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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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Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Tuesday, April 30
I'm not a relativist: Given proper conditions and encouragement, enlightened self-interest would prevail among the Palestinians. I'll bet thousands of Palestinian mothers and even fathers are secretly cursing the ideology that turns their children into suicide-murderers. They want to do business, they want to negotiate, they want to live in peace. But can they even really phrase these wishes in their own mind? The education Palestinians receive is more than enough to suppress the civilizing impulse, or to recognize civilization as civilization, or to recognize the basic needs as basic needs. As of now, "the basic needs" means something to the average Palestinian which we can hardly comprehend.

Before we can start reasoning with the Palestinians, their culture must change. Palestinian and Israeli concepts of "basic human needs" have to become concomitant. Not only must Palestinians get a liberal education, but Israelis have to understand the human world does not move on rational lines. People do not always act for their own benefit -- sometimes they will die to hurt others. A better understanding of human nature would arm Israel for the conflict with Arab nationalism, Islam, and nationalistic Islam. (It would improve Israeli public discourse, too.)
And it might just give us a clue how to change the course that the more militant folks in Islam are heading toward - a course that will, if not stopped, break them on the shoals of history.


Ever done any RPG? (And I don't mean grenades, either.)

If you have, you'll appreciate "Progress Quest". There's a 300k download, but it's worth the wait.

Yes, you CAN have a life outside of RPGs... while still playing 24 hours a day.



The stike is over - the unions are back to work. Especially the janitors.

The bathrooms are getting their usual unkempt look again. The trash cans (after two days) are starting to get very full.

Sigh. Good thing we gots them union janitors, ain't it? Without them, we might have to hire someone who would actually keep the place CLEAN.

(Can't have that...)


Monday, April 29
From the U.S.S. Clueless

As part of a set of 4 posts, the Captain writes:
The great strength of Western (especially American) culture is that it is particularly good at adopting the best it sees from competing systems and improving itself in that way. Because of that it has gotten progressively stronger and more widespread.

The great weakness of extremist Arab Muslim culture is that it does not do so. It is the nature of its meme that it rejects any change. But because of that, it is becoming progressively less competitive. It's now backed into a corner: it can fight or die.

So it is fighting back, and the opening round of the resulting war was the September 11 attack on the US. Our culture, on the other hand, didn't feel the need to actively seek out a physical conflict with theirs, but that's because our cultural meme wasn't threatened by theirs.

But theirs was threatened by ours. The creep of Western ideas into the Arab nations had become a flood. Western clothes, western music, and in particular western ideas had begun to threaten the foundation of the Islamic ideal. The goal of the extremists is to expunge all traces of western culture and western politics from the Islamic nations. (That's why they have committees "for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice". Their job is keeping everyone pure by eliminating all outside cultural influences.)

But as long as a pool of foreign ideas exists elsewhere, there will always be more chance of infection. In the long run they'll lose, because their cultural meme is not really competitive. Purifying their own cultures is a defense measure and is doomed to failure.

The only solution is to destroy the infection at its source. That means kill; that means us. You and I. Americans and Europeans and everyone else in the world who believes in the principles of individual freedom and secular government and diversity. (And blue-jeans and rock-and-roll.)
A very well-reasoned simile comparing the current battle'o'memes twixt Western and IslamoArabic cultures to Lamarkian evolution. This is one of the reasons I read this blog - because he's always coming up with new and interesting ways of looking at things. I've been aware of the meme concept for a number of years, and saw (but did not connect up) how the two memes are battling it out in an evolutionary struggle.

Boy, ain't it fun watching evolution up-close and personal?

Oh, one other thing to think about re evolution, whether of memes or biological organisms: Evolution doesn't care one whit about individuals. It goes for the long term. We may well not see the end of this war. Our children may not see it.

But we'll win. We may have to redefine winning - but we'll win.


Flights from reality - Flying with Banned Items
Yes, there should still be a list of banned items, but the ban should stop at this bright line: The item is not only potentially dangerous but also dangerous to more than one person at a time and obviously so. Even though a pair of glasses can be used to perforate someone’s trachea, a crowd of passengers would take some convincing of this, and even if a would-be hijacker used them this way on one person, he couldn’t then hold off a planeload of people with them. On this approach, automatic weapons would still be out, but tweezers would be back in.
The lack of sense that the screeners are showing is simply awesome. Tweezers are banned, knitting needles are allowed. So are (or were) baseball bats and hockey sticks.

But they're worried about tweezers. Box cutters I could see. Tweezers? Worry more about the pen and pencil I carry, or my PDA...


Cardinal criticized for legal filing
In his first legal response to charges that the Rev. Paul Shanley began molesting a boy when he was 6 years old, Law said: “The negligence of the Plaintiffs contributed to cause the injury or damage.”
In a six-page response to the lawsuit, an attorney for Law said any damages against Law “should be reduced in proportion to the said negligence of the plaintiffs.”
The Fords’ lawyer, Roderick MacLeish, said he found the cardinal’s claim “appalling.”
“There is no set of circumstances under which a 6-year-old child could be blamed for something like this,” MacLeish told The Boston Globe on Monday.
The Catholic Church is losing ground on this one. Arguing that a child is responsible (even in part) for his own abuse is perverse, at the least. Of course, it fits in with contemporary common philosophy - in that there's never any one person 'responsible' for a crime. The priest may have been there, but it's the boy's fault. Or the family's fault.

But not his. Oh, no - not his.


And so another week starts. The rain last night ( .15 inches, which we needed) has soaked the deck, so the new wood won't get stained. Instead, I'll be slopping on stain on the vertical surfaces, using an ancient paint mitt (that, thanks to the formerly mentioned bannister rails, is rapidly resembling wood-filled fabric) and trying not to get too much on my glasses.

And now, to work. The strikes over, and the foolishness starts again. The folks at Local 709 struck against Lockheed, the big sticking point was guaranteed jobs and no outsourcing of manufacturing. Well, the new contract says they'll have the chance to talk to management about outsourcing, and the jobs still aren't guaranteed. They didn't win much for being on strike 49 days, except about 7 weeks of lost pay... which won't be made up by the union. (Union officials didn't miss a paycheck, of course.) IMHO, the union didn't do 'em a favor by encouraging the strike.


Sunday, April 28
To all those dropping in from DailyPundit.Com - Welcome! And to William Quick: Thank you for mentioning me - I appreciate it greatly!

Been a busy day here doing household chores - swapping out a couple of bannister rails off the deck that were badly weathered splinter-traps waiting for unwary hands to descend on them, installing an 80 gb drive in Big Blue (No, not an IBM system, but translucent blue sides and front panel I installed flashing LED panels behind) putting Linux on it (The Redmond distribution from Lycoris - which went on so smooooothly I don't even believe it's Linux, except for the better video - and the fact that neither browser they include allows easy creation of links in the Blogger window) and sadly, I'm going to have to shut down because we're having thunderstorms rage through and the Boo will be waking soon. (He's 4. He's brave. But thunderstorms can make you not brave, he says.)

So welcome, and good night! (Good heavens. 38 visitors in one day. Talk about a record!)

J. : No Female Flight Control for Saudi Prince?
April 26 — When Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah met with President Bush this week to discuss the violence in the Middle East, someone asked air traffic controllers to keep female flight controllers from handling his plane.

The request, officials from the National Air Traffic Controller's Union said, was not made formally by the U.S. State Department or the Saudi government, but it came to the airport manager at Texas State Technical College Airport in Abilene, where Bush and others land when they stay at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
You know, the more we see of those Saudi folk, the less attractive they look. If we come up with alternative energy sources that cut off our need for their oil, they're screwed.

(They may be anyway. Unrest is increasing - and they can only attempt to foist it off on the US for so long before some bright bunch over there realizes that the US doesn't have a thing to do with the internal working of Saudia Arabia.)

Islamic Arabia is an honor-shame culture. In such cultures, the primary concern is what others believe about you. If others believe you are inferior, then you are humiliated and shamed, and you will hate not only those who perceive you in such a shameful way, but also the source of that perception.

This is the primary reason why the Israeli-Arab "problem" is insoluble at this point. Israel, by its very existence, is a humiliation to its neighbors, who, in all their hundreds of millions, lack the power to conquer a tiny state with seven million citizens. Worse, the quality of Israeli existence is a humiliation: Surrounded, constantly threatened with attack, vilified, dependent ultimately on the goodwill of the United States for survival, and yet Israel, at least in comparison to any other country in the Arab world, thrives. Its people live in freedom. It is incredibly productive. It is the only nation in the middle east to make the desert flower wholesale. Everything it accomplishes, every new height to which it rises, is a living rebuke to Arabia, which has done none of these things.
It's a simple explanation - and thus may not be excessivly accurate. But worth reading - and it certainly opens up some new perspectives that are uncomfortable.

We may have to trash Islam to save it from itself.


Saturday, April 27
Welcome to - Products

80GB, 5400RPM, Internal, Ultra ATA/100 Hard Drive

Manufacturer: Maxtor
$99 for an 80 gb drive. How can you pass that up?

At one time (and I realize how this dates me) - 10 MEGAbytes went for close to $3000. $300 a meg. Around '89, it was down to only about $10 a megabyte. Around '91, it hit the dollar a megabyte range, and I was amazed.

But progress keeps progressing... (you know, there seems something rather redundant about that statement...) and before you knew it (around '96, IIRC) the cost per megabyte was 10 cents.

I bought a 20 GB drive last year, cost around $200. Or, right at the penny a megabyte mark. Unless I've got my math wrong (which is a distinct possibility) $99 for an 80 GB drive works out to about 7 megabytes per penny.

And 800 Mhz processors are going for $25 at Okay - now the question I've got is - where's the limiting point? Size? Intel is already fabricating processors with .13 micron leads, and they've got some leads on even smaller stuff. Capacity? OS limitations?

Amazing times we live in. Simply amazing...


The Bill of Intellectual Rights
The following is a list of some intellectual rights you should demand:
— You have the right to not care. Perhaps anorexia in America is being blamed on Calista Flockhart for the 100th time. If the topic is boring, you have the right to state, "I don't want to talk about this further."

— You have the right to not understand something without being made to feel stupid. A feminist may be excoriating white male culture for the lack of women in Congress. You have the right to say: "I don't understand. Since more women vote than men, how can men be blamed for election results?"

— You have the right to be uninformed. You may know nothing about the trafficking of girls into prostitution in East Asia. Don't apologize. Simply state: "I am not familiar with that. Why don't you explain it to me?"

— You have the right to make an error. Perhaps in arguing against affirmative action, you misstate a statistic. Committing honest errors is inevitable and you have the right to be fallible without having your integrity questioned. Admit "I'm clearly mistaken on that point," then move on.

— You have the right to change your mind. When the Taliban required women to wear burquas, you may have railed against the garment: Now that burquas are optional, you may defend the prerogative of Afghan women to dress as they wish. There is no shame in changing your mind. Indeed, it can be a sign of intellectual honesty.
Perhaps an idea who's time has come...


Friday, April 26
Site Meter - Counter and Statistics Tracker
WOW! 18 visitors yesterday! Including one from YALE!

Thank yew, thank yew all vurra much...

Y'all come back sometime, y'hear?

J. Arts & Entertainment | One ring to rule them all
Call it wedding porn. The popular subset of commercial fiction features romance novels about neutered, neurotic professional girls. Instead of ripped bodices and heaving breasts, wedding porn features broken engagements, squirrelly commitment-phobic men and superembarrassing quarrels in really nice restaurants. Following in the footsteps of "Bridget Jones's Diary" -- which transcended the mediocrity of the genre through originality of voice, over-the-top parody and a plot gently lifted from legendary wedding pornographer Jane Austen -- these books throw together a lovably neurotic but ultimately bland female lead, a straight-talkin' "you go girl!" female sidekick, a devilishly handsome, supersmooth "bad for me!" boy, and place them all in a seemingly endless procession of unfathomably zany situations, until our heroine finally finds that wonderful, pure-hearted, dull at first but ultimately supernice fella who we can immediately picture gracefully maneuvering a minivan through the parking lot of Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Wedding p0rn. What a concept.


TLC Singer Killed in Car Crash (
ATLANTA – Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of the top selling female trio TLC was killed in a car crash in Honduras, her record company confirmed early Friday.

Lopes, 31, was in Honduras for a vacation, Arista Records senior vice president Laura Swanson told The Associated Press. Lopes was reportedly among seven people in the car and the only fatality.

"No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss," said Arista president L.A. Reid, who helped shape the career of the popular R&B group.
Hmmm. No words can express my feelings either. A pity for her family and friends (and fans) but for the rest of us? Another accident victim. Probably not wearing her seat belt.

Oh, wait - wasn't she the fiancee who torched Andre Risen's house in '94? Would you believe it was only last year they finally called off the engagement? Personally, I think I would have called it off after she torched my house - but perhaps she had redeeming qualities.

Goes to show, though. Torch someone's house, die in an accident. Karma will get ya in the long run.


Thursday, April 25
Egypt ready to wage war on Israel ... for $US100 billion -
Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid said his country would go to war with Israel if Arab countries stumped up $US100 billion ($A186.32 billion) to pay for the confrontation, in an interview published yesterday.
"If you want to undertake an action and be ready to face up to challenges, you need at least $100 billion," he told the Abu Dhabi Government's Al-Ittihad newspaper when asked why Egypt had taken no measures against Israel's military offensive against the Palestinians.
So - what's the price of peace in the ME? At least in Egypt's case, they've made their price known up-front.


Wednesday, April 24

Now, this is serious. Last week, we got the Star Trek issue TV Guide. On the FRONT of it, they stated there were 35 separate collectors covers. This week it's Spider-Man - with 5 covers. Or, in total, at 1.99 each (approx) - you'll be spending close to $80 to get the complete set of the two covers.

Doesn't this strike you as a bit... odd? That TV Guide is putting out collectable covers?

It's odd. Not as odd as the folks who buy them, but odd nonetheless.

And I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. Goodnight, all. (all two or three of you...)


Hmmm. Should I put up a tip jar? All the really sucessful bloggers have tip jars. I get 5-6 hits a day. Maybe putting in a tip jar will improve throughput?

Probably not.

J. : Schoolboy Suicide Attacks Dismay Palestinians
SHEIKH RUDWAN, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - School over for the day, the three boys told their unsuspecting parents they were off to see friends.

Hours later, their bullet-riddled bodies were lying in the dirt outside a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops had shot them before they could reach their target.
Suicide notes left by the 14-year-old classmates showed they knew the venture would end in their deaths.

The Israeli army said the boys, named by relatives as Youssef Zaqout, Anwar Hamdouna and Ismail Abu Nadi, had been carrying home-made pipe bombs, an axe and knives.
Futile or heroic, the boys' gesture of resistance to occupation has deeply disturbed some community leaders who fear other youngsters might copy their quest for "martyrdom."
But that's what they wanted, wasn't it? To raise a generation that was so un-inclined to self preservation that they'd kill themselves if they could destroy an enemy? Could it be they're starting to realize that such a path will lead to extinction of their race? And just maybe they'll figure out it'd be easier to LIVE with Israel instead of trying to destroy them?

Unlikely. But you can always hope - right?


What Kind of Teen Are/Were You? I was an Outsider

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?
quiz, by Angel.
And, oddly enough, I was. Go figure.

Travelling Shoes
As an example of this phenomenon, I got out of the Army in 1988 and, after a two-year detour, I managed to get into college in 1990, determined to use my VA benefits to pay the freight for a BA. At the state university I attended in northern California there was an entire office of veterans affairs right on campus, one with a well-trained and helpful full-time staff. When I graduated in December of 1992, and moved on the next year to do an MA at the College of William and Mary, a step up academically, the fully-staffed office of veterans affairs became a single admissions officer who worked on veterans affairs only part of the time. In 1995, when I moved to Yale to do a PhD, there was no hint of a veterans affairs officer to be seen, much less an entire office with staff. Luckily, I didn't need one, since I'd long since used up my benefits.

It's easy enough to see that as I moved up the social and intellectual ladder, from state university, to public ivy, to real ivy, the number of veterans decreased, something reflected in the withering away of the office of veterans affairs at each new stop. But the kicker to the story is that nearly two years after I arrived at Yale, a staffer in the administration office finally sent around a group e-mail requesting information of all of the military veterans enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. There were nine names on the list. So out of nearly 10,000 undergraduate, graduate, business, medical, divinity, and law students there were nine people with military service; less than one-tenth of one percent.
Interesting story from a blogger - I think I'm going to link to this guy. It's not too surprising, really, that there's not much understanding of the military these days. The college crowd in Berkely and Yale see the military as full of knuckle-draggers who can barely grunt. The folks in the military, on the other hand, look at the demonstrations for 'peace' and Pro-Palestinian movements and just kind of shake their heads. It's a free country - and that includes the freedom to be stupid, shallow, and self-destructive.


Tuesday, April 23
Blackmask Online: Science Fiction/19th Century/Jules Verne - I've been somewhat looking for his fiction - and found it here in a format that can be downloaded on my Handspring.

The Internet. Ain't it great?


Clueless Comments: The Mind of a Fanatic
The alleged "20th hijacker" of September 11, Zacharias Moussaoui, was in court today, where he fired his court-appointed defense lawyers because they were not Muslims. The judge warned him that there are major and complex legal issues in this capital case, and he should think long and hard before representing himself. The Washington Post reports Moussaoui's reaction:

"But Moussaoui seemed not to care, going on at length about his belief that large parts of the world, including Spain, Kashmir and Chechnya, should be returned to Muslim rule. 'I pray for the destruction of the Jewish people and state and the liberation of Palestine. . . . I pray for the return of the Islamic emirates of Afghanistan and the destruction of the United States,' he said."

So here is a young man facing a death sentence who, just like bin Laden, wants to argue about what happened in Andalusia (Islamic Spain) 500 years ago, not to mention the time he is spending thinking about finishing what Hitler started with the Jews.

This fellow is not some ignorant Madrassah graduate repeating by rote what he heard from a toothless imam in Peshawar. He has a Master's Degree. Can anyone explain to me what the hell is going on here?
And folks try. The general consensus on this board seems to be that the Arabic Muslims are upset because Western society has surpassed them economically and technically, and this is an almost intolerable insult. So they fall back on 'moral' authority, and make it an almost overwhelming crusade (word intentionally chosen) to reclaim the world for Islam.

And not a moderate Islam, by any stretch of the imagination. All those nominally unaligned folk who cheer on any country that's against the US because the US needs to be taken down a notch or two better consider what would happen to THEIR lifestyles if the much more restrictive Islamic laws were scrupulously followed. First - convert to Islam or die...

Your mileage may vary - but inside of oh, five years at most, I believe it's going to be clear we're in another ideological war. It's going to be the West vs. Fundamentalist Islam.

I know who I'll be rooting for.


Thursday, April 18
A Suicidal Psychology - or would it be pathology?

by Elizabeth Rubin

"But Abu Samir's view seems hopelessly outdated. The lure of dying in an attack rather than defenseless at home has an empowering appeal to many Palestinian adolescents, who've been politicized since the day they were born. For children and teenagers suffering the normal psychological problems of adolescence, martyrdom is also an instant way to gain love and respect.

One teacher told me about her friend's son, a little boy who had begged his father to let him become a suicide bomber. When his father asked why, the boy said, "Nobody loves me or pays attention to me. If I die a martyr, I'll have my picture all over the walls, and everyone will know me and love me." Indeed, all day long, AL MANAR, the TV network of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, broadcasts graphic montages from the intifada throughout the West Bank, accompanied by inspirational martial and religious music.

And every house is adorned with hagiographic posters and photographs of those killed in the uprising. "Up until now we haven't had a martyr below the age of seventeen," said Yahia Abdullaziz Dahajla, an English teacher in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. "But already in the fourth grade you have kids who are Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine."
You train the children from babyhood to be terrorists. You send them against the enemy - they blow themselves up - and you praise their actions. You destroy your future, to serve today's hatred. Is that what will build a secure future for the Palestinian people?

It could be, I suppose, looked on as the utmost in Darwinian selection - if some of the children are gullible enough to believe adults exhorting them to kill themselves, then perhaps it will benefit the Palestinians in the long run by weeding out that gullibility. Then again - over a long enough time frame for that to work, the problem will likely cure itself... with the total destruction of one side or the other, long before genetic selection would be able to work it's magic.


You like Goldfish, don't you?

You can find all the words to their jingles here.



Wednesday, April 17
And for those with children with cystic fibrosis...

Protein turns bugs into superbugs
Harvard University scientists have homed in on a protein that regulates the transformation of normally innocuous microbes into a stubborn bacterial slime in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Manipulating the protein may offer a novel way of treating drug-resistant infections, they report.
Of course, if you're keeping up on treatments, you probably already know about this one.


For those with kids - something else to worry about...

Strep superbug spreads among kids
For the first time, doctors have documented a large-scale U.S. outbreak of antibiotic-resistant strep throat — an episode involving at least 46 Pittsburgh schoolchildren.
J. - First-time player is Big Game winner - April 17, 2002
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A young Georgia woman who is one of three winners of an estimated $331 million, multistate Big Game jackpot, feels "wonderful," and said Wednesday it was the first time she had played the lottery.
And I'll bet it'll be her last!

Sorry I didn't win, folks. If I had, I'd be trying to find out the locations of...

198.26.119.?? at DISA.MIL,

216.175.76.?? at, and

158.111.192.?? - no domain given.

Pretty slow day. Of course, it's still early yet. (almost 2200 here on the East Coast....)

Wonder who you might be? If you're using NT, Win 98, Win2k or XP, you can use either the IPCONFIG.EXE utility in a dos window, or run WINIPCFG from Start/Run. Go down through your network adapters (if you're using a dialup, there's liable to be several) and one of them should have an IP address in it.

Well, there's always next time, like I said.


Marines. In Afghanistan. Camo pattern.

Gotta love 'em...


Tuesday, April 16
Okay - I'm back. Time for some whimsy.

Got my ticket yesterday for the Big Game, and I'll tell you what - If I win the Big Game, I'll send everyone who views this site in the next 24 hours (which will start at 2259.59 EDT, 16 April 2002 and will run to 2359.59 on 17 April 2002) the magnificent sum of $10,000.

Multiple page views don't count. Sorry!

So! The AOL member with IP address 64.12.107.XX - the person from "Summit-Inc.Com" at 63.103.193.XX - the Mindspring user at 66.32.85.XX, the viewer at 208.13.57.XX - the Linux user at AT&T in the Central Time Zone at 12.248.185.XX - the IE user at 158.111.192.XX - thanks for visiting - and tell your friends! - Long odds and long lines greet players in $325 million jackpot - April 16, 2002
Astronomically high odds against winning weren't stopping people from waiting in long lines to snap up tickets for Tuesday's $325 million multi-state Big Game lottery drawing.
At a tiny newsstand inside Atlanta's Omni Hotel, the possibility of becoming a multimillionaire found lottery players penciling in lucky numbers as they snaked their way through a line.
You see - the way I figure it, if I promise out the money I'll probably win. Heck, knowing the Fickle Finger of Fate the way I do, there will probably be close to 32000 visitors by the time I find out I won the Big Game. And you'll all pile a class-action suit on my rear end if I don't pass over the money.

So, let me modify the original plan.

If I win, (and I think the chances of that are about the same as genetically modified flying pigs suddenly taking a liking to the Middle East and flocking there) after taxes I'm going to tithe our Church. Then, I'm going to pass $1 million each to my parents and brother, and reserve a million each for Sue's relatives.

Then $5 million for Aaron, and reserve $10 million for Sue and myself.

The rest?

I've got some good friends who could use some dough. So I'd probably start up a corporation, a little hole-in-the-wall company who's only purpose would be to manage approximately 20 interest-bearing accounts, with about $1 million in each of them. I'd consult a good lawyer and a good accountant, find all the dodges I could that were legal, and 'hire' my friends (who might want to be hired, of course) for $10,000 a year, plus all expenses to $140,000 a year - which would be paid out of the accounts. Benefits? Full medical, dental, optical, whatever. Company vehicles, even. (No company airplanes, sorry! Charter, yes. Commercial - if you want to.) Whatever they want to put on the expense card, they can. But when they hit the $140,000 limit, then they'd have to wait till the next fiscal year for more goodies. Want to buy a million dollar house? Take out a ten-year mortgage...

At the end of 10 years employment, they would have total access to the account to do what they pleased with what was left in their individual account.

What would they have to do, as my employees?

Whatever they wanted, as long as I know where to send the W-2 forms each year. Go to school. Quit work. Invest the money. Start their own businesses. Keep their day jobs. Travel to Tibet. Grow their families. Go hog-wild and blow up their marriages. Move to Alaska, or Antarctica or Australia. The only requirement I would put on them would be a moderately detailed daily weblog of their activities. Couples would count as two employees, of course.

As for the probable 8 people that will visit this blog in the next 24 hours - if you aren't someone I know, $10 k isn't a bad reward for viewing a web page, is it?

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

(Of course, they've already had the drawing. I won't look at the ticket till tomorrow.)

Goodnight! Time to take the allergy medication and go to bed...



The winning numbers (Drum roll, please) * * * * * * * 07,10,25,26,27 - and the Big$$ ball of 23.

I matched one number - 27. That doesn't even get a dollar back...

Oh, well. So much for THAT idea. Maybe next time!

LEWISVILLE, Texas — Authorities found the body of a 6-year-old boy buried in a creekbed behind his suburban Dallas home Tuesday and said his 10-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister had confessed to killing him.

Police say the girl led them to the shallow grave of Jackson Carr about six hours after he was reported missing Monday evening. Jackson's brother told their parents the boy disappeared after a game of hide-and-seek, sparking a search by police and neighbors.
Words fail. Are we in Heinlein's Crazy Time? You see fathers wrapping their daughters with dynamite. You see kids killing kids.

AAAAGH! (Tears hair out) What is the matter with people today! Have we reached some psychic point where the unthinkable is mandatory? Have we crossed over into some psychotic Twighlight Zone episode? Is Rod Sterling going to start narrating our lives soon?

Pardon me. I'm going to go watch my son sleep for a while.


Monday, April 15
Is this child abuse?

Today was wonderful. I got home after a long day - and Aaron was playing in the back yard. He saw me, dropped what he was doing. "DADDY!" he called. And I came down the steps to the back yard - he ran up to me and gave me a big hug, then looked up at me and said "I love you!" I picked him up, hugged him long and hard, and went to play with him. It was a wonderful evening....

The love of a 4-year old. To me it's the most wonderful, touching thing on this earth.

And then I see what I've linked above. I look, and I'm disgusted. To take that child's love, strap...

No. Look for yourself. And think - could you, WOULD you, encourage a child to do something like this? And what do you think of someone who would?


Sunday, April 14
UNICORN JELLY by Jennifer Diane Reitz
At the simple level, Unicorn Jelly is the story of how a very few outcast, insignificant people... including two young girls, a native Jelly person, and a mutant slime that believes it is a unicorn, manage to save their entire universe simply by having lived. The main characters of Unicorn Jelly are all eccentrics..they don't fit in, they are different, they do not conform...and this fact causes a chain of events that ultimately transform the entire way of life in the cosmos they live in. Unicorn Jelly is the story of how simply being yourself, being an individual, can change the world...even if you do nothing else to try to change things.
I've not been interested in a lot of manga comics, there seemed to be a lot of taken for granted subtext in them that I didn't have a clue about and my interest usually waned quickly.

This one, I wandered into one day through a link chain I don't remember. I went back a bit and read forward, then went back to the beginning and read it all the way through. It was a couple of hours well spent...

It's an entertaining story on a lot of levels. If you read this blog, you'd probably like it.


Metafilter | Comments on 16347 - Why Europeans And Arabs Hate America And Israel
The founders in the US - who coined that brilliant phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." - noticed something significant and, I believe, universal. They came from places where one was either the "subject" of a monachy, or the "servent" of a church. What they said was this: That before one is the subject or servent of any person or institution, one is the master of oneself. Very few ideas on earth are this powerful, and resonate this deeply and universally.

And very few are more dangerous if you are someone who believes you know better than people how people ought to live. It is not just rulers and academics ... even many of the self-professed "populists" on this list commonly speak in very derogatory and dismissive terms about "the masses"... about their ignorance, their crude tastes, and alledgedly slavish comformance to popular culture.

For those that fancy themselves shepards, nothing is more lethal, and nothing needs to be fought more continuously, than the spread of the idea throughout the flock that you are superfluous.
You find the oddest things on

J. - This war tells us more about Europe than the Middle East
Meanwhile, what have we learned from this last extraordinary month? Not much about the Middle East, but quite a lot about Europe. What happens when Palestinian civilians strap on plastic explosives and head for Israeli pizza parlours? Europe says Israeli checkpoints for Palestinians are "humiliating". Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances permit themselves to be used as transportation for bombs and explosives - and Europe attacks Israel for refusing them free movement.

Documents are found authorising Palestinian Authority funding for a suicide bombing on a young girl's bar mitzvah, signed by Arafat himself - and members of the Nobel committee publicly call for taking back the 1994 Peace Prize, from Shimon Peres. Synagogues are firebombed in France, Belgium and Finland - and the EU deplores the wanton destruction of property, in Ramallah.
Hey, did you hear this one?

Three Jewish students approached a pro-Palestinian 'checkpoint' on the Berkley campus.
The pro-Palestinian students gave them a bit of a hassle, and passed them on.

As the students started to leave, one turned back. "Hey, guys! You're supposed to be Israeli soldiers, right?" "Right!"

The student took out a squeeze bottle of ketchup and doused the pro-Palestinian students.

"Boom! You just passed some Palestinian suicide bombers!"

Of course, it didn't happen quite that way- or at least, I haven't heard of it - but it should have.


Yahoo! News - Saudi ambassador to Britain glorifies suicide bombers in poem published in Arabic daily

CAIRO, Egypt - The Saudi ambassador to Britain, a renowned poet, praised Palestinian suicide bombers and criticized the United States in a poem published Saturday in a pan-Arab daily.

"May God be the witness that you are martyrs ... You died to honor God's word. (You) committed suicide? We committed suicide by living like the dead," Ghazi Algosaibi wrote in "The Martyrs," a short poem published on the front-page of the London-based daily al-Hayat.

In an apparent reference to Arab leaders looking to the United States for help in ending Israeli-Palestinian violence, Algosaibi, who has served as ambassador in London for more than a decade, wrote: "We complained to the idols of a White House whose heart is filled with darkness."
And promoting suicide bombers is, somehow, embracing the light? (Well, there'd be a bit when the C-4 went off, I guess...)

And they're starting to wonder - "Why do they hate us?"


Pro-Palestinian march in Amsterdam turns violent
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Pro-Palestinian youths clashed with riot police in the heart of Amsterdam on Saturday after a 10,000-strong demonstration against the Israeli army's offensive in the West Bank turned violent.
Eighteen people were arrested after scuffles between dozens of demonstrators and police at a city centre square thronged with shoppers and tourists. A small group of protesters threw stones and burned an American flag.
Is it the Palestinian culture, or what? Amsterdam, you'd figure, would be fairly tolerant.


Saturday, April 13
Ye Olde Blogge
The problem Utopians have with America and Israel is that we are not Utopias, nor do our cultures do more than mouth a few platitudes towards some far-off someday. Mainly we are, as a whole, not afraid to get our hands dirty with the grubby business of living here on this imperfect earth, which is why we are successful. And to those who want to spout off about all the stuff we "stole" in the past, it's not the fact that you steal or your ancestors steal -- after all, is their any nation on earth who hasn't bloodied its hands with plunder? -- it's what you do with the stuff you stole. Of course, that's not a Utopian thing to say.
Wonderful bit. Well worth reading.


Friday, April 12
Nobel Peace Prize for Afghan Nuclear Scientists Petition
To: Nobel Peace Prize Committee
Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded to Mohammed Jan Naziri and Jora Mohammed Korbani, and other colleagues on the faculty of Kabul University, for efforts risking their own lives in order to prevent terrorist use of nuclear materials in their possession.

In investigative and mitigation efforts of the International Security Assistance Force, led by the British Royal Army, nuclear materials remaining from medical devices and physics experiments were hidden in basements, protected with lead, and documents relating to their existence were destroyed.

The scientists and their colleagues risked exposure to radioactivity by unorthodox methods of moving and storing these materials. They also risked their careers, reputations, and possibly their freedom or their lives by refusing to cooperate with officials from the Taliban government of Afghanistan who sought their cooperation in schemes to attract nuclear weapons scientists to their country on behalf of the terrorist network Al Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden.
Arafat gets a Nobel Peace Prize - but these guys deserve it. Sign the petition, and give them a chance.


Microprocessors R Us...

Not that it's really significant, but I started thinking about how microprocessors have become ubiquitous in our society, and started counting. For purposes of the count, one device is one microprocessor, even if it has more than one in it. (IE AF/FM/CD radio would have two or more - one for the radio, one for the CD player.) This is just a quick count - I've likely missed a few.

Car: 2 (Engine, Digital Radio)
Cell phone: 1
Cell phone Charger: 1 (Yep, it's got a brain. Rather single minded, but it's got one.)
Computer: 1 (Actually 6 or more - CD-Roms & hard drives got 'em, so do floppies, then you got the CPU, sound card, video card, modem, scanner, printer, mouse, keyboard, docking stations for PDAs... Hmmm. I may need to revise the counting system...)
Cable Modem: 1
Telephone: 1 (Unless it's an old rotary-dial model with a stepper switch in it.)
Stereo: 1 (Two, if it has a CD, 3 if you have a remote for it.)
PDA: 1
Beeper: 1
Digital watch: 1 (And quite a few analog watches too, BTW.)
Keychain light: 1 (I've got a Photon Microlight 3 - which has a microprocessor that adjusts the light.)
TV: 1
Alarm Clock: 1 (digital)
Boom box with CD Player: 1 or more
VCR: 1
DVD: 1
MP3 Player: 1
Cable Box: 1
Remotes: 1 per.
Coffee maker: 1 (Got a clock on it? If it's digital, it's got a microprocessor.)
Microwave: 1
Bread Machine: 1
Oven Timer: 1 (Unless you've got an old wind-up or electric clock..)
Aaron's toys: Too numerous to mention
Light Switches: 1 each, if they're dimmable or motion sensing.
Doorbell: 1 (Does it play a tune?)

And that's all I can think of off the top of my head here in the house. Did I miss any? Oh - the garage door opener and it's remotes...

Kind of amazing, to think that there's all these little number-crunchers just poking along in darn near everything electronic these days.

Now - think about an EMP burst.

On second thought -- don't.


Thursday, April 11
Indestructible sandwich unveiled
Using an array of chemicals to seal the meat and inhibit bacterial growth, the scientists already have produced pepperoni and barbecue chicken indestructible sandwiches, which have been given a cautious welcome by soldiers who agreed to try them.
Inspired by their apparent breakthrough, the scientists are now experimenting with pizzas, bagels, burritos and even the staple peanut butter sandwich.
There are no pictures of these sandwiches in the article.

Be glad. Be very glad. (grin)


Security up in the air
But how do random searches contribute to safety? The person who was searched ahead of me at the gate in Seattle was woman in her 70s, with bifocals and a slight stoop. What, exactly, were the odds that she would stand up, steady herself on the back of the seat in front of her, and politely order us, in a sweet old-lady voice, to stay calm? Would we even be able to hear her if she did? At the security checkpoint, I also noticed a pilot being frisked with a wand. Why? If a pilot wants to crash a plane into a building, after all, he scarcely needs the help of a weapon. When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, your odds of finding that needle are not measurably improved by conducting random searches of clumps of straw.
But you can't profile, it's not nice. It makes you wonder - given the necessity to choose between two people, one an aged grandmother and the other a rather semetic looking young man who's sweating and looking nervous, which should the screener choose for a closer inspection? To me, common sense says it's the young man (since all the hijackers on 9/11 were male and under 30, as I recall) of semetic origin (since all the hijackers were Arabic) who is sweating and looking nervous.

But that'd be profiling. And we can't do that.

Crazy, or what?


What Is the Islamic Group? By the staff of the Council on Foreign Relations
What is the Islamic Group and is it linked to al-Qaida?

The Islamic Group is Egypt's largest Islamist militant organization. Its militants seek to overthrow Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom they see as corrupt, impious, and repressive, and replace his government with an Islamist state.
Which in turn will be repressive and corrupt itself - but they'll be pious!

Frankly, there's not a government in that neck of the world that's what I'd call free - except Israel. And the Palestinians, if something absolutely unforseen happened and they were to get a homeland tomorrow, would self-destruct. They've focused all their efforts on hatred and not on anything resembling a government (or economic infrastructure, for that matter) that could survive without the presence of Israel. For all they profess to hate Israel, it's Israel that's keeping them alive, keeping a functioning infrastructure, and keeping them fed.

Or so it looks to me.


Wednesday, April 10
STAR WARS ASCIIMATION - Main Page Okay - one last post.

It's Star Wars. Done in ASCII. You gotta see it to believe it...



Yahoo! News - Jewish school bus attacked with stones in Paris
Jewish school bus attacked with stones in Paris
Wed Apr 10, 4:05 PM ET
PARIS - A school bus carrying Jewish students in Paris was bombarded with stones Wednesday, news reports said, drawing immediate condemnation from the Paris mayor and renewed pleas for religious tolerance.

Synagogues and Jewish schools and cemeteries around the country have been targeted, often with firebombs, in the last two weeks. In the most serious case, a Marseille synagogue was burned to the ground on March 31.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe issued a statement Wednesday saying he was "profoundly shocked by the intolerable aggression against a bus carrying students from a Jewish school" in the north of Paris.
Okay... stoning a school bus. Full of children. Oh, they were Jewish, so I suppose it was justifiable to some of the cretins who did so. It's not to me. It shouldn't be to ANYONE.

Can you imagine the outcry if it had been a bus of French children? Black children? Palestinian children? But CNN and NBC have nothing about it as of now.

I don't like stupidity. I don't like brutality and mindless aggression. And stoning children rates real high up there under all three categories.

In addition, a lot of synagogues in France have been vandalised. International outrage over that? Not much, that I've seen. "Oh, they're firebombing synagogues. What a pity. Someone ought to do something." Alois sips his coffee and takes another drag on his cigarette and turns to the next page in his Paris Match.

Then you see all sorts of outrage over what the Israeli army is doing - when their country has been battered and bombed by the Palestinians (who don't exactly have a sterling record when it comes to living with neighbors of any religion.) and the Palestinians let it be known that only the destruction of Israel will bring peace to the area. (Oh, right. That'll really get Israel to the negotiating table, won't it? Don't think so, Achmed!)

And France thinks our approach to the war is simplistic.

The world is going mad.

And I can't do anything about it, so I'm going to bed. Goodnight.


"Oh, Fred..."

I mentioned a while back that I finally got a Handspring PDA. One thing I'd been wondering about was how fragile the thing might be. I wasn't about to make any experiments, mind you - I was just curious.

I found out when it slipped out of my jacket pocket and clattered into a sink. They're fragile.

The digitizer glass broke in one corner, but the LCD underneath it was intact. The broken corner wasn't too large, just enough to bias the rest of the screen so I had a fun time figuring out where to press to get what function. It was still operational, just... flakey. Eccentric. Occasionally stubborn. The dang thing had developed a personality. Call it 'Fred' - as in SuperChicken. "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

I don't mind quirky, but I dislike stubborn hardware. So I started checking on how to get the thing fixed.

Did you know that the warranty on one of these things doesn't include a cracked screen? Not too surprising, I guess. After all, you're supposed to take a reasonable amount of care with one of these. And for years I've been advising folks with laptops to treat them like they were 18-packs of eggs and not wheel chocks. Those LCD panels are delicate!

Okay - you've got a PDA that's got a cracked digitizer. Whoops - there goes the warranty! But you've spent good money on the thing, you've gotten used to using it. Can the broken part be replaced? OF COURSE! Can you do it? Probably. If you could get the part....

GETHIGHTECH.Com has pretty much anything you might need to repair your PDA, whether you've got a Palm, Visor, Clie, IPaq, Journada, TRGpro or Symbol PDA. And their service is FAST. I ordered two replacement screens (hey, they were on special, and I figured I'll probably break another one eventually) and they were shipped on the 8th - and arrived on the 10th. (Sent USPS Priority Mail, too. I figured I'd get them next Thursday... I was very surprised they showed up today!)

Instructions on how to disassemble the Handspring were on the website. I printed them out, got the double-stick tape they recommended, and set about disassembling the thing.

It came apart remarkably easily - and the digitizer was swapped out with little fuss. Reassembly was a bit harder, but it went together okay. (I hate flat ribbon cable connectors that are push-in...) Add batteries and do a reset, and it was ready to roll.

Honestly, I'm rather surprised at how useful the thing is. Aaron gets a kick out of having to sign his name on it for his last glass of water at night - and the 'City Time' utility (which shows what part of the world is in daylight) he finds fascinating. I've been tracking my finances on it - an activity I've been loath to do for decades now. A utility called P-Cash makes it painless. And I won't even talk about it's utility as an e-book reader...

In short - unalloyed praise for GetHighTech.Com. Fast service, the right parts at an acceptable price, and instructions to boot. If you've got a PDA, you should know about this site.


Tuesday, April 9
Occasionally you run across a series of books that's so gripping, so enthralling, it's almost impossible to put down.

The latest example I've found (aside from re-reading Tom Clancy) is a 4-volume trilogy by John Ringo. (Ummm... yeah, I know - but there's only 3 volumes of it out so far, that's why I call it a trilogy. Volume 4 should be out next year.) The basic premise is that there's an intergalactic civilization that's menaced by a swarming life-form - and the civilization is made up of races that CANNOT fight effectively. But they can produce - and they're willing to supply the Earth with materials to defend itself. Of course, there's a price - the Earth has to help defend THEM.

It's a heck of a read - I've been kept awake just page-turning. Part of the problem (and I wish more writers had this problem, honestly) is that Ringo's writing is paced very fast. He creates characters that you care about, and keeps them moving. The story doesn't lag at all - it plain sprints through the three books so far.

The erstwhile enemy, the Posleen, are a centauroid life form that sees everything else living in the universe as food - including themselves, if need be. The vast majority of them are dumb as a box of rocks, possibly dumber. They're cannon fodder, pure and simple. Expend a half-million of them to take an objective? Sure - it's like losing a fingernail clipping, and that half-million is turned into food for the rest of the swarm. They are guided (apparently semi-telepathically) by somewhat more intelligent ones called God-Kings. You don't really get a sense of how intelligent they are until the third book, and they're starting to learn how to fight using something other than "roll over them" tactics.

The humans - well, after an initial bit of disbelief in the threat, they field interstellar expeditionary forces that confirm what the interstellar folk have told them. The fecal matter hits the fan, explosions go off, megascrapers tumble, Earth realizes that "whoo, we be in the deep kim-chee now" and starts to convert to a total war footing. Midway through book 2, the Posleen hit Earth.

And we aren't ready...

Very good series, I recommend it highly. And if you're interested in more info or buying them, just click on the covers to the left or the links below...

A Hymn Before Battle
Gust Front
When the Devil Dances



Sorry for not posting anything for a day or two - sinus infections and (I think) a tunafish sandwich got the better of me. (Not that anyone reading this is going to have to worry about it - but avoid the "Tuna Sandwich" special at the NAS Atlanta bowling alley. $3.25, and it'll keep you entertained for simply hours.)

Anyhow, I'm home from work today and maybe around 1 or 2 PM I'll see if I can keep down a piece of toast. I'm actually keeping down liquids - that's progress!

While checking the morning blogs, I spotted this one. It's quite good and has some proposals I wish the teacher's unions would consider.

Sand in the Gears
The teacher's unions are fond of claiming, however, that their compensation should be compared to that of other professionals, and not to average workers. So let's consider their claim. If they want to be paid like other professionals, then it is only fair to point out three critical areas where they are currently protected from the market forces that most professionals face:

Briefly, they are three critical areas that are currently squashed - Responsibility for Results, Accountability for Failure, and Competition. There are 4 ideas that I'd like to see implemented - Pay for Performance, Pay tied to Expertise, School Choice, and Real Discipline.

Remember this the next time the "it's all about the kids" half-wits look to pick your pocket for still more government school spending. They like to call them "public" schools. I say we, the public, should reinvest that word with its proper meaning. If they really are our schools, then we ought to have a say in how to fix them.


Saturday, April 6
Deluded Bombers (
Of all the horrific news from that dead end known as the Middle East -- and there is horror to spare -- nothing has so colored this cycle of the cycle of violence as the ordnance of walking weapons whom the Israelis call terrorists and the Palestinians call martyrs.

We are witnessing a parade of young people who finally figured out what they want to be when they grow up: dead. And we are witnessing a culture that cheers and glorifies this ghoulish march.
After reading this, I am just so... bummed out. Depressed. Saddened and disgusted. I've cleaned up after one suicide. I've packed a guy's property after he killed himself. There's an old saying - "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem", and it's a true one.

But one thing that what strikes me with a sinking feeling is that the PARENTS, of all people, seem proud that their children are willing to kill themselves TO NO GAIN WHATSOEVER.

Hey, I'm in the military. (Well, I know that the AF Reserve isn't considered as being much of a military by some, and compared to folks like the SEALs, Rangers, or GB's Commandos we barely register on the milspec macho scale, but hey...) I spent 9 years+ on prime nuclear targets in the '70s and '80s. I realize there are times that the military is expected to take an objective and hold it - or, through whatever reason, expend lives to accomplish a mission. That's part of the game - that's part of what we are and what we have to do. Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself to accomplish the mission.

But what is abhorred by any military professional or commander is waste - a waste of life or material which won't POSITIVELY affect the outcome of an operation, a battle, or a war. And that's EXACTLY what we're seeing with the Palestinian suicide bombers. The more the media trumpets the eagerness of the bombers, the more people are going "These people are insane!"

I've been watching the ME for years - and the Palestinians would seem to be their own worst enemy. Whenever they have a chance for peace, they screw it up. They've gotten themselves violently kicked out of countries - when Jordan kicked them out in 1970, the Jordanian forces supposedly killed over 20,000 militants. They're so disruptive, supposedly Saudi Arabia won't even import them as workers. Now they seem to have latched onto a meme of cultural suicide, and I just don't get it.

What is it? Mental illness? A vast, systematic culturally taught self-hatred that breeds a self-destructive loathing so deep it can only be alleviated by strapping on a C-4 vest and heading for the nearest Israeli checkpoint?

Someone put some damn Prozac in the water over there, please!

I look at my son Aaron. He's almost 4.

He is the light of my life - the joy of my days. His grin pulls my heart. There is so much LIFE in him. So much joy. And I think all children are like that.

I look at the world. A world filled with people who would wish him dead because he's an American. Who would wish him dead because America supports Israel.

And I look at Paletstinian parents - who teach their children that the highest calling they can aspire to is to be a suicide bomber...

And I pray for God to smite the Palestinian parents (indeed, all in the ME who worship the suicide bombers) with common sense and a love for their children that would make them want their children to live - not die.

Please, dear God. Answer my prayers...


Thursday, April 4
WHY WOULD ISRAEL WANT PEACE WITH THESE PEOPLE? The people of Bahrain, a tiny, oil-rich kingdom in the Middle East, are in an uproar because of a remarkable faux pas committed by the American ambassador. This Gulf Daily News piece just has to be seen to be believed: ...
I read it, and find it sadly believeable. This is a great site, and will be going up on the left very soon.

NEW YORK — It's still harder to find Speedy Gonzales on the Cartoon Network than Elmer Fudd on the winning side of a Bugs Bunny movie, but the Fastest Mouse in all of Mexico now has a high-profile lobby on its side.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the United States' oldest Hispanic-American rights group, has publicly come out on the side of cartoon fans who want Speedy back on the airwaves.
I always thought he was cool, myself. He could both think and run rings around Sylvester. But of course, he's not PC... even though he's enjoyed by Hispanics.

Funny isn't enough. (And it makes me wonder how much of today's animation will even be remembered 20 years from now.)


PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly - Winter 2001-02
Would that we could tattoo that on the back of every diplomat's hand: The shah always falls. Our age--roughly the period from 1898 through the end of the 21st century--is an age of devolution, of breaking down, of the casting off of old forms of government and territorial organization in favor of the popular will. Certainly, the forces of reaction can look very strong--deceptively strong--and the temptation is always to back the devil you know (and who allows you to explore for oil on his territory). But make no mistake--in one essential respect, today's America is on the same side as the most repressive voices in the Islamic world and the hard, old men in Beijing: We are trying to freeze history in place. And it cannot be done. In our ill-considered pursuit of stability (a contradiction in terms), we have raised up devils, from terrorists to dictators, who will not be easily put down.

The Cold War warped our thinking so badly that when the Soviet empire finally collapsed in 1991, we proclaimed a new world order while thoughtlessly doing our best to preserve the old one. Our diplomats and decisionmakers needed new thinking at least as badly as did the men in Moscow.
This is a marvelous article, pointing out that "The Devil You Know" isn't always the preferable one. Well meaning, we've done some pretty shabby things - and there's a lot of explanation of them here..
It was especially easy for our diplomats to accept the "wisdom" of the European way of organizing a strategic regime because, at that time, our diplomatic corps was dominated by the sons of "good" New England and mid-Atlantic families whose ties to and affinities toward the Old World were already out of step with those of their less-decorous and more vigorous countrymen. If the Army belonged to those born in Virginia and south (and west), then the Department of State belonged to those from Virginia and north, and to the aspirants from elsewhere who emulated our Anglophiles and Europhiles most sincerely. Today, in 2001, America's diplomatic wisdom is that of Metternich and Castlereagh, brilliant reactionaries whose intent was to turn back the clock of history, then freeze the hands in place, after the Napoleonic tumult. America's international successes in the 20th century occurred despite our diplomatic corps' values and beliefs.

(Ed. - why was I reminded of Keith Laumer's 'Retief' stories when I read this?)

Surely there is a middle way between supporting every failing state (usually a state that deserves to fail) and hunkering down in a bunker in Kansas while genocide prevails. The greatest immediate difficulty is that any such "middle way" would, in fact, be a number--perhaps a great number--of different ways. The classical age of diplomacy, from Metternich through Bismarck to Kissinger, is finished. In truth, a one-size-fits-all diplomatic framework never really worked, but during the Cold War we expended tremendous efforts to make it function, or at least to pretend it was working. Today, in a world that is systemically, developmentally, economically, and culturally differentiated and differentiating--despite the surface effects of globalization--our diplomacy cannot rely on easy-to-use constructs or unifying ideology (a great triumph of the 20th century was the destruction of the historical aberration of ideology in the West; today's European "socialists" owe more to trial-and-error than to Marx, LaSalle, or Liebknecht, and all but the most bigoted Americans are political pragmatists in the clinch).
It's a long read, but worth it. Enjoy.

Oh, BTW - it's from the US Army War College. If this is an example of the thinking they're doing - they're worth the taxes to support them.


Wednesday, April 3
It's later than you think....

Nothing else tonight. I'm going to go soak in 104 degree water as long as I can stand it.



Tuesday, April 2
Bloggle: 2001: A Coffee Odyssey: Brewed Fresh Daily All coffee, all the time. Just the thing for a quick pick-me-up.

It even has a link to Kopi Luwak information. Supposedly the world's most expensive coffee - more so than Jamaican Blue Mountain. When you read why it's expensive, you'll understand...


Eyes on the future
Israeli tanks are not much of an answer to such a problem, nor are sporadic American mediation efforts or half-hearted Saudi diplomatic overtures. The only way peace will come to the region is when large parts of the Palestinian community and its leadership decide to accept the half a loaf that could be realistically available and stop pining murderously for the whole one in the clouds. The challenge for everybody else is how to help them get there. The odds on it happening any time soon, unfortunately, are low - which is why things are likely to get worse before they get better.
I won't hold my breath on them figuring out that an all-or-nothing strategy is far more likely to get them nothing.


The new face of suicide bombers
The message for Israel, and the rest of the world, is clear: Terrorism is not just a fringe phenomenon. Terrorists are not just strange young men whispering in dark rooms. Terrorists are high-school students, terrorists are women - and terrorists are all around you. No one - not the old man on the bicycle or the young girl walking to school - can be discounted. All Palestinians are potential terrorists, and terrorism will never go away. Whether or not all of this is actually true is immaterial: The point is to make the Israelis think it is, and thus give up, withdraw, quit the Middle East - or else undertake a massive and potentially disastrous military operation of the sort that may have begun this week.
There's an alternative. When all the Palestinians can be potential bombers - you kill them all. It's not a pretty choice - but dollars to donuts Israel will NOT be pushed off - and every bomb that goes off hurts the Palestinian cause. Oh, there's popular pundits that will decry what Israel has done/is doing/will do - but they're also the ones who thought we could negotiate with the Taliban, that we shouldn't fight in the winter in Afghanistan, and we needed to stop fighting for Ramadan to show how sensitive we were to religious diversity.

In other words - they don't have a clue about the real world. Israel does.


World Israel
TEL AVIV — Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has approved plans to send 30 suicide bombers to Jerusalem, Israeli military intelligence officers said.
The officers said Arafat approved plans for a combined effort by his Fatah movement and such Islamic opposition groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad to send at least 30 suicide bombers to Jerusalem. The officers said Jerusalem was chosen because of its symbolic importance to Arafat and his efforts to convert the city into a Palestinian capital.

"The operation is meant to carry out Arafat's threat to send what he terms a million martyrs to Jerusalem," an intelligence officer said. "When Arafat talks of martyrs, he means suicide bombers."
In all, the officers said, nearly 100 suicide attackers are being prepared for missions in Israeli cities. They said the attackers are being equipped with explosive belts and trained on how to avoid Israeli troops and cross from the West Bank into the Jewish state.
Arafat wants peace. Just ask him. But it's peace on HIS terms - which would seem to include the death of Israel.

That is simply not acceptable.

J. Comics | Story Minute The Last Palestinian. It points out just how sensible the idea of suicide bombing is...






That's the opening sound for the annual Atlanta Pollen Festival - that time of year when your sinuses feel like they could explode, post-nasal drip produces raw throats and sleeping through the night is difficult without major doses of psychoactive drugs like Benedryl, Claratin, and Allegra, not to mention the old standby Sudafed.

Add in Aaron being very ...generous... in spreading around what he picks up in daycare, and we've got the House'O'Plagues open for business again.

Feh. My teeth hurt. My head hurts. Disgusting stuff is answering the call of gravity in the back of my throat. Ulk....

I'm going to go pound my head against a wall. It might relieve the pressure some. Either that, or lay under my drill press.


Monday, April 1
The Media Line - News Detail

By Michael Widlanski

Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah have also served as the heart of a secret Palestinian operation to flood Israel with counterfeit money, Israeli officials told The Media Line Monday (April 1).

The secret phony money operation could have had far-reaching consequences, said an Israeli army officer, citing several possible scenarios:
*--Undermining the already-weakened Israeli economy;
*--Helping Arafat to pay Palestinian terrorists and agents operating in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

“There were hundreds of thousands of shekels and the printing plates to produce millions of shekels,” said an Israeli army officer.

Israeli army (IDF) units that seized parts of the Arafat headquarters compound discovered hundreds of thousands of counterfeit Israeli currency bills in denominations of 50, 100 and 200.
*GASP!* The Virtuous Arafat, doing something like that? Oh, good heavens! Next thing you know, they'll find evidence he influenced the release of suicide bomber wannabes...

Oh, wait. He did, didn't he?

I think the Israeli army has it right. Alive, he's an embarrasment to the Palestinian cause. Dead, he's a martyr. Let's keep him alive as long as possible...


Root Causes - Policy Review, No. 112
Under the direct or indirect influence of Princeton professor Bernard Lewis, the foremost living historian of the Islamic Middle East, many commentators reply that the attacks of September 11 were motivated by an impulse to scapegoat the West in general — and the United States in particular — for the Middle East’s own failure to modernize. In Lewis’s long-held view, put forward with especial thoroughness and clarity in his new book, What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, the humiliating and increasingly obvious failure of a once-great Islamic civilization to match the military, economic, political, and cultural might of the West has had a troubling effect. Many Middle Easterners, convinced that a turning from the pious ways of old is at the root of Muslim decline, have simultaneously embraced Islamic fundamentalism and repudiated the West.


The self-sustaining tribal structure that enabled Muhammad to quickly conquer the world — and that allowed his successors to knit together a loosely governed empire with minimal effort — turns out to be uniquely problematic in relation to modernization. And from the rise of Europe to the present moment, the transformed tribal ethos of militance and pride that governs Islam has set up a powerful barrier even to recognition of this problem. In a modern setting, the result has been cultural decline, nativist reaction, and a literal clash of civilizations.
Why do they hate us? Take a read - it's a bit long, but very educational.

J. - Arafat's security network under apparent attack - April 1, 2002
RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- The heart of Yasser Arafat's security network appeared to be under attack by Israeli forces early Tuesday, with explosions coming from the 5-acre site here as Israeli helicopters gunships hovered overhead.
CNN Correspondent Michael Holmes observed the explosions around the headquarters of the Palestinian security service from about a mile away and said it was not immediately clear the extent of the action or what exactly was being hit.
Looks like the Israeli military is doing what needs to be done. Way to go, guys! It's not pleasant to watch, and it's not something we wanted to see, but the Palestinians brought it on themselves.

As it is, they can reap what they so diligently sowed.


Google Technology

You always wondered just how they ranked their websites, and how they do it so fast. Finally, there's an explanation.


Suicide bombers’ patron: Saddam
April 1 — There is, it seems, a seemingly endless supply of suicide bombers with unlimited support from Iran and Palestinians around the world. And recently, millions of dollars from Saddam Hussein.
Wait a sec - isn't this the guy who was weeping crocodile tears over starving children in his country? The guy who was building palaces while his people 'starve'? The guy who was rebuilding his military while his population suffers?

He can pay suicide bomber bonuses. But he won't pay for food for his people.

It's time to rid the Earth of him. We should have done it in '91.


Ted Striker's Not Over Macho Grande
This brings me to another thought. If abject poverty and powerlessness logically leads to suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, then why haven't the natives of North America started doing it? I mean, if you want to get into a pissing contest over who's gotten the worst deal, then the Native Americans would win hands down. Foreigners settled their land and they were forcibly resettled to little shithole areas of the country. They live in such poverty that you would think the reservations would be breeding grounds of Native Militancy. Yet, that is not the case. Instead of bombing shopping malls across the country, they've decided to build casinos. Instead of taking life, they're taking the white man's money. They've used ingenuity and creative thought to turn a bad situation into a relatively good one and are making money off of it to boot.
For a bit of lightness here, let's follow an unlikely sequence of events - what would happen if these two statements...

1. Jews got money.

2. Little old Jewish Ladies love to go to Atlantic City to gamble at the casinos there.

... were extrapolated to the ME, with the Palestinians showing an entreprenurial spirit equivalent to the Native Americans opening casios to fleece the white man?

You get...
1. There's lots of little old Jewish ladies in Israel. (Probably quite a few men who would want to toss away money in the casinos, too. Not to mention lots of folks in Saudi.)

2. If the PA opened casinos (which, by the way, could be guaranteed no-bomb zones) they'd have a lucrative income from those same little old ladies.

3. They take the money from the casinos, and don't buy weapons with it. Instead, they fix up the tourism, technological and transportation infrastructures and beef up the agricultural infrastructure.

4. Positive feedback comes into effect - folks want to go somewhere nice with good food to spend money. Nobody except an ecotourist is going to want to do the travel equivalent of hard time that currently represents the Palestinian experience. Get the big chains in with luxury hotels, and in ten years you could angle for a Disney franchise. Everyone's employed who wants to be.
Unlikely, of course - but a hell of a lot more probable than the PA managing to wangle a homeland. As it is, they're all pushing hard to see who can be the first to die. Not good for a country's longevity...