Great news!

7:13 PM Dec 30, 2005by Rob Ritchie

US Justice Department to probe secret wiretap leak

The US Justice Department has opened a probe into the leaking of classified information which revealed that President George W. Bush had authorized a secret government wiretap program, an official source said.

"We have opened an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information related to the NSA (National Security Agency)," said a Justice Department official who requested anonymity.

Go get 'em!

Of course, I realize the irony of an unnamed Justice official leaking a story about an investigation into leaks at other facilities. But of course the difference is the NSA leaks were of classified intelligence programs while this is of something that's in the public domain.

Pious gratitude to: Powerline

4:29 PM Dec 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

From that bastion of Right-wing Conservative thought: the Chicago Tribune:

Judging the case for war

On Nov. 20, the Tribune began an inquest: We set out to assess the Bush administration's arguments for war in Iraq. We have weighed each of those nine arguments against the findings of subsequent official investigations by the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee and others. We predicted that this exercise would distress the smug and self-assured--those who have unquestioningly supported, or opposed, this war.

The matrix below summarizes findings from the resulting nine editorials. We have tried to bring order to a national debate that has flared for almost three years. Our intent was to help Tribune readers judge the case for war--based not on who shouts loudest, but on what actually was said and what happened.

The administration didn't advance its arguments with equal emphasis. Neither, though, did its case rely solely on Iraq's alleged illicit weapons. The other most prominent assertion in administration speeches and presentations was as accurate as the weapons argument was flawed: that Saddam Hussein had rejected 12 years of United Nations demands that he account for his stores of deadly weapons--and also stop exterminating innocents. Evaluating all nine arguments lets each of us decide which ones we now find persuasive or empty, and whether President Bush tried to mislead us.

I dare everyone to read this.

Pious gratitude to: Instapundit

4:20 PM Dec 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Kidnappers of German tourists in Yemen demand release of tribesmen

Because it worked so well last time.

6:09 PM Dec 27, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

John Hinderaker over at PowerLine has the following marvelous post: Getting Specific About the Patriot Act

While framed as a response to an editorial in their perennial bete noir, the "Minneapolis Star Tribune," it is a good primer and antidote to all those chicken-littles on the Left who decry the Patriot Act without really reading it or understanding what they are concerned about.

When I was in Savannah earlier this year, I visited a book store; the owner had posted an anti-Patriot Act manifesto on the door, promising that she would never, never turn over records on the book-buying habits of her patrons, regardless of what the Patriot Act might direct her to do.

There is no provision in the Patriot Act requiring book stores to provide this sort of information to authorities, under any circumstances.

But it's nice that the owner was taking a stand.

Last week I got into a debate on another blog with someone who was concerned about her status as a Canadian citizen living in the US with her husband; her interpretation of the Patriot Act had convinced her that she could be interred for no reason whatsoever without legal recourse.

I'm not sure I reassured her or not.

I wish I'd had this cogent explanation of the Patriot Act's controversial provisions on hand at that time.

Go read it and enjoy.

Where've I been?

3:53 PM Dec 27, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Enjoying Christmas break, of course.

Back to work today, though.

We had a lovely Christmas here at Casa Agnostic, and I hope you all did the same.

5:20 PM Dec 24, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

A liberal corespondent of mine characterizes Ann Coulter as a "Right-wing Pundit."

I wouldn't go that far: but she is darn entertaining.

Live and Let Spy

Ho Ho Ho!

4:31 PM Dec 24, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Your Elf Name Is...
Flakey Snowballer
What's Your Elf Name?

You Were Nice This Year!
You're an uber-perfect person who is on the top of Santa's list.
You probably didn't even *think* any naughty thoughts this year.
Unless you're a Mormon, you've probably been a little too good.
Is that extra candy cane worth being a sweetheart for 365 days straight?
Were You Naughty or Nice This Year?

You Are a Bright Christmas Tree
For you, the holidays are all about fun and seasonal favorites.
You are into all things Christmas, even if they're a little tacky.
What Christmas Tree Are You?

12:49 PM Dec 24, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Captain Ed has an eye-opening post, reporting on the conviction in The Netherlands of a Dutch businessman on the charge of selling nerve gas to Saddam.

He's in jail for selling WMD's to Iraq, the same WMD's that the Left keeps saying "weren't there."

No doubt, they'll be marching in the streets to overturn this miscarriage of justice.

"Free van Anraat!"

Merry Christmas!

6:03 PM Dec 23, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Sober Santa 2


6:06 PM Dec 22, 2005by Rob Ritchie

John Hinderaker gives what has to be the definitive legal case in favor of the legality of President Bush's NSA electronic intercept program. He sites the relevant case law and analyzes their application to this particular situation, and then concludes:

There are, of course, liberal law professors who would like the law to be different from what it is. They are free to develop theories according to which the Supreme Court, should it someday address this issue directly, would rule as they wish. But the administration is entitled to rely on the law as it currently exists. And there is simply no question about the fact that under the Constitution and all controlling precedents, the NSA intercept program is legal.

Bookmark this one; the arguments are clear and persuasive to anyone who isn't entirely poisoned by BDS

12:23 PM Dec 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Kobe explodes for 62 points!

I hope the other players got a Reflex Save for half damage!

Pious gratitude to: Chris

4:10 PM Dec 20, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Mike Stokely didn't die for a just cause, he died for a lot of just causes, including the ones I set out above. I wish I were fit to tie his shoe laces but I am fortunate enough to have a son who believed in God, family, duty, honor and country and who certainly turned out to be the better of the two of us.

Go read all of this heart stopping letter.

2:10 PM Dec 20, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Lots of good posts over at Power Line about FISA, the Patriot Act, the NYT's disclosure of Intelligence programs, and much more. Go read them all.

Christmas Bonus!

10:52 AM Dec 20, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Yesterday, my boss gave me one of these for Christmas.

It's very sweet. I'm very grateful.

Zincsperiment - Day 8 and Final

10:23 AM Dec 19, 2005by Rob Ritchie

My cold is gone, I'm glad to say. I was pretty sure I was over it yesterday morning. I slept 10 hours, and that'll do the trick. But this morning there was no accumulated nocturnal crud in my lungs so I'm checking myself out of the hospital ward.

So, how did the zinc work? As is usual with these things, it's hard to say. Ideally, in true scientific manner, I should repeat the experiment, changing nothing except excluding zinc from the prescription. Unethical and impossible. There's no way to be absolutely sure that the zinc had any effect at all upon the cold.

The cold lasted eight days, which is towards the lower end of the "week-to-ten-days" they say such an malady usually lasts. It seems to me that my colds usually last much longer than this, but I don't usually monitor them as closely as I have this one. Hiesenberg's Uncertainty Principle (modified) again has it's usual influence.

Did the zinc shorten the duration of the cold? Or was this particular cold virus a puny one that wasn't going to last long anyway? Or is my immune system feeling particulary robust right now, able to dash even the heartiest viral invader to the floor with casual ease? Dunno.

Zinc is also supposed to lessen the severity of symptoms. I went ahead and took my usual over-the-counter cocktail of symptom meds. I will admit that the symptoms weren't too awful, but the same uncertaintly remains, as to whether the zinc actually did anything besides coat my mouth and throat with a nasty tasting film.

I'm told that in order for zinc to really work, I have to have faith in it. Like so many things, one's attitude can make the difference. But if it's necessary for me to actually believe in a proposed medicine in order for it to be of use to me, well, that's a little too much like magic for me.

10:59 PM Dec 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Mark R. Levin

[T]hese leaks -- about secret prisons in Europe, CIA front companies, and now secret wiretaps, are egregious violations of law and extremely detrimental to our national security. They are far worse than any aspect of the Plame matter. The question is whether our government is capable of tracking down these perpetrators and punishing them, or will we continue to allow the Times and Washington Post determine national security policy. And if these wiretaps are violative of our civil liberties, it's curious that the Times would wait a year to report about it. I cannot remember the last time, or first time, this newspaper reported a leak that was helpful to our war effort.

3:00 PM Dec 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I was just listening to some Christmas Music while wrapping presents, and the Elf Soundtrack came on. This CD has one of the nicest versions of the song "Baby It's Cold Outside", sung by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. The two of them give it a lot of chemestry, and frankly, Zooey Deschanel embues the song with such a coy sexiness that puts one entirely out of the Christmas spirit, if you know what I mean.

For those of you unfamiliar with the duet, the lyrics consist of a man trying to convince his date that the weather is too bad for her to leave his apartment; and a woman's not-too-convincing excuses as to why she ought to be going. Overall, it's a delightful song.

What I think is funny is that the woman's primary concern seems to be that her reputation would suffer if it became know that she'd spent the night with her date. Nowadays, of course, no one is concerned with sexual morality, but there is a lyric in the song that I think would in fact damn her in the eyes of many modern moralists.

While making up her mind, she concedes that she could stay a little longer, and sings "Well, maybe just a cigarette more....."

This dirty, dirty whore is a SMOKER, and as we know, that's pretty unforgivable. ;-D

Zincsperiment - Day 6

11:57 AM Dec 17, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I'm feeling much better this morning, though I'm not sure why, exactly. I've been resting a lot (which is hard to recognize, since I'm pretty lazy normally). I have been taking the zinc, but as you know I'm not really convinced it's done anything.

I've also been taking my normal cold medicine, which has always done wonders for me in keeping the symptoms manageable. It's possible that I feel better simply because this stuff works so well.

But I think that the rest is the most important thing. Nobody ever got well while they were awake; people wake up and say "Hey, I feel better!" So, when I'm sick, I sleep as much as I can. Maybe that has done the trick.

Anyway, I'm laying off the Drixoral today and see how I feel.

Friday Five

6:53 PM Dec 16, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I followed Lynn S back to her blog after she left a comment on a previous post, and found this from last week:

1. What did you want to be when you grew up? Without a doubt, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I spent my childhood in a suburb of Cincinnati, which has some of the most fossil-rich limestone deposits in the world. I spent many hours hunting for them, and reading books about dinosaurs.

2. Did you follow through? If not, what happened? No, and what happened is two-fold. First, when I was eleven years old, I moved to Florida and my fossil collection didn't make the trip. Where I lived there were no fossils to be had (though I did find some cool Calusa Indian artifacts!). Without the impetus of finding neat fossils, my practical interest waned. Second, I discovered I had an aptitude with computers, so I started down that road.

3. Is your life turning out the way you thought it would when you were a kid? If not, is it better or worse? Well, except for not spending my summers out in the field digging up dinosaur bones with beautiful grad students and my winters writing scientific papers that stun the academy, my life is much better than I figured it would be. For one thing, I have this pretty cool computer I can talk to the whole world with, which is something I certainly didn't anticipate. On the other hand, no flying cars and I'm surprised we don't have colonies on the moon....

4. Paradoxes aside, if you could time-travel back to when you were 10 years old, what would you tell your 10 year-old self? Spend more time with Dad. He won't always be around.

5. Do you think the child you were would like the adult you've become? Probably not. I was a snotty child, and as an adult I don't like snotty kids, so I suspect we wouldn't hit it off.

2:27 PM Dec 16, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt had a post listing businesses in New Orleans that do Internet sales, with the idea of helping out Katrina sufferers by buying their stuff.

Today he has an even better idea: order stuff and send it to soldiers in US Military Hospitals.

Great idea!

11:41 AM Dec 16, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

December 14, 2005 Staff Sgt. Carlswell, from 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, greets an Iraqi family at a traffic control point in Mosul, during pre-election security operations. Photo by Staff Sgt. James H. Christopher III

Pious gratitude to: lgf

Update: Something that strikes me about this picture is that, considering how some children in the States react even to friendly symbols of love, imagine how this little girl's father and mother must feel about our soldiers. Not to read too much into this, but that little girl must have been made to feel very secure about the soldiers, and you know that she took her cues from her parents.

Zincsperiment - Day 4

11:44 AM Dec 15, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Zinc leaves a nasty, sticky film inside the mouth.

The cold has moved from my throat into my head, and I'm blowing my nose like a steam engine (er, a steam engine with some sort of nasal infection).

So far, I'm unconvinced as to zinc's effectiveness. Probably because it's magic homeopathic nonsense medicine.

Sticking with it...

6:42 PM Dec 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Mitch Burg reaches his own Grim Milestone.

Congratulations, Mitch!

5:49 PM Dec 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Via Fark, comes this interesting article: The Ten Most Villainous Acts in Comic Book History.

Give 'em a look. I was actually familiar with 3 or 4.

4:54 PM Dec 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

You Are Blitzen
Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.

Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!

Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.
Which of Santa's Reindeer Are You?

Pious gratitude to: the Anchoress

6:41 PM Dec 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Democrat Leadership explore new ways to increase their numbers: create new Democrats in the lab!

Had to do it....

Honda Develops Robot for French Military

6:27 PM Dec 13, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Click image for story

Pious gratitude to: fark

Zincsperiment - Day 2

12:23 PM Dec 13, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Though the instructions on the packaging tells me I should only dose myself every couple of hours, my discussions with other Zinc-ites indicates that they basically drop the zinc bombs all day long, like any other throat losenge.

Since I'm self-medicating here with imaginary homeopathic juice, I guess it doesn't really matter. Can one overdose on zinc?

6:58 PM Dec 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

In an attempt to seem both puissant and formidable, France arrests about 20 in terror sweep :

PARIS - French counterterrorism agents dismantled an Islamic network suspected of preparing terror attacks, arresting about 20 people in raids early Monday, police said.

Anti-terrorism judges ordered the sweep in the Paris area and the Oise region north of the capital. The suspects were arrested in raids on homes and Internet cafes, national police said.

The alleged network included terror suspects already known to police and "common criminals," a police statement said.

Investigations were under way to determine the group's precise objectives, it added.

No doubt, they ruled out the burning of cars, n'est-ce pas?

Update:  While doing "research" for this post, I found these helpful French phrases, which will no doubt get me into a lot of trouble the next time I'm in Paris.

6:02 PM Dec 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

While reading this amusing retrospective of the year by the Great One, I couldn't help but wonder:

Can't he write anything without mentioning Fargo-fargin'-North Dakota?

And if not, is that the secret to his success? 

4:46 PM Dec 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Anchoress has some thoughts.

I'm Experimenting...On Myself!

3:59 PM Dec 12, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Well, I seem to be catching the cold that has laid Mrs. Agnostic low the last few days, and I'm going to try an experiment:


I know that Mr. Smarty Pants swears by the stuff, but I've always resisted using it since, you know, there isn't any SCIENCE behind it.

But I figure, it probably won't hurt me.

So, today I'm using a "medicine" that is clearly labled "Homeopathic."

My wife went to a chiropractor for back pain and got some relief.

Don't be surprised if I consult a voodoo priestess to get the critters out of my attic next time around.

2:43 PM Dec 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

RightWingDuck writes An Inspirational Kids Book:

Once upon a time, there was a sweet, and gentle gangbanger. His friends called him Killer K. One day Killer K said, “I’m Hungry.” His friends laughed at him. So he shot them.

Some other friends looked on this and said, “Killer, if you had a job, then you would have money. Then you could have all the food you want.”

Killer K thought about this. People were always telling him to learn a skill, take his life seriously, and become a productive member of society. “Get a job?” he said. “That’s racist.”

So Killer K did the next best thing. He robbed a bank.

Read the rest....

And so, it begins....

1:51 PM Dec 12, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Support Iraqi Democracy!


6:50 PM Dec 11, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Click for story

6:22 PM Dec 11, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Well, this is long overdue:

As Boomers Age, Legacy Doubts Surface

They partied and protested, then grew up to dominate America with their chutzpah and sheer numbers. Yet now, as the oldest of the baby boomers prepare to turn 60, there are glimmers of doubt within this "have it all" generation about how they will be judged by those who come next.

The ferment of the '60s and '70s — when boomers changed the world, or thought they did — faded long ago. Nostalgic pride in the achievements of that era now mixes with skepticism: Have the boomers collectively betrayed their youthful idealism? Have they been self-centered to the point of shortchanging their children?

Gee, I dunno. A generation famous for its self regard and conceit? Maybe.

"The boomers have set up institutions that will continue to benefit them, at the expense of other groups, as they grow old and live longer than any other generation," Gillon said. "It's spend what you want, cut your own taxes — the ultimate baby boom philosophy of 'We want to have it all.' We're not a generation that's had to deal with the reality of sacrifice."

I'm skeptical.

6:08 PM Dec 11, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Death by Caffeine

Find out how much of your favorite caffeinated drink it would take to kill you!

Personally, I was told: "After 436.04 cans of Diet Pepsi-Cola, you'd be pushing up daisies."

Nice to know.

5:29 PM Dec 11, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

It's a dreary, rainy and chill day here in Orlando, the kind of day I call "Cincinnati Winter."

It's currently only 20 degrees warmer here than in Cincinnati. Admittedly, it's a crucial 20....

8:12 PM Dec 10, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

If you are curious about the mysteries of sushi, then this documentary is absolutely not the place to get any information.

It is pretty funny, though.

Pious gratitude to: The Tensor

Update:  Then there's this, which is way cool!

1:33 PM Dec 10, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

For all those anti-war / anti-progress idiots in the West that complain when their opponents contest their views: this is what "suppression of dissent" really looks like:

Armed with guns and shields, hundreds of riot police sealed off a southern Chinese village after fatally shooting demonstrators and searched for the protest organizers, villagers said Friday.

Although security forces often use tear gas and truncheons to disperse demonstrators, it is extremely rare for them to fire into a crowd _ as they did in putting down pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 near Tiananmen Square. Hundreds, if not thousands, were killed.

During the demonstration Tuesday in Dongzhou, a village in southern Guangdong province, thousands of people gathered to protest the amount of money offered by the government as compensation for land to be used to construct a wind power plant.

Police started firing into the crowd and killed several people, mostly men, villagers reached by telephone said Friday. The death toll ranged from two to 10, they said, and many remained missing.

Scared of Santa

7:01 PM Dec 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

42 More just like this one here.

Neo-cons in the White House!

4:46 PM Dec 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Many people who complain about the influence of "Neo-cons" in the Bush White House are suspected by some bloggers of using the term as a synonym for "Jews", and of harboring a poorly-hidden anti-Semitic agenda.

Such people will not be heartened by Scott Johnson's report of the White House Hannukah reception he attended recently.

Apparently, there were "Neo-cons" everywhere!

Go read and enjoy.

12:11 PM Dec 9, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Posting has, and probably will, be light for a while. Busy at work and busy with the season. Nothing serious, just feeling the XMas atmos, as Prince George would say.

Update:  As so often happens, I put up a post like this one, warning that I won't be posting anything, and then follow it with several posts in swift succession. Such is the vagaries of the blogging life.

11:14 AM Dec 9, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

My brother Warren sent me a link to this George Will column:

The Inalienable Right to a Remote

Feeling, evidently, flush with (other people's) cash, the Senate has concocted a novel way to spend $3 billion: create a new entitlement. The Senate has passed -- and so has the House, with differences -- an entitlement to digital television.

If this filigree on the welfare state becomes law, everyone who owns old analog television sets -- everyone from your Aunt Emma in her wee apartment to the millionaire in the neighborhood McMansion who has such sets in the maid's room and the guest house -- will get subsidies to pay for making those sets capable of receiving digital signals.

I could certainly use this, since I'm generally a late adopter of new technology, but I still think it's a bad idea. So does Mr. Will.

Read the rest.

We're back!

10:44 PM Dec 6, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Due to technical difficulties, I've been off-line since Sunday night. I also haven't been able to receive emails, so if you sent me anything, try again, OK?


We now return to our regularly scheduled banality.

Day 5

10:00 PM Dec 3, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Still no change. My mucus trail is starting to annoy me.

Apparently I'm not the only one.

Frankly, I don't know anything about "trackbacks". What few links I get are, I think, mostly "earned", because people, for whatever reason, liked something I wrote and added me to their blogrolls. That sounds about right to me.

I don't see how I dropped from a fledgling to a clam, but I guess I'm not supposed to know. It's part of the mystery, ya' see.

Pious gratitude to: Kathy

Why is this airline passenger smiling?

7:35 PM Dec 3, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Victor Davis Hanson

10:38 AM Dec 3, 2005by Rob Ritchie

A Moral War
The project in Iraq can succeed, and leave its critics scrambling.

Go, read, and benefit.

Submitted (almost) without comment

7:15 PM Dec 2, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Cannabis doubles the risk of fatal crashes

Cannabis almost doubles the risk of fatal car crashes, according to a new study, though smoking the drug is still far less risky than drink-driving, the researchers say.

Stoned drivers were almost twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crashes than abstemious drivers, according to a study of 10,748 fatal car crashes in France between 2001 and 2003. More than half of the drivers in the study themselves died as a result of their accidents and all the subjects were tested for drug and alcohol use after crashing.

Even after accounting for factors such as the age of the drivers and the condition of the vehicle, the researchers conclude that cannabis caused a significant number of the fatalities, with 2.5% of the crashes directly attributed to cannabis use. Alcohol was the direct cause of about 29%.

Using cannabis and alcohol together was 16 times more risky than driving with neither drug in their body.

“You are more likely to be involved in a crash, probably because of the drug’s effect on your reaction times and concentration,” says Jean-Louis Martin who carried out the research at the Univeristé Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. “But the drug also makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the crash, so you are more likely to die.” The study did not explore why cannabis smokers fair less well in a crash.

No word yet on the effects on driving of a Starbucks Vente Triple-shot 2% Latte, and a McDonalds Sausage Biscuit.

11:54 AM Dec 2, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Starbucks Vente Triple-shot 2% Latte, and a McDonalds Sausage Biscuit.

Simply heaven!

5:12 PM Dec 1, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

When we talk about so much of the media being biased against conservatives, this is what we're talking about.

Update:  Then there's this. Disgraceful.

More:  Over at Power Line, they discuss the press's Credibility gap:

Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2000. He is one of the few major political figures who still enjoys considerable respect from parts of both political parties. One would think that his observations on an issue as important as Iraq would be newsworthy. After all, the announcement by Rep. John Murtha (an obscure figure compared to Lieberman) that we should withdraw from Iraq was front page news, complete (in the case of the Washington Post) with a headline that over-hyped his credentials as a hawk.

Yet, according to Brit Hume last night on Special Report, Lieberman's comments did not even make it into the Washington Post or the New York Times. Similarly, neither CBS nor ABC News mentioned them (NBC did).

The MSM has essentially imposed a blackout on good news from Iraq. This has already diminished what's left of its credibility, and when the full extent of the blackout becomes known, my guess is that roughly half of the news-consuming population of this country will cease to rely on it forever.