MilBlog X

The WeatherPixie
Weather Conditions, Wish we were there...

Odd things and such things, as I feel appropriate, possibly relating to the war.
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Look below for links to good sites, ebooks and such.

Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Sunday, March 31
File not found!
Remeber "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"? Remember Marvin, the depressed robot?

This poor web server - can't find a page, and the depression just builds...



Suicidal Lies
Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.

But how? This kind of terrorism can be curbed only by self-restraint and repudiation by the community itself. No foreign army can stop small groups ready to kill themselves. How do we produce that deterrence among Palestinians? First, Israel needs to deliver a military blow that clearly shows terror will not pay. Second, America needs to make clear that suicide bombing is not Israel's problem alone. To that end, the U.S. should declare that while it respects the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism, it will have no dealings with the Palestinian leadership as long as it tolerates suicide bombings. Further, we should make clear that Arab leaders whose media call suicide bombers "martyrs" aren't welcome in the U.S.
When the NY Times gets against you, it's time to hang it up. Seriously - they've got it right. There's not a single thought for building a future heard out of the Palestinian side - just destruction. And when they encourage their own children to die - there is no future.

Just suicide.

J. - Porn upsets Palestinians [31mar02]
PORN movies and programs in Hebrew are being broadcast by Israeli troops who have taken over three Palestinian television stations of Ramallah, irate residents of the besieged West Bank town have told AFP.

The offices of three local television and radio stations were occupied by soldiers yesterday morning, a few hours after tanks and hundreds of troops stormed the town in Israel's biggest offensive against the Palestinian Authority and its leader Yasser Arafat.


Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said any such broadcasting was "shameful", but said he was not aware of the Israeli army's involvement.

"I cannot believe that Israeli soldiers would engage in such despicable behaviour," he said.
So suicide bombers are acceptable (nay, even encouraged...) but porn on TV is despicable.

Man, they need a "Make Love, Not War" movement over there bigtime...


Saturday, March 30
America, Israel, Turkey and India (perhaps even Russia) are already being forged, almost unwillingly, into an anti-Arab/anti-Islamic military alliance. Yet how does the Islamic world react? By blowing up and shooting Israeli and Indian civilians. It's almost as if the Jews trapped at Masada had decided to attack the Romans. It's starting to seem like the Arabs not only have a death wish, but can't die fast enough, so they're intentionally provoking us into killing them.

Tom Rose of the Jerusalem Post was on Imus in the Morning yesterday and said that Israeli intelligence estimates that it takes about 70 people to execute a suicide bombing. That means that 70 Palestinians, including her family, helped send that 16 year old girl to her death yesterday. If they are hell bent on killing us, how long can we in the West afford to place a higher premium on Arab lives than they do?
I'm sad to say, this is a very good example of how I'm thinking. For whatever reason, maybe a cultural meme that will not accept the status of being anything less than the uttermost top of the intellectual & economic heap (which was easy to persuade themselves and their people of, prior to the age of advanced communications we now enjoy) the fundamentalist Islamic community seems hell-bent on slamming itself against the West - with the intent of overwhelming it.

That such a thing is extremely unlikely doesn't matter. Their own mullahs tell them they cannot fail - so they'll go into this whole-heartedly.

What remains to us is that WE go in with the same attitude. This seems to be escalating from a "We go in and take out Al Quaeda" to "We're going to have to go in and take apart a belief system." I'm sorry to see it, but I'm also enough of a realist to understand that there's no way they'll allow US to co-exist with THEM. (And by 'them', please understand I mean the fundamentalist Islamic movement, not mainstream Islam.) It's sad, it's regrettable. But there's not much that can be done about, unless the Islamic street itself gets a sudden attack of sanity and realizes the problems they're having don't stem from the US or secular western culture...

Yeah. Like I'm holding my breath on that one...


Friday, March 29
I look at the Middle East, and just kind of wonder whether the human tribal instinct will evolve to the point where we've got a fighting chance to survive the next hundred years. I was pretty optimistic for a while - then the Palestinians started doing the suicide bomber thing, Arafat loses control, Israel calls up it's reserves...

What a mess...

I think the Paletsinians have pushed too far. They've shown no inclination to work towards a mutually acceptable solution in the area - they just want to kill Israelis.

That won't cut it.


Thursday, March 28
Solar-cell tech turns to plastic power
March 28 — Researchers are finding new ways to make solar power cells out of plastic — creating electricity-generating materials you could print on a sheet of paper, stick onto your windows, have painted on your house, or even wear on your back. They say plastic power could go commercial in just a few years.
First good news I've heard today.

Damn shame it's 10:50 pm.


Behind the Arab-Iraqi reconciliation
BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 28 — In the world of Arab politics, symbols and words always take precedence over substance. (Which is why we're leading the world, and they're dependent on us drilling for dead dinosaurs. J.)Despite the overwhelming support for Iraq at this week’s Arab League summit, Arab leaders know Saddam Hussein is on his way out. But they also have a warning for the United States: An attack on Baghdad could wreak havoc across the Mideast.
Fuck them. The havoc they fear is seeing a tyrant overthrown and knowing that their tyrannical asses could well be next, once their people realize that they have a lot more power than they think they do. They see how they've been screwed. They know who's been doing the screwing - despite their government's attempts to push the blame elsewhere. But like the man riding the tiger - it's a whole lot easier to get on and live, than to get off and survive - they're having to think (possibly for the first time) about an exit strategy.

And there's no good ones. Especially if we have to go in and clean out Iraq.


Interrogation in the Nighttime Hours - 27 March

Daddy... what are trees made of?

Wood, sir. The tree takes sunlight and water and turns it into wood, which is made of cellulose.

Daddy... what is paper made of?

Fibers, sir. Paper can be made from wood, or cotton, or linen.

Daddy... what are hands made of?

Muscle, bone and skin, sir. They work pretty well, don't they?

Daddy... what is hair made of?

Protein, sir. The follicle in your skin pushes it out.

Daddy... what are stars made of?

Hydrogen, sir. They're like the Sun, but a lot further away.

Daddy... why is it dark?

Because it's time to go to sleep, sir. Goodnight...

Sad Rant Today..

There are many, many writers in the Blogiverse. Me, I realize I'm just a very small voice with very few listeners and even fewer commentors. That's fine - I'm not in this for the ego-boo (thought it WOULD be nice to get the occasional bit of feedback, hint-hint) but because there are things that I think are important and want to position where others may stumble across them in the course of their browsing.

And I found one. This one is important - and to my way of thinking very much worth passing to as many people I know - because it shows the dichotomy of our life, with the life (and the deaths) that others would wish for us. It's a fairly light read at first, that turns painfully graphic and grim. It's by James Lileks, and it's his Bleat for today, March 28th. Read it carefully. It has excerpts from this article in the New Yorker, a magazine I normally don't have much use for. (Simply because I'm not that interested in New York..)

In case you doubt it, the events of the past 48 hours in the Middle East show a significant problem with the proposed Saudi peace process. The militant Palestinians want peace - but their idea of peace is to see every last Jew in Israel dead, and Israel completely expunged from the map. Nothing less will suit them. Israel, for some reason, wants to continue to exist as a country, in defiance of the wishes of the Palestineans, and will defend itself accordingly.

So the Palestinians use suicide bombers. They send bombs hidden in ambulances. They suicide bomb Passover ceremonies. They walked out of peace talks (which I think were remarkably one-sided with the Arabic nations deciding on how much land Israel must give up for peaceful co-existance with them.) and in general give the appearance to my decidedly non-Arabic viewpoint of people who enjoy wrecking any chance they've got to attain anything resembling peace in the area.

On another tack, I seriously believe that Islam is a peaceful religion. The problem is that it's been hijacked by folks who are NOT peaceful, who will promote war in the name of their religion. And they don't see war as being something bad - they see it as a path to glory for their tribe or nation-state. That it will lead to the destruction of that state doesn't enter into the equation - because Allah is on their side and Allah will protect them. As it is - they literally have no concept of what modern warfare is like, and they haven't heeded what the Taliban learned in Afghanistan, that a sincere belief in Allah will not protect you from a laser-guided daisy-cutter.

But we're still in the early stages of the war - still moving around and trying to figure out what's what. This article by Victor Hanson takes a look back at the way things went before WW2. There are significant parallels - and we would do well to learn from them.
"History teaches us that certain nations, certain peoples, and certain religions at peculiar periods in their history take a momentary, but deadly leave of their senses — Napoleon's France for most of a decade, the southern states in 1861, Japan in 1931, Germany in 1939, and Russia after World War II. And when they do, they cannot be bribed, apologized to, or sweet-talked — only defeated.

In that context, we see much of a whipped-up Arab world entering this similar period of dangerous unreality. The problem is them and their unelected and unfree regimes, not us — just as it was Hitler, not us; Tojo, not us; Mussolini, not us; and Stalin, not us — just as it always is when unelected maniacs take control and hijack an entire country and culture. We can either step up and stop Islamic fundamentalism, Arab terrorists, and Middle Eastern dictators or we can step back and watch it all continue to grow. If 9/11 was the beginning of a war, then we should remember that wars usually end when one, not both sides, win."
And I, for one, will do all I can to make sure we're the winning side.

Your mileage may vary. But consider whether you would really want people ruling over you who would use suicide bombers against a religion they dislike.


Tuesday, March 26 - Sci-Tech

Thumbs: Your key fingers online
A researcher in England may have put her finger on it: The use of gadgets such as mobile phones, wireless messaging units and game-playing devices, she says, has caused a physical mutation in young people's hands.
Evolution in action. Darwin was right...

J. - Suit seeks billions in slave reparations - March 26, 2002
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Attorneys for a former law student, who discovered evidence linking U.S. corporations to the slave trade, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday that could seek billions of dollars in reparations for the descendants of slaves in America.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn names FleetBoston Financial, the railroad firm CSX and the Aetna insurance company, and promises to name up to 100 additional corporations at a later date.
Well, if any of the company principals from that time are still alive, I might be able to see it. However, you're talking about folks (and by extension through buyouts, mergers and the like) companies that have effectively ceased to exist as the entities that did business in that time.

Besides - I hate to suggest it, but looking at the current state of most nations in Africa today it could be argued that the vast majority of slave decendents in the US have directly benefited from their ancestors being captured and sold into slavery.


GPS enters the mainstream
Per Enge remembers the days when global positioning system devices were the size of microwave ovens and were temperamental. They had to wait for passing satellites to get their bearings.
Been there, done that, ruined a few pair of fatigues schleppin' car batteries to keep the things fed. Oh, the marvelous hardware of the time - the JMR-1, which needed to be programmed with the calculated rise and set times of the satellites (of which there were currently only 4 in 1982). That one ate car batteries like candy.... Then there was the Magnavox MX-1502 - it was dainty in its hunger for electrons, sipping delicately at a Sears Die-Hard and making one Heavy Duty battery last for up to 4 days while it figured out it's OWN rise and set times...

Now I could get a GPS module for my Handspring that would last 4 hours on a pair of AAA batteries... and give me a position accurate to within 75 feet within two minutes of starting up. The MX-1502 actually did better, but was slower - it could compute (with enough passes recorded, at least 4) latitude, longitude, and height above sea level to within a couple of inches. Of course, the antenna was about 6 feet tall and spread out about the same...

Technology. Where would we be without it?


FBI alleges suicide attack plot

The men were then allowed to board an El Al Airlines flight to Israel, where they were detained by immigration officials at Ben Gurion Airport because of their “suspicious demeanor,” the complaint said.
The men were refused entry into the country when officials discovered that even though they claimed to be on a three-week trip to Israel, they were traveling without any luggage and had no relatives in the country.
But wait - wouldn't that be profiling? And isn't that something we're not supposed to do?

Oh - wait. That's Israel.

They understand that profiling isn't a bad thing - when you know who's most likely to commit terroristic acts, they have no objection to trying to keep those acts from happening... by focusing on the group most likely to commit them.


Interrogation in the nighttime hours...
Daddy... what is water made of?

Hydrogen and oxygen, sir. Combined together, they make water.

Daddy... what are clouds made of?

Water vapor, sir. Remember the other morning when it was real foggy? Clouds are like fog, only higher up.

Daddy... what is glass made of?

Very pure sand, sir. Plus a few other minerals - it's all melted together then poured out flat, then cut into pieces and you have glass.

Daddy... what are blankets made of?

Many things, sir. Wool, cotton, or polyester usually. It's warm because it keeps the air trapped next to you.

Daddy... what are beds made of?

It's got layers, sir. There's the outer cover, then usually foam or cotton batting, then a thick layer of cotton or foam, then you've got springs to support you.

Daddy... what are springs made of?

Usually they're made of metal, sir. And now it's time to go to sleep.


Yes, sir?

Why is it dark?

Because it's time to go to sleep, sir. Goodnight...
So far, so good. At 3yrs/10 months I can still answer his questions.


Monday, March 25
Up, Up and Away
Laws are made to be broken. Or so the National Aeronautics and Space Administration seems to think. After an almost two-year wait, the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is poised to take delivery of a machine that proponents hope will counteract the laws of gravity.

If so - !


A Boustrophedon Text Reader
Boustrophedon is a reading- / writing- style that alternates direction every line. It was originally created by the ancient Greeks. Once one gets good at reading the 'backwards' text, reading (and writing) can go much faster, as the eye (or hand) does not have to whip back to the margin when the end of a line is reached. One simply goes down a line and continues in the opposite direction.
A most odd bit of programming... Try their on-line example - toss it a text file and let it do it's thing. (Note: It's a good idea to have Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader on your system..)


U.S. bolsters Afghan firepower
THE UNITED STATES will send no more troops to conduct the training, instead using special forces troops already in the country when they are not engaged in other tasks, Rumsfeld said.
No decision has been made about how large the Afghan army might eventually be, Rumsfeld said, saying that was a decision most likely to be made by the Afghans.
The United States will begin working with other governments to raise money to train and pay the soldiers themselves, Rumsfeld said. The Bush administration also might consider asking Congress for money to help with the training, he said.
So far, British and German members of the international security force in Afghanistan have begun providing basic training for 600 or so Afghans in Kabul. China announced Monday that it would provide about 70,000 sets of uniforms and boots for police and the army.
I've been very impressed so far with how we're handling the war. It makes me glad I don't have to set strategic policy - I'd likely have started WW3 by now. Of course, in my more pessimistic moments, I think we already have - we just haven't had the expected semi-traditional nukes tossed yet.


I will admit that I keep expecting to hear that some city bought it.. Sure hope I'm wrong...


Books, Books, and More Books...

The more I browse, the more E-Book sites I find. For instance, at BlackMask.Com, they've got pretty much every genre from Action-Adventure to Westerns. The Science Fiction section is a bit paltry, though, with only 85 titles. Of course, the problem is that most of what you'll find for free is literature that the copyright has run out on or been otherwise relinquished - so you won't get the freshest of fiction. And popular works like "Atlas Shrugged" for example, are still copyrighted, so don't expect to find them for free. "From the Earth to the Moon", or the early Tom Swift adventures (ranging from 1910 to roughly 1930) are available in lots of places.

(The early Tom Swift, when you consider that something like "Tom Swift and his Motorcycle" is 90 years old, is a very interesting look at the juvenile fiction of an earlier time. Well worth reading... and prompts you to do some rethinking of the underlying assumptions of our life today. As an example, the shop that Tom Swift had in a barn was amazingly lit by electricity - from a storage battery... 90 years later, you'd be hard put to find a farm in the US that didn't have electricity piped in... outside of Amish country, of course...)

Another interesting site is Memoware - which has 231 titles in it's SF selection (though I've noticed a few duplicates...) 614 in it's computer docs section, 245 in adventure, and a selection of E-zines.

And what's a document without a reader? Take a look at I-Silo - it seems about a quarter of the size of the Mobibook reader... Think I'll have to try this one out...



Sunday, March 24
Liberty Belles
Gun control increases violent crime by shifting the balance of power to the criminal while simultaneously disarming helpless victims.
A very interesting pro-gun site, and a fun debate where MMM supporters went up against Second Amendment supporters.



USS Clueless
(Captain's Log): Since September, it's been politically necessary to cast this war as not being against Islam, but rather as being against Muslim extremists. It's not the overall religion we fight, but rather the fundamentalists.
There's truth to that, but in a real sense it may also be true that for this war to really end (without our defeat) then Islam may have to be shattered. You can describe that process in various ways, such as "Islam needs to go through its own equivalent of the Reformation", but what it amounts to is to change it on a deep level. It will have to become tolerant, cosmopolitan. It will have to give up its belief in inerrancy and universality.
We've had to do that before; it occurred to me a couple of days ago that there is a moderate similarity to the defeat of Japan.
This guy should be a historian, if he isn't already. (I don't know what he does for a living - I saw in one of his comments that he's retired.)

What he does here is examine the culture of pre WW2 Japan, and contrast it to Islam as it exists today. The parallels are striking and apt - and more than a bit scary. The conclusion he draws, that it won't be enough to break the Taliban and Al-Quaeda, but it's going to probably be necessary to 'break their spirit', is a worrisome one. But very likely correct...


Saturday, March 23 - Back to class in post-Taliban era - March 23, 2002
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- Afghan children ran, skipped -- and dawdled -- to school on at the start of a new year with women teachers back in class and everyday subjects like maths replacing the Islamic dogma of the ousted Taliban.
In a symbolic break with Afghanistan's war-scarred past, primary and secondary school children opened new textbooks on Saturday, that were rushed to the country in recent days after they were written by Afghan scholars at U.S. universities.
There are even pictures of people -- images banned by the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until blasted out of power in December by U.S.-led forces for harbouring Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Nine-year-old Maryam, who as a girl would not have been able to attend school if the Taliban had still been in power, shyly chatted with new friends at her central Kabul primary school.
"I'm so excited," she said as she proudly adjusted her school scarf.

Did we do the right thing?

Should we have listened to those who said to let sanctions work?

(Do you realize that if we had not acted, that none of would be happening? That the Taliban would still have a stranglehold on the country?)


Friday, March 22
You know, it doesn't look like that suicide bomber got his 72 virgins.


IAMAW 709 is currently on strike against Lockheed Martin. The contract, which they refused to sign, had already been accepted by the union folks in Ft. Worth and Palmdale. So almost two weeks ago they went on strike.

In looking over the history of unions, it's clear to see they did a great deal of good in a lot of circumstances. So when I started hearing rumors about strikes here at Lockeed, I started talking to folks about why the union might go on strike.

And in essence, it boiled down to jobs. Lockheed has been farming out the manufacturing of aircraft parts and wiring harnesses, subassemblies and such. Their theory was that it was not economical to play $30/hour & benefits & overtime to folks and get the product late from in-house, when they could pay $20/hour & benefits to subcontractors and get the product on-time and on-budget. The Union maintains that giving away jobs will not make Lockheed competitive. In that they're correct, but the way the union folks were working pretty well guaranteed Lockheed was behind the power curve on the price/performance chart.

As an example - and bear in mind that all examples are either ancedotal or from personal observation - the urge to produce a product on time was not exactly... encouraged by the Union. The contract guaranteed overtime past 40 hours - and it was sheerly amazing how much overtime had to be racked up in a very slow period (2000-2001) for the plant. This leads me to think that WHEN the union guys were working, they weren't working fast, and they weren't trying to get the job done quickly and right.

The timeclocks I passed usually started collecting folks a half-hour before end of shift. The areas I passed through had folks sitting at the break tables almost constantly. I'll make the assumption they were union - at least, since the strike started I haven't seen them.

I was in an area where they assemble F-22s - the guy I talked with said they were currently building up two planes. They've stopped working on one (losing 75% of your work force will cause a few cutbacks like that) but they've gotten to schedule on the other - (and both were running well behind before the strike) and expect it to be rolled out well ahead of schedule. Then they'll go back and work of the toher, and start prepwork for the next.

Same thing with the C-5 mods they're doing - replacing a major subassembly in a C-5's aft fuselage. Work had essentially stopped on the job, with the union rep saying it would be another couple of months before the plane was ready. The strike started, and two weeks of work with a skeleton crew later the plane was rolled out in fixed status.

I begin to understand just why the strikers are so worried about their jobs.

And in this case, I don't support their action. (Frankly, their contract was a hell of a lot better than anything I'm likely to see...) They're not doing it for the future of employment in America, they're not doing it because they want to keep jobs per se in the Marietta area - they're doing it because they want to keep THEIR jobs, where they have to expend a minimum of effort for a maximum of pay, at Lockheed.

And Lockheed just ain't buying it...


Thursday, March 21
The Democrats have begun their campaign to frighten voters before the fall elections. It's nothing but a replay of past elections, the only difference being that they seem to be starting the scare tactics a bit early this year. I guess you can't blame them. Nothing else has worked. The tried to hand the Florida election problems on Bush. No go. Then it was the economy, and that didn't work either. They gave a stab at the "Bush is stupid" routine, but Americans aren't buying it. Enron looked worse for Clinton than it did for Republicans, so the Social Democrats had to give up on that one too. So, it's time to go back to Democratic roots. Try to scare the beejezus out of older voters. It's worked in the past -- so it will surely work this time.

Remove a majority of voters from responsibility for income taxes

Massive increase in Social Security taxes

End the home mortgage interest deduction

Socialized Medicine

Tax pension funds

Tax your pension contributions too

Economically Targeted Investments -- controlling your pension fund investments.

Force employers to pay for “family leave.”

Seizure of property of those who flee Democratic tyranny

Government paid childcare for majority of voters

Government control of all childhood education

Government imposed limits on executive income

Repeal the Second Amendment

Destroy talk radio in the interests of 'Fairness'
Neil Boortz is a talk-show host. He's also someone who isn't afraid to call a spade a spade when it comes to politics. He's blasted both Democrats and Republicans in his time, and sometimes I think he goes a bit too far in his assumptions. I'm not sure he has this time.

The list above are supposedly things that the Democratic National Comittee is interested in accomplishing. Having watched the attempted progression of anti-gun legislation over the years (which seems to have stalled out since 9/11) I'd agree with that point of his rant.

Governmental control of all childhood education - you may have noticed how the Democrats and the teacher unions have been kicking and screaming against the idea of the parents having vouchers or any other sort of direct ability to opt out of the public school system. Heck, even Jesse Jackson is fighting the voucher programs - telling black parents to "not be swayed by radio and television ads touting the success of vouchers."

End the home mortgage interest tax deduction? I've heard that one floated too. Socializing medicine - it's been a while since the HillaryCare debacle, and I think they'd try it again if possible. Taxing pension funds - I've heard that one discussed too.

There are some things that may, on the surface, SEEM like a good idea. But figure that if you buy one, you're going to get the whole package. You will NOT have a choice in the matter.

Of course, I could be wrong. What do you think?


Wednesday, March 20
Another fun and interesting site - this one has demographic breakdowns according to your zip code.

You Are Where You Live

People with similar lifestyles tend to live near one another. PRIZM describes every U.S. neighborhood in terms of 62 distinct lifestyle types, called clusters; while MicroVision defines 48 lifestyle types, called segments. Enter your 5-digit ZIP Code to find your neighborhood's top five PRIZM or MicroVision lifestyle groups!

Marietta 30064's most common PRIZM Clusters are:
Number Name

3 Executive Suites (Heh. Right.)
5 Kids & Cul-de-Sacs (Okay - got both)
12 Upward Bound (Ummm.. okay)
14 Country Squires (As if!)
19 New Empty Nests (Not for 15+ years...)

30064's most common MicroVision Segments are:
Number Name

1 Upper Crust (Really?!?)
5 Prosperous Metro Mix (Well, we aren't starving...)
3 Established Wealth (Okay - I could wish that...)
2 Lap Of Luxury (ROTFLMAO)
8 Movers And Shakers (Barely.)

And just for grins -

Beverly Hills 90210's most common PRIZM Clusters are:
Number Name
1 Blue Blood Estates
2 Winner's Circle
7 Money & Brains
10 Bohemian Mix

And I wonder why we get the junk mail we do.


Got some links up on the left - though they aren't leftist links...


It may not be a bad idea, this article suggests, to Google your credit card numbers occasionally.

Mine are clear, at least for now. (I'm sure you're all relieved to hear that... heh.)

But how about yours?


Tuesday, March 19
moreCrayons - A bigger box of crayons for the web
Most internet users have monitors that can display more colors than the 216 that are used in the traditional “browser-safe” palette. moreCrayons is a bigger box of crayons; 4,096 colors for the web.
All the colors of the rainbow - and then some...


Spamradio is serving up delicous helpings of spam each hour of every day to all who are hungry.

Using a complex arrangement of pipes and funnels we turn the junk mail that we receive into a streaming audio broadcast that can be enjoyed from anywhere on the Internet.
Wierd. Very wierd.



Monday, March 18
I've been linked to! Ye Olde Blogge has put me in her blog list.

I am honored. Thank you. I'll be adding your site to my blog list shortly.


US urges Saudis, other Arabs to halt anti-Jewish incitement in media
The United States called on Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments to stop media reports that incite hatred of Jews, urging them to act in the interest of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Washington said Arab leaders should do more for the ailing peace process than back Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's proposal which envisions Arab recognition for Israel in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands occupied in the 1967 Middle East War.

In an official US government editorial that began airing Monday on the Voice of America (VOA), the United States said the crown prince's idea called "attention to the need to do everything possible to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Possibly invalid assumption: The Saudis actually want peace.

First, they want to be rid of Israel. Second, they don't like the Palestinians - except in the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' sense. They don't do beans when it comes to Palestinean relief, they won't employ Palestinians in Saudi Arabia because they're too troublesome. Tis very odd, indeed.

So, Palestineans goad Israel beyond endurance, fighting ensures - Palestinean numbers are reduced, Israel loses ground, Saudi wins...

Peace breaks out - Palestinean numbers increase, Israel holds (possibly gains) Saudi loses...

It's a dangerous game they play - and liable to backfire on them.


I returned a borrowed HP Jornada to John Bouler today. It's a nice piece of hardware, but too bulky for my purposes. What I was looking for in a PDA is something that's small enough to fit comfortably in my pocket, along with the screwdriver I habitually carry. And the Jornada just didn't cut it on the size front.

So I ended up looking at the Palms - and although the Palm Pilots looked pretty good, and the cheap ones looked especially good, what I ended up buying was a Handspring Deluxe. It's small, it's sturdy (or seems to be so - I'll let you know about how it lasts, after banging around in my pocket for a couple of weeks) and I can easily fiddle with the software.

I've been amazed at the vast amount of software and hacks available for the thing. A while back I wondered what the next big thing was - PDAs may be it.

Quick historical note... I bought my first computer, an Osborne 1, in 1982. Hey, it was hot stuff for the time - it had 64K (That's Kilobytes, not Megabytes) of RAM, two 90K (That's Kilobytes, not Megabytes) floppy drives, a keyboard and case and a 5 inch (diagonally measured) screen. The Handspring has no floppies (it synchs up with my computer instead for mass storage), no keyboard as such (using instead a touch screen digitizer) and has 8 MB (that's Megabytes, not Kilobytes) memory. It runs at 33 mhz, as opposed to a blazing 2 mhz for the Osborne. The system board for the Osborne (which I've got mounted on the wall) was about 7x18 inches. The Handspring system board is about 2x3 inches. (Yes, I've already taken it apart once.)

John and I talked hardware a bit, and he mentioned I'd probably buy another PDA soon - said they were kind of like french fries. After you justify the first one to yourself, the second one's easy to consume. But after looking over the Jornada, I knew what I was looking for in a PDA. It's small, it's light, it's usable, and it seems pretty rugged. The functions I want are there, and it'll do me for the time being. The Jornada was the first french fry, the Handspring the second.

And for the time being, I'll stop at two...


Sunday, March 17
I'm putting in a few links to e-books and browser software to the left. Some are pay sites, some are free. If it's listed in both, it's got both. (Duh.)

If you've got some e-book sites you like that I don't have here, let me know and I'll add them.



The world changes - but people stay the same.

I'm reading an e-books copy of "The Count of Monte Cristo" on a new Handspring. I'm just getting into it, not quite yet at the point where Danglars, Fernand and Caderousse are getting ready to betray Edmond Dantes. And it strikes me that Dumas would certainly understand that people are the same today as they were in his time, with all the passions that motivate them essentially unchanged. Greed, jealousy, envy, spite, hatred - that's all unchanged. We have more toys now, more distractions, we can tell ourselves we're more sophisticated, that we're 'above all that' - but we'd be lying to ourselves.

For instance - the more we see of our politicians, the more apparent it is that in most cases they're not in it for the good of their constituency, but they're in it for the power. Witness the arguments against Judge Pickering put forth by the Democrats - they had to go back close to 40 years to find any problem with his civil rights record (which has been exemplary since the mid 60s in his support FOR civil rights), which they used as the reason to deny his appointment. Of course, this was seen by them as fair and just - because he was going into an important position. Makes me wonder what would happen if all the folks in Congress were put under the same scrutiny, whether they would show as such shining lights themselves. ("Well, Senator, you had a bad breakup with a girlfriend in college, you got her pregnant and paid for the abortion. Never mind that it was the 70's, in light of your past action do you seriously believe that you can responsibly promote women's rights, when you showed such shocking disregard for a woman's rights when you were 20?")

Dumas would undoubtedly find much material for new works in the 21st Century...


Saturday, March 16 - Bush highlights U.S. role in Afghan education - March 16, 2002
"Under the Taliban regime, educating women was a criminal act," he said. "Under the new government of a liberated Afghanistan, educating all children is a national priority."
Bush said the United States has provided millions of textbooks in the Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari, and has plans to distribute millions more by the end of the year.
"These textbooks will teach tolerance and respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry," he said.
Blackboards and other school supplies also have been shipped to Afghanistan, many of them through America's Fund for Afghan Children, which has raised more than $4.5 million for the effort, Bush said.
A good use for the money. Only education will help them prosper - a blind dependence on religion (as the Taliban preferred) is the route to disaster.


Yet Another Reason to Loathe The French
Yet Another Reason to Loathe the French.
"Only WE had the nerve to do anything about those annoying Green Peace lunatics." - (Actually, they might have something there.)
Heh. Fun site. Enjoy.


From the Dreaded Purple Master regarding Afghan casualties and the media's eagerness to accept the worst possible numbers without verification...
It seems to me that a few truths are incontestible, and have not yet been mentioned in this context. Allow me.

When you're fighting an enemy that dresses like civilians, hides behind civilians, and intentionally targets civilians, you're going to get civilian casualties.

You're going to inflict some of those casualties yourself. Your enemies are going to inflate those numbers however they can, either by lying to the press or by killing more people and blaming you. They don't care: They know you do.

When a conflict exists between American and Afghan counts of civilian casualties, I can think of no reason to assume that the Afghan counts are right.
And I posted the following comment to him...
This is where the 'laws of war' get kind of shaky. To be a recognized military combatant, you've got to be an identified member of a military organization. That identification comes from your uniform and your ID card, according to the Geneva protocols.

It could well be argued that ALL casualties in Afghanistan are civilian, because (1) The Taliban and Al Quaeda didn't have an organized military as such, and (2) they didn't have ID cards identifying themselves as members of the military. In fact, I'm surprised the anti-war groups haven't seized on that notion already - but then again, the idea of there being laws to war is probably incomprehensible to them.

The rel problem with the Geneva convention protocols (and I'll put this up over on Milblog also) is that they were drafted when it was figured that two or more Nations would be bashing at each other. They didn't figure that a religious group would hijack a country and then try to start a war, or that another nation would need to protect itself by implementing military action against a non-national group.

Feh. Sometimes I feel like the British did in the 1770s. This is NOT how a war is supposed to be fought. But we have to adapt or die, and we're going to adapt.

Now for a little bit of history - some background on the laws of war.
"... the period of enlightenment's great philosopher, JeanJacques Rousseau, was very interested in rules for humanness inwarfare. In 1772 he wrote in "Le contrat social»: "War is a relationship, not between man and man, but between state and state, and individuals are enemies only by chance and not as men or citizens, but as soldiers; not like inhabitants of their country, but as its defenders...The aim of war is to destroy a foreign state,and the other side has the right to kill its defenders when they are carrying weapons; but if they lay down their arms, surrender and then become ordinary men again, whose life no-one has the right to take." These ideals soon became generally recognised and were expressed in several of the international treaties of that time.
These became codified, and eventually the following evolved. It's from the Norwegian Armed Forces Institute, and it's their only course offered in English.
The 10 rules for soldiers with comments

Rule no.1: Only attack military targets. (In addition to armed forces and military targets are also objects that contribute effectively to military actions and accordingly give a significant military advantage (legal military target))

" Attacks must be strictly limited to military targets. When it comes to other objects, these must be limited to those that due to structure, position, purpose and use make a significant contribution to military actions, such as when partial or total destruction, their capture or neutralisation, would give a decisive military advantage in the prevailing circumstances." (1st additional Protocol, art.52)

Rule no. 2: You must not attack indiscrimately in a way that lead to greater collateral damage/injury to civilians and their property than what the concrete and direct military advantage dictates in the prevailing circumstances.

Rule no.3: You must respect private property. Plundering is forbidden.

Comments to 2 and 3:
Civilians and civilian property must be protected - as far as carrying out the military mission allows. Here the so-called proportionality principle comes into force: balancing the military necessity against humanitarian considerations. The military advantage must be clearly weightier if civilian loss of life and property is to be accepted. Do not damage any more than you have to!

Rule no. 4: You can fight the enemy by using a ruse of war (misleading information, camouflage, etc.) Misuse of signs
designating protected buildings etc.and falsifying status to appear as a protected person is forbidden. (perfidy)

It is strictly forbidden to pretend to be a civilian, wounded, medical orderly or someone who has surrendered or waves a white flag - and then open fire. All parties are dependent on mutual trust in this being carried out.

Rule no.5: You must not use civilian personnel as a shield/cover for military action, but they must be respected and as far as possible, protected.

the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 covers Civilians. Such use of civilians makes them into military targets and is obviously wrong.

Rule no.6: Personnel, vehicles and objects marked with internationally accepted signs designating that they are protected, must not be attacked but respected and protected.

Medical orderlies, medical areas and safety zones, field chaplains, negotiators, civil defence, cultural heritages and installations
containing dangerous natural forces are all marked with special signs showing that they are protected and must be respected, protected and not attacked unless this protected status has been abused.

Rule no. 7: You must not attack medical personnel or priests or incapacitated sick, wounded or shipwrecked persons, or personnel escaping from capsized aircraft, but respect and protect them.

The conditions for protection are that the sick and wounded do not continue fighting. For example, a badly wounded machine gunner that is still firing is a legal target. The conditions for protecting medical personnel, vehicles and installations are that their protected status is not abused. Examples are artillery placed on a hospital roof or the transport of ammunition in a red-cross marked ambulance. However it is not permitted to attack them on suspicion and a warning should be given in advance. Medical orderlies must be allowed to carry on with their care of the sick and wounded without being hindered. Marked medical installations must be kept apart from combatant units. Shipwrecked persons are those who survive or escape from capsized or burning vessels on sea or in the air. Also for these the rule is that they must clearly have stopped all resistance. Parachutists who jump from burning aircraft must clearly have given a sign that they surrender if they are to be protected. Shipwrecked persons must be rescued.

Rule no.8: Enemies who surrender or who are otherwise taken prisoner must be treated humanely and protected. They must be
disarmed and handed over to your superiors. Mistreatment and physical abuse must not occur.

Rule no.9: As a prisoner of war, you have the right to keep your personal protective equipment, clothing and uniform, identity
papers and military insignia as well as other personal property. You must only state your name, rank and date of birth.

Comments to 8 and 9:
Enemy personnel become prisoners of war when they lay down their weapons and clearly show that they surrender.

Rule no.10: Do your best to prevent a breach of the laws of war. Do not obey orders that violate these rules. Report any such
violations to your superiors.

Laws of war are rules governing behaviour in wartime. Serious violations of these laws makes you into a war criminal. A war criminal is someone who has killed prisoners of war, raped civilians, blown up churches/ religious buildings, attacked hospitals etc. These are deplorable acts that any civilised person would dissociate themselves from. War criminals are punished severely, even with the death penalty.

Remember that you are personally responsible for your actions.

You must therefore not obey orders, which violate the laws of war. The Nürnberg Pact's article 8 states: "Acting on orders
from a government or a superior does not exempt the person from punishment." The main principle is that an order from someone in charge should be according to the law. When at war, disobeying orders can have fatal consequences, including loss of comrades' lives as well as a military action not being carried out. Your superior may well possess information that makes an apparently illegal operation legal; for example an innocent-looking barn is concealing several enemy tanks.
Now to my way of thinking, the Al Quaeda have violated Rules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, and maybe 6. I won't speculate on Rule 10. We MAY have violated rule 6 by accidentally hitting Red Cross marked buildings.

So there you go - laws of war and all that...


Friday, March 15 - 15 girls die as zealots 'drive them into blaze'
15 girls die as zealots 'drive them into blaze'
(Filed: 15/03/2002)

SAUDI Arabia's religious police are reported to have forced schoolgirls back into a blazing building because they were not wearing Islamic headscarves and black robes.
Saudi newspapers said scuffles broke out between firemen and members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice who tried to keep the girls inside a burning school in Mecca.
Fifteen girls were killed as they stampeded to escape from the blazing building in the Muslim holy city. Saudi media and families of the victims have been angry over the deaths of the girls in the fire that gutted the school.

It's just a rhetorical question, but what is there about Islam that seems to attract the absolute worst in human behavior, and attempt to pass it off as virture? These Morality Police wouldn't let girls escape from a burning school, becuase they didn't have on scarves and robes? No sense, no compassion, no... oh, hell. Words fail me. I still think Islam isn't a bad religion, but it sure seems to attract the nutcases.

As far as I'm concerned, each of those damn Morality Police who were there should be charged with murder for forcing the girls back into the burning building. Of course, they won't be. But they should.


Top News at Netscape - Lawmakers Slam White House 'Attitude Problem'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers from both parties blistered the Bush administration on Thursday for "a severe attitude problem" in its dealings with Congress, citing a public campaign against their pet projects and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's refusal to testify on Capitol Hill.
Appearing before a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee, White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels apologized for any "inadvertent" impression created that the White House was slighting Congress' constitutional role, but defended the effort to restrict the so-called earmarking of budget funds for programs in individual lawmakers' districts.
"You and several others in the administration, in my view, have a severe attitude problem," said Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, which wields considerable power through its control of the federal government's purse strings.
In other words, they're mad because they can't pass the pork? Figures...


A Life Revealed @
Names have power, so let us speak of hers. Her name is Sharbat Gula, and she is Pashtun, that most warlike of Afghan tribes. It is said of the Pashtun that they are only at peace when they are at war, and her eyes—then and now—burn with ferocity. She is 28, perhaps 29, or even 30. No one, not even she, knows for sure. Stories shift like sand in a place where no records exist. Time and hardship have erased her youth. Her skin looks like leather. The geometry of her jaw has softened. The eyes still glare; that has not softened.
This is the face, the eyes of Afghanistan.

Look at them. And remember that the Taliban, if they'd had their way, would forever prevent you from seeing them.


Thursday, March 14
Guess the Russicans figured out capitalism and free enterprise weren't exactly the worst things that could happen to them...
Company designs tourist spaceship
ZHUKOVSKY, Russia, March 14 — A top Russian aerospace company on Thursday presented a mock-up of a reusable ship for space tourists ready to pay $98,000 to spend three minutes in zero gravity on a suborbital flight. The company said 100 candidates have already signed up.
Now, if we could just get NASA to loosen up a bit, maybe we could get a decent space tourism industry going.

Then again, it would depend on the cost.


I followed links one day, and found this off of MetaFilter. It's... unusual.
Can There Be a Decent Left?
Michael Walzer

Leftist opposition to the war in Afghanistan faded in November and December of last year, not only because of the success of the war but also because of the enthusiasm with which so many Afghanis greeted that success. The pictures of women showing their smiling faces to the world, of men shaving their beards, of girls in school, of boys playing soccer in shorts: all this was no doubt a slap in the face to leftist theories of American imperialism, but also politically disarming. There was (and is) still a lot to worry about: refugees, hunger, minimal law and order. But it was suddenly clear, even to many opponents of the war, that the Taliban regime had been the biggest obstacle to any serious effort to address the looming humanitarian crisis, and it was the American war that removed the obstacle. It looked (almost) like a war of liberation, a humanitarian intervention.

But the war was primarily neither of these things; it was a preventive war, designed to make it impossible to train terrorists in Afghanistan and to plan and organize attacks like that of September 11. And that war was never really accepted, in wide sections of the left, as either just or necessary. Recall the standard arguments against it: that we should have turned to the UN, that we had to prove the guilt of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and then organize international trials, and that the war, if it was fought at all, had to be fought without endangering civilians. The last point was intended to make fighting impossible. I haven’t come across any arguments that seriously tried to describe how this (or any) war could be fought without putting civilians at risk, or to ask what degree of risk might be permissible, or to specify the risks that American soldiers should accept in order to reduce the risk of civilian deaths. All these were legitimate issues in Afghanistan, as they were in the Kosovo and Gulf wars. But among last fall’s antiwar demonstrators, “Stop the bombing” wasn’t a slogan that summarized a coherent view of the bombing--or of the alternatives to it. The truth is that most leftists were not committed to having a coherent view about things like that; they were committed to opposinf the war, and they were prepared to oppose it without regard to its causes or character and without any visible concern about preventing future terrorist attacks.

Snip - and cut to analysis

2. Powerlessness and alienation: leftists have no power in the United States and most of us don't expect to exercise power, ever. Many left intellectuals live in America like internal aliens, refusing to identify with their fellow citizens, regarding any hint of patriotic feeling as politically incorrect. That’s why they had such difficulty responding emotionally to the attacks of September 11 or joining in the expressions of solidarity that followed. Equally important, that’s why their participation in the policy debate after the attacks was so odd; their proposals (turn to the UN, collect evidence against bin Laden, and so on) seem to have been developed with no concern for effectiveness and no sense of urgency. They talked and wrote as if they could not imagine themselves responsible for the lives of their fellow-citizens. That was someone else’s business; the business of the left was...what? To oppose the authorities, whatever they did. The good result of this opposition was a spirited defense of civil liberties. But even this defense displayed a certain willful irresponsibility and ineffectiveness, because so many leftists rushed to the defense of civil liberties while refusing to acknowledge that the country faced real dangers--as if there was no need at all to balance security and freedom. Maybe the right balance will emerge spontaneously from the clash of rightwing authoritarianism and leftwing absolutism, but it would be better practice for the left to figure out the right balance for itself, on its own; the effort would suggest a responsible politics and a real desire to exercise power, some day.

But what really marks the left, or a large part of it, is the bitterness that comes with abandoning any such desire. The alienation is radical. How else can one understand the unwillingness of people who, after all, live here, and whose children and grandchildren live here, to join in a serious debate about how to protect the country against future terrorist attacks? There is a pathology in this unwillingness, and it has already done us great damage.
The article goes on to point out where the leftists (and the author labels himself as one, so I'm going to go with his judgement and figure what he's done is an honest self-critique of the leftist philosophy (I might also make note this this is one of the very few self-critiques I've seen by anyone who styles themselves a leftist)) have severely botched things up. One criticism, boiled down, is that "the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend" - and that they need to look a lot harder at the folks that they're supporting, because they're going to need to live with the consequences of supporting them.

It's worth the read.


Wednesday, March 13
Reuters | Breaking News from Around the Globe
Bush: 'We Are Going to Deal' with Saddam

March 13, 2002 04:42 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush said on Wednesday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is a problem and "we are going to deal with him."
"I am deeply concerned about Iraq," Bush told a White House news conference. "This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people ... a man who won't let inspectors into the country ... He is a problem and we're going to deal with him."
Bush said U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was traveling in the Middle East "reminding people about this danger and that we need to work in concert to confront this danger."
As he has in the past, Bush said the United States will consult with its allies. "We will share our views of how to make the world more safe with regards to Iraq."
The sad thing is how many folks in that area are willing to go "Well, we know he's not a nice guy - but we're worried about what will happen if we really get mean and bounce him out. Better the devil you know, and all that..."

But how could a sucessor be much worse? Consider that an example has already been set - if Saddam were ousted by force, what's to stop the ouster of any sucessor if they're as much of a nutcase as Saddam? It's not like Iraq will ever be allowed to become a significant military threat again under another ruler.

Personally, I think the problem is the ruling cliques in that part of the world don't want the people they're ruling to see they can be deposed. The unwashed peasants might just get uppity.


Bush Angry Over Hijackers Visas (
WASHINGTON –– President Bush said Wednesday he was "plenty hot" to learn that student visas for two Sept. 11 hijackers were delivered months after they flew planes into the World Trade Center.
He ordered his attorney general to investigate and urged reform of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
They were delivered almost six months after the event...

And some folks want a national ID card? Do they seriously think that the accountability will be any better?


If you're looking for a PDA, take a look at this...
Glenayre/Handspring Visor Handheld Computer, 8MB Memory, Graphite
In this kit you get both an 8MB Visor and a Glenayre @ctivelink 2-way wireless module.

(Activation is not required to purchase at this special price. In order to utilize the @ctivelink 2-Way Service you need to activate using the forms that come with the unit in the box.)

More Info
Internet Price: $99.99*
That's cheap enough I can almost justify it to myself. Of coruse, if you need a PDA AND a cell-phone, they've got those too.
The Kyocera 6035 is a premier productivity tool. Powered by the Palm OS®, it combines a CDMA digital wireless phone, access to the Internet, and a PalmTM handheld. The Kyocera 6035 is an all-in-one device so that you don't have to carry a pager, phone and PDA. And it's $99. For more info, click here.


That old political whore - Gore - is back. And he doesn't have anything good to say. Of course.

I think he's been taking lessons from Tom Daschle.
Gore, Back in Political Game, Takes Swipe at Bush
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Al Gore, appearing at the first of what he promised would be many fund-raisers for Democratic congressional candidates, took a swipe on Tuesday at White House tax and environmental policies and said Democrats must keep the Bush administration in check.

Gore, wading back into the political wars after his bitter presidential defeat in 2000, guaranteed Democrats would gain a House seat in his home state of Tennessee and possibly pick up a Senate seat in the November elections.

He said Democratic control of the House, where Republicans now have a six-seat margin of power, and the Senate, where Democrats rule by one vote, would help keep a leash on the Republican-controlled executive branch.

"The principle of checks and balances ... is something every American ought to be thinking about during this campaign season," he said at a $500 per person fund-raiser for Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Richard Neal.

He criticized the $1.35 trillion tax cut championed by President Bush, which he said was "so inequitably distributed," and questioned White House environmental policies and proposals to build smaller, easier-to-use nuclear weapons.
Inequitably distributed... he's actually right there. It only went to folks who paid taxes! But it's a good sound-bite, and the media will likely pick up on it.

He's angling for the 2004 Presidential race - but then, so are Daschle and Clinton. The Democratic Party's best bet would be to find someone with charisma that hasn't already poisoned their chances by opening their mouths on national TV. An unknown might win - but not one of these three stooges.


Tossing out a Googlebomb for accuracy in reporting...

"Kill Marc Herold Afghan casualties meme by Googlebombing it. For the uninitiated, “Googlebombing” takes advantage of the fact that Google gives a high ranking to regularly updated sites; this means that if a lot of bloggers link to, say, Iain Murray’s take-down of the Herold Afghan casualties study, using relevant search terms like Afghanistan civilian casualties and Herold collateral damage and Marc Herold Afghanistan study, we can move Iain’s article to the top of Google’s search results.

It’s worth a try. If you search Google for these terms now, you’ll see just how much play this scurrilous pile of phony research is getting in the world’s media.

Come and get it, Googlebot." (thanks Charles)

PS:Afghan casualty figures, Marc Herold Afghan casualty figures, dead afghanis (guessing at Grauniad search terms), Herold afghan WTC casualties, Herold study afghan casualties.

From MuslimPundit - an Islamic gent over in (I think) England. It's well worth a read once a week. This is a bit long, but it's very deep and offers a look at a world of thought that's completely foriegn.

This is a somewhat retrospective look over what has come to light in the past six months, as well as an overview of the remaining battles that still need to be played out in the long run.

One of the deeper roots of what fed the ideological hatred that eventually struck America on 9/11 is commonly encapsulated within a line that, to me, continues to be flogged more than ever before by my righteous co-religionists, if only because I've been watching Channel 4's season of informative documentaries on British Muslims. Islamists fervently believe that "Islam is an ideology, and therefore entails a complete way of life, from a conceptual use of God's sovereignty to the five basic pillars of Islam, and these form whole systems tha need to be implemented at the collective level". According to the Islamist cult Hizb-ut-Tahrir:

"...[T]hese five pillars cry out for a State to exist in order for their full establishment to be achieved. This is the nature of Islam as it is an ideology. Islam not only provides solutions for mankind’s problems but also the method to implement, propagate and protect them in life so that they become more than theoretical rules. Rather they are transformed to practical rules and make the Islamic way of life existent."

I say phooey. To categorically state that Islam has laid out itself as a complete way of life makes no sense. None of the five basic pillars (declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage) that constitute the basic belief system are conditional upon political decree. None of these basic beliefs, nor indeed any religious obligations upon the common Muslim, are suspended in the absence of an Islamic state. For Islamists to purport that Islam is an all-embracing system is simply an exercise in vainly boosting their own embattled egos, and thereby act as apologists for the poor standards of living that the vast majority of their co-religionists suffer. Rationalising their supposed superiority is something Islamists have always dabbled in as a result of them being firmly caught in the throes of cultural separatism. The ever-insightful Daniel Pipes explains:

"The religion of Islam is essentially a religion of success; it is a winners' religion. The prophet Muhammad fled the city of Mecca in A.D. 622. By 630, only eight years later, he was back in Mecca, now as ruler. The Muslims began as an obscure group in Arabia and within a century ruled a territory from Spain to India. In the year 1000, say, Islam was on top no matter what index of worldly success one looks at -- health, wealth, literacy, culture, power. This association became customary and assumed: to be a Muslim, was to a favorite of God, a winner.

The trauma of modern history that began 200 years ago involved failure. Failure began when Napoleon landed in Alexandria and has continued since then in almost every walk of life -- in health, wealth, literacy, culture, and power. Muslims are no longer on top. As the mufti of Jerusalem put it some months ago, "Before, we were masters of the world, and now we're not even master of our own mosques." Herein lies the great trauma, as Wilfred Cantwell Smith pointed out forty years ago in his ground-breaking book Islam and Modern History.

There have been three main responses to this trauma -- three main efforts to make things right again: secularism, which means openly learning from the West and reducing Islam to the private sphere; reformism, which means appropriating from the West, saying that the West really derives its strength by stealing from Muslims, therefore Muslims may take back from them, a middle ground; and Islamism, which stressed a return to Islamic ways but in fact takes hugely and covertly from the West -- without wanting to, perhaps, but still very much doing so."

As Islamists make clear, albeit unintentionally, the theoretical structure underpinning their Islamist doctrinal response to this trauma is built on vague foundations and is logically deficient, and it invites incredulity to even think that the multitude of Islamists of different colours and stripes can come to a simple agreement on their interpretations. Indeed, to counter the rise of Islamism, Muslims still need to understand that an all-embracing ideology in Islam is palpably false. There are no useful definitions of what constitutes an "Economic System", "Political System" or "Social System" in Islamist doctrine. Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and law at the University of Southern California, remarks upon this in an insightful overview of the roots of Muslim discontent:

"Islamists believe that to be a good Muslim is to lead an "Islamic way of life." In principle, every facet of one's existence must be governed by Islamic rules and regulations — marriage, family, dress, politics, economics, and much more. In every domain of life, they believe, a clear demarcation exists between "Islamic" and un-Islamic behaviors. Never mind that in all but a few ritualistic matters the Islamists themselves disagree on what Islam prescribes. They have been educated to dismiss their disagreements as minor and to expect a bit more study of God's commandments to produce a consensus about the properly Islamic way to live."

Moiz Amjad, a Muslim scholar who is no friend to radical Islamism (but a dear friend of mine), states:

"It is generally held that Islam gives extensive directives in all spheres of human life. It is actually based on this point of view, that terms like "The Economic System" or "The Political System" or "The Social System" of Islam have come in vogue. However, a close look at the nature of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah shows that this point of view is not correct. To appreciate the extent of Islamic teachings in all matters, except matters relating to worship, it is important to understand that Islam did not come to give a more modern or a more comprehensive system of politics or economics or punishments for the human race... It should, therefore, be quite interesting to note that in all such matters relating to interpersonal relationship or interpersonal behaviour, where Islam has given any directives to mankind, the prime objective of these directives is not to make any immediate worldly gain or to develop a fancy system, but to, directly or indirectly, help the individual in cleansing his soul and thereby qualifying for the everlasting bliss of God's Paradise."

Comparing this relatively benign view of Islamic theology with that of radical Islamism, it is easy to see how Islamism emerges as a more seductive ideology to any Muslim who gets caught in the throes of efficient but "soulless" West, and thus feeds the dangerous creed of Occidentalism, as Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma explain:

"Soul is a recurring theme of Occidentalism. The nineteenth-century Slavophiles pitted the "big" Russian soul against the mechanical, soulless West. They claimed to stand for deep feelings and profound understanding of suffering. Westerners, on the other hand, were deemed to be mechanically efficient, and to have nothing but an uncanny sense for calculating what is useful. The skeptical intellect, to promoters of soul, is always viewed with suspicion. Occidentalists extol soul or spirit but despise intellectuals and intellectual life. They regard the intellectual life as fragmented, indeed as a higher form of idiocy, with no sense of "totality," the "absolute," and what is truly important in life...

"Occidentalism is the creed of Islamist revolutionaries. Their aim is to create one Islamic world guided by the sharia (Islamic law), as interpreted by trusted scholars who have proved themselves in jihad (read "revolution"). This is a call to purify the Islamic world of the idolatrous West, exemplified by America. The aim is to strike at American heathen shrines, and show, in the most spectacular fashion, that the US is vulnerable, a "paper tiger" in revolutionary jargon. Through such "propaganda by action" against the arrogant US, the forces of jihad will unite and then impose their revolution on the Islamic world."

Timur Kuran states:

"Not that this tendency to blame outside forces for various sorts of failures is limited to terrorists. Islamists with no affinity for violence attribute sundry domestic problems, including failures of their own movements and initiatives, to the prevailing moral standards. Articulated incessantly in diverse contexts, such excuses foster an intellectual climate that enables violent groups to justify their destructiveness as essential to ridding the world of evil and building an Islamic utopia. It also aids these groups in finding recruits."
A very interesting site, with a very deep look into aspects of the Islamic religio/political system that I hadn't thought of - and quite well explains a lot of what reaction we've seen from the Islamic community at large.


Found on the web...
When the skies are silent and the air is clear,
when the planes are grounded because of our fear
the terrorists will have gotten what they wanted most
Paralysis of our country, at very little cost.

They strike without warning,
and televise their boasts
on Al Jazeera they danced
from coast to coast.

History would have warned them,
but they would not heed,
one blow's not a war,
no matter the creed.

One strike doesn't win,
not in the long haul,
they found a window -
in a thick wall.

But we know them now,
we know where they're at.
Pretty soon they'll have
nothing but crap.

Got shit for logistics,
no friends for supply,
no safe haven for them,
we want them to die.

Mercy? For them? Who the fuck are you kidding?
Those people who acted on Bin Laden's bidding -
had no mercy for those in the towers that fall,
the people who died there had no choice at all.

They wanted a battle? Okay, bring it on!
A battle between what's right and what's wrong -
Think Allah's on your side? Best guess again -
the Taliban were 'holy' - they sure didn't win.

You picked on an enemy you thought was quite weak,
deficient in will-power, and half-asleep.
You figured we'd just posture and preen and pout,
then we'd sit back and wait until the next bout.

We'd left you alone, to do what you wanted.
Now we're awake, and you are the hunted.
Until you're all dead, you had better run.
We learn from our mistakes - this war will be won.

No more will we stop, until you're defeated.
Root, branch and stem, you WILL be weeded.
Your culture will change, it will not endure.
Sponsor terrorism and die - of that be quite sure.

So now you decide. You supported these guys.
Kicked us in the balls, didn't figure we'd rise?
Destroy our culture, our country, our people too?
You didn't figure on just what we could do.

You came on TV, called for jihad, for a host
of militants who would give up the ghost
for a promise of paradise, of 72 virgins.
Guess that's pretty tempting, when you get those urgin's.

They found something different when they followed your call.
Cold wasteland and death under a daisy-cutter's fall.
Think they're glad they followed you to their death?
I think they got the worst of that bet.

It will not be over until you decide
that terrorism now has no place to hide.
Preach peace and not war - 'give peace a chance'
If you do not - with the 'Great Satan' you dance.

You turned us into what you should fear most.
An enemy, implacable, with very little boast.
We don't give a damn about being too rough,
we've been quiet too long - it's time to be tough.

You did not suceed in what you tried.
You hurt us, yes, and many people died.
And now it's our turn, we're mad, and you'd better hide.
Because Allah has turned - he's NOT on your side.

Posted by
March 12, 2002 04:35 AM
Found this over at in one of the comments. Of course, it's not PC at all. Perhaps that's the beauty of it. It also doesn't rhyme well, and the format varies. Still, a good read.


Tuesday, March 12 - Yates guilty
Andrea Yates was found guilty of capital murder today in the drowning deaths of her five children. Jurors in Houston, Texas, deliberated for about three hours and 40 minutes before returning their verdict. The penalty phase of Yates' trial begins Thursday. She could be sentenced to death or life in prison.
There's no question in my mind that she's mentally ill. There's also no question in my mind that she knew what she was doing.

Death, or life in prison? Tough call. Don't think she deserves the mercy of death, myself.


TCS: Defense - Casualties of the Press
No war in history, with the possible exception of the 30-minute conflict between Zanzibar and the British Empire, has been conducted without civilian casualties. Modern public opinion, however, at least in the West, demands that those casualties be kept to a minimum. Some have suggested American bombs killed 4,000 innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Now evidence is emerging that those figures are exaggerated. Do we need to hold our military to account?

Despite Pentagon denials of individual incidents, there is no doubt that, on many occasions during the war, bombs went astray, hit non-military targets or otherwise killed innocents. However, there is equally no doubt that the Taliban, conscious of the Western desire to minimize innocent casualties, deliberately exaggerated the number of civilian dead in its propaganda. This has now been confirmed beyond contest by the Afghan journalists themselves. They told the Associated Press on Feb. 12 that "Taliban officials systematically doctored reports of civilian deaths … in an attempt to galvanize opposition to the bombing."
Forgive me if I'm wrong here - but there isn't any real differentiation between what the average Taliban wears, and what the average Afghanistan civilian wears, is there? This makes it kind of hard to tell whether someone's on our side or theirs.

Also, the Taliban had this really annoying habit of parking military equipment in the middle of civilian concentrations - in some cases right next to mosques and hospitals. This is not in accordance with the accepted rules of war. Or is it just the US that has to follow those rules?

Maybe so.

As it is, the number of civilians who were killed, as pointed out in this article, is one that we should be proud of. Not proud as in "We killed all these civilians, hurray!" - but proud as in "We took out the Taliban, and we were precise enough that only ??? were killed in the process."

Good going, guys! Keep the excess death and destruction to a minimum...


Monday, March 11
Experts' give their view of world since Sept. 11 / Security, diplomacy crucial for future
Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University and the author of more than two dozen books, including "The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years":

"(If the United States expands its campaign) to Iraq, and that is likely, I think the reaction in the Arab world would be very muted if we are really serious and make it clear that we mean it. Quite recently, I attended a forum in Istanbul convened by the Turkish government for the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the European Union, and I was surprised at the moderation. There was no condemnation of American action in Afghanistan. There wasn't even any condemnation of Israel. Some people tried to get a condemnation of Israel, but they didn't get it."
I think the Turks are a bit less tolerant of the usual anti-US and Israel garbage. They're turning out to be decent allies, and it's good to see it.


Sunday, March 10
Alis Translation Solutions - The Frenchmen were brought to refuse missions fixed by the Americans
Since the beginning of their intervention, one week ago, beside the Americans, in the region of Gardez, the French planes didn't carry out all the missions which had been confided(entrusted) to them by the military height-command of the United States. Without clarifying the number, the French military responsibles agree that they were brought to refuse some of the bombardments that one had asked them to execute, because of differences of appreciation with the Americans on the potential impact of these missions.

To date, plane Super-Etendard and Mirage 2000D realized about twenty missions and treated(handled) more than a dozen targets, with, in particular, the dropping of bombs of 250 kg guided by laser.

The plans of strikings(typings) include scheduled(programmed) targets, enough in advance to Tampa ( Florida) and to Al-Kharg ( Saudi Arabia), and what one calls, in staff, objectives " of opportunity " which sometimes show themselves at the time of the execution of the very mission, because the situation on the ground changed.

Over, please, Keep(Guard), there where the American planes work with the only French devices, the choice of targets is validated by the French staff which received orders(deposits) of the political power, on the Elysee and on Matignon. It's, for the greater part, bombardments of "opportunity" that were the object of refusal on behalf of the Frenchmen. The advanced reason concerns the conditions of the commitment and the "credibility" of the reserved objective.

And so the Frenchmen refused strikings(typings) which pulled(entailed) a risk important for the populations. As, for example, the case of a group of command of the talibans close to a village, even in the village. Also, the fighters hostile to the regime of Kabul, in the sector of Gardez, live and move with their families, what causes errors during shots which would insufficiently be adjusted.
Okay - I realize that translation services are inexact. But it would seem that the French are refusing to bomb assigned targets. Actual true humanitarian reasons? Or just a reaction to US 'unilateralism'? Either way - it shows a reason why we might decide to be 'unilateral' on this - because they can't be trusted militarily. They gripe about not being included, then don't do what they're needed to do. When a military objective is designated for bombing, it isn't up to THEM to decide whether the target is a valid one or not.

At this point, maybe they should just go home and talk about how hopelessly naive and barbaric we are.

Until the next time we're needed to pull their asses out of the fire, at which point we'll become their best friends. Again.


Saturday, March 9
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?

You are Gigantor!

Born in 1963, You are possibly the original colossal death robot, being one of the patriarchs of the current crop, and definitely an advocate of old-skool enemy-bashing. Why use a clumsy particle weapon when you can create supernovas just by flexing your arms? Your one minor weakness is that you are entirely dominated by some kid with a remote contol - still, don't let it get you down. You can sink a nuclear submarine with jazz music.

Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?

I should never have let Aaron get the remote.

CHICAGO — Where's the beef? It's in the burger and the fries at McDonald's, vegetarians claim. The fast-food chain is reportedly going to dish out more than greasy grub to settle lawsuits filed by vegetarians who accused McDonald’s of concealing the use of beef flavoring in its french fries.

According to a published report, more than $12 million will be paid to the vigilant veggies. The Chicago Tribune, citing a confidential draft of the proposed settlement, reported Thursday that McDonald's will pay $10 million to charities that support vegetarianism and $2.4 million to plaintiffs' attorneys. The chain would also publicly apologize and form a board to advise the company about vegetarian dietary issues.

McDonald's was first sued over the fries in Seattle last year by three vegetarians, including two Hindus, who don't eat meat for religious reasons. Lawsuits were subsequently filed in Illinois, California, New Jersey and Texas.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of any vegetarian who ate McDonald's fries after 1990. That was the year the company announced its restaurants would no longer use beef fat to cook fries and that only pure vegetable oil would be used. But McDonald's continued to add a small amount of beef tallow to its fries for flavoring.
Hindus. Vegetarians. McDonalds.

You get the feeling there's one thing that doesn't fit in there? Let's see. Hindus don't eat beef. Vegetarians don't eat meat. McDonalds serves meat, including beef. It's not like they trick people in with promises of non-meat Big Macs, or chicken double cheeseburgers...



Friday, March 8 - Woman arrested after hit-run victim allegedly left to die - March 8, 2002
Police said Chante J. Mallard, 25, has admitted hitting Gregory Biggs last October and then going home instead of getting help.

Mallard was arrested Wednesday night and was released after posting bail. She faces five years to life in prison if convicted.

Mallard, a nursing assistant, told police she was afraid to call for help because she had been drinking and using the drug ecstasy before the crash.

Police said Biggs pleaded for help before he died.

"She basically drove to her house, parked the car with him still inside of it, still alive, asking for help in the garage, shut the garage door and she basically goes and checks on him for the next two or three days," said Fort Worth police Lt. David Burgess.
The defense is painting this woman as the victim - "Mallard's attorney, Mike Heiskell, said she is "not the animal or monster the police are portraying her to be. Not this cold inhumane person that we've heard about."

Hey, she TOLD him she was sorry - what more could she reasonably be expected to do?

5 years to life? No. I think this one deserves the death penalty. Even if she did tell him she was sorry.


Thursday, March 7
War is Wrong

I knew war was terribly wrong when I saw pictures of children like myself desperately attempting to flee the flames of bombed German cities in newspapers and on the newsreels during World War II. As an eight year old, I identified with the children of war-torn Europe and worried and wondered why they were being killed when everyone on the home front was waving flags and hyping the wonderful war effort against the evil axis powers. I was sure that Hitler and the Nazis were evil but I wondered what the dying children had to do with it. Now, as a sixty-five year old who looks into the beautiful eyes of my toddling granddaughters and reads and sees accounts of children their age being killed in Afghanistan, the West Bank and Iraq, by weapons I pay for with my tax dollars, I am absolutely certain that war itself is human-kind's ultimate evil.
And because the US is winning the war which the Al Quaeda started, we are evil.

What strikes me as bizzare about this guy is he has a difficult time equating cause and effect. He was sure Hitler and the Nazis were evil, but he can't see that it was their actions that caused the children in those countries to die. He knows it's wrong to kill children (and I firmly agree with him there - killing noncombatants is against the laws of war and all that) but he sees nothing wrong (apparently) in the Al Quaeda flying jets into the WTC. (Again, the laws of war apply - it wasn't a legitimate military target, and there were noncombatants in the target area.)

Our European allies have criticized our spending great amounts on military might and actions while investing little in economic aid for poor nations that might alleviate the causes of the hatred behind the September 11 attacks. European leaders are also skeptical of our go-it-alone threats against Iraq and the other "axis-of-evil" countries and our leave-it-alone policy toward the ever-escalating violence and killing in the Middle East. The depth of resentment toward the United States in 9 Islamic countries was revealed in a Gallup poll in which only 11% of the people liked President Bush and 58% disliked him, and only 9% thought the U.S. action in Afghanistan is morally justifiable and 77% thought it was not.
So? How much money did Bin Laden shell out for the financing for the attacks? How much good could that money have done for Afghanistan in microcap loans?
With the Bush administration unwilling to take the necessary initiatives for peace that only the U. S. can make, the tit-for-tat, retaliatory killing of innocent people is spinning out-of-control in the incendiary Middle East. As more men, women, and children and the unborn are killed each day, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "The president continues to think that it's very hard to have peace negotiated in an atmosphere of daily killings and violence."
Problem is - we can't stop it. Only the two opposing sides can, and they're going to fight until they're ready to talk. Interfering will make the fight last longer. If the Palestinians get the idea that suicide bombings aren't going to do any good, then there's a chance for peace. As it is, all they're doing is removing a significant portion of young men from their population.
On the deadliest day yet for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with at least eight killed and over forty wounded , U.S. commanding General Tommy Franks made a Freudian slip as he offered prayers for the families of those killed "in our ongoing operations in Vietnam." The Afghani fighters have a long tradition of being dangerous, deadly and resilient foes. The Soviets were able to take over the cities of Afghanistan very easily with the help of some internal friends but were chopped up by guerilla tactics of Afghani fighters who ambushed them from the crevices and caves in the mountains. As the killing news kilters out-of-control how many innocent people will die before we realize that war is wrong?
We know war is wrong.

But there's times when the alternative is worse. Imagine your little granddaughters raped and killed. Imagine your house destroyed. Your city burned. You are not the proper religion - you must die. There is NO compromise possible - their religious teachings have told them that from the time they were old enough to walk.

That's what you're fighting. Correction - what WE are fighting, because you've divorced yourself from the fight - figuring your peaceful posturing will protect you. And it will. Of course it will. After all, you're peaceful. You're enlightened. You know war is wrong. You're a non-combatant.

Just like the folks in the WTC were.