So apparently, if you really want to know exactly when US action in the Middle East will start, all you have to do is be a really good golfer:

The tournament's [next week's Dubai Desert Open] biggest draw, world number one Tiger Woods, said he was undecided whether to play.

He is being briefed by the U.S. government. "It keeps changing," Woods said on Wednesday. "They're giving the politically correct answers to our questions which is pretty much nondescript."

Anyone else just a little amused that the media cannot get good declarations from the government on exactly when things are going to happen, but Tiger Woods at least gets individually briefed? Not that I'm against trying to ensure Tiger's security, but really, he gets a direct line to the Adminstration so that he can decide whether to play a golf tournament?

Stuff like this just makes me laugh sometimes.

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People die all the time, famous people at that, and while we may make a mental note that someone dies or one blogger decides to draft a little eulogy for a once famous person, we read it, smile, say "oh yeah" and move on with our day. But some times the strangest of deaths affect us. I remember how devastated I felt after learning of Dave Thomas' passing last year. And from the looks of blogs I have read today, a number of us at least felt the passing of Mr. Fred Rogers and felt the need to write about it, like myself and Tony Pierce and Jeff Cooper and Berkeley Joe.

Say what you want about Mr. Rogers. He was a little creepy, and nobody is really that nice or that tripped up to have his own little make-believe land, or nobody could actually get away with dressing like that and still wearing Vans. Maybe Mr. Rogers was a little endearing precisely because he was just a little weird. Or maybe he was just spooky. Regardless, he provoked quite a reponse with his death. People will remember him for his character and his commitment to his principles and goals.

As I thought about the passing of Mr. Rogers into that big neighborhood in the sky, I started to wonder for what, if anything, people would remember me when I died.

Sure, I'm that guy who has a more than functional knowledge of the Victoria's Secret online catalogue who is completely unable to maintain any political position because he thinks his way through things way too much and doesn't just feel anything. That guy who writes a lot and never once bothers to proofread his text. Maybe people will remember me as the guy who talks to the john a lot. Or outside the realm of blogging, that guy who always seemed to accomplish so little with so much or managed to reach his goals with ease because he never set them that high, or maybe even for some positive things. Maybe my mother will remember me as a great son and my sister will recall how I was a great brother, and the friends I've made along the way will think that I had my shortcomiongs but never once failed to try and understand things from their point of view. Maybe any of these things. Maybe all of these things.

But it will stop there, I think.

Say what you want about Mr. Rogers, the man had an impact. He was a household name, the type of person who your sister wouldn't identify when you said you're watching Fred Rogers but would know immediately any reference to a Mr. Rogers. On the level of Madonna. A simple name to create an image, a persona that outshone his person.

I couldn't tell you what sort, but I know I'd like to leave more than a few sad friends and family when I pass. Maybe some sort of impact. I'm not going to teach children to tie their shoes or achieve notoriety for my musical and sexual escapades or even start a successful fast food chain and devote my very big heart to orphanages and adoption causes. I don't even know what I am going to do tomorrow. But 50 years from now, as I am winding down the time left I want to spend alive, I want to look back and know that even though I'm not famous, a very healthy amount of people will feel the impact of something I've done, anonymously or otherwise. But given my skill set and my current direction, I just really don't see that happening.

Not all of us can be a Mr. Rogers or a Dave Thomas, I suppose. Perhaps that's why we feel so beat up when we lose one of those guys, who for all the impact they've made on the people and things around them, they still seem to us like completely regular people.

Enjoy the next one Mr. Rogers. And say hi to Dave for me. I miss him.

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If these sorts of things keep rolling along, pretty soon we bloggers are not going to have a claim to fame as a cool element of the counterculture any more.

Hahvahd, always trying to be the front-runner on everything...

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A moment of silence to observe the very sad passing today of Mr. Fred Rogers. He was more than an icon. He was an institution.

I will forever remember growing up and looking forward to trips with Trolley to Make Believe Land, cavorting around the fine kingdom of the good and benevolent King Friday.

I will forever remember the jealousy I felt when I first tried to change my clothes while singing and found that I could not.

But more than anything, I will remember Mr. Rogers' calm soothing way of doing everything. He taught me at a young age the benefits of working through things with a relaxed attitude. I have not always adhered to this model, but I have always recognized its value.

Raise a glass with me tonight to the memory of Mr. Rogers.

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I had my fourth interview in a week today. Had to wear a shirt and tie to class. Again. I felt all day like I might as well have had a flashing sign on today that says "Hi. I'm trying really hard and getting plenty of opportunities, but I am unable to find a job." I know at least seven different people asked me about my interview today, and in their voices I could hear the "you have ANOTHER interview today? Why so many?" thought just dripping off their words. I don't think I will remember today as a good day, especially since I arrived home to find yet another rejection letter in my mailbox from an employer with whom I thought I had a really good chance.

I think I might just print up a sign that says "Job Search" and staple it to my dartboard this evening.

But you know, I'm tired of complaining about this stuff in this forum. And besides, I have a box full of clementines in my fridge and I'm finally starting to look like I work out three times a week. Small successes.

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I find myself growing more and more frustrated with Haloscan these days. Over the weekend and most of the day Monday their service was down and my comments did not show up. It appears that this problem returned earlier this morning and has returned to plague me this afternoon. And even when the comments seems to work, half the time they don't show up on the page when you first load it and you have to refresh to get a chance to write a comment or read those of someone else.

This is really annoying. I switched over the Haloscan because my previous comments provider worked so unreliably. For quite some time the I felt like I made a great move. But recently I cannot stand the fact that my comments work so poorly. And when I write things like my post from yesterday, which I know people will find disagree with and even find controversial, I want them to call me out, tell me where my arguments fall flat and when I should really take care with my generalizations. And when all of you come here and enjoy something I write or disagree with something I put together, I want to know it.

Haloscan is currently depriving us of that ability, and it's really starting to piss me off.

I'd think about switching, but I don't know to what service I would switch. And moreover, I really don't want to lose all the comments I've acquired since switching to Haloscan, especially since I lost some great comments left with my old service and I feel pretty bummed by that. And importantly, like most bloggers, I don't pay for commenting. So to some extent I feel a little bad about complaining about this.

But I will probably keep doing it anyway.

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Over the weekend I read a post written by the ever eclectic Evan Ames in which he stated that he hates this country. I left a comment in which I more or less said that I have a real hard time with people who say they hate this country and asking Mr. Ames if he truly feels this way. He soon after emailed me to explain what he really meant to say, which he also details here, that he does not hate this country, but hates the vast majority of the people living within this country.

Fair enough. I have my misanthropic moments, like any other reasonably intelligent person. Certainly misanthropy is one of the pratfalls learning. Ignorance is bliss not because you do not have responsibilities or opinions but because you are too detached to realize how many things can get under your skin and upset you.

Saying that I HATE all sorts of people is a little farther than I would probably let myself go. Maybe I'd try and stay closer to something like "I have a healthy amount of disdain for many different types of people."

All the various things spinning around regarding military action in Iraq have reawakened this disdain in me lately, especially in light of all the political happenings (sorry for linking to Drudge; I hate him too, but it was fast) that happened at the Grammys last night. Before I take off on a little rant, let me first state that I have stepped back from an earlier position that I thought we needed to go into Iraq. I am now officially without opinion. I just don't know what I think is right. Evan Ames' post today officially pushed me back onto the fence.

One of the truly interesting things I've noticed from the now year-long debate on what to do about Iraq is the shift in political opinion on what the proper use of the American military is. Let's rewind to the early and middle periods of the Clinton Administration. Do you remember Somalia? What about Bosnia? Haiti? Blanket statement here, but if you had to draw two circles in the sand and divide the parties into supporters and detractors from those actions, I would say that you would find a healthy amount of people who would find themselves in a different field than the one they have taken on Iraq. Certainly the two major political parties have switched dancing partners.

As I recall, the major debates of the 90s asked whether it was the role of the United States as the only post-Cold War superpower to act as the world's policeman. With people starving in Somalia without access to food because of warring factions attempting to exert control over the geography and social climate of the country, we sent troops into an area many argued we had no business going. Jerry Bruckheimer's Black Hawk Down (quite a good movie, especially since it's a Bruckheimer) reveals this side of the argument, that our military had no business going into a situation we could not resolve. The larger political debate, not at all considering the prospects of American military success, concerned whether we had any business meddling in a situation not of our creation and not concerning any real economic interest. Ultimately, one of the major justifications for sending American troops was that, as the world's major have, we had a responsibility to protect the rights of the many have-nots, in this case, the starving Somali people. Somalia provided the testing grounds for the modern human rights argument and served to initially break the political currents in this country into two camps: "not our business" and "moral duty to act." In simple terms, Clinton and his Democratic allies found the necessary support to deploy troops while Republicans on the Hill cried out that with the end of the Cold War, the responsibility of the President and the Congress lay at home, not abroad.

Fast forward from 1993 to 1994-96, when Slobodan Milosevic was to Bill Clinton what Saddam Hussein is to George W. Bush. Clinton drew the argument much more clearly in this situation: Milosevic and his cronies were responsible for the deaths of thousands and even millions through his practice of ethnic cleansing in the war torn Balkan area of the former Yugoslavia. With the recurrence of genocide and a modern day baby Hitler on his hands, Clinton put together what, to me, was an extremely articulate and convincing human rights argument. So convincing in fact that he assembled a more than normally effective coalition of NATO nations, even incorporating the cooperation of the Russian Federation to an extent, a US-led coalition that nonetheless gave extensive responsibility to the coalition nations. This international assembly seems to me particularly convincing of the strength of Clinton's human rights argument. Yet nonetheless a rather vociferous opposition ran through Congress, led prominently by congressional Republicans who claimed that again, we had no business meddling in affairs not our own, that we risked raising tensions by flexing our muscles internationally, and that the problems in the Balkans, though tragic, were not our problems and hence not our responsibility. Bosnia even managed to provoke Hollywood into tacitly supporting military action. Given many celebrities' talent to command political attention through their publicity, it seems telling to me that I cannot recall any major celebs speaking out and saying that we had no business protecting the human rights of people who couldn't give a damn what we did so long as they had safe homes.

Not to rehash, but Haiti had much the same debate attached to it. Violence and revolution producing a danger to the people required our presence to ensure the safety of a very poor people. When two US soldiers died in a riot, the media headlines across the country ran stories of conservatives claiming that for exactly that reason the US had no business going into Haiti to protect the people of a very poor country.

Quick, VERY general recap: Democrats and generally more left-leaning groups (see: Hollywood): we have a responsibility to protect the human rights of the oppressed and endangered people of the world. Republicans and more conservative groups: in the post Cold War world, we need to focus on domestic problems. The problems of small nations around the world are tragic but not our business.

September 11 has given both political groups a fool-proof excuse to hypocrisy allegations for switching sides. Suddenly, as terrorism is the major threat to the world, the United States military has the responsibility to ensure international safety. The justification for this, in large part, is that every rogue state poses a threat to world safety and stability and thus a preemption of that rogue nation's capabilities is a justifiable use of US military might.

The Republicans and conservatives have all fallen in line with George Bush and his chief rhetorical tool Ari Fleischer. Suddenly the United States has a clear moral responsibility to deploy the military and attempt to create domestic and international safety. (And hey, does anyone else think the Bushies have made a tremendous mistake by not trying to more strongly articulate a human rights argument for going to Iraq? For all the issues under open debate with Iraq, one of the few settled items is the fact that the Iraqi people are starving, sick and unable to achieve any recourse because their ability to oppose their despotic leaders no longer exists. Regardless of your opinion, I cannot honestly think you or anyone else disagrees with the idea that something needs to happen to improve the lives of the poor people of Iraq. Major oversight on the Republicans.)

And who's arguing the other side? The ineffective leadership of the Democratic party (and just for the record, if we had national elections tomorrow, the Democrats would get absolutely pasted because they have no direction whatsoever), and much more vociferously (and effectively), the A-listers of Hollywood and other entertainment celebrities.

The irony of this abrupt shift does not evade me. For nine years, the right-leaning member of our nation asked questions as to whether we had a greater responsibility to our own citizens or those of tiny nation-states around the world. Today they appropriate the bully pulpit and claim that the United States has a duty to create international safety, completely brushing aside any and all evidence that does not comport with their opinions. For nine years, the Clintonites of the country extolled that the US had a global responsibility as the only superpower to fight the good fight and use our powers for good. Today they wear ribbons claiming they are for world peace (and honestly, Hollywood, what a stupid way to rally yourselves. Go out and try to find yourself someone who says they're against world peace. Nobody really likes war and thinks a constant state of martial action should be the state of the world. Find a better way of organizing yourselves. Argue that this is not a situation where violence need play out. But don't try and postulate your moral superiority by trying to cast those who disagree with you as opponents of world peace. Honestly, that's just pathetic) and flaming George W. Bush and his motives daily in the national media.

I have no problem with changing your position on things like the proper use of the US military. But I feel like shifting a position and claiming moral superiority or moral responsibility, depending on what camp you fall into, without recognizing the about face and wearing your opinion shift on your sleeve, makes you look like a genuine asshole who does not understand that when you take an opinion and start shouting it at whoever will listen, you accept the responsibility of maintaning some truthfulness with yourself.

So Evan, and everyone else who has made it this far with me, now maybe you understand why I so easily begin to disdain, and maybe even claim to hate in heated moments, large groups of people in this country. Having an opinion and expressing that opinion is okay. Even trying to convice me of the moral haughtiness of your opinion is acceptable, though somewhat annoying. I'm an intelligent person and capable of forming my own opinions on important issues without your shouting. But I really cannot stand those people who shout and shout and posture and claim their opinion is correct or build up a case and ignore all evidence to the contrary when it seems to me that these screaming meanies have not thought about the implications of their opinions, now and those they formed ten years ago.

Honestly, change your opinion whenever you want. It's your right. But when you so strongly take a position, I feel like you have a responsibility to yourself to acknowledge that the arguments you used to justify one approach are no longer valid, and you certainly have a responsibility to those whose opinions you seek to influence to recognize and accept your shift.

Anything less than that strikes me as hypocritical. And that hypocrisy not only draws my disdain and Evan's hatred, but also deserves it.

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This is one of the most interesting things I have ever thought about. Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush in live debate. Absolutely an astounding possibility.

What do you think?

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Hello Hose Monster liver.

Greetings, bastard abuser of me and my cleansing abilities.

I gather I find you today in something other than the best of moods.

You gather correctly.

Why so low, exalted Hose Monster liver?

Flattery will get you no where at this point.

My apologies. Why so low, savior of the morning after?

Because you have unceremoniously abused me all weekend without ever once considering my feelings, without asking me if I would like to take the weekend off.

You had Saturday off last weekend.

Probably because you consumed an entire bottle's worth of wine in one night. I had passed out from over-exertion by 3 in the afternoon.

Ooh, you're right. I had sort of forgotten about that.

Of course you had. When the weekend arrives, you seem to forget a lot of things and fail to consider what how your organs want to spend the weekend.

Not true at all. I spend lots of time worrying about the enjoyment of some of my organs on the weekend.

Such as?

Not something we need to discuss now. I'm told that I should refrain from kissing and telling, and all other things pertaining thereto.

Well whatever. But this morning it's all about me. You make me bust my ass for you both nights this weekend and never consult me prior to putting me to work. Does that sound fair to you?

Well, you are MY liver...

And it is YOUR life, but how enjoyable a life do you think you would have if I decided to stop conforming to YOUR commands?

Ooh, natch.

Look, I'm not asking for veto power here. I understand that you work hard all week and Friday and Saturday become your moment to forget your responsibilities and just kick back for a while. I don't wish to take that away from you.

So what exactly do you want?

Maybe just some consideration. You don't necessarily have to follow my wishes all the time, but I think I would feel like a more important, less taken for granted organ if you could deign to give me a heads-up before putting me to work.

You just used the word "deign." You must be the most articulate liver out there.

Oh, and another thing. That shot of straight Tanqueray last night was really unnecessary. I know you hate gin. So the only reason you could have possible decided you wanted to do that had to be something aimed at me.

A moment of weakness. I apologize.

Hmm. Well, I guess it happens. Apology grudgingly accepted.

Good. Do you feel better now?

Yeah, I'm glad we had this conversation.

Me too.

How are you feeling this morning?

As far as being hungover? I feel great, thanks to your hard work last night and my foresight to take some Aspirin before hitting the sack.

That's good. How are you feeling otherwise?

I am really horny right now.

Hmm, I'm only a liver. Don't think I can help you with that one. Might need to consult some other organs.

Apparently I do all my thinking with them already. I fear consulting them now will only serve to embolden their control of my life. So maybe I'll just look at some Victoria's Secret pictures instead.

You really think that's going to help you?

I dunno, it's just... hold on a second.


I'm okay having conversations with things that cannot talk, but...

But what?

But having a conversation this long with anything like you seems really weird to me.


Do you think it's weird?


Hose Monster liver?


Oh well. Until next weekend then.

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