Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Weenies, Poots and Heinies 

Grace is about to turn eight and I've found myself hunting the internet for reassurance on some of her developing behavioral charactaristics. Luckily, reassurance is in abundance. Apparently, most girls as well as boys turn into absolute pervs at this age. You can wake them up from a dead sleep, say the word 'weenie' and they'll be helpless for ten minutes. She's always on the lookout for a glimpse at the paternal unit. Flatulance, evacuation and the mere existance of genitalia are meat and drink to those without FICA or second mortgage cares. I'm not saying farts aren't funny, I'm just saying they're not as funny as her fixation on them.

I'm also saying that, so far, every age she's gotten to has been my favorite age. This one requires, maybe, a little more handling than previous ones. For instance, she has a pal who, for almost as long as she can remember has been her Best Friend. She and Max were separated in second grade and now he wants to play with kids from his class at recess. She came home and told her mother (I have no idea where she got this), "Mom, I'm invisible to him." We talked quite a bit about this. She saw it and felt it as a betrayal since they had promised to be best friends always. A couple days later she wrote on her blackboard "Olivia is my best friend." The next day 'Olivia' was erased and replaced with 'Georgia.' I liked the way this was going because she seemed to be exploring other options and no longer seemed bitter about Max. Now, who knows? She seems to have resolved the issue for herself. Max is again her friend, but 'best'? I don't thinks so.

I'm also saying that the streak of every age being my favorite may come to a screeching halt when she's old enough to Google herself and finds this post.

Sorry, baby.

The Genius of Jim . . . 

at Parkway Rest Stop is only partly that he is a good writer. Mostly he's good at finding weird crap that, for some reason, people want to talk about.

Today he sat down at his computer and thumped out a couple of paragraphs about how he doesn't like seafood, mama.

That might cross my mind, but then I'd think 'who the hell wants to hear about that?'

Apparently, quite a few folks.

Hague Rules 

David Kocieniewski wrote in the Times yesterday a surprisingly frank article about New Jersey Democrats, institutional corruption and Jon Corzine.
Political experts often point to the New Jersey Democratic
Party as an example of a highly evolved political machine.
While many of the urban Democratic political organizations
of the mid-20th century declined along with the cities
that nourished them, New Jersey's Democratic leaders
have maintained a powerful fund-raising and voter
turnout operation that has drawn strength from the
state's cities and sprawling suburbs, where local leaders
have built powerful fiefs.

What I read between the lines is that the only hope Republican's have for the the governor's race this year is to start pounding the issue of county bosses and pay-to-play and that the fate of spending cuts and budget discipline is more in the hands of the bosses than the people we elect.

This is highlighted in his article for the New Jersey Section of the Sunday Times (not on-line yet) which talks about the hosing Acting-Like-A-Governor Codey received from his fellow Dems who rolled over for the bags of money Corzine threw around for the bosses, naming Joseph Doria of Bayonne as one of the ethically challanged county bosses who threw Codey overboard on the Pay-to-Play issue.

In yesterday's article, Mr. Kocieniewski was able to keep a straight face while talking about Corzine's relationship with the issue:
Mr. Corzine has said his donations were not made to
advance his career or win public contracts for his political
allies, but to promote issues like education and health
care. He has also sought to distance himself from the
Democratic leaders by making government ethics a
centerpiece of his campaign and proposing a plan that
would limit how county bosses may use the big donations
he has lavished upon them, which have enabled them
to expand their influence.

Love it. He buys himself the nomination and now he's going to make government ethics the "centerpiece" of his campaign. The quote above illustrates just how stupid he thinks we are.

I think it's up to us to make sure that government ethics is the centerpiece of his campaign.

Today's article ends with a dire warning:
But if either Mr. Corzine or Mr. Codey try to enact any
drastic reform, they may inspire a kind of party unity
they'll regret -- inciting the power brokers to band
together to preserve their grip on state government
and taxpayer's money."
I don't think there's any danger of that, unless we demand it.

Friday, February 18, 2005


For the past month or so I've been wading through the books of Harry Turtledove, the foremost practitioner of the relatively new genre of Alternative History. His project is a rewriting of the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries beginning with an historical 'What if?'.

[The following constitutes an extended spoiler of the first three or four books of the series, but as the books are more in the nature of argument than fiction and since it's pretty easy to see where he's going from about 500 pages away, I prefer to think of it more as a guide than a spoiler.]

On September 13, 1862 as McClellan sauntered over west of Washington D.C. to counter Lee's thrust up into Maryland, Alpheus Williams, a Union soldier camped in a spot occupied a few days earlier by Confederate troops found three cigars wrapped in paper. He snatched up the cigars and handed the paper to an officer. It turned out to be Lee's Special Order 191 and detailed Lee's orders for troop movement and his general campaign plans. Four days later the Battle of Antietam was fought nearby and McClellan defeated Lee, turning back the invasion, ending southern hopes for European recognition and prompting Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

What if when the Confederate courier dropped Special Order 191 on September 9th a sharp-eyed Rebel spotted it and alerted the courier? Perhaps McClellan would have reverted to his customary stumbling, cautious ways, Lee's brilliant plan would have swept him away, leaving Washington and the Eastern seaboard defenseless, Lee would have swung up through Pennsylvania a year early, over the Susquehanna and occupying Philadelphia. England and France would have rushed to recognize the Confederacy and the U.S. would have sued for peace and accepted the secession by the beginning of 1863.

Following these events Lincoln would have been hurled out of office in 1864 and been universally recognized as the worst President ever. The Confederacy now being allied with England and France, the U.S. would have been thrown into the arms of the nascent power of Germany and become a much more bureaucratic, regimented society than in the unalternative version. Lincoln, despised by much of the nation, leads the left wing of the Republican party into alliance with the Socialist party, making it the only effective counter to the Democrats.

War breaks out again in the 1880s and European support of the Confederacy comes at the price of a promise of manumission at the end of the conflict. The north, being effectively blockaded by England and France and attacked from Canada again is forced to concede.

Bitterness in the north, triumphalism in the south until 1914 when, due to alliances, the First World War is fought with even more savagery and loss of life on the American continent than on the European. A Marxist rebellion of blacks in the south is a factor in weakening the Confederacy. This time the U.S./German alliance triumphs. France is destroyed, England humbled, Quebec and Ireland set free, Kentucky, Oklahoma and large swathes of Canada annexed and the U.S. imposes a Versailles-type peace on the south.

The southern polity disintegrates, hyper-inflation seems irreversible, and fascist parties arise. In the north the Socialists seem poised to take power.

Whew! That's as far as I've gotten.

Couple problems. First, while the acquisition of Special Order 191 presented McClellan with a remarkable opportunity, he did almost nothing with it. He was pathologically cautious and circumspect in approaching the enemy. The unfightingest general in the army. He always believed he was vastly outnumbered when, in truth, he never was. The troops loved him, but he was a Copperhead and unwilling to crush the rebellion. He wanted a negotiated peace. He opposed the secession, but more strongly opposed emancipation. It could be argued that Special Order 191 enabled him to choose the battleground for Antietam, but even so, he waited until virtually all the southern troops were reassembled before offering battle. And after the battle he allowed the banged up, tattered and hungry Army of Northern Virginia to escape to fight again. If Grant or even Meade or even Joe Farookin' Hooker had had his opportunity the war would have been a lot shorter. Also, McClellan's talent was defensive and at that he was as good as anyone of his age. To say that, absent the loss of his battle plan, Lee would have swept up to Philadelphia is to say nothing at all, because as far as McClellan was concerned, it made almost no impact on his actions.

Secondly, to make the Socialist party a political power requires Lincoln to join them. These books portray him as a sort of John Brown of the Internationale. That's really hard to buy. Lincoln, after all, for most of his adult life was a corporate lawyer, representing the railroads and trusts the book has him attacking. I think it's a stretch to make him even a proto-red, but, then, if you can make an argument that he's gay, I guess its not that much further to make him Rosa Luxemburg.

Turtledove is not a good writer, but he's no worse than many best-sellers in the genre field. I do wish he would leave sex alone, though. Let's just say that in describing the act, it reads like he is accessing a non-personal database. And he does like to describe the act.

Having said all this . . .

I can't put it down. As I said it is more an argument and an entertainment than a novel. War and Peace it ain't. At the price of swallowing a few unlikely premises, you get to review and challenge all the historical forces that shaped the world we live in. The same characters run through all the books and, of course, show up at and guide focal points of history. If you disagree with the direction the plot takes, you're required to challenge it with your own knowledge of history. At the same time, while I might disagree that some of his conclusions are the most likely alternative to what actually happened, it's loaded with insight into the forces that shaped history. It's a pentimento of what we know or think we know about our past, and, as such, gives you a fresh look at history.

And I've still got about 75,000 pages to go.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Get Out Your Pitchforks 

Ken Adams illustrates in concrete detail how the profligate ways of New Jersey's overlords, er, state government impacts us on a local level.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Day of the Jackal Rub 

The New Jersey Jackals announced yesterday that the
Academy of Massage Therapy in Englewood will be its
official massage therapy provider this season.

Okay. It turns out the above, via Baristanet, is not a joke. I'm a Newark Bears guy, myself, and I've always wondered about the name of the Little Falls team. Jackals don't strike me as baseballmorphic figures. There's a hockey team in Elmira called the Jackals, but with a town named Elmira you want a fierce sounding animal to represent you.

Jackals live in Asia and Africa. Of course, the same could be said of Lions and Tigers but jackals exist in the American lexicon as epithets more than icons. The fact is, they're small and kind of cute. They're referred to as opportunistic omnivores, i.e. scavengers, and are, among quadrupeds, parked near the sub-basement of the food chain.

Of course New Jersey doesn't have a lot of scary indigenous fauna. We've got bears, but that's taken. Squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks and 'possums. Deer. Birds work for baseball, but I can't think of a one with a New Jersey cachet. Forget amphibians and mollusks. Fish could work, but not so well for Little Falls. The Stripers. The Blues. I don't know.

Historically, Little Falls is known for carpet manufacturing and brownstone quarrying. The Carpetbaggers is as bad as the Jackals and the Quarrymen are just a has-been Brit band. I'm sure they were tempted to go with a Sopranos link and I commend them for resisting. The world doesn't need another Bada Bing joke. Interestingly enough, though, Badabing is the name of a Dutch football team. I kid you not.

Okay, I'll let the Jackal thing slide. But I've got to hope the fact that they are a baseball team with an Official Massage Therapy Provider dooms them in the Northeast League this year. The Baseball Gods do not approve.


Still having dentition issues. I'm at work but not good for much. You can tell from recent posts that I've got the attention span of a fruit fly. I'll be back at it soon.

One Man International Content Provider 

Mark Steyn's website is back up after a lengthy hiatus.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Defining Moonbattyness Down 

Let's see. Dean says "I hate the Republicans." Krugman calls Dean a "moderate". If these two stroonz really represent the middle of the Democratic Party we may be looking at the End Days for the party Daniel Patrick Moynahan.

Remembering the Armanious Family 

There is a memorial page for the Armanious family at Tasbeha, the web site of the American Coptic Church. To leave a message, click here.

The autopsies are not scheduled to be released for another month. If the purpose of this remarkable two month gap between the murders and the autopsies is to let people forget this awful crime, I would hope that the 'salivating morons' of the blogosphere will do what they can to prevent it.

Let's Hear it for Hyrocodone 

I've been miserable since I got up this morning with the collateral damage of my root canal, but this Vicodin stuff got it done. I used it two years ago when I had my knee replaced, but it was fighting out of it's weight on that one. Thank you, Big Pharmaceuticals.

"D'ja Get That?" 

Great last line on '24' last night. It was perfectly shot and Sutherland hit it on the nose. Don't expect me to explain it. If the Goddess leaves the room for 30 seconds she goes without.

Monday, February 14, 2005

And a Happy Valentine's Day To You 

I had a root canal this afternoon. I believe the rest of the evening will be devoted to adult beverages and "24".

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry 

Time to head on over to TigerHawk and get your ticket punched for Carnival of the Commies #4.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Blast From The Past 

Did another political phone survey tonight. I guess if you're willing to finish these you get on some list because they call a couple times a week. Just be thankful the Sluggoterium is not a Nielson household or you might have to watch what I watch.

Years ago I used to do calls for Gallup. That doesn't make me an expert, especially since the callers never knew who comissioned the surveys, but you knew anyway. Once you read all the questions it's pretty easy to see who would be interested in the answers.

The one tonight almost had to be on behalf of Tom Kean running for governor. Could be him, could be someone interested in pushing him out there.

Quite liberal socially, quite conservative fiscally. By reputation anyway. If anyone knows the budget facts from his term please enlighten me (NJ). Very strong for social security reform and (I think I read) tort reform. Also, a very trusted name. If anyone could make headway on the structural corruption in Trenton he could.

I could be sold. What think you?

Lunar Expedition 

On the Way Posted by Hello

The trip was kind of a mixed bag. It was a nice day, though a little chilly. Lane had to dive into a Starbucks to use the facilities and by the time she got out we couldn't get within a block of Mott Street where the parade kicked off. Got caught in a people loaf that didn't move for close to half an hour. Once we got free the parade was pretty much over so we did some shopping in the Chinese stores, had some lunch and went home. Our intelligence was flawed and we had no exit strategy. Talk about a quagmire.

UPDATE: For a higher level of Lunar Festival photoblogging go to Mary at Exit Zero.

What we were up against. Posted by Hello

Grace's choice for lunch. Rejected. Posted by Hello

This is about as close as we got. Posted by Hello

One dragon did get close to us. Probably lost too. Posted by Hello

Telephoto. No idea what this float was. Posted by Hello

Grace refuels. Posted by Hello

After the parade we did get close to the Cathay Bank float. Posted by Hello

Jiggidy Jig Posted by Hello

Gong Hai Fat Choi 

We are heading in to Chinatown this morning for the big New Years parade.

My first preference for a weekend is to do absolutely nothing. And please take that as literally as you possibly can and you will be close to my meaning. My second choice is to do some project, which in a 150 year old urban dwelling is always a multiple choice. Going out and doing something fun is always way, way behind. Luckily the Goddess is always on hand to drag me, kicking and muttering, on some adventure.

To me the idea of taking the trouble and expense to go somewhere where hundreds of thousands of people have also decided to be is self-evidently foolish.

I predict I'll have a good time and I hope to post some pictures this evening.
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