT: WILLisms has another map of southern Lebanon (originally in this post). He seems to be updating it regularly. Via Airborne Combat Engineer. More maps here and here.

Israel will call up another 3 divisions for training to fight Hezbollah, about 15,000 soldiers in all. (This AP report states it will be 30,000 troops -- via Captain's Quarters.)

Ed Morrissey relates a statement claiming only three-tenths of one percent of the Israeli military has been mobilized. Despite the denials from the Israeli security cabinet, he thinks this presages much more fighting. Linking to the same AP report as Captain's Quarters, Big Pharaoh is of a similarly pessimistic opinion.

Over 100 Katyushas struck northern Israel on Thursday, wounding 13.


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Midnight News - 7/27/06

The House approved the nuclear deal brokered by George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Amendments to limit the Indian ability to develop nuclear weapons were soundly rejected. The bill must now be approved by the Senate. Al Jazeera, which referred to the House of Representatives as "the lower house of parliament," noted that the deal would be cancelled if India tested another nuclear weapon, "as it did in 1974 and 1998". I'm intrigued by this: India tested a nuclear weapon in 1974?

Saddam Hussein prefers to be executed by firing squad. I say we hang him, just to spite his last will.

The Japanese are no longer threatened by American meat.

A Russian-made cargo plane has become a harbinger of doom. It landed at Mogadishu -- only the second plane to land there in a decade -- and is believed to be carrying arms and supplies for the Islamic militias that have overrun the capital.

A southern Illinois woman has been acquitted of murdering her 10-year-old son. She claimed she thought he was an intruder.

Pop star Lance Bass is gay. You could knock me over with a feather.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

White Sox Fans: Didn't I Tell You To Panic?

The Minnesota Twins completed their sweep of the Chicago White Sox today, and now the two teams are tied for the wild card, with the New York Yankees close behind. The Twins have been awesome lately, 16-6 in July. The Sox have been horrible, losing 12 of the last 15.

The most depressing part of the game is that the Sox rallied to tie the score in the the fourth, but then gave up 2 runs in the next inning and 2 more in the inning after that. The pitching just dissolved when it needed to bear down. Good teams may lose, but they don't usually lose like that.

It was another bad outing for Buehrle: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. It's his fifth loss and fifth awful start in a row.

As I said: panic now, while you still have the chance.

Miracles And Wonders

A 1200-year-old Psalter was discovered in an Irish bog last week. When uncovered, the book was open to Psalm 83. Atlas Shrugs and Ace Of Spades both point to the relevance of that particular passage.

When it's finally restored, it will be worth a trip to Ireland to see it.

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Hugo In Russia

Hugo Chavez has been making a show of himself in Russia:

"He calls Christ the first socialist in the world; George Bush an alcoholic; pro-Washington Latin American presidents poodles of imperialism", writes Andrey Yashlavskiy in the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.

Christ teaches us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, which is somewhat less than everything. I don't think Julius Chavez would settle for so little.
The military paper Krasnaya Zvezda headlines its front-page article with a quote from the "charismatic" Mr Chavez: "I am a brother of the Slavs."

Channel 1 TV was impressed by Mr Chavez's arrival at Volgograd airport when he was offered a shot of vodka.

"The Venezuelan president demonstrated good knowledge of local traditions," the TV reports, "he drank the vodka from a Cossack's sabre and without eating anything."

Maybe he'll drink himself to death.
The Trud daily is also fascinated by the "extraordinary and controversial leader".

"Hugo Chavez, an indigenous Indian with some African blood in his veins, whose speech is peppered with proverbs and vulgar slang, has a messianic quality, not uncommon in politicians with spice in their blood."

Lots of people have thought themselves the messiah, including Jim Jones and Charles Manson. It is unwise to give such people a country.
The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid notes that Mr Chavez "took notice of Volgograd girls" and quotes him as saying: "I have always liked Venezuelan women, but looking at yours, I can see that I have lost a lot."

The paper adds that as he was saying this Mr Chavez put "the heavy hand of a Venezuelan peasant" on the girl's shoulder.

That poor girl.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta prints what some Volgograd residents had to say about the Venezuelan leader.

They call Mr Chavez "a unique phenomenon", "a sensible but eccentric guy" - although very few seem to know much about Venezuela as some suggest it is either "a place in Italy" or "in Africa", or "a shop in central Volgograd".

Hugo Chavez is a political gangster of the first order, as his choice of friends amply demonstrates. It pains me to say it, but I think we're stuck with him.

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Forgotten History

At plein air sketches, my sister has a wonderful photo of artwork showing the U.S.S. Dorchester and her Coast Guard escorts. The Dorchester was a WWII U.S. troop ship sunk in the North Atlantic by a German U-boat. Hundreds of soldiers died, including our grandfather, an Army Captain.

Elizabeth highlights how so little is known about the sinking of the Dorchester. It is remembered because of the bravery of the four chaplains, but the full story of the ship and its last journey is not really known. Now, so many of the survivors have passed on that most of the details are probably lost. How and why all of these men died will probably never be completely known. It really is a shame.

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