Monday, January 31, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/31/05

"Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn't have in your home." David Frost

Bush Quiz

We all know who the President is, but how well do we actually know him? Take this quiz to see how well you know W.

I consider myself a dedicated Bush supporter, but I didn't even know half of the answers. However, I did know how old the first couple was when they met. I won't give away the answer to that question, but suffice it to say that it should give hope to all single librarians out there in small towns. You could still end up marrying into one of the most powerful families in the country.

(Quiz link contributed by Hawk)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/30/05 Iraqi Election Day

"Iraqi men and women have taken control of their destiny." President George W. Bush

The Iraqis Vote

This morning, citizens all over Iraq went to the polls to vote in their nation's first free election. Despite dire predictions from the Western press and threats of violence from insurgents, news sources reported that over 70% of the electorate turned out to vote.


Iraqi soldiers voted early in the morning so that they could provide security to polling places when the voters arrived. Over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen were in the streets today protecting their fellow citizens. There were some outbreaks of violence, but the voting was virtually interrupted throughout the day. Instead of cowering in fear as many talking heads predicted they would, Iraqis danced in the streets outside polling places and proudly displayed their ink-stained index fingers which signified that they had voted. Polls closed at 5 p.m. Iraqi time, but it may take a little over a week until all the worldwide votes are tallied


Banshee Polling

The current poll asks for Super Bowl predictions. Super Sunday is next weekend, so this poll will stay online until after the game. A new poll will go up on Monday after we know the results of the game.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/29/05

"The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers." Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968), 'Strength to Love,' 1963

Photos from Iraq

I do not know the original source of these photos. When I received them, they appeared to be amateur photos taken by a soldier in Iraq, but I cannot verify this. Still, they are encouraging and inspirational.

Letter from Iraq

This is an excerpt from an email sent by a soldier in Iraq to his cousin in Florida. I did not change the punctuation or spelling. It is pasted into this post just as I received it.

"I know a lot of Americans feel we should leave thisplace and be done with it already, but trust me; our work is far from finished here. If we left now, this place would become worse than it was during the previous regime. Our Armed Forces are doing great things for this country, and it has the potential to become a great example of a working Democracy in the Middle East. The great majority of Iraqis here are very glad that we’re here. The problems are coming from Insurgents from nearby terrorist-controlled nations, not the Iraqi people, and if we left now, we’d be virtually handing over this liberated nation to a bunch of terrorist thugs! So, if we can convince the American people of the great need for our presence here, and obtain the full supportof the U.S., then we can continue and eventually complete this great mission to allow a new Iraqi nation to be born."

(Contributed to Banshee Blog by Heather DeJesus)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/28/05

"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." Leo J. Burke

Baby Gavin!

Wild Banshee would like to publicly welcome a new member to her extended family. Gavin Charles Rice came into the world shortly before midnight on January 27, 2005. Congratulations to proud parents Mark and Dana Rice.

Polls are Open

Let the voting begin. The Iraqi election is underway. Voting in Iraq itself will take place on Sunday. But polls opened today in 14 countries this morning. Six American cities host polling places. This allows displaced Iraqi ex-patriots all over the world to participate in their new nation's first election. In order to be eligible to vote, Iraqi people worldwide had to register ahead of time. In order to register, expatriates needed to document their identities, their Iraqi nationality and prove they were born before December 31, 1986. In all, over 280,000 Iraqis registered for the international voting. In order to vote, registered voters needed to return to the same location where they registered. Six American cities will be hosting polling places for this historic election.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/27/05

"One thing you will probably remember well is any time you forgive and forget." Franklin P. Jones

Secretary of State

Today was Dr. Condoleeza Rice's first day on the job as Secretary of State. Dr. Rice has impressive academic credentials and extensive experience in foreign policy. In addition, Dr. Rice has an inspiring personal story. Yet, Dr. Rice was met with stern opposition from many Senate Democrats. Although her confirmation was inevitable, several Democrats seized on the opportunity to take shots at the current Bush agenda in Iraq. Senator Boxer (D-CA) went so far as to call Dr. Rice a liar during the committee hearings. In the end, Rice was confirmed by a vote of 85-13 in the Senate. This may sound like solid margin, but only Henry Clay in 1825 was met with more opposition than Dr. Rice. Even Henry Kissinger, at the height of the Vietnam War, was confirmed by a margin of 78-7. The other two closest votes were Dean Acheson (83-6) and Alexander Haig (93-6).

Some of the more notable votes against Rice came from Jumpin' Jim Jeffords, John F. Kerry and Robert "Sheets" Byrd. I'm not sure what these Democrats were hoping to accomplish by damaging Dr. Rice's credibility before inevitably sending her out to represent our nation to the world. But, how surprised can you really be that a sabateur, Bush's vanquished foe and a former Klansman opposed the highly qualified Dr. Rice?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/26/05

“Duty is ours. Results are God’s.” John Quincy Adams

Please Scroll Down

As most of you know, Wild Banshee took a pretty long break to start January. Since resuming posting, I also made a few back posts. Today, I post-dated an entry for Lee-Jackson Day. Please scroll down to January 14, 2005 to read this entry. Posts only remain on the main page for 2 weeks, so it won't be obvious for long. After that, it can be accessed via the archives. If you need some extra encouragement, there is good art with this post.

Ask Banshee

As promised, Banshee Blog is rolling out a new feature for the new year. The new feature: Ask Banshee. This will be a weekly column where Wild Banshee answers inquiries from readers. I am hoping that this column will run on Wednesdays.

One of the reasons that it took me so long to make this announcement is that I was ... well ... chicken. This is a risky proposition because it will require participation from you -- Banshee Blog's loyal readers. So, much like asking a crush to the homecoming dance, this project could result in a devastating confidence blow. I could be met with total and utter rejection. But, the turtle only makes progress when he sticks his head out of his shell. Hence, this post.

It's hard to say exactly how this will all work out. I expect this feature will evolve over time. Right now, I'm envisioning this as one part Sean Hannity, one part Dear Abbey and one part Fruit Cake Lady. A tall order, I know.

Assuming I get some response, I'm planning to write the first installment next Wednesday. If you have something that you'd like to Ask Banshee then please follow the link and write your message. If you'd prefer to hear from Rah, Mimi or Hawk then go ahead and specify in your message. I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/25/05

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full." Henry Kissinger

Too Young for Thongs

Surpisingly enough, the morning DJs on my local top forties station spend a great deal of their air time scoping out moral dilemmas. Even more surprising, they are often quite conservative in the stances they take. This morning, a listener emailed the station regarding her twelve year-old niece who had a mother that not only allowed her daughter to wear thong underwear but also purchased those underwear for the child.

Now, I'm not going to take a harsh stance against this mother. I realize that I have no parenting experience. I further realize that parents of adolescents need to choose their battles wisely. But I do want to offer encouragement to parents. Protecting your child's innocence is a worthy endeavor. Many things were kept from me when I was a pre-teen simply because those things were a part of the adult world. Earrings, make-up -- seemingly innocent things like this. Like most kids, I hated the concept that there was "plenty of time for being an adult." But, you know, it really is true. And, I am very grateful that I was allowed to remain a child for as long as I was. I'm twenty-five now, and I've still got a whole life full of mascara ahead of me.

And as far as the thong goes .... There is only one reason that a child of twelve would want to wear that type of underwear. It's so she can play at having the sexuality of a pop star -- or her older sister. Most likely, she doesn't fully understand any of it. But, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And so is a little imagination. What is not dangerous is remaining a little girl for as long as possible.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/24/05

"Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, andallow all our words and actions to be governed thereby." President Eisenhower.

Johnny Carson (1926-2005)

Yesterday, Johnny Carson passed away after losing his battle with emphysema. He was 79 years old. I learned of this news when all the major networks cut away from their scheduled broadcasts to announce Carson's death as breaking news. The seriousness with which the story was treated was quite surprising to me. I knew that he was a big star, but I had no idea how much he apparently meant to so many Americans.

I am too young to have a connection with Carson. I was only 13 when he signed off the air for the final time. I don't think that I actually watched The Tonight Show one single time while he was host. I feel now that I missed an important part of Americana. It seems that Carson was something altogether different from the late night hosts of today. He apparently wasn't just someone who happened to amuse you as you dozed off to sleep. He seems to have been someone that you invited into the living room as a friend.

Not the Seer of Seers

Well, unlike Punxatawny Phil, I am clearly not the seer of seers or the prognosticator of prognosticators. I followed up last year's dismal NFL playoff predictions with a horrendous performance this weekend. Not only did I pick the wrong team in both games, I wasn't even close. The Eagles easily handled the Falcons, throwing the ball with ease and stuffing the run on defense. Then the Pats absolutely destroyed the Steelers. So, I guess I will not be giving up my day job in order to pursue a career as a fortune teller or an odds maker. All I can say for myself is, "What do girls know about football, anyway?"

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/23/05 Championship Sunday

"Football is a great game. It demands a young man's total commitment -- emotionally, mentally, and physically. It challenges our young people to do their very best, to discipline themselves to develop mental, as well as physical, toughness. At its best, it is a wonderful and worthwhile experience which will have immense future character benefitws for its players." Joe Paterno

Banshee Polling

Polling results: The last poll that was posted on this site asked "When should the Christmas decorations come down?" This poll lingered for more than a month. It's pretty well irrelevant now, but I figured I might as well post the results as long as I have them. No one thought that the decorations should disappear on Christmas day. In addition, no one thought that they should stay up all year. 23% of voters thought that undecorating should happen on New Year's Day. 23% also voted for Epiphany. A majority at 53% said that the decorations should come down whenever you have the time.

New Poll: Our nation is now entering the longest two weeks of the year -- the two weeks between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl. But, it is a great time for discussion. Banshee Blog wants to know Who will win the Super Bowl?

Football Preview

All eyes of the sporting world will be on Pennsylvania this afternoon as the Keystone State plays host to both NFL conference championship games. After 17 weeks of regular season play and two weeks of playoffs, the field of NFL contenders has been whittled down to 4 teams. The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Atlanta Falcons for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. A few hours later, the New England Patriots will invade Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to play the Steelers for the AFC title. It's only a few hours before kickoff, so it's a little late for these previews. Still, I figure better late than never.

NFC Championship

For the fourth straight year, the Philadelphia Eagles will host the NFC title game. They fell short the last three years despite being a solid favorite. No team has ever lost four straight conference championship games, and the city of Philadelphia is keenly aware of that fact. Governor and former mayor of Pilly, Ed Rendell was seen on ESPN this morning pleading with the Lord to finally allow the Eagles to break through.

This year's challenger is the Atlanta Falcons led by Super Man himself, Michael Vick. The Falcons will be leaving the comforts of the dome in Hotlanta to brave the arctic conditions along the banks of the Schuylkill River. A blizzard blasted the City of Brotherly Love for the last 24 hours, but the snow should be over in time for kickoff. Nonetheless, the weather will be a factor. Temperatures at kickoff will be well under 20 degrees and the winds will be around 25 mph or better.

Initially, one might think that these brutal conditions will favor the Eagles since they are used to playing outdoors. But, in the words of Lee Corso, I say, "Not so fast, my friend." Many teams who play in domes take on a very dome oriented persona -- fast but a little soft (see the Colts, the Rams and the Vikings). Not so the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons feature a stout defense and bruising rushing attack. Neither of these will be affected by the wind or cold of Philly. The Falcons proved their cold weather capabilities two years ago when they handed the Green Bay Packers their only post season loss ever on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Meanwhile, the Eagles have been vulnerable against the run all year and do not center their offense around a power runner. McNabb is a great quarterback, but this will be a horrendous day for throwing the ball to his depleted receiving core.

Banshee Prediction:
Falcons 24
Eagles 10

AFC Championship

This game could go down as one of the greatest games in NFL history. This will be an old-school ballgame. The weather will be frigid on the banks of the three rivers of Pittsburgh. But, these are two cold weather teams that are designed to win in harsh conditions. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs. During the offseason, the Pats added the first rate runner, Cory Dillon, to their roster. Despite a rash of injuries to the defense, the Patriots have adapted and continued to win -- sometimes playing a wide receiver in their defensive backfield. The Pats enter this game with only two losses on the season. The only meaningful loss came at the hands of the Steelers on Halloween

The Pittsburgh Steelers only have one blemish on their record. But, they are undefeated since rookie Ben Roethlisberger took over the reins at quarterback. Perhaps more than any other team in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers match the city where they play. This is a working man's team. There's nothing flashy about these guys.

Both teams in this game are capable of playing lock-down defense. They can both grind out the clock with the running game. These things we know. The big question is at the quarterback slot. The Patriots' Tom Brady is a proven winner. He has twice piloted his team to Super Bowl victories. There is nothing extremely picturesque about Brady. He's not the fastest. He's not the strongest. He's certainly not the biggest. But, you play to win the games, and Tom Brady wins games. In contrast, you have Big Ben. No rookie has ever led his team to a Super Bowl. None. But, Big Ben has overcome a lot in his life already -- a shortsighted high school coach who benched Ben in favor of his own son, a college career at the second tier Miami of Ohio, and the recent death of his mother. And through it all, we have seen no chinks in the armor. Thanks in large part to the legs of Jerome Bettis and the blocking Penn Stater Jeff Hartings, today will not be the end of Big Ben's glorious run.

Banshee prediction:
Patriots 7
Steelers 10

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/22/05

"Never, never, never, never give up." Winston Churchill

Healthy Again

There is a duel meaning to title of this post. First of all, the Banshee Blog template is recovered from it's hideous deformity. Wild Banshee is not a product of the stone ages, but she is no expert on HTML programming, either. Yet, the Banshee is nothing if not stubborn. So, after several hours of tedious experimentation, the mysterious narrowing condition is now corrected.

The Banshee's health is also getting better. Who would have thought that just a little eye surgery would put such a damper on my desire to get this blog back in order? At any rate, the eye is doing much better now. It was fully up to the task of HTML editing this afternoon.

Change is in the Air

I'm sure that some of you more avid readers have already noticed some subtle changes in the blog's appearance. But, some changes are more than just cosmetic.

Due to popular demand, Banshee Blog has adopted a new comment feature. Comments are now being run through Blogger. Pop-up windows are no longer involved. This should result in fewer problems for those of you using pop-up blockers. However, it will artificially inflate the hit counter. Another downfall is that old comments are no longer accessible. So, thus ends the fairly fiesty debate over Parenting as a Hobby.

Another change involves the Guestbook. Over the last month, porn purveyors have infiltrated this blog and attempted to make several new entries. If you followed the links to their homepages, you found some nasty stuff. It was actually my technically savvy sister who discovered this. All dirty entries have now been removed. In the future, no new entries will apear until they have been screened by me. So, if you try to sign the Guestbook (I do love Guestbood signings) do not be alarmed if your entry does not appear instantly. It's just waiting for my click of approval.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/21/05

"Let them eat cake." Attributed to Marie Antoinette but likely never actually uttered

This day in history

Today marks the 212th anniversary of the day that King Louis the XVI lost his head at the guillotine in Paris. This was the first execution in what became the tremendous bloodbath known as the French Revolution. In the end, the bloodletting only ceased when the revolutionaries eventually killed their own leader, Robespierre.

Certainly, the plight of the French people warranted an overthrow of their bloated and unrepresentative government. However, unlike the American Revolution which occurred at roughly the same time in history, the French Revolution was based primarily on humanistic ideals such as the ultimate nobility of man. It's no wonder that the revolution soon lost its moral course and turned into an ultra-violent ordeal marked by eras known as The Terror and The Great Terror.

However, if you would prefer a less philosophical summary of the French Revolution, please follow this link to Allan Sherman's wonderful song, "You went the wrong way old King Louis."

Monday, January 17, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/17/05 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nationwhere they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the contentof their character. " Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963

Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963

...One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I- it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong. ...

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/16/04

"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perserverance, and to turn around three times before lying down." Robert Benchley

AKC Best in Show

While other bloggers gained fame in 2004 by breaking open Rather-gate and reporting on the shady exit polls from the November election, Banshee Blog gained fame in its infancy through its in-depth coverage of big time dog shows. That tradition of excellence will continue in 2005.

This weekend the American Kennel Club held the Eukanuba National Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida. The two day event was televised live for the first time this year. In total, there were six hours of live coverage. As usual, Ron Reagan, self-procalaimed stem cell research expert, anchored the broadcasts.

On Saturday, winners were chosen in the toy, hound, sporting and non-sporting groups. On Sunday, winners were chosen in the terrier, working and herding groups. Then all the group winners came back into the ring to battle for Best in Show. Heading into the final competition, the smart money seemed to be on the toy poodle out of the toy group. But in the end, it was Stump (formerly known as Stumpy) the bloodhound who was crowned AKC National Champion for 2005.

For those of you who were wondering, defending champ Cocoa the Norwich Terrier was not in the competition this year. The next big event on the dog show calendar comes up in mid February when the Westiminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be shown live from Madison Square Garden.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/14/05 Lee-Jackson Day

“We have fought this fight as long and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us, as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the situation.” General Robert E. Lee

Lee-Jackson Day

The Generals Were Brought to Tears by Mort Kunstler

Yes, here in the Commonwealth of Virginia Lee-Jackson Day is a recognized holiday for state employees. This holiday remembers General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Some may think that recognizing these two generals of the Confederacy is an outrage -- especially just a few days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Ten years ago, I would have been outraged, too. I would have gone into a fit of rage at the thought of honoring the men who led those traitorous rebels into combat. After all, my sister and I spent many years of our childhood playing Civil War and driving Johnny Reb out of our front yard.

I have a different feeling about this now (and not just because I have today off from work). These two men are worthy of much admiration. No doubt, they were on the wrong side of the Civil War. But these men were not evil racists. Neither of them owned slaves and both thought that slavery was wrong. They were simply Virginians. And for reasons that I do not fully uderstand, their allegience to their home state trumped all other considerations. But this should not cause us to overlook their many virtues.

There is one other thing in particular that should be remembered on this day. Robert E. Lee did as much as any man to heal our nation after the horrors of the Civil War. It was Lincoln who said in his Second Innaugural, "With malice towards none and charity for all ...." But, it was Lee who lived those words out both in his surrender and in the way he conducted himself in the years following the war. In the spring of 1865, it became clear that the Confederacy could not attain a victory on the battlefield. At this time, President Jefferson Davis and others urged Lee to break up his army and send them into the hills of Virginia to wage a guerilla war. Lee refused. Instead, he chose an honorable surrender. He knew it was time to begin the nation's healing.

Lee demonstrated his willingness to help with the healing in his personal life, as well. Soon after the war, Lee was worshiping in his home church in Richmond. When it came time for communion, a newly freed black man came to the front of the church and knelt at the rail. No one knew quite what to do. There was a moment of pause. Then the defeated general rose from his pew and knelt beside the his fellow American to receive the Lord's Supper. It is moments like this that make both Lee and Jackson worthy of remembrance.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/8/05

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

What a mess!

As promised, I was working on the Banshee Blog template today. However, it seems that I have made a mess of things. The main thing I was trying to do was use a different comment feature. But, at the moment, there are no comments available at all. In addition, I have some mysterious narrowing thing going on. The posts get narrower and narrower as you scroll down the page. I think this narrowing also has something to do with pushing all of the sidebar items down to the bottom of the page.

I have contacted Blogger about my troubles. Hopefully, someone there will be able to help me out. In the meantime, please bear with me. I will send out a grand re-opening email when everything gets back the way it belongs.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Quote of the Day 1/4/05

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man." Benjamin Franklin

Disasters - Natural and Man-made

Be proud fellow citizens. We have responded to the suffering of the victims of the recent tsunami. We are sending millions of dollars as well as supplying manpower. We ask nothing in return. The world expected us to act quickly and we have.

Be proud fellow citizens. We have responded to the suffering of the victims of the tyrant in Iraq. We are sending millions of dollars as well as supplying manpower. We ask nothing in return. But the world did not want us to act and now feels free to criticize and ridicule us.

Almost twice as many people died because of Saddam as did because of the tsunami. One disaster was man-made, one was an act of nature, and Americans responded to both with compassion and action.

What would have happened if the UN could have prevented the tsunami? Would they have “interfered” or would they have waited? Perhaps they would have passed a resolution!