So, the Useless Department of Harassing American Citizens will finish itsjog through Congress in the next few days, huh?  Well, isn’t that justwonderful.

Of course, the original idea for the Homeland SecurityDepartment (let’s pretend this argument is worth something for a moment) wasthat intelligence and resources were not being intelligently shared betweenvarious agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, and various otherlaw-enforcement arms of the federal government.  Now, let’s look atwhich agencies have been united under the Homeland Security banner. Coast Guard?  Check.  Secret Service?  Check.  Nope.  Customs?  Check.  Plum Island Animal Disease Center(whatever…)?  Check.  INS?  Check.  Animal and PlantHealth Inspection Service?  Check.  FEMA?  Check. ATF?  Nope.  FBI?  Nope.  CIA?  Nope. DEA?  Nope.  So what does this agency do again?  Was it afailure of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center that allowed terrorists toattack the World Trade Center?  Maybe we should point the finger at theAnimal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  Hey, it isn’t like peopleinside the FBI had suspicions about the people who destroyed the WTC. So, the original problem was that the FBI couldn’t disseminate informationwithin itself.  The INS couldn’t be bothered to keep up with their owninternal procedures.  The CIA was generally clueless.  How doesthe formation of a large government agency help to solve theseproblems?  Oh yeah, it doesn’t.  But it does give the illusionof action which is all most anyone seems to care about. Tonight, I’m off to my second curling league game.  Last week welost in the eighth end after forcing a tie in seven ends.  I fell downon my back no less than three times during that game, which wasn’t toofun.  My neck (which worked overtime keeping my head from slamming intothe ice) and back were so sore the next day I decided to take the bus towork instead of biking.  It wasn’t until Tuesday of this week that myneck finally stopped aching.  Tonight I’m going to try some differentshoes that hopefully won’t slip on the ice as much.

Last weekend, Sarah and I took a day trip to Milwaukee.  We stoppedat the Milwaukee ArtMuseum because we wanted to see their new wing and also the”Splendor of Poland” exhibit.  Unfortunately, severalhundred other people all had the same idea.  We weren’t able to get into the Poland exhibit because all the tickets were sold, but we were able toget tickets to see the other exhibits.  Overall, the museum’scollection was interesting, but hardly overwhelming.  In fact, it wasalmost as if the museum was trying too hard to have a little bit ofeverything, and as a result, they didn’t have a particularly good collectionof anything.  Oh well.  After the museum, we tried to have dinnerat the SafeHouse, which is a really interesting Milwaukee restaurant with anespionage theme.  We got there at 17:00 CST.  The matre’d told usthat we couldn’t get a table until 20:00 CST even though there was averitable sea of empty tables surrounding us.  So, rather than sitaround drinking for three hours (which is what they, of course, wanted us todo), we voted with our feet and took our business elsewhere.  Perhapssomeday in the future, when my general bitterness has faded somewhat and mymemory has dulled even more, we will go back there (with a reservation thistime).  Post-Safe-House-snubbing, we walked over to a German restaurant we had seen.  This place was one ofthose stuck-up, overpriced, “scene” restaurants for those oldermembers of society with too much money and too little idea of what to dowith it.  We asked the matre’d if he had a table for two.  So, theguy begins an extended survey of the piece of paper at his podium and theroom.  This took approximately one hour.  Finally, the says, “Is this for dinnertonight?”  My natural response was to blurt out, “No, this isfor lunch tomorrow, we just like to be early.  Of course for dinnertonight!”  Sarah, however, sensing my, how shall I put it, growingrage towards this guy’s pompous airs, cut me off half-way through, and said,”Yes, for dinner tonight, but we want to see a menu first.” After seeing the menu, we decided that it was time to beat-feet and hit thesidewalks again.  We finally ended up at a restaurant serving MiddleEastern cuisine, which wasn’t great, but didn’t completely suck.  Postdinner, we went to a coffeehouse built in an old sewage pumping station fordessert.  I’d been hearing about this place for a few months and waseager to see it.  Half of the building is a regular coffeeshop. The other half is still a functioning, though rarely used, water and sewagepumping station.  It was a very interesting urban reuse project.

We got our first real snow this morning, but it is already gone. Regardless, it was a nice reminder of the coming winter to see the whitestuff coming down and actually sticking around on the grass for a while.

If anyone has any doubt about the fact that this country is going to warwith Iraq, they ought to stop living in a dream.  It is clear that ourutterly embarrassing President/Vice President combo is going to push thismoronic war until it happens.  In the past, I was 85% joking whenI said I was considering moving to Canada.  Now, I’m only 40%joking.  There seem to be some clear advantages to moving toCanada:

  • Free health care.
  • More hockey.
  • More curling.
  • Less invasive government intelligence gathering of private citizens forno good reason.
  • Less embarrassing political leadership.