Wednesday, July 30, 2003

One Version of the Story

Free Speech News brings to our attention this story about Qusay Hussein's son, Mustafa, who was killed in the raid that killed his father and uncle Uday. It was written by Lisa Walsh Thomas of

Mustafa Hussein: Genesis of a legend

"The four people in the villa, who defended themselves with only small arms for approximately four hours, included an aide to one of the brothers and Qusay's 14-year old son, Mustafa."


"But, according to information available as of July 27,[...] 14-year old Mustafa, grandson to Saddam Hussein, held off eighty or more soldiers until he too was finally overcome and shot to death.


"There is surely a devastated mother somewhere, a best friend, a girl who had caught her breath once upon speaking with the teenager. Maybe it will come out that there are keepsakes, first shoes, a lucky soccer ball, a piece of artwork from a child artist. That we have to leave to the movies. OR to those who preserve all they can of their heroes. "


"Whereas Saddam, Uday, and Qusay — unless they have been demonized out of any semblance to truth — were cruel to their own people, young Mustafa is probably squeaky clean. We don't yet know, but it could be difficult for those forces against Iraqi insurgence to convincingly paint any fourteen year old as 'evil.'"
It's interesting to read some insight into the life of this 14-year-old boy (I've blogged about him here and here), although I'm not certain of the veracity of the sources Ms. Thomas cites (and she doesn't identify them). She paints Mustafa with a fairly glowing brush, of what was, and what could have been.

I sincerely hope that he was a young man thrust into a deadly situation, but had not yet risen (or sunk) to the levels of evil of his father, uncle, or grandfather. I hope this, yet I do not feel it is likely. It would be nice to believe he had a lucky soccer ball, or a girlfriend, but it seems more likely to me that he had a lucky AK-47 and was preparing to follow in his family's traditional treatment of women. I may be wrong - I hope so - but I would love to know of more verifiable accounts.

Read the whole thing. I don't think I agree with a number of the facts presented, simply because they're unverified or hearsay, but it's definitely thought-provoking.

Rocky Top Welcome

Welcome to the newest members of the Rocky Top Brigade: Opinari, Dreams of Flying Fish, Bugly, and my homegirl (also known as "The ChickDimwit Across The Hall") Teresa at HATamaran.

Don't be scared - just talk slowly and quietly and most of the other RTB members won't spook too easily....

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

This Just In...

Doctors' handwriting frequently not legible
"Because pharmacists throughout the country struggle to read illegible prescription orders, some states are making illegibility illegal."
Nothing says "jailhouse reputation" better than being in the Big House on an illegalegibility rap.

In other news: the sky is blue, water is wet, I'm Chevy Chase and you're not.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Kevin, What Are You Doing With That Tape Recorder? Nothing, Mom...(snicker)

'Saddam' Mourns Sons in New Audiotape

"A man purporting to be Saddam Hussein (search) acknowledged the death of his sons in an audiotape broadcast Tuesday on Al-Arabiya television, saying they had been 'martyred for Iraq' and that America will be defeated."


"'Even if Saddam Hussein has 100 children other than Uday and Qusay, Saddam Hussein would offer them the same way,' the speaker said on the tape."
Well, I know I refer to myself in the third person all the time. I was just saying to my wife the other day, "You know, dear, Barry would like to mow the yard, but due to the impending demise of thousands of innocent bugs, Barry has decided to stay inside and take a nap..."

"The voice on the tape, which was monitored in Cairo, said it was recorded July 2003, but the exact date was not clear."
The fantastic new state-of-the-art audiotape dating techniques are truly fascinating. I mean, it hasn't been too long since we were only guessing at the year of a recording - now it's down to the month! Amazing...

"There was no immediate verification that the voice on the tape was, in fact, Saddam. But U.S. officials said the voice sounded like the deposed Iraqi leader."
Well, they convinced me. You know, I do a pretty good Kermit the Frog impression - I'll bet I could tape myself and people would think Jim Henson had come back to life.

"The last audio recording attributed to Saddam was broadcast by Al-Arabiya on July 23 and claimed to have been recorded July 20. U.S. intelligence officials said it was probably authentic.
"Sir, we've fully analyzed this tape and have come to the careful conclusion that it's could actually be the real deal".

"Are you sure of your analysis?"

"Yes sir, it's probably authentic."

"Good enough for me!"

"The other recording said Saddam was speaking on July 14 and referred to the new Governing Council of Iraq. U.S. intelligence officials said that recording also was probably authentic and was further evidence that Saddam survived the war."
Wow, this "probably authentic" meme really gets around. That must be the same department that determines whether politicians' tax returns are "probably authentic".

Seriously, though, I think there's some 14-year-old kid with an old Panasonic tape recorder disguising his voice as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and mailing tapes to Al-Arabiya television, Al-Jezeera, Al-Delgreco and whoever else will play them. Right now he's sitting eating a bag of Doritos and laughing his head off...

Another Blogspot Defection

Michael Totten has moved offsite to Adjust your links accordingly.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Bark bark bark Yip yip yip whiiiiiiiiiiinnee bark bark bark yip bark yip whiiiiiiiiiiine bark bark bark yip yip bark bark....

Make it s-t-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-p!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pictures...oh, We've Got Pictures!

Well, we named her - I think. Ramona, from the Beverly Cleary children's books my son loves me to read to him. Click on a picture below for larger version...

Ramona, age 6 weeks
Ramona, age 6 weeks

GiggleGirl and Ramona
GiggleGirl and Ramona

BrainyBoy (v7.5) and Ramona
BrainyBoy (v7.5) and Ramona

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Oh My, What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

So the familial unit is out tooling the highway and byways of Knox County this afternoon, soaking up some sun, seein' the sights. We go through downtown so GiggleGirl can see the "Sunspear". Hang a Ralph to travel down Chapman Highway (also known as the Highway of Doom(tm)) and pass all the lovely strip malls and mom&pop tattoo parlors. If you keep driving Chapman to its para-logical conclusion, you run smack-dab into Sevierville, gateway to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains beyond.

But wait! We're not headed that far today, our destination is a bit closer in - the bustling metropolis of Seymour, TN. What's in Seymour, TN this fine Saturday afternoon in June that could attract a family of four in the proverbial RugRat Chariot? Baseball game? Nope. Cookout? Guess again, Chester. We're headed for the parking lot of a little church near Wendy's. You see, GiggleGirl's daycare teacher (soon to be unemployed, see previous rants) seems to have something she needs to get taken off her and her family's hands. Several somethings, actually, and they wiggle, bark, whimper and poop.

We's a-getting a puppy!

Now, those who've known me personally might now I've never owned a dog in my life. Up until I got married, I'd never owned a cat (now we have two). My wife, however, has gotten it into her head that she wants a Bassett Hound, has always wanted a Bassett Hound, and will not let me forget she wants a Bassett Hound till we're old and gray.

Worse, the meme has infected our kids. The add-a-dog-to-the-family meme spread through our little ka-tet faster than a liberal blogger posting new fake WMD documentation evidence. Dad, however, was the only holdout. Yes...mean, unfair, cold-as-ice, might-as-well-throw-gerbils-in-a-blender Dad.

Ok, we'll go look.

So we did - and there they were. Momma Bassett and her 5 or 6 wriggling balls of fur. Cute, ok, they were cute. The littlest one is brown & white, and she was the runt of the litter.

Mom and GiggleGirl were charmed. Even Dad gives it a begrudging nod (I know, call me a curmudgeon). BrainyBoy v7.5 was less than enthused...

Now, I haven't said much about BrainyBoy. He's 7-1/2, going on 8 and knows everything about everything. He also knows this - he likes dogs, just...from a distance. A safe distance. Say, 1.26 light years distance.

While the girls are all ooh-ing and ahh-ing together on little Rain (that's the name the owners gave it), BrainyBoy is sulking back at the van. Dad investigates:

Dad: "Hey C. c'mon over here and hold the puppy!"

C: "Um, no, that's ok. I'll just stay here in the van."

Dad: "Huh? Why?"

C: "Well, because it's hot outside...."

Dad: (Yeah, right) "C'mon, just hold him. Er, her. it is."

C: "NO!"

Dad: "I thought you wanted one of these?"

C: "I do, I want one really bad. I just don't want to hold one..."

<Fast forward past much hysterics, pouting, whining, and cajoling. Eventually he accedes when given an ultimatem...>

Dad: "C., either you walk yourself over to that pack of puppies - the mom is safely restrained elsewhere - and pick up that little pup and hold it, or we're not taking one home tonight."

Well, I was proud of him. With his back against the wall and his manboyhood in question, he did exactly that. He marched over, picked her up like a 3 pound ham and promptly set her back down again. He looked over at us, "Well?"

Laughing, we gave in. Pup's ours!

Now that the barrier has been broken, BrainyBoy was happy to have her ride in his lap all the way home (with a stop-off at PetSmart for food, bowl and other supplies).

Now everyone's in bed, pup's been watered, fed, walked, introduced to Fang and Crusher the Cat Enforcers, amid various hissing and arching of backs - oh, they'll get along fine. Eventually. Someday. When cockroaches finally rule the earth. But that's another story.

So, we're the proud owners of a 6-week-old Basset/Beagle mix with chocolate brown eyes and a sweet disposition. And she doesn't even smell too bad, either (one of my big dog-hangups). I'll post pix once we get them developed.

I've got great video of her romping with the kids in the front yard, too.

Our next task: a name. None of us really like Rain, so we need another name. Our preference is something from a Disney flick or a cartoon that the kids like. My first choice is Jesse, from Toy Story II - other names floated have been Lilo, Stitch, or Francince from the Arthur cartoons.

Oh, and anyone with special knowledge of raising Bassett Hound puppies - please inquire within.

God help us all ;)

Suffer the Children

I agree that the world is better off without Uday and Qusay Hussein, and that they were enemy combatants and not political opponents. They were not "assassinated"; they were given ample notice and opportunity to give themselves up, but they opened fire on our troops first and we had no choice but to commence the seige on the house.

I also, however, agree with some people's notion that feeling elation in the deaths of other people is a situation to be avoided. If the opportunity exists for capture with minimal casualties, then that should be the first choice.

What still bothers me is the the lack of information I've been able to find regarding Qusay's son, ______. Was he a full participant in his dad's and grandad's reign of terror? Doubtful, or we would have heard of him before. Was he fully innocent, not participating in the family business? Also doubtful, since he is related, male, and of a certain age. Did he deserve to die in a hail of bullets, TOW missles, tank rounds and goodness-knows-what-else we tossed in there? Well, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and had daddy Qusay been a real daddy he would've gotten him out of harm's way long ago - or in a pinch, sent him out to surrender in the 10-minute time span the American soldiers gave them to surrender.

Ok, playing on this little fantasy, what if Jr. had surrendered or been captured. Would he have been help as a POW or enemy combatant? What would you do with a 14-year-old? Again, much would have depended on his mindset- one has to look only to Dylan Klebold, late of Columbine High School, to know what a 14-year-old is capable of - so it would not be prudent to simply release the young fella. But would we have any right to keep him, maybe to rehabilitate him? Or maybe, you know, as bait to capture Grandpa? Naah, too much Dean Koontz, not enough Tom Clancy.

But none of that happened, because he died in a gun battle protecting his father and uncle. He died when he should've surrendered, should've been sent away for protection, should've been with his mother and other sisters - wherever they are.

He should've never been anywhere near that house, never should've been asked to fight. "Dad - I want to help!" "No, son - it's too dangerous. Go into the cellar and wait for me." "But Dad, I'm old enough! I hate the Americans - I can help you!!" "Quiet, now - go! Now!"

Well, Qusay, old pal.. You were part and parcel to the slaughter of thousands of Shiites. You're fingerprints, along with your father and brother, are on the handle of every gun used to put a bullet into the head of a rebel Iraqi. You turned on the plastic shredders, you filled the acid baths, you tortured the dissidents, killed the children and raped the women.

Guess what - you took the time for one last murder. Congratulations, Qusay, you sick twisted bastard, by not doing what a father should have done, you succeeded in murdering your own son. I hope his death was the last thing you ever saw, and your last thoughts were...

"What have I done?"

Friday, July 25, 2003

Drops in the Bucket

Blogging by the Numbers

"The blog [define] revolution is well underway, giving every Internet user the opportunity to become an online journalist. While it is difficult to calculate exactly how many individuals are using Web sites as journals, Blogcount estimates that there are roughly 2.4 million to 2.9 million active Weblogs as of June 2003.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. VII

SayUncle at, well, SayUncle has the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

SU adds his normal brand of pithy comments and witty sayings to each of the assembled links. Collect 'em, trade 'em with your friends!

Random Musings

  • What a gorgeous evening in East Tennessee. Pleasant temps, not too humid, partly sunny, with a hint of a rainbow in the clouds. Me and the familial units traipsed to the good ole' IHOP this evening for dinner, looking for some breakfast. I would've liked to have gone out on the back deck to read after the kids went to bed, but the door sticks, curse the luck, and I can't open it or close it without making a big bang that rattles the house....

  • I just finished "The Waste Lands", the third book in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. I've already read the current four volumes once, but I'm brushing back up on them in anticipation of #5 being released this fall, with the final two next year.

    I find an interesting point, in that the heroes of the story have formed a ka-tet, or in our language something like "blood brothers", or "friends bound by fate". I can't think of a group I've been around in my time that could be thought of as "friends bound by fate," but I do remember groups of people that defined different parts of my life.

    I used to be Program Director for the UT Wesley Foundation, the Methodist Student Center on the UT campus. While a student at UT and soon after the Wesley Program Director, my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I became good friends with several other students who were regulars at Wesley. We hung around together, enjoyed each other's company - even played Dungeons & Dragons. I miss that type of easy, college friendships - adult friendships are much more complex and complicated, since they are frequently based on the lives and activities of our children. In the old days, we could gather at Wesley to watch a football game, gather around the piano and sing strange songs, go to dinner, go to the movies - as a group, each member possessing its own dynamic with the others, but so comfortable with each other's company we were like family. I do hope my kids have the fortune to come across groups of friends like these.

    My wife and I ran into a couple of these folks the other day - we passed them coming into a restaurant as we were leaving - and it was a bit awkward. There was still the old hand-shaking and back-slapping, but we'd all changed. Children were scrambling around our feet, we were physically different (around the middles, especially, us guys), and the tone of conversation was less flighty and more down-to-earth. Plus there were relationship changes beneath the surface that were not obvious, but apparant after later consideration.

    Things change, gunslingers continue their quests, and the world moves on.

    It's ka.

  • I'm playing SimCity 3000, and if anyone has any advice for attracting High-Tech Industries, I'd be much obliged ;)

  • My son's playing Zoo Tycoon, and his poor animals keep catching horrible diseases because their zookeepers won't keep their enclosures clean from all the animal poop. The animals don't die - it's a family game - but the sad-looking lions and giraffes mope around and keep flopping on the ground in agony. Good thing there's an off switch - I don't think I can take that kind of suffering.

  • My daughter, GiggleGirl:
    Interjexions - show citement....Halleyula, halleyula, halleyulaaaaaaah, yeaaaaaaaaah..

    (pause for effect)

    Darn, that's the end!

    Gotta love that SchoolHouse Rock DVD - once she learns the Preamble like God intended it to be learned (in song, from a 3-minute ABC cartoon series), I'll be done with her education.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


I'm about two weeks late and $1.98 short of welcoming the newest Rocky Top Brigade members: Free Speech News and Team Rock. Apologies, and welcome to the club, fellas!

Those tapes....

Purported Saddam tape urges resistance

Another week, another audiotape by a supposedly dead ruler. I have one question - if they have the technology to make an audiotape of Saddam, wouldn't it be fairly easy to make a videotape of him? If his aim is to actually re-moralize his followers, troops, and other Ba'athists - wouldn't it make more sense to shoot a video of himself to assuage all doubts?

These days the gap between audio and video technology is miniscule, even in Iraq to someone with Saddam's connections.

To me, regardless of how sure analysts are of the voice-print, until he releases a videotape there should be no reason to believe he's still alive.

And you can go back and re-substitute Osama for Saddam, and it would be the same thing.

Maybe he's dead, maybe not, but I doubt he's (they're) making the recordings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

More Breaking News - Eiffel Tower on fire

.... What the heck's going on today??

Watch it here live:

UPDATE: Apparently, no big deal...

My Two Sons

Uday and Qusay Found and/or killed???

"A U.S. government official told CNN the Bush administration is "reasonably optimistic" that the two sons have 'met their maker.'", where have I heard that before??? Hm. Well, we'll see.

UPDATE: If this is true, apparantly Qusay's teenage son was killed as well:

"A senior Pentagon official said one of the two other bodies appeared to be that of a teenage boy. U.S. officials noted that Qusay has a teenage son."
I never heard Qusay had a son, much less that he was active in the regime. While it's possible, even likely he was a black-hearted as his father and grandfather, it's still a shame to see children corrupted by the sins of their fathers when they should be playing baseball, or starting to like girls, or learning about the good things in the world. All this kid had seen were likely hate, torture, rape and murder.


Monday, July 21, 2003

And now, from the "Desparate to Get Some Attention" Department...

'Mr. Ray' Sues Pixar, Says Hurt by 'Finding Nemo'

Taking a lesson from director Spike Lee, children's entertainer Mr. Ray on Tuesday said he was suing Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation Studios Inc. because a fishy character in hit movie "Finding Nemo" was destroying his reputation.


The Pixar movie "Finding Nemo," distributed by Disney and likely to be the second-biggest-grossing animated movie ever, follows a father fish's search for his lost son and includes a kindly school teacher character, a manta ray named "Mr. Ray."

Use of the "Mr. Ray" name would "obliterate and destroy Plaintiff's reputation" and the market for his products, the Mr. Ray from New Jersey said.


Yodlowsky in a statement compared his plight to that of director Spike Lee, who sued and settled with Viacom Inc. over ownership rights to his professional name when the media conglomerate decided to rename its TNN network "Spike TV."
Well, at least he's honest about his dishonesty...

Friday, July 18, 2003


Blah blah blah Lies blah blah blah blah Allegations blah blah blah Plane Trips blah blah blah nukes blah blah blah Republican weasels blah blah blah Liberal jerks blah blah blah blah blah blah Coulter blah blah blah Robertson blah blah blah Bush blah blah blah Saddam blah blah blah STFU! blah blah blah I'm right, you're wrong blah blah blah No, you're wrong and I'm right!! blah blah blah nothing nothing nothing.

Welcome to the BlogosphereTM, summer 2003.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Our Long National Nightmare is Over

Looney Tunes to debut on DVD

If any of my family is reading dee do dee doChristmasdoo dee doo dee doo.....

(Hat Tip: Mark Evanier)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Tolkien Quote of the Day

To all administrators, CEO's, and other number-crunchers and bottom-liners out there, a bit of advice (paraphrased from the good right Reverend J.R.R):

"Do not meddle in the affairs of parents - for they are definitely not subtle, and very quick to anger."
Don't mess with our kids.

Monday, July 14, 2003

The End is Nigh

Websense, the auto-website filtering software application that is used to block out all Entertainment, Adult, Music and other "inappropriate" material to cubicle dwellers around the world has done the unthinkable.

The Bleat has been blacklisted.

Apparently, Good Mr. Lileks and his merry band of matchbooks, Jaspars, odd foods and Gnats have been deemed to hot for the office and can no longer be accessed by us foolish mortals....

I'm asking the Blogosphere to do a favor to us poor, downtrodden souls who will now miss their morning fix of wit, wisdom and trips to the Apple store:

Click here to request Websense his site be removed from the "Entertainment" category. This is their online form for such requests. It does require good reasoning or explanations as to why it should be removed from the restricted list, so be creative.

I already used the online form this morning, because they just started filtering the website for The Oakridger, Oak Ridge TN's daily newspaper. Brilliant, folks. I know the news today is more and more entertainment based, but this is ridiculous.

Interestingly enough, none of the Blogger/Blogspot sites are filtered. And Kevin at Lean Left's was filtered, but isn't anymore. So I guess things can change.

As they say, vote early and vote often...

Friday, July 11, 2003

Yo ho, Yo ho, A Pirate's Life for Me...

Run, stagger, sail, swim or just walk along the bottom of the ocean and go see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

What a flick! Spoilers ahead, so avast, matey!

My favorite parts:

1) The little nods they put in as homage to the Disneyland/Walt Disney World ride, such as the jailed pirates coaxing the dog with the key in his mouth, the grogging/reveling/rumming/wenching by the pirates in the seaside village, the treasure-strewn pirate cave, and several other touches that are obvious if you're a fan of the ride.

2) One of the biggest worries I had was that they would not use the "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me" song in the movie, but they did - in fact, the little girl singing it at the beginning are the first words of the film. True, I would've liked to heard a full-blown version (Jack Sparrow, the pirate captain, did promise to teach the song to his crew after all), but alas - unless it played late into the end credits, they didn't sing.

3) Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow - a half-drunk, half-effeminate (never could figure out which half) pirate captain that looked like he was channeling Tim Curry and Steve Tyler of Aerosmith.

4) The pirate ship and the British Navy ship pass alongside about 20 feet apart, firing broadside agin' their timbers and blast each other to smithereens.

5) The plucky heroine looks like Brooke Shields, and wields a, whatever that big piece of wood she wielded at the end.

6) The music...I've already ordered the soundtrack from Amazon ;)

7) Someone actually used the term "Davy Jone's Locker". I half expected ex-Monkee Davy Jones to make a cameo appearance...

It had a lot of silly parts in it - two of the bad guy pirates and two of the British soldiers are there for comic relief, which is unusual to have two pairs of Timon/Pumba type characters in a movie, but it worked. There was almost too much slapstick humor contrasting with the violent swordplay and sea battles, but it was all tongue-in-cheek.

So go see it, and be prepared to enjoy 2-1/2 hours at the movies.

They're really bad eggs, too ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Dude, Where's My Blog?

Ron Rosenbaum and Michael Totten show their entries in the "Dude, Where's My..." literary sweepstakes.

Here are mine:

Raiders of the Lost Ark -- Dude, Where's My Box?
Dumb and Dumber -- Dude?
Finding Nemo -- Dude, Where's My Son?
Silence of the Lambs -- Dude, Where's My Lunch?

Macbeth -- Dude, Where's My Throne?
Alice in Wonderland -- Dude, Where's My Hassenfeffer?

Down the Drain

Oh, crap.

The Bottom Line

Companies have a bottom line to maintain, but it sucks when it's at the expense of their employees.

Our company DayCare is being shut down after 25+ years in business, and now we have to find another place for GiggleGirl. She only had one year left till Kindergarten.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Bookends, Part 2

Somewhere in Georgia halfway between Macon and Atlanta (on the way home to Knoxville) we made a pit-stop at a gas station. Nice little town, nice Texaco or whatever. I stayed in the Windstar (passenger seat) while the rest of the family went inside to, well, whatever.

Another car pulled up ahead of me on the other side of the front door, and two young men got out. Both seemed to be in their early-mid twenties. The first had on a black muscle shirt/T-Shirt-with-sleeves-ripped-out that sported a Confederate flag on the front, plus some other pictures and writing I couldn't make out. The other had on a similar tank shirt plus numerous menacing-looking tattoos.

Oh, and he was bald.

A third chap stayed in the back seat as the first two ambled into the store.

Leaping to Conclusion Time - they're going to rob this convenience store, shoot my family and drive off laughing into the sunset. Well, that didn't make much sense because the guy was in the back seat - hardly get-away-driver position, although my experience in knocking over gas stations is limited. So that theory went nowhere.

There was a bumper sticker stuck to the top of the rear window - a website address,, but it was too far away and too small to make out. So I waited, keeping one wary eye on the car and another on the door to the market. A couple of times I almost got out and went in to check, but eventually everyone came back safe and sound. As we drove away the two gentlemen returned to their car - six packs in tow - and got it. I was able to read the bumper sticker as we passed their car:


Ok, a German tank in common usage; I'm sure it actually has a German definition. And faust too.

Well, look kids - you've seen your first for-real, in-the-flesh skinhead.

When we got home I looked up on the web (I'm not linking to it). It's a "racial pride" record label, with bands sporting dark names that would make MegaDeath look like the Bay City Rollers, and an online store sporting goodies that made Maurice's seem as tame as your neighborhood garage sale.

Nazi flags, Aryan nation paraphernalia. White power. The whole 9 meters.

My wife said the gentlemen behaved themselves in the story - she had no idea who they were at the time - but that the clerk behind the counter was black. She hadn't noticed them acting different toward him, although living in Georgia near Atlanta I'm sure they're forced to make do every day.

What made my skin crawl was suspecting very heavily that I was looking at people who would very likely work a black man over if given the opportunity. Depending on the level of their commitment, maybe even kill him. And only for the crime of being black.

These were probably the real deal - no silly states-rights controversy here, just hate. Now, to be truthful there were no black employees at Maurice's when we stopped there the week prior, and I didn't notice any black customers, but I don't have any real feeling they would be made to feel anything worse than uncomfortable coming in there.

That's mostly play-acting - trumping up a political cause to give oneself the excuse to discriminate. But with the two gentlemen from Georgia, that puts it into perspective. There are evil people in the world, people who would kill to achieve supremacy of the white race. Or Communism, or Fascism, or Islam.

On a cool lovely day in September we saw the threat that exists from the outside, and on a warm humid day in July I remembered that threats exist everywhere.

What's ironic about this is: myself, being white, was more than likely safe from these gentlemen (at least from a hate-type crime). Not being black, they likely wouldn't have thought twice about me as a threat.

Hey, but as a good man once said, "That which you do to the least of them, you also do to me." Racial and religious fanatacism are wrong, and we must feel the pain of those wronged as sharply as if it were done to ourselves.

We are one.

This Just In

Al-Jazeera to Broadcast New Hitler Tape

The al-Jazeera network indicated strongly today that it was preparing to broadcast an audio tape featuring the voice of former German Chancellor and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Sources reveal the tape was recorded only weeks ago and delivered to the network in a tank on Saturday. In forceful German, the Feuhrer praised the brave German people, vowing to continue the struggle to defend the Fatherland. He piled curses and accusations on the American infidels and promised to do all in his power to end the destructive conflict facing his people and bring order to the world.

Experts who have analyzed the tape are mixed in their assessment of its authenticity. Voice-print anaylsis would be difficult due to the lack of verifiable recordings made by Hitler since the mid-1940's and the quality of the recording equipment of that time, but the experts believe it's only a matter of time until positive identification is made.

"The vocal inflections, the rhetoric, the accent - all of Hitler's speech characteristics are there on the tape, even the cheering of the crowds in the background are consistent with his oratorical skills, " remarked Hans Panzer, German vocal expert. "In fact, they are very similar in tone and style to the recordings of Hitler speaking to the German people during World War II, down to the "Zieg Heils" from the crowds. I am very convinced this is authentic."

There was no comment on why Jesse Owens was mentioned in one part of the new recording, nor was an explanation given for Hitler's references to the ongoing alliances with Benito Mussolini of Italy and the Emperor of Japan. Italy and Japan have been Western allies for 50 years.

"This new recording should prove once and for all that Hitler is still alive, and did not commit suicide in his bunker in Berlin during the waning days of World War II," Panzer continued. "The struggle against Western oppression continues, and should give great comfort and hope to those opposing US interests in the Middle East."

UPDATE: BREAKING NEWS Sources have revealed the possible presence of a new recording from former French leader Napolean Bonaparte now in the hands of al-Jazeera. More on this story as it develops.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Part 2 coming...

Just haven't felt like indepth coverage. More sometime.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Bookends, Part 1

Our trip was fun, yada yada yada and all that, but two experiences right at the beginning and right at the end got me thinking...

Thinking about how much further we still have to go in dealing with bigotry and racism in this country.

Saturday the 28th we drove through South Carolina on the way to Hilton Head and stopped at Maurice's Barbecue. This is a 61-year-old institution in S.C., with several restaurants scattered throughout the state and beyond, probably. My wife had stopped in there on a previous trip and we decided to give it a try.

Maurice Bessinger started the chain many years ago, and his face and influence still play a large part in the place's notoriety. Trouble is, crazy old Maurice is one of those "Southern Heritage" good-old-boys. You know the ones, they proudly fly their Confederate Stars-n-Bars, and insist on the absolute soveriegnty of the states rights over the good of the country. Maurice was instrumental in the fight to keep the Confederate flag part of the S.C. state flag and keep it flying over the capital building in Columbia. He once pulled down the US Flag and raised the Confederate and S.C. state flags in its place to protest the state's interpretation of the 10th amendment.

His restaurant and his website have "Truth Stores", where you can buy his book (only $19.95 plus shipping!) and other gems such as "The South Was Right", and "Myths and Realities of American Slavery", and "Arguing the Case for Southern Secession"...not to mention picking up the latest in Confederate flags, "10th Amendment Heritage Protector" T-Shirts, and CSA Songbooks.

Now, I'm Southern-born, Southern-bred and I'll be Southern till I die - but I'm an American first, Tennesseean second and Southerner third. This kind of anti-patriotism makes me sick, and makes me wonder about what nightmares people like this have at night - nightmares of Federal Policemen coming in the middle of the night to dissolve the state boundaries and chain us up in the yokes of governmental oppression. We've seen here locally what paranoia of what the government might do to you can cause - the traumitization of a high-school girl.

Interestingly, although the website boasts a plethora of statements, fact-sheets, press releases, diatribes and other musings by Maurice and others about the issue regarding state's rights, they never come out and print the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution. I'll do it here, for completeness:


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Now, I'm no Constitutional scholar and don't pretend to understand all the nuances intended by the Founding Fathers or interpreted by the courts since it was written, but it seems to me mostly the amendment says that where there is not a specific federal regulation, the states are free to create their own

When the Constitution was written, the 13 colonies were likely more like the European Union is today - different people of different cultural backgrounds, settled by people from different foreign countries and possesing different ideals. It probably made sense back then to keep a lot of power in the hands of the individual states and not the federal government.

But things are much different now. Aside from accents and some customs, things are pretty much the same in Portland, OR as they are in Austin, TX as they are in Knoxville, TN as they are in Hackensack, NJ. People go to work, go to school, jog in the parks, play baseball, go to the movies, see plays, eat at McDonalds pretty much the same way all over.

That's because with our communication and travel abilities being the way they are today, Americans move from place to place very easily. Just in the past month I've been to Clarksville TN, Las Vegas NV and Hilton Head SC. By way of Savannah/Atlanta and whatever little town in SC that had the Maurice's.

America has been shaken to its roots in the last two years. A lot of people have had to do some soul-searching about what it means to be an American. For the first few months after 9/11, we saw US Flags on every car, every house until it became a status symbol. While it eventually became excessive, it did show who we are - how people who'd never visited New York or Washington grieved for the people in the planes and in the buildings as if they were their own family. I know I did.

The 21st Century in America is not the time to worry about the divine right of full state soveriegnty and Confederacy. Keep it in the 19th century where it belongs - a relic of history.

We are one.

Tomorrow I'll post Part 2, about the incident on the return trip.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Air! Lovely Air!

Well, I'm back. BurnedTanned, rested and otherwise none the worse for wear. I'll post a couple of highlights later, after I finish looking through whatever happened while I was gone. One thing - humidity there was really really really bad...

One week - Saturday morning to Saturday night and never touched a keyboard (except to try and connect my wife's laptop to the condo's phone - didn't work). That's a new record.