Another Invasive Species Threatens Ecosystem

From the New York Times: Red-Footed Falcon Debuts in Western Hemisphere:

So Mr. Laux, an ornithologist who has led birding trips all over the world, recruited island friends with telescopes and digital cameras to send images of the bird to Jeremiah Trimble, an expert birder and curatorial assistant at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. When Mr. Trimble arrived at his office on Tuesday, he looked at the photos, consulted his reference materials and left immediately for Martha’s Vineyard. Mr. Laux had spotted a red-footed falcon – Falco vespertinus – the first reported in the Western Hemisphere. And now birders from all over are arriving to see it.

Undoubtedly, this single bird will eat all the tasty small rodents and will mate with the local falcons to spawn a new race of super falcons with European accents. We cannot allow this to happen. We must kill it now, and we can grill it later!

Unless it eats snakehead fish, in which case we should bring a dozen over from its native habitat so it can eat all the tasty snakehead fish and mate with local falcons to spawn a new race of snakehead-eating super falcons.

Man, I am glad I am a Republican, because being environmentally sensitive is confusing and tiring. One snakehead fish is bad, because making the local ecosystem more diverse with token representatives of outside species can ruin the delicate balance of a natural system which has survived for aeons, but a single red-headed stepchild falcon is a tourist attraction, good for the local economy.

As the partially-educated like to quote, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

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No Sympathy For The Devil

Here’s the teaser for Bill McClellan’s latest column in the St. Louis Post-Distpatch: After 30 years, he’s faced with life on the outside. So I started to read it.

Here’s the heart-rending:

“I’m about ready to give up,” he told me Tuesday afternoon, and I thought for a moment that he was going to cry. I asked if he were happy to be out of prison, and he shook his head.

His story was front-page stuff 30 years ago. He was 36 years old, and by all accounts, a simple man. He had a seventh-grade education. He had never been in trouble.

Man, that does sound like a rough bit. He’s been in prison for a long time, and a lot of the world undoubtedly must seem strange to someone who flashed forward three particularly changing decades. I sympathized with him. Hey, armed robbery, drug dealing, maybe a repeat offense for burglary, and suddenly you’re in a time warp.

Except this guy:

In November 1973, his wife left him and took their young son. Epps went to the police and filed a missing person report. He said he thought his wife’s family knew where she was. A patrolman drove him to his in-laws’ house, but they said they had not seen her. The patrolman took Epps back to the station, but he returned to the house and shot and killed his wife’s mother and her grandparents.

End of sympathy, and shame on you, McClellan, for presenting him as a tragic figure. Yes, I see he’s only had a seventh grade education and thus missed the Don’t Kill Your Inlaws unit in eighth grade social studies, but I am not sparing any of my compassion on him.

Couldn’t you have written about another little man who needed defending from the iniquities of the real world, McClellan?

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List of Columnist Who Bill McClellan Is No

I don’t normally read Bill McClellan because I think he’s obnoxious, and find his columns common, predictable, and rather simplistic. It’s obvious he’s trying to champion the common man, but I don’t care to read about most of the people whom he champions.

To make it clear, I have created this handy chart of columnists you can easily use in the sentence, “Bill McClellan is no….”

John Kass

Bob Greene

Mary Schmich

Clarence Page
Steve Chapman

Eric Zorn

Richard Roeper

Neil Steinberg
John O’ Sullivan

George Will

Anna Quindlen

Mike Royko
Studs Terkel

Robert Novak

James Lileks

Mark Steyn
Jim Stingl

Whitney Gould

Mike Nichols

Andrea Peyser
Steve Dunleavy

Charles Krauthammer

Michelle Malkin

Anne Applebaum
Robert J. Samuelson

Bob Rybarcyzk

The Night Cabbie

David Nicklaus
80% of college op-ed columnists.

Catherine Galasso-Vigorito

Most Suburban Journal Opinion Shapers

That’s a start.

This is the only time I am going to mention it. If I let my animosity towards other commentators eat at me, I’ll start writing like Neil Steinberg.

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Many Layers to A Story

This story begins like a feel-good libertarian story of the year:

Two girls found the lemonade business sweeter than ever Wednesday, after the St. Louis Health Department shut their curbside stand the previous day.

Mim Murray, 10 and Marisa Miller-Stockie, 12, of St. Louis, have been selling lemonade together for three summers in their neighborhood north of Forest Park. The two friends hope to save enough to buy laptop computers before starting seventh grade in a few weeks. Last summer, they made more than $100.

But on Tuesday afternoon, a city Health Department inspector told the girls they lacked the proper business licenses and were selling unsafe ice cubes, the girls said. The girls were selling Country Time lemonade from a powder mix and store-bought ice cubes near the corner of Des Peres Avenue and Forest Park Parkway.

Yay! Laissez-faire! But wait, this is in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, so I am suspicious there must be some angle within it to turn my libertarian blood hot.

Oh, here it is:

A nearby resident, O.V. Carreathers, 48, of the 5900 block of Pershing Avenue, had complained about the stand on Friday to the city’s Citizens Service Bureau. The girls took the day off on Monday, but the inspector tracked them down on Tuesday.

“I just didn’t want them on my property,” Carreathers said Wednesday. “I just didn’t want them blocking my walkway.”

Mim and Marisa said their stand had been on the grass between the rear of Carreathers’ property and the parkway. They said Carreathers had threatened to spray them with a garden hose if they didn’t leave.

“That’s not the American way, dude,” Mim said Wednesday.

Those damn kids are nothing nothing but squatters who seek to profit from using some capital owner’s resources for free. Now that’s a story the Post-Dispatch can trumpet. The Man takes it again! Yay, plucky pint-sized property rights usurpers!

Sounds like Mim has learned the American way, dude, and it’s not her great-grandfather’s American Way.

Bleh. I think I am drinking too coffee, which heats my libertarian blood rather quickly.

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Not On His Spectrum

Rush Limbaugh’s going off on Steve Chapman’s column in the Chicago Tribune today, wherein Chapman goes off on Kerry’s new hawkishness.

Limbaugh offers this column as a sign of the left’s solidarity fraying. Limbaugh calls Chapman a liberal. Perhaps his imagination cannot fathom an isolationalist libertarian.

Poor form, Rush. Read a little more, and don’t oversimplify it for your radio audience. We’re not as dumb as you think we look.

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And Your Little Dog, Too

So authorities investigate a burglary in Georgia and bust the homeowner and his son for having an AT-4 anti-tank missile and some other things that they apparently picked up hiking (illegally, of course) on the ranges at Fort Stewart. They’ve even been arrested on the base before. But the best part of the story is the charges levied against the pair:

The charges included illegally possessing automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as harassing an endangered gopher tortoise with a Rottweiler, said Steve Hart, spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield.

Apparently, the pair had not parked illegally while conducting their expeditions onto the gunnery range.

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Title the New Hit “Whiteys Just Don’t Understand”

Will Smith explains to a Frankfurt (Germany) newspaper:

When asked if 9/11 had changed anything for him personally, Smith answered:

“No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.”

I’m not going to write off Will Smith movies because he’s an enjoyable actor, and although Hindrocket from Powerline doesn’t remember, he started out as an amusing rapper.

I don’t think I’ll look to him for political insight, though. Or judgment, really, for joining the cavalcade of stars who make their politics known in Europe but wouldn’t poke their American audiences in the eye directly.

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All Other Problems Apparently Solved

Apparently, having solved all other problems, the Federal government can turn its focus to guaranteeing car loans to sub-prime consumers:

Dubbed “Ways to Work,” the program is run through Provident Counseling Inc., a 145-year-old St. Louis nonprofit agency involved in a wide range of social service work, from afterschool children’s programs to anti-drug and alcohol counseling.

In many ways, the car program offers a “last hope” for working St. Louisans who otherwise might not be able to buy and drive their own cars, said Karen Jackson, loan coordinator for the program.

Provident is scheduled to officially kick off its “Ways to Work” program today, in festivities at its offices at 2650 Olive Street.

Money to kick start the program – $345,000 – came this year from the Department of Transportation and is expected to help St. Louis-area residents buy 50 to 60 cars the first year. Jackson said the federal grant requires that Provident obtain matching “dollar-for-dollar” support from the community, either in cash or in-kind donations.

The headline? Carless can now get federal help in securing a new ride.

Make that a free ride.

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Is Brian Media Diverse?

Over at Signifying Nothing, Chris Lawrence Takes Michelle Malkin’s Media Diversity Test (original Malkin post here.) He scores 60 out of a possible 100, which indicates he’s slightly more…what, Midwestern, conservative, something…than the major media.

Here’s how I did:



I have never voted for a Democrat in my life.


I voted for Chris Liese over his competitor 4 years ago, for example, because I received a flyer at the polling place which said his competitor was in favor of strong sodomy laws. It was all I’d heard about the challenger, and it was that he was against homosexuals.
I think my taxes are too high.


I think all taxes are too high, not just mine. The government wastes money, period, because it can always get more.
I supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment.


Perjury is a crime. Whether it’s about sex, or about the color of the sky.
I voted for President Bush in 2000.


I volunteered for the campaign and I displayed a yard sign. Of course, I supported McCain first.

I am a gun owner.


I hate to admit it because my admission on the Internet flags me if They decide to confiscate all guns.
I support school voucher programs.


Why not? If you think the government redistribution of wealth should be directed to a goal other than increasing the size of government, you should be, too.
I oppose condom distribution in public schools.


Do the students need them for school? No, don’t answer that.
I oppose bilingual education.


I do, however, think that speaking, reading, and writing proper English are important to survive in society and oppose any education that would have students believe that speaking a tribal language inherited from their ancestors is equal to speaking a common tongue.
I oppose gay marriage.


I don’t think the state should deprive long term gay couples who want to commit of the same privileges granted to heterosexual couples. I don’t think marriage should be a state issue. So I don’t condemn religions who prohibit gay marriage, either. I’d rather the state eliminate the concept of marriage and issue Civil Union licenses used by couples when they marry in the churches of their choice. Or don’t.
I want Social Security privatized.


Actually, I want it eliminated, but if privatization is all I can get, I will take it. Somehow, though, I suspect that “a bankrupt nation, much like they enjoy in Europe” is what I will get.
I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense.


What, ethicity counts as a special factor in college admissions, but not in anything else? Give me a break.
I shop at Wal-Mart.


Before I accidentally married the woman of my dreams, I bought most of my new clothes at Wal-Mart. Now, though, she’s informed me that better quality jeans make my butt more attactive, to her at least, so who am I to

I enjoy talk radio.


I gauge my work day by talk radio. 7-9, Weber and Dolan. 12-3, Rush Limbaugh. 5-7, Hugh Hewitt. It’s entertainment more than enlightenment, come on.
I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase “undocumented person” for “illegal alien.”


It’s small potatoes, though, to a greater problem in newsrooms across the country. They have a greater latitude to play linguistic tricks because people are less literate to identify them.
I do not believe the phrase “a chink in the armor” is offensive.


I’m not even offended by off-handed racial epithets that target my race. If someone’s speaking them to get a rise out of me, though, I will respond to the context. But it’s not the words. It’s the speaker using the words effectively to elicit the response he or she wants.
I eat meat.


Well, tonight I ate fish, but it’s all the same to the lower life form that I exploited for my further existence.
I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.


I don’t believe anything. I wasn’t there, and he was not convicted. I don’t believe he’s innocent, either, though, and he’s got a cloud over him that I don’t think is undeserved.
I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured.


I’ll mark this as a yes even though I didn’t shout, “Huzzah!” I remember where I was, and I called out to tell Heather that they did, which is good enough for me.
I cry when I hear “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.

Give me five points.

I don’t cry, but I do feel close sometimes when I hear this song depending upon the context.
I don’t believe the New York Times.


I don’t believe any source of news. They all tell me some facts interspersed with their interpretations. I have to treat it with the same skepticism I treat anything anyone tells me. Less, actually, since I haven’t vetted the media as well as I have vetted my closest friends.

Final score: 80/100

What does it mean? I’m different from Chris. Also, Michelle Malkin would probably think of me as a relative comsymp, much like I think of Alex Knapp of Heretical Ideas.

I guess we’re diverse, which is good, ainna?

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Book Review: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (2001)

I can count the number of Stephen King books I’ve read on both hands, and it makes it much easier that I’m not a Stephen King surviving protagonist, because they never finish with 10 digits. I’ve read The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, the first three books of the Dark Tower, On Writing, The Dark Half, and this book. I really like his style and his attitude, and I liked this book too.

The plot: four friends on a hunting trip encounter an alien invasion or biowarfare during a blizzard. Cripes, it would be a simple enough pitch for a movie, but undoubtedly the two hour feature couldn’t begin to delve into this book.

I’m going to speak about a few things in my few paragraphs, the first of which is his style. As I mentioned previously, a horror novel is simply a fantasy novel wherein the heroes don’t know they’re in a fantasy novel until it’s too late. That gives King the opportunity to play with the timeline, using foreshadowing and flashback to great effect. The simple, throwaway foreshadowing in the beginning of the book really draws the reader in, but King knows when the hook has been set and lays off after the first third of the book. Swell. Also, King lavishes a lot of detail on most of the characters in the book that are more than names. It really bugs the reader when the good guys die, or when they lose fingers.

Secondly, King’s well read and slathers his books in allusions to popular and literate works. He alludes to Poe unself-consciously and mentions a boook by Robert Parker by name. Cool.

Also, I found this book an interesting artifact. Although King, in his author’s note, talks about writing this book in November 1999 through March 2000, Bush is the president (and it’s apparent that he’s not well thought of by many characters). The president has to give a speech about an incident in which aliens bearing infectious and dangerous, world-conquering philosophies spores. The book is published in 2001. That’s a little….creepy.

Of all contemporary mythmakers, if I had to guess whom students from the year 2200 would read from our era (assuming their studies of literature aren’t limited to the Koran or Mao), I’d pick King. He’s an engaging writer, he’s smart, he’s good at his craft, and he explores deeper human truths by transcending his genre.

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Post-Dispatch Math

That’s some mighty smart figurin’:

Brett Hull, third on the NHL’s career goals list, signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The free agent forward, an 18-year veteran who starred for the Blues and spent the last three seasons with Detroit, has 741 goals — second only to Coyotes managing partner Wayne Gretzky’s 894 and Gordie Howe’s 801.

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Steinberg Off The Wall

Neil Steinberg continues kicking Bob Greene:

There are honors I covet, as befitting the pie-pan depths of my soul. Not the standard newspaper milestones — not the Pulitzer, God knows, not since they nearly gave it to Bob Greene.

Jeez, Louise, this absurd envy thing can only merit one response: I must quote the wise and beautiful Jem of Jem and the Holograms:

Every place you go, everywhere you turn
Someone else is movin’ in,
And they’re makin’ time
And it’s gettin’ underneath your skin,
Whoa, whoa!

Doesn’t it hurt?
Jealousy, baby!
Doesn’t it burn?
Doesn’t it consume your soul?
Makin you lose control,

Nothing to be said,
Nothing to be done
Someone else is in your place,
And you won’t forget it
And it’s hittin’ you right where you live
Whoa, whoa!

Doesn’t it hurt?
Jealousy, baby!
Doesn’t it burn?
Doesn’t it grab hold of you?
Breakin’ your heart in two

All at once, you’re wild and runnin’,
Runnin’ blind
Revenge, revenge, revenge
Is the one thing on your mind,
Whoa, whoa!

Doesn’t it hurt?
Jealousy, baby!
Doesn’t it burn?
Jealousy !
Doesn’t it consume your soul
Makin’ you lose control
Jealousy, jealousy, jealousy,

It takes cartoonishness to fight cartoonishness.

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Headline at Command Post: General Assembly President appeals for States to observe Olympic Truce.

With less than 10 days to go before the start of the Olympic Games, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Julian R. Hunte, today appealed to all States to demonstrate their commitment to peace by observing the traditional truce during the quadrennial competition.

Fans of blowing random things up, such as Palestinians, Al Qaeda, and other non-State groups, rejoice at their apparent exemption from another UN call to action.

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Okay, Hijinks Now A Felony

Two lawyers play around in their office building by shooting BBs at each other, someone in another office sees and calls the cops from beneath her desk, and now they’re going to get it:

Police said they discovered that two lawyers who work in the building apparently had engaged in a BB gun fight with each other. Police arrested one of them, Gary K. Burger, 37, and booked him on suspicion of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon, a felony. Police have not yet sought formal charges from the prosecutor’s office.

It would take a greater legal scholar than I to sort through the byzantine implications of this law, such as whether brandishing a dangerous and deadly weapon is a worse crime, or whether this law covers holding ceremonial muskets or sabres over one’s head when presented with it, although one suspects it could at NRA rallies.

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