February 28, 2006

While in New Orleans, Mobile, Galveston, and Rio de Janeiro they’re historically counting down the minutes till Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, today was always Shrove Tuesday when I was growing up. As a young Episcopalian, Shrove Tuesday was the one day you always got breakfast for supper, since – at least in my part of the world – that meant the traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake supper in the church hall. Why pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent, you might ask? I found this via the Pancake Parlour:

Perhaps the best known one is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, which heralds the beginning of fasting in Lent. On this day (so the historians say) there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs… foods that were forbidden during austere Lent.

In England there arc several celebrations on this day but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445. The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession. She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years.

I guess the Anglican Church connection between the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Church of England made the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper a natural extension of the English tradition. Hmmm… if given the choice between eating a pile of pancakes in an austere parish hall setting or hurling my brains out in front of thousands of beaded partygoers in The Big Easy, I’d choose, ummm… neither!

Today’s CBS News poll showing the President’s approval rating falling to 34% is a joke. Although I have no expertise with polls and polling, K-Lo at National Review Online found someone who does, and his review of the poll’s internals is blistering:

· I believe the survey is among adults and not voters. In political polling no one cares about what adults think. They care only about what registered voters think. I can’t find data suggesting that this survey is anything BUT a survey of adults. CBS and most news orgs poll adults instead of reg. voters for two reasons (a) it costs less and (b) it makes the data more Democratic.

· The data set itself is dramatically more Democrat. It’s 28% Republican and 37% Democrat AFTER they weighted Republicans UP. In other words, the sample was even more Democrat when it came back. In fact, Democrats were 40% of the sample and Republicans were only 27%. Someone clearly knew having a sample that was 40-27 would be a tip-off, so they weighted Dems down into the 30%s in order to avoid extreme criticism. Why is the sample so Democrat? One reason may be because almost every question bangs the President and I would guess that the hang ups they get are vastly more Republican than Democrat. Think about it. Why would a Republican sit on the phone and answer loaded anti-Bush questions for 15 minutes?

· The survey is NOT being done for actual opinion research, but is being done for headlines. Most of the work I have done for 10 years – probably 90% of it – is NEVER released publicly. It isn’t being written for headlines, it’s being written to get the truth about how people feel. This survey is mostly done to zing Bush, Cheney and Republicans generally.

The mainstream media can cry all it wants about being made out to be the “bad guys” by the Bush administration, but it is in shameful actions like the moaning and wailing over the Veep’s hunting accident a couple weeks ago and the trumpeting of polls with obviously-skewed data that the MSM reveals just how little credibility they now have left. When Bush-hating becomes the motivator for shoddy reporting, disinformation, and concentrating on all things negative, is it any wonder that people are increasingly turning to blogs (rightly or wrongly) for their news and information. The mainstream media has let the American people down, and in the end we are all worse off for it.

Speaking of the mainstream media, what is it with the New York Times and their obsession with trying to reveal the nation’s security apparatus? At first, I thought they were just trying to do a reverse Woodward & Bernstein on the Washington Post in a feeble attempt to relive the days when the “mainstream” was the only stream, but now I’m truly beginning to wonder. Who’s really in charge there, and what are they really up to? Don’t they realize that we live in a technological age where the information they seek to have released can and will be shared by both predator and prey alike? I mean, weren’t these guys within shouting distance of the 9/11 attacks? Methinks the Old Gray Lady needs to revisit the horror of that day and reaquaint themselves with the kind of people we’re up against.

I hope you’ll excuse me two days in a row (I promise this will be the last time!) of Food Network links? This recipe is an absolute knockout. Try it, and you’ll feel as if you’re sitting in a quaint Boston North End restaurant sharing a basket of fresh Italian bread and a nice chianti with your significant other…

Finally (and here’s where the lagniappe comes in), I hope you find the links provided on the sidebar both interesting and entertaining. Between the House Rabbit Society (where today is the last day of Adopt-A-Rescued-Rabbit Month) and the UFO Filer’s Files (detailing recent UFO sightings over Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia, as well as Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, and the UK – and you thought we were alone!), there’s something for everyone!

Laissez les bons temps rouler…

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 11:36 | Comments (2)
February 27, 2006

…said the bumper sticker I saw yesterday. An apt description of the state of my existence, if there ever was one! Some points to ponder while waiting to see if our stretch of 130+ days without rain ends tomorrow.

Bill O’Reilly will have a cow on The Factor tonight at this news (hat tip, Captains Quarters). What say you, American Red Cross?

If the far-left couldn’t take back the White House via Senator “Reporting-for Duty” (D-Pompous A$$), then, by golly, they’re gonna try and take it by force. Check out this call to general quarters by a website from the group United for Peace and Justice; hah! sounds almost too good to be true.

Captain Ed (OK, I’m a shill for Captains Quarters today), I think, pins the tail on the donkeys perfectly:

It doesn’t take much to put up a website, of course, and this looks like the work of a nutcase in search of company in the asylum. However, given the political climate these days, I have no doubt that a number of people will actually appear on March 15th to “storm” the White House. It boasts a long list of member groups, and a number of those groups are listed on their steering committee roster. These are the groups that apparently are endorsing a call to overthrow the elected government of the United States:

* CODEPINK
* The Communist Party (no surprise there!)
* National Hip Hop Political Caucus
* Iraq Veterans Against The War
* September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows
* Teen Peace Project
* Not In Our Name
* Military Families Speak Out
* US Campaign To End The Israeli Occupation
* National Network On Cuba (again, no surprise)
* DC Anti-War Network

From now on, when people from these groups organize and demonstrate, we know what they support: an armed coup d’etat and the end of democracy in America. They want the UN to topple our government and to replace it with, one assumes, the rule of Kofi Annan and the rest of the world.

Oughta be a good one. If this isn’t a rally perfect for a Protest Warrior response, I don’t know what is. If that’s the best they got, all I can say is (to quote Senator “Reporting-for-Duty” one last time): Bring. It. On.

Look, I love the Food Network’s Rachael Ray as much as, if not more than, any red-blooded American male cook might, but I have two main issues with her: 1) why does everything on 30 Minute Meals have to have a whole lotta cheese in it, and 2) doesn’t she realize that the only reason she can survive on $40 A Day is to tip the wait staff 10%. Heck, even she should realize that if the food is as good as it always seems to be, it oughta be worth at least a 15, if not a 20 percent, tip, right? After all, these people have to eat, too…

Anyone see Zach Johnson‘s ball bouncing like a pinball on the rocks by that par-5 during his Accenture Match Play Championship consolation round yesterday? That sucker bounced at least five – count ‘em, five! – times: backward-forward-sideways-forward, then backward again before finally coming to rest in play beside a rock. Unbelievable for a pro during a televised round of golf, perhaps, but The Great White Shank has seen it all too often before…

Be back later, off to meet Dollar Bill tonight to yap some rap, holler some dollar, pick me up some fully-licensed gear and CD samples, and plan that “Twice as Good as 50 Cent” tour marketing blitz my friend Pasquale (LP) and I know can work if we push LP’s contacts back east. The seal’s the real deal – if you haven’t heard him yet please check his site out and say (to quote the dude himself), “Yo, What’s Up”. Be sure to tell him The Great White Shank sent ya.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:09 | Comments (7)
February 26, 2006

Actor Darren McGavin died yesterday at the age of 83. Like many, my favorite role of his was the father in A Christmas Story. One of the great movie lines of all time: Spying the word “Fragile” on the crate containing the fishnet stocking leg lamp he won as a prize, he says, “Fra-gee-le….must be Italian!” He was also great in another of my favorite movies, The Natural, where he played the gambler, Gus Sands. R.I.P. Darren, you were an original.

The last time I visited New Hampshire, I saw their new signs welcoming visitors to the state with a new motto: “You’re Going to Love it Here”. No more “Live Free or Die”? I wasn’t impressed. Neither is former resident John Hinderaker of Powerline, who recounts the latest controversy:

New Hampshire, inspired by its more liberal elements–or, more likely, by its real estate developers–came up with a new jingle; it doesn’t really qualify as a motto: “You’re going to love it here.” Feeble, no? Nevertheless, signs displaying the new slogan were posted along highways entering New Hampshire.

Turns out, John and I aren’t the only ones, as the only thing the new signs (a bland but tastefully done country village scene) appear to have illicited is general unhappiness:

…The only problem is the governor and other top officials hate them.

“Right now, every time I go past those things I’m embarrassed,” Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg said Thursday.

Gov. John Lynch acknowledged that he, too, can’t wait to get rid of the beige signs that depict a small village along with the “love it” slogan.

“It’s true. I want to be there when they take out the first one,” he said.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday to require the state motto, “Live Free or Die,” on highway welcoming signs. The motto could replace the “love it” slogan on the beige signs, or, more likely, appear on new signs.

“Live Free Or Die” just won’t go away, I guess. Somewhere there must be old-fashioned Emmets who stubbornly hew to the old-fashioned values. Actually, I think this kind of conflict is a good thing: the plain vanilla ad man slogan vs. the early 19th century challenge. Personally, I’m with General Stark.

Anytime we can replace bland 21st century marketing with a reminder of our nation’s truly revolutionary roots, that can only be a good thing. Congrats to the Garnite State and its elected leaders.

Regardless of his motives, this can only be seen as a positive thing. Anything Iraq can do to take responsibility for maintaining its own security and unity further diminishes al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida’s ability to force political change in the Middle East. I can’t help but think this week’s failed attack on a Saudi oil refinery and blowing up the Samarra Golden Mosque, rather than furthering its interests in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, will in the end do nothing else but hasten al-Qaida’s rush to obscurity as nothing more than the neighborhood bully and thug.

So yesterday, I’m against the Dubai Port Deal. Now I hear Hillary Clinton blasted both the administration and the deal, saying it will turn over our sovereignty to another country. Riiiight….

If Hillary is that set against it, that’s good enough for me. Therefore, I’m now in favor of it; enthusiastically so.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:13 | Comments (0)
February 25, 2006

It’s snowing back home in Massachusetts but – what else? – sunny, warm and dry here, She’s-A-Little-Half-Pint is raising a ruckus in the cage behind me, and the mountain of laundry is slowly diminishing. A perfect time for some Saturday ramblings…

It’s Mardi Gras weekend in New Orleans, and, while I’m kinda glad I’m not there because of the crowds, I do miss New Orleans and hope to get back there sometime this year. Today I’ll content myself with some red beans and rice with Andouille sausage, listen to some zydeco music, and watch The Big Easy, even though the surroundings outside lend themselves more to Cuervo Gold margaritas and kicking back to Texas Tornados.

100 days until the 2006 hurricane season starts and this is what FEMA is worried about? This particular part of the story puzzles me:

Pawlowski told a congressional committee that FEMA has “significant concerns” for the potential of a catastrophic earthquake equal in magnitude to those that struck parts of the Mississippi River Valley in 1811-1812, and again in 1895. The estimated magnitude of those earthquakes is 7.5 or 8. The probability of a magnitude 6 or larger earthquake is 25 percent to 50 percent over the next 50 years.

OK, so let me get this straight: we’re in the midst of a increased hurricane cycle that the NHC believes could last as long as 20 years, and FEMA is concerned about something that has only a 1/4 to 1/2 percent chance of occuring over the next 50 years? I’m no math major, but methinks there’s some misplaced priorities there.

A Goodboys Nation hello to Laura at the Wide Awake Cafe. Great cat pics and a potpourri of posts. Check it out!

OK, I’ve decided (inform the media, right? :-) ): I’m against the HSA/Dubai port security deal, not because I truly believe it poses a threat to our nation’s security, but because it is such a political loser for the White House and the Republicans in this election year. I’ll bet Howard Dean and the Democrats are absolutely dancing on air having been handed on a platter an issue that, until now, they couldn’t even dent the White House with. Karl Rove is supposed to be such a political genius – I had to believe he knew nothing about this and is now into full-scale damage control.

And, finally, given our somewhat less-than-ambitious weekend plans, Tracey reminds me of this great site for you martini afficianados out there.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:26 | Comment (1)
February 24, 2006

A tour around the blogsphere while waiting for the latest round of pollution alerts to end:

The situation in Iraq remains tense, but, at least the violence between Sunni-Shiia seems to have been kept in check by level-headed leaders. I continue to think the Samarra mosque bombing has brought Iraq to a pivotal moment in its brief post-Saddaam history. NRO’s Victor David Hanson writes that it is now a race between two sides with decidedly conflicting goals. Hint: it’s not the two sides mainstream media reporting would have you believe.

UPDATE: This news can only help.

A delay in the HSA/UAE port deal? I’m still up in the air about the whole thing, I’m sure others are as well. Let the powers that be hash it out and decide what’s best for everyone.

Might this be a cheaper way of reducing illegal immigration from Mexico than building a wall (at least where the Rio Grande is)? I know it would make me think twice… :-)

Judging from this story, I guess I should be glad I’m even breathing, never mind coughing and wheezing…

Now that Johnny Damon is gone, who can my wife Tracey now idolize on the Red Sox? Red at Surviving Grady makes the case for rehabbing outfielder Gabe Kapler. The Hammer. Not a bad choice, I think.

Time for Rob to hang the hummingbird feeders in Bush, Louisiana. I’m no hummingbird expert by any stretch, even though I think they’re always around since the bougainvillea never stops blooming here in sunny Arizona. I think I’ve seen this one, though.

(BTW, today Goodboys Nation is CrabAppleLane Blog’s “blog of the day”. I stumbled upon Rob’s blog while seeking out Louisiana weblogs in preparation for a pre-Katrina visit to New Orleans last year. Since then, I have always found it to be both delightful and informative. I hope you’ll add it to your Favorites – be sure to tell him The Great White Shank sent you! Thanks for the publicity, Rob.)

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:17 | Comments (2)
February 23, 2006

Oh my goodness! If there was ever a doubt he’s back, this dispatch from the Match Play Championship at La Costa should confirm it to everyone’s satisfaction.

Motivated by remarks about his wild tee shots, Woods took Stephen Ames to the woodshed Wednesday with a ruthless performance that lasted only 10 holes, the shortest round mathematically possible in 18 holes of match play. He won the first nine holes, seven of them with a birdie.

And who, pray tell, was the source of those “remarks”? It was none other than – you guessed it – one Stephen Ames.

Ames was on the practice range Monday afternoon — he got into the 64-man field only when Thomas Bjorn withdrew because of a sore neck — and was asked if he would play as though he had nothing to lose against the No. 1 player.

Ames shook his head.

“Anything can happen,” he said, breaking into a wide smile. “Especially where he’s driving it.”

So, how did Tiger respond?

Woods read the remarks and responded by hitting six of eight fairways, opening with six birdies and acting as if he was in a playoff until they removed their caps and shook hands on the 10th hole. Asked if he felt the least bit sorry for Ames, Woods stared back at a reporter and said, “No.”

Moral of the story: if you’re on the docket to play Tiger Woods in a round, keep yer yap shut!

UPDATE 2/23/06 15:00: Rob at CrabAppleLane wishes Tiger would add his name to the field of the upcoming Zurich Classic. It would be a nice gesture of support on his part for the fine people in post-Katrina Louisiana if he could fit it into his schedule. At least this once.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 16:31 | Comments (3)

The violence in Iraq between Shiites and Sunnis continues following the bombing of the Samarra Golden Mosque yesterday. We certainly appear to be at a tipping point in Iraq’s future: the country has a choice of allowing itself to be torn apart in sectarian violence or choosing strength and unity in the face of aggression by Al-Qaida insurgents trying to incite civil war there. Belmont Club and Bill Roggio (thanks, HH) are recommended essential reads as events continue to unfold there.

I woke up this morning, as I always do, to the classical music station here in Phoenix. They always have news from NPR at the top of every hour, so I get to hear the news from an obviously liberal biased perspective every day, which is fine – no problem there. Usually, I just sigh and move on, knowing the source, but today’s reporting on the Iraq situation I found both infuriating and irresponsible, even by NPR standards.

Now, there is no one (outside of those Iraqis whose political motivations are advanced by any Sunni-Shiite conflict), not even the most ardent anti-Iraq war or Bush-hater, who would argue that yesterday’s attack was anything but the work of Zarqawi and/or Al-Qaida operatives attempting to ignite civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites. But do we hear that from NPR? Not a peep! Instead, what the correspondent focused on (in fact, it was the bulk of the story) was Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accusing the US and Israel of the attacks (!); there was no mention whatsoever of the possible involvement by Al-Qaida. Oversight? Deliberate? You be the judge.

I’m sorry, but when NPR replaces responsible journalism with being a shill and mouthpiece for a dangerous wacko like the president of Iran, they lose any and all credibility in my mind. Congratulations, NPR – you now officially occupy the same turf as Cindy Sheehan, the ACLU, and Air America. Welcome to the land of the tinfoil hat-wearing raving moonbats.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:54 | Comments (0)
February 22, 2006

Happy birthday, George Washington!

Looks like this air traffic controller picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.

I think this is going to be a looooooonnnnnnnggggggg year for Manny Ramirez.

Hugh Hewitt’s blog is chock full of good stuff today, including why the Homeland Security/UAE port deal may not be that big of a deal after all, and why scientists still don’t know why ice is slippery. (I thought it was because, it was made of, ummmmm…ice?) Check it out!

There is increasing religious sectarian violence in both Iraq (Sunni and Shiite mosque attacks) and Nigeria (Muslims and Christians) – each warranting our close attention.

In the world of golf, Gary Van Sickle senses change is in the wind on the PGA Tour. I agree – by the end of this year, both Phil Mickelson’s and Vijay Singh’s time at the top of the roost will be over. Look out for Adam Scott, Chad Campbell, Joe Ogilvie and Geoff Ogilvy. Unfortunately, as good as these guys are, there is no one with the charisma to make the casual golf fan tune in.

And Michelle Wie is ranked #3 in women’s golf? Give me a break – I thought the top 5 was reserved for someone who has actually WON something. The Golf Blog, I think, has it about right.

And, finally, here’s some good news for at least SOME of us :-) : Men’s Sex Lives Better at 50 Than 30.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 15:18 | Comment (1)

For some reason, the George Harrison/All Things Must Pass listen of a couple weeks ago is still haunting my brain. Today, I woke up with some lines from the album’s title song rolling around in my head:

All things must pass
All things must pass away

All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day

Out here in the Great American Southwest, where the weather is always good and the sun seems to shine every day, it is easy to be lulled into thinking that there is no passage of things taking place and no storms appearing on the horizon, and that it will always be that way.

The people I’ve talked to who love it out here seem to primarily for either of two reasons: 1) to get away from the inconvenience of winter snow and cold or the burden of family and traditions, or 2) to embrace the western, “west coast” culture of freedom, sun and fun that comes with a wide open desert landscape having 330 days of sunshine every year. Combining in various extents the romantic myths of the Old West, Jack Kerouac’s open road, and Brian Wilson’s California, Arizona’s weather, lifestyle, and its culture seems almost an elixir that enables one to defy the passage of time and obscure the tenuous nature of our existence no matter where one lives.

The deception can be almost perfect if one were to sit back and let it just happen. And yet, whether it’s sitting on the patio by the pool on yet-another picture perfect day, or driving past the seemingly endless blocks of walled-in subdivisions, strip malls, and corner pharmacies, or crawling in rush-hour traffic on the same damned freeway past the never-changing desert terrain and vegetation, I do feel the passage of time and the sense that things are indeed passing away. Perhaps it is the very distance from dear friends and relatives that enables me to recognize the changes taking place in each of our collective lives – both great and small – with each visit I make back east that accommodates such a perspective.

Whether it’s the more serious stuff (the care and concern for my elderly parents in their new apartment, the death of my friend Ben’s wife, my friends Jim & Shelley becoming parents for the first time, the contentious split about to take place in my church this year), personal milestones (my recent 50th birthday, Tracey’s and my upcoming 20th wedding anniversary), or dopey stuff (technological advancements, personal appearance, the prospect of a new Goodboys Nation following the departure of several members of GB South!), I am all too aware that time is passing and things are passing away. But that’s life.

I like the image George Harrison uses of “life’s strings”. By its very nature, string is tenuous – it can be lengthened, stretched, twisted, or cut. It can be lengthy or short, of varying thickness and weight; it can be strong like an anchor chain or as sinewy as a spider’s web. Yet, in the end, nothing lasts: the anchor chain rusts and dissolves, and the spider web tears and breaks in the wind and rain. As such, the material designs and desires of our lives – the fancy cars, gated communities, and well-manicured lawns and golf courses, the investments, plastic surgeries, and retirement portfolios, etc. – can never fully disguise nor replace the unique life strings established by who we are, where we come from, and the relationships we cherish and cultivate. For it is in these that we are able to see most clearly and share with each other the good and bad realities of life that, in the end, all things must indeed pass away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:36 | Comments (0)
February 21, 2006

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