Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LebaFUN!

A friend of mine lived in Lebanon a couple of years ago. She raved about it. She enjoyed it so much she ended up preparing to marry a guy from the UAE she had met there. Then she traveled to the UAE and met him on his own turf and he came to visit her...and things were different. Suddenly he informed her of her place in his world an all the requirements of a respectable wife. You can guess what that involved.

She ran.

Over at SuicideGirls.com is an article about this playground of the middle east by Michael J. Totten that describes this sin city.

Party towns aren't the best place to find a potential life partner. I include Cancun with that. One day you're slamming margaritas and the next you're arguing over the way the toilet paper should be hung.

They've got a plan, see?

Scott Burgess at The Daily Ablution provides a translation and commentary of what is called "The Project". It was recently entered into evidence against a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in a Swiss trial.

Evidently we don't know who wrote it but the defendant admitted that it was written by "Islamic Researchers".

Too many points jump out at you but the most obvious is this:

Point of Departure 5: To be used to establish an Islamic State;  parallel, progressive efforts targeted at controlling the local centres of power through institutional action.


Read the whole thing.

"And then, this American soldier actually pulled out a weapon and started shooting real bullets! At the enemy!"

Stephen Green over at VodkaPundit seems to have gotten some extra posting energy from the Thanksgiving feast with more than the normal number of posts recently.

I ran across this story in the LA Times earlier today about US Army propoganda and was confused about the point but was in a hurry and forgot about it. Stephen puts into words what I was thinking but not articulating even to myself.

Smart move, given that the Iraq Campaign is one small part of the Terror War - in which the media is the arm of decision. If you don't manage information, you lose


I know, I know, we are supposed to play by different rules, beheadings are the result of an oppressed insurgency, panties on a guy's head is torture. Maybe the MSM can just go ahead and publish a rule book for us all so that we can anticipate what is and isn't considered polite in a war. It would make my life a lot easier.

Crazy, anti-Semitic, Woman cashing in on the death of her son may have been taking a break after all.

A few days ago I referred to this story that I had been hesitant to link to. My concern was that the photos looked like they could very well have been taken before the book signing began.

Around Thanksgiving I wrote a piece about the importance of being faithful to the truth. Alexandra at All Things Beautiful was kind enough to link to it, my first post that was linked to.

Well in the spirit of that, I have to mention this story that claims the pictures were actually snapped during a break. What do I believe? I have no idea. Either scenario makes sense to me.

But I have railed about the distortion of the media, we all know they do it, so why would I think they wouldn't do it here?

I know, I know, she's a nutcase. but I'm going to do what I wish people would do with stories about plastic turkeys and drop it.

Unless of course somebody goes to the trouble of proving it one way or another.

Double Dog Dare

I dare you to read this article from the NYTimes about the current economic situation without laughing in amazement as the writer lists the many positive economic indicators while insisting that the sky could fall tomorrow. For instance:

Americans have taken advantage of historically low mortgage rates to buy homes, refinance existing loans and borrow money for renovations or other household needs, all of which have been an important and substantial boost to spending, Mr. Shapiro said. While neither he nor others expect that activity to dry up, even a modest tapering off could knock growth down a peg or two. Mr. Shapiro, for one, says growth could drop from 3.5 percent in 2005 to 3.2 percent in 2006.


Well yes, and of course our alien overlords may have arrived by then (and I for one welcome them) and started their human flesh exporting business, so I guess you never know what could happen.

Eeyoo, its the EU

Interesting speech by Helle C. Dale about the EU's future prospects. Stunning statistics:

Let’s compare the EU with the United States. Total employment in the EU stands at 63 percent. In the U.S. it is 75 percent as measured by 15–64-year-old members of households. Where the Unit ed States has 5 percent unemployment, France has 10 percent and Germany has 11 percent. Between 1990 and 2003, the U.S. economy created almost 20 million new jobs. Italy, Germany, and France combined created 3 million. If current trends con tinue, per capita income will go up in Germany over the next 20 years by 44 percent, while it will double in the United States.

Europe continues to lecture the US on its misguided ways. Meanwhile, they continue to base their policies on theory while the US continues to adjust a working model.

Your Band's Crap, Welcome to the Hall of Fame!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame proved long ago that their standards were low. Sell enough records and get old enough and your in.

The latest inductees include the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I'm not here to rail on any selection but of the 4, the Sex Pistols deserve it the least. In a movement that rejected the cynical, bloated, arena rock of the 70s, the Sex Pistols represented marketing an image over even any attempt at creating music at its zenith. Yes I listened to "Never Mind the Bollocks", more than I care to remember and yes, I sang along to "God Save the Queen" but the Sex Pistols did more to damage the Punk ideal than any bible toting evangelist could ever hope.

Plus they sucked.

I've run across some people who have the mistaken belief that the Sex Pistols were pioneers. That's simply not true. They were followers. Rather than go through a whole list, try The Ramones.

After the Hurricane

Reason's Cathy Young takes to task those on the left and right who pontificated at length about the causes of the New Orleans disaster.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it only validates my original argument, immediately following the hurricane, that everybody should just shut up at least until they bury the bodies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

trackback test

Trying to test trackback.

Post Secrets

I guess I'm late to the game but I just discovered the brilliant Post Secrets, a collection of anonymous postcards with secrets that range from hilarious to heartbreaking, often at the same time.

The Horror

I dig kids and have been told about the joy of hearing their delightful
laughter and exuberant singing but trust me, when you neighbor buys a
karaoke system to keep their 6 year old entertained ALL DAY LONG, you
start looking for the circuit breaker quick.

Does anybody know if there is a particular age in which kids grasp the
concept of singing in a single key?

This is going to be a long winter.

PM and Tim Blair

Tim Blair has bolted Pajamas Media.

I've posted before about my confusion over the anger PJM has generated among bloggers as well as my confusion over PJM. I'm a regular reader of several blogs who's owners are involved so I trust that there is some point to all this but I haven't figured it out yet.

Having said that, I stopped by an anti-Pajamas site (sorry, don't have it up now and can't remember the URL) today that seems to be all PJM all the time and don't understand why it is such an obsession for anybody.

Frankly, I have only gone to Pajamas Media about 3-4 times and mostly out of curiosity. It certainly doesn't provide me with a service that I need.

Same thing happened with HuffingtonPost.

Oops, I should say I've only gone there intentionally 3-4 times. It seems like Instapundit is using it as a main news source now. At least that is conclusion you might reach from all the Pajamas Media links that are starting to dominate that site.

Anyway, Blair has chosen to keep mum about his reasons and I can respect that but it is going to be ironic if and when this development becomes the subject of blogging speculation.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Go Fug Yourself

Terribly mean and vicious but definitely funny new site for me, Go Fug Yourself

Labels

I am working on a piece about political labels and identification. The always thoughtful The Belmont Club beats me to it.

I am trying to define this problem across the political spectrum and hopefully will be able to eventually boil it down to a readible size soon.

New News

Since before I left for Ukraine I began shifting my news sources from magazines and newspapers to the internet. I probably had 12-15 magazine subscriptions along with my daily newspaper and the trades that I picked up at the office. Since arriving in Ukraine, I receive complimentary Newsweek and International Christian Science Monitor subscriptions. Both are hopelessly outdated when I receive them. I tend to pass over news stories and focus on the latest hot gadget reviews or other pieces that sit in the back of the magazine (does anybody else read magazine backwards?).

Here's an interesting story in the Minnesota Daily about the changing world of news gathering.

When I return to the states, I don't expect to start new magazine subscriptions. There is something nice about holding a copy in your hand but I've grown so used to reading from the internet and I don't know if I have time anymore. I used to do my magazine reading in bed before going to sleep but in their absence I've discovered this really cool thing called a book. I think I'll try reading more of them.

EU upset, issues threats, world trembles

Evidently the EU is issuing threats over alleged hosting of secret CIA prisons by certain Eastern European countries. The accused countries are being threatened with a loss of EU voting rights.

The European commission has also asked the US to confirm the existence of secret CIA military jails, which almost certainly breach the European convention on human rights and the international convention against torture.


Can somebody explain to me why a CIA military jail "almost certainly" breaches European convention on human rights? Have we reached a point that we accept that any US action must involve torture?

OK, I understand, the term "torture" now includes such horrific abuses such as playing In-Sync music and putting women's underwear on a prisoner's head so the bar is set low, but have we reached the point that it is expected that the US jailers are automatically going to be pulling out their cds and pulling off their panties?

Or maybe the problem is the secrecy. Is there a rule in the EU against that? Are they going to be shutting down all the super-secret, double-naught-spy, women-hater, he-man clubs currently frequented by anti-secrecy offending 1st grade boys across the EU?

As of now, the countries deny any involvement so maybe that is the end of that but if the investigation continues, I suggest they take the Iranian tact and demand various economic incentives over the course of the next several years as a condition for their cooperation. By then, after the countries in question have cashed in their windfall for cooperating, any prisoners in their territory would have been released or died of old age.

Rove Attack

When word came out that Time reporter Viveca Novak is being compelled to testify in the Plame-alangaboombang, I assumed it was to provide incriminating evidence. According to this report in the Washington Post, it is just the opposite.

The reporter for Time magazine who recently agreed to testify in the CIA leak case is central to White House senior adviser Karl Rove's effort to fend off an indictment in the two-year-old investigation, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Viveca Novak, who has written intermittently about the leak case for Time, has been asked to provide sworn testimony to Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in the next few weeks after Rove attorney Robert Luskin told Fitzgerald about a conversation he had with her, the two sources said.


I only have one question. How can I, a fully grown man, go through life without ever personally knowing anybody with the last name Novak and this case has two people with that last name involved but they are in no way related? And they are both...journalists?!?!?!?!? I hope that somebody is working on that conspiracy theory already.

The end is near...well, for Hollywood and all that is holy.

A friend sent me this prediction of doom by Patrick Goldstein from the LA Times about the turbulent future of film.

Maybe I'm an eternal optimist, something I've ever been accused of before, but I just don't buy into these gloomy scenarios. Yes, the window between theatrical and DVD release is narrowing, yes, the options for home viewing are expanding, but I still believe that there is a communal experience of going to the theater that people will always want to have.

My old girlfriend was the best cook I ever knew but we still ate out. Beer is a hell of a lot cheaper at home than a bar but people still go out. Unless people stop "going out" I think they'll keep going out to movies.

The problem with articles like this is that Goldstein ultimately commits the same sin that he is writing about, making sweeping predictions based on one recent event. The recent event was the anemic summer box office. Studio execs and filmmakers and yes, Patrick Goldstein can come to their own conclusions about what it all means but I would argue that they will all be wrong. They simply are not able to understand what most filmgoers know, the movies this summer sucked.

Make good movies and people will come. Make a lot of good movies and people will even come to a crappy one that is thrown in the mix because they are used to coming. Put a good one in the middle of a bunch of bad movies and people will miss it. Don't worry about trends and what's hip and all that stuff. Just...make...good...movies.

I think the members of the United International Fellowship of Theater Owners (or whatever club they belong to) would agree.

Goldstein makes several good points and it is an interesting read but I think his rumors about the coming death of the movie theater are greatly exaggerated.

I'm so Ronery

I was hesitating to link to this because I thought it might be pix of wacky Sheehan before her book signing began but evidently it is in the middle of the big celebration.

I'm the last blogger to link to it. So sue me.

Oh, and this is my first time to try to track back. Wish me luck! YAY!!!!

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Firefox test

I'm testing this firefox browser to see

how it works.
I can choose different font colors.

I can justify to the right.
or center.
I can make my fonts large
Or tiny.
Most importantly
I can annoy people with all these things I can do!
But I still can't get haloscan to work!
The end








Sunday, November 27, 2005

An argument for Woodward, for all the wrong reasons

In Slate David Feige makes the argument that Bob Woodward was correct in staying silent over the past 2 years but for all the wrong reasons.

We have laws in this country that designate precisely when citizens are required to rat on other people. The laws, for instance, require doctors who witness injuries consistent with child sex abuse to call authorities; and social workers are obligated to snitch if they confront someone clearly about to physically harm another. Certain other professionals are also deemed by law to be "mandatory reporters." But outside these narrow confines, there is no law in our country imposing an obligation to begin or to assist in a criminal prosecution—not in drug cases, not in mob cases, not even in murder cases.


As much as the news media likes to fantasize about their lofty position in the world, their individual members are still relegated to the lowly status of human beingness. Bob Woodward's obligations are not limited by legal, or god forbid even journalistic concerns. His decision to hold information concerning a criminal investigation or reveal it should be guided by a very human understanding of doing what is right.

I posed the question in another blog's comment section about a month before the Woodward story became a story of whether any journalist should be responsible for providing information that could exonerate a defendant. The question then was rhetorical because I can't imagine any ethical person allowing an innocent person to be convicted when they have information that would set them free.

At this point it seems that this is the criteria that Woodward has been using, he realized that the timeline listed by the prosecutor was faulty and took actions to correct that. As this investigation continues, we'll see exactly who did what and when...hopefully, but for now Woodward was right and not because he followed the letter of the law.

Of course, there is an argument to be made that perhaps Woodward should have spoken up earlier to prevent this indictment. I'll leave that to the conclusion of the case or if more information becomes available.

Things I am thankful for

This is a very late post but what the hey. Below is my annual list of
things I am thankful for. This was originally a mass email to friends
and family so there are references that probably will make no sense. I
started to cut a few but decided to keep it complete.

----------------

It's that time of year again, time for me to list the things that I am
thankful for.

I'm sure that all of you are at your fancy Thanksgiving feasts with
your fancy turkeys and in your fancy self-regulated heated homes so
you'll probably get this belated list even more belatedly than it
already is. And so, we begin.

I'm thankful that they fixed the elevator in my building last week
after only a month out of service.

I'm thankful they are cleaning out the garbage chute has been clogged
for 2 months and is located outside my apartment door.

I'm thankful that god granted me the awesome power of holding my breath
while I wait for the elevator and avoid the stench of 2 months of
rotting garbage that has been pulled out of the chute and left in the
hallway while I wait for the newly fixed elevator.

I'm thankful for the babushkas that helpfully assist me in climbing
into the bus each day by firmly shoving me from behind.

I'm thankful for the hundreds of people I share my daily bus with who
remind me of the importance of daily hygiene and brushing my teeth.

I'm thankful for the haircut I recently received that taught me the
power of living a vanity free life.

I'm thankful that my newfound love for showtunes and Barbara Streisand
records simply reflects a natural evolution of my musical tastes and
nothing else. Really. I mean it.

I'm thankful that I learned early that "Blah, blah, blah" sounds very
similar to the Ukrainian phrase for suggesting somebody should have
carnal knowledge and in a way that they probably wouldn't enjoy.

I'm thankful for my green full face stocking cap, without which I would
probably be returning to the US missing my ears.

I'm thankful that the good lord gave me the intelligence to actually
test "chili powder" I buy at the local market and find that it isn't
the chili powder known to the rest of the world but cayenne pepper. My
dinner guests are thankful for that as well.

I'm thankful that my good friend Steve taught me long ago about the
secret of doubling your socks.

I'm thankful that nobody in Ukraine is familiar with my arch enemy
Cranberry sauce and I won't have that for thanksgiving.

I'm thankful that the additional 60 lbs I've gained since arriving will
provide me with a cozy extra layer of warmth for the winter.

I'm thankful that underwear really can be worn for much longer without
a washing than I ever thought possible.

I'm thankful that Ukrainian fashion stops at the border of Ukraine.

I'm thankful that Jehovah granted me the cat-like reflexes to dodge
inebriated Ukrainians on the sidewalk, in the market, at the park etc.,
etc, etc.

I'm thankful that Shawn made it possible for me to never buy socks for
the next 5 years.

I'm thankful that as a helpless American man I am not expected to
actually iron.

I'm thankful that when I return I will be able to reintroduce myself to
the greatest two inventions known to man, the washer and dryer.

I'm thankful that so many movies that have come out in the last two
years have been terrible and I'm not as sad for missing them.

I'm thankful that my two friends Eric and John have reached an
agreement on the casting decision for the new James Bond.

I'm thankful that with a limited selection of available books, I can
actually become interested in reading about the adventures of an
american girl who travels to spain to live with the Gypsies and learn
the age old secrets of Gypsy flamenco guitar with incredible detail
about the spiritual side of bulerias and soleares as well as insight
into her weirdly sensual relationship with her brother who's dead now
from mysterious circumstances.

But most importantly, I'm thankful that you guys put up with me.

---------------------------------

I'm happy to report that I haven't actually gained 60 lbs but wanted to
put a mental image in everybody's head of an extra large me. I, like
most male PCVs, have actually lost weight since arriving in Ukraine.
For some reason male volunteers tend to lose weight while female volunteers tend to gain. We were told it is a
reaction to stress but I don't know if that means eating patterns are
changed differently according to sex or what.

Anyway, I know this is at the tail end of the holiday weekend so I hope
you had plenty to be thankful for as well.

Friday, November 25, 2005

China

With the constant talk of the inevitable world domination by China, stories like this one remind us that "inevitable" is a mighty complicated word.

Hey guys, while you are out in the streets, openly claiming to live under the 4th Reich and sleeping in peace after publicly insisting that your government is the most evil since Pol Pot's, there really are countries that do things like this:

The spill occurred after an explosion Nov. 13 at the Jilin Petrochemical Co. that killed five workers and injured 70 more. The plant, a subsidiary of one of China's largest energy firms, China National Petroleum Corp., is located about 165 miles upstream from Harbin in neighboring Jilin province.

Party officials at the factory and in the Jilin government at first denied the blast caused any pollution, and continued to repeat such statements as recently as Monday.

But in one of several tough reports on Friday, the state-run China Youth Daily quoted an unidentified city engineer in Jilin saying party officials there were told of the chemical spill within eight hours of the explosion. Citing another unnamed source, it also said the Jilin officials released water from a reservoir into the river in an attempt to dilute the spill and fix the problem without alerting the public.


For all the dvd players and tennis shoes the Chinese are cranking out, they still treat their own citizens like cattle...well, that's silly of course, nobody would let their cows drink poisoned water. 

What happens now? With all the talk of the inevitable, here the unexpected. There, the unexpected. It is events like this that remind us, NOTHING IS INEVITABLE.
 
I expect Greenpeace will be chugging up the river next week to launch a protest.  NOT!

P.S. As I continue my history of this area, I am reading yet another book that describes in detail the horror of the Soviet Union. Not the singular horror of Stalin but the horror of Lenin (quote from a Lenin letter I read last night "We must kill more professors!") and living under a totalitarian regime as well. While the Soviet Union still stood, stories like those I am reading now were dismissed by the intellectual elite and sophisticated as the rantings of paranoid rightwingers. Now they are known as fact.

I believe that when the time comes for the communist government of China to step, or be pushed aside, it will equal if not surpass the USSR in past atrocities revealed.

How can people of any political persuasion march under the images of monsters of history?

Thanksgiving thoughts

The thoughtful and prolific Alexandra at All Things Beautiful has a post with listings of a variety of Thanksgivings posts by bloggers. Check them out.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Late Turkey Day Escape

I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days to celebrate thanksgiving with a couple of PCVs and a scrawny Ukrainian turkey. The Ukrainians tell me that they don't have the massive turkeys that are common in the US because they don't pump theirs with hormons.

Not being a turkey farmer or even expert, I can't attest to the truth of that but right now I crave the supposedly hormon infested delicious and massive turkey breast of my youth.

Anyway, posting will probably be little to none for a couple of days. I'll be back!

Free oil from out friends

Here goes Chavez, helping humanity again.

And here goes an idiot politician, helping Chavez again:

Democratic Congressman William Delahunt of Massachusetts publicly thanked Chavez, as well as the government and people of Venezuela.

"They should know that their generosity will [keep] thousands of families here in Massachusetts from being forced to make an unacceptable choice between food, between heat, between health care, and between paying the rent," he said.


Is there going to be a point where the people of Venezuela will say "Hey wait a minute, can we work on the local stagnant, raw sewage for a while?" I know that Chavez is fomenting the next Latin American people's revolution but how much of that oil does he have to spread around? I can't wait until I personally control the natural resources of my own country.

MJ makes News!

It's the last weeks of 2005 and Michael Jackson is still nuts and includes some sycophants that were drawn into his circle. Why do these people that choose to live in the wacky world of Michael Jackson do this to themselves?

I happened to watch the final episode of Lord of the Rings last night and as everybody knows (if not, SPOILER AHEAD!!!!!), Frodo finally destroys the ring. But not before becoming a pathetic shell of himself. In spite of the bizarre changes in character it causes in Gollum, Bilbo and then himself, the ring still is a creepy obsession that has a magnetic pul. Thankfully Gollum bites off Frodo's finger and saves the day.

Everything I need to know about Michael Jackson, I learned in Lord of the Rings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It was 25 Years ago in a couple of weeks...

Anniversary of John Lennon's death. I remember lying in bed when my roommate stepped in and told me what happened. I reflexively responded "You're lying." My roommate was offended and stormed off. He was always sensitive.

The rest of the week was spent listening to hastily produced radio programs that ran for hours on end on the local Phoenix rock stations. I still have some cassettes from those days that I recorded. I was always a Beatles fan and at that time considered John my favorite. The Lennon and Beatles posters on my walls were suddenly viewed suspiciously by visitors, as if I was another one of those instant John Lennon fans. I got so tired of explaining that they had been there before that I finally took them down.

Time has changed my opinion of the individual members of the band if for no other reason that I no longer value anger and vindictiveness and no longer cringe from happiness and joy like I evidently used to. I've never been a fan of Paul McCartney's post Beatles music but he seems like a decent enough guy who never picked a public fight with the other guys.

And I'm not one to call for Yoko's head, the Beatles were probably destined to split even without her arrival and probably for the best. It would be embarrassing to see them at 65 on yet another world tour like the Rolling Stones. The Beatles seemed to get the lifespan of a rock band about right. It is heartbreaking to suddenly realize that one of your favorite bands has put out crap for their last 5 albums. I know because I've seen too many good bands stay around long after they have nothing left to offer of interest. The Beatles still have a lot to teach to today's bands.

But if ever there was somebody who enjoyed a certain status and fame in music without ever actually doing anything that in any way caused them to deserve it, it was Yoko Ono.

Over at that super duper fast breaking news source Newsweek, Jeff Giles has has a piece that's interesting even if he has his nose halfway up Yoko Ono's ass.

Doctors against Fun

My nomination for what will be the most ignored study in the history of modern medicine!

Why? 6 words:

"You should avoid having oral sex,"

What Abortion Debate?

Via Mickey Kaus one of my favorites, an article by Michael Kinsley on the abortion debate.

Actually Kinsley contends that the "debate" on abortion is a cynical tool used by political hacks to serve their ends. I"ll buy that.

Here is the beginning:

In a 1986 case called Bowers v. Hardwick , the Supreme Court ruled that state laws against homosexual sodomy do not violate the Constitution. In a 2003 case called Lawrence v. Texas , the court ruled that, on second thought, anti-sodomy laws do violate the Constitution. Liberal politicians cheered this rare and unexpected admission of error by the court. They did not express any alarm about the danger of overturning precedents. Plessy v. Ferguson , upholding racial segregation, was a major precedent when the court overturned it and ended formal racial segregation with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Liberals did not complain.

These days, the vital importance of respecting past Supreme Court rulings is an urgent talking point for Democratic operatives, liberal talk-show hosts and senators feeling their way toward a reason to oppose Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Olympia Snowe, a liberal Republican from Maine, said Wednesday that Alito's respect for precedents will be "the major question" in her decision on whether to support him.


Last night I found myself in a discussion about abortion with a friend in which I was arguing the anti-Roe position, from a legal position, even though I believe in the right to an abortion with certain limits. Granted, I'm no lawyer and I probably got several legal points wrong but I was simply pointing out the role of the court to interpret laws and not make them.

Kinsley slaps down those that are using this argument for political purposes and you should read it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tired

Here is a letter to Powerline from a recently returned Lt. Colonel who has simply lost his patience.

I won't provide any quotes as the letter is best read as a complete piece.

The Blog New World

One thing that I have learned since starting this Blogging thing is there are Blogs that I casually visit and enjoy on a regular basis, but consistently ignore, and do not link to, in my own postings. None of those sites are in my list to the right but they are in my bookmarks. What does this mean?

I think it is forcing me to face up to how much of the entertaining rhetoric I expose myself to daily is actual information I feel confident in. I don't want to pass on, in my name, material that I am reticent to support. And so now I find myself reevaluating some of the Blogs that I have frequented in the past.

Anybody who has read much of my Blog should know by now that I support the war in Iraq. I am far from a Republican or right winger but this is an issue, an important issue, that I frequently address so my following comments are only regarding blogs that share my position on the war.

The brilliance of Blogs, what drew me to them at the expense of MSM, was the no BS factor. If the MSM wants to peddle a questionable stack of old Guard memos, I know Blogs are going to hold their feet to the fire and force them to defend their story. If the MSM wants to convince me that Cindy Sheehan and Al Sharpton are engaged in a solemn and authentic ceremony, Blogs will point out the media circus and artifice of the press event.

But my loyalty isn't to Blogs but to truth. What I have been realizing is that there are Blogs that I frequent that are as eager as the MSM to twist a story, edit a quote, spin an event, do whatever it takes to push their particular worldview. And I read them because I happen to share a position with them on one or two issues. But my loyalty, again, is to the truth and I have to start making choices about who I want to continue to read. If I don't feel comfortable passing something from a particular source along to my readers, why would I waste my time reading it?

Of course everybody has an opinion, has a particular point of view and I'm not concerned about that. In fact I think it is more honest and informative if the writer's biases are known in advance. I am concerned that there are certain sites that are willing to intentionally distort the facts to suit their purposes. They are no better than the MSM that they are so violently opposed to.

There are many changes taking place in the Blogging world right now. I wonder if we are witnessing a demarcation point as we enter a new phase in which the most influential blogs are no longer the independent voices of the past, but the new version of the Main Stream Media. Can that be for the good? Can Blogging maintain its independence?

I said the other day in a comment about Pajama Media that the bloggers there need to check themselves. I'm thinking that I, as a teeny speck in the blogging world and as a reader, need to check them and myself as well.

Atta In Prague

The Washington Post Opinion Journal has a piece on the convoluted story of 9/11 leader Atta being spotted in Prague by Czech Intelligence. Jiri Ruzek, chief at the time of the Czech counterintelligence service, BIS, was leading the investigation into Iraq's covert activities 2 years before Bush came into office.

Yet another instance of incompetence, or worse, by supposed highly trained FBI agents jumps out:

Less than a week after Mr. Ruzek shared the BIS's confidential information with American intelligence, it was leaked. The Associated Press reported, "A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States has received information from a foreign intelligence service that Mohamed Atta, a hijacker aboard one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, met earlier this year in Europe with an Iraqi intelligence agent." CBS named al-Ani as the person meeting with Atta in Prague.

Mr. Ruzek was furious. He considered what he had passed on to the FBI to be unevaluated raw intelligence, and its disclosure not only risked compromising the BIS's penetration in the Iraqi Embassy but also greatly reduced the chances of confirming the intelligence in the first place. In Baghdad, al-Ani, through an Iraqi spokesman, denied ever meeting Atta. In Prague, Czech officials who had not been fully briefed added to the confusion. Prime Minister Milos Zeeman, wrongly assuming that the meeting had been confirmed, stated on CNN that Atta and al-Ani had met to discuss Radio Free Europe, not the 9/11 attack.


A long, long time ago, while in the Air Force, I worked with intelligence gathering. It was mundane and nothing of interest now. But there was never any question for me and the the E-3s, E-4s and E-5s that I worked with, that we did not discuss our work outside of the building, even with each other, much less with the media. As far as I could tell, everybody on our base shared that understanding and took it seriously.

How can we pretend to have a serious intelligence agency when it is a constant source of leaks of classified material?

Why isn't there a serious and brutal (yes, I meant to use that word) investigation and prosecution of people in trusted positions that choose to betray the confidence placed with them for their own personal reasons?

When are the FBI and CIA going to finally understand that this isn't a child's game for people to play as it suits them? 300,000 million people in the US, and actually billions more around the world, depend on the FBI and CIA and others to keep us safe. When are we going to treat these leaks as the damaging sabotage that it actually is instead of simple, unfortunate events?

Monday, November 21, 2005

PJM, OSM, PJM huh?

Well, just when I was getting confused, OSM is changing its name again.

These kinds of hiccups should be expected in a startup although the suits that are referred to in the article certainly had their vast staff of lawyers do a standard search for available names. If they didn't, the suits aren't as savvy as you would think (they used Powerpoint!). If they did and the lawyers didn't anticipate this problem, they should be fired.

But it seems that the reaction from what will be Pajamas Media has been to face up to mistakes and move forward. At the risk of sounding like a self improvement course, mistakes are opportunities to learn, something the NYTimes forgot a long time ago.

Good luck guys!

Woodward repents

Hey, I know that Woodward is sorry and all that but is he always as sad looking as in these pictures that they keep running with this latest story? I mean, can you find a more morose photo than this?

Video a Go Go

Portable video is exploding as this story in the Guardian shows. My how things have changed in 19 months.

My friends in the states are good people but technically illiterate. I've been trying to get them to record my favorite shows onto dvd and send over and although they have the equipment, they've never figured out how to do it. Maybe the next group of PCVs will benefit from an easier method to get this done.

Meanwhile, I've got plans for several weekends of Sopranos and other great show marathons upon my return.

I know we have our differences, but we'll always have the Great Satan

Some weird agreement in Cairo that people are hailing has been reached by Iraqi politicians. In the spirit of never forgetting there is a Great Satan, they included language that supports the right to resist the occupation. Whatever.

Evidently Harith al-Dhari, head of Iraq's Muslim Clerics' Association, cherishes the memory of plastic shredders and rape rooms when he accuses Iraq forces "of adopting U.S. practices such as torture and mass arrests."

Ah, the good old days when gassing a Kurdish village avoided the need for any arrests at all. 

OSM Links

I'm not anxious to be an OSM basher, good luck to them all, but there is a significant change in how at least Instapundit is operating. For instance, three links I followed todayhere, here and here, all take me to OSM.

Are participating bloggers going to now be inclined to weight their linking back to OSM? Does this raise any questions about conflicting interests?

Hey, this is a whole new world we are all finding ourselves in but such a dramatic change, to happen so suddenly, is disconcerting. I'm not suggesting anything sinister but people need to remember to check themselves.

Woodward Source?

According to this noncommital report from the UK Times, Stephen Hadley has sorta, maybe, kinda been possibly named as the source for Bob Woodward. But more interesting for me is this part;

"Supporters of Karl Rove, the top White House adviser known as “Bush’s brain”, also fear Fitzgerald may still be investigating him."

Funny, but I thought Karl Rove was known as the Great Dark Lord and Master. Glad the UK Times is keeping me straight on such things.

Lord of the Rings Critique

Lord Of The Rings Critique

The eminent Dr. Albert Oxford, PhD of the London Film Institute provides a critical recap of the many failings of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The OTHER evil empire

I've always has a love/hate relationship with Wal-mart. When they came into my hometown, we saw at least 7 similar stores closed their doors within a couple of years.

But then if you walk into any Rose's store (a discount chain in the south), you'll usually find aisles cluttered with boxes and the shelves in disarray. You are lucky if you find what you are looking for, the surely staff aren't going to help, and the quality is typically poor. Yeah, it's too bad if stores close but they should make themselves more competitive.

Anybody who says that is impossible only has to look to Target's example. They have been masterful in re-branding themselves.

So I've never understood the intense hatred that Wal-Mart inspires in some people. Friends of mine refuse to shop there and have explained their reasons, with no sense of irony, while sipping a $6 shake that somehow passes for coffee at Starbucks.

Here is one story about the debate and another about a filmmaker hoping to take them down a notch.

In my previous life I did happen to find myself in meetings with Wal-Mart execs and their absolute dominance in negotiations is stunning. They are on a different plain when it comes to telling vendors the wholesale price they will pay. Shelf space, end caps and other displays that drive sales are all bargaining chips that Wal-mart uses to get what they want.

Things that make you go "Duh".

Because of a dispute over some islands, Russia (then the Soviet Union of course) and Japan never signed a peace treaty following WW 2.

Headline to make you go "duh" Japan, Russia Can't Solve Island Dispute Easily, Abe Says

Uh, Let me rephrase that death threat.

While there is no confirmation, we can only hope it is true that only a couple of days after threatening to kill the king of Jordan, al-Zarqawi has been killed.

With any luck, Osama will take up the cause and he'll be knocked off before Thanksgiving.

UPDATE: Nope, he's evidently still alive. We can still dream can't we?

Retell the Intel

In response to a call for posts on the pre-war intelligence debate by Glen Reynolds at OSM, The Belmont Club provides an excellent recap of that very subject.

This letter is respectfully submitted for consideration...And I hope you die in a fiery pit of HELL!

Tim Blair offers up an excellent idea for a new awards category.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Something happened 3 months ago, breaking story in Newsweek

The November 28 issue has the groundbreaking story that Bob Woodward is now involved in the Plame investigation.

Who are the luddites living in remote desert shacks waiting for the Pony Express to bring them the latest breaking news in Newsweek?

And I guess dating your magazine a week in advance made sense once but that date is at least 2 weeks after the story has been all over the internet. Oh, the MSM is so far behind the curve.

Shell wants Shale

I know shale oil has been covered extensively in other sources but this piece in LA Times suggests that the per barrel price point for shale oil as a viable source is $20-30, half of what I understood it to be.

According to the article, they believe this one area in Colorado would provide 8 times the proven reserves in Saudi Arabia.

It is my understanding that Canada is sitting on a much larger deposit.

It will of course mean the end of civilization as we know it according to those that oppose it.

Miracle Baby

What's up with Korea? A woman has a baby, and suddenly it is a supernatural sign that reunification is around the corner.

Evidently some believe that the mother in question planned the whole thing and yeah, this would lead you to believe that:

----------
Hwang Seon, the baby's mother and a former student radical, served 34 months in South Korean prisons largely because she made an unauthorized trip to North Korea in 1998.

"The last time I came back [to South Korea] from North Korea, the National Intelligence Service was waiting for me to arrest me," Hwang recalled. "This time, I held my baby in my arms and was welcomed back with flowers."

Hwang's husband was not able to meet his wife and new daughter upon their arrival home. He is in hiding, wanted by South Korean authorities on charges of pro-North Korean activities.
--------------
But what a goofy plan. Unless the citizens are goofy enough to take it seriously I guess.

A questin of Tactics

I've only recently begun taking this blog seriously, or perhaps I should simply say I've begun posting regularly, so there are all kinds of blogging things I'm learning. One is tracking hits by sitemeter to see how many people are actually seeing what I am writing and how they are finding this blog.

It is a fascinating technology that I suppose will become less fascinating as the weeks wear on but right now it is a little addicting at. I'm surprised to see the google searches that bring people here, today somebody arrived after googling "Spiderman's Head", and wonder what they think when that particular post has nothing to do with what they are looking for.

Anyway, one thing I've noticed is that I am getting a lot of hits from blogs that are dedicated to Hinduism and Buddhism. I have an interest in Buddhism but nothing on this blog would indicate that as far as I can tell. So I am wondering is this is some sort of religious recruiting practice that I've never heard of, hit sites with the intention of the owner being drawn to yours for conversion.

I would say that this is ridiculous if I hadn't seen so many forms of spam pop up over the years.

Very interesting.

Crazy Country

Somebody left a double CD in the PC office last week and I snagged. It
is called The United States All Stars Music, Music Legend Country and
is a wild collection of various country styles that for all it's
nuttiness actually works. Bands I never heard of like The Groove Grass
Boyz and Rednex are scattered about with Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and,
of all people, Tiny Tim.

I didn't even know that they are doing remixes of country songs but I
guess I'm behind the curve on hip, new country trends.

The label is "Legal Records", which in Ukraine seems likely to be a big
joke.

Anyway, a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

First Snow

Woke up this morning to a blanket of snow. Winter seems early this
year.

Today's Skanky News

Skank Pop Pioneer Christina Aquilera has evidently gotten married. This is not the kind of music I would listen to so of course I shouldn't care but every time I stumble across some video of Aquilera it makes my skin crawl.

Keeping with the Skank theme, the one time interesting, currently boring but always skanky Courtney Love is getting our of rehab. I'm sure her daughter will be happy to see her, go to the park, play games, eat ice cream, score etc.

Look out Europe!

Iran's top Nuclear negotiator has warned Europe to shape up.

-------------------
Tehran, Iran, Nov. 18 – Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and national security chief Ali Larijani warned European Union nations that Tehran would “follow up different methods” other than talks in seeking a solution to the international deadlock over the country’s nuclear weapons program if a resolution to the crisis was not reached soon.

Larijani, who is the Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council, accused the EU of breaking off negotiations with Tehran in August.

“If they want to waste opportunities, we will resort to other means”, the security chief told reporters.
------------------

I guess the Europeans are crapping their pants right now.

Belated Thanks

This is much too late but I really want to thank Stephen Green at Vodkapundit for the link to this site a couple of weeks ago. It was completely unexpected and since Vodkapundit is one of my few daily stops, I was deeply honored.

I did send a personal thank you but failed to mention it here.

Anyway, thanks Stephen!

The Great Johnny Cash

When I was a kid, I practically wore out my father's copy of "Ride This Train" by Johnny Cash. It was something of a concept album, the first I ever heard and long before I knew who Pink Floyd was. Between songs, Johnny would come in with "Ride this Train" and provide a narrated set up for the next tune. I can still hear the individual songs in my head.

I was never a big fan of country music as a teenager, when I first got into Kiss etc. and then embraced punk and what some called new wave, but I always liked to hear Johnny. There was an authenticity to his voice that I felt closer to than any of the so-called voices of my generation.

In fact, I was in a local punk bar band at one point in my life and and we would do a wildly bizarre version of Folsom Prison Blues that I always began by announcing "Hello everybody, My name is Johnny Cash" before we proceeded to destroy the song as a big joke. The oh-so-hip crowd (as hip as you can be in small town Mississippi) loved it and I never had the nerve to tell the other guys in the band that I wish we would try doing it straight.

I never walked away from Johnny, but I didn't listen to him with other people for a long time. That is until around 1990. For whatever reason, age I guess, I started picking up whatever I could find of the Man in Black. It was hard getting individual albums from his past (his later stuff wasn't of interest to me) and one of the greatest presents I ever got was an 8 album CD collection from the 60's including "Ride This Train", given to me by a girlfriend.

From there Johnny started recording with Rick Rubin and I was in heaven. Cash simply blew everybody else out of the water. He had no peers. That same girlfriend and I saw him and June Carter Cash in concert with, of all people, this new kid called Beck, and that was one of the greatest concerts I ever saw. My opinion of Beck went from being a one hit novelty act with "I'm a Loser" to deep respect for his musical knowledge. And he hasn't disappointed me since.

The greatest mistake I made when coming into the Peace Corps was not loading up my computer with all the Cash albums in my collection. Ukraine and PCVs are not a great source for his music so I've endured almost two years with a greatest hits album that only whets my appetite.

I've been very excited about the upcoming movie "Man in Black" and only regret that I will probably only get to see it on DVD but I can't wait for that moment. I hope that somebody finally does a definitive documentary on this legend.

Anyway, everybody is talking about JC now and here is a nice article to check out. Enjoy.

OSM

Ok, I've checked out the new OSM site.

I have a great deal of respect for many of the people involved in this new venture. I wish them the best. I've followed the development of OSM over the past several months and although I wasn't sure what to expect, I was sure it would all make sense when it launched.

Right now, I'm sorry to say, I frankly don't get it.

Maybe it is still in beta stage. I'll give it some time.

NYT's Shame

I've never understood the willingness to ignore the horror of communism as it massacred tens of millions over the years. Hitler is rightly listed as one of the great monsters in history but the fact is, Joseph Stalin murdered more people than Hitler ever imagined. And Mao runs a close second. For example, from 1932-1933, 7 to 10 million Ukrainian peasants were forcibly starved to death while they occupied the most fertile fields of Europe.

And all the while, the New York Time's man in Moscow, Walter Duranty, posted lie filled reports extolling the Soviet dream and denying the horror he knew to be true. Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer for his aiding in murder and the Times had another plaque to hang on the wall. Years after the facts have been revealed, the Times refuses to return the award.

And some people actually still proclaim the virtues of that murderous state and that lying newspaper.

Front Page Magazine has an interview with Volodymyr Kurylo, the President of the United Ukrainian American Organizations of Greater New York about this shameful situation. Here is a sample:

----------------------------------------------
FP: Tell us about the Ukraine famine.

Kurylo: We should call it the Ukrainian Famine Genocide of 1932-1933.
Ukrainians have known it as the "Holodomor".  Stalin needed and wanted to
collectivize agriculture in the fledgling Soviet Union.  The USSR was a
third world country and Stalin needed to industrialize it.  He did so
rapidly & brutally.

Ukraine has been known as "the breadbasket of Europe" because of its rich
agricultural region and the crops it produced, primarily grains.  Wheat was
a valuable commodity to be traded for hard currency.  Stalin instituted a
policy of forced collectivization.  It was easier to seize more produce from
the independently-minded peasants if they were forced into large
state-controlled farms.

Towards the end of 1931, about 70 percent of Ukrainian peasants had been
coerced into joining the collectives.  During this period grain seizures
began to wipe out reserves which had been accumulated from previous
harvests.  Even though famine was breaking out, nothing was going to stop
Stalin.

The peasant-producers had to fulfill their obligations to the State before
they could receive their allotment.  Quotas were unreasonable and bands of
communist zealots, military units and NKVD secret police were sent in to
enforce the Stalins decrees.

Even seed grain was declared state property and withholding even a few
grains was considered a crime against the state punishable death by death.

Early in 1932, the Soviets continued to increase the grain procurement
quotas for Ukraine.  Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotove et.al. were well aware
that extraordinarily high grain quotas would result in grain shortages.
They didn't care that Ukrainian peasants would not be able to feed their
families.

Villages that were emptied by the genocidal famine would be re-populated
with ethnic Russians thereby helping to solve the nationalities issue Stalin
was facing.  Stalin also implemented an internal passport system to restrict
peasants from traveling in search of food.  In fact, the peasants were the
last group to be issued passports decades after anyone else.

The toll was staggering: estimates range from 7 to 10 million dead.  At its
peak, the genocide was claiming 25,000 peasants a day.  We haven't touched
upon executions, internal exiling, forced-slave labor etc.
-------------------------------------------

As those other really important guys always say, read the whole thing.

Asses and Taliwackers

Finally a one stop website for all those knee-slapping
revealing photos
of various athletes.

Two questions, why so many playing soccer and why such a big percentage of men?

Link again via Cruel.com

Fast Food Dangers You Never Imagined

Unbelievable.

Anybody who read about Milgram experiment in Psych 101 will be familiar with the power of authority but trust me, you will not believe this.

Link via Cruel.com

Partisan Commentary

There are those commentators who refuse to follow a party line and you learn to respect, if not always agree with, for their integrity. And there are those who are embarrassingly devoted to that party line, evidently trusting their readers not to actually read the news and see hypocrisy in their column.

Pat Robertson is an idiot of course. Lucky very few people take him seriously. Anyway, Charles Krauthammer slaps him down a little.

Mona Charen on the other hand, seems to have forgotten about a certain number of Republicans who voted for the recent bill she's vilifying the Democrat's for.

Lennon/McCartney feud take 987

Over the years I have found myself changing my mind about who is my "favorite" Beatle. I won't bore you with details except to say that I flipped between Lennon and McCartney. And yes, I know that it is a silly exercise but we're talking about a brooding 20 year old pondering the really important things in life.

I got over it but some people just want to squeeze every drop from this rock.


Goodbye Deuce 4

Michael Yon continues to provide the most compelling stories of soldiers that do the dirty work while the rest of us pontificate. Deuce 4 ends their run with class.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ukrainian illness

Wow, Ukraine is certainly a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty diseases. Trains are notoriously filled with allergens that can put down a bolshoi muschina with ease. And riding an overnight train compounds this because of the allergen impregnated mattresses and pillows. I began taking multiple antihistamines on every trip after only a couple of rides when I realized that a train ride inevitably results in becoming sick. I know that allergies are not related to a cold but they can weaken your system and make you more susceptible.

Well, that seems to work but on this last trip I picked up yet another cold. My head has been clouded for about 5 days and I hope I am coming out of it soon. Needless to say, my postings have dropped off dramatically.

And all while this Open Source Media is being launched, driving opposing bloggers from across the blogosphere bloggaliciously crazy and the Republicans seem to have lost their minds or finally gotten drunk (literally) on power and passed some resolution on the war that evidently was been drafted by Ted Kennedy. My mind's clouded state makes it impossible for me to summon up a comment on either that is worth commenting on as the above probably illustrated.

I did manage to visit a classroom today blather on and on about very little of substance. The students probably think I'm either brilliant or nuts.

Anyway, I hope that tomorrow I will be back with something worth saying.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Posting

I've been on the road since Friday, attending a friend's wedding and getting some medical things taken care of.  I expected to be able to use the internet in the office to post while I wiled away the time but found that my fellow PCVs inevitably walked up to speak and started asking questions about this "Cranky PCV" thing. 
 
I managed to change the topic but just didn't feel comfortable and decided to wait until I am back to the privace of my home. 
 
The purpose of this blog is not to be an expose of the Peace Corps, although there is room for that if somebody were to take it on, but to be able to speak frankly about my feelings and experiences.
 
The reality, (oh, this is expose-y I guess) is that the PC administration in my country is hardcore democrat and their biases are revealed on a regular basis.  People that don't share the party line tend to keep their opinions to themselves.  And I have chosen the same strategy, at least when dealing with admin. 
 
This is even more annoying when you see the Ukrainian staff expressing the same political positions that they seem to have taken on simply because the bosses have educated them on proper American politics. 
 
For instance, my regional manager recently suggested that, to avoid conflict,  I tell local Ukrainians that I do not support my government's various policies.  He wasn't telling me to lie, he was telling me it was OK to state my opinion.  It evidently never crossed his mind that I might actually support some. 
 
Anyway, I'll start posting again tomorrow.  Sorry if anybody has actually come here and found no new posts. 

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Carter Continues His Quest...

...to become the worst ex-president in history. I have friends who used to hail Carter as the best ex-president in history. Whatever, I never thought it worth the effort to argue. I mean after humiliating himself for 4 years, let him take that mantle if he wants. But over the past 10 or so, he's become nothing less than a big pain the the ass.

Not just for Republicans, there were reports of him annoying Clinton during the 90's as well.

Anyway, he's got a new book: "Reviews call the book biting political commentary, despite the fact that there's an unwritten rule in American politics that former presidents do not criticize current ones. Carter says he wrote this book reluctantly, but did so because he just couldn't stay silent anymore."

Couldn't stay silent? It seems he can't keep his trap shut.

Thank god nobody takes him serious anymore.

Bush begins push back

A lot of people have been calling for the president to be more aggressive in making the case for the war. Maybe that has begun: "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them"

Are the French being radicalized?

After 16 days, this report: "Two Molotov cocktails were tossed at a mosque Friday evening in the southern town of Carpentras, but it was not immediately clear whether the attack was linked to the unrest that has wracked the poor suburbs and small towns of France since Oct. 27."

This is not good of course, but could it be the work of people pushing back.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Martyrs in Skirts

I believe that more important than Palestine or Iraq or the local iman
or Osama or Mohammed or even Alah, the most important thing to guys
that choose the shortcut to paradise is their reputation. They know
that the family is going to be proud and all their buddy's will be
yapping about them for weeks and weeks. The media will publish their
photos around the world and everybody will know who they are. Whoohoo!

What can be done to counter that? Well, I don't have all the answers
but here is one idea.

In a perfect world, there would be a web site that takes photos of
dudes that blow themselves up and photoshops them onto women's bodies
in various forms of womanly wear so that the whole world knows that
these guys really wear dresses (and do other less than martyrly things)
when they aren't blowing themselves up. There could even be quotes
from the blown up dudes with their likes and dislikes etc.

And the whole blogosphere could start a linking campaign to ensure that
everybody knows about it. Who would complain?

I'm not sure if the photos should be demure or fantastically sexy or,
allah forbid, pornographic but I just wonder it would give anybody
pause before they strapped on the pipe bombs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

He man manly formulae

My first question is "Is this for real?"

My second "Is that guy in the picture the before or after patient?"

French dopes

Oh sure, we have dopes everywhere but here are a couple: who happen to be in France

First the just plain dopey:

"'We're not doing anything to help these people. I'm surprised they didn't riot sooner,' said Brigitte Gaspard, a 42-year-old unemployed mother, one of many who feared a nighttime curfew could inflame the situation."

Then the sensitive dope:

"But, parents and children watched together, in shock, as a black father arrived to pick up his son and faced a humiliating request by school authorities for his identification card. The man lost his temper and his son burst into tears.
'You wonder what drives people to riot?' said Fabrice Allorge, 31, a white man witnessing the scene as he picked his son up from school. 'They've never asked me for my identification.'

OK, what is wrong with that? Check out the next sentence that shows his real sentiment:

Allorge said he has told his wife and children to stay indoors at night and has placed a list of emergency numbers by the telephone. With a whisper, he noted that he wonders if his neighborhood will be the next to explode.
'I live next to Africans,' he said. 'You never know what could happen.'"

UPDATE: In my original post, I used the word "idiot" instead of dope. That was kind of harsh I think.

Car b Q solution humbly submitted

I'm not saying there are some flaws to this plan, but how about setting loose a few hundred of these in France to put out all those cars? They'd have them stomped out in no time.

I'll leave it to somebody else to work out the details concerning additional Ostrich insurance.

Wedding

I'm off to a wedding tonight. Taking the overnight train.

I have been asked to be the best man so I guess I have to behave
myself. Blogging will be light for a couple of days.

Yes, as you can see I have always felt very strongly about this.

In the 80's there was a studio executive who famously kept two memos about any particular project in his desk. One was an enthusiastic endorsement and the other expressed grave concerns. He would be able to pull the most useful one out when needed.

The politicians and pundits who supported the war but have now backtracked are doing the same thing except they made the unfortunate mistake of actually speaking out loud in public.

Norman Podhoretz via Instapundit provides a rundown just in case anybody has forgotten.

Today I won't engage in the dramatic technique of throwing out a quote then BANG! revealing it to have been uttered by somebody who now holds an opposite view. Instead, the game for today is to guess which current war critic said what.

---------------------------
If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.

He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.

Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.

There is no doubt that . . . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical, and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf war status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.

Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.

There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.

We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.

I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force—if necessary—to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.

We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.

The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical- and biological-warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons.2

hard to negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his commitments and who sees nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons as his country’s salvation.

[o]f all the booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous—or more urgent—than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade’s efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf [where] intelligence photos . . . show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons.
-----------------------

The studio executive I mentioned before was also famous for seriously damaging and almost destroying what was one of the greatest studios in history through his hubris and complete dedication to the glorification of himself. As a film lover, I despised him for that. But at least it wasn't a country.

For answers to who said what, you just need to follow the link above.

The End of the World is...

Great article at Varifrank about predictors of doom both today and in the past.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and as a teen was convinced by my elders that the world was in the last days of the end times. The evidence was all there. Luckily for me a couple of flaws in the timeline drove me to break away before I had the compound plans drawn up.

Friends and family, who depended on Revelations for the weather forcast had a difficult decade in the 80s as the disintegration of the USSR threw a wrench in all the elaborately laid out interpretations. As Gorbachev began dismantling the Soviet Union, my mother was convinced that it was all a ruse to lull the US into a false sense of security and then SPRING THE TRAP with the anti-christ and all that jazz.

Ahh, those were the days.

What, did they run out of cars?

"Shortly before the decree came into effect, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, on a visit to Toulouse, said police were reporting a "fairly significant fall" in violence."

Evidently there is a slowing of what Tim Blair calls the car-b-que.

I'd like to answer that question but first, let me avoid it.

Tim Russert with Ted Kennedy on Meet the Press:

----------------

MR. RUSSERT:  You talked about Iraq.  There's a big debate now about whether or not the data, the intelligence data, was misleading and manipulated in order to encourage public opinion support for the war.  Let me give you a statement that was talked about during the war.  "We know [Iraq is] developing unmanned vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents...all U.S. intelligence experts agree they are seek nuclear weapons. There's little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them. ... In the wake of September 11th, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that those weapons might not be used against our troops, against allies in the region?  Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater--a nuclear weapon. ..."

Are those the statements that you're concerned about?

SEN. KENNEDY:  Well, I am concerned about it, and that's why I believe that the actions that were taken by Harry Reid in the Senate last week...blah, blah, blah.

Blah, blah, blah blah...and that is what the Democrats stood for on the floor of the United States Senate last week.  That was a bold stroke, one that has the overwhelming support of the American people.  It's about time they get the facts on it.  They haven't got the facts to date.  They deserve them, and they'll get them.

MR. RUSSERT:  But, Senator, what the Democrats stood for on the floor of the Senate in 2002--let me show you who said what I just read:  John Kerry, your candidate for president.  He was talking about a nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein.  Hillary Clinton voted for the war.  John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry.  Democrats said the same things about Saddam Hussein.  You, yourself, said, "Saddam is dangerous.  He's got dangerous weapons."  It wasn't just the Bush White House.

SEN. KENNEDY:  The fact is--and I voted against the war, because every military--I'm in the Armed Services Committee, and every military leader highly decorated, military leader, said that it was foolish to have a military intervention at that.  General Hoar, with the Marines--General Hoar, who has more Silver Stars than you could possibly count said if  we go into Baghdad, it'll look like the last five minutes of "Private Ryan," so we know we had enough information to vote against it, I believe.
------------

I don't know this General Hoar but he evidently saw the G rated "Private Ryan" where the Germans got their asses pounded into the ground and ran away like girly men. Does he have a bazillion Silver Stars?!?!?!?!? I'm pretty sure I can count that high if you give me enough time.

------------
SEN. KENNEDY: It is time now to--we are going--the end of this year, Tim, we find that our mandate has expired in the United Nations.  The president has to go back to the United Nations for a new mandate....blah, blah, blah.
------------

Oops, see my earlier post, the mandate was unanimously passed. Can you count to Unanimous Senator Kennedy?

UPDATE: I misread Kennedy on the "Private Ryan" reference. I was thinking he said the first 5 minutes but he said the last. Wasn't that when the old dude was visiting the cemetary?

UN Mandate

Great, all the people who insisted that the UN sign an approval slip on Iraq can relax, it's unanimous!

"UNITED NATIONS, New York The Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a one-year renewal of the United Nations mandate for the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.
 
The resolution, sponsored by Britain, Denmark, Japan, Romania and the United States, extends the mandate until Dec. 31, 2006, but calls for a review of the decision by June 15, 2006, and allows for the termination of the mandate at any point if Iraq requests it.
 
The review clause was added as a compromise with the demands of France and Russia, which initially asked that the term be extended only six months, rather than a year.
 
The drawing-up of the measure was remarkably free of disputes on an issue that two years ago deeply divided the Security Council and threw relations between the United Nations and United States into turmoil.
 
Commenting outside the Council chamber after the vote, John Bolton, the United States ambassador, said, "We thought the manner in which the resolution was adopted in a constructive, cooperative, and very rapid fashion was a good sign." Samir Shakir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador, said, "We note with satisfaction the manner in which this resolution was passed in an environment of harmony and agreement."
 
Bolton said the 15-0 vote "expressed the clear desire of the international community to support the evolving democratic process in Iraq."

The Leakiest Leaking Leakers Just Keep on Leaking

Did the CIA decide that all those rules and stuff are too much of a hassle? I'm just glad the Democrats and Republicansare working closely together to resolve this issue for the good of the country.

"'It's illegal to leak classified information and classified information was leaked to the Washington Post,' the official said."

Maybe they could post that up on the super secret double naught spy breakroom bulletin board.

Never Get out of the Pixar boat!

Never Bet Against Pixar

I thought the bad reviews for Chicken Little meant Pixar was about to bend Disney over in their current negotiations. Of course the movie would pull in something like $40 million its opening weekend making me look like a fool.

BUT WAIT! There's more!

The real test will be the final BO. I have a feeling that 7 year olds aren't distinguishing between a Disney or Disney/Pixar movies at this stage in their movie seeing development. Actually I bet a lot of parents aren't either. Blockbuster status depends on repeat business so time will tell.

In any case, those folks that dumped their Pixar stock must feel like dopes about now.

Good Republican

Being out of the country means I'm out of touch with American TV but then I never watched West Wing Anyway. I figured the president on that show would eventually be hammering on missile silos to save the world around the point that Martin Sheen acquired a producer's credit.

But this story about a West Wing ratings driven live debate that recently aired is interesting.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

BushitleroviensteinmcChimp, or whatever

If your standard talking points for vilifying George Bush are growing stale, not quite packing the punch of last year, this site should provide plenty of fresh material. In fact, why not try the home page Hard Truth for a whole new understanding of the world.

If the worms don't eat your brain first.

Uh, France, You Know There's a Riot Going On? You might want to, uh, put that out.

The French get serious about doing something, maybe, perhaps, we're not sure right now.

"PARIS (AP) - The French government declared a state of emergency Tuesday after nearly two weeks of rioting, and the prime minister said the nation faced a ``moment of truth.''

Um, wouldn't that moment have been somewhere between cars 500 and 600? Not that I could put a definitive timeline on it or anything.

Doing Nothing, Means Something

I was wrong about Darfur in my earlier post I guess. Since the MSM never really carries any news of substance about that area anymore, I assumed that all was well. I mean, the UN was going to work on it at least 18 months ago. I remember a lot of tough talk. Surely they followed that up right?

Christopher Hitchens brings us up to date on the great job the UN is doing in Darfur

A taste:

"In other words, a Rwanda in slow motion, and in front of the cameras and the diplomats. What was all that garbage about "never again"?"

And most importantly for those whose main goal in life is to keep their hands clean:

"Nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens."

Mickey's dark Days

Via Cruel.com, a look at and edgier, more suicidal Mickey Mouse of the 30s.

An MSM Takedown

Stephen Green again proves that he is one of the most thoughtful and articulate writers in the blogosphere with this piece on the MSM and the Iraq war.

Here is the part that gets your blood pumping:

"It's fair to ask if the Iraq Campaign was a necessary component to the Terror War. It isn't fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam, when the two wars have nothing, zero, nada in common. It's fair to ask if our soldier are dying in vain, or because of stupid policy, or because of inferior equipment. It's not fair to run headlines like 'Battle Deaths Continue to Mount.' No shit, Sherlock? A real story would be, 'Battle Deaths Decline as Fallen Soldiers Miraculously Resurrected.' It's fair to question Bush's policies. It's not fair to act as a conduit for enemy propaganda. It's fair to ask if Iraq is draining resources from our efforts in Afghanistan. It's not fair to complain that Afghanistan isn't perfect yet. It's fair to complain about indecencies at Abu Ghraib. It's not fair to virtually ignore atrocities committed by the other side everywhere else in Iraq."

From there it gets better.

Getting Things Done in Ukraine, Not

Why is Ukraine stuck in idle when it should be on its way to being an economic dynamo (IMHO)? I won't try to answer that but here is an example of the way things work.

I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Oblast (similar to
a US state) government and its pursuit for economic development. In
that time, there has been one wildly heralded local election (with live
satellite coverage [a first in Ukraine!], street fairs and a huge
concert featuring one of the most popular singers in the country), one
wildly heralded 3 day student conference (free beer and bbq for
students and a concert by one of the most popular singers in the
country) and yet another street concert by yet some of the more popular
musical acts in the country. The concerts I describe use full sized
and equipped stages with all the smoke and lights that any respectable
eastern European rock star would demand.

These are great. Great opportunity to show the people that the
government cares about them. Great opportunity to pass out free balloons and informative
materials concerning a wide range of issues. Great opportunity to
bring together students from across Ukraine and teach them that they
are all, in their hearts, the same.

Great. I'm all for that.

The Oblast government has made exports and foreign investments its top
priority.

Great. The Oblast desperately needs such development.

Since I work with the government, I have contacts with people
immediately connected with the Governor. In the flurry of activity and
excitement of a new beginning, I went to the Oblast website to see how
potential investors or import/exporters would get information. The
site is in Ukrainian with no English translation. Since most foreign investors/businesses will more likely speak English than Ukrainian, I thought it important to create a mirror site in English. My offer to help
create an English version of the site was politely declined by the
webmaster. Too much to do.

OK, well I'm resourceful, unlike a typical exporter in the
US, I know people who know people in the Oblast. I ask around and find
the personal email address for the person in charge of developing
foreign investments and I write an email requesting information about
exporting Oblast products to the US. The very opportunity that the
Oblast is desperately searching for (by the way, I didn't fabricate
anything, I actually know somebody who is very interested in this).

I never received an answer.

I mentioned this to some workers within the Oblast. I never heard
anything more.

This was 4 months ago.

This kind of thing is repeated constantly.

The very structure of how things are done is broken in Ukraine. It is
a remnant of 70 years of Soviet rule. It is not necessarily based on
politics anymore but is more cultural. Why this is and how to fix it
is a much longer post but the point is that there is a societal
overhaul that is long overdue.

I'm no political genius but it seems there should be more effort in business development and less concerts and balloons. Or am I being too dramatic?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hot Sex Sports Story

I have a feeling posters of these girls are being contemplated in a much more intense and frenzied manner by teenaged boys (ok, men) across Carolina.

A Kinder Form of Fighting

A Kinder Form of Fighting

Why don't the French cops get a couple dozen of these?

This is how it's done Mate

Has Australia actually done what so many European countries have failed to do, get ahead of the Jihadists?

I wonder how this will go over with the locals?
-----------------
The highest-profile suspect captured is Abdul Nacker Ben Brika, also known as Abu Bakr, a radical Muslim cleric.

In media interviews, Abu Bakr has said he is against the killing of innocents, but added he could not discourage students from training in jihad camps. He has also praised al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Abu Bakr appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning charged with being members of a terror group.

"Each of the members of the group are committed to the cause of violent jihad,'' said prosecutor Richard Maidment, adding that Bakr was the ringleader.

Rob Stary, a Melbourne lawyer who represents eight of the suspects including Bakr, said his clients have only been charged with being members of a terror group.

"They are not charged with being involved in the planning or preparation (of a terrorist act)," he said.
--------------
Lawyers always see the glass half full!

Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy

Via Hit and Run, which is all a twitter over these things an interesting article about the effort to impose tighter restraints on the treatment of prisoners. Dick Cheney wants to provide exemptions for certain categories.

I have no burning desire to start sharpening bamboo shoots but it seems that it is a mistake to create laws that so strictly bind the hands of people who are supposed to get info from bad guys. Especially in an age in which we hear complaints of pop music being a form of inhumane treatment.

One thing you have to give al Qaeda credit for is they do know how to work the system and they do teach their people all the ropes. We shouldn't be making it easier for them.

Beautiful Women

When I was assigned to Ukraine and waiting for my departure, I was informed by people who know these things that the women of Ukraine are the most beautiful in the world. They told me about the thriving marriage industry that brings westerners (mainly from US) to meet and marry Ukrainian women. That is a whole other post.

Well, Ukrainian women are beautiful. I don't know if they are the most beautiful, my time in Italy convinced me that Italian women were the most beautiful and then a recent trip to Germany convinced me that German women are the most beautiful.

And living in LA can spoil a man. It seems that the most beautiful women from every small town in the world make their way to LA to become movie stars. So LA probably has the most beautiful waitresses in the world.

I could create a long list of the many states that have the most beautiful women (Texas has the most beautiful Cowgirls) but I have a bandwidth limit here.

I did end up dating a Ukrainian girl here for a while. Yes, she was beautiful. But I discovered something about myself. I really enjoy communicating with women, especially one that I am having a relationship with. I enjoy finding that place where we understand each other's unique voice and can talk about all those things that you don't talk about in polite company.

Communicating with women has its own difficulties for me. I'm not a mumbling fool or anything but in a relationship there is always an opportunity to say something the wrong way and be misunderstood or vice versa. I blame it all on me.

So when you are dating somebody who's English is OK but not fluent (my Russian is very bad, ochen ploho) then those little subtleties are magnified and provide even more moments of explaining yourself. I enjoyed my time in that relationship but after it ended, decided that I would stick with fluent English speakers for now. The only ones I've met here so far are American.

Last week we found out that we are getting a couple of new PCVs in our city next month. I am in a city with another guy and both of us are ready to start dating again and both are not eager to date the locals. We have been closely following the events and just found out that we are getting a girl who fits into both of our age range.

We'll be meeting her soon.

This could be war.

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