February 27, 2005

Jessicarrot Interview

The Jessicarrot Interview. Enjoy.

In the extended...

Is it a humbling experience to know you might have been outwitted
by a nine-year old playing board games?

Not as humbling as it is when I'm outwitted by my three year old. Not so
much outwitted maybe, as completely suckered. I mean, how does he know to
make that face with his head to one side, eyes smiling in little crescent
slits and that devious little smile...its not like he practices in the
mirror, or does he?

But seriously, no it really doesn't humble me to be outwitted by a nine year
old, especially when the nine year old is my nephew. I love to see how kids
think. Its fascinating.

I know you're LDS. How are your day to day interactions with
others seeing as how you live by very strict moral rules?

I don't think my day to day interactions with other people are affected at
all by living "strict" moral rules. Basically, I decline coffee or tea when
its offered and I never really get invited to social events where alcohol is
served. I have to say, I honestly have never thought about it. Thats
interesting, I wonder if my non-LDS friends do? There now I've answered a
question with a question.

I've somehow gotten the impression that your husband is the same
age as you, and the two of you graduated college together. Did he
ever do his mission, or did the two of you get married before he had
to go?

My husband is 4 years older than me. He served his mission in North Dakota.
So we went to college at the same time... He started a year before me but
took a semester off Junior year to woo me. :) So when we got married we
both had 2 years of school left...fun times.

I know you have two children. I find it hard to believe that I
have no idea if they are boys, girls or one of each. Which is it?

I have one son, the wily 3 year old and a daughter who is 1 1/2 and so cute
I sometimes can't stop smiling. I don't use their names because...I just
don't know. I guess because I'm such a celebrity, I want them to have a
normal life. Ha ha ha ha haaaa!

Will you ever post your paintings on your blog?

If I ever paint something worthwhile, maybe. I don't think my blog is about
paintings, but if anyone else has some artwork they want to share I'll put
it up...

And, how is the piano coming along (i.e. Do you ever plan to take
it back up)?

The piano...so many memories. I don't have a piano right now, but I'd love
to get one. For some reason I still associate the piano with stress and
humiliation though. (I used to accompany my church when I was a teenager
and I was a horrible pianist. Seriously, there would be whole lines sung a
cappella and wrong chords and complete disregard of rests...EVERY time I
played. Humiliating.) I have a future sister in law who is a musical
genius and makes me wish I could play...but right now I don't really have
the time.

Have you ever regretted blogging about something?

Yes and no. I regret when I say things that are proven wrong or that are
just flat out stupid. But then I think its good for me to be humbled
constantly. More than 9 year olds who can outwit me, it humbles me when I
realize just how little I know. I think I started out thinking I had
something important to contribute and I've since realized that I have a
whole lot to learn before I can get to that point.

Do you ever get tired of reading your own thoughts?

Why because I'm the only one who does? Just kidding. You know, I don't
know how this will come off, but I don't. Occasionally I cringe at the
things I've put down, but a lot of times its interesting to go back and see
what I thought and why things brought out whatever emotion...is that too

Who should be president after W?

Michelle Malkin or the GOVENATOR, or maybe they should run together...

What's your favorite book? Movie? Musical talent?

My favorite book...hard question. Well, one of them has to be "A Suitable
Boy" by Vikram Seth. I always say my favorite movie is Before the Rain,
but I haven't seen it in years, so at the moment my favorite movie is...
Shallow Hal? And when I say at the moment, I mean at this very moment.
I need a good laugh and Jack Black is hilarious!

My favorite musical talent...the ability to effortlessly sing in harmony...I
wish I could.

When will you admit that Moore didn't lie? ;)

Very funny. I'll admit he didn't lie as soon as they change the definition
of "lie" from :

1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

1. A true statement that is actually factual.
2. Something that is explicitly clear and trustworthy.

Posted by Paul! at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

*El Capitan Interview

Here’s an interview with El Capitan. Enjoy!

In the extended...

What is your most conducive idea-induction method for your blog topics?

Well, it's certainly not current events. Rarely does something in the news enrage/enrapture me enough to blog about it. I don't often jump on a blogswarm issue, either. There's already too many people copying what the Big Dogs are doing. Mostly the best idea jump-starters are just random things I see on the 'net, or events from my personal life.

Why haven't you written a novel yet?

The inability to get the words on paper fast enough. I'm a really crappy typist, and I can't make my fingers keep up with the narrative in my head. Once I start losing ideas through the lag between the time I dream it up and the time I can get it "down on paper", I get seriously annoyed with myself and then I just quit trying for awhile. Handwriting's no good. I have a scrawl that’s not only embarrassing to see, it's not all that fast, either. I played around with one of the speech-to-text computer applications a few years back, but it's not all that good at dealing with a Texas drawl. Any stenographers out there needing dictation practice? A percentage of my forthcoming Nobel & Pulitzer prizes can be yours!

Did that chick at your 21st B-Day party really have chest hair or was it an optical illusion?

Alas, she was a hirsute wench. A touch too much of one hormone or another, or possibly steroids when she was a gymnast, and it led to a bit of excessive hair on various spots like the sideburn area, lower belly and unfortunately, her cleavage. We're not talking Burt Reynolds-style fur here, just the usual vellus hair everyone has that was just a bit more prominent. She was still as cute as a speckled pup in a red wagon, but the fuzz was... distracting.

Ever given an illicit plant a ride?

This question deserves its own post! Let's just say that yes, I did transfer a 2 foot high marijuana plant in a flower pot on the front seat of my car between several houses one summer afternoon looking for someone to take it in. This seems excessively idiotic, I know, but back in the days before mandatory minimums and Zero Tolerance, less than an ounce of usable product just got you a $100 Class C misdemeanor ticket. The plant was a result of a dropped seed that magically sprouted in a friend's mother's flower garden. The whole story really needs about 2000 words to tell properly, so keep an eye on my blog for it! (OK, blatant self-promotion, I admit it!)

Did you ever have an intimate moment with L-l-l-lambert?

OK, I'm just gonna say this one time! I...did...NOT...have sex with that inflatable sheep! However, I know who did! Laaaaaambert was a gift on one of my birthdays, probably my 22nd, if I recall correctly.

My friend Rockhauler and I were working our final summer on Scout Camp staff that year, and since my birthday came around in July, I was the recipient of some extremely funny, yet ill-advised gifts while camp was in session.
Rockhauler drove all the way to Austin from the Canyon Lake area to find a p()rno store to get a good gift. I don't recall if he was specifically after inflatable sex toys, or if the sheep was an inspired selection. He had the Harrison twins in tow, and they couldn't have been older than 15 or 16 that year. Rockhauler said their expressions upon entering the p()rno store were that of pilgrims arriving at a holy shrine. He apparently had to remind them to keep their jaws shut lest they inhale a soiled kleenex or two off of the floor.

The sheep was big hit around staff site at camp. I don't know if it was the painted-on lipstick, the dainty hooves, or the 24" long vaginal cavity, (measured with a broomstick) but it sure got some laughs. I'm told that a proto-jarhead named Williams from Texas A&M (well, that figures) attempted carnal knowledge of Laaaaaambert one night, but I can't confirm that, and Laaaaaambert never 'fessed up.

Laaaaaambert hung around for several years, getting dragged out of the closet and inflated for various college parties. I've got a pic somewhere of a group of friends posing with the sheep that I need to dig up and post. Laaaaaambert eventually suffered a fatal case of peritonitis after another broomstick insertion by some drunk person, and was given a burial in the trash bin with full sheep sex-toy honors.

Out of all your posts, does any single one stand out as your best?

Nah, not really. My personal favorite was probably this one about cats and germs, but I think the writing was better on my assorted Tales From The Bus Stop. I put the most amount of time and effort into this one. Oddly enough, I get almost zero feedback from the visitors to my blog about what works, and what doesn't. I doubt I'd make radical changes based on a couple of suggestions from strangers, but some occasional critiquing would be nice.

Will you ever drink Old English 800 again?

No, probably not. On those days you just gotta pollute your brain with malt liquor (and those days are VERY few and far between!) there's always Mickey's in the wide-mouth bottles. For an efficient alcohol delivery system, it's hard to beat!

Who are your three favorite bloggers?

Sigh. You would ask this one. Now I get to alienate the bloggers who wound up in the 4th, 5th and 6th spots!

Steve of Hog On Ice, for one. I have a like/dislike thing with this guy. I'd say it was a love/hate relationship, but I don't have that level of emotional energy invested, and we certainly don't have a relationship. I read his blog daily, 'cause he's hands-down one of the funniest bloggers out there. I never really got IMAO's style, and Scrappleface just leaves me cold. Steve, though, just flat-out slays me sometimes. His recipes are great (if somewhat dangerous) and he posts constantly, never taking these mini-sabbaticals that a lot of the other bloggers I read do.

The flip side is, he occasionally comes off as one of the most arrogant, egotistical tight-arsed moral crusader that I've ever known. The "poor little rich boy" theme that shows up every so often doesn't sit well with me, either. Still, my likes about his blog outweigh the dislikes by a factor of 8 to 1.

I enjoy Graumagus of Frizzen Sparks quite a bit. He's had more than his share of personal ups and downs, causing unavoidable gaps in his blog output, but is usually a very good read. Plus, out of all the bloggers I've run across, he and I share many similarities including being follically challenged, bearing a more than passing resemblance to the Michelin Man, and enjoying historical weaponry. He's a braver man than I, though, as he's gone the wife & kids route. He's also younger than I am, which I find very odd. I had him pegged for being in his mid-40's. I definitely need to buy him a beer or three sometime!

Finally, there's Acidman. Rob is the wellspring from which all curmudgeonly blogging flows. He can piss you off and warm your heart, all in the same post.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm 4 months into the daily blogging thing, and I see no signs of boredom. I'm meeting new people and getting a lot of writing done, so I think you can expect to see me slowly building my readership over the coming year. When live video-blogging becomes de rigeuer, I'm gonna quit, though, or buy a gorilla suit. I have to say, I really like the pseudo-anonymity I have now. If I had to blog under my real face and name, I wouldn't be having nearly as much fun.

When was the last time you threw up?

Hmmm... I didn't know there were emetophiles reading the blog!
Well, if you don't count the occasional backwash that hits the back of your throat after a huge belch, then I would have to say it was early in 2003, following a case of seriously nasty food poisoning from (I assume) the cole slaw on a BBQ sandwich. Ate it while leaving Memphis, felt queasy about Texarkana, was seriously nauseous when I hit Dallas, and had purged it all soon after arriving home. The last drunk yak was probably in the late '80s.

Who's hungry, now? Let's go get some vegetable soup!

Posted by Paul! at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

*Eskimo Snow

How many words do the Eskimos have for snow?

Not as many as you think. Most people have read somewhere that the Eskimo language has hundreds, or even thousands, of words for snow. Fascinating, huh? Well, don’t believe everything you read on a cereal box.

According to people with more fancy degrees than me, it’s all a load of stinking crap.

If you decided to do some research of your own on the subject, you will find many websites that claim lists of Eskimo words for snow. However many of the words are misused or even made up. Here are two examples taken from Geoffrey Pullum's 1991 work The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language:

Igluksaq - reported as snow for igloo making. Comes from the iglu (house) and ksaq (material for). Thus it really just means building materials for a house.

Saumavaq - reported as covered in snow. This word is a verb meaning "it has been covered", and doesn't not necessarily imply snow.

So the next time you’re hovering around the cheese plate at party full of academics, you can go ahead and make some conversation. Because that’s more polite than a right hook to the solar plexus. Though not nearly as rewarding.


Martin, Laura. 1986 "Eskimo Words for Snow": A Case Study in the Genesis and Decay of an Anthropological Example. American Anthropologist 88(2):418-423

Pullum, Geoffery K. 1991 The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language, University of Chicago Press.

Posted by Paul! at 11:21 AM

February 24, 2005

*A History of snacks

Potato Chips

As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are inhaled by the American masses by the ton. The history of the potato chip goes back to 1853, when George Crum, a Native American chef was working at a posh resort in Saratoga Springs, New York.

After Jefferson brought the recipe for French fries back from Europe, they had become extremely popular. He made them a sensation after serving them at Monticello. Many restaurants started putting them the menu, including Crum.

One night a customer complained about the fries, claiming that they were too thick. Crum cut up a thinner batch, but these, too, were rejected by the customer. At his wits end, Crum decided to stick it to the jackass once and for all. He sliced the potatoes as thin as humanly possible. The customer loved them and they became a local sensation.

They were mainly a local dish until Herman Lay started peddling them from the trunk of his car in the 1920s.

Did you know that pretzels have been around for almost 1400 years?

Somewhere between Northern Italy and Southern France a monk baking unleavened bread for Lent decided to make some shapes out of leftover dough. Since Christians in those days prayed with their hands across their chests, he tried to emulate the position with the dough. He named the new treats 'pretiola' - a Latin word meaning 'little reward'.

I would have handed this one to the Germans. Go figure.


Did you know that some scholars believe the main use of early cultivated maize was for popping?

In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, "They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection."

Some years later, clever people somewhere decided it would taste even better if it were coated with a greasy, synthetic butter substitute.

Before long, technology was consigned to find a way to make popcorn available to consumers as quickly as possible. Hence, the microwave oven was born. It was soon discovered that microwave popcorn could easily catch fire in the new device, producing a smell that was almost impossible to disperse. Synthetic molecular replications of this popcorn gas was later used by the military in developing chemical weapons.

In recent months, the use of microwave popcorn in the workplace has come under fire from employee advocate groups nationwide. Citing loss of taste, smell and nausea, these groups lobbied Congress to introduce a bill banning popcorn of any type in the workplace.

Popcorn manufacturers and the North American Association of Dentists have pulled together to try and stop the bill from advancing.

*some information has been fabricated to make the subject more interesting.

Posted by Paul! at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

*The Antimedia Interview

Here’s an interview with Antimedia, a man on a mission.

In the extended...

You’re on a serious mission to point out media bullshit. What put you over the top and got you to start a blog?

I've been writing letters to the editor for years. Most don't get published. I would read editorials that I felt weren't as well written or researched as what I would do or distorted the facts in a way that was really irritating. I'd write a letter to the editor, and it would disappear into the black hole.

One day I heard about Raad's blog and I started reading it. During the bombardment of Baghdad, I found myself worrying constantly about his well-being. That's when I realized that blogs were a really big deal.

One thing led to another and one day I started a blog. The next day I asked myself what the hell I was doing, so I deleted it. The following day I realized, if I didn't blog, I'd explode, so I started it again. And here I am.

Have you ever interviewed or contacted any mainstream media personnel and pressed them on an issue?

No, I haven't. I've been interviewed on a number of occasions, and I'm well aware of what it feels like to be quoted out of context. I'm aware of the pressures reporters are under - time constraints, space constraints and editorial constraints. So I understand why they don't tell the whole story. That doesn't make me any happier to be miss-quoted though.

If I was going to interview someone, I'd pick one of the obnoxious ones, like O'Reilly (who I can't stand) or Chris Matthews (who completely disgusts me) and I'd grill them until they couldn't take it any more, then ask them how it felt to be on the business end of the knife.

Fortunately I don't have cable, so I'm not subjected to either of those bozos except through third parties.

In your opinion, which mainstream media outlets do the least spinning / report most accurately?

In my opinion (and readers should always keep in mind, these are my opinions), in general, the more local the outlet, the more they tend to be accurate. The problem is the national and international outlets (AP, Reuters, the alphabets) dominate the major stories and the small outlets just parrot them uncritically. Of the mainstream media outlets, I think Fox does the best job of trying to be accurate, but none of them do a really good job.

In your opinion, which blogs do the least spinning / report most accurately?

I think Belmont Club is good in that respect. So is Steve Vincent's In the Red Zone. At one time Andrew Sullivan was, but then he went off the deep end.

Depending upon the subject, Kevin Drum has been objective. I liked Michele Malkin's angry reaction to the "payola" stories of conservative journalists taking money from the administration. She's very controversial, but she'll rip into Bush just as quickly as she will into a liberal. If you've read her case for internment, it's hard to argue with her research.

I think Donald Sensing is pretty objective as well. Some others that come to mind are Roger Simon, Instapundit, Arthur Chrenkoff and Michael Totten.

Which MSM outlets do you find the most bias, in either direction?

Some might find this surprising, but I think NBC (not CBS or CNN) is the most liberal of all. Fox is criticized for being too conservative, but in my opinion they are much less conservative than people think. The problem is that the media leans to the left so much that the center looks like the right. NewsMax is a conservative media outlet. I can't stand to read it and haven't in some time.

Do you think blogs will ever become a part of MSM?

No. Some bloggers will be assimilated. Some may even sell out for big money. But the "real" bloggers aren't journalists. They're citizens who have "regular" jobs and blog because they love to and because they have to. Blogging is too personal (for most) to be commercial.

I think the MSM will recede in importance and blogs will become the normal way of getting news. (See my post - The Cathedral, the Bazaar and Blogs.)

Would you consider yourself news obsessed?

Are you kidding? I watched almost all of the OJ trial. (And btw, I don't think he did it - I think his son Jason did. I have a book about it that I could lend you.....) I watch every Presidential speech. I was glued to the TV during the Challenger disaster. I watch every State of the Union address. I will sometimes stay up all night during a "big" story and then go to work on time anyway. I always sit up to 2 or 3AM on election night.

Yeah, I'm obsessed.

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

I own a 1949 Chevy pickup that I'm restoring. I work a lot, even from home, because I love my job with a passion. I maintain a small website for some good friends (all the techie stuff, not the content.) I like to watch movies with my wife (sometimes as many as six in a weekend.)

And I have a really good friend that I spend time with - he's old and disabled and can't get around much, but I love him and I love spending time with him. He's bull headed and alienates people easily, but he has a heart of gold. And he can tell tall tales like no one I've ever known. He can captivate an audience for hours. He gets all my computer hand-me-downs. We like to go to (car) swap meets and go out for breakfast on Saturdays.

Football or baseball?

No contest. Football. (My father in law would kill me if he read this. He's baseball nuts.) I love NASCAR too, though, and I'm a Jeff Gordon fan. Last Sunday was heaven. :)

Is there any one post you’re especially proud of?

Yes. The Cathedral, the Bazaar and Blogs. I think it accurately portrays where blogs and the media are headed and what the outcome will be. I'm also proud of the work I did on the Swiftvets story, although my blog is so small and new that few really noticed.

Posted by Paul! at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

*History of the paper clip

Shank asks:

I've always wondered who invented the paperclip, and was this person swindled out of their royalties. Or do they still collect to this day?

That’s an interesting question--if you have a prescription for Phenobarbital.

The first bent-wire paper clip was patented by Samuel B. Fay in 1867. This link provides a gallery of styles, showing what the early clips look like if you scroll down.

You’d think that would be cut and dry, but it’s not. Other sources cite the clip as being invented by a Norwegian fellow in 1899. Frankly, I’m skeptical.

As to the collection of royalties? I’m no patent lawyer, but since a patent was actually granted on the clip, rights would have been protected for a number of years. Of course both of these geezers are long dead so it’s inconsequential. I believe a patent would have either long ago expired or someone else has found away around it, which is typical. Their estates are probably up the creek on present day royalties.

Posted by Paul! at 12:28 PM | Comments (4)

*On to the history portion of today's programming

On this day in 1994, double agent Aldrich Ames was arrested.

Ames was CIA operative who sold secrets to the Soviet Union, including the names and identities of every US spy in Russia. Many of the agents were picked up and sent to gulags and at least ten of them were simply killed.

Also on this day, 1942, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur out of the Philippines.

In other historic news, Disney’s Cinderella opened in theaters across America on this day in 1950. I don’t know why so many people hate the Disney Company. Does it have to do with Uncle Remus?

Have a history question? Leave them in the comments and I’ll either get to the truth or fabricate a believable answer.

Posted by Paul! at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)

*And we're out of the gate

Well, I’ve been at this for all of one day and I’m already on dangerous footing.

Jim has posed three questions in the comments and I’m obliged, by the Rules of Blogging Manual to answer them (vol. 2, sec. 14, p. 317, paragraphs 3 & 4).

1. Why do dogs lick their balls?

I was determined not bring Jen’s blog down into the sewer and now Jim’s gone and said the word “balls” in the comments. I mean really, Jim, you could have asked ‘Why do canines lick their scrotums’ which would have at least alluded to a serious scientific question. The answer, of course, is because they can.

2. What's the difference between a flying squirrel and a bat anyway?

Semantics? Actually, bats are unique mainly because of their wings. They give the bat it’s name, Chiroptera, which means ‘hand-wing’. They have fully functional hands at the end of those wings, including a thumb. Squirrels, on the other hand, are filthy creatures from hell. I once had a very bad experience with a squirrel.

3. If Michael Moore was trapped in a (very, very large) room, how long would it take him to consume himself?

I honestly don’t know. But I’ll try to calculate how long it would take for him to be consumed by a colony of seventy-three carnivorous bats from the Madhya Pradesh province of India.

I guess that qualifies as ‘stuff’. I hope to post some history later today.

Posted by Paul! at 07:38 AM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005



I'm not Jennifer.

I'm sure you've noticed that Jen hasn't posted in while. And now here I am, posting in her stead. Truth is, I'm going to be filling in for a while, because she's a little "tied up" at the moment. Feel free to speculate if you like.

Anyway, I know what you're thinking. Is this moron going to bring Jen's wonderful blog down to the potty level? Will he be posting his tasteless brand of humor?

You'll just have to wait and see.

First order of business is the interviews. I'll be posting a schedule for these sometime today and they will continue as usual. After that, anything goes.

So. What'll it be--History or stuff?

Posted by Paul! at 02:41 PM | Comments (6)

February 16, 2005

*Pool of Thought Interview

It's the Pool of Thought Interview!

In the extended...

How would you describe your blog to someone unfamiliar with the concept?

I'd describe 'Pool of Thought' as a public repository of private musings.
I originally set it up because I had become very frustrated trying to add
my voice to existing forums such as the BBC's "talking point" site, or the
letters to the editor section of my local paper. Once in awhile I score a
hit with these forums, which is gratifying, but often I find myself
exceeding the submission requirements of my local paper. Also, the
greatest benefit of blogging is that you are your own editor. Nobody is
going to tell you that can't put something up, because it's your space,
and you don't have to worry about running out of room, or offending the

You don't post very frequently--is this due to being busy, or are you
shooting for quality over quantity?

I hate to say it, but I've been so damned busy as of late, I've not had
the time to devote to the blog like I'd like. At any given moment, I
generally can think of half a dozen subjects on which I'd like to blog,
but finding the time to blog is another matter entirely. So, lately
anyway, I try to make my posts as meaty as possible, focusing on subjects
upon which I feel I absolutely MUST say something. Hopefully in the not
too distant future I'll be able to cram more blogging in. But for now,
the demands of career, school, and domestic life, dominate my days.

When was your daughter born?

Olivia was born on October 11, 2003.

You look about 12 in the older picture you have on your blog. How old
were you then?

He he he he! Yeah, I was pretty young when my wife and I got married. 12
is not far off from the reality. I was all of 19 years old, and young in
mind as well as body, if you know what I mean. I like to think I've grown
up a little since then. I'm 30 going on 16 now. Ha ha ha!

And is there a story behind that picture?

Kind of. My wife and I got married in December of 1993. At the time, she
and I were thrilled, but my parents hated the idea. So while she and I
are smiling, out in front of the Salt Lake LDS Temple, we have other
photos of my parents glowering, just a few feet away. Needless to say,
almost 12 years later, my parents think me getting married to Annie was a
Good Thing. But Lord, at that time and in that place, they were convinced
it would be a disaster!

How long have you been working part-time for the Army?

I joined up in November of 2002, and did my first weekend drill that same
month. All totalled, I've put in two years and four months for the Army
Reserve, but as far as actual days in uniform go, at last count, I've
spent 214 days working for the United States government. Not too shabby
for a citizen-soldier.

What degree are you working towards?

Computer information systems. Or something along those lines. At least
for the day job. At night I still harbor dreams of making it as a
novelist or freelance writer of some kind. Which is probably par for the
course with most bloggers. We're all frustrated writers of one sort or

Let's talk politics...you voted for Perot, Clinton, and Gore
pre-September 11. Now you're a Bush man. Do you agree with his
entire agenda?

No, I don't. I did not come quickly to the Bush camp. And there is a lot
that Bush does, or has not done, with which I disagree. But overall, I
support Bush because Bush got it right after 9/11. Bush took the fight to
the enemy, and he continues to take the fight to the enemy. Who is the
enemy? Militant Islamists and their terrorist fellow travelers. The war
with militant Islam is, to my mind, the defining concern of my generation.
Whatever problems I have with Bush, I stand behind him because he refuses
to capitulate or bargain with the Islamists. All other concerns,
including the budget deficit, are secondary.

Any idea why Vanilla Dr Pepper is using a Muppets song in their

They are? I had no idea. I don't watch much commercial TV, and if I do,
I'm always muting out the commercials or changing the channel. Off the
hip, I'd say Dr. Pepper is just doing what has been done for at least 15
years now: ride the nostalgia wagon for all it's worth. Advertisers don't
have many original ideas anymore. Easier to dredge up something from a
decade or two in the past, and hope that enough fond memories get sparked
to make people show up at the cash register.

Back to politics...who would be your dream Republican candidate for
the presidency in 2008?

Hmmm... Tough call. I'm somewhat intruiged by the idea of Mitt Romney
running, though I doubt he'd get enough Republican support to make it
stick. Sometimes I think Condi Rice should run. That would drive the
Democrats and the Left absolutely batty. On the one hand they'd feel
compelled to support Condi based on gender and ethnic considerations. On
the other hand they'd be loathe to support Condi because of her politics
and her Bush connections. Do you remember that old Star Trek episode
where Kirk makes the male android's hair fizz and smoke? That's what I
see happening to the Left if Condi runs.

And who would be an actually viable candidate for each party?

Too early to say. Really. We've got a ton of ground to cover before
2008, and there is a lot that will happen before this country is ready
again to decide who sits in the Oval Office. I do know that if the
Democrats try to run on an Anyone-But-The-Republicans platform, they are
doomed. One of the big reasons the Dems lost me, besides being
perpetually on the wrong side of the fight against Islamism, is because
they kept defining themselves in the negative. It wasn't about what or
who they were for, it was about who and what they were AGAINST. The Dems
truly have become the party of reaction. They can't seem to define
themselves as being FOR things as much as they are AGAINST them. That's a
bad way to run a party. Especially one that is now clearly in the
minority with the electorate, and trying to find a way to reach out to the

Who is your favorite historical figure?

Wow, there are so many! Impossible to say, for all time, who is my
favorite. I do know that Lincoln has been on my mind since 9/11/2001. As
much as the man has been deified and lionized by today's America, back in
his day, he was a much-loathed and much-villified president. Prior to the
November 2004 election I got a tongue-in-cheek letter published in the
Seattle P-I wherein I reminded the voters that the country has seen far
worse than Bush. I used Lincoln as an example, what with his illegal
warmongering for the abstract concept of union, followed by his
flip-flopping on the moral basis for the war ("union" becomes
"emancipation") and topped off with his criminal suspension of basic
citizens' rights, such as habeus corpus. Clearly, Lincoln did far worse
and in a much shorter time than Bush, and yet who can deny that America is
better off because of Lincoln? I suspect it will be the same with Bush,
in the fullness of time. And everyone who now hates Bush, who rails on
and on about how he has been the worst President ever, will wind up
looking extremely silly.

Please shed some light on the governor's race in your state, because I
really wasn't paying much attention.

The Washington State governor's election has been a joke. Period. The
guys at Sound Politics have covered it all, in spades.
Suffice to say that Christine Gregoire is operating a sham administration,
and if she somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the effort to force a
revote, she'll get ONE, and exactly ONE, term in office. People are
ticked off. Not the core Democrats, mind you. They're pleased as punch
that they got to have their "revenge" for the 2000 Presidential election.
But everyone else in the state, everyone who does NOT live in King County,
is warming up for a mighty fine ass-whooping at the ballot box next time
Gregoire is on the ticket. I honestly think the Republicans could run a
plate of turnips as their candidate, and Gregoire would still lose. Too
many non-Seattle Washingtonians feel too ripped off. Seriously. Myself
among them.

Back to the Muppets...who is your favorite Muppet?

I have to go with Kermit. Without a doubt. Now that my daughter is
watching Sesame Street, I'm pissed that Kermit isn't making more
appearances. But I suppose even muppets get old and need to cut back on
their busy schedules?

What do you do with your free time?

Free time? What's that?! (ha ha ha ha) No, really, if I get a spare
moment, beyond parenthood and spousal considerations, I am a big time Star
Trek geek. I've got a huge Star Trek site up that I am always fiddling
with. It's at (this site) and is pretty
self-explanatory. I used to do video games when I was younger, too,
though I get almost no time for that anymore. Though, someone close to me
did get me the Tron 2.0 video game, and that's been very engrossing, or at
least it was, back during Christmas, when I had some time off. I'm a huge
fan of the movie, and the new game really does the old classic flick a lot
of justice.

What kind of music do you enjoy?

Easy. I strongly dislike country, and I strongly dislike rap/hip-hop.
Everything else? I enjoy to some degree. My pet genre is probably
electronica. I've hosted several electronica radio shows on public radio
over the years. Most recently I did Electric Nightfall at KSER in
Everett, Washington. I had to quit when I
went to Basic Training with the Army in 2003, and have not had the time to
get back into it since. Now that my wife and I are down in Tacoma I
suppose I will try and snoop out the radio life down there? I've also
toyed with just doing an all-web streaming broadcast. That would save a
lot of time and trouble. But would anyone listen?

Who is your favorite writer of the non-blogging kind?

Chris Bunch & Allan Cole. They are a duo that did the STEN series (now in
reprint!) and who also did A RECKONING FOR KINGS. (see below) I'd also
have to mention Larry Niven, who has won both the Hugo and Nebula awards
for his excellent science fiction.

What is the best book you've ever read?

As far as novels go, A RECKONING FOR KINGS by Bunch & Cole. It was
nominated for a Pulitzer in the 1980's when it came out. It's perhaps the
single greatest Vietnam war novel I have ever read, and I have read a
number of Vietnam war novels. Bunch & Cole write with an addicting style
and, where Vietnam was concerned, a level of palpable authenticity that is
impossible to deny. If I ever hit it big as a novelist, I am sure I will
owe a lot to Cole & Bunch, whose style inspires and excites me to this
day. Ditto for Niven.

What/where do you want to be in ten years?

Owning a home, for one thing. Making six figures, for another. I want to
be finished with my Gottdamned motherloving college education, too. With
a little luck, I'll have published a novel or three. But that's probably
asking for too much?

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2005

*Quote of the Day

"As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might."

-Marian Anderson

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2005

*I'll Give You a Topic...

High heels. The work of Satan or a gift from God? Discuss.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (11)

*Quote of the Day

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship."

-Louisa May Alcott

Posted by Jennifer at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

*Andrew Olmsted Interview

It's the Andrew Olmsted Interview!

In the extended...

What is your motivation to blog?

I've always been interested in politics and philosophy. I've buttonholed
many of my friends on those topics over the years, but as I've grown
older, there have been fewer opportunities for those kinds of
discussions. When I discovered blogging, it was a natural fit for me. It
gives me an opportunity to put my ideas out to a larger community and
actually get feedback on them. Blogging has allowed me to improve my
writing skills and learn how to make more persuasive and logical
arguments. It also serves as a goad for me to learn new things, as
writing about so many topics constantly reminds me how little I actually

Who did your "incredible" logo design?

Stacy from Sekimori Design. I've been using them since 2002, when Robyn
did the first redesign of my site, and I've never looked back. The level
of customer service they provide alone makes them worth the money, and
they are also superlative graphic designers. The only guidance I gave
Stacy about the new site design was that I wanted something reminiscent
of "The Incredibles." She took that and built a site that I think is as
good-looking as anything in the blogosphere.

What are your interests outside blogging?

I love baseball. Seeing the Red Sox win the World Series this past fall
was unbelievable. My only regret was that I was all alone for the games,
so I had nobody with whom I could share the joy. I also enjoy movies;
Amanda and I have a collection of 300+ DVDs ranging from "Gone With the
Wind" to "Rush Hour 2." We try to see as many movies as we can, but
that's a losing battle these days. I also play numerous role-playing and
wargames, although my pursuit is generally more like a collection these
days, as it's difficult to find the time to play or people with similar

You recently posted about women in combat...what are your opinions about
women in other male-dominated roles, such as female sports announcers
working male sports?

I think that the only prerequisite for jobs should be the ability of the
person to perform the job. I don't see any issues with women covering
men's sports, to cover your specific example; as William F. Buckley (I
think) once observed, inside every man in a jock manque; we all think we
could cover sports anyhow. I see no reason why women can't do that sort
of thing just as well as men, and better in many cases. Even when it
comes to professions like firefighters, I have no objection to women in
the role as long as the standards are maintained. If I'm in a burning
building, I want the firefighter who comes after me to be strong enough
to throw me over his or her shoulder and get me out of the building. I
realize this means that a large number of women will not qualify to be
firefighters, but that's the way of the world. I can't fly combat
aircraft; I wanted to be a pilot, but my eyesight and reflexes didn't
meet the requirements, so I was deemed ineligible. When it comes to
certain jobs, I’m a firm believer in making sure that the employees can
do the job they're hired to do. At the same time, these requirements
should be job-related and should apply to men and women: a man who can't
carry 200 lbs of dead weight should no more be a firefighter than a
woman who can't, and a woman who can do the job should be able to do so.

On the rare occasion you watch TV, what sort of things do you watch?

I'm embarassed to admit that I'm now regularly watching the new
"Battlestar Galactica" after I thoroughly panned the miniseries, but the
show has grown on me as I've been able to separate it from the original
and appreciate it for what it is. I also generally keep up with "The
Simpsons," although not religiously, and if I do catch "The Simpsons"
I'll generally watch Fox's entire Sunday lineup: "King of the Hill,"
"Malcolm in the Middle," and "Arrested Development." Other than that, I
watch any Red Sox game I can get.

Warner Brothers or Disney?

Disney. I have no interest in cartoons on TV, and Warner's theme is
locked in stone: Wile E. Coyote/Elmer Fudd tries to kill/capture
Bugs/Road Runner/Daffy, fails miserably, there is much rejoicing. While
Disney (full disclosure: I'm a stockholder) has made a lot of bad moves
over the past few years, they've still got a history of some excellent
film. I'll put "Beauty and the Beast" or "Fantasia" up against any film
ever made.

Have any phobias?

Plenty. In particular I don't like heights, which made Airborne School a
bit of a challenge.

If a tree falls in the forest, why can't one fall on Michael Moore's house?

Probably because his house isn't in a forest, but I don't know that for
sure. More seriously, my only objection to Michael Moore is his claim to
be a documentary film maker. Moore is a propagandist, and a skilled one.
I found it more than a little amusing that he won an Oscar on a night
Hollywood remembered filmmaker Leni Rehfenstahl. Such connotations
notwithstanding, being able to make effective polemics is a hard thing,
and I respect his talent if not how he chooses to employ it. I would
simply prefer we be honest about what he's producing and stop sullying
the art of making documentaries.

If you could reverse 1 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which would it be?

Tough call. Five years ago I probably would have gone after Roe, but I
now think that may have been a good decision buttressed by lousy
reasoning. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm a strong believer in what Randy
Barnett calls the presumption of liberty: that whenever the government
attempts to make something illegal, the burden is on government to prove
that the restriction of liberty is justified. I think the Tenth
Amendment makes it pretty clear the federal government has no power to
regulate abortion, and the Ninth Amendment certainly ought to protect a
right to privacy. So if we're going to leave Roe alone, I might tear
down Wickard v. Filburn. Wickard gave the government the ability to
regulate the economy to the lowest level, even if it never is involved
with interstate commerce. Such an expansive reading of the Commerce
Clause is what has allowed Congress to overreach its Constitutional
limits so regularly over the past sixty years. Of course, it's likely
the courts would have allowed Congress to abuse the Commerce Clause
sooner or later, so overturning any one court case would be unlikely to
resolve the problems I'd like to see fixed. An adoption of the
presumption of liberty in lieu of the presumption of Constitutionality
would be a far better improvement.

Are there any modern politicians you admire?

Ron Paul (R-TX) probably comes as close as any. Modern politics has
devolved to such levels that the people who win elections are those who
promise to do the most for the people. Since I prefer a government that
leaves me alone to do my own thing, I have no respect for or interest in
such politicians. However, they're winning elections, so apparently
they're doing something right, and I'm the guy who's out of synch with
society (a conclusion that will come as no surprise to most of my friends).

How did you meet Virginia Postrel?

Back in October I had to go to Fort Polk, LA to serve as an augmentee to
the JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center) Observer-Controller team. The
116th Brigade Combat Team was going through their Mission Readiness
Exercise before going to Iraq, and since we'd trained them at Fort
Bliss, we were on the hook to get them through JRTC as well. A friend
and I decided to drive so we would have a car while we were there (an
excellent decision), and the quickest route to Polk went through Dallas.
So I dropped Virginia a note asking if she might be interested in coffee
while I was in town. She surprised me by accepting, actually suggesting
we go to dinner. So I got to spend about two hours chatting with
Virginia, her husband and her mother (who was in town visiting). Three
very smart, very nice people.

What was the most difficult part of Basic Training?

Good question; I went through Basic in 1989, so my memories of it are
somewhat faded. Probably the most difficult task I had to perform while
I was there was the live-fire individual movement techniques range:
Rodger Young Range at Fort Benning. You went out into the woods after
dark and walked a mile or so until you got to a trench at the far end of
a live-fire range. M60s were set up on the baseline firing downrange, so
you could see the tracers zipping by overhead. (The machineguns are
fixed well off the ground, so you'd really have to work hard to get
shot, but in the dark it sure seemed exciting enough.) When the drill
sergeants gave you the word, you went over the wall and had to high
crawl several hundred meters to the baseline. They had pits with C-4 in
them along the route, one of which blew just as I crawled past it, and
the bullets flying overhead really seemed to be very close. By the time
you were done your elbows and knees were raw. It wasn't really difficult
in the sense that it required any courage or skill, but it was certainly
painful (and memorable).

Who was a better driver and training room person, Scott or Ben?

I wouldn't put either of them over the other. For those who don't know
what the question refers to, when I commanded my company in 1999 and
2000, Scott was my first driver/training room guy (commanders don't
drive themselves). He had the job for about eight months, until he left
the Army, at which time Ben took over. Both of them did great work in
each arena, and I'm glad we've been able to maintain at least occasional
contact over the intervening years.

Why did you move to El Paso?

Well, I hope the answer will be that I haven't moved to El Paso,
although it does seem like that sometimes. When the Army selected 116th
BCT for OIF 3, we knew we would be selected to train them. We wanted to
train them in Idaho, but the Army decided we would do better training
them at Fort Bliss, so we all deployed to Bliss back in June. We were
supposed to come home in September. Once we were on the ground, the Army
decided they may as well train the 29th BCT at Bliss as well, and since
we were in the neighborhood, we could just stay here to train them as
well. But we would be home for Christmas. By the time December rolled
around, we were on tap to train some late-mobilizing elements of the
29th BCT, so we would have to stay until early February. Now we have
four maintenance companies that we have to train, but we're supposed to
go home in early April. I still maintain that I'm a Colorado resident,

How does Texas life compare to Colorado life?

I lived in Texas for three and a half years as a lieutenant when I was
stationed at Fort Hood. I didn't think much of it then, and I've seen
nothing in the last nine months to change my mind. West Texas is, if
anything, more barren than Central Texas. On the other hand, I was
single when I lived at Fort Hood, and I'm 600 miles from my wife here in
El Paso, so it would be difficult to make up for that with any
combination of culture or entertainment. Then again, we're ten hours
from the nearest major league ballpark; that just won't do.

What is the biggest goal you've yet to accomplish?

Probably getting paid to write. Much as I enjoy blogging, and I wouldn't
keep doing it if I didn't enjoy it, being paid to write would be even
better. In particular I hope to someday get my novel published (although
I suppose I should finish it first).

Of what are you most proud?

I suppose my military service. I certainly haven't done very much in the
Army, but I've done a few things to try and preserve a system of
government that, for all my complaints, is the best thing available to us.

How did you meet your wife?

I was working in the science library in college. Amanda came in there
just about every day to study when I was a freshman. I occasionally said
hello, but was studiously ignored. I persevered, however, managing to
work through some mutual friends to get her involved in my weekly
Dungeons & Dragons game by my junior year. We started dating in October
of that year, and despite the occasional separation, we've been together
ever since.

How did you propose?

I was living in Texas getting ready to go to the Armor Officer's
Advanced Course, after which I was going to spend a year in Korea.
Amanda was living at home. We'd been dating for five-plus years and we'd
spent most of that time in a long-distance relationship. I knew I wanted
to spend the rest of my life with her, and she'd accepted the fact I
might be the best she could do, so I called her and asked if she wanted
to tie the knot. Not very romantic, but it seems to have worked out very
well thus far.

If you had one thing to do over and do differently, what would it be?

I would probably not have left the Army, which is to say, I would
probably have remained on active duty rather than going into the
Reserves. Had I not jumped when I did, I would likely be either already
in a combat battalion or getting ready to join one. Instead I will be
fortunate to ever find my way back to troops.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

*I'll Give You a Topic...

Some of my earliest memories are of my elders sitting around the table, playing cards. Cribbage and poker were the mainstays. Poker is the first "grown-up" card game I ever learned.

Nowadays when it's cold or rainy outside and there are four or more adults around, I usually suggest Phase Ten.

What's your game?

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)

*Quote of the Day

"A nuclear reactor is a lot like a woman. You just have to read the manual and press the right buttons."

-Homer Simpson

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM | Comments (3)

February 01, 2005

*What's Your Sign: Pisces

(Previously, Aquarius)

The constellation Pisces honors two dolphins who saved Aphrodite and her son (Eros/Cupid) from a monster named Typhon. Zeus buried Typhon underneath Mt Etna, where his (Typhon's) fury produces the occasional volcanic eruption.

Here are a few other fishy myths.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

*I'll Give You a Topic...

You have to live without one of the following channels for the rest of your life:

Comedy Central

Which do you choose?

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (12)

*Quote of the Day

"She takes just like a woman, yes, she does She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does And she aches just like a woman But she breaks just like a little girl."

-Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)