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...
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.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.
news.com.au - 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.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.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
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.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
CNN.com - Sci-Tech
Evolution in action. Darwin was right...
CNN.com - 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.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
...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?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.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
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.
(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.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
CNN.com - 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.So.
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 DEMOCRAT'S "SECRET PLAN" FOR AMERICANeil 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
And I wonder why we get the junk mail we do.
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.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.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
CNN.com - 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."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.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.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.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 commentsNow 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
news.telegraph.co.uk - 15 girls die as zealots 'drive them into blaze'
15 girls die as zealots 'drive them into blaze'Okay...
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.In other words, they're mad because they can't pass the pork? Figures...
A Life Revealed @ nationalgeographic.com
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 spaceshipZHUKOVSKY, 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.
I followed links one day, and found this off of MetaFilter. It's... unusual.
Can There Be a Decent Left?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 SaddamThe 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 (washingtonpost.com)
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.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, GraphiteThat'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.Enjoy.
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 BushInequitably 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...
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.
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,Found this over at www.sgtstryker.com 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
CNN.com - 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?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?
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":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.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?
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.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
CNN.com - 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.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
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.