What a good morning (... in Outland)

For those of you who don't know, I was a big fan of the Bloom County comic strip series from the 80s, which was extended into the weekend-only Outland, then Opus strips.

Recently, I subscribed to a service where they email me strips from his twenty years of series. I thought I'd share this one with ya'll today ... watch as Opus' great morning is riddled with guilt trips for every happy and selfish indulgence.

You can view the full-size and much-more-readable version of this strip by clicking on the image.

From South Carolina to Canada ... eh? (11/22/05)

Just read an update on the goings-on of the new U.S. ambassador to CanadaAmbassador David Wilkins, the long-time speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and Greenville, S.C. native is bringing a little bit of South Carolina to the Great White North.

In his recent e-newsletter to the folks back home, he names five major difference between South Carolina and Canada:

1.   In Canada, eating a beavertail is a really good thing!  (It's like eating an elephant ear at the state fair).

2.   In Canada, a barbeque means a grill and if you're going to a barbeque you're usually eating hotdogs and hamburgers.

3.  Boiled peanuts are quite a novelty here!  I mentioned going to a "peanut boil" at my first press conference the day I was sworn-in in Washington.   Before I even arrived in Canada, entire segments of news talk radio were devoted to the issue of boiled peanuts.   I recently hosted a reception for members of the press corps at the residence and gave each of them a can of boiled peanuts "courtesy of the Ambassador."

4.   There is no Canadian equivalent of "y'all."  So I spend an awful lot of time explaining to my Canadian friends that the plural of "y'all" is "all y'all". 

5.  Hockey rules!  It is the national pastime.

David ... ya'll take care up there and try to come back home real soon, eh?

Islam & Tolerance, Civility and Democracy (11/21/05)

Here are some questions from Dennis Prager , a nationally syndicated radio show host:

THE RIOTING IN France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam's sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.

Here are five of them:

(1) Why are you so quiet?

Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week's protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country's moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.

(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?

According to Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy, of the world's 47 Muslim countries, only Mali is free. Sixty percent are not free, and 38% are partly free. Muslim-majority states account for a majority of the world's "not free" states. And of the 10 "worst of the worst," seven are Islamic states. Why is this?

(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims — in the name of Islam — murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia. While reciting Muslim prayers, Islamic terrorists take foreigners working to make Iraq free and slaughter them. Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in "honor killings." And the Muslim government in Iran has publicly called for the extermination of Israel.

(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan's Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians.

Instead of confronting these problems, too many of you deny them. Muslims call my radio show to tell me that even speaking of Muslim or Islamic terrorists is wrong. After all, they argue, Timothy McVeigh is never labeled a "Christian terrorist." As if McVeigh committed his terror as a churchgoing Christian and in the name of Christ, and as if there were Christian-based terror groups around the world.

As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.

We await your response.

I'm waiting too ...

Whole Lotta Shakin' going on? (11/20/05)

Sorry I haven't been posting very much lately.  Not only have I had to contend with a recent court hearing, but I've got to keep on top of the end-of-the-semester grind in school, but today, something came up that was worth sharing with ya'll.

I'll bet this story sounds like a story you'd find in the California media:

The quake, which struck about 3 p.m. Saturday, raised eyebrows and worried children, but caused no damage. The U.S. Geological Survey took note of the event but did not report its magnitude as of late Saturday.

... right?  No ... WRONG!  This was a shaker that occured here in the Summerville area, right where I live, according to this  Post and Courier story.

In case you didn't know, Charleston is not only a big hurricane target, with dozens of major hurricanes having made landfall in or near the city since the first settlers landed on Town Creek in 1670.   It is well-known as one of the most seismically active locations in North America outside of California.

That means we get earthquakes.  Not like they get in California - but we get a couple of very minor tremors a year.  Enough to shake and notice, but not enough to do any damage.

The photo is a scene of the devastation from the great earthquake of 1886, which killed over 60 people, sparked fires which devastated large parts of the city, and was considered the worst earthquake in American history until the great San Francisco earthquake of about a century ago.

This report from 1906 in the San Francisco Chronicle  summarizes the devastation that stuck the city:

“Seven-eighths of the houses were rendered unfit for habitation, many persons were killed and property valued at over $8,000,000 was destroyed. The damage, however, was quickly repaired.”

Following the first great shock, the only one which did any damage, lighter and lesser vibrations were felt at intervals for several weeks. These gradually became less frequent and finally ceased, even as the minds of the people ceased to dwell on the disaster as they took up again their ordinary pursuits.

It will be even so in San Francisco. It was not the earthquake but the fire that wrought the destruction in this great city. If anyone thinks there is no resurrection from earthquake effects let him be referred to Charleston for an answer. Thousands fled the city as soon as they could get transportation, but as soon as they recovered their reason they returned as rapidly to join the brave army of workers that were rebuilding. It will be so here.

Thrice in a generation Charleston was nearly obliterated. The civil war left it in ashes, the earthquake left it in ruins, a few years subsequent it was visited by a cyclone which damaged it over $5,000,000. Yet despite all these disasters her brave people have risen superior to every reverse and are daily growing in wealth and power.

David Lee Roth ... alive and well (11/11/05)

Recently, I've been playing a lot of David Lee Roth's "Crazy from the Heat" and "Skyscraper" solo albums.

For those of you who missed the 80s, Diamond Dave was THE original front man for Van Halen, and for a decade and half-dozen albums, Dave was truly loud, proud and in front of the band. Then, for whatever reason, Dave went solo, except to record two songs with Van Halen in 1996.

Anyway, I recently found two videos of a performance he did with the Boston Pops - Jump and California Girls . His hair's shorter, voice ain't as good as it used to be, but he's still clearly as wild as ever. Go take a look.