AP: Panic!!!

June 22nd, 2008

The Associated Press says everything seemingly is spinning out of control.

I blame George Bush the media global warming Al Gore the Clintons illegal immigrants Barack Hussein Obama teh gays the Jews Karl Rove Halliburton Canada.

R.I.P., Robbie

June 21st, 2008

I’m afraid I have some very sad news to report. A few days ago, while we were out west visiting Arizona and Colorado, our beloved greyhound, Robbie, died unexpectedly and suddenly of bloat. He was two months shy of seven years old.

6/2/07

It happened overnight last Sunday night at the kennel where he was staying. It wasn’t the kennel’s fault; bloat strikes rapidly and without warning, and there was no indication anything was wrong until too late. I got a call early Monday morning giving me the news. I didn’t mention it here on the blog until now because I wanted to wait till I had had time to put together a proper photographic tribute. I’ve now done so; you can view 186 pictures and 12 videos of Robbie, from 2004 through 2008, on Flickr. (Slideshow here.)

The photo gallery traces not just Robbie’s life, but our lives over the last four-plus years: getting our graduate degrees at ASU and Notre Dame, moving in and out of various apartments, and criss-crossing the country by car, from Mesa to South Bend, then to Glendale and back to South Bend, and finally to Knoxville. In each place, we’ve found new places for Robbie to play, from Mesa’s Quail Run dog park, to the tennis court and lawn at South Bend’s Clover Ridge apartments, to Jay & Ashley’s back yard in Loudon, among others.

And of course, geographic changes haven’t been the half of it. Since adopting Robbie from the Arizona Greyhound Rescue in March of ’04, Becky and I have gotten engaged, married, and had a baby. We’ve both earned graduate degrees, and have gone from being 21- and 22-year-old kids to 26-year-old adults. Oh yeah, and I briefly became a national media sensation — to the point where Robbie himself made the New York Times. :)

Through all these changes, we’ve had our gentle giant — our very own “40 mile-an-hour couch potato” — as a constant presence in our lives. Needless to say, he will be sorely missed.

Much more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mars probe discovers ice

June 20th, 2008

It’s official: there’s ice on Mars.

The end of all things — or not

June 20th, 2008

Two weeks ago, I announced that I intend to close down this blog on July 20 — one month from today. But, like Frodo standing at the edge of Sammath Naur, looking down into the fires of Mount Doom, I find myself wavering and wondering whether I should "choose to do what I came to do," if you will.

In my June 6 post, I mentioned that Becky had initially suggested an alternative solution to my bloggy dilemma: I could simply "cut back drastically… by maintaining the current blog but committing to do just one post per week." But I explained that I had rejected this idea on the grounds that it "wouldn’t work" (because I’d cheat) and that ultimately, "it wouldn’t be desirable" (because "the Irish Trojan community would die a slow and painful death," waning due to bloggy inactivity rather than "go[ing] out while I’m on top").

In comments on the post, however, several readers endorsed the weekly-blog idea. Bea, for instance, wrote, "I like Becky’s idea of a weekly column of sorts. So what if you spend a
little time every week thinking about the topic and a little time on
research? I think it’s doable, a great outlet and, hey, the WIFE is ok
with this!" Christine also made a compelling case:

Life is about limits and prioritizing and relaxing (oh and a few other things). But if you enjoy having a blog (which I get the feeling you do, as well as your mentioned past blog-like antics), then you really should keep going. Just tweek it. … I LOVE the idea of a weekly column of sorts. Gives you something to ponder (nothing wrong with that) all week AND an outlet! And your loyal fans have something to look forward to! If something is particularly intriguing to you, you can blog more on that topic, but I would hope it would allow you to not feel like a slave to brendanloy.com but still give you the freedom to write and get your ideas out there.

If you have a problem with setting limits, then set some (I personally hate limits) but it’s kinda like you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water … Life (or blogs) don’t have to be all or nothing.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come around to the idea that a weekly blog might work, provided that I structure it in such a way as to reduce the temptation to "cheat." The goal would be to create basically the same situation that I described with regard to the photoblog: making the new blog so obviously different from the old that I won’t "be overly tempted to co-opt it" for the old-style "hyperactive" blogging, because doing so "would be so foreign to the nature of the blog itself."

If I can manage that — and if I can prevent my blogging "schedule" from feeling like an obligation or assignment — then I think a weekly blog would be worth doing, and preferable to the alternative of quitting cold turkey. In other words, I am increasingly tempted to declare:
"I will not do this deed. The Blog is mine!" :) But for me, unlike for
Frodo, I think this actually might be the correct decision. (And
hopefully I won’t lose a finger over it!)

For one thing, blogging weekly would be a new challenge, as it would effectively force me to hone a very different writing style: the lengthy, essay-ish, often multi-topic blog post (a la Lileks’s "Bleat"), as opposed to the clipped immediacy of hyperactive blogging, usually about one topic at a time (but many per day). To keep things flowing, interesting, and adequately focused in such a format can be difficult, and trying to become as good at writing in that style as I’ve become in the current format would be a worthwhile endeavor unto itself, methinks.

Furthermore, although my audience would undoubtedly shrink markedly, many of the die-hards would presumably stick around, and that’d be nice; I’d hate to lose touch with the Nadines and kcatnds of the world. :) Also, maintaining a textual blogospheric presence would mean that I won’t have to improvise something — like temporarily co-opting
the photoblog — in the event I’m caught up in breaking news, or otherwise have
a burning desire to share my thoughts on a particular topic with, say,
InstaPundit’s readers. I’d still have a public blog for such things;
I’d just use it less often.

But perhaps most importantly, I’d be following the sage advice of the fourth one:

Make sure that, in addition to dedicating yourself to family, career,
and community, you have at least one important outlet that belongs just
to YOU, and that speaks to you in a way that nothing else does. In my
own life, I have found that kind of independence and release to be
vital, not only for my own personal well-being, but for energizing me
in a way that allows me to give even more to the people I love.

Or, as Alasdair put it, "be careful that you don’t make a void in your Life without having something useful and positive with which to fill said void."

The reality, as I said in my June 6 is post, is that "I’ll still need some way of
expressing myself, of publishing my thoughts to the world, of letting
loose the occasional rant; I’ve always had, and needed, such an outlet,
at least since seventh grade." My original thought was to satisfy this need by way of the photoblog and Flickr, my Pajamas Media hurricane-blogging, and perhaps the occasional Facebook post. But if I’m going to post bloggy rants on Facebook anyway, why not channel that aspect of my creative energy in a more productive direction by still maintaining a public blog, just on a weekly basis? With the right amount of structure and discipline, I think the latter solution is better than the former.

Crucially, the calendar gives me time to do a "trial run" of this weekly blog idea, before the impending changes in our lives. If it works, I can keep doing it; if it fails — whether because I can’t resist the temptation to "cheat," or because the scheduled nature of it (most likely, I would try to blog every Sunday) makes blogging feel less fun and more obligatory, or for some other reason — then I can go back to the original, cold-turkey plan.

I haven’t yet finally decided what to do; I’m going to sleep on it this weekend. But if I do decide to switch (on a trial basis) to a weekly blog format, I will actually move up the date of this blog’s retirement — most likely to June 30 — and start up my weekly blog (which would be a new blog, separate and distinct from this one) in early July. That would give me time to test out the concept and see how it works.

I will, of course, keep y’all informed about what I decide to do. In the mean time, your feedback is much appreciated. One big question for my regulars: do you anticipate that you would continue to regularly read my blog if it were updated only once a week, provided of course that those weekly updates are interesting and worth reading? Also, in terms of keeping the discussion going and the community alive, would it make a difference if I disabled purely anonymous commenting, such that you’d at least need an OpenID account, or perhaps a WordPress.com account, in order to comment?

[Bumped from 12:07 PM to 5:00 PM. -ed.]

A dead heat in Georgia?!

June 20th, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, we have statistical evidence of the Bob Barr effect! A new poll in the blood-red state of Georgia, where the Libertarian nominee is from, shows a dead heat: McCain 44%, Obama 43%, Barr 6%. Wow!

Now, a major grain of salt is called for here. It’s very early, and I seriously, seriously doubt these numbers will ultimately hold up. But this sort of polling data (see also: close races in Alaska, North Carolina) can’t make the McCain people happy. Indeed, I bet they’re getting some serious heartburn from the combination of: 1) the recent state polling numbers generally, which show a definite Obama bounce in red, blue and purple states alike, and 2) the noises Obama is making (backed with action) about competing in states like Texas and Indiana.

With regard to Georgia and point #2, the real issue is that, in light of Obama’s decision to change his mind and reject public financing — a tactical no-brainer, notwithstanding its dubiousness in principle — he can afford to put his (abundant) money where his mouth is, and at least force McCain to waste precious resources in these states.

P.S. His mom’s white! He’s from America! Heh.

Colorado and Arizona

June 20th, 2008

Over on my photoblog, I’ve posted pictures from my trip to Phoenix and Denver.

We’re back safe & sound in Knoxville, by the way. Loyette was once again a champion flyer — though I think we’ll be paying for the disruptions to her schedule in the form of weekend fussiness.

How to be a bandwagon fan

June 20th, 2008

SportsPickle’s DJ Gallo writes a handy guide to being a bandwagon fan for ESPN’s Page 2. Money quote: “don’t let [people] anywhere near your car. They might get the wrong impression when they see that your bumper is covered in Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Patriots, USC football and Duke basketball stickers. As though it’s your fault that you have deep, childhood ties to all those teams!” Heh.

Speaking of which, hey, how ’bout those Cubs? ;)

Black hawk downtown

June 18th, 2008

I mentioned yesterday that I noticed a bunch of military helicopters flying over downtown Denver on Monday night, and wondered what the heck was going on. Turns out I wasn’t alone. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News report that the city police department received numerous calls from members of the public concerned about the aerial activity. Not to worry, folks were told: this was simply “routine” training related to the war on terror, not a response to, or preparation for, any particular threat or crisis.

Here’s some video of the choppers doing their thing:

More detail from the Rocky Mountain News:

The exercise by special ops troops, supported by Denver police SWAT teams and firefighters, is intended to prepare for any terrorism threat in a “realistic urban environment,” said Lt. Steve Ruh, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. …

“It’s all in preparation for anything that could possibly happen with the global war on terrorism,” said Ruh, whose command coordinates all the military branches’ crack commando units – from Army Rangers to Navy SEALS.

The Special Operations Command calls itself the “Tip of the Spear” against the nation’s gravest threats.

Ruh noted that the exercises are conducted in major cities in the U.S., usually at the invitation of the cities, but that doesn’t mean those cities are necessarily possible targets for terrorism.

There was apparently conflicting information at first about whether the location of the training is related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, but the official line appears to be that it is not. Meanwhile, there was some controversy about whether the proper notifications were made:

“The federal agencies sponsoring the ongoing multi-agency training in Denver agreed to make the proper notifications regarding the exercises to prevent surprise and inconvenience to Denver residents,” [Mayor John] Hickenlooper wrote. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding about the reach and scope of these notifications, and they did not occur in the manner expected by the City.

“Although these exercises are in no way connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Denver officials were well aware that there would be heightened sensitivity to an exercise such as this because of its proximity to the Convention,” the mayor continued. “Denver recognizes that these are our federal partners, and we are fortunate that they have chosen Denver for their training exercises. Should there ever be an emergency here that would require federal assistance, they will be familiar with our City and how best to navigate it.” …

“Advance notice was given to the (Denver) civil authorities. We were here as guests,” Ruh said. “It would be up to (local authorities) to send it out.”

[Denver police Lt. Ron] Saunier said that Defense Department officials asked police to “respond to inquiry only.” So he provided a “very generic statement” Monday to police dispatchers in case the public called.

But the official statements were not enough to satisfy some commenters on the Rocky Mountain News website, where the phrase “martial law” appears repeatedly. For example:

This is done to make citizens accustomed to military hardware, and martial law easier to accept. Don’t accept it, Posse Commititus puts citizen protection under police authority. Blending police and military is what tin pot dictators do to control their population. …

just wait until the convention starts, the military, and the local police will be trying out all kinds of toys on the protestors. personally, I cant wait to watch it all unfold on CNN. …

The military is for wars, domestic protection is up to the police. Bringing the military onto our soil to do the cops’ job is martial law, AKA lost liberty …

This is just great…we now accept the military in our cities…the more we accept this the easier it will be for our government to imprison anyone it deems a “terrorist.” We need to fight back NOW …

[T]he Constitution deems a standing military a threat to freedom…what we need in this country is a militia and for everyone to own a gun…I dont need protection from the big bad terrorists and I don’t need blackhawk helicopters flying over our cities…let everyone in this country own a gun with absolutely no restrictions and then we don’t need any protection from anybody …

[T]he first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001 declaring the War on Terror as a war on American soil, the PATRIOT ACT, The Military Authorizations Act, all written to erode our Bill of Rights. These all pave the road to Martial law and suspension of our government. We stand today one national emergency from this possibility. Why do we accept this? …

The oath of the military is to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I just hope impending martial law triggers memory of this oath among the current servicemen. I love my country and our constitution, loyal to that document and the people, I work to better it by denouncing the current direction we are headed. …

Are you ready for martial law? … We are opening a Pandora’s box here. It’s fun to play with the hardware…but actually using it domestically is another thing…

We are prepping you for MARTIAL LAW. What are you doing reading anyways, you should be watching the sports games like all the other mindless sheeple who have given up their liberty and freedom for a FALSE Security and who revel in being lied to. Franklin said that YOU deserve neither. So go and vote, doesnt matter to us in the CFR and bildaberg group who OWN both political parties! None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Go back to sleep sheeple and dont google CFR or Bildaberg group, its better not to know who controls/owns you! If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be!

Et cetera, et cetera.

(Hat tip: Marty.)

The clock tower and the Moon

June 17th, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I haven’t moved up the date of my blog retirement, I promise. :) I’ve just been super-busy in Denver. And speaking of Denver, here’s a cool photo of the D&F clock tower and the Moon last night:

Clocktowermoon

During a previous trip to Denver, it became something of a running joke among Becky, the SHA girls and myself that I was constantly taking pictures of the clock tower. But I think that one’s actually pretty neat!

The Moon and clouds weren’t the only things in the sky over Denver last night. All evening long, a pair of military helicopters was circling over downtown. They were making a lot of noise, but at some points their lights appeared to be off, as if they were operating in some sort of (admittedly rather ineffective) stealth mode. I have no idea what that was all about ("we’re being invaded by Utah," I hypothesized at one point), but it was a little creepy.

Oh, and speaking of, uh, security and stuff: I’m now at the airport waiting for my flight back to Phoenix. This will be my third of four flights in less than a week (Nashville to Phoenix, Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix to Nashville). So I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports, and I have a question. It’s now been almost two years since the implementation of the "new" security measures involving liquids and gels. Yet all the signs and announcements still talk about these as temporary steps, due to "increased" security. At what point will we end this charade, and acknowledge that these measures are here to stay permanently, or at least indefinitely?

Well don’t you feel safer now?

June 17th, 2008

So it turns out, despite what the Bush administration and their supporters would have you believe, that many of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay had little or no ties to terrorism.  In fact, some were working FOR the U.S.  Certainly makes me feel safer knowing the government is locking up our allies for years without a chance to defend themselves.

Headline of the day

June 17th, 2008

From ESPN.com:

Espnyankeeswang

Heh.

Spectacular bird

June 15th, 2008

Today at the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff tomorrow with Rocco Mediate. So, what happened? Well, what do you think happened? This is Tiger Woods we’re talking about. Of course he made it. Here’s the video:

Sweet.

UPDATE: Tiger did it again, and won.

Hope for Iraq

June 15th, 2008

Optimism about Iraq: it’s not just for neocons anymore! From this week’s issue of The Economist:

After all the blood and blunders, people are right to be sceptical when good news is announced from Iraq. Yet it is now plain that over the past several months, while Americans have been distracted by their presidential primaries, many things in Iraq have at long last started to go right.

This improvement goes beyond the fall in killing that followed General David Petraeus’s “surge”. Iraq’s government has gained in stature and confidence. Thanks to soaring oil prices it is flush with money. It is standing up to Iraq’s assorted militias and asserting its independence from both America and Iran. The overlapping wars—Sunni against American, Sunni against Shia and Shia against Shia—that harrowed Iraq after the invasion of 2003 have abated. The country no longer looks in imminent danger of flying apart or falling into everlasting anarchy. In September 2007 this newspaper supported the surge not because we had faith in Iraq but only in the desperate hope that the surge might stop what was already a bloodbath from becoming even worse (see article). The situation now is different: Iraq is still a mess, but something approaching a normal future for its people is beginning to look achievable.

The article proceeds to explain the improvements in greater detail, and then concludes:

In highlighting the improved conditions in Iraq we do not mean to justify The Economist‘s support of the invasion of 2003 (see article). Too many lives have been shattered for that. History will still record that the invasion and occupation have been a debacle. Iraqis even now live under daily threat of violent death: hundreds are killed each month. They remain woefully short of the necessities of life, such as jobs, clean water and electricity. Iraq’s government is gaining confidence faster than competence. It is still fractious, and in many places corrupt.

Nor does it follow that a turn for the better necessarily validates John McCain’s insistence on America staying indefinitely. A safer Iraq might make Barack Obama’s plan to pull out most American troops within 16 months more feasible, though at the moment a precipitate withdrawal looks foolish. But to guard the fragile improvements, the key for America must be flexibility. Both candidates have to keep their options open. If America’s next president gets Iraq wrong because he has boxed himself in during the campaign, all the recent gains may be squandered and Iraq will slide swiftly back into misery and despair. That would be to fail twice over.

More from The Economist here and here. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

Happy Birthday, Becky!

June 14th, 2008

Happybirthdaybecky26

Another great lightning show

June 14th, 2008

We’re safe and sound in Phoenix, having flown in from Tennessee yesterday with no Friday the 13th complications. :) Loyette was amazing; she didn’t cry or fuss at all during takeoff, and she literally slept through landing. At one point in the middle of the flight, she woke up and cried for about 10 seconds — but that was it. Otherwise she was completely calm for the entire flight. She’s an amazing baby. :)

Also amazing: the view out the left-hand side of the plane, where we were sitting, looking south directly into a thunderstorm over west Texas. Neither the photos nor the video that I took remotely do the sight justice, but just for a taste, here’s a photo:

Tstormair_3

It was really, really cool to see — the second time in a week that I’ve been treated to a great lightning show. This time, of course, we were watching it from 36,000 feet, so it was a very different sort of view. There was lightning every couple of seconds, flashing across the sky and lighting up the clouds in all sorts of awesome patterns. Absolutely incredible.

Here’s an archived radar image of what I believe is the line of storms that we were looking into:

Tstorm11pmradar