July 28, 2009

Japanese Bottle Jet Pack

I caught this on yesterday's Watt's; it's hilarious. I've seen other videos of Japanese bottle rocket pranks, but this one was the most successful flight I've seen so far. In fact, I'd say the flight went far beyond any of their wildest expectations. :)

July 26, 2009

Islam/Muslim Blogs (26 July 2009)

I haven't had the chance to do any of my links posts in a few weeks, so I thought I'd at least do my most popular series, that of Islam/Muslim blogs. These (with the exception of one) are all from July 19th through today, the 26th. At the bottom I've listed a number of blogs where the author is "missing in action." What's interesting is that I could have added an additional seven blogs from my RSS feed by people who not only stopped blogging but have deleted their blogs altogether. Anyway, here's to the active blogs! :)

Dr. M's Analysis: Five years later, Asra Nomani is Still a Lying and Manipulative Zionist Media Whore

Fragments of Me: Faraid and Life Insurance

Grande Strategy: The Hijab Martyr (Silence No More!)

Islam in China: China to Allow 2,700 Muslims to Visit Mecca: Report

Islam, Muslims and an Anthropologist: Between Naiveté and Intellectual Dishonesty: Debating Shari'a in the UK

Islamic Art by Morty: Calligraphy Art ((Fabi-ayyi Ala- Rabbikuma Tukaththibani)

Islamophobia Watch: Martin Bright threatens legal action against ENGAGE (Martin Bright's upset at being called an Islamophobe; hey, dude, if the shoe fits, wear it!)

Islamophobia Watch: Muslim woman 'told to take off veil' by bus driver in Australia

Islamophobia Watch: The Niqab, Fact v Fiction (Good article!)

Islamophobia Watch: Our Double Standards on Terrorism

Islamophobia Watch: Danish military caves in to right-wing bigots in headscarf row

Islamophobia Watch: Defend Multicultural Britain Against the BNP

Izzy Mo's Blog: Is It Safe?

Missing in Action: (Date of last post)
Abu Sinan-Sayf (May 16th)
Age of Jahiliyah (December 30, 2007)
Islamophere.com (January 15, 2008)
Naeem's Blog (June 3rd)
ShaikR (March 30th)
The Progressive Muslims Union North America Debate (April 8th)
Saifuddin (April 17th)
Underwater Light (May 13th)

Tron Legacy

I've been a long-time fan of the 1982 Disney film, Tron. Although the story line was thin and the CGI is antiquated by today's standards, it is an influential, if underappreciated, movie.

I had read various rumors over the years about proposed sequels to the original Tron; the good news is that a trailer for a new movie, Tron Legacy, has been released. Word is that principal filming has been completed, and the movie is now into post-production. I'm not quite sure when the movie will be out: the trailer says 2010, IMDB 2011. Either way, the film should be awesome, at least visually. Apparently this trailer was shot just as an effects test. If this video is indicative of the type of quality for the effects, Tron Legacy should be a fantastic film to watch. (Assuming, of course, that the plot and acting are decent. :) )

July 21, 2009

Backyard Astronomer Discovers Black Spot on Jupiter

A very cool story out of Australia: an amateur astronomer found a very recent impact scar on Jupiter, near its south pole (the dark spot on the picture to the left). The impact most likely happened sometime in the middle of the night, around midnight, Monday morning; the astronomer, Anthony Wesley, first saw the scar around 1 am, when the planet had rotated the scar into view. The cause of the impact is not known just yet, but was most likely a comet. NASA has confirmed the impact, but is still investigating. Interestingly enough, the impact happened fifteen years after the famous Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts back in late July 1994.

For the whole story, see Backyard astronomer discovers black spot on Jupiter - Times Online.

July 20, 2009

The Most Trustworthy Handhold

Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6068:

Qais b. 'Ubada reported: "I was in the company of some persons, amongst whom some were the Companions of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) in Medina, that there came a person whose face depicted the fear (of Allah). Some people said: 'He is a person from amongst the people of Paradise; he is a person from amongst the people of Paradise.' He observed two short rak'ahs of prayer and then went out. I followed him and he got into his house and I also got in and we began to converse with each other. And when he became familiar (with me) I said to Him: 'When you entered (the mosque) before (your entrance in the house) a person said so and so (that you are amongst the people of Paradise),' whereupon he said: 'It is not meet for anyone to say anything which he does not know. I shall (now) tell you why they (say) this. I saw a dream during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and narrated it to him. I seemed to be in a garden [he described its vastness, its rich fructification and its verdure]; in the midst of it, there stood an iron pillar, with its base in the earth and its summit in the sky: and upon its summit there was a handhold. It was said to me: "Climb up this (pillar)." I said to him (visitant in the dream): "I am unable to do it." Thereupon a helper came to me, and he (supported) me (by catching hold of my) garment from behind and thus helped me with his hand and so I climbed up till I was at the summit of the pillar, and grasped the handhold. It was said to me: "Hold it tightly." It was at this that I woke up when (the handhold) was in the grip) of my hand. I narrated it (the dream) to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), whereupon he said: "That garden implies al-Islam and that pillar implies the pillar of Islam. And that handhold is the firmest faith (as referred to in the Qur'an). And you will remain attached to Islam until you shall die."' And that man was 'Abdullah b. Salim."

July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, A'ishah! :)

A certain someone is celebrating her first birthday today! :) We'll be off in a few minutes, insha'allah, to the grandparents' home to have cake and ice cream (and spring rolls :) ). So Happy Birthday, A'ishah! (More later.)

July 16, 2009

DCA Rankings - Mid-July

Below are the current rankings for DCA corps as of July 15th. Once again, take these rankings with a large grain of salt. Of the 21 corps, only 6 marched two shows or more, and 3 corps didn't march at all in this time period. What shouldn't be taken lightly is the sorry state of DCA performances so far this year compared to this time last year. Only 5 corps are doing better this year than last and 6 corps have abysmal scores compared to what they did last year. Let's practice a little harder, people! (Note: The rankings have been updated as I had forgotten to add Fusion Core's results to the listings yesterday. Mea culpa!)

1 Reading Bucaneers (up 2)
2 Connecticut Hurricanes (down 1)
3 SF Renegades (up 2)
4 Empire Statesmen (new)
5 Minnesota Brass (down 3)
6 Hawthorne Caballeros (down 2)
7 Syracuse Brigadiers (new)
8 Bushwackers (down 1)
9 CorpsVets (down 3)
10 Fusion Core (new)
11 Governaires (down 2)
12 Rochester Crusaders (down 2)
13 Kingston Grenadiers (new)
14 SoCal Dream (down 3)
15 White Sabers (new)
16 Carolina Gold (down 4)
17 Alliance (new)
18 Anaheim Kingsmen Sr. (down 5)
19 Sun Devils (new)
20 Excelsior (new)
21 Shenandoah Sound (new)

Average High Score: 66.976 points

Improvement Rankings (1st Half of July):
1 SF Renegades (5.662)
2 Reading Buccaneers (5.175)
3 Rochester Crusaders (3.987)
4 Bushwackers (3.950)
5 SoCal Dream (3.075)
6 Connecticut Hurricanes (2.250)
7 CorpsVets (1.750)
8 Anaheim Kingsmen Sr. (0.863)
9 Hawthorne Caballeros (0.675)

Average Improvement: 1.304 points (includes the twelve corps that had no improvement this period)

Improvement Rankings (Year to Date):
1 Bushwackers (6.975)
2 SF Renegades (6.137
3 Reading Buccaneers (5.175)
4 SoCal Dream (4.825)
5 Syracuse Brigadiers (4.687)
6 Minnesota Brass (4.250)
7 Rochester Crusaders (3.987)
8 Hawthorne Caballeros (3.862)
9 Connecticut Hurricanes (2.250)
10 White Sabers (2.225)
11 CorpsVets (tie) (1.750)
11 Governaires (tie) (1.750)
13 Anaheim Kingsmen Sr. (0.863)

Average YTD Improvement: 2.321 points (includes the eight corps that had no improvement for the year-to-date)

Year-over-Year Rankings:
1 Syracuse Brigadiers (3.762)
2 SF Renegades (3.525)
3 CorpsVets (2.513)
4 Minnesota Brass (1.375)
5 Governaires (0.125)
6 White Sabers (-0.325)
7 Connecticut Hurricanes (-0.613)
8 Empire Statesmen (-1.262)
9 Fusion Core (-1.875)
10 Reading Buccaneers (-3.362)
11 Bushwackers (-4.038)
12 Rochester Crusaders (-4.538)
13 Hawthorne Caballeros (-5.213)
14 Carolina Gold (-6.250)
15 SoCal Dream (-7.300)

Average YOY Improvement: -1.565 points

Other Notes:
* Hardest working corps the first half of July: SoCal Dream (3 shows)
* Hardest working corps this season: SoCal Dream (5 shows)

For the June Rankings, see: DCI World, DCI Open, and DCA.
For the other Mid-July rankings, see DCI World and DCI Open.

DCI Open Class Rankings - Mid-July

Below are the current rankings for DCI's Open Class corps as of July 15th. I would still take the Open Class rankings with a large grain of salt. There are a number of corps I would expect to show up at DCI Finals in August that haven't done a show in almost two weeks. Likewise, a number of corps started their seasons in the past two weeks who weren't in the June rankings; thus, there's a lot of volatility in terms of corps going up or down since the last published rankings. Caveat emptor!

1 Citations (no change)
2 Capital Regiment (up 5)
3 Teal Sound (up 2)
4 Blue Devils B (down 3)
5 Gold (up 4)
6 Raiders (new)
7 7th Regiment (down 1)
8 Vanguard Cadets (down 5)
9 Mystikal (up 2)
10 Velvet Knights (no change)
11 Revolution (down 7)
12 Colt Cadets (down 4)
13 Impulse (up 2)
14 Oregon Crusaders (new)
15 Legends (new)
16 Incognito (down 2)
17 Racine Scouts (down 5)
18 Dutch Boy (new)
19 Memphis Sound (new)
20 Spirit of Newark (down 7)
21 Blue Devils C (down 5)
22 Les Stentors (new)

Average High Score: 67.286 points

Improvement Rankings (1st Half of July):
1 Impulse (11.800)
2 Gold (10.350)
3 Capital Regiment (10.300)
4 Mystikal (9.350)
5 Teal Sound (9.250)
6 Velvet Knights (8.450)
7 Incognito (6.350)
8 Citations (5.200)
9 7th Regiment (5.000)
10 Colt Cadets (4.900)
11 Racine Scouts (4.000)
12 Revolution (2.200)
13 Blue Devils B (2.000)
14 Vanguard Cadets (1.200)

Average Improvement: 4.107 points (includes the eight corps that had no improvement this period)

Improvement Rankings (Year to Date):
1 Impulse (13.500)
2 Capital Regiment (12.800)
3 Racine Scouts (tie) (12.400)
3 Velvet Knights (tie) (12.400)
5 Colt Cadets (11.700)
6 Gold (10.950)
7 Mystikal (9.750)
8 Teal Sound (9.250)
9 Dutch Boy (8.150)
10 Les Stentors (7.400)
11 Incognito (7.350)
12 Revolution (5.400)
13 Citations (5.200)
14 7th Regiment (5.000)
15 Vanguard Cadets (4.200)
16 Blue Devils C (3.700)
17 Blue Devils B (3.300)
18 Raiders (3.200)
19 Legends (2.750)
20 Memphis Sound (0.250)
21 Oregon Crusaders (tie) (0.000)
21 Spirit of Newark (tie) (0.000)

Average YTD Improvement: 6.757 points

Year-over-Year Rankings:
1 Spirit of Newark (12.900)
2 Raiders (12.300)
3 Mystikal (10.850)
4 Gold (10.450)
5 Legends (9.900)
6 7th Regiment (9.350)
7 Colt Cadets (5.800)
8 Citations (5.200)
9 Impulse (4.100)
10 Blue Devils C (3.400)
11 Racine Scouts (2.100)
12 Velvet Knights (1.850)
13 Vanguard Cadets (1.400)
14 Incognito (tie) (0.300)
14 Teal Sound (tie) (0.300)
16 Blue Devils B (0.000)
17 Revolution (-0.700)
18 Les Stentors (-3.500)
19 Oregon Crusaders (-5.800)
20 Dutch Boy (-5.950)

Average YOY Improvement: 3.713 points

Other Notes:
* Hardest working corps the first half of July: Teal Sound (7 shows)
* Hardest working corps this season: Colt Cadets (11 shows)

For the June Rankings, see: DCI World, DCI Open, and DCA.
For the other Mid-July rankings, see DCI World and DCA.

DCI World Class Rankings - Mid-July

Below are the current rankings for DCI's World Class corps as of July 15th. I've added some new information in the regular rankings so let me walk you through it: The number on the left, of course, is the current ranking; for example, the Blue Devils are currently in 1st place. In the past two weeks (between July 1st and July 15th), the Blue Devils were ranked as low as 3rd place and as high as 1st place. (Rankings fluctuate daily, so I'm giving the range of rankings through these past two weeks.) The last number (up, down, no change, new) tells how well or poorly the corps has down since their last published ranking back as of June 30th. Once again, the Blue Devils were ranked 3rd back on June 30th, so they've jumped up two places.

1 Blue Devils (Low: 3; High: 1; up 2)
2 Carolina Crown (tie) (L: 5; H: 1; down 1)
2 The Cavaliers (tie) (L: 7; H: 2; up 3)
4 Holy Name Cadets (L: 5; H: 2; down 2)
5 Santa Clara Vanguard (L: 5; H: 3; down 1)
6 Bluecoats (L: 7; H: 5; up 1)
7 Blue Stars (L: 10; H: 7; up 2)
8 Boston Crusaders (L: 9; H: 8; no change)
9 Phantom Regiment (L: 9; H: 6; down 3)
10 Blue Knights (L: 10; H: 8; no change)
11 Glassmen (L: 14; H: 11; no change)
12 Troopers (L: 14; H: 12; no change)
13 Colts (L: 13; H: 11; down 1)
14 The Academy (L: 17; H: 13; up 2)
15 Madison Scouts (L: 17; H: 13; no change)
16 Spirit (L: 17; H: 14; down 2)
17 Crossmen (L: 17; H: 13; no change)
18 Pacific Crest (L: 20; H: 18; up 1)
19 Mandarins (L: 19; H: 18; down 1)
20 Pioneer (L: 22; H: 20; up 1)
21 Jersey Surf (L: 21; H: 18; down 1)
22 Seattle Cascades (L: 22; H: 21; new)

Average High Score: 79.664 points

Improvement Rankings (1st Half of July):
1 The Academy (10.350)
2 Blue Knights (9.650)
3 The Cavaliers (9.200)
4 Troopers (9.100)
5 Blue Stars (8.600)
6 Colts (8.550)
7 Blue Devils (8.200)
8 Pacific Crest (8.100)
9 Crossmen (7.900)
10 Glassmen (7.750)
11 Bluecoats (7.500)
12 Madison Scouts (7.350)
13 Pioneer (7.100)
14 Santa Clara Vanguard (6.950)
15 Seattle Cascades (6.650)
16 Boston Crusaders (6.500)
17 Spirit (6.350)
18 Mandarins (5.850)
19 Carolina Crown (5.200)
20 Holy Name Cadets (5.150)
21 Jersey Surf (5.100)
22 Phantom Regiment (3.950)

Average Improvement: 6.852 points

Improvement Rankings (Year to Date):
1 Blue Stars (17.100)
2 Colts (15.250)
3 Carolina Crown (15.100)
4 Blue Devils (13.750)
5 Boston Crusaders (13.600)
6 Troopers (13.300)
7 Madison Scouts (13.150)
8 The Cavaliers (13.100)
9 Glassmen (13.050)
10 Santa Clara Vanguard (12.500)
11 Holy Name Cadets (tie) (12.250)
11 Spirit (tie) (12.250)
13 The Academy (12.050)
14 Crossmen (11.700)
15 Pioneer (11.600)
16 Blue Knights (11.400)
17 Bluecoats (10.050)
18 Pacific Crest (9.700)
19 Phantom Regiment (9.650)
20 Mandarins (8.200)
21 Seattle Cascades (6.650)
22 Jersey Surf (5.100)

Average YTD Improvement: 11.841 points

Year-over-Year Rankings:
1 Pioneer (6.050)
2 Troopers (4.700)
3 Blue Stars (4.250)
4 The Academy (3.750)
5 Colts (2.400)
6 Boston Crusaders (tie) (1.350)
6 Glassmen (tie) (1.350)
8 Blue Devils (1.250)
9 Santa Clara Vanguard (0.850)
10 Blue Knights (0.650)
11 Spirit (0.600)
12 Carolina Crown (0.450)
13 Bluecoats (tie) (-0.050)
13 Madison Scouts (tie) (-0.050)
15 The Cavaliers (-0.500)
16 Crossmen (-1.050)
17 Mandarins (-1.300)
18 Holy Name Cadets (-1.650)
19 Pacific Crest (-3.350)
20 Phantom Regiment (-4.650)
21 Jersey Surf (-6.000)

Average YOY Improvement: 0.431 points

Other Notes:
* Hardest working corps the first half of July: Troopers (9 shows)
* Hardest working corps this season: Blue Stars and Boston Crusaders (16 shows)

For the June Rankings, see: DCI World, DCI Open, and DCA.
For the other Mid-July rankings, see DCI Open and DCA.

Creative Excuses 101

Just remember, kids, to always take some homework with you when you're driving like a maniac (or a cowboy) through the city streets. That way, Officer Friendly might take pity on you and not give you a ticket. Of course it helps if the homework is genuine and you're driving toward your school when school is normally in session. Don't count on Officer Friendly's help when you're plastered out of your mind at 2 in the morning. Oh, and don't ask Officer Friendly to do your homework for you. ;) From Richard Green's Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog:

I just wanted you to know that this assignment got me out of a traffic ticket this morning.

La Cienega was shutdown due to an accident and I was trapped. So, I made a u-turn which included driving over a curbed median. A motorcycle cop pulled me over and gave me a lecture about how this isn't Texas (I have Texas plates) and "cowboy driving" is not acceptable....whatever that means. So I told him that I had to get to campus for the mid-term and I had a limited amount of time to complete the homework assignment. I pulled out assignment #3 to make my story credible and he took it with him when he went back to his motorcycle.

When he came back he told me that it seemed like the assignment was going to be enough punishment and he let me go.

July 14, 2009

Islamic Architecture in Uzbekistan

This short video is a production of the Muslim Students Association of Penn State University. There's a lot of beautiful art and architectural detail in these pictures that were taken of masajid, madrasahs and tombs in the country of Uzbekistan, especially in the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Enjoy!

July 9, 2009

Evian Skate Babies

If my daughter A'ishah is anything like her old man, she'll never be able to do a quarter - no, an eighth - of this stuff. ;)

July 5, 2009

A'ishah and the Whale

A'ishah is almost one year old; she turns one in thirteen days. (On the 18th; be sure to send your presents now! ;) ) Of course she continues to grow like a weed, and there's never a dull moment. :) This particular picture is of one of her favorite toys: an Ikea "sperm whale" doll. A few weeks ago, she pointed to this just before going to bed, and it's been in her crib ever since. Milady's been a bit anxious about it being with her: "Every other child has a teddy bear in their crib; why does my daughter have to have a whaaaaaale?" :) But my thought is, maybe she'll become an oceanographer or veterinarian? After all, she also loves dearly a mommy and baby fox dolls. :)

The following videos were taken earlier this afternoon. The first three were all taken by Milady using my handphone camera in which A'ishah has been practicing some of her first baby steps unassisted. So far she's able to do two in a row before falling down.

This last video was taken by me a few minutes after the other three were taken. Of course, the camera being within reach was too much of a temptation for A'ishah to resist. As a result, most of the video is of her reaching for the camera while I try to keep it away from her while laughing my head off. :) There was a slight pause in the filming which is why there's the odd disconnect in the middle; however, the results were the same in the second half of the video as the first. :)

On Blogging

There's an interesting blog post, entitled The Blogosphere 2.0. The author discusses nine ways in which blogging has changed over the years, and I thought I'd comment on a few of them:

1. The A-List Doesn't Matter Anymore. ... People used to read the A-list blogs because they were first on the scene to tell us what the hot articles and issues were. But now we get that information from Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader. ...

Personally, I've never followed the so-called "A-List" bloggers that much. Looking at Technorati's top blogs (the first 30), I'm only a regular reader at one (Daily Kos, because I occasionally post there), and have only visited very rarely two others (Huffington Post and Boing Boing). Almost all of the others I've never heard of. For me, the "A-List" has never mattered.

2. It's all about niche blogs. If you have a particular expertise and unique perspective, they you can quickly gain a following. Everyone else is out of luck.

I completely agree, which is why I've created a few other niche blogs; my problem is, very few people ever read them and they're much more difficult to keep going.

3. Norms and practices. ... Bloggers do not link to each other as much as they used to. It's a lot of work to look for good posts elsewhere, and most bloggers have become burnt out. ... Many have stopped using blogrolls, which means less love spread around the blogosphere.

The first part is true; writing up my links posts can be a lot of work to do, even for a fairly short list of links. I also find myself arguing (to myself) that I should really spend more time writing my own content, as opposed to commenting on others' writings (such as I'm doing now). Doing that would mean less time to link to others.

Blogrolls have become somewhat passe' with the advent of feed readers. I occasionally maintain my blogroll, but it's really there more for people who visit my blogs sporadically (which is most people). I almost never use my own blogroll; I rely solely upon Google Reader now.

4. Blogger Burn Out. Many of the top bloggers have been absorbed into some other professional enterprise or are burnt. It's a lot of work to blog. Most bloggers, and not just the A-listers, spend 3-5 hours every day blogging. That's hard to maintain, especially since there is no money in this.

This is actually my biggest pet peeve about other bloggers (especially Muslim bloggers): there are a lot of quitters out there. While I have the long-term goal of growing my readership into a much larger group over time, I try not to overwhelm myself with a high level of output. Yeah, I do have a wife and a baby, and they are a much higher priority than blogging ever will be, so if I don't post anything for a few days that's fine by me. But I do dislike other bloggers quitting. If you're on my Google Reader feed, hey! You're someone I want to read! Pace yourself better! I realize life gets in the way of writing, but don't just out-and-out quit! Take your time if you need to but keep writing consistently (once a week) if possible.

Use your blogs to target particular audiences and have a clear mission, and you'll get a following. Blogging should be the means to another goal -- a rough draft for future articles/books, a way to network with professionals, a place to document your life for your children, a way to have fun. Those are very real and good outcomes of blogging and that's why I'm continuing to keep at.

All of this was excellent advice, and I already use some of it. I do like to experiment with blogging, trying different series, some of which have worked out and some of which hasn't. (The jury is still out with respect to the links posts, which is another experiment of mine.) What I have found about my writing is that I get a lot more attention over the long run from my more "educational" posts. Looking at my current top 20 posts, I've got two posts that date back from 2006, one from 2007 and one from 2008. (My Titanic pages, which are on my website and not on my blog, were written back in the late 90s and still generate about a third of all my daily hits.) What I've discovered is that the vast majority of my readers are college students, businesses, and government agencies, people who are searching for specific information. And that's why I frequently write about oil and the economy, because a lot of people are interested in those subjects (as am I). But, of course, I think of myself as a Muslim writer, and I like to write Islam/Muslim-related posts. My Muslim readers are my core audience, and I hope you all enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy reading yours. (But write some comments here, darn it! ;) ) So "Dunner's" remains as it's always been: a blog that covers lots of different topics, those that "amuse and abuse" my mind, resisting the lure of niche writing, and probably at the expense of a larger audience. But I do enjoy blogging so. :)

July 4, 2009

How Much is Your Deductible?

"I don't care about no diamond rings
I don't need none of those fancy things
If you really want to be my man
Let me get on to your health care plan."

July 3, 2009

Islam/Muslim Blogs (3 July 2009)

Sometimes I feel lucky just to get one of these links posts done, ya know? ;) This particular subject (Islam/Muslim Blogs) is by far the most popular of all my links posts; what was interesting was that last week's post got some serious attention: a total of 17 hits from two different computers at the US State Department.

Austrolabe: Burka Ban: Not Just Black and White

Bin Gregory Productions: Wild Honey

Dr. Maxtor's Analysis: France's Mossad midget doth protest a bit too much...

Fragments of Me: Hijab Friendly

Fragments of Me: Natural Remedies

Grande Strategy: Are Non-Muslims Infiltrating Muslims? (I'm not sure I'd call it infiltration, but it does sound like the woman hasn't quite accepted the Muslim virtue of public modesty.)

Islam and Science Fiction: A Mosque Among the Stars (This is more of a website than a blog, but I discovered it yesterday. The Muslim brother who runs this website co-edited a science fiction anthology of stories written by Muslims and positive stories about Muslims and Islam by non-Muslims.)

Islamic Art by Morty: ALLAH Caligraphy Art in Arabic and English

A setback in the struggle against the Islamification of the West

Islamophobia Watch: Antwerp protests against schools' headscarf ban (Some very good comments by the students in this article.)

Islamophobia Watch: Muslims in Europe: The Scottish Example (An interview with Osama Saeed.)

Islamophobia Watch: Veil is 'a direct and explicit criticism of our Western values' (Have you ever noticed that when non-Muslims talk about Israel/Palestine, it's always a "religious" conflict, but when they talk about the hijab it's always a "political" issue? No wonder they're @$$-backwards.)

Islamophobia Watch: More Hysteria About Sharia Courts (Dennis MacEoin returns; will someone send him back? ;) )

Islamophobia Watch: The hijab debate: 'I don't want to be judged on my looks'

Izzy Mo's Blog: انا مشغولة (Izzy Mo finally gets a life. ;) )

The Zen of South Park: Quran Read-A-Long: Al-’Imran 55-63 Insists on Jesus’ Humanity, Not His Divinity

Umar Lee: Death

News Stories of Interest:
Muslims Not Just Concerned About US Policy: Envoy (Perhaps this woman, Farah Pandith, is the reason why we got all the attention from the State Department last week.)

Pastor Rick Warren to Address American Muslims

The Snake

For some reason, Milady thinks this short video is hysterically funny. It's OK, but rolling-on-the-floor-type funny? :) And is the fainting spell real or faked?

Now this I think is funnier. :)

July 2, 2009

DCA Rankings - June 2009

The DCA Rankings are very much in the "for what it's worth" department as many of the corps haven't started their seasons yet, so, for what it's worth... :)

June 2009 Rankings:
1 Connecticut Hurricanes
2 Minnesota Brass
3 Reading Buccaneers
4 Hawthorne Caballeros
5 SF Renegades
6 CorpsVets
7 Bushwackers
8 Governaires
9 Rochester Crusaders
10 SoCal Dream
11 Carolina Gold
12 Anaheim Kingsmen Sr.

  • The top six corps have all scored above 70 points already.
  • Every corps has scored above 56 points.
  • The average high score for all DCA corps was 68.379 points.

    Year-to-Date Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since their first show of the season.)

    1 Minnesota Brass
    2 Hawthorne Caballeros
    3 Bushwackers
    4 Governaires (tie)
    4 SoCal Dream (tie)
    6 SF Renegades

  • The average for YTD Improvements was 1.203 points.
  • The high (Minnesota Brass) was 4.250 points.
  • All of the remaining corps, the Anaheim Kingsment Sr., Carolina Gold, Connecticut Hurricanes, Corvettes, Reading Buccaneers, and the Rochester Crusaders, have had no improvement for the year-to-date because they have only marched one show so far. (Anaheim has actually marched two shows, but their first show was an exhibition.)

    Year-on-Year Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since the same time last year, so we're comparing the end of June 2008 to the end of June 2009. This ranking shows who the pleasant surprises are and which corps are not doing so well compared to the previous season.)

    1 Connecticut Hurricanes
    2 Hawthorne Caballeros
    3 CorpsVets
    4 Minnesota Brass
    5 Governaires
    6 Bushwackers
    7 Reading Buccaneers
    8 Rochester Crusaders
    9 SoCal Dream

  • The average for YOY Improvements was a negative 0.526 points.
  • The high (Connecticut Hurricanes) was 4.075 points; the low (SoCal Dream) was a negative 8.000 points.
  • All corps in places 1-5 had positive changes since last June's high score, while corps in places 6-9 had negative changes.
  • Anaheim Kingsmen Sr. is not listed here because they didn't march last season; Carolina Gold and the SF Renegades aren't listed because they didn't march last June.
  • DCI Open Class Rankings - June 2009

    The Open Class Rankings aren't quite as meaningful in June as they are for the World Class corps (as not all corps have started their season just yet), but we'll do them anyway.

    June 2009 Rankings:
    1 Blue Devils B (tie)
    1 Citations (tie)
    3 Vanguard Cadets
    4 Revolution
    5 Teal Sound
    6 7th Regiment
    7 Capital Regiment
    8 Colt Cadets
    9 Gold
    10 Velvet Knights
    11 Mystikal
    12 Racine Scouts
    13 Spirit of Newark
    14 Incognito
    15 Impulse
    16 Blue Devils C

  • Blue Devils B, Citations, and Vanguard Cadets have all scored above 70 points already.
  • Every corps has scored above 53 points.
  • Hardest working corps: Colt Cadets - six shows.
  • The average high score for all Open Class corps was 63.709.

    Year-to-Date Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since their first show of the season.)

    1 Racine Scouts
    2 Colt Cadets
    3 Velvet Knights
    4 Blue Devils C
    5 Revolution
    6 Vanguard Cadets
    7 Capital Regiment
    8 Impulse
    9 Blue Devils B
    10 Incognito
    11 Gold
    12 Mystikal

  • The average for YTD Improvements was 2.150 points.
  • The high (Racine Scouts) was 8.400 points.
  • Citations and Spirit of Newark had no improvement for the year-to-date because they have only marched one show so far.
  • 7th Regiment and Teal Sound have marched two shows, but have yet to register any improvement over their opening scores.

    Year-on-Year Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since the same time last year, so we're comparing the end of June 2008 to the end of June 2009. This ranking shows who the pleasant surprises are and which corps are not doing so well compared to the previous season.)

    1 7th Regiment
    2 Colt Cadets
    3 Mystikal
    4 Citations
    5 Blue Devils C
    6 Gold
    7 Racine Scouts
    8 Vanguard Cadets
    9 Incognito
    10 Revolution
    11 Blue Devils B
    12 Teal Sound
    13 Velvet Knights
    14 Impulse

  • The average for YOY Improvements was 1.268 points.
  • The high (7th Regiment) was 7.950 points; the low (Impulse) was a negative 5.100 points.
  • All corps in places 1-8 had positive changes since last June's high score, while corps in places 9-14 had negative changes.
  • Capital Regiment is not listed here because they didn't march last season; Spirit of Newark isn't listed because they didn't march last June.

    Update: I've modified the various rankings to reflect Jersey Surf's jump from Open to World Class status.
  • DCI World Class Rankings - June 2009

    It's time for the June drum corps rankings. Hopefully, this year, we'll be able to follow up by posting the July and August rankings. :) (Work issues prevented those posts from being written in previous years; hopefully, that won't be the case this year.) On with the show, then.

    June 2009 Rankings:
    1 Carolina Crown
    2 Holy Name Cadets
    3 Blue Devils
    4 Santa Clara Vanguard
    5 The Cavaliers
    6 Phantom Regiment
    7 Bluecoats
    8 Boston Crusaders
    9 Blue Stars
    10 Blue Knights
    11 Glassmen
    12 Colts (tie)
    12 Troopers (tie)
    14 Spirit
    15 Madison Scouts
    16 The Academy
    17 Crossmen
    18 Mandarins
    19 Pacific Crest
    20 Jersey Surf
    21 Pioneer

  • Crown, Cadets, and Blue Devils have all scored above 80 points already.
  • Every corps has scored above 63 points.
  • Hardest working corps: Blue Stars, Crusaders, Crown, Colts, Glassmen - all with eight shows.
  • Slowest start to the season: Jersey Surf - one show.
  • The average high score for all World Class corps was 72.812.

    Year-to-Date Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since their first show of the season; there's a definite benefit for corps to have done more shows than fewer: the more shows a corps does, usually the higher up they are in the YTD rankings.)

    1 Carolina Crown
    2 Blue Stars
    3 Holy Name Cadets
    4 Boston Crusaders
    5 Colts
    6 Spirit
    7 Madison Scouts
    8 Phantom Regiment
    9 Blue Devils
    10 Santa Clara Vanguard
    11 Glassmen
    12 Pioneer
    13 Troopers
    14 The Cavaliers
    15 Crossmen
    16 Bluecoats
    17 Mandarins
    18 Blue Knights
    19 The Academy
    20 Pacific Crest
    21 Jersey Surf

  • The average for YTD Improvements was 4.736 points.
  • The high (Carolina Crown) was 9.900 points; the low (Jersey Surf) was 0.000 points (due to having only marched one show in June).

    Year-on-Year Improvement Rankings:
    (This measures how well the corps has done since the same time last year, so we're comparing the end of June 2008 to the end of June 2009. This ranking shows who the pleasant surprises are and which corps are not doing so well compared to the previous season.)

    1 Carolina Crown
    2 Troopers
    3 Holy Name Cadets
    4 Blue Stars
    5 Madison Scouts
    6 Bluecoats
    7 Boston Crusaders
    8 Pioneer
    9 Glassmen
    10 Blue Knights
    11 Phantom Regiment
    12 Spirit
    13 Colts
    14 Crossmen
    15 Santa Clara Vanguard
    16 Blue Devils
    17 The Cavaliers
    18 The Academy
    19 Mandarins
    20 Pacific Crest
    21 Jersey Surf

  • The average for YOY Improvements was 0.224 points.
  • The high (Carolina Crown) was 6.000 points; the low (Jersey Surf) was a negative 9.350 points.
  • The Colts had no change in their score since last June's high score; every corps above them (places 1-12) had a positive change while every corps below them (14-21) had negative changes.

    Update: The rankings have been modified to reflect Jersey Surf's move from Open to World Class status.
  • July 1, 2009

    Republican Sex Scandal Flow Chart

    In case you're having trouble in keeping track of who's done what to whom. ;) Actually, the flow chart could use some updating with some of the following names:

    Bob Allen, Ted Haggard, Jeff Gannon, Ed Schrock, Neil Bush, Dan Burton, Dan Crane, Helen Chenoweth, Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, Jim Bunn, Ken Calvert, Jim Bakker, Roy Cohn, Strom Thurmond, etc.

    Granted, my list goes a little further back in time; this flow chart only covers the last three years. Regardless, the list goes on and on. These are only some of the more prominent examples, mostly at the federal level of government. For every name above, there are perhaps three to five names at the state and local levels of government.