Thursday, February 12, 2004

Welcome to the Rocky Top Brigade

New Recruits:

Mick at FishKite from Memphis.

LissaKay at Oh... Really? from Knoxville.

Don at Road Warrior, also from Knoxville.

Doug McDaniel, again from Knoxville.

Welcome, everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Comcast makes $54.6bn hostile bid for Disney

""The combination would create one of the world's leading entertainment and communications companies with an unparalleled distribution platform and an extraordinary portfolio of content assets. The new company would have a presence in all of the nation's top 25 markets, and would propel broadband forward, expanding current services and inspiring new ones," Comcast said.


Comcast's proposed deal would leave Disney shareholders owning 42 per cent of the combined company."

The Mouse without Mike?

"Much of the weakness in Disney's share price is due to the perception, merited or not, that CEO Michael Eisner has become a liability to the company. Roy Disney and Stanley Gold quit Disney's board last year over their long-running dispute with Eisner, and have called for his ouster. In another blow, late last month Pixar pulled out of talks to extend Disney's five-picture deal to distribute Pixar films.

Because Eisner has apparently rejected Comcast's advances, it is unlikely that he would have a job at the combined company."
The conspiracy theorist in me keeps wondering if Roy Disney and Stanley Gold had some behind-the-scenes talks with Comcast as well as Pixar and are working together to boot Eisner and shake up the company.

UPDATE (02/12/04):

Kevin Yee at MiceAge has a nice FAQ explaining a lot of the details of the Comcast offer in easy to understand detail....

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Subliminal Thoughts


  1. Identity:: Secret
  2. Reveal:: Source
  3. Live:: Aid
  4. Attitude:: Bad
  5. Night:: Vision
  6. Nevada:: Las Vegas
  7. Weekend:: Off
  8. Write:: It Down
  9. Friend:: In Need
  10. Seventeen:: And Never Been Kissed
(Hat Tip: Missives Anonymous)


Do you own stock in the Walt Disney Company? Do you actually possess a stock certificate (i.e. not through a mutual fund, 401(k) or brokerage account)?

If so, have you received your Annual Report, Proxy Statement, and Voting Ballot?

If you haven't, you're like a lot of other Disney stockholders, and with the Annual Meeting and YES/NO vote on Michael Eisner and company looming on March 3rd in Philadelphia, some folks are talking....

Here's what they're saying:

"Could Disney be attempting to influence the coming vote by shrinking the amount of time shareholders have to read and return their ballots prior to the meeting?"
Check it out, it may be a case of foot-dragging in order to influence votes....

What to Write, What to Write...

I can't do it - I just can't do it.

Many blogs I turn to these last few days has pages and pages of insightful political commentary on who's right and who's wrong (they're always right, and we're always wrong, if you're keeping score at home).

They offer scores of supporting links and background information and research and first-hand reports and interviews with their kids' nannies, and all that.

Ah, to have the time and commitment.

Well, unfortunately I don't. I'm just the average guy who wants to do the right thing and the dutiful thing when voting. Today's Primary Day in Tennessee. I plan to go to the polls this afternoon after work, and make my choice for Democratic candidate for President.

Trouble is, I'm not sure I want a Democrat as President this time.

In the past, I've always considered myself a Democrat, and have mostly identified myself with liberal causes. The Republican mindset has mostly been alien and unfathomable to me.

But things have changed in this past year. I've seen Democrats and Liberals alike shift to the left and abandon a number of the principles that the party stood for, in order to pursue a partisan agenda against George Bush and his War on Terror/Iraq War plans. For some, it has to do with Bush's National Guard record, to some it's his background as an opportunistic frat rat; for a large, large number of people it's the continuing belief that he, his brother Jeb, the Florida government and the US Supreme Court stole the 2000 election from Al Gore. But underlying all of that is the pure desire for revenge for the eight years of partisan hell the Republicans put this country through opposing Bill Clinton.

That motivation, above almost all others, is what I've seen fueling most of the anti-war movement by the Democrats/Liberals in America. And the desire for revenge and the attitude of being wronged is a very powerful one - so powerful, in fact that in my opinion it's blinded many Americans to the single greatest challenge this country has faced probably since the Cuban Missle Crisis - security of America and its interests versus foreign Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

So far, in the wake of 9/11, we've liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. We've begun the process of introducing freedom and democracy to the people of the Middle East - people who until recently that had been simply a dream, a memory, maybe even just a legend.

We opposed Hitler in World War II because he wanted to take over the world. We were attacked by the Japanese in their bid for world conquest. Except for Pearl Harbor and a few minor engagements off the California coast, the entirety of American involvement in World War II took place overseas - in Europe, in Africa, in Asia and in the Pacific. We didn't wait for war to come to us - we went to it. We saw the threat of Nazi and Imperial expansionist plans, and allied ourselves with other nations more directly threatened to put an end to it. We knew that if we continued our isolationism policies, war would come to New York, or Washington, or L.A. or Cleveland or Kansas City or Denver. America recognized the real threat, committed itself to the cause and ultimately we and our Allies prevailed.

That same threat exists today in the Middle East. It's been brewing for many years - hostages taken in Iran in the 70's, military bunkers attacked in Beiruit in the 80's, the USS Cole attacked in the 90's. Militant Islam Fundamentalists have been planning the forced expansion of their religious doctrine over the rest of the Middle East, Europe and the Americas for years. Recently it's come to a head - the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, and finally destroyed (along with much of the Pentagon) in 2001. The war has come to American soil, much like Pearl Harbor in 1941, and we responded. The US recognized the primary staging areaof Al Quaeda and other terrorist organizations was in Afghanistan and we took care of it, freeing their people from oppresive Taliban rule and turning over the anthill of Al Quaeda.

Terrorism continued to spread throughout the Middle East, primarily fueled by the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Suicide bombings became commonplace as the War on Terror spread. The Middle East is Europe of the 1940's, the unfortunate battleground of this new war. Finally, the worst of the Middle East dictators was given a final ultimatem - disarm or face the consequences. Saddam didn't, and then paid the price. We liberated Iraq, freeing millions more oppressed in that country. Although Iraq was not an Islamic Fundamentalist state per se, terrorist groups such as Al Quaeda were encouraged and fed by them, and Saddam financially supported Palestinian terrorists. Another bulwark in the terrorist army was defeated.

Which brings us to today, and the impending change in leadership. What would have happened in the early 40's had an anti-war movement forced the US to abandon the Allies to the Nazis? Understandably, we still would've had to deal unilaterally with the Japanese, but consider the European theatre primarily in this case. Would England and Russia have been able to hold out by themselves? Would a similar movement have kicked in in England, forcing eventual capitulation? What would the world be like today if the US hadn't pressed on through D-Day? If Germany had conquered England and Russia, would they have developed the Atomic Bomb before we did? Would NYC still exist? Would Washington? Would the US? The American citizenry had no idea at the time of even the existance of atomic weapons, much less their strategic advantages. It would have been catastrophic to world history.

Yes, Edith Keeler was right - peace is the way. But at the wrong time. (If you get the reference, great. If you don't, don't sweat it)

You should be able to see the importance of continuing what we started in the Middle East until the threat of organized Islamic militant fundamentalism is removed from prominance. That's what worries me about a Democratic candidate....

Though all seem committed to a successful end to the Iraqi occupation, what next? Will a Democratic president continue the same (to this point) successful and historically correct strategy in the Middle East, or will they bow to their party wishes and pull back, appeasing the Liberal voters?

Of all the candidates, Joe Lieberman was my first choice to be able to do what was right. Since he dropped out, it seems John Edwards is most likely of the remaining candidates to resist temptation and continue the successful campaign. At this point, he's my choice for the nomination.

But if he ultimately does not win, or even if he's on the ticket as a VP, will I be able to put support behind another candidate like Kerry or Clark or Dean? Would that mean I'd ultimately vote for Bush in November.

We may be hit by a major terrorist attack today. We may not. We may be hit tomorrow, or next month, or in October, or in 2005. Or we may not. But I'm convinced - convinced - that the only reason we have not been hit again, worse than 9/11, since that date is because the policy we're pursuing in the Middle East is the morally, historically, and strategically correct one. Can we afford to take the chance on altering that policy, that's been successful so far at preventing the loss of more American civilian lives?

Absolutely, Bush has faults. He's smug, he's arrogant - if I had to have coffee with him I'd probably want to smack him after about five minutes - and his economic and social policies are wacked out. John Ashcroft is an abomination. Dick Cheney's business dealings are suspect. The Republican establishment is elitist and bigoted.

But the Democrats are supposed to be the antithesis of those things: fair, populous, open to new ideas, dedicated to assisting the the last year that's the farthest thing from their minds. All because of a botched election and anger over the Clinton years.

Is that what you want to build your children's future on? Revenge? Hate? If Kerry wins in November, will you all be satisfied that you're now vindicated? What happens when you're finished clapping yourself on the back and look out the window to see a mushroom cloud where New York used to be? Will you still sleep at night?

Like I said, I'm confused. I want to be loyal to what I believe and I want to do the right thing. It's just so many people have changed the rules I don't know where to look anymore.

I'm going to go play some more Civilization III. At least there I can reboot the computer if I get nuked.

Doesn't work in real life.

Make the right decisions. Make the moral decisions. Make the just decisions.

But decide.

UPDATE (02/11/04):

Regarding Iraq - one common controversy seems to be, are we safer?

Well, since we're all (meaning civilians) still alive 2-1/2 years after 9/11, 2-1/4 years after Afghanistan and almost 1 year after Iraq I'd say yes. And no.

What about invading Iraq made the US safer? Well, like Mike said we made it clear to our enemies what we would do when we feel threatened. And when you stand up to bullies, they tend to back down and leave you alone. We introduced a democratic possibility into the region - hopefully it will become a reality. Where there's hope for a better life, there's a reason to give up on your own country's oppresive leaders. When the people of Syria, or Iran, or even the PLO see that freedom and equality and promise and hope is possible in the Middle East, maybe they'll find another idea to gravitate towards.

Third, Saddam actively supported Palestinian suicide bombers and rewarded their families monetarily. It's a small step to assume from there he might support other terrorists pursuing other similar goals elsewhere, either with money, supplies or materials. Can anyone really see a disconnect, or is it just obvious to me? He had the means to obtain WMD (whether he had them, didn't have them, lost them, forgot them, whatever) and could deliver same to the terrorists if it was to his benefit. Plus, those such as Saddam (and his sons) just can't confine themselves to one country, they get itchy and want to expand. Witness Kuwait in 1990. How much longer before Saddam started eyeing those smaller ME countries again?

Friday, February 06, 2004


Hypothetically speaking, has anyone ever had to change a flat tire when one or more of these conditions didn't apply:

  1. It's raining
  2. It's freezing cold
  3. You have kids in the car, and they're needing to be somewhere
  4. You're sick
  5. Your cell phone can't find a cell, or it's losing power
  6. You curse yourself for not subscribing to AAA just a couple of weeks ago when you had the chance.
Yeah, well take all of the above, and you'll know what my morning was like ;(

Thursday, February 05, 2004


This is the best idea I've seen come around in a long time....

Pizza Party U.S.A.

"Every four years at the end of February, we’ve got that extra day. Is it special? Well maybe it should be. Julius Caesar may have invented Leap Day, but writer Matthew Baldwin invented Pizza Party U.S.A., and he has a petition for you to sign.

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Leap Day should be a holiday. I mean, come on: That pretty much goes without saying. It’s not even a real day. It’s like some kind of extra-dimensional day from the Phantom Zone that only phases into Earth Prime every four years. It’s a 100 percent free 24 hours, and employers should have no claim to it. Getting stuck working on Feb. 29 is like finding five bucks on a playground and having it immediately expropriated by a passing bully."
This is like, the greatest idea ever! A holiday celebrating the most useless yet totally bonus day of the quadrennium by indulging in the most quintessentialy non-essential American food ever. What could be more patriotic!

Well, you too can participate by signing the petition. Let's show Whoever Those Guys In Charge of These Things Are that we mean business!

At this moment that I signed the petition (1:57pm EST 02/05/04) there are 750 names. I will personally take credit for all the rest, due to this blog entry.

Pepperoni to the People!! Mushrooms for the Masses!!! Onions to the Unwashed and Anchovies to the Anguished...

No, wait, hold the anchovies.

(Hat Tip: Sugarfused)

Who Am I?

Bill Hobbs (here) and Michael Williams (here) have both recently commented on the reliability and credibility of anonymous and pseudononymous blogs.

Bill's contention, and Mike's supposition, is that those bloggers who don't provide first and last names are freer to engage in, shall we say, questionable journalistic practices. Apparently to some people, your identity begins and ends with your name - if they know how to find you in the phone book, that's all that's necessary to take you seriously.

I don't quite agree with all of that, although some parts make sense. Yes, it is easier to make an accusation, sling some mud, be sarcastic or just rude when you don't have to worry about people knowing who you really are - and by extension, you don't have to physically stand by your comments. South Knox Bubba does it all the time - his reasoning being that his business contacts and customers would not take kindly to his political philosophy. But being anonymous/pseudonymous allows him to conduct his business without fear that he may lose money because of his beliefs or views.

I'm more or less anonymous/pseudonymous, just using my first name, "Barry". Several of my readers know my last name - heck, Hatamaran works across the hall from me - and that's not a big deal. The main reason I don't use my last name is because I have a young family, and don't want to possibly put them at risk. I've posted pictures of them from time to time and don't want someone who sees a picture of GiggleGirl online...well, you get the picture.

One of my favorite bloggers, James Lileks of "The Bleat", is obviously not pseudonymous. I personally think he takes a big risk because of his identification, since he talk and posts so much about his young daughter "Gnat". However, he's also a nationally syndicated columnist and gets compensated for a lack of anonymity, and he is able to use some of that national exposure and popularity to drive traffic to his blog.

So does me not releasing publicly my last name to the online world undermine the credibility of my opinions? Does it make you, Bill, less sure that I say what I actually mean? Does it make me freer to insult you? Maybe, but I'll be back here online tomorrow and if I've insulted you you won't be back - and I want you back.

I'm not someone who's going to resort to insults and profanity to bring in viewers and readers - I'll let the pros handle that. I want people to read my blog because (hopefully) I'll occasionally have something interesting or amusing to say. I want to share my opinions with you, ask questions, debate philosophy, invite commentary, and occasionally illuminate a situation I want to bring attention to.

However, since I've been blogging most every day - sometimes more than once a day - for more than a year now, I feel I've established my own online credibility. I haven't attacked people and hidden behind my first-name-only. I haven't cursed them or insulted them. I've stayed pretty true to my views and beliefs, and when there's been a wavering I've addressed it.

So, Bill, am I credible? Are you going to delink me? Do I care - probably not, because I don't think he reads here anyway...if he does, he
doesn't comment.

Sugarfused, Busy Mom, Hatamaran are all anonymous/pseudononymous (check blogroll for links - I'm getting lazy) - do you skip these fine blogs because you can't track down their address?

Does it bother anyone that I don't post my last name? Would that enhance my credibility?

Oh, another thing about comments. PLEASE add a comment to my posts - I want to know what people think!

And I promise not to have Justin Timberlake rip off my shirt to convince you :)

UDPATE: SayUncle weighs in.

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. XXI

Adam of agroves is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

This edition of the VTP is the SUPER BOWL Edition - apparently the entire Brigade travelled to Houston in SKB's RV. I don't recall this, but it may have something to do with the amount of Mountain Dew I consumed on the trip. Or at least I think it was Mountain Dew...anyway, play ball! (wait, that's something else..)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Sometimes You Have to Call a Spade a Club

Bill Hobbs says Saddam and his henchmen were deluded into thinking they actually still had WMD:

WMD: The Weapon of Mass Deliverance

"Saddam, himself deluded, deluded the world into believing he had weapons of mass destruction. Hence the many UN resolutions that he must disarm. Hence the deadline. Hence the U.S. military rolling into Baghdad."
Basically, it looks like what we did was call Saddam's unintentional bluff. He was working on a Royal Flush - 10, J, Q, and K of Spades down, Ace of Spades showing - but didn't realize the 10 of Spades was actually a 10 of Clubs. Oopsy! All his advisors and flunkies and bodyguards and sons and wives said, "But of course, your excellency - it is of course the 10 of Spades! Who would not think so? Those who say it is not will be shredded instantly, sir!"

After a while, even Saddam could look at the card and convince himself it was a Spade.

What does still trouble is, looking at the reflection in his glasses, we thought he had a 10 of Spades, too. If you're going to cheat, folks, cheat well. Our Intelligence community apparently relied only on communications and interviews with defectors, etc - not actually hands-on discoveries of WMD's. They relied on what the Iraqi's told each other (and covertly, the US) about the WMD programs. And hence believed what Saddam believed - that he had WMD and was prepared to use them (or sell them).

So we took a calculated risk and called the bluff. Saddam, smiling, laid down his hand and began to rake in the pot - only to be shown, forcefully, that ole' 10 of Clubs. The smile quickly vanished like a spider down a hole.

Grocery Store Harrassment

Jay at Classless Warfare is haranguing Publix Grocery Stores over their treatment of his father-in-law due to an unfortunate but accidental shoplifting incident.

Apparently his FIL slipped a tube of Chap-Stik into his shirtpocket to hold it there for a moment and forgot to pay for it on his way out. Security saw the incident and detained him.

It looks like the Publix management and security guards went way over the line in relation to the crime(?). A simple explanation and apology were not enough, and he was tossed out. Now he's being humiliated and told to pay a hefty fine (not by the police, by the store).

Read the whole thing. (And the UPDATE).

But remember this: if you are in an area with a Publix, don't boycott it. Don't harrass the employees or the management. There's simply no point. If you feel the situation warrants it, fire off a letter to the corporate management or the local press. But don't punish rank-and-file employees and management over circumstances they have no control over. That's foolish.

His FIL was likely taken advantage of for no good reason. You'd be doing the same thing to the employees.

"Call Me Janet - Miss Jackson, if you're nasty"

How about we call you "loser"?

Lest we forget, Janet was little "Penny" on Good Times and Willis's girlfriend "Charlene" on Diff'rent Strokes. Ouch, that hurts.

She was also briefly on "Fame" for a while.