Thursday, March 31, 2005

.:. WitNit .:.: The REAL Power of Blogs

Question: Is the blogosphere a community or an academic training field?
Answer: Maybe it's both.

I came across this older post on WitNit. Here he talks about "The REAL Power of Blogs". Even being a fairly new blogger, I would agree, to a point, with the post.

As a planner, I tend to see the blogosphere as a modern version of the market square, the place where the citizens conduct the daily business. Goods are traded, services are rendered and opinions are voiced, all of the seeming chaos comes together to form the life of the community.

Isn't it funny (as in interesting) that the academic sees the blogosphere as an intellectual exercise and the planner sees an organic community. I have a feeling that there is value in acknowledging both points of view.

Peter the "Moron" Speaks Up

Peter Tan, our favorite moron in denial because he was blogging during an earthquake (grin), has written a post "defending" his actions. View the post at The Digital Awakening: I Am A Moron, Let Me Gloat About It.

Now let's face it Peter, you just wanted all the publicity this "little stunt" brought to your blog. (but we are all very glad you weren't hurt! Just try something a little less "life threatening" next time!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Manipulating the Blogger Template

Question: How does someone learn a new skill?
Answer: By asking someone who already knows.

This post will become a repository of template tricks for the novice blogger user. For the unwashed few who have chosen to remain with blogger, these tricks allow us to add function without a lot of effort. Since I started this to answer questions, that's how I'll format this post.

Q1. How do I add a blogroll to my blog?
A1. If you know a bit of HTML, you can simply add the links into the template. An easier way is to use the service. They have a free version that allows you to maintain one blogroll. So let's add a blogroll to your blogger sidebar.

First, you will need to sign up at, create your blogroll and add links to it. Then you need to generate the blogroll javascript. Copy the entire script (using ctrl-c) and paste it into notepad until you're ready to paste it into your template.

Next you want to decide where to place the blogroll. Down at the bottom of your template, there is a comment that talks about the "sidebar." This is everything that is on the sidebar of your site. On your template, I would suggest that you place the blogroll code between your "Archives" and the "I Power Blogger" banner.

Now, we will create the blogroll titlebar. Copy one of the sidebar header lines. If you use the "Archive" header, the line starts with "h2..." and contains the "Archives" in it. Paste the copy just above the line that says 'id="powered-by"'. Change the word "Archives" in your copied line to "Blogroll". This is your blogroll title bar.

Now it's time to paste in the blogroll code. Go back to notepad, copy the blogroll code and paste it under the blogroll title bar. That should do it.

Many people want to add more than one blogroll (in order to categorize the links into groups). charges a small fee for the premium service but it allow you to maintain up to 9 blogrolls. You can then add each blogroll javascript under its own header in your sidebar.

Give these instructions a shot. If you get stuck, feel free to leave a comment or email me. I will help when I can.

Monday, March 28, 2005

1000 Visits

Question: What does it take to gather 1000 visits?
Answer: Duck Fudge

The Site Meter counter just clicked 1000 visitors! (woo hoo!) And what was the post that put me over the top? Why "Duck Fudge" of course! My Carnival of the Recipes entry for an old fashioned fudge has yielded a tremendous number of visits. Looks like people would rather eat fudge than talk politics! (but you already knew that =;^)

Live moron earthquake blogging

This is a must read post! Peter Tan was blogging during the earthquake at The Digital Awakening. Pay special attention to the post titled "Bloggers Are Morons" because it begins

"Blogging has fried our brains... "


Recommended Blog

I rarely post a general recommendation but I have found that JP at
Americans for Freedom...Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran...... does a great job of aggregating the important "budding democracy" news. Click through on the link and see if you agree.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Greetings

With no compelling question, with no witty remark, without a cite to another post, the Flaming Duck would like to wish you
Peace at Easter.

War in Iraq saves lives

Question: What is the purpose of a cost/benefit analysis?
Answer: To determine the true value of a good/service by properly identfying and valueing all of the costs and benefits.

Mohammed at IRAQ THE MODEL has written a compelling post that should place the "cost" of the Iraq war in proper perspective.

From the post:
Iraq is definitely better nowadays than it was under Saddam despite all the sacrifices we had to give in the last 24 months and even by considering the body count (that I hate to mention) I see that Operation Iraqi Freedom has preserved too many human lives that could've been lost to the injustice and brutality of Saddam. Like most Iraqis, I don't want Iraq to go back to the days of Saddam; nothing can match the freedom that we won. And let's not forget that most of the Iraqis who lost their lives in the last two years were victims of terrorism not the military operation itself.

Terrorism didn't come to Iraq after the fall of Saddam, only if one decides to consider that Saddam's doings are not terrorism: 5000 in Halabja in one day, 180 000 in Al-Anfal, 300 000 in the uprising in 1991, 70 000 from Al-Dawa party alone, many thousands of political opposition groups' members, thousands of people who refused to fight in Saddam's wars and were executed for no reason, amputation of limbs, tongues and ears, draining the marshes, depriving the people of all their basic rights and freedoms. The list can go forever.
Now for the equation.

-1,500 American volunteer soldiers died
555,000+ Lives estimated saved over the next 10 years

Positive benefit. Action recommended. (hat tip to Chrenkoff)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pressure on Iran

Today is a day for referencing Previous Quacks.

At A Daily Briefing on Iran, DoctorZin reports on some statements from Secretary of State Rice heard over Voice of America. This along with the carrier battle group movements posted here show how the Bush administration is ramping up the pressure.

More bloggers out perform the MSM

Power Line is reporting the real story of the "alleged" Terri Schiavo talking points memo.

Some people are tired of terrorists (Part 3)

Chrenkoff takes a New York Times story that I referenced in this post and cites many other stories about Iraqi's fighting back. If bloggers continue to out perform the MSM, it's only a matter of time...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Flaming Gnome?

Question: What do gnomes and ducks have in common?
Answer: The both like to put out fires.

Say hi to Fred. He uses his stick to put out fires.

Fred was stolen by Nick Queen after a Bad Suggestion from Harvey .

Fred said he wanted to help put out fires but he's not very good (lit my tail on fire once and clobbered both of my feet with his stick!). He just needs to continue his journey. Please take him from me and post him on your own blog!

If you want to join the "gnome roll," send a trackback to Nick at
Chuck also would like to know where his gnome has gone. You can link him with this
Please take him from me before he does any more damage!

Update: I just found out where Fred got his fire fighting craving! The rude crew partying over at Chuck's blog tried to light him on fire! Come on folks, give Fred a nice safe home away from this insanity.

Carrier movements towards Iran

During this post, I speculated that our presence in Iraq would have the added benefit of putting us closer to Iran. Now look at this post on
A Daily Briefing on Iran: From the article:
"The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is on the move in Atlantic Ocean and is possibly headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. The convergence of three carrier groups in the corridor of the Middle East will send very strong message to the Syrians and Iranians."

Could it be that President Bush will be the architect of a peace doctrine that will democratize the Middle East? Of course, he won’t be eligible for the Noble Peace prize. Only failed efforts can win that.

Some people are tired of terrorists! (Part 2)

Just a few weeks ago, I was commenting on demonstrations for freedom in Lebanon. Now something is similar is happening in Iraq. From an article in the New York Times titled The Ordinary Iraqis Wage a Successful Battle Against Insurgents:
"'We attacked them before they attacked us,' Dhia, 35, his face still contorted with rage and excitement, said in a brief exchange at his shop a few hours after the battle. He did not give his last name. 'We killed three of those who call themselves the mujahedeen. I am waiting for the rest of them to come and we will show them.'"

This is not the first time Iraqi's fought back against the insurgents and I only hope it happens more often.

Another Terri Schiavo opinion

Looks like Jay Tea over at Wizbang has feelings similar to mine about Terri Shiavo. There is no real answer, only a variety of actions. We can only hope that our choices are for the best.

Terri Shiavo Questions

Question: Is Terri Shiavo capable of a recovery?
Question: Can eye tracking movements accompany a vegetative state?
Question: Is removing a feeding tube a Constitutional question?
Question: Can a "soul" exist when there is no brain function?
Question: Would you want to continue living if you were bed ridden and unable to eat?
Question: Does Michael Shiavo have a hidden motive?
Question: Are Terri's parents clinging to a false hope?
Question: What does Terri want?

Answer: Sorry, there are no answers here.

Your friendly ignited drake has intentionally avoided the Terri Shiavo question because I do not have the answers to these, and many other, questions. I am just very thankful it is not me or my family involved in this situation.

I lost both my father and my mother to cancer. Both of them underwent chemo and radiation treatments. My mother lived another fifteen years eventually succumbing to a rare cancer directly associated with the treatments. My father suffered through the treatments and only added a couple of months to his life, in the end wishing he had not treated the disease.

Decisions like this are INTENSELY PERSONAL. I distrust both commenters in the general public who do not understand the entire situation and those in the family who chose to make the decisions a public matter. Let’s all reign in the rhetoric and take the spotlight off this suffering family.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Don't ask; don't tell. (If you're a Republican)

Drudge is running a report titled 'PLAYGIRL' EDITOR FIRED AFTER OUTING SELF AS REPUBLICAN. Apparently the all-inclusive liberal ideology is not tolerant of competing ideologies. Imagine that.

(hat tip to Drink this...)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Oh, THAT Liberal media!

Solomon over at Solomonia has a great post called Who needs the Democratic response when you have the AP?. Go read it.

Byrd Lover

Bob and Barbara sittin' in a tree...

Looks like Barbara Boxer has a thing for Senator Byrd. But what about his shady past as a KKK Grand Wizard and his opposition to civil rights? And how is this different from what Trent Lott said about Strom Thurmond?

I think we all need to follow Jimmie's suggestion at The Sundries Shack in the post Boxer’s Love is a Strange Love and bring this up at every opportunity!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Justice Scalia on Judicial Activism

The title says "Scalia Slams Juvenile Death Penalty Ruling" but it really is a right-thinking (as in 'correct' not republican) common-sense talking Supreme Court justice with some sound advice for the voters. (hat tip Professor Bainbridge)

Yahoo! News - Scalia Slams Juvenile Death Penalty Ruling

Poetry Archives @

I love computers. I love Edgar Alan Poe. I love this poem!

Poetry Archives @

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cox & Forkum: Coming Home

(tee hee) Cox & Forkum: Coming Home

Where do they come up with this stuff!

When I am confronted with a situation that I don't understand, I try to put myself in the situation. I then try to decide what I would need to feel, think, see, etc. in order to feel like I am a participant in the situation. Well, that technique has failed me. I tried to become one of the students described on Michelle Malkin's blog but I just can't do it. What would drive someone to put on an anti-war spectacle like this?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The making of a Republican.

Question: What is a "seminal event?"
Answer: An event that makes huge changes in one's life!

I know you can't see it in my blog, but before 1999 I was a registered Independent. Most Independents will give you some song and dance how they are independent because "they think independently about each issue." Yeah, right! Everybody does that. No, I was an independent because I had no real interest in the primary process and if I wasn't going to be engaged I didn't feel the need to declare a party. Now, don't get me wrong. I have voted for Democrats in the past because I "independently considered the issue" and sometimes the Democrat was the better choice. But my leanings were always Republican.

So what was my seminal event? That would have to be the Clinton Adminstration. You see, I moved from Florida to Virginia in 1999. After I moved, I had to register and was asked what party I wanted to affiliate with. That little question was my seminal event. The United States, however, had a very large event on September 11, 2001. Read about another person's "seminal event." (hat tip lgf) OPINION: The Making Of A 9/11 Republican

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Rather Proves Limbaugh Right!

Question: What happens during a near death experience?
Answer: The most important parts of our lives flash before our eyes.


With just one word, Dan Rather validated many of the things that Rush Limbaugh has been saying since 1999. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has nothing new in the playbook. The old plays worked when an uninformed public relied on a liberal media as their sole source for information. Now the tide has turned. The new media, both professional and amateur, has broken that hold and there is no turning back.

For those uninformed few, “Courage” was Dan Rather’s sign-off remark for about a week. Then the execs at CBS made him change it. Well, last night, Rather proved that the sign-off incident has stuck with him through these many years. This is obviously a play from an old playbook. In his "near death sign-off," Rather took the most important day in his career to rehash an incident that was the most important to him.

But it is a little deeper than that. Why is that word so important to him? Think about the word “Courage” as a sign off. What kind of person would you need to be in order to choose that word? It may help to think about the rest of his good-bye speech last night. He thanked many people and then he started to spew something about all the downtrodden in the world; like those suffering under poor economic situations; like those journalists who risk their lives; like all who struggle against “the oppressors.” Dan Rather sees himself as the savior of the world and to those people he wants to give “courage.” It is only he who can right all the wrongs of the world. He is the uber-liberal.

So it is with a gentile wave of the hand that we bid Dan Rather a not so fond adieu. Have “courage” Dan, you’re going to need it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities

Question: What causes the Flaming Duck to REALLY burn?
Answer: Vanity.

The latest Carnival of the Vanities is up (many thanks to Solomon for hosting this week). Your friendly ignited drake is burning up from the vanity but everyone should find something to preen over. From "Oscar Bait" to a life changing "Dialysis" event to a super "Smart Mouse", posters all over the blogosphere have offered their best to you. So don't leave them hanging; read every post!

Carnival of the Vanities #129

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

More eminent domain touble in Prickly City

You don't need to be a planner to enjoy comic character's raggin' on the Massachusetts' court system. =:^0

Prickly City -- March 8, 2005. (hat tip to Professor Bainbridge)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Selective Cites (Take 2)

Question: What is the definition of "intellectualism?"
Answer Intellectualism, to a liberal, is the ability to justify his/her own irrational opinions in a sea of common sense.

One of the first posts I wrote for the Flaming Duck talked about the citing of "convenient quotes" to make a point. As a point of proof, I used a televised discussion between Breyer and Scalia. In this discussion, Justice Scalia condemned the Supreme Court practice of relying on International law to support US court decisions. You may read my original post here. Please note how Justice Scalia compares the reliance on international law for rulings concerning the Miranda Rule but ignoring international law when it comes to abortion issues.

Well the same thing has happened again. In authoring the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons, Justice Kennedy again relies heavily on international law in order to justify changing his mind. In this article for the Weekly Standard, John Hinderaker calls the apparent contradiction a "naked flip-flop". (hat tip to Professor Bainbridge)

In a previous decision, Kennedy held that executing a juvenile was constitutional. In Roper he used international law to find that executing a juvenile was unconstitutional. This time a liberal justice used international law to essentially overturn his own previous decision. In Kennedy’s own words:
The opinion of the world community, while not controlling the outcome, does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions…It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmations of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom.

What? Is it constitutional or not? Where is the intellectualism in that!

We got trouble right here in Prickly City

The current eminent domain flap (over taking property for private development) has made the comics.

Prickly City -- March 7, 2005 (hat tip to Professor Bainbridge).

Can you please send the fire truck to get my cat out of the tree?

Question: Why has government become so intrusive?
Answer: Because we have asked for that.

On the drive to work today, I heard an ABC news report about the impending rise in gasoline prices. The report talked about how prices have recently started rising again and how the seasonal increase in demand would only drive prices higher. Kudos for the fact that the report was balanced enough to mention the increased demand from China and India as additional factors in the increased price (though the first stated cause was "the war on terror"). Raspberries for the fact that they aired a statement from a woman wanting "the government to do something" because she was being "hurt and it's an important item."

So what should be done? Should our elected officials dip into our “strategic reserves” in order to bolster the supply for short term relief? Or maybe they should impose stringent prices controls to artificially drive down prices and reduce the competition to a few select oil companies. Or maybe (my favorite) we should invade several oil rich countries and turn their oil reserves into a state run supply system that will surely be able to produce oil solely for US consumption at greatly reduces prices. These are the types of options that are open to government. Or maybe the best option is to realize that oil prices are a simple function of supply and demand. If we reduce our demand the price will go down. The real solution to the problem is in our hands, not the government’s.

Please remember that I work in local government. I cannot count the number of times that citizens have stood at the podium and asked for my bosses, the elected leaders of our city, to "do something" about a problem that really shouldn't be a function of government. Sometimes the result is “only” another ordinance or regulation added to the books (which adds to the cost of government). Sometimes they payoff an individual (ostensibly to “compensate for the hassle”) to make them go away. But sometimes they determine that the only way to solve the problem is to raise taxes to create a program or system dedicated to that problem.

I really cannot blame our elected officials. These solutions are not the result of power hungry officials. They are instead reasonable and thoughtfully considered answers to problems that seem to be important to their constituents. These men and women were elected on a promise to implement the will of the citizens. Implementing those desires is exactly what they are doing. We are just getting what we asked for.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Finding the silver lining...

Looks like a post from your friendly ignited drake has something in common with a post from Cheese and Crackers. We both may dislike what happens when people exercise their rights but we both are happy that those rights exist.

Results of taking a stand

Question: Can a duck play dominoes?
Answer: No, but it looks like president Bush can knock 'em down with the best of them.

On September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City. After enduring years of terrorists attacks against US facilities the world over, the United States finally faced an attack on our own soil by these religious radicals. An apathetic US populace finally awoke and backed a strong, capable administration that proceeded to take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan. In an associated action, an equally despotic regime in Iraq was removed by force to further soften the environment that supports Islamic terrorists.

Since that time, Libyan dictator Momar Khadafi has made tremendous concessions, the government of Lebanon has turned a new leaf and Iran may be swaying.

Have I left anything out?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Duck Fudge

Question: What do ducks like to eat?
Answer: Duck Chow (duh!) but they like to have fudge for dessert.

There is no shortage of blog material for today. Eminent domain, assassination plots, Ward Churchill, U.N. sex scandal, blah, blah, blah. The last couple of posts have been about weighty matters like those. Tonight, I am tired. Tonight, I will talk about fudge.

Now, this is real fudge; not that marshmallow "fantasy fudge" stuff. I have always wanted to learn to make real fudge and I think I can teach you how to do it. Everyone says making fudge is hard. Don't listen to them. It's just precise; not hard. And when you know why it works, the how is easy.

Let me define what I like in a good fudge. Bad fudge is hard and gritty; without much chocolate flavor. Good fudge should be very chocolate, smooth but with just a bit of "tooth" to let you know that your are eating small, precisely formed sugar crystals, lovingly suspended in a cocoa and fat matrix.

First some hints.

  • Never get water in your fudge. It will "seize" and then your only option is to turn it into hot fudge sauce (but that's another recipe)

  • Temperature is critical. Sugar reacts to the heat applied during cooking. The reaction is always the same for the same temperature but the temperature window is very small. We are looking for the "softball stage" which occurs between 234-240 degrees F. I was not consistent in my results until I purchased a digital thermometer. The liquid ones are too hard to read and the bi-metallic ones are too slow to react. Get a digital ($15-$45).

  • Making the sugar crystals consistently is the key. Using a recipe that includes corn syrup helps make small crystals by hindering large crystal formation. Using a fat (i.e. butter or peanut butter) also hinders large crystal formation.

Now for the ingredient list:

3 cups sugar
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
6 tablespoons butter, plus extra for buttering dish
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix the dry sugar and cocoa in a large (3+ quarts) metal saucepan. The boiling fudge will fill the pan. Add the corn syrup and evaporated milk. Turn on the stove and cook the fudge, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Depending on your stove you may be able to go to medium-high. Don't burn it but it should only take about 5 minutes to begin to boil. Stop stirring once it begins to boil. Cover and let it boil for exactly 3 minutes. Covering helps to retain the moisture and raise the temperature.

Critical Step Put your thermometer in the fudge and boil until the temp reaches 234-240 degrees F. It will be very close already so don't leave it. If you find the temperature "sticks" at something less than 234 degrees then turn up the heat a little. You must get to 234 degrees. I find that I like the fudge to reach 235 degrees. Your thermometer may vary so be prepared to experiment. Hard fudge means the temperature got too high. Try 3-6 degrees lower next time. If the fudge is too soft, heat it 3-6 degrees hotter. Once you reach your desired temperature, remove it from the heat. If you are using a gas stove, just turn it off. If your stove is electric, remove the pan from the burner. You want the boiling to stop. Add butter, pecans, and vanilla BUT DO NOT MIX. Just let it sit in the pan.

Critical Step The fudge must now cool without being disturbed. Jostling the pan as it cools can cause instant large crystal formation (especially if the temperature got too hot). Let the fudge cool to 130-140 degrees F.

Now is the time when we "make" small sugar crystals. You will want to beat the fudge with a wooden spoon (no metal and I don't like plastic) until it has cooled to 105-115 degrees F. You want a brisk stirring motion that keeps the crystals small but don't whip air into it. You will notice that the butter begins to incorporate and that the fudge begins to thicken and lose some of it's gloss. Pour into a slightly buttered glass dish and let cool to room temperature. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Please let me know how your fudge turns out. I figure if we all turned off the computer and made some fudge than maybe the world will be a little bit brighter.

Update: Thanks to a little prodding from Harvey, I decided to enter this recipe in the Carnival of the Recipes. So welcome to all those visiting from the Carnival. In your honor, I want to update the recipe a little bit.

Remember that I said the butter serves to keep large crystals from forming? Well, you now understand why it works, so lets change the how a little bit. The fat in the butter helps make the crystals small and it tastes great. Can you name another fat that tastes great with chocolate? How about peanut butter! Try substituting peanut butter for the butter. The fat in the peanut butter performs its job but now you have peanut butter fudge!

Go make a batch of fudge and let me know how it turns out.

Help me out here!

Question: What does a duck know about blogging software?
Answer: Not very much but maybe his friends will help him.

Well your friendly ignited drake has been blogging for about two months now. It has worked out fairly well. I've gotten a few comments and a few links, written a little and learned a lot. I chose to use Blogger because it was free, easy to set up and required no upfront committment. It allowed me to test the waters before diving in. Well, I have found the blogging water just fine and I would like to expand The Flaming Duck. Unfortunately, I, like others who have gone before me, have found limitations in the Blogger service. Some features are not available (I don't see anyway to categorize posts) and some features are only available as third party add-ins (like my previous comments listing running on top of the Haloscan service). Consequently, I am looking to move to something else.

So here is your chance. I would like for everyone to tell me the pros and cons of the software you are using. I am impressed by Movable Type and Wordpress. I like configurability. I like extra features. I would like to host pictures and documents. Because this is a personal blog, Mrs. Duck may quack a little bit at spending money for server space (spending "extra money" always puts me in the duck house for a while but I can handle that). So feel free to tell me how you feel about your blogging software choice.