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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

Obama: Building a Religion

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is brilliantly done and disturbing all at once. Brought to you by cakesecret, who is requesting help persuading YouTube to remove the “may not be suitable for minors” flag from it.

Three Weeks of Being a Twit

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hard to believe it’s been nearly three weeks already since I started using Twitter (my first Twitter post is here)! I think I was pretty well hooked by Day 2, and now I don’t care to imagine life without Twitter.

Being able to read and post tweets on the go from my iPhone is what has really made it work, as life offers plenty of opportunities for a quick, 120-character-or-less note that aren’t conducive time-wise to writing substantial blog posts (which the entry method on the iPhone isn’t really well suited for anyway). I definitely engage with the “Twittersphere” much more via iPhone than via a web browser on the desktop/laptop. So far I’ve been using “Twitterific”, and it’s been great, though I’ve noticed there are a few other highly-rated iPhone Twitter clients that are probably worth a look. Twitterific’s ability to post pictures, current location coordinates (approximate in my case, since I have a first-gen iPhone), and URLs from Safari are very nifty, and have been lots of fun to use so far.

In terms of the Twitter community/experience, it’s been very interesting to see the variety of ways in which others use Twitter, and to start to figure out how I want to use it. The founding idea of posting occasional quick notes about “what you’re doing now” is appealing, and to some limited extent I’ve been sticking to that so far. Others have taken their use beyond that starting point, using Twitter more to chat with other users (or “Twits”, if you prefer), or as a short-form blog of sorts. Some individuals’ feeds consist mainly of links to news articles, and there are also news organizations such as the WSJ, CNN, and BBC that offer their headlines and story links in Twitter form. I followed Instapundit via Twitter for a short while, but found that my previous habit of reading RSS/Atom feeds via NetNewsWire works much better for keeping up with Glenn’s stream and other blogs/news feeds. There have been other Twitter-isms to discover such as “#tcot”, the search hashtag for Top Conservatives on Twitter. I haven’t yet figured out whether or how deeply I want to participate in that, but the #tcot list has already helped me find a number of interesting users to follow. So far, I’ve mainly been inclined to follow people with similar interests who post more everyday “what I’m up to” tweets, or a combination of that and pointers to interesting news and such. I get a good dose of news and editorials already via the blogs and sites I follow, and find what I really enjoy in Twitter is the opportunity to see what others like me do or find interesting in their day-to-day lives. There are plenty of other potential uses inherent in the Twitter format though, and maybe I will find myself making more use of them as time goes by.

Meanwhile: You can continue to find me here at, as well as on Twitter at See you all out there!

The Dilemmas of a Day Off

It’s the start of a wide-open day off where I have nothing previously planned, and as usual my mind is racing a bit with a completely infeasible number of ideas for things I might do. Picture the bits of debris whirling around in the Wizard of Oz twister; it feels a bit like that.

You might think a bit of simple rest and relaxation would be high on the list, and in a very real sense it is (I might even get myself to sit long enough to watch a movie), but in general I need something for my noggin to engage with. Creative projects of various kinds, and even simple “getting my life un-cluttered so I can feel relaxed and focus the next time I sit down to a creative project” projects are things I always wish I had more time for, and they come to mind on those rare occasions when the time actually becomes available.

The danger with a day like today is always that I’ll try to do a bit of several things here and there, and then wonder in the end, as I usually end up doing, what I actually did or where the day went. So today I’m thinking I’ll try to avoid the possibly inevitable, and start the day by prioritizing and choosing one or maybe a very few things to try to do or accomplish.

This would be the time when I fire up Things on my Mac or iPhone, and try to skim the cream off my To Do list. (Brief product endorsement here: I love Things, and rely on it as the place where I dump all the miscellaneous “I should maybe…” thoughts that would otherwise clutter and worry my overactive mind. I’ve become a big fan of “ubiquitous capture”, for the stuff that’s worth capturing at least.)

Thoughts for today: catch up on my blog/news reading (I’m days behind, and I miss it!), do some of the blog writing I’ve been wanting to get to (lots of ideas saved up, but never the time), go through our pictures from this weekend’s Big Sur / Pacific Grove / Monterey trip and post some, work on finishing one of the 2-3 books I tend to be in the middle of reading at any given time (right now it’s “An Innocent at Polebrook” and “Atlas Shrugged”, and I’m looking to start a book on getting a pilot’s license that I got for Christmas), organize the virtual mess of project files on the home computer that I never tend to since I spend my days in front of the work computer, do the same for my paper files (not so much the boring bills-and-receipts stuff, but the project folders where I’ve collected ideas and notes over the years), work on the office redecorating project we started a couple months ago (the walls are bare, and pictures need hanging), get a voltmeter so I can figure out whether the cordless drill needs a new battery or a new charger, and then get what the drill needs so I can run the wires for the surround speakers under the house to the back of the living room, fire up GarageBand for a little guitar or keyboard practice, etc. And those are just the things I’d like to do for fun. I’ve also got our baby shower to help plan, and probably a variety of other things that need doing around the house.

Of course, all this “meta” stuff of taking the time to blog about what I might do is taking time away from, well, what I might do… The hope is that sitting and taking a moment to reflect on the possibilities before launching right into anything might help me to make better decisions about how I’ll spend my day. Whether this pans out remains to be seen, but I’m feeling good about it so far. Pause to take a look around from 30,000 ft. before committing to a destination — yeah, that’s it. If nothing else, I will have written at least one blog post today, and even if it’s devoid of interesting content that somehow still feels good.

Happy vacation, to those who are on one! — May you have a much easier time simply enjoying it than I do!

Tied Up Like a Christmas Present

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Between pre-holiday work deadlines and the characteristic frenzy of activities (some authentically delightful, others perhaps less so) that makes the holidays so great, it’s likely to continue to be quiet here for at least another week. I very much look forward to posting more when I can; there’s a lot that I still want to get around to writing about. Meanwhile, you can find me on Twitter, where I hope to continue to manage at least a few potentially interesting thoughts a day.

Happy Holidays, all, and thanks for stopping by!

On Twitter as "kulak76"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A bit late to the party, perhaps, but I’ve created a Twitter account. My feed, for any who may be interested in taking a peek or following it, is at

I’m thinking I’ll give Twitter a serious try for at least a good month or so — posting at least one “tweet” a day (if not a few more) about what I’m up to or what’s on my mind as I go about the business of life. I’ll continue blogging here as usual when I find the time and inclination to point out interesting articles, or to write more substantive stuff, but I’m intrigued by the idea of supplementing blogging with a more immediate way to toss out casual thoughts, and maybe even (with any luck?) connect more effectively with others who have similar interests.

My blog-reading habit, together with the occasional posting I do here, has provided a priceless gateway to deeper thinking about issues that weigh on my mind, as well as a certain much-appreciated sense of loose-knit community and just plain “not-alone-ness”, in discovering that there are others who share similar feelings and concerns. I’d hate to have to life life without a place to write about such things, or without my periodic visits to the neighborhoods of the blogosphere that I frequent. But even during times when I’m keeping up relatively well with all of that, I feel a remaining distance at the end of the day between me and others of my kind. Can tweeting help close that gap a bit? It will be interesting to see. I imagine much will depend on finding some intersection between the Twitter-sphere and people I’ve started to get to know in glorious Blog-ville (since blithering alone into a vacuum can only hold its interest for so long — even for me), and/or discovering other interesting feeds to follow.

One intriguing aspect of the Twitter format is that gathering together a group of people who follow one another’s Twitter feeds is a bit like creating a long-lived, slow-motion/casual-turnaround chatroom of sorts. The participants don’t all have to be online at the same time, which could otherwise present a problem for those in different time zones (the reason I’ve been such a stranger at The Chase Lounge, though I don’t mean to be). You can show up now and again, catch up on what others are up to, post, and either stay logged in for a bit of back-and-forth if others are online at the same time, or come back later without missing the conversation.

Anyhow … all the above is probably way too much thinking for something meant to be fun and casual. Consider this an invitation to follow my Twitter feed if the fancy strikes you.

Don’t have a Twitter account? Create one; they’re free! (No, I don’t work for Twitter, and I have no part whatsoever in the Vast Twitter Conspiracy, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary. I have merely drunk the Kool Aid flavor of the month and found it satisfactory.)

Incidentally, I’ve been using the Iconfactory’s excellent “Twitterific” app on my iPhone to read and post, and am liking it greatly so far.

Twitterrific on the iPhone

The free version does just about everything that the ad-free, theme-enhanced $9.99 version does, but I expect I’ll soon move up to being a paying customer if I continue to find Twitterific useful. One of its nifty features is a Javascript bookmarklet that sends the URL of any page you’re looking at in Safari to Twitterific for inclusion in a tweet. (Twitter then replaces it with a space-saving TinyURL.) Posting pictures is fully supported too (from your existing photo library, or taken on-the-fly). I’ve taken much advantage of both of these features already.

OK … ‘Nuff said. Everybody in the pool! (What’s that? I’m the last one to find the pool? Heh.)

Robert Spencer at His Best, on David Horowitz TV

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More first-rate stuff on the “David Horowitz TV” video podcast: Robert Spencer, thoughtful expositor of radical Islamist ideology and chief poster at Jihad Watch, gives an excellent talk on the machinations of “stealth Jihad”. Don’t miss Spencer’s additional insightful remarks in the Q&A video that follows.

View the talk here, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes to get this and other episodes in the series.

Especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to see Robert Spencer in action before, this is an excellent introduction to his style, his perspective, and what he does.

Another Call for World Government

Via Drudge: Gideon Rachman in the London Financial Times (emphasis mine):

Even in the EU – the heartland of law-based international government – the idea remains unpopular. The EU has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for “ever closer union” have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians – and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic.

And yet, the author seems nonetheless to favor the idea, both throughout the article and in his closing:

The world’s most pressing political problems may indeed be international in nature, but the average citizen’s political identity remains stubbornly local. Until somebody cracks this problem, that plan for world government may have to stay locked away in a safe at the UN.

Pesky, provincial voters! Where is their vision? Clearly there’s a need for someone to “crack this problem”. The will of the unwashed masses can’t possibly be allowed to stand in the way of global progress.

The most frightening thing about the idea of a single world government is precisely what gives it such appeal to those who would see themselves in positions of power within it: There is no escape (short of a rocket ride to an as-yet-nonexistent off-Earth colony, and who knows even then what the governing arrangement with the mother planet will be?). Don’t like the regulatory climate, taxation scheme, or laws abridging free speech or free exercise of religion where you are? Tough. That’s the way it will be, everywhere.