November 30, 2007
"National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."
-- John Adams, 1815 - letter to James Lloyd
November 29, 2007
"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."
-- John Adams, 1775 - letter to Abigail Adams
XP beats Vista
After a year and a Service Pack, Windows XP still outperforms Vista in benchmarking test.
Vista's first service pack, to be released early next year, is intended to boost the operating system's performance. However, when Vista with the Service Pack 1 (SP1) beta was put through benchmark testing by researchers at Florida-based software development company Devil Mountain Software, the improvement was not overwhelming, leaving the latest Windows iteration outshined by its predecessor.
Vista, both with and without SP1, performed notably slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP's 35 seconds.
I was almost to the point that I thought it was safe to go to Vista, but I think I'll stick with XP for now.
November 28, 2007
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."
-- John Adams, 1765 - A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law
Michael Yon and our military commanders in Iraq are expressing cautious optimism.
I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with General Petraeus. Very interesting series of helicopter flights to several bases. Bottom line is that progress is clear and real, but there are tough days ahead and al Qaeda, for instance, is far from dead. The mood is of cautious optimism, with a concern that some of the very positive media lately might set expectations too high. (That’s right: many military leaders are concerned that the media lately might be too positive.)
Bottom line is that I am more optimistic than ever before, but I share that caution. It’s obvious, too, that the tough fighting is not over.
But I came across something today that might make veterans of the fighting in Baqubah proud. Back in May, just before operation Arrowhead Ripper, there were about 60 violent acts per day. Now there are about 6. The markets are opening and the streets are again filled with people. I thought the veterans of Baqubah might like to know that their efforts have made a tremendous difference for the people here. You fought hard. This writer saw it. Your sacrifices truly meant something.
Encouraging news . . .
November 27, 2007
"To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws."
-- John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of the United States
November 26, 2007
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
-- Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book
November 25, 2007
"It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship."
-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)
November 24, 2007
"The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Spencer Roane, 9 March 1821)
Stuck on stupid
The Associated Press is once again trumpeting its ignorance -- only this time, it's about the US economy.
Headline: "Despite Economy, Malls and Stores Jammed"
In a free market, retail sales, in other words the malls and stores, are significant indicators of the health of the economy. And don't forget to look at the freeways in America -- all of those eighteen wheelers indicate a thriving economy, as well.
It appears that the AP is no better at hiring economically savvy journalists, than they are at hiring competent war correspondents.
November 23, 2007
"Excessive taxation...will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Taylor, 1798)
November 22, 2007
"Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy."
-- Benjamin Franklin (letter to John Alleyne, 9 August 1768)
I have so much to be thankful for -- personally, with my family, and with my fellow Americans.
Consider these statistics: The United States of America, with 6% of the world's population, controls 50% of the world's wealth. We are so tremendously blessed here in America.
And yet, the prosperity we enjoy here is nothing compared to God's most wonderful Gift to humanity -- Jesus Christ. God's own Son left his all-powerful, all-omniscient Self to be born in a frail, all-too-human body. I cannot even imagine how difficult, even painful, it must have been for Jesus to go from being omnipotent God, to mortal man.
Why did he do this?
As a gift to you and I. A perfect, all-inclusive, divinely-offered, indescribable Gift. A gift of grace and reconciliation between Creator and created.
2 Corinthians 9:15 sums up my feelings for this day (and every day).
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
November 21, 2007
"Nothing...is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Cartwright, 1824)
November 20, 2007
"Human Felicity is produced not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day."
-- Benjamin Franklin (Autobiography, 1771)
Sorry about the black out
I've been extremely busy getting an Advent guide published for our church. I'll be posting more, now that it is finished, but I'm still very busy in RL, so I won't be able to spend a lot of time blogging.
I'm hoping for more time as we get closer to Christmas.
November 16, 2007
"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country."
-- George Washington (upon fumbling for his glasses before delivering the Newburgh Address, 15 March 1783)
November 15, 2007
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to William Stephens Smith, 13 November 1787)
November 14, 2007
"He [King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred right of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither."
-- Thomas Jefferson (deleted portion of a draft of the Declaration of Independence, June 1776)
November 13, 2007
"Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."
-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)
November 12, 2007
"If we desire to insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War."
-- George Washington (fifth annual address to Congress, 13 December 1793)
November 11, 2007
Project Valour-IT 2007
(Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops)
It was the first time I felt whole since I’d woken up wounded in Landstuhl.
–Chuck Ziegenfuss, on using a voice-controlled laptop
Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled and adaptive laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field. The experience of MAJ Charles “Chuck” Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered serious hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important these laptops can be to a wounded service member's recovery.
Please, please, please, consider supporting the troops in this way. They are over there, putting life and limb in harm's way, to keep us safe here at home.
When you hit the donate button, it takes you to a secure PayPal page and allows you to donate via credit card or as a direct debit from your bank account. It's a good link -- I used it myself.
This post is dated 11 November, Veteran's Day, and will remain at the top until the drive is over on November 12th. Please scroll down for new posts.
There is more on Project Valour-IT below the fold.
Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of laptops for severely wounded service members. As of October 2007, Valour-IT has distributed over 1500 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country.
Valour-IT accepts donations in any amount to support the purchase and distribution of laptops, but also offers a sponsorship option. An individual or organization may sponsor a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide that soldier with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.
Originally Valour-IT provided the voice-controlled software, but now works closely with the Department of Defense Computer/electronic Accommodations Program (CAP): CAP supplies the adaptive software and Valour-IT provides the laptop. In addition, DoD caseworkers serve as Valour-IT’s “eyes and ears” at several medical centers, identifying possible laptop recipients. Wounded military personnel can also directly request a laptop through the sign-up form or through the Valour-IT/Soldiers' Angels representatives at the following medical centers:
* Balboa Naval Hospital
* Brooke Army Medical Center
* Madigan Regional Medical Center
* National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda Naval Hospital)
* Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton
* Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital (29 Palms)
* Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Thanks to the efforts of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Valour-IT is also able to reach patients in VA hospitals who would benefit from a Valour-IT laptop.
November 10, 2007
"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors?"
-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1781)
November 09, 2007
"On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will "preserve, protect, and defend the constitution." The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances, or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Thanks and praise
You know we're winning in Iraq when Muslims help Christians restore the cross to the roof of their church.
Thanks and Praise: I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome.
A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Infantry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.
The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)
Pass it on . . . !
November 08, 2007
"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781)
"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul."
– George Bernard Shaw
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
– Benjamin Franklin
"One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation."
– Thomas B. Reed (1886)
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
– P.J. O'Rourke
November 07, 2007
"It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them. You say it is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still say, let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long as we can. A better system of education for the common people might preserve them long from such artificial inequalities as are prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions of right and wrong, virtue and vice."
-- John Adams (letter to Count Sarsfield, 3 February 1786)
Let's have an Israel Appreciation Day
Don Surber discusses how Israel may have saved the world from nuclear war -- twice.
On Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli jets took out what some believe was a developing nuclear facility in Syria. People dance around whether or not it was a building connected to a nuclear program, but I trust Israeli intelligence more than, say, the New York Times.
November 06, 2007
"Under all those disadvantages no men ever show more spirit or prudence than ours. In my opinion nothing but virtue has kept our army together through this campaign."
-- Colonel John Brooks (letter to a friend, 5 January 1778)
Despite the volatility in the stock markets . . .
. . . the US economy is going strong.
Here’s the key point: Outside the struggling financial and consumer discretionary sectors, the economy is firing on all cylinders. Economy-wide profits are up a smoldering 15 percent in the third quarter when you remove these two laggards. And in addition to today’s robust, expansionary jobs number, GDP blew away forecasts earlier this week, coming in a hair shy of 4 percent. (For the record, this represents the biggest back-to-back quarterly gain in four years.) This means healthy American businesses are generating jobs. Meanwhile, hardworking American workers are out there spending money, with real, disposable, after-tax, after-inflation income running around 4 percent — a big number.
In the October jobs report, average hourly wages for non-management workers increased 3.8 percent, well above inflation. These wage gains don’t come from home-equity lines. They come from strong job creation. This is the heart of the consumer story. The October jobs gain is the best in five months. Over the past year, 1.7 million new jobs have been created. The bulk of these, by the way, are coming from high-pay service jobs, including business and professional services, as well as education and health services.
The real-estate "bubble" burst is not seriously affecting our economy. These numbers are very positive.
If you don't believe the article, then look at our nation's freeways. The tremendous numbers of eighteen-wheelers on our highways are much more than irritating obstacles on your way home from work -- they are real indicators that we have a vibrant economy in this country. . .
November 05, 2007
"The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon . . . has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."
-- James Madison (Virginia Resolutions, 24 December 1798)
Peggy Noonan writes about Hillary Clinton's difficulties in the debate last week, and after carefully studying the transcripts, Ms. Noonan has provided us with the key points of Hillary's answers.
I spent a day going over the transcripts so I could quote at length, but her exchanges are all over, it's a real Google-fest. Here, boiled down, is what she said.
Giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses makes sense because it makes sense, but she may not be for it, but undocumented workers should come out of the shadows, and it makes sense. Maybe she will increase the payroll tax on Social Security beyond its current $97,500 limit, to $200,000. Maybe not. Everybody knows what the possibilities are. She may or may not back a 4% federal surcharge on singles making $150,000 a year and couples making $200,000. She suggested she backed it, said she didn't back it, she then called it a good start, or rather "I support and admire" the person proposing such a tax for his "willingness to take this on."
She has been accused of doubletalk and she has denied it. And she is right. It was triple talk, quadruple talk, Olympic level nonresponsiveness. And it was, even for her, rather heavy and smug. Her husband would have had the sense to look embarrassed as he bobbed and weaved. It was part of his charm. But he was light on his feet. She turns every dance into the polka. And it is that amazing thing, a grim polka.
I certainly hope that clears up any confusion about what exactly Hillary Clinton said . . .
November 04, 2007
"[I]f you speak of solid information and sound judgement, Colonel Washington is, unquestionably the greatest man on that floor."
-- Patrick Henry (on George Washington, October 1775)
November 03, 2007
"The members of the legislative department...are numerous. They are distributed and dwell among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society...they are more immediately the confidential guardians of their rights and liberties."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 50, 5 February 1788)
November 02, 2007
"They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men."
-- John Adams (Novanglus No. 7, 6 March 1775)
Michael Totten, recently embedded with US Army units in Iraq, has an interesting article over at commentarymagazine.com about what the Army wants you to see.
Some colleagues, readers, and friends have suggested the dispatches I published from Iraq as an embedded reporter might not be reliable, even if true, because I only saw what the United States Army wanted me to see. CBS news anchor Katie Couric said as much about her own coverage when she first arrived in Baghdad in September.
I’ve had the same thoughts myself, and I quietly wondered if I should disclose them. I chose not to, though, because my experience, as it turned out, didn’t actually warrant it.
Go read what convinced him that the Army was not manipulating his experience in order to make things look rosy over there.
How Congress burns our tax dollars
Congress is wasting our tax dollars because they aren't passing appropriations legislation on time.
Politicians regularly take shots at Washington bureaucrats, but federal workers rarely get a chance to fire back. They should. Congress' failure under both parties to do its most basic job — fund the federal government — is a national disgrace.
Read the whole thing.
November 01, 2007
"And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need its assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?"
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1787 - Motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention