Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things just get curiouser and curiouser


Obama Declines Iran Offer of al-Qaida Members

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:33 AM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
When Iranian government official Ahmad Samavati arrived in Washington, D.C., in February at the head of a five-man negotiating team, he thought he had an offer the Obama administration couldn’t refuse.

The Iranian regime was going to turn over scores of top al-Qaida operatives, including some on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.

To Samavati’s surprise, the State Department officials he met declined the offer. “They told him they did not want any al-Qaida people. They told him they didn’t want them in the United States,” an Iranian source familiar with the negotiations told Newsmax.

The decline, and the very fact that the Iranian regime sent Samavati to Washington in the first place, shows the profound policy shift that has occurred in both Tehran and Washington since Barack Obama became president.

But Washington seems to be going in one direction and Tehran in another.

In the annual report on terrorism it released last April, the State Department blasted Iran for its unwillingness to cooperate in arresting, rendering, or controlling al-Qaida members operating from its territory.

“Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its AQ [al-Qaida] detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for interrogation or trial. Iran also continued to fail to control the activities of some AQ members who fled to Iran following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan,” the report stated.

Obama’s determination to shift gears on Iran is no secret.

He announced his intention to negotiate with the regime during the presidential campaign, and he has repeated that determination many times since taking office.

But no one at Foggy Bottom will comment on why the State Department refused the Iranian offer in February, despite numerous phone messages and e-mails entreaties.

To piece together this story, which goes beyond the public policy statements from the administration, Newsmax has sought out Iranians with personal knowledge of the secret negotiations, including some who work closely with the Iranian government and current and former U.S. officials in the military and intelligence community.

Persian-language Web sites also have detailed leaks from Tehran.

At the time Samavati came to Washington, the State Department was still in the throes of a “policy review” concerning Iran.

So on one level, his offer was premature. But beyond that, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, may be simply too disorganized to coordinate a government-wide response to such a forward-leaning proposal, a source close to the negotiations suggested.

“Hillary Clinton is very much against these negotiations,” another source familiar with the U.S.-Iran talks told Newsmax.

“In Tehran, they don’t understand this,” said a third source who recently returned from Iran after discussing the Iranian and American proposals. “When the ruling factions actually agree on a policy, they put the whole government apparatus behind it.”

Tehran now believes that the al-Qaida operatives it is sheltering in Iran have become a liability. Some, such as al-Qaida military chief Saif al-Adel and Ahmed Mughassil, who has been indicted for the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, figure on the FBI’s Most Wanted List of terrorists and have American blood on their hands.

Other more low-level operatives have married into Iranian families in Tehran and have become a security challenge for the regime, a source knowledgeable of the U.S.-Iran negotiations told Newsmax.

“The Iranians want to get rid of the al-Qaida people who are now in Iran,” the source added. “That is absolutely clear. They have been training and providing support to al-Qaida operatives, but now find they have become an embarrassment.”

Al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been a liaison for the Iranian intelligence minister, the Revolutionary Guards, and Osama bin Laden since the early 1990s, when they were together in the Sudan.

Newsmax has received numerous reports over the past four years from former Iranian intelligence officers who claim that since the 9/11 attacks al-Zawahiri spends most of his time in Iran.

And yet, in a video posted last week on radical Islamist Web sites, al-Zawahiri warns the United States against any rapprochement with the Tehran regime.

"The more you cooperate with Iran, the more hatred you will generate from Muslims,” al-Zawahiri says in the video.

Even before 9/11, the Iranian government was careful to give the impression in the West that it was at war with radical Sunni Muslim groups, even as it trained terrorists from those groups in secret camps in Iran, according to former Iranian intelligence officers who were personally involved in the training.

The most celebrated case of this was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq until he was killed during an American military raid in 2006.

Al-Zarqawi declared war against Iraqi Shiites; and yet, he and his group, initially known as Ansar al Islam, were funded, trained, and equipped by the Iranian regime, which inserted them into Iraq in 2002.

Asked whether the U.S. intelligence community would like to see al-Qaida terrorists such as Saif al-Adel rendered to the United States, a U.S. intelligence official responded without ambiguity: “The U.S. intelligence community would very much like to see them taken off the streets. After all, they’re hardened terrorists.”

The type of al-Qaida operatives now being sheltered in Iran “have knowledge of the terrorist group’s current activities,” and thus have current intelligence value to the United States, the official added.

But such a desire on the part of U.S. intelligence officers who are still engaged in fighting a global war against radical Islamic terrorist groups flies in the face of the oft-expressed desire of President Obama to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, where such terrorists would undoubtedly wind up.

“If you’re talking about individuals against whom there are no criminal charges, then it gets complicated,” former CIA Director R. James Woolsey told Newsmax. “If you close down Gitmo, where are you going to keep them?”

Woolsey said he could see no reason why the Obama administration wouldn’t take terrorists who are facing U.S. criminal charges. “To me, it would be extremely unwise not to take them out of circulation.”

The lack of criminal charges was the reason used by the Clinton administration to reject a 1996 offer by the government of Sudan to render Osama bin Laden to the United States, Woolsey recalled.

The Iranian government helped evacuate hundreds of al-Qaida terrorists and their families from Afghanistan in the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks, establishing a “rat line” using fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and hundreds of four-wheel drive vehicles, according to U.S. intelligence reports.

Since then, the regime has sheltered these and other al-Qaida members at safe houses in and around Tehran and provided them military training, equipment, and “hajj” passports so they can travel to the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca.

The National Security Agency intercepted a communication from al-Qaida military chief, Saif al-Adel, giving the orders to an al-Qaida cell in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to launch the deadly attacks on May 12, 2003 that killed more than 90 people.

When the Bush administration realized that al-Adel was in an Iranian government safe house at the time he gave the order for the terrorist attacks, they cut off back-channel negotiations with Iran then being conducted by U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.

In January, Undersecretary of State Stuart A. Levy released a report laying out the extensive support the Iranian government has provided top al-Qaida members, including Saad bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist’s eldest son and heir apparent.

For more on this, read "Top al-Qaida Operatives Worked Closely with Iran — U.S. Treasury."

Just hours after the Treasury announcement, outgoing Director of National Intelligence Adm. Mike McConnell told reporters that the younger bin Laden had left Iran in September and was now in Pakistan.

But a former Iranian intelligence officer who maintains access to the Iranian intelligence community recently showed Newsmax photographs of Saad bin Laden and a wheelchair-bound aide, which he claimed had been taken at a safe house in the Tehran area this March.

Some sources believe the regime is sheltering Osama bin Laden himself, as Newsmax reported recently. For more on this, read "Did Bin Laden Find Safe Haven in Iran?"

The State Department has not responded to repeated requests for comment on this story.

“The State Department’s lack of response is worrisome, especially since the president has said we’re going to Afghanistan to get al-Qaida,” said retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, now a Fox News contributor. “It would be of great interest, for example, to know of any relationship between the Iranian nuclear program and al-Qaida.”

Gun control

Today’s fortune cookie message

fortune Well, it’s about time.

Actually, I’m off to a good start – the rent check from our
Thorntown tenants showed up a day early. That’s the first time they’ve been early since we began this landlord-tenant relationship on Jan. 1.hardback cafe logo

I’m sipping coffee and blogging from the Hastings Hardback Cafe after a Chinese lunch at Kirin. I’m also waiting for a call from our banker to tell me we’re good to go on our effort to refinance our Arkansas home.

We had to take whatever rate was available in October, 2007 when we moved here. Fortunately, the rates have dropped about 2 percent since then and refinancing will reduce our house payment by about 10 percent.

(You might want to check with lenders to see if refinancing makes sense for you.)

We pulled into the restaurant parking lot next to an SUV with a personalized Indiana license plate that read “GOHOGS1.” That’s a sentiment that has resonance here where everyone is a University of Arkansas Razorbacks fan, but it makes no sense at all in Indiana. Unless, perhaps, you’re a pig farmer.

Turns out the driver’s wife is an Arkansas native and they now live in Evansville. She said she gets a lot of questions from Hoosiers about the plate.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hey, how did that cow get into the picture?

smile00 Maria and I spent a couple of hours last evening providing photographic support for a fund raising activity for the local Smile for a Lifetime organization at Chick-fil-A.smile01

The Smile for a Lifetime Foundation provides orthodontic care for children whose parents would otherwise not be able to afford it. Maria is on the board of the local chapter.

We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looks like rain


It's raining.

It started yesterday afternoon and has continued off and on - mostly on - all night and this morning. We've had a few rumbles of thunder, but mostly it just rains.

On mornings like this, the dogs flop down on the upstairs office carpet and doze while I blog and surf, listening to the gentle sound of the rain through the open window.

Karen Taylor, the most talented page designer I've ever worked with in my 43-year association with newspapers, alerted me that her paper - the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier - has photos of the accident yesterday that killed my German Baptist/Dunkard classmate.

I decided not to pirate any of them for my blog, but you can view them here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another friend gone

buggy I got word this evening that a guy I went to school with was killed about noon today in a pickup truck-buggy crash.

(This photo is from a non-fatal truck-buggy crash earlier this year in northern Indiana, but you get the idea.)

His name was Steve Royer and he was a classmate until he dropped out of school at 16, as was the custom for boys of the Old German Baptist Brethren faith in Carroll County, Indiana.

Friends tell me Steve was on Ind. 75 near Flora, Ind., when his buggy was rear-ended by a pickup truck.

Police said Steve, 64, was thrown from the buggy and killed.
Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy John Chapman said the truck's driver, John T. Justice, 87, rural Logansport, didn't see the buggy as he came up behind it and struck it in the rear. 
Steve was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple blunt force trauma. The horse also died. Justice was not injured. 

My grandfather and all of his forebears were German Baptists. Like his ancestors, Grandpa was a farmer, but he broke with the church, became a Presbyterian. He also served as a township trustee and the Carroll County Treasurer. He died about a month before I was born in 1945.

Batesville: Great fabric store, horrible restaurant

We took the Subaru to Batesville on Saturday to check out a fabric store.

Maria met a woman at Hancock's in Paducah, Ky. last month who claimed that Marshall's Dry Goods in Batesville had Hancock's beat.

Turns out she was right. Maria got some killer deals on fabric - deals so good that her purchases included two bolts of fabric, a quantity she's never bought before.

We got there a little after noon and decided, after Maria had done a quick survey or the place, that she should have lunch and come back for some serious shopping.

So we did something that nearly always produces a bad result: we asked the locals to recommend a good restaurant.

Since we've been in Arkansas, we've hated nearly every restaurant recommended by an Arkansan. And it happened again on Saturday.

Everybody in the joint pointed us to Kelly's Wyatt Restaurant and recommended the buffet.

So we laid a course to the restaurant into the Garmin GPS and were there in less than 10 minutes.

The buffet was pretty limited - fried chicken, liver and onions (the smell almost made Maria gag), mashed potatoes and chicken gravy, carrots, spaghetti with a sauce that looked like someone combined meat loaf and tomatoes in a blender, woody spinach, and watery peach cobbler.

And everything we chose was tepid, flat and tasteless. It was, without question, the most insipid food I've had since leaving Indiana.

Back at Marshall's, Maria plunged into her quilter's fabric frenzy and I settled down with my iPod in the car. Presently, I noticed one of the cars parked in front of the store had an Indiana license plate. On closer scrutiny, I saw it was from Tipton County. I started my newspaper career 43 years ago at the Tipton Daily Tribune.

I moved the car to a space next to the Hoosier car and waited. A few minutes later, the driver came out. His wife and sister-in-law were shopping and, like me, he got tired of standing around.

He was born in Arkansas but raised in Kokomo where he worked at the Chrysler transmission plant and was president of the UAW local for a few years before he retired. He now lives near Sharpsville where he was town marshal for a spell. He and his wife were vacationing in Arkansas for a few days and he was doing genealogical research on his family tree.

We spent about a half-hour exploring mutual connections and contrasting Arkansas with Indiana until his wife and sister-in-law came out.

It was nice to talk with a fellow Hoosier. I didn't realize how starved I was for a little shot of Indiana culture.

Aww, Barack, you shouldn't have. Really.

I got a letter from Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, on Saturday telling me I'm part of the pork.

It was one of those twice-folded single-sheet things that you tear the perforated strips off of the sides and lift the top flap to open.

Here's what Michael had to say:

Good news! The economic recovery bill that President Obama signed into law in February 2009 provides for a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries.

You should receive your one-time payment by late May 2009.

I just checked my bank account and it's not there yet.

Now, I just need to figure out how to put it to the best use. Here are some possibilities that come to mind:

  • But a new gun.
  • Stock up on ammo.
  • Buy a quarter-ounce of gold.
  • Donate it to the National Rifle Association.
  • Give it to the Republican National Committee.
  • Donate it to help pay Sarah Palin's legal bills from responding to specious, harassing lawsuits.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Scary stuff

I had a nice long chat with my son Sean in Portland this morning where he is recuperating from minor ankle injuries he suffered in an auto accident on I-5 near Centrailia, Wash., Thursday night.

Sean and Ruth were returning to Portland after a business trip to Seattle, with Ruth at the wheel of their rental car.

Here's Ruth's account of the accident:sean&ruth christmas 08s

"The accident was a result of trying to avoid a large box on the highway at night, I was driving, and no other cars or people were injured. I swerved to the shoulder to avoid the box and then didn't want to go into the ditch alongside the shoulder so swerved to the left and ran into the concrete dividers. The airbags deployed and ...they really work!!!...we spun and then I pulled us onto the shoulder to stop. The real problem was that it was very dark and the box was hard to see and it was on the highway at about 60 mph so each steering motion was extreme.  Anyway, in so many ways we were and are miraculously fortunate."

Sean has an ankle trauma that isn't a break and will apparently improve significantly in 3 days or so although he currently can't walk on it and it is quite painful and he is sore in general as well as really shaken. He is getting used to hobbling around with crutches and a rolling chair. I have a broken nose (looks terrible but isn't too serious) and a fractured finger (thankfully on my left hand) and am sore and very shaken. We have both seen doctors and are in good hands with both medical and holistic treatments."

Needless to say, we're all relieved that they walked - well, hobbled in Sean's case - away from what could have been a life-altering or life-ending crash.

Friday, April 24, 2009

To Hot Springs National Park and back

I promised myself that I would reserve Friday for a good long motorcycle ride.

I initially though of Eureka Springs and Sean Franklin's Cycle Gadgets as a destination. After all, it's just 230 miles or so. But Google Maps estimated the travel time at 4 hours and 40 minutes, which would probably stretch out to nearly 10 hours in the saddle for a round trip and not much time in the middle to hang out and sight-see.

To make matters worse, I had a CD to get into the mail - it had to go out Friday or wait until Monday. So 10 a.m. found me standing outside the local post office trying to decide where to go. I had my National Parks Passport, an impulse buy last July at Devil's Tower, in my tank bag so I got it out to see where in Arkansas I might comfortably ride in a day to collect a stamp.

I settled on Hot Springs National Park at Hot Springs, Ark. It was a 384-mile round trip, but riding time is much shorter because almost all of it was across the flat delta landscape that extends from northeast Arkansas to the southwest quadrant of the state - a mere hotspringsbath13 hours and 30 miles, according to Google Maps.

So I set my Garmin GPS for Hot Springs National Park and headed out. A strong crosswind was blowing from the south and the gusts made for some uncomfortable riding, especially on east-west sections like the stretch of Ark. 14 from U.S. 49 to U.S. 63.

I stopped about 1-ish at a Wendy's just west of Little Rock for lunch and a blog entry, then pressed on to Hot Springs. I guess I expected a traditional semi-wilderness national park scene. What I found was a town build around hot mineral springs with a parade of commercial bath houses lining the main drag, including one that was now the hotspringsstamppark's visitor center.

I stuck a couple of nickels into a parking meter and tramped down the street about a block to the visitor center where I stamped my passport in the bookstore.

I used to think the national park passport thing was stupid, but with only two stamps so far, I'm thinking about accumulating more as I explore this region.

I stuffed the passport back into my tank bag, set my GPS destination for the BMW motorcycle dealership in Little Rock and hit the road.

BMW Motorcycles of Little Rock is the only BMW dealership in the area I haven't visited. The nearest is a disappointing mostly Yamaha shop - and only incidentally BMW - in Memphis that I scoped out last summer.

The other is Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, which hotspringsbmwis about the same distance from my house as the Little Rock dealer. Grass Roots has a good relationship with the BMW Riders of the Mid-South and often gives club members discounts, so that's where I went last summer to have a new battery installed in my K1200GT before riding off to Wyoming and Colorado.

I hit Little Rock at the beginning of the evening rush hour and slogged my way through traffic to the dealership.

It's a nice shop that also sells Triumph and Ducati bikes. The folks are friendly and I bought a t-shirt to commemorate my visit there.

The winds had mostly abated by now, but what remained gave me a nice tailwind as I rode northeast on U.S. 67 and only lightly buffeted me as I rode east on Ark. 14.

I arrived at home about 7 p.m. to find that Maria had thoughtfully left the garage door open for me and parked the Subaru off to the side to give me a clean shot at my bike parking space.

Report from the road

Stopping for lunch at a Wendy's just sw of Little Rock en route to Hot Springs National Park to get my NP book stamped.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TRYING to help you


I noticed this sign this afternoon in the pharmacy at the southside Walmart.

Apparently this became an issue with the pharmacy staff trying to communicate with morons who just had to have a cell phone conversation while picking up their prescriptions.

The fact that the words are underscored suggests the pharmacy staff was getting kinda pissed off about the problem, but the message would have been more readable without the underscoring.

Oh, and I used my cell phone camera to take the picture. Other than that, the pharmacy lady had my undivided attention.

Another reason to like rural/small town life

I found myself with a CD to mail while in town yesterday, so I went to the Post Office on Race (pronounced "Rice" if you're from here) Street.

There were two people working the counter and the line was backed up to the door. As I stood and waited, I noticed a lot of patrons seemed to have problems with literacy. One of the clerks had to call a patron back from just outside the door when she realized he had paid her with a $10 bill and she gave him change for a $20 bill. The ensuing confused conversation took several minutes longer than it should have if we were dealing with alert, intelligent people.

After what seemed like an eternity, I got to the head of the line and transacted my business efficiently and decisively.

Fast forward to the afternoon and I have another CD to mail.

This time I went to my small rural Post Office where I am on a first-name basis with the postmistress.

"The charge card machine is down. Do you have cash or a check?" she asked.

Nope. Just plastic.

"Alright. You can pay me the next time you come in," she said, scribbling my name and the $1.85 I owed on a slip of paper and putting it into the cash drawer.

I"m headed there now with another CD to mail and will settle my bill when I get there.

That, my friend, is small town service and convenience.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news…


Hello from Hastings, where I’m netsurfing and enjoying my morning coffee.

I went to the doctor for my annual checkup this morning and, pending the results of the blood work, I’m doing just fine.

He’s pleased that I’ve lost about 6 pounds since last fall.

It’s a glorious sunny spring day here and I’m giving some serious thought to a long motorcycle ride. I really want to ride over to Eureka Springs to visit friend Sean Franklin’s CycleGadgets store, but it’s too late in the day to undertake that trip. Besides, I want to go early enough that I can have lunch at the Oasis Restaurant that Sean touts in his latest newsletter.

I’m stuck with a mid-day dental appointment tomorrow, so maybe Friday will be Eureka Springs day. So far, the weather forecast looks good through the weekend.

And 18 months is about as long as I can put off going for a ride in northwest Arkansas where the state’s really good motorcycle roads are.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day


Global warming, particularly the notion that human activities are causing climate change, is bogus.

No, there's nothing wrong with behaving in an ecologically responsible manner, but letting this idiotic notion drive the national agenda is insane.

Go to and see how this ridiculous eco-religion stacks up against the facts.



I watched Gonzo, the 2007 Alex Gibney documentary on Hunter S. Thompson the other day, courtesy of Netflix.

It’s a pretty thorough account of Thompson’s life and lifestyle and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about HST.

On a personal note, it’s curious how much I shared his perspective back in the 1960s and early ‘70s and how little we had in common philosophically by the time he killed himself four years ago. I like to think that I matured and grew over the years, while he was so invested with the culture and values of the ‘60s that he couldn’t break free and reconnect with the realities of post 9/11 America.

Regardless, I still consider him the best writer of our generation and will make another pilgrimage to the Woody Creek Tavern the next time I’m in Aspen.

Wifi Chronicles (continued)

hastingsself It only took about six weeks, but Hastings finally got a new wireless router and restored their free Wifi.

I’d like to think my phone call to their corporate offices and two emails were a factor, but I have no way of knowing. I drove past yesterday and noticed the “Wifi is down” sign was missing from the Hardback Cafe door, so I parked in the lot, whipped out my Mini 9 laptop and confirmed that there was a Hastings Wifi signal present.

Now, I’m back at my favorite table with a large post-lunch cup of coffee, blogging again.

It’s almost as if my planets came into some harmonious alignment today, what with getting our storm debris hauled and the Hastings Wifi issue resolved. It takes to little to make my day.

Another reason to be glad I took early retirement

Fellow Indianapolis News veteran and now Indianapolis Star/Gannett wage slave Mike Ellis posted to Facebook today that he "filed for unemployment for the first time in my life earlier this morning."

It's all part of Gannett's program of forcing employees to take unpaid furloughs, despite the fact that Gannett is still showing a profit - $77.4 million in the first quarter of 2009.

"I figured it didn't hurt to try," Mike said. "I know of some others who filed the last time."

I suppose it might cause some permanent resentment if he were to hang a "Furloughed" sign around his neck and sit on the sidewalk in front of The Star Building with a tin cup.

Gannett's most recent "offer" to the Newspaper Guild at The Star is a 12 percent pay cut - 8 percent on July 1 and another 4 percent on Oct. 1.

84 days after it fell, the brush is gone!


Our humongous brush pile is gone. Gone!

A crew from the Craighead County Highway Department was here shortly after 7 a.m. with a big John Deere piece of equipment with a grabber thing on the front and three dump trucks.

I knew something was afoot late yesterday afternoon when I noticed the John Deere machinery parked next to the brush pile.brush02

The crew did a splendid job and got it all over the space of about an hour. It took four dump trucks to haul away the debris from our yard in the wake of the Jan. 27 ice storm.

I added to the pile over the weekend and put three wagon loads of limbs onto it yesterday. We still have limbs to chainsaw and haul out of the west side of the yard, but we figure we can burn what's left. brush03

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cutting and hauling wood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood, so I'm cutting and hauling wood. The end is in sight, at last!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sun Senior Classic 2009

seniorclassic boys seniorclassic girls

The Sun Senior Classic Basketball Tournament was today, so Maria and I spent the afternoon in the Jonesboro High School gym - her doing whatever needed doing and me shooting photos along with James Byard.

The event features the 40 best players - 20 boys and 20 girls - competing in an event that raises money for the Sun's Newspapers in Education program.

Hey, that adds up to 217%

I'm mostly Hoosier, more than a little Arkie after only 18 months, and remarkably Coloradan as a result of spending at least a week there every year since the late 1980s.

You are 93% Hoosier!

You take your Hoosier heritage seriously! No one will confuse you with a Buckeye, a Wolverine, a Kentuckian, or an Illinoisian.

How Hoosier are you?
Take More Quizzes

You are 54% Arkansan!

It's a better than average bet that you live around Little Rock or somewhere west of it. You're somewhat Arkie, but not all that much.

How Arkansan are you?
Take More Quizzes

You are 67% of a Coloradan!

You live either in Colorado or a surrounding state! Or, you are from Colorado and you belong back in this state!!!

How Colorado are you?
Take More Quizzes

Aha! Just as I thought!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The West
The Northeast
The South
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring comes late to the high country

It's a balmy, drizzly spring morning with cardinals singing their bright song here on Crowley's Ridge, but friend Tim Balough in Alma, Colo. has a different view from his chalet at 10,600 feet.


More evidence

This was posted Thursday on a Baylor University sports fans forum.

I can't vouch for its accuracy, but it has the ring of truth to it. Also, did anyone else notice that Capt. Phillips did not include Obama in his list of people to thank for his rescue?

Subject: The real story of Obama's Decision Making with the hostages.
Subject: AH, now it comes out
Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:
1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.
2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger
3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction
4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams
6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies
7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS.
So per our last email thread, I'm downgrading Oohbaby's performace to D-. Only reason it's not an F is that the hostage survived.
Read the following accurate account.
Philips’ first leap into the warm, dark water of the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out as well. With the Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, Philips threw himself off of his
lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — and none was taken.
The guidance from National Command Authority — the president of the United States,
Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger.
The next day, a small Navy boat approaching the floating raft was fired on by the Somali pirates — and again no fire was returned and no pirates killed. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed by Navy personnel thanks to the combination of a lack of clear guidance from Washington and a mandate from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background of dealing with such issues and no track record of decisiveness, decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful solution” would be acceptable.
After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the onscenecommander decided he’d had enough.
Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation
had been denied the day before, the Navy officer — unnamed in all media reports to date — decided the AK47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the
NSWC team to take their shots.
Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe.
There is upside, downside, and spinside to the series of events over the last week that culminated in yesterday’s dramatic rescue of an American hostage.
Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean and [1] declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.
Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort.
What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four day and counting
standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Learning who we can trust

The coverage of Wednesday's Tax Day Tea Parties tells us a lot about who in the media we can trust to be objective and who has become the American version of Pravda.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ignored the event to the extent that their main front page art was an AP photo of a painting being rescued from the earthquake rubble in Italy. Other dominant p-1 art was a 2-column AP photo of the French Navy seizing a pirate skiff and a 3-column local photo of a pile of drawers (no humans in sight) accompanying an absolutely riveting story about the Pulaski County coroner wanting his own morgue. The closest thing to demonstration coverage they gave readers on p-1 was a tiny picture at the top of the page teasing a story about Afghan women rallying against marital rape.

I'm proud to say the Jonesboro Sun had an accurate account of the local tea party with a 3-column headline and photo placed above the fold on page 1.

I'm also pleased to notice that my former paper, The Indianapolis Star, gave the Indianapolis event prominent coverage on page 1. Ditto, the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier.

Readers of the Chicago Sun Times and Tribune and the New York Times weren't so well served. No page 1 coverage of tea parties.

And then there's the quality of the coverage. Here again, Michael Wilkey of the Sun got it right. His story is an unbiased, concise account of what happened.

Any journalist worthy of the title understands that when you cover an emotionally charged public event like this, your credibility is on the line. The people who are there will read or view your efforts and compare your report with what they saw and heard. If you spin it to suit your own views, or even if you just miss the point, they will know and they will never trust you again.

That's what happened with CNN's Susan Roesgen at a Chicago Tea Party in what is the most egregious example of journalistic malpractice I've seen in a long, long time. Her biography on the CNN web site claims she graduated from the University of Montana with highest honors. The university apparently doesn't teach journalistic ethics and objectivity.

How hard is it to just stick a microphone in front of a protester and let him state his point of view? What kind of loon thinks it's a reporter's job to lecture the person being interviewed? What kind of news organization would tolerate this kind of unprofessional behavior?

In a rational world, Susan Roesgen would return to her office and find herself fired with all of the stuff from her desk in a cardboard box.

But then maybe CNN really stands for Crazy News Network.

Check out Jon Stewart's thoughts on Roesgen's and CNN's work covering the flood in Fargo, N.D.


Who would think the day would come when Comedy Central has better news judgment than CNN?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Wifi Chronicles (continued)

april16mall I’m back at the Mall at Turtle Creek on their free Wifi, but I feel like going home and taking a nap after a generous lunch at the best Italian restaurant in town.

I noticed the “Wifi is down” sign is still on the door at Hastings’s Hardback Cafe today. I finally got a response on Tuesday to my two emails and a phone complaint about the protracted (more than a month) outage:

We apologize for the inconvenience this causes you.  I have contacted our helpdesk team and they have been working to get this back up and running as soon as possible.   We have been working towards a more stable WiFi environment for all of our Hastings stores/cafe's.  We have been testing a new solution in a couple of other locations and are very close  to getting this resolved so we can get the WiFi up and running again for our customers.   Our plan is to send the new equipment needed to resolve this issue in the Jonesboro location in the next week or so.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us and we hope to have this resolved soon.
Thank you,

Customer Service

So we should expect to see Wifi restored here in the next week. Or so.

Whatever. The food court in the mall is starting to grow on me – something I probably never would have checked out if Hastings had kept their Wifi up and running.

Jonesboro Tea Party

jonesboro tea 01 jonesboro tea 02


I went to the Jonesboro Tea Party last evening with our BMW rider friend Deb (that's her with the bumper sticker).

Maria doesn't go to political stuff because it would represent a conflict of interest for a newspaper editor. I, on the other hand, am no longer hampered by that consideration since I'm retired.

The Jonesboro affair was better attended than the one in Paragould - bigger city, bigger turnout. I estimated the crowd at 300-400. It was also more structured with more speakers, most of whom made their points concisely and eloquently.

The exception was an older guy who spoke first and got off on a rambling tangent about the "green" movement as it affects our economics and lifestyles. While his points about making better use of our coal and oil resources were well taken, I thought his ridicule of wind turbines was ill-informed and ill-considered, since the German wind turbine firm Nordex is building its U.S. manufacturing plant right here in Jonesboro. Insulting what will soon be a major employer and huge economic force in the region is hardly good judgment.

And, he missed the basic underlying point that human-influenced global warming is a hideous lie, based on repeatedly discredited junk science, that is being used by the Obama crowd and other moonbats to drive their agenda. Developing alternative energy sources is the right thing to do because it's a step forward, not because the uninformed think the planet will turn tropical if we don't.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rightwing Extremists!

The Department of Homeland Security released a report the other day that expressed grave concerns over "rightwing extremists."

Here's a passage from the report:

(U//LES) Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

I spent an hour or so with about 200 of these dangerous radicals in downtown Paragould, Ark. as they tried to whip passersby into a frenzy of racist and political rage.

Here is the face of terroristic rightwing extremism in the American heartland:

tea02 tea01 tea03 tea04 tea05 tea06 tea07

Yes, Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security needs to keep a watchful eye on these dangerous revolutionaries who actually believe in the Constitution, and especially that seditious 10th Amendment, not to mention all of that bilge about free speech and the right to peaceful assembly.

With any luck at all, these people will be in concentration camps by winter.

(And if you can't tell this is heavy sarcasm, you're a brain-damaged moonbat.)

Happy Birthday, Morgan!

goobertownmorgan Today is my stepdaughter Morgan's 24th birthday.

Morgan is finishing up a master's degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. and we're very proud of her.

Happy Birthday, Morgan!

An ad for Steve's band

fusecard These are the people my son Steve spends his evenings with, playing various venues in Las Vegas. Steve is the second from the right.

Check out their web site here.

Here's their schedule through the end of May:

Apr 19 - 10:00P - Margaritaville
Apr 22 - 8:00P - House of Blues
Apr 28 - 9:00P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
Apr 29 - 8:00P - House of Blues, Foundation Room
May 4 - 9:00P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 5 - 9:00P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 8 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 9 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 10 - 10:00P - Margaritaville
May 11 - 9:00P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio hotel & Casino
May 12 - 9:00P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio hotel & Casino
May 15 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 16 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 17 - 10:30P - Margaritaville
May 19 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 20 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 21 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 22 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 23 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 24 - 9:30P - Bally’s
May 29 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 30 - 6:15P - Fontana Lounge - Bellagio Hotel & Casino
May 31 - 10:00P - Margaritaville

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't mess with Texas

Obama's handlers hand-picked the crowd, issued digital cameras

This is from

Stung by the contempt in which their figurehead is rightly held by the military, Comrade Obama's handlers set to work trying to prove that even the leftist punk who denounced our troops in Afghanistan as "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians" can be made to appear as if he is loved by our protectors in arms.

Macsmind received an email from sergeant who was present at Obama's pre-announced "surprise" visit to Camp Victory:

"We were pre-screened, asked by officials "Who voted for Obama?", and then those who raised their hands were shuffled to the front of the receiving line. They even handed out digital cameras and asked them to hold them up."
Take a look at the picture at AP and notice all the cameras are the same models? Coincidence? I think not.

Via Hot Air:


Maybe Obama should get some help staging phony photo ops from his friends out in Hollyweird. But this farcical event was authentic enough to pass for real in the mainstream media.

Avast there!

Avast-iconI decided the other day that I’m asking for trouble using my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on public Wifi connections without some antivirus protection.

But with such limited computing resources, a machine like this needs a very lightweight antivirus program – nothing on the order of Blink or Norton.

After a little research, I decided to try Avast from it’s small and free and has good reviews from user forums.

It slowed things down noticeably when I installed it, but I’ve since turned off several features that I don’t need and now it’s unnoticeable.

The local TV station had an editorial this morning about kids bullying each other on the website.

My wife offered that this is a big problem in some schools. I had to admit, I’ve never been to the site.

So I just checked it out. I went to the local city page and read comments about a current news story I happen to know a few things about. With a few exceptions, it’s just Morons on Parade – a bunch of uninformed dimwits with very limited reading comprehension, most of whom have failed to grasp the central issues of the story and are focusing on irrelevant details and insulting each other.

I won’t go into the issue in question, but it only took me a few seconds to conclude that is a forum for the ignorant and a complete waste of time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tea time

teaparty The Jonesboro, Ark. Tea Party will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Craighead County Courthouse.

I'll be there.

License plate non-drama

It's time to renew our Arkansas license plates.

I tried to do it online the other day, but discovered that I can't because they need proof of our 2007 personal property tax payment, which doesn't exist because we moved here late in '07 and don't owe it.

Sooooo, I get to go to the Revenue Office in Jonesboro (no DMV or BMV in Arkansas) and have them call the county tax collector to confirm that we don't owe any '07 personal property tax, so I can keep our two cars and two motorcycles street legal.

This should be fun. With any luck, I'll be home by dark.




Well, I misjudged that task.

I spent a grand total of 15 minutes in the State Revenue Office, largely because I came prepared with my insurance cards for each vehicle and the odometer readings for each. The total cost of renewing the registration for two cars and two bike: $66.50.

One more thing to like about Arkansas.


How would you pronounce this child's name:  
"Le-a" ???   
Leah??                NO 
Lee - A??            NOPE 
Lay - a??             NO 
Lei??                  Guess Again.  
This child attends a school in Detroit. Her mother is irate because everyone is getting her name wrong.  

It's pronounced "Ledasha." When the mother was asked about the pronunciation of the name, she said, "The dash don't be silent."  
SO, if you see something come across your desk like this, please remember to pronounce the dash.  
If they ask you why, tell them the dash don't be silent.

Happy Birthday, Doreen!

mmc2 Please join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to my friend Doreen Tracey, one of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers.

Doreen now works at Warner Bros. and still lives in Burbank, Calif.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It's a cool rainy Sunday afternoon and I'm chilling at the bookstore listening to John Coltrane while Maria shops next door at Kroger.
This is the kind of Sunday afternoon that's made for napping, which is what Maria and the dogs did earlier.
We did some token yard work this morning, planting some honeysuckle along the fence and raking and burning a pile of leaves and sticks near the future site of our fire pit.

Capt. Phillips rescued from pirates


Like I said, Navy Seals.

The ignorance and naiveté of the media types in covering the sniper action is stunning.

They’re acting like a 25 meter shot for a trained sniper is a huge deal. As the FOX guy outside the captain’s home just pointed out, these guys can hit an apple at 1,000 yards. Making a shot like this is like a layup, he said, regardless of the pitching and rolling of the USS Bainbridge and the lifeboat.

This is, of course, not meant to diminish the importance of today’s events, just to put things into the proper perspective.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yeah, how does Radio Shack survive?

And speaking of RadioShack, I'm reminded of this brilliant piece at TheOnion web site back on April 23, 2007:

FORT WORTH, TX—Despite having been on the job for nine months, RadioShack CEO Julian Day said Monday that he still has "no idea" how the home electronics store manages to stay open.

RadioShack CEO

"There must be some sort of business model that enables this company to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is," Day said. "You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

The retail outlet boasts more than 6,000 locations in the United States, and is known best for its wall-sized displays of obscure-looking analog electronics components and its notoriously desperate, high-pressure sales staff. Nevertheless, it ranks as a Fortune 500 company, with gross revenues of over $4.5 billion and fiscal quarter earnings averaging tens of millions of dollars.

"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" Day asked. "Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's just...weird."


After taking over as CEO, Day ordered a comprehensive, top-down review of RadioShack's administrative operations, inventory and purchasing, suppliers, demographics, and marketing strategies. He has also diligently pored over weekly budget reports, met with investors, taken numerous conference calls with regional managers about "circulars or flyers or something," and even spent hours playing with the company's "baffling" 200-In-One electronics kit. Yet so far none of these things have helped Day understand the moribund company's apparent allure. 

"Even the name 'RadioShack'—can you imagine two less appealing words placed next to one another?" Day said. "What is that, some kind of World War II terminology? Are ham radio operators still around, even? Aren't we in the digital age?"

"Well, our customers are out there somewhere, and thank God they are," Day added.

One of Day's theories about RadioShack's continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients' wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is "still coasting on" an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.

RadioShack Revenues

Day admitted, however, that none of these theories seems particularly plausible.

"I once went into a RadioShack location incognito in order to gauge customer service," Day said. "It was about as inviting as a visit to the DMV. For the life of me, I couldn't see anything I wanted to buy. Finally, I figured I'd pick up some Enercell AA batteries, though truthfully they're not appreciably cheaper than the name brands."

"I know one thing," Day continued. "If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we're screwed."

In the cover letter to his December 2006 report to investors, "Radio Shack: Still Here In The 21st Century," Day wrote that he had no reason to believe that the coming year would not be every bit as good as years past, provided that people kept on doing things much the same way they always had.

Despite this cheerful boosterism, Day admitted that nothing has changed during his tenure and he doesn't exactly know what he can do to improve the chain.

"I'd like to capitalize on the store's strong points, but I honestly don't know what they are," Day said. "Every location is full of bizarre adapters, random chargers, and old boom boxes, and some sales guy is constantly hovering over you. It's like walking into your grandpa's basement. You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers."

Added Day: "I may never know the answer. No matter how many times I punch the sales figures into this crappy Tandy desk calculator, it just doesn't add up."

Fun with electricity


Our electricity failed at 7:10 p.m. yesterday, about the time Maria plugged in the electric skillet.

Given our prior experiences, we supposed that meant the entire neighborhood was blacked out.

So I fired up the grill to cook the Italian sausages Maria had taken out for dinner. But then I decided, "Screw this! We're going out to dinner."

We were halfway out of our little subdivision when we noticed several neighbors' homes had lights burning.

Uh-oh, that meant it was just us.

I rechecked the circuit breaker panel in the garage and confirmed none of the circuit breakers were tripped. I also noted the absence of a master circuit breaker. How odd, I thought.

Then I called the Craighead Electric Co-op outage number and reported our problem.

We phoned in a pizza order to Papa John's Pizza in Paragould and I went to pick it up, with Maria staying behind to deal with the electric utility guy.

The garage carriage lights were burning brightly when I returned about 35 minutes later. Maria said the repair guy identified the problem as a master circuit breaker that we were unaware of - situated on the outside of the house under the electric meter.

She didn't ask if there would be a charge for the service call, so I can only guess what we'll pay for that bit of information about our home's electrical system.

A short time later, I flipped on the kitchen lights and one of the recessed floodlights blew in a blue flash.

And when I restarted the computers, I discovered that the D-Link wireless router was dead.

I determined the problem was a fried power brick and resigned myself to shopping for a new wireless router today.

This morning, however, I rooted through a box of computer-related cables, wires, power bricks, and remote controls and found one that was a close match. The D-Link power brick had a + core and an output of 5.0 volts and 2.5 amps. The one I found was identical except that its output was 5.0 volts and 2.8 amps. I reasoned that .3 amps shouldn't make a big difference and, even if it fried the router, a new one isn't that expensive and a new router would be sure to give better performance for my money, since the D-Link is more than 5 years old.

So I threw the juice to it and, voila! I was back online.

Oh, and the first replacement floodlight bulb I tried in the kitchen was dead.

I'm curious to see what new electrical surprise awaits me.

My first laptop - the TRS-80 Model 100

trs80-100 This is the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100, considered the world's first laptop computer.

It was announced in 1983 and I had one in March, 1985, when I launched the Metro North Bureau of The Indianapolis News.

The Model 100 retailed for $599 in 1983. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $1,280 in today's dollars, so the three of us who received them to run our suburban bureaus handled them with extreme care. I remember the IT guy at The News telling me, Mike Ellis and Jerry Graf to treat them like we would a pet, don't leave them in hot cars or freezing environments.

The basic model came with 8K of RAM, but ours were increased to a whopping 24K, and an 80C85 CPU that ran at 2.4 MHz. It had RS-232 parallel ports for a bar code reader and an internal 300 baud modem. The LCD display was 40x8 characters and it ran for 16 hours on four AA batteries and also came with an external 9 volt DC power supply.

For data storage, it had a connection for an audio cassette recorder.

You could also buy an optional Disk/Video Interface that made it possible to connect a TV for a monitor and save data to a huge 5¼" floppy disk. I couldn't get the paper to spring for the D/V I, so after about a year in the bureau, I bought my own.

I remember how incredibly high-tech I felt whipping out my Model 100 in courtrooms, school board meetings, city council meetings and interviews. The reporters for the smaller local papers were positively awe-struck, equipped as they were, with pens and notebooks.

The keyboard had a nice feel to it, but it was a bit noisy, so our IT guy put little dental rubber bands under each key to muffle the sound.

Even though 24K seems like a pathetically small memory capacity, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I ran out of memory while taking notes. In those cases, I just started deleting files that I had already backed up to tape or disk to free up memory for more notes.

The Model 100 weighed 3.8 pounds.

Compare that with my new Dell Inspiron Mini 9, that has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of solid state memory, weighs in at just 2.28 pounds and cost only $250 (about $125 in 1985 dollars).

Check back in another 24 years and see how pathetic the Mini 9 looks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today's fortune cookie message


My amazing daughter-in-law Ruth Greenberg

ruth02 I just got an email from my son Sean with a link to the Oregon Public Broadcasting site where they have a Fabulous 7 minute 20 second feature on his wife Ruth Greenberg's amazing mosaic work.

ruth03It's very gratifying to see Ruth's work starting to get the attention and praise it deserves. She really is a pioneer in the mosaic medium.

She has pieces in private homes and public places all over the United States - everything from a Manhattan office ruth04building to a Catholic church baptistry to an rural Oregon yurt.

She does a lot of custom commission work and also produces patented decorative tiles that can withstand the heat of a fireplace firebox.

You can view the video here and click here to see her web site.