More Star Wars Goodness

6:40 PM Apr 30, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Kathy presents:


Here's the deal. In the Cake Eater household, there are many boxes labeled with the brand name, "Trivial Pursuit." One of these boxes just also happens to have the Star Wars logo on it with the phrase "Classic Trilogy Collector's Edition" printed right below it. Each day until the movie is released (May 19, 2005), I will pick one card, post all the questions, and whomever answers them all correctly (or gets the most correct...some of these questions are very obscure) will receive the gratitude of a blogosphere (and this blogger) for having the guts to have some freakin' fun with this whole thing. And If the winner of the day emails me a picture of themself, I'll p'shop them into a Storm Trooper uniform or, in the case of Princess Leia's metal bikini, I'll put their head (or the head of their beloved) on her body. Same goes with any other character. Just think of the possibilities---they're endless.

Go give it a look. Dan, I'm expecting you to participate!

5:48 PM Apr 30, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Note to Mitch:

Leftists, like everybody else, don't like it when you call them "Bigots."

Especially when they actually are bigots.

I found that out the hard way when arguing with a lefty friend whose prejudice against Christians and other people of faith is so virulant as to be poisonous to an otherwise insightful intellect.

It's scary, actually, that someone should be so blind to their own biases; that someone so quick to identify 'hate' in others cannot recognize the emotion in himself.

We all have a certain level of self-deception, of course; and not everyone is equally posessed of self knowledge.

But I have to tell you, I've never seen such self-rightousness in a living person as I have in my lefty friend.

And he claims to be a champion against prejudice and bigotry.

2:56 PM Apr 30, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

By now, you've probably heard about this story, revealing that satellite images show that the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena was moving at 60 MPH prior to coming under fire by a US checkpoint in Baghdad.

This is in contradiction to her contention that the care was moving at a leisurely pace towards the airport when the incident occurred.

A commenter on this post at Captain Ed's blog writes:

This changes nothing. You can not argue with liberals using logic or proof. They will continue to rant and rage as I will continue to ignore them.

This misses the point: since the source of the evidence is a satellite owned and operated by the US government, said evidence can be safely discounted by leftists inclined to do so.

1:27 PM Apr 30, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Last night, at 8:50, was the final launch of a Lockheed Martin Titan 4B from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station . This heavy lift rocket is being phased out for other models.

Here's what we saw from our front yard:

The orange flame of the rocket lit the horizon like a small city. It immediately turned to the north, which is typical for a launch inserting a classified payload into orbit.

The Titan was configured with two solid-rocket boosters, which you can see detaching here:

The three lights shown here are the Titan second stage (top) and the two ejected solid-rocket boosters as they burn out (two lower orange specks).

Update:  I changed the name of the launch facility...I still want to call it 'Kennedy Space Center'.

5:28 PM Apr 29, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The rambling Michael King saddens me with the news that the State of Indiana will be adopting Daylight Savings Time next year.

If I had my way, the rest of us (except the still enlightened Arizona) would abandon DST as the archaic holdover from an earlier age that it is.

5:23 PM Apr 29, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

When Sith Lords blog.

Pious gratitude to: Kathy

Friday's VDH

4:23 PM Apr 29, 2005by Rob Ritchie

On Being Disliked

The Egyptian autocracy may have received $57 billion in aggregate American aid over the last three decades. But that largess still does not prevent the Mubarak dynasty from damning indigenous democratic reformers by dubbing them American stooges. In differing ways, the Saudi royal family exhibits about the same level of antagonism toward the U.S. as do the Islamic fascists of al Qaeda — both deeply terrified by what is going on in Iraq. Mostly this animus arises because we are distancing ourselves from corrupt grandees, even as we have become despised as incendiary democratizers by the Islamists. Is that risky and dangerous? Yes. Bad? Hardly.

At the U.N. it is said that a ruling hierarchy mistrusts the United States and that a culture of anti-Americanism has become endemic within the organization. No wonder — the Americans alone push for more facts about the Oil-for-Food scandal, question Kofi Annan's breaches of ethics, and want investigations about U.N. crimes in Africa. If we are mistrusted for caring about those thousands who are inhumanely treated by a supposedly humane organization, then why in the world should we wish to be liked by such a group?

8:10 PM Apr 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

"Confound it." Wolfe was grim. "I have no rubbers."

Rex Stout - Door to Death

Context is everything.

11:21 AM Apr 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Psychological analysis of the American Media re: Abu Ghraib. Diagnosis: Paranoia. Prognosis: poor.

Abu Ghraib symbolizes to the true anti-American paranoid everything they believe about America, American values and morality, and American evil. They are obsessed with Abu Ghraib precisely because they want it to prove that they have been correct about America all along.

One of the hallmarks of the paranoid, and paranoia in general, is the ability to fixate (or obsess) on one particular point to the exclusion of all other reality and to select that point as the "evidence" of their predetermined delusion.

Pious gratitude to: lgf

10:21 AM Apr 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Pimp Dog Toy knows how to paint a mental image.

Discussing Bratz™ Babyz™:

What exactly is the penalty for failing to keep it real in the crib? Someone busts a cap in yo Pamper? I know I am old and so out of step it’s a wonder I don’t just appear as an indistinct smear, but was it really necessary to push the Age of Sultry Hussyism down to the infant stage? And who, exactly, are the Babyz flaunting it for? Are we going to see a commercial with Elmo in sunglasses, sitting with his legs sprawled, spanking some pliant Babyz with one hand while gumming down some mashed crack?

7:27 PM Apr 27, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Kathy trolls through the deepest dungeons of the Internet in an effort to understand gaming.

Sadly, what she finds is all too representative....

(Hyuk..."trolls"...I slay me!)

11:01 AM Apr 27, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I hope W washed that hand afterwords; it's generally
understood that Abdullah has blood on his.

6:05 PM Apr 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another marvelous post by the Anchoress.

Tina Brown: Our Lady of the Air Kiss

The Anchoress is rapidly becoming a must-read.

I'm going to miss her while she's on vacation.

Pleasant but Clueless

4:47 PM Apr 26, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Glenn Reynolds sums up exactly why I don't shop at Home Depot.

There's usually a convenient Ace Hardware somewhere closer anyway.

2:20 PM Apr 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I want this.

Someone buy it for me for Christmas, Okay?

Pious gratitude to: Kathy

1:47 PM Apr 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Duck and cover!

Scientists in Hamburg, Germany, are baffled by the strange deaths of hundreds of toads after they apparently exploded in and around a pond, according to a Local 6 News report.

As many as 1,000 toads have died after their bodies swelled to bursting point and then exploded, according to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians.

Pious gratitude to: llamas

1:18 PM Apr 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Fla. Gun Law to Expand Leeway for Self-Defense

I'm glad that this law has passed. In the case where someone is attacked with deadly force outside their homes, and they respond in kind, they no longer subject to prosecution and second guessing.

The Florida measure says any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

Florida law already lets residents defend themselves against attackers if they can prove they could not have escaped. The new law would allow them to use deadly force even if they could have fled and says that prosecutors must automatically presume that would-be victims feared for their lives if attacked.

This law is already in place in several states, according to Glenn Reynolds.

I expect a measurable decrease in street crime.

12:21 PM Apr 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Powerline writes:

They're detestable creatures, certainly, but it's hard not to have a sneaking admiration for them. Just for a day, I'd like to have one as Senate Majority Leader.

Surprisingly, he's not talking about Liberal Democrats.

What he writes about the ducklings chills me, though.

11:12 AM Apr 25, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Great column by Mark Steyn: Republican joins Bolton hearing monkey biz

Britain's Daily Telegraph had an intriguing headline the other day: ''U.S. police force to recruit capuchin monkey for 'intelligence' work.'' Maybe when the Mesa, Ariz., SWAT team is through with the monkey in question, we could get him made chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He'd have his work cut out doing a worse job than Dick Lugar, the Republican senator who spent the last week getting walloped by a freak show alliance comprising (a) an opposition party whose foreign policy the electorate decided it was unable to take seriously and (b) jelly-spined GOP ''moderates'' who insist on taking it seriously. And so it was that John Bolton's nomination to the U.N. was derailed by this guy Voinovich.

As Shakespeare didn't quite say, who is Voinovich? What is he? Well, he's a fellow called George, and he's apparently a senator from Ohio who's on this Foreign Relations Committee. He was, alas, unable to interrupt his hectic schedule to attend either of the committee's hearings for John Bolton's U.N. nomination, but nevertheless decided last week he could not bring himself to support Bolton's nomination. ''My conscience got me,'' he said. Maybe one day his conscience will get him to attend the hearings he's paid to attend, but, for the moment, his conscience is more troubled by the story brought up by the senior Democratic obstructionist Joe Biden. As Sen. Biden put it, ''The USAID worker in Kyrgyzstan alleges that she was harassed -- not sexually harassed -- harassed by Mr. Bolton.''

This was a decade ago, in some hotel. John Bolton allegedly chased this woman down a corridor in a non-sexual manner. It's not clear from Biden whether he would have approved had she been chased down the corridor in a sexual manner, as the 42nd president was wont to do. But the non-sexual harassment was instead about policy matters relating to Kyrgyzstan. Maybe Bolton was in a foul mood or maybe he was in a vowel mood and, this being Kyrgyzstan, they didn't have any. But this is what the pitiful constitutional travesty of the Senate's ''advise and consent'' role has now dwindled down to: a sex scandal with no sex. All talk and no action. Only in America, folks. Or, to be more precise, only in the U.S. Senate.

Read the rest....

1:43 PM Apr 24, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Here is the latest on the nortorious 13 Syrian "musicians" on Northwest flight 327, by Annie Jacobsen.

Pious gratitude to: Michelle Malkin

10:22 PM Apr 23, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

John Hinderaker comments on a story in the New York Post that details an uncomfortable encounter between Senator Kerry and Senator Mark Dayton:

The most striking thing about this story to me was that Kerry and Dayton were simultaneously present on the Senate floor. Rumor has it that Kerry is so determined to run again in three years that he has resolved, after twenty years in the Senate, to begin actually performing his duties there.


5:46 PM Apr 23, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Victor Davis Hanson has another great essay in the NRO:

Winning the War

Dog-gone, this is funny!

7:45 PM Apr 22, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Click the image for the rest....

7:25 PM Apr 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I've always hated Earth Day, because, you know, it's the day after my Birth Day.

Also, it's a pointless memorial.

Like my Birth Day.

4:47 PM Apr 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Good news for, well, me.

Apart from this huge downward revision in the numbers of people supposedly dying from fat, there are several things in this study which signal the end of any legitimate linkage between obesity and premature death. First, for the merely overweight with BMI's from 25-30 there is no excess mortality. In fact, being overweight was "associated with a slight reduction in mortality relative to the normal weight category." Being overweight not only does not lead to premature death, something that dozens of other studies from around the world have been saying for the last 30 years, but it also carries less risk from premature death than being "normal" weight. In other words the overweight=early death "fact" proclaimed by the public health community is simply not true.

Second, for individuals aged 25-59 the risks of premature death from being underweight are substantially greater than those of being overweight and they are also slightly greater than those of being obese. For those aged 60-69 the risk of dying from being underweight is much higher than from being even significantly obese, that is with a BMI > 35. Again, the total number of premature deaths due to obesity is 25, 814, while the mortality attributable to being underweight is 37, 746. If anything this points to an epidemic of not fat but thin caused death.....

In a world without junk science, results like these would mark the end of the supposed obesity epidemic that is killing us by the thousands. Unfortunately the public health community is already busily discounting the CDC's numbers and telling us that whatever the science says, fat kills. Don't count on it.

Blogosphere rocked! Llama Butchers Split!*

3:47 PM Apr 22, 2005by Rob Ritchie

As promised, a Pious Agnostic exclusive! Must credit Pious Agnostic!

Though the Llama Butchers seem to be the soul of amity, what with their gratuitous posting and their tasty links to interesting tidbits, beneath the surface boils a tempestuous relationship with tensions very near the surface.

Special technology has allowed Pious Agnostic (must credit!) unheard-of access to their little-known world, disclosing the passions that divide these two bipedal quadrupeds. I share with you now a never-before-seen incident in the lives of the Llama Butchers.

Robbo and Steve-o - the Best of Friends! Or, are they.....?

The Llama Butchers share a secret! Privately, Steve-o thinks that Miss Bennet has a character superior to that of Miss Woodhouse!

Robbo disagrees, and flies into a rage!

"Why, oh Lord! Why am I plagued by such a Llama???!!!"

Robbo caps his ears in an attempt to block out unwanted opinions!

Steve-o, embarassed by the outbreak, leaves his partner sobbing in anguish.

Robbo regains his composure through a private game of billiards in Llama Mansion, while two of his hangers-on gossip about the breakup.

So, there you have it! A successful partnership ended*, after all these years. The blogosphere may never recover.

Plus, additional Llama action here (876K download).

*Disclaimer: Llama Butchers have not split up as far as I know. No llamas were hurt in the writing of this post.

12:02 PM Apr 22, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm planning a big Llama-Butcher's exposé for later on, so I'm giving them Yips! front and center for pointing me to a hilarious column by Johah Goldberg:

Let Cookie Monster be Cookie Monster

7:14 PM Apr 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The always invaluable Captain Ed in the GOP's failure to break the stultifying filibuster rule in the Senate:

Instead of treating this like the highest domestic priority that they claimed for the election, and instead of treating the nominees like the valued members of the bench that they are, the GOP went AWOL on the issue and have allowed Reid, Byrd, Boxer, and the rest to portray the nominees as dangerous fringe-right nutcases just itching to strip away every last right from the people.

I really wish that Santorum, Frist and the rest would reach down and find a pair.

7:03 PM Apr 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

4:47 PM Apr 20, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Meet the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy:

George Soros told a carefully vetted gathering of 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires last weekend that they must be patient if they want to realize long-term political and ideological yields from an expected massive investment in “startup” progressive think tanks.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., meeting, called to start the process of building an ideas production line for liberal politicians, began what organizers hope will be a long dialogue with the “partners,” many from the high-tech industry. Participants have begun to refer to themselves as the Phoenix Group.

Rob Stein, a veteran of President Bill Clinton’s Commerce Department and of New York investment banking, convened the meeting of venture capitalists, left-leaning moneymen and a select few D.C. strategists on how to seed pro-Democratic think tanks, media outlets and leadership schools to compete with such entrenched conservative institutions as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Leadership Institute.

Senior Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials were quietly briefed about the meeting in recent weeks. DNC Chairman Howard Dean was aware of it, in part though his friendship with Stein, but one senior DNC source said the organizers “kept that list [of attendees] kind of tight.”

Pious gratitude to: lgf

10:16 AM Apr 20, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

From today's Bleat:

The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be? As if there this was some golden moment that would usher in the age of married priests who shuttle between blessing third-trimester abortions and giving last rites to someone who’s about to have the chemical pillow put over his face. At the risk of sounding sacreligious: it’s the Catholic Church, for Christ’s sake! You’re not going to get someone who wants to strip off all the Baroque ornamentation of St. Peter’s and replace them with IKEA wine racks, okay?

Exactly! Honestly, what do these people think the Pope is exactly? Of course he's conservative. To paraphrase Biship Wenski of Orlando, the nature of the Papacy is conservative, because its goal is to conserve the Gospel for future generations.

Plus, this:

At least my greatest fear didn’t happen: they’d choose a Pope from Africa, and, unaware with the nomenclature of American marketing, he would call himself “Urban.”


Update:  Meanwhile, and as usual, the Anchoress has thoughts of her own that put things into perspective much better than my own.

4:55 PM Apr 19, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Jihad Comes to Small Town, USA

Go and read for yourself. Scary.

Pope Benedict XVI

4:27 PM Apr 19, 2005by Rob Ritchie

German Doctrinal Overseer Ratzinger Elected Pope

The Holy Father sounds like a hard-ass.

(Not that that's necessarily a bad thing....)

Update:  Just a point of clarification: the press reaction to Pope Benedict is amazing and amazingly bad, due to the "on the one hand, this; however, on the other hand, that" attitude they use whenever they discuss a religeous figure. If you only went by that, you'd figure that he was a Nazi witch-burner or something.

Cool! A Giant Ant!

7:21 PM Apr 18, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Pious Agnostic

is a Giant Ant that breathes Fire, cowers from Radiation, and has Suckers on its Feet and X-Ray Vision.

Strength: 6 Agility: 6 Intelligence: 9

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Pious Agnostic, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Pious Agnostic using

More silliness from: llama butchers, whose butt I kick!

5:20 PM Apr 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

In his post Another Lefty Smear Job , Charles Johnson quotes an "Idiotblogger" who writes the following:

The right blogosphere operates largely as part of the greater Republican message machine. Many of its bloggers are already part of that infrastructure, working as journalists for conservative publications, writing books and lecturing. Independent bloggers on the right hail from all walks of life, but the leading voices are either part of the political machine itself, like Mike Krempasky of RedState, or closely connected to the conservative media and think tank infrastructure, like Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin and the PowerLine bloggers. The right blogosphere is a reflection of successful top-down Republican message control, and as such these bloggers are welcomed warmly into the fold.

I hardly think it needs saying that I don't receive any money from the GOP (or from any other source) for maintaining this blog.

And certainly the lack of quality would indicate that I have no sources deep within the inner workings of the VRWC. (But a guy can hope!).

Charles, however, has more trenchant remarks about this sort of idiocy:

This is the worst kind of disingenuous garbage, a complete inversion of reality. Markos Zuniga of Daily Kos is a paid political consultant for Howard Dean and other campaigns. Joshua Micah Marshall, Kevin Drum, and Matt Yglesias all get paychecks from liberal publications. Duncan Black (Atrios) works for George Soros.

At Little Green Footballs, on the other hand, I work for no one but myself and I have never accepted money from any political campaign except for one or two advertisements that ran at LGF.

Lunchblogging Returns!

4:59 PM Apr 18, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Oyster Po'Boy and Crawfish Ettouffee

LLama Sighting!

7:37 PM Apr 17, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Mrs. Agostic was playing her new game, Sims 2 University this morning, when who should appear at the dorm but the team mascot, the Sim State Llama:

Nice to see that our boys have day jobs.

7:05 PM Apr 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

All the woman wants is a Western Burger.

Is that so wrong?

Yip! Yip! Yip!

My Linquistic Profile

6:48 PM Apr 15, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English
15% Dixie
15% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

I agree with Lynn at Reflections in d minor that some of these questions are impossible to answer. I would expect there to be a lot more questions, and I suspect there are more detailed surveys out there.

If I find any, I'll post the results.

6:04 PM Apr 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

It's been a while since I linked to one of Victor Davis Hanson's columns, but you have been finding them for yourselves, haven't you?


Either way, here's what we have for today:

Our Not-So-Wise Experts

If the American public has to hear another sermon from a Brent Scowcroft — “Sharon just has him [President Bush] wrapped around his little finger. I think the president is mesmerized” — or Madeline Albright — “Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?” — about what we are now doing wrong in the Middle East, I think it will collectively heave.

1:14 PM Apr 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Captain Ed has little use for John McCain:

McCain was a brave man in Viet Nam. He became a craven politician a long time ago, however, and almost everything he's done since shows that he hasn't changed a bit. If I still lived in Arizona, I'd be looking for ways to recall him from office immediately. It's time for the GOP to quit kissing McCain's ass and apply another extremity to it with noticeable force -- and to strip him of his committee assignments as soon as possible. Let him switch parties if he likes. He's useless and a disgrace as a Republican.

Read the rest to find out why!

A Ripping Yarn

10:51 AM Apr 15, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I just finished State Of Fear, the latest novel by Michael Crichton.

It's a pretty good adventure story, and the ending had enough punch to give me a little frission of horror, though there are some things in this book that had me laughing out loud (and not in the good way).

But while entertainment is certainly a good reason to read this book, Crighton has another purpose for writing it: the dispellation of myths and foolishness about Global Warming.

(*spoiler alert*)

The bad guys in this book are a radical environmental group trying to raise money keeping everyone in a "state of fear" and to this end they perform all sorts of callous acts. However, their "environmentally themed" plots reminded me of some sort of loony Batman villian.

Robin: Holy Fishmart, Batman! We have a string of seemingly unrelated murders!

Batman: Not so fast, old chum. The frostbite, the lightning strikes and the poisonous bites of aquatic cephalopods all have one thing in common: they exist in Nature.

Robin: Great Scott, Batman! You mean...

Batman: Yes, Robin! The EARTH is behind these murders.

If you believe, as Crighton does, that the so-called Environmental Movement is more concerned with fund-raising than with conciousness raising (or actually solving environmental problems) then you will enjoy this book, because it blasts apart the claptrap hoax that is "global warming."

There is an annoying character named Kenner, who knows everything about everything, who debates with fools of every stripe and spot, always with references at his fingertips (conviently provided by Crighton in footnotes). I call him annoying because he really is quite a know-it-all, but his logical, reality-based arguments are no match for the smugness of actors and activists, who respond to his citing of research and facts by calling him a right-wing stooge for industry, a fascist and a racist.

As an adventure story, it relies on the time-tested (time-worn?) conceit of placing our heroes in deadly dangers from which they cannot escape at the end of the chapter, then rescuing them quite easily at the beginning of the next.

There is also the earnest young man who believes strongly in Global Warming, but through his open-mindedness to Kenner's arguments (and encounters with deadly NERF killers weilding the aforementioned killer cephalopods) comes to see the Light.

The story didn't surprise me very much, and it probably won't surprise you. The characters are engaging for the most part, the villians villianous, and the useful California dupes shown to be the hypocrites and idiots we all suspect they really are.

The best feature of the book, however, are the detailed arguments against Global Warming that are presented, along with citations and a lengthy bibliography. It should be noted that, in addition to such evidence against global warming is an examination of the evidence in favor of it, and an alternative explanation (Land Usage) to explain noted rises in average temperatures in certain areas of the world.

This is popcorn reading, but don't expect Hollywood to turn this Crighton thriller into a movie the way they have with so many of his other books. He lampoons too many of the religious beliefs of the environmentally concerned, something that will certainly offend the self-satisfied of Tinseltown.

5:33 PM Apr 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another on-line charity you should check out: Save Toby

I don’t want to eat Toby, he is my friend, and he has always been the most loving, adorable pet. However, God as my witness, I will devour this little guy unless I receive 50,000$ USD into my account from donations or purchase of merchandise. You can help this poor, helpless bunny’s cause by making donations through my verified PayPal account by clicking on any of the Donate buttons on this site, or by purchasing merchandise at the online store.

For the love of God, won't you help? Or will you just turn away?

Update:  Here's a related story about a little guy not so lucky

Pious gratitude to: Lynn S

5:03 PM Apr 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

A touching eulogy of a well beloved woman.

To those of us who loved her, Andrea was both enigmatic and complex. Yet despite her divine brilliance, she led a simple, unpretentious life, devoting herself to an ordinary daily routine. Just like everyone else, she'd get up early, brush the tangles out of her long, flowing armpit hair, dress like an insane street person, and then spend the day desperately trying to survive in a male-dominated world where the subjugation of womyn has become the accepted norm.


Pious gratitude to: Florida Cracker

4:30 PM Apr 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Captain Ed describes Connecticut's new Civil Unions legislation:

Both sides got some piece of victory, while the centrists won the day. Connecticut will not recognize gay marriage, which fits with the will of the electorate. On the other hand, the legislature made a perfectly rational decision about reinforcing contract law by allowing two adults to form a legal partnership that regulates the public portion of their lives. For libertarians, this makes perfect sense; it allows couples who either are unable or unwilling to marry assign each other next-of-kin relationships, form financial partnerships, and establish legally defensible rights to certain civil benefits formerly excluded from them. This also appears to meet the will of the electorate.

He goes on to say:

Extremists on the Right will claim that civil unions will erode marriage. However, no one will "turn gay" because Connecticut suddenly endorsed civil unions, and in fact because it allows a legal and healthy channel for nontraditional couples -- heteros included -- it will probably wind up strengthening the sacramental vision of marriage many of these people endorse. Those who are disinclined to take marriage seriously may skip it and use a civil union instead. Gays who form these unions will become less radical and more integrated into the mainstream of political and economic thought, creating a stronger center, and a weaker Left.

I think this is 100% correct. This is the sort of legislation that I would support in Florida.

Let people who wish to enter into such contracts do so, and leave sacramental marriage to those people to whom it actually means something.

4:20 PM Apr 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

This story is interesting to me for several reasons: there's an archaeology angle, a Tolkien angle, an over-arching government power grab angle, and an oversensitivity-to-ethnic-sensibilities angle. Cool!

Bones of Contention

If a lucky paleoanthropologist ever unearths hobbit bones on federal land, scientists won’t get to study them — at least not if Sen. John McCain and his allies have their way.

What a great lead! The rest is equally interesting.

1:34 PM Apr 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie


Last October, two liberals responded to my speech at the University of Arizona -- during question and answer, no less -- by charging the stage and throwing two pies at me from a few yards away. Fortunately for me, liberals not only argue like liberals, they also throw like girls. (Apologies in advance to the Harvard biology professors who walked out on Larry Summers in a demonstration of their admiration of "research," not "revelation" -- but this may account for the dearth of female pitchers in Major League Baseball.)

6:08 PM Apr 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Say a prayer for Jeffrey Ake, who was kidnapped by disgusting terrorist animals in Baghdad, and shown on a recent al-Jazeera video:

The U.S. Embassy said the man on the video appeared to be Jeffrey Ake, a contract worker who was kidnapped Monday while working on a water treatment plant near Baghdad....

Ake, 47, is president and CEO of Equipment Express, whose products include machines that fill water bottles.

Brave, brave muhajadeen! Snatch the infidel water bottling plant equipment manufacturer!

5:43 PM Apr 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The lovely Ms. K asks me if I had any new alligator stories.

Only this one: Dog Saves Woman During Gator Attack.

The dog, named Bob, died in the attack. He was a chow-Labrador mix who Hernandez rescued after he was abandoned seven years ago.

I think we can all agree that this is the Number One reason Dogs are Better than Cats.

2:01 PM Apr 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Luckily, the Bumpuses moved away years ago.

1:25 PM Apr 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I wonder if the Llama Butchers have seen the llama song?

1:10 PM Apr 13, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

If you are more than a casual surfer of the blogosphere, then you have encountered Little Green Footballs (known as LGF).

This site, probably more than any other web site, is an absolutely necessary daily visit to keep a watch on our enemies in the War on Terror.

It is often branded as a "Right-wing Racist Hate Site" by people who, for one reason or another, are inclined to call such things by such names.

A stirring defense of LGF has been written by Brian Tiemann, and should be read:

I do not think it means what you think it means

which concludes:

People who frequent LGF aren't just not racists, they hate racists. It's one of the few things they do hate. And if that makes LGF a "hate" site, well... sign me up too, because the term is meaningless anyway.

Sign me up too.

5:48 PM Apr 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Beware the Unitarian Jihad!

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

Pious gratitude to: LynnS

5:29 PM Apr 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'd like to welcome a new blog to the select elect list of Those Who Have Noticed Me:

My Little Corner of the World

Deborah was kind of enough to add me to her extensive list of Florida bloggers. Thanks, Deborah!

Deborah is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Fair Tax Initiative , something that I am in favor of myself.

Follow this link for Part 1 of her "50 Reasons I Like the Fair Tax"

11:58 AM Apr 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Remember that movie that came out last year that was single-handedly going to crush the Bush-Cheney candidacy?

Remember how the maker of the movie, between horse-choking bites of his 6-foot double-meat lard and bacon hoagie (extra mayo hold the lettuce), claimed that his movie was changing minds all over the heartland, engendering a rising tide of anti-Bush sentiment that was going to sweep him from office?

Apparently, it was all a big fat lie.

Michael Moore and the Myth of Fahrenheit 9/11

Not only had Moore’s movie not propelled the Democratic candidate to victory, but some Democrats wondered privately whether Fahrenheit 9/11 and all the attendant fuss might have done more harm than good. What went wrong?

The answer, although no one beyond a few Hollywood executives, and probably Moore himself, knew it at the time, was that Fahrenheit 9/11 never had the sort of national appeal that its maker and its publicists claimed. The truth was just the opposite; deep inside the dense compilations of audience research figures that are used by movie studios to chart a film’s performance was evidence that Fahrenheit 9/11’s appeal was narrowly limited to those areas that were already solidly anti-Bush.Moore’s daily pronouncements about the movie’s success in pro-Bush areas, and the growing anti-Bush movement it was supposedly engendering, were little more than wishful thinking.

Moore lied! Kerry cried!

To make a comparison: Which film had a better opening weekend, Fahrenheit 9/11 or Barbershop 2: Back in Business? The correct answer is Barbershop. In terms of opening receipts, Mean Girls also beat Fahrenheit 9/11, as did Starsky & Hutch, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Alien vs. Predator, 50 First Dates, and several others. The year’s big hits, like Shrek 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Spiderman 2 all had openings between four and five times the size of Fahrenheit 9/11’s. In the end, Fahrenheit 9/11 had the 32nd-best opening weekend of 2004, taking in $23,920,637 in its first days.


Pious gratitude to: LGF

Song Fisking

7:01 PM Apr 11, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Over at Mitch's place, and over at Fraters they're doin' a little song fiskin'.

It's pretty good. But remember where you saw if first.

Here we go again... Updated and Bumped

5:00 PM Apr 11, 2005by Rob Ritchie

85 year-old Mae Margourik of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

At least this time it's in Georgia.

The similarities of Mae Margourik's situation and Terri Schiavo's are obvious: Once again we have a family divided over what care should be given to a seriously ill relative. And once again, we have a judge playing God with someone's life. But what is different, and in a sense worse, is that Mae is being deprived of food and water in clear contravention of her own stated wishes, and at the request of someone who should have no standing under Georgia law.

Please read about another case of judicial murder here going on right now.

Pious gratitude to: The Great One

Update:  Captain Ed was all over this last Friday, and apparently there's a lot more to this than meets the eye. Go read his post, his updates and the comments for more. The bottom line: be skeptical.

Where've I been?

11:43 AM Apr 11, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I didn't even unpack the laptop this weekend, so no blogging,as you can see.

Friday evening we went to supper and played games.

Saturday - Taxes (ugh!).

Sunday - never went near the computer.

It's kind of freeing, actually. Back to the grind today....

Must Read

3:06 PM Apr 8, 2005by Rob Ritchie

On Necro Hecklers and Postmodern Apostates

Pious gratitude to: Tim Blair

10:59 AM Apr 8, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Another link from Lileks today: a terrific (and terrifying) article showing exactly what price is to be paid for re-election in Britain:

How was the Blair government to reconcile two apparently opposite needs: the need to appear to be dealing with Muslim terrorism in a determined, vigorous, and efficient way, and the need to capture Muslim votes?

The answer was simple and elegant: get the prime minister’s wife to defend the Muslim male’s practice of abusing women, though of course in the guise acceptable to liberal voters of defending the human rights of the women themselves. The circle was squared. In other words, there has been a quid pro quo for all the extra police surveillance of Muslims that they are bound to find irksome and humiliating. Allow us to suspect and search you, says the government, and we in turn will allow you to abuse your women to your hearts’ content, free of our interference. The price of our reelection is forced marriages.

Under the cover of protecting "religious practices" a radical Muslim group has won the right to maintain their prerogative to entirely control the lives of their women.

What is amazing about Dr. Dalrymple's prose is that each word is precisely chosen for maximum effect. Read it.

6:36 PM Apr 7, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Florida Cracker reminded me of a story I heard on the ride in to work today.

Orlando Sheriff Kevin Beary responded to a critical letter written in the local paper by looking up the writer's driving record and writing her a letter!

Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski so he could send her a scathing letter, which some say violated federal privacy law. It is illegal to access a driver's license database to obtain personal information, except for clear law-enforcement purposes, under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

This is a bad day for me. This is the second person I've voted for who has disappointed me.

Update:  Minor editing for clarity and to compensate for bone-headedness.

1:58 PM Apr 7, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Michelle Malkin says Martinez isn't off the hook:


Sen. Mel Martinez told the Washington Times he did not see the Schiavo memo until ABC News and the Post publicized it. But Sen. Tom Harkin told the Post that when Martinez handed him the memo, "[Martinez] said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here."

How could Sen. Martinez describe the contents of the memo if he had not seen it? And who is "we?"

She concludes (in what I can only conclude is a racist jab at his Cuban ethnicity): "Sen. Martinez and his former legal counsel may still have plenty of 'splainin' to do."

Of course, I'm just kidding about the last part.

11:19 AM Apr 7, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

What if They had a Tet Offensive and Nobody Came?

[O]nce again the attackers are destroyed, repulsed, routed - their mighty truck bomb detonated short of it's target, their rockets and small arms fire largely ineffective, their mission a failure. But this time they even lack something else: their cheerleaders have melted away. There's apparently no one left in Iraq to report on what an amazingly sophisticated and coordinated assault was launched nationwide this past weekend. No one to declare the insurgents 'increasingly bold'.

Great post from the Mudville it all.

Aw, Mel....

10:32 AM Apr 7, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Turns out the skeevy Shiavo memo originated in the office of a Republican Senator after all -- freshman Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.

Counsel to GOP Senator Wrote Memo On Schiavo

Martinez, a freshman who was secretary of housing and urban development for most of President Bush's first term, said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, officials gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.

Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.

The mystery of the memo's origin had roiled the Capitol, with Republicans accusing Democrats of concocting the document as a dirty trick, and Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to duck responsibility for exploiting the dying days of an incapacitated woman.

Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall.

As you may remember, I encountered Mel Martinez last year on election day, which makes him the only Senator I've ever met in the flesh. Somehow, I'd hoped that he was above this sort of nonsense, but I guess I was being naive.

In a statement issued last night, Martinez said that Harkin asked him for background information on the bill and that he gave him what he thought was a routine one-page staff memo on the legislation. "Unbeknownst to me, instead of my one page on the bill, I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo that at some point along the way came into my possession," the statement said.

Harkin said that when he read the part about the politics of the case he thought that was "rather out of line," but he said he did not discuss the matter with Martinez. Harkin said he has no complaints about Martinez.

"I really worked in good faith with Senator Martinez on this issue and I found him to be a decent, caring person to work with on this, and so I have a lot of respect for him," he said.

Martinez said [Sen. Tom ] Harkin called him about 5 p.m. yesterday and told him that the memo had come from his office. Martinez said he then called in his senior staff and said, "Something is wrong here." He said that Darling [Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group ] later confessed to John Little, Martinez's chief of staff, and that he said he did not think he had ever printed the memo.

The last sentence is strangely worded; Darling worked for Martinez as a staffer, and has resigned, presumably because he worked up the memo, and printed it out by mistake. The memo then was placed in a package of information that Martinez gave to Harkin.

The rest, as they say, is history.

What a disgusting development. I was perfectly happy when I thought it was a dirty trick perpetrated by Democrats; how disappointing to see that it really was a Repubican position paper, though one (apparently) created by a staffer, not by Republican "leadership."

Naturally, John Hindraker had this story yesterday evening, and based his post on an early AP release where Darling was as-yet unidentified. He writes:

In fact, if the current AP account is correct, the amazingly inept "talking points memo," which got the number of the Senate bill wrong, misspelled Terri Schiavo's name, and contained a number of other typographical errors, did not come from "Republican officials" or "party leaders," but rather from an anonymous, unknown staffer. Senator Martinez himself--forget about members of his staff--is a freshman senator, in office for three months, not a "party leader" or "Republican officials." (The plural in the Post's original article is interesting.) Also, the reporting by ABC and the Post suggested that the memo was widely or universally distributed among Republican senators, while a survey reported by the Washington Tmes indicated that none of the 55 Republican senators had seen it. So, if the current AP story is correct, it confirms that ABC and the Post misreported the story--in the Post's case, in an article that was picked up by dozens of other newspapers off the paper's wire service.

The latest story also confirms how absurd it was for ABC, the Post, and other news outlets to label the anonymous memo a "GOP talking points memo." We have no idea who the unidentified Martinez staffer is, but he apparently was not authorized to speak for his boss, and most certainly was not empowered to speak for the leadership of the Republican party. We'll try to track him down and get his story, but in the meantime, this story serves as an object lesson in how the mainstream media can take a dopey, one-page memo by an unknown staffer and use it to discredit the entire Republican party.

He has more, with updates, so click and read....and weep, if you are so inclined.

Update:  Captain Ed says that the Senator shouldn't have accepted Darling's resignation: "Martinez should have insisted on firing him instead."

5:57 PM Apr 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Sort of in line with what I wrote about yesterday, is this story from the American Spectator:

A Church, Not a Focus Group

In the wake of John Paul II's death, the Associated Press did what the American media always do as great historical events shake the world. They took a poll. The verdict? Americans and American Catholics want change. It is hoped a more open-minded pope will take the reins. He was a great pope (you know, resisted the Nazis and the Communists and all that), but he failed to adapt to the times. What a pity. He could have capitulated to all of the demands of liberal Western democracy and really burnished his legacy. Oh well, missed opportunities ...

Go read the rest!

Pious gratitude to: The Anchoress

10:53 AM Apr 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I had a chilling thought today. I was watching the news reporting that the President, his father and Bill Clinton, along with dozens of Congressmen were going to Rome for the Pope's funeral.

They reported about the scarcity of hotel rooms to accomodate the gazillions of folks going there.

I do hope that the Italian police are up to the security requirements. If I were a terrorist, I'd see all those mourning people as a pretty tempting target.

I hope my apprehensions are baseless. They usually are.

And I suspect I'm not the first to consider this.

10:19 AM Apr 6, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Joe's back from his trip.

He brought something with him.

6:56 PM Apr 5, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Doug at Bogus Gold provides a cogent explanation of the Catholic Church's position to Gay-Marriage, touching many topics along the way.

Warning:The word 'ontological' is used liberally.

Whether or not you agree with Rome's position, it is at least intellectually consistent.

Pious gratitude to: Cake-Eatin' Kathy, who makes a guest appearance.

Faith In Democracy

1:06 PM Apr 5, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I had a thought today that was sparked by something I overheard somewhere. [ed: that's a pretty vague beginning...better be a little more specific] [me: ok] What follows is a very rambling meditation of the relationship between Faith and Democracy.

There is much natural speculation following the death of the Holy Father as to who his replacement will be; more specifically, [ed: thanks!] [me: stop that!] the speculation revolves around what kind of policies the new Pope would enact: whether or not he'd allow women to become priests; or priests to marry; or gay priests to marry lesbians; and whether he'd "soften" the Catholic Church's stance on contraception and abortion.

These enumerated speculations seem pretty much like a wish-list made up by the DNC, and aren't particularly important to me; talking heads discussing what they don't understand is standard fare for TV and radio. Heck, talking head discussing what I don't understand is even more common!

But, as I said, it sparked a thought: where, exactly, do these people get the idea that the Church would change some of these long-held ideas?

Some of these things have a long tradition (an exclusively male celibate priesthood, for example) and it isn't likely that the new guy would overturn a policy of such duration on a whim. There is much debate about this world wide within the Church, but it isn't something that the new Pope is going to abolish with the stroke of a pen: ; this isn't "casual Fridays" sort of stuff.

The Church's opposition to abortion are even more problematic; leaving aside the whole "Culture of Death" thing -- on second thought, you simply can't leave that out! This is a central tenet of the the faith, and to abandon it would demolish the Church. Don't even think about it.

But the talking heads act as if points of dogma are subject to popular will, that since "most Catholics" believe one way or another, that this should have some effect upon the decisions of the Church. That simply isn't so. One of the enduring joys of the Church is the way it "Expresses Faith through the Ages" not "Expresses the Age through the Faith." At least, that's the way it's supposed to work; there are numerous historical examples where they got it wrong, usually with disastrous results.

What I'm trying to get to is the idea that some people act as if they can apply democratic principles to articles of faith.

I don't think that anywhere this is more apparent than in the United States, where the love of democracy and public polling is probably greater then anywhere else in the world; and where so many citizens are self-identified as religious people.

In our country, people are free to switch churches at will to find one that fits their ideas of faith. For the most part, this is a good thing, but in another way, it's a very easy thing and that can be bad.

Faith, at it's best, challenges a believer to be a better person, to reform their life and find salvation. There are plenty of folks who respond to the challenge offered by a church by...changing churches. That's a personal choice and I wouldn't question any particular person about it, but we all know it's a reality. The pot-smoking free-love churches that spring up from time to time get lots of parishioners, until someone smokes up the treasury and runs off with the pastor's wife.

As a Catholic, I know that the only influence I have over the Papal church is through my prayers. I am challenged to follow their teachings and for the most part they are not onerous. I may switch from parish to parish, but I don't leave the Church.

This is at odds with my traditions as an American, where I believe in my heart of hearts that I have a right to speak out on a host of issues and argue my point and if I am persuasive enough I can eventually see my policies accepted and enacted.

I have no such hopes in my faith life, and really, that's fine with me. Others disagree, and that's fine with me as well. But I don't want to belong to a church that is inconstant and subject to politicking. (Whether I actually have such a sturdy rock is another question, but allow me my illusions.)

So, these talking heads on TV are postulating that the Church will change drastically or otherwise under the leadership of a new Pope. They are drawn to discuss this because the only model most TV commentators have for something like this is the inauguration of a new president, with the concomitant speculation about what policies he would enact for domestic and foreign policy.

Or, they are considering that this is like hiring a new pastor for their community church, where a vote by the church council will determine who gets the job.

It's not like either of these things.

I think that this idea that democracy should influence faith, and the resultant push-back from many faithful is reflected in several ways in this country.

One way is when people desire that Creationism / Intelligent Design be inserted into classroom Science curriculum. In this case, the people who believe democracy should influence faith are the ID supporters themselves, while the faithful who push back are Scientists, whose faith is in the theory of evolution (or, more accurately, their faith is that ID is not Science and does not belong in a science classroom).

[This is something I personally agree with: ID has no place in the classroom. It is not a theory, in the sense that this word is used in a scientific context. It has no predictive power, and as such is more accurately described as a hypothesis. The objection to evolution as "just a theory" belittles the distinction between a theory and a hypothesis. I may have a hypothesis that little elves make pancakes every morning for the Dean of Harvard Medical School -- this is not the same as a theory.]

I find this interesting. It is proper to have faith in science and technology. If we did not have such faith, no one would ever pick up a phone and make a reservation to make a plane trip, then drive to Starbucks to use their WiFi to surf the net to read this drivel.

But the faith in science is similar to religious faith (I'm hardly the first to articulate this) in that once a threshold of evidence has been reached, a person begins to believe. The nature of the evidence is different, that is all.

Can, or should, democracy influence faith? I don't think so. A person shouldn't believe based on what a plurality of their fellow citizens believe, whether it be in the Immaculate Conception, or Intelligent Design or Punctuated Equilibrium.

12:09 PM Apr 5, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Time of assassins -- The plot to kill the Pope -- go read!

Pious gratitude to: Power Line

10:37 AM Apr 5, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

For the month of April, Lileks is trying an experiment:

I’m taking April off. But not entirely. I’m sure there’s stuff I’ll want to add throughout the days and weeks – hence this, the Sporadic, which may or may not provide something every day. I'm thinking of changing the entire daily portion of the site to include more blogging and less end-of-the-night-I'm-so-tired blather...

Hey, I like the "I'm-so-tired" blather, but if this will recharge his batteries, then I'm all for it.

His 04 / 05 update is interesting -- follow his links. If, as he suspects, this is an ad campaign, it's an elaborate one with lots of depth. If I had the mind to do so, I could spend a lot of time pouring over the messages and trying to figure it all out.

11:22 AM Apr 4, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Top 10 (or 12) categories of MSM/DNC bias.

Pious gratitude to: Instapundit

7:03 PM Apr 2, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Pope John Paul II has died.

I'm grateful to him for his life of dedicated service.

And I'm grateful for Him for lending Karol Wojtyla to us for a little while.

Sleep well, Holy Father.

Godspeed, John Paul the Great

4:58 PM Apr 1, 2005by Rob Ritchie

If you are looking for something meaningful concerning the Pope, this is not the place.

To quote the Angels, "He is not here."

As always, I look to The Anchoress:

He told us many great things, and he teaches us, even now - voiceless, in his suffering...but there are two great messages which always resonate in my mind. John Paul II told us that we must be always aware of the Culture of Death that is encroaching upon us and - more importantly - he told us, endlessly, endlessly, DO NOT BE AFRAID.

I can hear him, saying it in his big, deep voice, booming out among the hundreds of thousands of people: DO NOT BE AFRAID.

He said it everywhere he went, over and over again, and whenever he said it, he was quoting the Angels: DO NOT BE AFRAID.

We live in strange and unsettling times. As a nation we face unprecedented challenges at home and abroad, in our policies and in our private lives. The message needs to be taken in and internalized: DO NOT BE AFRAID.

Update:  Live blogging the Lion's last breath...