MilBlog X

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

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

Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Tuesday, December 31
The Matrix Makers

Your new Year's present - a look at the upcoming "Matrix" films and the people (and technology) behind them.

Happy New Year. May it bring good things to you...


STAR TREK for Communists
When I was living in Moscow last year, I loved to watch reruns of a late-1960s Russian science-fiction TV show called "Kosmicheskaya Militsiya." The title translates as either Space Police or Cosmic Militia, though the show is usually called "Cosmos Patrol" in English. You could say that "Cosmos Patrol" is a lot like "Star Trek," but it would be more accurate to call it a bare-faced Commie rip-off.
Oh, the horror.... (snicker)


Monday, December 30
FrontPage - The Daughter of an Arab Warrior Tells Her Tale
I plead to the wives and daughters of "Shahid" to listen. The same people who will congratulate you on your beloved "Shahid" father or son are the same people who will criticize you as a loose woman when they see you leave your homes alone without a man to run your life. The people who encourage terrorists and Shahids are cruel and evil people that hide behind the Koran for the sake of attaining power and high office. They are ready to give up these men's lives and maybe throw a little money to the families. That might fool some as support, but wait, in no time you will be alone in bringing up your kids and facing the difficulties of life alone in a merciless society that has no respect for single women. You will be without a husband and your children deprived of fathers growing up. They are ready to sacrifice generation after generation of women widowed at a young age and children orphaned!
And you have to just wonder where is the honor and dignity of a culture that would act this way? Read the entire article - you'll likely be as mad as I am.


Saturday, December 28
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Kenya sweeps corrupt ruler out of power
Kenyans revelled in a day few dared to dream of in four decades, as the preliminary results yesterday from Friday's elections suggested a landslide victory for the opposition, sweeping away many crooks and cronies of a ruling party that has terrorised and impoverished them since independence.
With about a fifth of the poll already counted last night, Mwai Kibaki, a veteran opposition leader and former Vice-President, had won around 70 per cent of the votes. Uhuru Kenyatta, the candidate of the outgoing President Daniel arap Moi's Kanu party and son of Jomo, Kenya's founding father, had won less than 30 per cent, offering Kenya the chance of one of the most peaceful and democratic transitions from 'Big Man' rule in history.
Wow. Maybe there IS hope for Africa after all. However, it is to be noted that the folks elected aren't exactly pristine themselves. Still - the people DID vote, and they were heard. Maybe this will be a lesson to the new guys - "We put you in power, we can take you right back out again."


One very neat flash site. Enjoy!


Eject! Eject! Eject!
You're a former liberal. Your worldview has been hit by heat-seeking reality and you're on fire and out of control. You have only a few decades in which to react! Think fast! Cool soothing logic tells you it's time to get out.


This site is here to convince you that all the good things you believe about America and her people are true.

Factually, provably true.
Don't believe it?
Hang on!
We're reaching for
Occasionally, you run across web sites that both tickle your funnybone and make you think. Frankly, Metafilter doesn't do that with their political, hate the US stance. Unless you're predisposed to find and embrace the worst things you can find about the US, and ignore all the good, that is - and after a while, doesn't it get tiresome rolling around in a cesspool and pretending it's all that matters?

Sure - there's been mistakes made in the US. And our critics are legion, our supporters overseas are few. Bill Whittle isn't a critic - he admits we aren't perfect, but we're nowhere near as bad as some would love to think.
Accusations of “Imperialism” are flung at us so frequently, and met with so little defense, that it is actually shocking to see how easily such a simplisme charge can be overturned.

To be Imperial is to possess, or hope to possess, an empire, and these slanders have been made for about a century now. The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines “empire” as “a group of countries ruled by a single person, government or country.” Oxford paperback dictionary calls it “a large group of states under single authority.” Cambridge goes on to define “imperialism” as “a system in which a country rules other countries, sometimes having used force to obtain power over them.”

ANY rational person can see that the United States does not meet these qualifications by any stretch of the imagination. What nations do we rule? Whose legislative bodies can we overturn with a wave of the hand? Where on this planet do people live under an American flag who do not wish to? And as Jonah Goldberg correctly points out, where are our governors and our tax collectors so that we can siphon off the meager wages of our Imperial Slaves? What kind of empire does not have these imperial mechanisms?

At the end of World War II, America stood astride the world as the unchallenged military and economic power. The terrible might of Germany and Japan lay crushed in smoldering ruin. Great Britain, bled white by the near-total loss of two successive generations of their best and brightest, was in barely better shape. China was a collection of pre-industrial peasants fighting a bitter civil war, and nowhere in the rest of Asia, Africa and South America did there exist anything more than local defense militias.

Only the Soviets remained as a potent military force – and that force was essentially tactical, not strategic, in nature. While strong in tanks, artillery and men, it had no navy to speak of, and an air force consisting mostly of close support ground-attack aircraft such as the Il-2 Sturmovik. While effective against ground targets, the Red Army in 1945 had nothing resembling US heavy bombers such as the B-17, the B-24, or the magnificent B-29.

On the other hand, the United States not only had what was far and away the world’s preeminent Navy; we also had large numbers of long-range strategic bombers and swarms of highly-seasoned fighter escorts. We had a Marine Corps flush with victories: battle-hardened men who had invented through blood and horror the means to go ashore on enemy beaches and stay there. We had an Army whose courage and skill in battle was unsurpassed, and whose critical supply and ordinance staffs were, by far, the best in the world.

And, of course, we had the atomic bomb, and the will to use it.

History has never, and will never, record a time when such power existed in the hands of a nation, nor of a time when opposing forces were so weak and in such a state of disarray and abject surrender.

And these feared and ruthless Americans, a people who had incinerated cities in Europe and Japan and whose ferocity and tenacity on island jungles and French beaches had brought fanatical warrior cultures to their knees – what did these new conquerors of the world do?

They went home is what they did. They did pause for a few years to rebuild the nations sworn to their destruction and the murder of their people. They carbon-copied their own system of government and enforced it on their most bitterly hated enemy, a people who have since given so much back to the world as a result of this generosity. They left troops in and sent huge sums of money to Europe to rebuild what they all knew would eventually become trading partners, but also determined competitors. Then they sent huge steel blades through their hard-earned fleets of ships and airplanes and came home to get on with their lives in peace and quiet.
Long article - well worth reading, about how the US is NOT empire-building - but other countries expect us to hand them freedom on a silver platter, ignoring the work that's gone on and is still going on in the US that built that freedom, that strength. Freedom isn't free - it has to be paid for and the cost is very, very dear.

His comments on France, and their cultural elitism -
We are widely criticized among Europeans for what they call our cultural and economic hegemony. They decry our pop culture as vulgar and commercial, and in fact, it often is. McDonald’s are now everywhere on the European continent, and we are reminded what horrible, fattening food it is. Agreed.

What doesn’t seem to get through their anti-populist, anti-American blinders is that basic economic principle of supply and demand. I suppose we shouldn’t be too shocked to hear this. The birthplace, intellectual home and last bastion of Marxism has always had a tough time with economic reality.

They also have a tough time with democracy, and the idea of people – you know, the masses – making their own decisions. And the thing that breaks the heart of every European elitist is the inescapable fact that McDonald’s and Cheers are huge in Europe, because their own people can’t get enough of it.

I have never been to France myself, but I would presume that daily life there does not consist of squads of heavily armed US Marines rounding up the terrified population, herding them into McDonald’s at gunpoint, and shaking their last euros out of them. When France passes laws saying that some minimal percentage of their television programming (I think it is 50%) must be produced in France, then that is an admission – and it must be, if you will pardon the pun, a galling one – that huge numbers of their people prefer our culture over their own.

Fact is, dreadful or not, McDonald’s is not subsidized by the US Department of World Hegemony. They are a business concern. The day European customers stop eating at McDonald’s the McDonald’s WILL go away.

But they do not. They are growing like mushrooms. American television programming has to be legally constrained. I suspect that Spider-Man out-drew more Europeans in a weekend than all of the films of Truffaut's did in the United States over forty years. This is telling them something, and what it is telling them is that our culture has a greater hold over the imaginations of their own people than theirs does.

To the Average French citizen, I imagine Spider-Man, Cheers and McDonald’s represent more or less what they do to Americans: a fun couple of hours, a few laughs, and something quick to scarf down when you’re in a hurry. Big deal.

But to the deep-thinking elites of Europe, these trends are catastrophic, and terrifying. For it shows them, yet again, that a mob of boorish, unsophisticated, common brutes – that’d be us – is able to produce art and music and culture that cleans the clock of any nation that lets it in the door.

Spider-Man and McDonalds, and the long lines of their own countrymen waiting eagerly for a taste of them, prove to them daily that the European cultural superiority that they so deeply believe in is…how do we say this delicately…uh, wrong.

And of course, being unwilling to face these unpleasant logical inferences, the blame has to be put somewhere. And who better to blame than a blinded, staggering, idiotic Cyclops, smashing all the delicate china in its drunken, obnoxious rampage?

The author, Bill Whittle, has a rare and wonderful gift for writing. Very enjoyable, very thought-provoking. Highly, highly recommended - and included in the links list to the left.

So remember - if non-pc reality's about to explode on you - EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!


Thursday, December 26
Pyongyang may have A-bomb in 30 days
RESTARTING its nuclear reactor could enable North Korea to produce nuclear weapons in as little as 30 days, according to one of Britain’s leading nuclear experts.

John Large, who has worked with the Royal Navy, advised Russia on the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, and is on the UK Nuclear Co-ordinating Group, said that North Korea’s only motive for restarting the reactor was to produce nuclear weapons.
On a cold December night, this doesn't cheer me at all.


Wednesday, December 25
And a Merry Christmas to all...

We went to our church's service last night - and I don't know what it was, whether it's the news, the weather (3 inches of rain in the last two days), the seasonal music, my parents being sick, or what - but I had a very bad feeling about the upcoming year. A looming gloom that seemed to darken the church, and I sure hope I'm wrong - but I felt like we're going to be missing a whole lot of people next year - more than half, in fact...

I really hate getting feelings like this. I'm sure hoping it's just the weather. But in all honestly, if there's some biowarfare attempts against the US, using something communicable like smallpox, we could see fatalities in the 30-40% range. And I keep getting the feeling like time is running out while we watch the diplomats samba around the hard questions.

Now, there's a lot of folk who think that a diplomatic answer for Iraq is obtainable. I don't agree. We've been attempting to use diplomacy for the last 13 years. (Lucky number, that - eh?) And it has FAILED. Not just "not worked very well" - it's allowed Saddam to build monumental palaces on the bones of his people, while blaming the rest of the world for the starvation and deprivations he causes in his own country.

And then there's foreign 'human sheilds' who are volunteering to go protect his military installations. Apparently they think their presence will keep us from bombing. And, as one of them says:
A common accusation is that [Voices in the Wilderness members in Iraq] have failed to criticise Saddam and his brutal rule while attacking the West. Their mere presence in Iraq, say critics, is sanctioning the regime. "Our view is that there are plenty of channels for opinions about Saddam and the rulers of Iraq to be expressed," said Ms Kelly.

"We want to concentrate on the terrible effect the economic war is having on Iraq and how the country will be devastated if the US and Britain decide to attack.
Now, who started the war? Who refused to comply with UN resolutions? Who is keeping his people under a reign of terror according to Amnesty International? Who's pursuing nukes and apparently well along the way for bioweapons, and would use them on his neighbor states?

But they're the good guys - and we're the bad.

Anyway. Merry Christmas. May my imaginings just be caused by a bit of underdone beef, a bad dream, or bad weather. Hold your loved ones tight... and remember what's really important is not being the first in your neighborhood to have the latest toys, but the time you spend with the ones you love.

Now, get off the damn computer and go hug someone, okay?


Sunday, December 22
Palestinians call off January election
A Palestinian general election scheduled for January has been postponed indefinitely because of Israel’s reoccupation of West Bank cities, a Palestinian cabinet minister said on Sunday.
In other news, the rate of Palestinians shooting themselves in the foot has reached an all-time high.

These guys aren't serious about governing themselves. They'd rather blame everything on the Israeli occupation. That way, they can be 'heros', instead of having to deal with the daily minutiae of running a city. Whole lot easier to blame all your troubles on someone else... than try to change what they could.

My sympathy-meter for the Palestinians is really getting into negative numbers.


News Release: December 19, 2002
Widespread vaccination of Americans against smallpox is too dangerous to justify unless the likelihood of a major biological attack on the United States is substantial, but it is prudent to vaccinate health care workers now against the deadly disease, according to a new study by the RAND Center for Domestic and International Health Security.

The study, published on the Web site of the New England Journal of Medicine, estimates that if 60 percent of the U.S. population were immunized, there would be about 500 deaths — a price too high to pay if there is little chance of a widespread attack against America with the smallpox virus, researchers said.
Okay - how do you judge the risk of attack? And what are we looking at - a single-point attack at one airport or office building, or multiple attacks - say 20 airports in one day? Hit Seattle, LA, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, New York, Baltimore, Washington, London-Heathrow, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Paris, Quebec, Mexico City, Sidney, Bombay... and Riyadh.

Why Riyadh? Because that would mean that it wasn't Arabs or Al Quaeda that did it, instead it had to be Mossad or some other evil Zionist agency trying to start a war with the Arab world.

The main problem as I see it, is that the RAND study discounts the suceptability of the population to the smallpox virus, and (to my thinking) the ease of transmission of the virus. For example, at
the following is found:
Smallpox spreads from person to person, primarily by droplet nuclei or aerosols expelled from the oropharynx of infected persons and by direct contact. Contaminated clothing or bed linens can also spread the virus. There are no known animal or insect reservoirs or vectors.
And honestly, if there wasn't a potential for smallpox to be used as a biowarfare agent, I'd be inclined to agree with the RAND report. But I feel the government should err on the pessimistic side here and do the vaccinations - because the consequences if we err on the optimistic side are far too high.



As related earlier, Big Blue was acting as nutty as a squirrel stockpiling for the winter after transplanting things into a new case. I finally bit the big one and reinstalled Win98 - but that didn't help much. I installed a new network card and video card (a cheap one, a REALLY cheap one - anyone need a REALLY cheap video card for a server somewhere?) and was able to get it running somewhat.

However - then I tried to do some scanning with it. No joy - it'd start 'warming the lamp', and nothing else would happen. I also tried to backup Ralph the PDA, and was getting MSCVRT errors like crazy. Reloaded the software, massaged the registry, nothing helped.

In the meantime, the WinXP Pro Upgrade I ordered arrived. I delayed installing it, wanting to toss it onto a system that was at least MARGINALLY working. Finally, after two days of intermittent work I figured "What the hell." and started the upgrade.

Which promptly failed.

Now, I'm no stranger to the eccentricities of Windows installs. Some are enough to make a grown man weep in frustration, some are merely aggravating. And I know how to get around a lot of them - so I tried one of the techniques I've used with success before. Take one CD full of data, and toss it into a subdirectory on drive D: - then run the Setup program out of that subdirectory. Took ten minutes to copy the stuff over, then I click on "Setup" and crossed my fingers.

10 minutes later and a lot of quick screen flips, it asked me for the Product Key. Then I turned and walked away - it would either fail and wait for me, or it'd make it all the way through, in which case it'd wait for me.

A half-hour later, I came down to check - and it needed authorization to reboot the system. I told it to - and it rebooted and continued the process. (It also seems to have dumped my dual-boot loader, Linux and Windows, but no real biggie there...)

I checked back an hour later - and it was ready for me to set up the desktop. Network was fine, it imported all my drivers, saw the printers, software I'd installed seemed to be working - and after reinstalling the Scanjet and Palm software, it was ready to roll. It even smoothed out the operations on the video card. Impressive...

Now, I've been messing with Microsoft operating systems since Dos 1.0. I've seen a lot of odd problems with updates and upgrades - but this must have been the absolute easiest update I've ever done since that first install of Dos. I was impressed, and pleased.

Microsoft may well have managed to finally get things right.


Saturday, December 21 - N. Korea overrides surveillance on nuclear plant - Dec. 21, 2002
North Korea has cut most of the seals placed on a deactivated nuclear reactor by international inspectors and has blocked monitoring equipment at the reactor, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday.
Oh, boy. Wonder if... nah - they wouldn't be trying to get concessions... would they?


Wednesday, December 18

As you probably know, the Japanese have a tendency to anthropomorphize things that probably shouldn't be.

Like tissues.


Just a bit'o'wierdness to end the day with. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 15
Sean Penn Says War in Iraq Is Avoidable (
The former Hollywood bad boy and Oscar nominee paid for a $56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post in October accusing President Bush of stifling debate on Iraq.
Uh, guy? You got to go to Bagdad? You got your name splashed on Drudge? And debate is stifled?

If you can buy an advertisement against the war, how is debate stifled?

(sound effect clue-stick - wwwwwwwWWWWWWWWHOOOSHCRACK!... Thud.)


HistoryWired: A few of our favorite things - A Steam-Jack
The steam jack, patented in 1792 and built about 1793-4 is unique in this appraiser’s experience, and as stated I have dealt with jacks, as early mechanical objects possessing a certain fascination, as frequently over the past 24 years as their scarcity would allow. Documentation exists on the jack. So there can be little question of its authenticity. The marvelous aspect is that it not only survived but survived in very fine condition. It is an elegantly designed machine: simple, making use of few parts, of very pleasing proportions, and though doubtless these were once made in some quantity (relative to the populace of the times) the conditions for regular usage coupled with their small size and the subsequent change in cooking technology would, one would think, preclude the survival of any, certainly in this remarkably fine condition; one wonders if the photographs sent could only mean that it reposed happily on a hearth for many years.
Technology - far advanced for it's time. Makes you wonder, though, what might have happened if electricity hadn't become the prime mover and we were still using steam.


Saturday, December 14
Odd feeling today...

I'm not quite sure what it is. I'm out at the base today - and it's been a usual off-UTA day. Very quiet, no phone ringing, no work to do. And after today, not counting the two weeks coming up in January at Warner Robbins, I'll have three more UTAs to go before retirement, seven days total.

It's an odd feeling to be so short like this. Looking at a close to a 'career' spanning 28 years is kind of surreal. I swung by a McDonalds for lunch, and the girl at the window is going in - eager and looking forward to an adventure. I kind of envy her.

When I came in after graduating from high school in 1974, I don't think I ever figured I'd be in this long. Maybe six years, get out and go to college, maybe twenty and retire. But twenty-eight years have come and gone since I first raised my hand. If I were around in June next year (and I may be, all things considered) it'll be 29... Damn, they go by fast.

Oh, don't get me wrong. It's been pretty good, overall. Active duty was okay, though I really wish I'd chosen something other than missile maintenance on the Minuteman III ICBMs to start with - but life is sometimes all about finding out what you DON'T want to do for a living, right? Reserve work, shoveling paper, isn't too exciting but it's steady. Haven't learned much from it, except how to sort large stacks of papers quickly and efficiently, but a lot of that's just been choice. I've let a lot of opportunities slip away, and ignored others - and some just never showed. But I've been places I'd never go otherwise - from the bottom of a Minuteman launch tube a hundred feet underground, to seeing the stars from 42,000 feet in the blacked-out cockpit of a C-130 crossing the Atlantic. I've seen dawn come up over the Appalachians, and the sun set in the Mediterranian. The AF is a 24-7 operation, after all.

I've seen trees full of parakeets in Panama, I've seen blizzards in Wyoming and New York. I've worked with hot new technology, like GPS receivers in 1982, when it took 4 days to catch enough signals to get a good position and elevation. I've worked with intertial positioning systems and hardware that was hot, then not. That's the way it goes.

Seen uniforms come and go - seen a lot of changes in how they do things - but overall, there's one thing that remains the same. And it'll be the same after I'm gone. "Everything changes, and nothing changes..."

The mission remains. And there will be folks like myself who will dedicate their working lives to making sure that the mission is accomplished. Whatever that mission might be.

Keep them flying, AF! Aim high!


Mac Addicts to the Rescue
Mac Addicts to the Rescue
How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends
Rip not off the Mac users, for they are quick to anger and resourceful.

(Way to go, guy!)


The Atlantic | November 2002 | The Kabul-ki Dance | Bowden
What was the human cost of all this state-of-the-art expertise? The Pentagon does not attempt to tally casualties among enemy combatants, but given how many bombs were dropped and targets destroyed, the numbers in Afghanistan had to be well into the thousands. As for innocent victims, there are likewise no good estimates. Casualty counts are effectively propaganda, so they are all suspect. Human-rights groups, many of which oppose war categorically, say thousands of innocents died. Marc W. Herold, a professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire, who has a decided antiwar bent, used primarily media accounts but also interviews with refugees to calculate that the two-month campaign produced at least 3,767 civilian casualties. But that number appears to be grandly inflated. A study by the Project on Defense Alternatives, a nonprofit academic defense-policy group, using fewer data but more-stringent categories than Herold did, estimated 1,000 to 1,300 civilian deaths, and a New York Times investigation last summer put the total closer to 400.
This is a VERY good article about what's going on in mil-land re the air war. Read. Enjoy...


Trent Lott.. Trent Lott. Trent Lott. The man's the AntiChrist! HE MUST BE DESTROYED!!!
Can we end all this, please? I think this whole damn mess has really been blown out of proportion. Here's a colleage honoring a guy on his hundrendth birthday, talking about his political career. And in any politician's life, surely the biggest and most memorable event must be running for President!

The last 54 years have been pretty troublesome from a political point of view. Korea, Vietnam, Watergate, all with a subtext of nuclear war hanging over it.

Now maybe I'm just politically insensitive, or maybe not hypersensitive, and I know I'm not PC, but I don't see how saying to someone a hundred years old who ran in '48 and lost big-time that 'if he'd got elected into office we wouldn't have all these problems today' is condoning segregation and the racial outlooks of 1948. Unless you're LOOKING for something to hang him on, and willing to use any pretext possible.

What should he have said? "Strom, it's a damn good thing your lily-white nigger-hating sorry ass didn't get elected in '48"? Sadly, I think that's the only thing that might have been acceptable.

I wouldn't know Trent Lott from any other joe on the street. He supposedly tried to keep Blacks out of his fraternity in the early 60's. God, the HORROR!

HELLO! In Mississippi in '60s, segregation was the custom AND the law. Can't it be figured that his attitudes have changed in 40+ years? Or is it only Democrats who are given a pass and allowed to change their stances like that? Once someone says or does something, they're locked into that pattern for the rest of their life?

I don't know about you - but I've changed my mind about the acceptability of a lot of things since I was 18. Actually LIVING does that to you - if you pay any attention at all to what works and what doesn't. It tends to strip away the ideas and ideals that DO NOT WORK, do NOT advance you, and replace them with those that do. If, that is, you pay ATTENTION to your sucesses and failures - and learn from both.

Most people don't, by the way. Took me close to 20 years (and innumerable failed relationships) to figure out what I was doing wrong from a relationship standpoint - and next year Sue and I will have been married ten years. So people CAN learn, CAN change. When they want to.

And it goes to show how 'tired' we are of the WoT if it's something as honestly MINOR as this that gets a week's play in the media.


Thursday, December 12
Washington is now ‘Stim City’
Dec. 12 — In the face of a recession that has dragged on for 21 months and stock market indexes that are 40 percent or more below their 2000 peaks, President Bush and congressional Democrats have found some common ground on elements of an economic stimulus plan that would give tax breaks to investors and to workers.

(wide eyed wonder) Cooperating on tax cuts? Dogs and cats living together... Wait - is that a flock of pigs flying overhead?


This has not been a very good week.

Putting Julia to sleep was tough on Tuesday, and Wednesday I got a call that my mother was having problems. Father had to call 911 to get help getting her back in bed after she couldn't make it back from the bathroom. Their departure on Saturday was rough, with Father getting a dizzy spell and causing Mother to fall - and actually, judging from his somewhat slurred speech Mother's thought that he may have had a mini-stroke could be close to the mark. Today she was diagnosed with pneumonia and put in the hospital. At 84, pneumonia is nothing to fool with.

Couple it with gloomy weather and minor job worries, and it's just not been a very good week. (Job worries? Well, our call load is way, way down, and they're looking at laying off some of the temps and latest hires. Luckily, I've been with them for 4 years and am one of the senior people out there - so we'll just see if I'm looking for a job after Christmas or what.)

December is a cruel month...


Wednesday, December 11
The anti-war movement in Hollywood is getting more vocal - but what I'm hearing isn't making much sense. They're against a war because innocent civilians may get killed - which is sensible enough. But their apparent opinions on options are an excellent case of "Good Lord, would someone PLEASE hit them with a clue-stick before they talk again?"

War isn't a good option - they're right about that. But are any of the other options better? Let's face it - waiting out Saddam is playing his game. He's starving his people so he can build palaces and increase his war reserves. When he figures he has a chance of 'winning', he'll act. We can do nothing - and wait for him to act first before we react - which will insure countless deaths in that area. We can shake our fingers sternly at him and impose sanctions, and ignore him snickering. He's not been seriously affected by sanctions up to now (though his people are) so why would they bother him? UN Inspections, as Jimmy Carter suggests, are ineffective unless there's teeth to back up the snarl. The 'inspections' in the 90's pretty well proved that.

In my opinion, war is the 'least bad option' of a range of crappy ones. The best scenario would be for Saddam to die in his sleep, his sons to abandon Iraq and head north to yank out Dad's cash stash from Switzerland, but have their plane run short of fuel and crash in the Alps w/no survivors. Then the Iraqi Parliment votes en mass to adopt the US Constitution as a model for their government, voluntarily disarm, and kick out Islamic fundamentalists. They take the cash that Saddam's stashed and use it to turn themselves into a progressive, freedom-loving economic powerhouse That's a pretty nice dream, isn't it?

I was listening to Fox news on the drive in, and they had a bit on the actors against the war. One said "I can't imagine how I'm wrong" in opposing military action.

For an actor - you don't have much of an imagination. Or you refuse to use it - I don't know which it is.


Tuesday, December 10
We put Julia to sleep today. She was a good cat, sweet-tempered and very gentle with Aaron when he was in the "It moves! I'm going to grab it!" stage of babyhood. She was a stray who adopted Sue a couple of years before I met her.

She'd been losing weight and throwing up - so Sue took her to the vet last week, who recommended we get an ultrasound on her abdomen, to see what that lump was he spotted. Well, we found out today when they did the ultrasound. Lymphoma, and it had spread throughout her abdomen, with over 13 tumors in the liver alone. There wasn't any point in operating, or going the chemo route.

Julia loved tuna, and had it for breakfast this morning...


Damn, that's annoying 2...

I've gotten a new network card, and a cheap video card - the network card went in smoothly, but Network Neighborhood resolutely refuses to admit that the network is there - despite being able to map to a shared drive on the other system. Internet? Forget it - I can't get IE or Netscape to work - getting socket/system resource errors.

Ah, well. It's a learning experience... I think soon I'm going to be learning how to install Win2K on the beast if it doesn't shape up real quick. Anyone know where I can get a copy of Win2kPro for less than $200? A licensed copy... I have no desire to skirt copyright law where a reporting O/S is concerned.


Monday, December 9
Damn, that's annoying.

I've been using a PC-Chips system board in Big Blue (the 800 mhz Athlon) for the last few years. It's not the fastest, and it's got a few quirks - like trying to see any AGP card as an AGP SCSI device (a scsi graphics card... wow.) but it's been pretty steady.

I've been monitoring case and cpu temperatures (you can do it with this board, an MLR800, just in case you want to know what to stay away from...) and CPU temps are in the upper 30s (C) with an occasional excursion to 45, (which I can't explain, since the fans run constantly...) unless the side's off the case, in which case it goes down to low 30s. The case vents are such that I should be getting decent cooling, and serious overclockers would say I'm being a wimp and I shouldn't worry until I can use the power supply exhaust air to toast marshmallows, but I'm of the opinion that large heat sinks are a GOOD thing - and the cooler the better when it comes to CPU temps.

So, I ordered another case. From, which has some pretty neat cases at very low prices. ($28 for the Mars-X) Of course, the base bare case is something you need to install ALL your parts in - from the power supply on up - but that's no problem. I know which end of a screwdriver to grab, and it'll be a learning experience for Aaron.

We got all the parts out of the old case. We got all the parts in the new case. Aaron went to bed, and I got all the various control wires in place and took the system downstairs to power up - and the video got glitchy and the system started having problems. Very slow to start, system hung every so often in Win98. Tried booting it under Linux, same problem. Loads up, changes video modes to desktop and SPROING! No video.

Well, I suppose I can't gripe too much - the video card in it is roughly six years old and the weather's been dry - static likely got it. (Darn near killed off the DVD player when I zapped it - had to unplug it to reset it the other night.) So I yank out the graphics accellerator and try again - and video is still glitchy but the system gets to the desktop. Have to reinstall drivers, but it eventually works. System still slow as dirt - and I find out why. The network firewall has packed it in.

I use "Tiny Personal Firewall" - a freeware/shareware firewall that's done a pretty good job for me over the years. But why did THAT decide to pack it in?

Because the network adapter isn't admitting anything exists outside the connector on it, apparently causing the system to hang occasionally. I'm getting a decent light on the router - but it's not talking. I tried reinstalling the software and drivers, but no luck. The Linksys software maintains that it can't see the router five feet away. I can't remove and replace the card, it's integrated on the system board. Luckily the firewall uninstalls gracefully - but the network port is still dead. Won't see a network, even after having the drivers yanked and reinstalled....

Very aggravating... Went over to MicroCenter and got a new network card at lunch. With luck, I should be able to disable the integrated adapter and install the new one fairly fast, and get the system up and going this evening.

Moral? Watch out for static. I should have known better than to work on all this without the case being grounded, and grounding myself to the case. Add in a little boy dressed in fashionable polyester, and this was an ESD problem looking to happen. With luck, ALL I'll be out is a new network card and video card. (And no, I didn't get high-end for either. $14 for the network card, $20 for the video. This isn't a high-end gaming system, after all...

And the CPU temp? When I was able to get it going, it stabilized at 29-30C.

Man, the things I'll do to stay cool...


Democratic Underground has totally lost it. In a

Amid Smallpox Outbreaks, Bush Calls for Calm, Shopping
December 7, 2002
By David Albrecht

WASHINGTON, DC - "The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta confirmed early this afternoon that smallpox outbreaks are underway in eight American cities. The cities are: New York, Baltimore, Raleigh NC, Jacksonville FL, San Antonio, New Orleans, St. Louis and Seattle. CDC confirmation of additional outbreaks in Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Santa Fe, NM is expected by late tonight." A lovely little article - with zip about it being a spoof or satire. But it does beg the question:

Why do they hate the US so?


Sunday, December 8
CNN - Poll - Is Saddam Sincere?

Saddam 'apologized' for invading Kuwait. (Actually, considering the tone it was more "I'm sorry I didn't suceed in taking you over", but that may just be me reading into it.)

But is it flying in the US? Doesn't seem to be - the vote is about 10 to 1 against.

I think it's getting real clear to a lot of former Saddam supporters that they may have put their money on the wrong horse. And they're changing their minds on whether he's worthy of that support.


Friday, December 6
CBC News - Indepth: Iraq
The four Canadians, sponsored by an anti-war organization called Voices in the Wilderness, have volunteered to be human shields in an effort to dissuade American-led forces from attacking Iraq. “I’m not too scared,” Vandas told CBC News Online the day before she left. “I think it will be a powerful experience.”
Uhhh... yeah. Right.


Yes, I'd say she's right on that...


Tuesday, December 3
After taking full command of oil-rich Iraq in 1979, Saddam went on a spree of palace-building across Iraq. He is known to travel among them, partly because he fears assassination. He often spends only a brief period in one palace before moving to another.
The opulence of the palaces contrasts starkly with the drab existence of ordinary Iraqis. The economy has plummeted because of the international economic sanctions that resulted from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
So Saddam built palaces while his people starve...

But Amnesty International still thinks he's a peach of a fellow, and their spokesman is angry about the British report detailing the fear and intimidation that the populace lives under.

Amnesty International is rendering themselves irrelevant in the scheme of things. They cannot - they WILL not - condemn Saddam's excesses. If they do, then they'll have to start condemning a lot of other countries and take the heat for being silent for a long time about very well documented 'excesses'.

It's far easier to lambast the US.


It's SO much fun when your folks come to visit.

Yesterday we were headed over to the Dekalb Farmer's Market - Mother visited it for the first time when Sue and I got married, and she loves the place. So, naturally, when we were about to get on the freeway Mother started compaling about chest pains.

She's 84.

We beat feet to the nearest hospital, where she threw up, burped, and the pain started to diminish. But we spent all day in the ER anyhow - just to be on the safe side. Blood work showed okay, X-Rays were negative, and everything looked the way it should for her age.

We're going to try again today...


Monday, December 2
Oh, good heavens!

You know, there's times I've wanted to do this to our two myself....


'A Terrifying Place to Live'

"Iraqi citizens face systematic torture, rape, murder by Baghdad regime, according to British government report."

You expected something else? Like Iraq's a virtual paradise, led by a benevolent, kindly man?

Get real.