6:42 PM Nov 30, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm kind of embarassed about this:

Argument Over Beer, Spaghetti Leads To AK-47 Shooting

ORLANDO, Fla. -- An Orange County man is in jail, accused of trying to shoot his roommate with an AK-47. Their fight started after an argument over a beer and a plate of spaghetti.

Mills wanted some of Fung-Cap's spaghetti, and when neither would help the other, things got ugly. Fung-Cap went for his AK-47 and opened fire.

I'd like to point out that this thing is fairly uncommon in Orlando, as a general rule.

I liked this part:

No one can explain how, out of the five high-powered rounds fired in a densely populated apartment complex, not one person was hurt.

This is just a guess, and I'm no expert, but maybe because they didn't hit anyone?

1:13 PM Nov 30, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Mitch suggests that only blog commenters would benefit from reading this post, but the techniques described are encountered by anyone who argues for any length of time with liberals idiots.

If you are new to the Internet, allow me to explain how to debate in this medium. When one person makes any kind of statement, all you need to do is apply one of these methods to make it sound stupid. Then go on the offensive.

  1. Turn someone’s generality into an absolute. For example, if someone makes a general statement that Americans celebrate Christmas, point out that some people are Jewish and so anyone who thinks that ALL Americans celebrate Christmas is stupid. (Bonus points for accusing the person of being anti-Semitic.)

  2. Turn someone’s factual statements into implied preferences. For example, if someone mentions that not all Catholic priests are pedophiles, accuse the person who said it of siding with pedophiles

There are several more, each as silly, each as common.

Day 2

10:50 AM Nov 30, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Well, no change in my evolutionary status. This shell feels awful cold.


4:19 PM Nov 29, 2005by Rob Ritchie

My kinsman* Rick writes:

Why do we value privacy? I have thought about this question and the only answer that I have been able to come up with other than just a feeling of unease about the lack of privacy, is that we as Americans and maybe all people, demand the right to break the law. We accept that there will be consequences – the numerous statutes and their associated punishments that come with breaking law are evidence. But we do not make laws or rules that prevent us from breaking the laws or rules.

What do you think? Would your thoughts be any different if I make the supposition that robbery is abolished?

Hmmm...first off, why do you ask me? Have I expressed a particular interest or concern with privacy rights that you think that I am some sort of arbiter in this matter? Are you trying to tell me something? Should I be worried?

I presume that your supposition that robbery is abolished is an attempt to circumvent one obvious reason that folks feel a need to keep other people's noses out of their business: that these busy-bodies are scoping out your stuff preparatory to picking out the things they want to take once your back is turned. This remains a strong argument in favor of privacy, and I don't think you can simply make the threat of robbery go away with a flourish of rhetoric.

"Why do people feel the need for air? Let us suppose that breathing is no longer necessary; does that make a difference in your thinking?"

"Well, yeah, if I don't need to breath, then the only thing I'd use air for is to light up a smoke, which I wouldn't be inhaling, because I no longer breath."

People, to coin a phrase, are scum and there will always be those who will take advantage of you if you don't guard yourself from their view. But, beyond the obvious value of keeping things private so that bad guys don't steal from you, there are other reasons to value privacy.

I think one reason that we value privacy is because we are capable of shame. No one, to choose an example, is shown to their best advantage while squatting on the pot, and we learn at an early age to keep this act private. There are other items, such as the sex act, that (most of us) keep private primarly because we feel that this is something of value that two people share that shouldn't be casually viewed by others.

There are plenty of things that we do that we enjoy but for which we feel shame (rightly or wrongly). Many a closet "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fan would be chagrined if his private choice of entertainment became bandied about his place of work by the running tongues of office gossips.

Another reason we value privacy is because we perceive that a lack of privacy equates to a lack of freedom. We all remember when we were kids and we kept secrets from our parents, even about things that were not covered under any existing rule or law. One of the reasons we did this is because of the suspicion that, if our parents found out about [whatever] then they would make a new rule prohibiting [whatever], and the fun would be over.

I want to be free to do [whatever], and I know that if [whatever] became widely known, I would come under societal pressure to stop doing [whatever] even though (and this is important) there isn't anything wrong with [whatever].

I'm not talking about things that are illegal, though of course different view about civil disobedience come into play; I'm talking about, I don't know, dressing in women's clothing (uh, if you're a man) or collecting plush animals (uh, again, if you're a man) or, dare I say it, spend a lot of your adult life nuturing an interest in Dungeons & Dragons. T'aint nobody's business.

You may feel that I've simply slipped by your question; but I don't feel that way. To say that I value privacy because I want to be free to break the law isn't right. I think that most people who aren't sociopaths believe that a person's right to privacy ends the moment they break the law.

But I have a right to loll about my house in my underwear without fear that someone will peep in my window and take pictures. And my desire for such privacy doesn't imply a desire to break any laws.

My two cents, anyway. What does everyone else think?

*That’s right, I wrote ‘kinsman’. That’s a word you won't see Glenn Reynolds or Charles Johnson or James Bleeding Lileks use. Pious Agnostic has kinsmen, do you hear? Their herds are plentiful and they cover the plains….


3:50 PM Nov 29, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Holy crap! I just shed my feathers and wings and dropped down to Slimy Mollusc status in the Ecosystem!

Yet, an inspection shows that the number of links remains about the same.

I sure hope this is a temporary downgrade due to a system overhaul over there or something; I don't think I could take it, after my slow, steady climb from Crawly Amphibian up through Slithering Reptile to Flappy Bird. To drop down four categories would be a terrible blow to my self esteem.

The Civilian Casualty Fable

11:56 AM Nov 28, 2005by Rob Ritchie

4:45 PM Nov 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Via Instapundit, here is an interesting list of Urban Legends About the Iraq War.

I suspect that like most urban legends, these will never die; especially since there are so many with a political desire that these lies continue to beguile and get traction.

But at least we'll know they're lies, and this provides a nice one-stop shopping experience for countering lying liars.

10:10 AM Nov 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Bad news for my sister:

The helmets amplify frequency bands that coincide with those allocated to the US government between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. According to the FCC, These bands are supposedly reserved for ''radio location'' (ie, GPS), and other communications with satellites (see, for example, [3]). The 2.6 Ghz band coincides with mobile phone technology. Though not affiliated by government, these bands are at the hands of multinational corporations.

It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings.

Goblet o' Fire

10:39 PM Nov 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

This afternoon, I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and I enjoyed it very much. As a fan of the books, I was very skeptical as to how the director would fit all the action and story in the book into a couple of hours, but I was very pleased with the result. A purist may complain about some of the dropped story lines, but the essential plot of the Tri-Wizard Cup, and the really horrifying parts of the story, are all there.

Really, it earns it's PG13 rating, because this is a much darker movie than the ones that have come before. While there are some bits that some little ones may find too scary, there's nothing gratuitious (and, in fact, they toned down some aspects of the book).

Highly recommended. The best movie yet.

A Thanksgiving Treat

11:49 PM Nov 24, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Pajamas Media has an interview with my favorite demigod / antiquarian.

Now back to the turkey sandwiches....

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

3:02 PM Nov 24, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Today, we're bustling around Chez Agnostic, getting everything ready before the family arives for the feast. There will be little time for blogging until much later, probably.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this.

Have a great day!

6:43 PM Nov 23, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm sure that these guys don't need stories like this:

Why it's a bad idea to be 'huggy-kissy' with llamas

The noise graduated to a high-pitched squeal, whereupon Charlie spit, flattened his ears back and bared his teeth, including the three sets of razor-sharp "fighting teeth," which llamas use to rip the scrotum from male competitors in the wild.

Ouch. I for one welcome our new llama overlords....

Pride, Prejudice and Cake Eating

3:57 PM Nov 22, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Mrs. Agnostic and I were appalled recently to see the trailer for the new Pride and Prejudice movie starring Keira Knightley. As much as I admire this young woman, the trailer just looked too icky to be taken seriously; and to realize that for most people this would be their introduction to this wonderful story made us inexpressably sad.

Mrs. Agnostic wondered what Kathy, a "Pride and Prejudice" enthusiast famous throughout the blogosphere for the purity of her devotion, had to say; and I had to admit that I had been abstaining from sweets for a while, and so wasn't up to date with what she had written on the topic.

So it was with great pleasure that I searched her site for current "Pride & Prejudice" posts. I found several, all of which will reward you if you chuse to read them in their entirety.

She began simply enough, expressing her opinion back in June, when the casting of Ms. Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett was announced:

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No.

...with which I cannot quibble. While Ms. Knightly absolutely has fine eyes, and has decidedly shown that she looks well in period costume, she is certainly no improvement over Jennifer Ehle, whom I consider the epitome of the role.

Come November 9th, and Kathy has found idiocies in an undeservably laudatory article in USA Today that has her teapot a'boiling:

Oh, for the love of all that is good and holy. It's not the house that changes Lizzie's mind about Darcy, you fools! Remember Wickham? Remember Wickham laying off a false story about Darcy on Lizzie, wherein Wickham was the hero and Darcy the villain? Remember Lizzie refusing Darcy's first proposal because she thought the story Wickham had fed her was true? Remember the letter Darcy sent Lizzie to set the record straight? Remember the housekeeper telling Lizzie a patently different tale about her master when she toured Pemberly with the Gardiners?

It is then with some delight when, on November 11th, she reports on a "bitchy" review of the movie by Anthony Lane. She urges you to read the whole thing, as do I, especially when he writes:

Any resemblance to scenes and characters created by Miss Austen is, of course, entirely coincidental.

(I do wish I, or Kathy, had written that. I know I'll use it.)

Kathy's most recent post on "Pride & Prejudice" was made just a few days ago, and isn't directly about the new movie; but in it's own way it really is: for you see, regardless of the skill of its director, the talent of its cast and the beauties inherent in the story, the new version simply is lacking the one thing that Kathy finds essential to any portrayal of her favorite novel on the screen: this guy!

That being the case, I just know she loved this.

Now, if you please excuse me, I need to go run for cover....

1:39 PM Nov 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Furious George

1:23 PM Nov 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Click here to see what would make Lileks type:

Christer W. Turkeyserv

11:36 AM Nov 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Is White Phosphorus a "Chemical Weapon"?

Yes and no, it depends on how it's used.

Please read.

2:22 PM Nov 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Mosque Blasts Spark Murtha's Call for Muslim Pullout

(2005-11-18) — Rep. John ‘Jack’ Murtha, D-PA, today responded to news of deadly bomb attacks on two Iraqi mosques by calling for an immediate withdrawal of Muslims from Iraq.

At least 58 worshipers were killed Friday morning in two mosques north of Baghdad when suicide bombers, strapped with explosives, detonated.

Rep. Murtha, the Johnstown Democrat who yesterday called for a rapid pullout of U.S. forces, today said that Shiite Muslims must redeploy as well.

“Shiite Muslims have done all they can in Iraq,” said Rep. Murtha, “but it is time for a change in direction. It is evident that continued Shiite worship is not in the best interest of the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.”

5:07 PM Nov 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

How Much Left-Wing Nonsense Is Too Much?

When a show has great characters and some great writing, how much liberal idiocy are you willing to put up with? Boston Legal really seems to be posing that question better than any political point it ineptly tries to make. It has some of the most entertaining characters of any show (especially the characters played by James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen) and is extremely enjoyable at its best, but how much irritation am I willing to put up with to have that enjoyment? It's like watching a good movie but having to put up with some idiot next to you who ever once in a while accidentally elbows you in the head.

I've wondered this same thing; I enjoy the show, but really, they make me angry with their ham-fisted attempts to portray conservative positions.

Read the rest.

2:14 PM Nov 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

In an interview with a former weapons inspector, Frontpage asks: Where the WMDs Went?

It's detailed and interesting. Give it a read.

Pious gratitude to: Power Line

11:52 AM Nov 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Christopher Hitchens asks: "What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war? "

As it turns out, quite a bit!

Pious gratitude to: Da Prof

6:40 PM Nov 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Ever wonder...

10:45 AM Nov 15, 2005by Rob Ritchie

...what celebrities look like before their photos are "cleaned up" with Photoshop?

Wonder no more!

Of course, this is a joke; these pictures were, themselves, modified through Photoshop. No doubt celebrities all look shiny and beautiful all the time.

11:39 AM Nov 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Wow! The Los Angeles Times prints an amazing op-ed:

Five questions non-Muslims would like answered

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.
They're good questions.

Pious gratitude to: lgf

Backyard Revolution

10:45 AM Nov 14, 2005by Rob Ritchie

This weekend, we had the Landscape Guy out to Chez Agnostic to plot out our new back yard.

Yes, I said "Landscape Guy."

Since the Hurricanes of last year, our back yard has looked awful. (The years of neglect that preceded it hasn't done it any good either, but that's almost beside the point.) We've been discussing how we were going to fix this for a while now, and it's time to have the whole thing replanted.

I'll keep you posted.

10:30 AM Nov 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I just finished a book entitled The Pirate Coast by historian Richard Zacks. It is the story of the first war ever fought by the fledgeling United States, against the Bey of Tripoly on the Barbary Coast.

It is a simply amazingly written book; Zacks has an engaging style and brings his characters to life in a way that is rare for a non-fiction book.

He also reveals a perspective on President Thomas Jefferson which I never considered; that he was an idealist I knew, but the ways his idealism negatively impacted foreign policy, and also the way his personal failings contributed to the politicized atmosphere of the conduct of the war and peace, rang echoes that are all too reminiscent of our current conflict. And the nature of the foe hasn't changed much in 200 years, either.

Through letters and official reports, the early 19th Century is clearly described, and there are interesting tidbits here that will temp any buff. (Did you know that Aaron Burr was charged with treason in a plot to raise an army and split Louisianna, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee away from the United States?) If you enjoy well-written histories, then go pick up a copy of "The Pirate Coast."

Death! Death! Death!

11:40 PM Nov 12, 2005by Rob Ritchie


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

7:19 PM Nov 11, 2005

by Rob Ritchie


While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate — who had access to the same intelligence — voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.)

About. Friggin'. Time.

My Neighborhood Moonbat

6:10 PM Nov 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

This is a sign in the front yard of a house a few blocks away. In case you can't read it, the web site at the bottom of the sign is for the organization "World Can't Wait". They had a big rally on November 2nd.

You can learn more about these fun people here.

Pow! Bang! Thwip!

11:09 AM Nov 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

You know, over the years cartoonists have come up with some interesting onomatopoeic words to mark action in their work. For example, fans of Spiderman will recognize 'THWIP' as the sound that Spidey's web-throwers makes as he shoots webs.

But 'FLLRPPTTL' is a disgusting new one for me.

Part of me hopes it really catches on, but that I never read the kind of comics that feature it.

6:24 PM Nov 8, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Remember those pirates that attacked a cruise ship off of Somolia. Apparently, the cruise ship wasn't entirely defenseless:

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Hearing Aid for Me

The crew of a luxury cruise ship used a sonic weapon that blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam while being attacked by a gang of pirates off Africa this weekend, the cruise line said Monday.

The Seabourn Spirit had a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, installed as a part of its defense systems, said Bruce Good, a spokesman for Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line.

5:26 PM Nov 8, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I hope all of my Ohio readers (and you know who you are) who haven't voted yet will read this post by Michelle Malkin:

Left-wing billionaire George Soros and his tinfoil-hat brigade are spearheading a package of so-called "reform" initiatives on the ballot in Ohio today.

She quotes Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who writes:

I intend to vote against all of them. Twice if they let me.

Go read. Just ignore Bronson's anti-Florida jibes - I did.

1:54 PM Nov 8, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

From Powerline:

In a certain kind of liberal universe, French Muslim rioters are victims who want nothing more than to enjoy the bourgeoise pleasures of secular France. Iraqi Muslims, by contrast, have little yearning for freedom, self-government, and prosperity, preferring civil war, a Saddam-style strong man, and/or a theocracy. They are victims of U.S. aggression, which denies them these things, at least temporarily. To me, however, it seems plausible that Iraqis Muslims will find satisfaction in their own democratic state before European Muslims find satisfaction in a western-style democracy.

1:02 PM Nov 8, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

An interesting perspective on the French riots: not intifada but instead normal old race riots:

The images of the rioters on the streets of Clichy show them sporting T-shirts labelled mort pour rien. [Died in vain] Now what could be more un-Islamic than that? No claiming of martyrdom or dozens of virgins here.

There are not the flags, the typical chanting and sloganizing of Islamism on the marches. It's true that over the last months, many attacks have taken place on Jewish premises, including cemeteries.

But where today rioters are interviewed, they talk of the same types of grievance as articulated by race rioters of the sixties and seventies, of exclusion from jobs and harassment by the police.

I found this at Instapundit, but don't let that stop you from reading the rest.

Update:  For more perspective, you can find a transcript of Victor Davis Hanson's appearance on the Hugh Hewitt show here.

Mark Steyn on Paris Burning

8:27 PM Nov 6, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands

What to do? In Paris, while ''youths'' fired on the gendarmerie, burned down a gym and disrupted commuter trains, the French Cabinet split in two, as the ''minister for social cohesion'' (a Cabinet position I hope America never requires) and other colleagues distance themselves from the interior minister, the tough-talking Nicolas Sarkozy who dismissed the rioters as ''scum.'' President Chirac seems to have come down on the side of those who feel the scum's grievances need to be addressed. He called for ''a spirit of dialogue and respect.'' As is the way with the political class, they seem to see the riots as an excellent opportunity to scuttle Sarkozy's presidential ambitions rather than as a call to save the Republic.

That last bit sounds familiar to me.....

10:58 AM Nov 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Michelle Malkin has a post on yet another dreary attempt by the ACLU to remove a picture of a cross from a city's seal. What struck me was this comment by ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg:

"The cross is clearly unconstitutional," Eliasberg said. "It sends a message of favor for one religion over others."

Yes, because that's what the First Amendmant is all about: not sending messages.

And I thought the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" was about, you know, laws; not "messages."

8:28 PM Nov 5, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Busy, busy

10:43 AM Nov 2, 2005by Rob Ritchie

We are very busy at work, so I don't have a lot of time for extended posts. (Yes, I know, I rarely have extended posts when I'm not so busy, but please allow me my illusions.) So, just a couple of items:

  • Halloween brought many groups of kids to the door. Mrs. Agnostic and I watched Psycho, frequently interrupted by me jumping up to answer the door. We must have had a dozen ninjas begging for candy (and those are only the ones I could detect), and a half-dozen Darth Vaders. One ten-year-old boy had a neat Darth mask with a microphone that modulated his voice into a proper Jonesian baritone; after a few in-character breaths, he then burped and rubbed his belly. Boys rock.

  • As you may know, I work in printing, and a piece of artwork on a recent island-themed printed component drew some controversy. The art showed two men, one lounging in a hammock with a tropical drink in his hand, while another man climbed a tree to gather coconuts. The controversy arose around the skin tones of the men involved. Apparently, showing a White guy relaxing while a Black guy works was a little too dangerous; when I first saw the artwork, I was relieved that it didn't show a lazy Black guy while a White guy was working, but I'm not really up on what's PC and what's not. The artwork was pulled, which threw the schedule into a tizzy, costing everyone money.

  • Finally, there's this story, which I found on Fark. The relevant quote: "Never before in my time at the bar or on the bench have I ever had to deal with somebody who voluntarily allowed himself to be buggered by a dog on the public highway." I imagine not.

1:04 PM Nov 1, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in the Chicago Tribune (registration required), identifies a failing I've noticed too:

More in-your-sleep moralizing from those who are delusional

To paraphrase the ancient Greeks, it is easy to be moral in your sleep. Abstract ethics or soapbox lectures demanding superhuman perfection mean little without deeds.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other global humanitarian groups recently expressed criticism over the slated trial of the mass murderer Saddam Hussein. Such self-appointed auditors of moral excellence were worried that his legal representation was inadequate. Or perhaps they felt the court of the new Iraqi democracy was not quite up to the standards of wigged European judges in The Hague.

Relay those concerns to the hundreds of thousands of silent souls butchered by Hussein's dictatorship. Once they waited in vain for any such human-rights organization to stop the murdering. None could or did.

Now these global watchdogs are barking about legalities--once Hussein is in shackles thanks solely to the American military (which, too, is often criticized by the same utopian-minded groups). The new Iraqi government is sanctioned by vote and attuned to global public opinion. Saddam Hussein was neither. So Amnesty International can safely chastise the former for supposed misdemeanors after it did little concrete about the real felonies of the latter.

Read the rest....

Pious gratitude to: DPSr.