Friday, March 30, 2007

Romney Roster Update

It seems like this is turning into a daily update. Romney has announced another addition to his campaign, this time in all-important Iowa. His name is Keith Hunter. His credentials, from the article:
Keith Hunter Serves As A Member Of The Board Of Directors With The Iowa Christian Alliance (Formerly The Iowa Christian Coalition), a Position He Has Held Since 2002. He served as Communications Director for the Christian Coalition of Iowa from 2003-2005.
From Mr. Hunter:
"I am honored to join Governor Romney's campaign efforts here in Iowa. Governor Romney has a strong record of conservative leadership and is ready to bring innovation and transformation to our government. I look forward to working with grassroots activists to spread the Governor's record of action to every corner of Iowa."
And the momentum continues to build.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Two More to the Romney Roster

Just a quick post to note two more figures joining the Romney campaign. First, Cincinnati's S. Craig Lindner, co-president of American Financial Group and CEO of Great American Financial Resources, will serve as Romney's Ohio fundraising co-chair. The significance? From the article:
Locking down the Lindners is a pretty big score for the Romney campaign, since there are untold numbers of other corporate-types in this part of the world who generally follow the Lindner family's lead when it comes to campaign contributions. …The support of Cincinnati's Lindner family…can draw millions in campaign contributions.
Second is Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez of Colorado. In a mass-email, Beauprez said:
"We have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about Mitt and we are impressed by what he has achieved - as a husband and father, as a successful businessman, and as the Governor of Massachusetts who brought conservative governing principles to a state famous for its liberal tendencies."
These endorsements are all the more timely and valuable during the run-up to the "invisible primaries," the March 31 deadline for campaigns to disclose their financial status. It is then that we will get a feeling for the long-term viability of all the candidates, making it a crucial milestone on the trek to the White House.

It still looks like Mitt is doing everything right in the networking department. Keep it up!

Irrelevant U.N.? That's a Little Redundant

How much more proof do we need that the United Nations is grossly inefficient, impotent and irrelevant? The Washington Post reports today that Britain has appealed to the U.N. to condemn Iran's illegal capture of 15 sailors in Iraqi waters. The news? It has been SIX DAYS since the abduction, and here's the result:

"There are some plans to say something on behalf of the United Nations (about the seized troops) but they have not been finalized," said the official.

The Brits aren't even asking the U.N. to DO anything – only asking it to SAY SOMETHING. But after six days, somehow the U.N. can't shake off enough of its institutional malaise to do even that. It's just the latest in a long list of reasons for the U.S. to severely cut funding to this increasingly irrelevant institution.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Election Cycle of Incurable Diseases

Nothing newsworthy to report here, but just an observation. In the last few months, a number of prominent politicos have brought incurable diseases to light. Specifically, I refer to Mitt Romney's wife Ann (multiple sclerosis), John Edwards' wife Elizabeth (breast cancer spread to the bone) and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (colon cancer spread to the liver). What's truly interesting is that none of these people are particularly geriatric. It really reminds you that mortality knows no political or economic bounds, and is truly one thing we all have in common.

I really enjoy the horse-race leading up to election day. Beyond that, hopefully these developments will shed new light on health issues such as these.

Monday, March 26, 2007

177th Annual General Conference

This coming weekend will be the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It takes place in Salt Lake, and will be broadcast pretty much everywhere. It's always an uplifting and informative 10 hours. I made a little flyer that was passed out in church. See it below for viewing options. Or, go to for more information.

Eragon Reviewed

My many, many regular readers know I'm not much one for giving reviews. But seeing as I saw Eragon over the weekend, and that I don't have much that's newsworthy to report, here goes.

Historically, Hollywood has been decidedly lame in producing fantasy movies. Being a bit of a fantasy buff (and a Tolkein fan since fourth grade), I used to eagerly await any new film featuring dragons, wizards and warriors. Most tended to disappoint, whether because the directors' visions weren't on the same level as my favorite authors', or because the special effects were cheesy and rudimentary. Whatever the reason, most fantasy flicks – from Willow to Dragonslayer – came off as cheesy, juvenile attempts to capture a more sophisticated audience. The occasional gem would come through, however, such as Labyrinth, which succeeded because it didn't take itself as quite serious work. Even in the mid-90's, when CGI came into play, films such as Dragonheart and Dungeons and Dragons (okay, that was 2000) were too shallow for my taste.

Unfortunately, Eragon is in the same vein. I haven't read the books, so I can't judge it from a literary standpoint, but the movie is about on par with most fantasy films. The plot is predictable, the characters are flat (the main character is annoyingly so), and backdrop seems like nothing more than an inconsequential mural. I probably won't see the rest of the trilogy. I give it a thumbs-up for visual effects, but it takes far more than eye-candy to make a good fantasy movie.

Peter Jackson set a pretty high bar with Lord of the Rings. I wonder how long it will take for another fantasy film to reach that level.

Friday, March 23, 2007

High Crime in Nevada

Las Vegas NBC affiliate KVBC reports about a recent study finding that for the fourth year in a row Nevada tops the list of most dangerous states. From KVBC:
The report's publisher admits these rankings are controversial, but argues rates are what they are. For example, the survey pits Nevada's 8.56 murders for every 100,000 people against the national average which 5.6.

Add the statistics for rape, robberies, assault, burglaries and auto theft, which are all far above the national average, and that's how we got to where we are.
That struck me as odd. I was thinking Louisiana (post-hurricane), Missouri or New Jersey. Places that have reputations for being rough. But then this little bit clued me into the forces behind the high crime:
We've got rapid growth. And with that growth comes growing pains. Other southwest states also came near the top; New Mexico ranks second and Arizona follows behind in third place.
Hmm. So the top three crime-ridden states are in the southwest. Is it a coincidence that these states all deal with a massive illegal immigration problem? And isn't it funny how the article makes no mention of the immigration issue. No, because that would offend the very illegals in the the station's DMA. It's okay to report the long as we don't offend the people responsible for it.

Makes lots of sense.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Christian Coalition Officer Joins Romney Campaign

You can have it both ways. NewsMax reports that Drew McKissick, who was instrumental in pushing through South Carolina's gay marriage ban, has joined the Romney team as a paid "South Carolina grass roots adviser." This is significant because McKissick is an officer of the Christian Coalition, and an example of crossing theological barriers to promote common values.

From NewsMax:
"I started to go through this process a year ago," McKissick said of the endorsement. "It became obvious to me who was likely be the consensus conservative choice."
See Mr. McKissick's own announcement on Conservative Outpost.

While Latter-day Saints remain separate from mainstream Christianity, there are far more similarities
with conventional beliefs than there are differences. And Mormons espouse values that are virtually identical to all faiths who believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

It's refreshing to see people campaign on values instead of dogma, and on substance over rhetoric.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Global Warming Sense from the Czechs

So it takes a leader from the Czech Republic to tell it like it is. I'm referring to Czech President Vaclav Klaus in his letter to the U.S. Congress, in which he states,
"Communism has been replaced by the threat of an ambitious environmentalism."
To the clear thinking, the parallels between rabid environmentalism and communism are apparent and striking. But Klaus paints the picture even more succinctly:
"This ideology preaches earth and nature and under the slogans of their protection – similarly to the old Marxists – wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world.
He goes on to state mankind's impotence on effecting change within something so large and robust as the climate of the entire planet.
'No government action can stop the world and nature from changing. Therefore, I disagree with plans such as the Kyoto Protocol or similar initiatives, which set arbitrary targets requiring enormous costs without realistic prospects for the success of these measures."
Why does it take a former Eastern Bloc country to have the mettle to speak out about the obvious? Thank goodness Reagan brought down the Iron Curtain, or these anti-environmentalist words would be repressed...much the same way they're repressed here in the U.S.

Read the article.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dancing with the Stars Is Back

For me, Monday is the new Thursday in terms of good TV. There's my beloved Heroes (returning April 23) and now Dancing with the Stars, which returned last night.

Off the cuff, I'd say the "stars" aren't quite as gifted as some of last season's but it should still be a fun ride. My early favorite is Apolo Anton Ohno, the Olympic Gold Medalist in speed skating. He seems talented, and obviously has the focus he needs to succeed. The downside: he has an inexperienced partner, Julianne Hough. I'm sure she's a great dancer and all, and very beautiful, but at only 18 years old, she's the youngest pro ever to compete on Dancing. Time will tell if she has the teaching and choreography talent they need. Coincidentally, Julianne appears to be Mormon (born and raised in Utah with 10 siblings, etc.)

And who should be voted off? Billy Ray Cyrus, hands down. He was just a shade better than Tucker Carlson from last season. But with his name recognition and good looks, I'm thinking he'll stay around for a few more rounds.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Board the Romney Voyage to the White House

Just a quick post to note the appointment of two more prominent people aligning this weekend with Mitt Romney. First, former Iowa state Senate majority leader Stewart Iverson will be Romney's new presidential adviser in Iowa. Second, Bob Perry (who financed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 campaign) has signed on to raise money for Romney in Texas.

He may not have the name recognition he needs, but Romney certainly has the support where it matters most this early in the campaign. On April 15th, all the campaigns will release their first-quarter finances. It will be interesting to see how he compares in that critical area.

Add Senator Orrin Hatch to the list. Of course, as Orrin is a Mormon Republican, this comes as the most unsurprising endorsement so far. Nevertheless, Hatch has had some major power in the Senate as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He actually ran for president himself in 2000, but made little headway.

Coincidentally, Orrin Hatch is my dad's cousin's wife's cousin. So there.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's Mitt TV!

Need a daily dose of Mitt Romney? Then head over to Mitt TV, where you'll find recent and archived clips relevant to his presidential campaign.

Music Review: Free

Writing an album review is a departure for me. I guess the music I like hits me in ways that are so personal and subjective that I find it difficult to express my opinions about it in any meaningful way. But I'll make an exception in this case. Because it's that good.

That band is called Office of Strategic Influence, or O.S.I. for short. It approximates one of those supergroups that coalesce every so often, following what I would call "electronic prog." Consisting of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, former Dream Theater), the band's latest album Free also recruited the talents of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Joey Vera (Fates Warning).

This album is far from an exercise in virtuosity. Its genius lies in its composition - made of thick layers of unique electronica, alternately subdued and driving percussion, and brooding vocals. Throw in some dashes of heavy guitar and strong melody, and a masterpiece is born.

In nearly every song, there are so many elements, tones and voices to hear that it's a real pleasure to experience how they all fit together. One of the strongest pieces, however is the completely stripped down song "Our Town," which relies solely on vocals and a variety of guitars (including a banjo).

Okay, so this is about the lamest review in the world, which is probably why I rarely do reviews. Free is best heard with some high-definition headphones, but it's compelling even through car speakers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jennifer Garner is a Model Parent

Why is it that Hollywood, moral depravity and detachment from reality go hand in hand? Our latest example? Jennifer Garner, about whom I had a completely neutral opinion until I read this article.

How's this for priorities?

"When Violet was born I had to remind myself that even though I'd worked so hard on acting and with such single-mindedness, I should not try to devote that much effort to her.

"It wouldn't necessarily be good for her."

Does anyone see anything wrong with this? Is it any wonder we're ending up with Paris Hiltons and Britney Spearses when these poor children have such noble and giving parents to fall back on? Oh, that's just fine, because they have a troop of nannies to rely on. And parents who play better role models on TV than they do in real life.

Oh, and this takes the cake:

"Since I became a mother, I cry more because I care about things more. I can't watch a movie where something happens to a child. And I've always cared about global warming and breast cancer, but now there seems to be an urgency about them."

Ooh, Jennifer Garner's so caring, I can just feel her heart bleed. She can feel guilty jetting around the country spewing CO2 into the atmosphere. She can be afraid of breast cancer. She can't bear to watch a fabricated movie where a child is hurt. But she's just fine with short-changing her own kids so she can build herself a bigger name in Hollywood.

Thank goodness nobody aspires to live like the Hollywood elites do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Romney Makes More Headway

Looks like Mitt continues to grow support among influential leaders, fundraisers and opinion-makers. In the last few days (or weeks), he added former Nevada governer Kenny Guinn, current Rhode Island governor Don Carcieri and Southern fundraiser Ted Welch to his list of supporters. The momentum is growing in just the right areas. As 2008 primaries draw near, Romney will have laid all the groundwork he needs to push through to the nomination.

On an unrelated note, I received an invitation to Romney's Michigan campaign headquarters grand opening. It's in about an hour. If I'd received it earlier, I probably would have made plans to attend. Alas, that's not the case.

Standing Up for Morality? Prepare to be Attacked

It's impossible to espouse any moral views anymore without being slammed for doing so. The latest victim of moral intolerance: Marine Gen. Peter Pace. Says the news article,

...Marine Gen. Peter Pace had likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said in the interview. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."
The response was quick and harsh:

"General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site.
I guess it's okay to have certain moral standards, as long as you don't voice your opinion. My only criticism is that he left out premarital sex and pornography – both of which can also lead to broken families and lost souls.

By the way – with a don't-ask-don't-tell policy, how do they figure that there are 65,000 homosexuals in the military? Sounds like fuzzy math...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Google's Picasa Set to Steal Momentum from Flickr

I'm a die-hard flickr fan. Far and away, flickr has long been the obvious choice for photo sharing, storage and organization.

I'm also a die-hard Picasa fan. As a desktop photo organization tool, it stands supreme, being far superior to Apple's iPhoto and even the new Windows Vista Photo Album (which is a very close second.)

Yet each application is lacking one critical element for a digital photo panacea: integration with each other. Of course, integration will never happen, as both tools are owned by competing interests (Yahoo and Google).

A while back, Google launched an online element to compete with flickr, called Picasa Web Albums. It integrates the desktop application with online storage/sharing. It was to be the perfect, all-in-one tool for digital photos. Unfortunately, Picasa Web Albums massively underperformed compared to flickr, which is light years ahead in nearly all aspects – community, capacity, ease of use and versatility. Flickr was seemingly impervious to all competition.

That may be about to change. First, as a result of being bought by Yahoo, flickr will soon require all users to sign in with a Yahoo ID. This means opening an account with Yahoo and dealing with the headaches of using the massive, unwieldy portal on a regular basis. It's not surprising that many flickr users are incredibly turned off by this.

But that's not all. Today, Picasa Web Albums recently increased its free storage capacity to 1GB. That's still far shy of what flickr offers, but it's a huge step in the right direction. It also incorporates many new handy tools, bringing it closer to parity with flickr in the versatility area.

Most importantly, the Picasa desktop application works seamlessly with Picasa Web Albums. Given that the online element is still many shades inferior to flickr, Picasa still isn't the panacea we're all looking for. But it's headed that way. Flickr had better look out and make some major advances soon. Otherwise, the way things are developing, they could be losing a lot of people to Picasa. Myself included.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"My Mommy Couldn't Get Rid Of Me, So She's Suing"

Here's a story that just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. According to the Boston Globe, one Jennifer Raper went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. The abortion didn't stick. Now she's suing the doctors involved to recoup the expenses of reaching her child, who is now two years old.

Can you think of anything more damaging to a child's self esteem? Not only did your mother want to get rid of you, but when she couldn't she seeks the next best thing: money. Yeah, this kid is gonna have a great life.

And on top of that, will her last name be Raper? Poor kid.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Global Warming: Brothels Now On The Bandwagon

Is there nobody who won't blame their problems on global warming?

According to this story, brothels in Bulgaria are losing their elite employees because "because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures."

O dry my sobbing eyes.

Next up: Global Warming Made Me Forget To Shave.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ha! Mitt On Top

In the last couple of weeks, about 90% of what you've read in news and blogs about Mitt Romney was just short of an obituary. "Romney is dead in the water." "Romney is sunk before he even started." "Romney has no chance."

All I can say is, feast your eyes on this!

This is significant not just because of the numbers, but also because of the nature of the straw poll. The voting was done by prominent and influential GOP leaders at a conference. The very people who are key to determining the Republican nomination.

Here is an excellent write-up of Romney's performance at the conference.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Saturn Beauty

One of the new images from Cassini. Simply gorgeous. What would Galileo have to say about it, I wonder.

Thank you, NASA.