Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Real-Life Super Powers

Audie came by late last night to work on sets for an hour or so. She’s trying to get up to speed for the exam next month, and it’s a good refresher for me, since I have to know all eighty-some sets from yellow on down cold. Eighty? Hold on…. (homina homina), no, 102. Jeebus. And if I somehow manage to pass, next year I get to pick up forty more for silver…

Anyway, it went very well, surprisingly well, even, until her ribs locked up, as they tend to, so we called it an evening, and she crashed over so that she could get in some Bannon time. (We’re “training” her kitten for her until she moves into her apartment this weekend. Yes, that includes the liberal application of a tiny, bright orange squirt gun, known as The Punisher.)

Well, this morning I was a slug. Could have gotten up early, decided “screw that,” and had something like six different dreams, including a dance contest, and before that something else that was either postapocalyptic, or else involved Cthulhu. Not sure. Postapocalyptic dance contest? Sounds Bollywood to me…

So she’s sitting upright in bed with a confused look when I come out in the hallway, and I say “good morning,” but don’t get a response. So I think “she’s sleepwalking again,” and go to wake her up. And Autumn gets this confused look on her face, and says “where’s my hair?”

Oh, shit, where IS her hair? It’s something like eight inches shorter than last night…

I call Anna in while telling her “I’ll go check…” But Anna’s already on it.

Turns out that she’s not merely a death-defyingly cute sleepwalker… she’s a sleepbarber. Did a pretty good job, too, with only one section a little longer than the other, in one of those complicated multilayered “make it shorter but make it look a lot fuller” sort of cuts.

I think this qualifies as a Real-Life Superpower. If I tried to cut my hair while I was asleep, I’d either wind up looking like the deranged scientist from Alien Resurrection in his final scene, or else Boris Karloff…

My twin has a Real-Life SuperPower, too, called “all dogs love me.” What’s yours?

Progress

Word to the whiny, petulant, cynical freaks who think that Progress is some illusory b.s. proposed by the EEEvil Corporate Masters:

Shut the fuck up and get a job.

I'm 34 today. My family is notably long-lived, but if I were living when my grandfather were the age I am now, I'd be truly ready for my mid-life crisis, because life expectancy for men hadn't managed to break the seventy mark, and anything past that was considered an outright Gift from God and the official mark of a Lucky Bastard.

Now there are folks out there who are concerned that Roberts, up for nomination to the Supreme Court, might, at fifty-something, be too young for the job.

What about if I were in my father's generation or just after? You think we have environmental problems now? How about an entire generation growing up not only breathing smog, but smog that was heavily-laced with lead fumes!! (Does that explain why Baby Boomers actually watched the Partridge Family?) That's right, Virginia, just in case you're too young to remember it, gasoline used to laced with lead, and only when I was a kid did you get to choose, based on your car, between leaded and unleaded...

So let's lay off the whiny, useful-idiot soviet agitprop, and spend some time actually employed, instead of cursing those who create, and those who do, simply because you're too lazy to get off your ass and pull down a paycheck.

Because if you keep mewling like that, I just might have to break your nose sometime in 2083.

State of the Russ Report

1. Am badly overdue to visit the Bairds, and am consistently failing to find a window.
2. Juggling projects again. "Unmitigated Geekery" being one example. Sewing trousers at lunch breaks. Am still of the opinion that men's clothing is designed in a slipshod fashion that fits like crap, looks like complete ass, and actually teaches men to be physically stiff and inflexible.
3. We're creating quite the little Geek Street on Burning Tree Lane. I love my neighborhood, with its nearby park, schools all the way from day-care to junior high, and the tons of little mom-n-pop restaurants. No little lefty bookstores, but Half-Price books is pretty squishy that way. On the other hand, all of the neighborhood's benefits are the subtle, under-the-radar stuff, so we don't have any yuppie scum, either: they're all living in the overpriced chipboard-walled houses crapped out by space aliens in neighborhoods where it takes fifteen minutes to get to the grocery store. If we can keep our locals local, and get a couple of our buddies to relocate our way, we should have quite the colony.
4. It's my birthday, so I'm 34 now. It's odd to be just cruising along and suddenly be the center of attention. Embarrassing.
5. Go embarrass Jim over at Lemurland. It's his birthday.
6. Fall is here! Tonight we'll have lows in the 60s, and our highs for the rest of the week will be in the high 80s only. You know what this means? Well, besides trying to avoid heatstroke working out? It means yours truly can go to town with an axe and pick, and lay out the watering system for next year's UberYard. With two years worth of lessons on what will grow here and what won't, we should definitely be starting to look all Better Homes and Gardens by next spring. Hell of an official birthday present from God: the weather's finally breaking...

That's it for now, I think...

Yet More Unmitigated Geekery

Why am I only publishing at the rate of one article per year? What makes my work difficult?
In a word (or three): obtaining proper materials.

Talked yesterday to the CEO of Siegel's of California (a high-end leather retailer), regarding the differences between alum-tanned leather with an oil finish or oil combination-tan, versus Indian Tan leather (alum tannage with a russet veg-tan outside, resulting in the yellow-interior, red-exterior leather one commonly sees used for lacings on boots). This is in relation to trying to find an appropriate leather to reconstruct the Cuman "farsetto" referred to by Matteo Villani in the middle of the fourteenth century, which I believe to be the direct ancestor of the buff coat. Since some of you are curious about what goes into separating out legit experimental archaeological reconstructions from that stuff you see at RenFairs...

CEO: (snipped for brevity).... Could you tell me more about the properties that you are trying to reproduce and the end use....

The leather will be used to recreate objects of material culture. Some of this will be relatively simple: bags, archery gear, equestrian equipment. Other uses will be harsh: wear-testing the leather in abusive winter conditions for extended periods, destructive testing by subjecting multiple glued-up layers to archery fire in order to determine the accuracy of chronicle references depicting soft-armor efficacy, where the chronicler's vocabulary is sufficiently odd that it must be double-checked (he uses terms reserved exclusively for clothing, rather than armor). The author posits what I believe should be interpreted as an early form of "buff coat on steroids." In combination with other known protective gear, how it is protective (as opposed to "how much" it is protective) needs to be assessed.

The leather in question needs to have the following characteristics:
1. Producible in an environment in which typical tannin materials such as oak galls are in fairly short supply, in a relatively short timeframe (The people in question were transhumant ranchers, moving significant distances between summer and winter pastures. It is not credible to believe that they engaged in primitive pit-tanning, with a timeframe-to-completion which would have involved abandoning the product for months at a time.)
2. Optimally, the leather should allow for gluing with a hide glue with little difficulty.
3. Mechanically, the same tan needs to be
3a. Weather-resistant
3b. Sufficiently tough so that it can be put to very hard use
3c. *AND* sufficiently versatile that the same tannage can be put to use for products that require toughness plus suppleness (for example, strapping, lacing, and garments), or else put to use without work-softening, for items requiring more rigidity (quivers and bow-cases, for example).

The "India Tan" dry alum+veg-retan latigo satisfies the chemical (2) and mechanical (3) properties with no difficulty assuming that the samming/oiling is done after gluing-up. (I have rediscovered their method of waterproofing hide glue so that it forms a weather-proof bond. With the surface to be glued gone over with a lye soap, the oiled-off version would also satisfy these requirements.) Period chronicles have also compared the leather used to cordwain, which in a medieval context definitely allows for the russet color of the vegetable re-tanning. For this reason, the purchased side is plausible.

However, the difficulty with assuming its equivalence is:
1. lack of readily-available materials for the tannin re-tannage
2. the universal depiction, within those images sources that are otherwise considered to be highly reliable, of their leather garments being a yellow, not russet, color. While one can "argue away" the color use in some of these depictions based on iconographic convention (yellow = bad guy), other images sources are not subject to such an argument.

Therefore, if I'm going to drop the tons of cash required to get the leather required, obtaining samples ahead of time is an absolute must.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Democrat provides handy advice...

Please, will you Democrats listen to this James Kroeger fellow over at Republican Nemesis, so he can tell you all about:

1. How swing voters are stupid and grow confused when faced with details.
2. How Republicans are evil shysters who convince Americans to vote against their own interests.
3. How "Image Campaigns" are the key to getting the electorate to vote Democrat.

An example that would provide a solid change of pace for Democratic campaigns:

Like it or not, the only way Democrats can win against the modern Republican Party is by defining them as a group that is [morally] defective and threatening.

I understand that this would be a bold new policy that would be a bit extreme to contemplate for many Democrats, but, trust me, this is definitely the way to go... and it would make for a refreshing sea-change from the disaster of the Kerry campaign...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Merkel's toast.

Now that the Greens have said "no way" to a "Jamaica coalition" with the CDU and FPD, Germany's pretty much stuck with a grand coalition. Merkel, whose reform credentials were weak to begin with (thus resulting in very high numbers for the Free Democrats), is not going to be credible after being in grand coalition with Schroeder's gang. She's already had to cut too many deals with the regional bosses, and there are many in the party who see her as a backstabber to begin with.

Either Merkel stays boss, but achieves absolutely nothing, in which case she's toast long-term, or else for the coalition to work, there is a "double decapitation," and she and Schroeder are both out immediately, and probably for good.

... next to "irony" in the dictionary...

Darwin candidate alert!

Palestinian pro-Hamas asswipes inadvertently administer themselves a taste of their own medicine...

but of course, the fact that the masked men and their homemade weapons blew up in the middle of a rally of people all doing the "AK-47 monkey dance" isn't their fault. No-ooooo.... and now they want revenge. On whom? Themselves? Of course not! They blame it on the joooooooooos....

You know, it's not the kids' fault that they were brainwashed. Ya gotta feel for the poor munchkins. But otherwise, listen to this tiny fucking fiddle....

If you live in Dallas, lay off the freaking gas!

This is a test of the common-sense-in-emergencies network. This is only a test.

Gas stations that are nowhere near highway I35 were empty last night, as I saw tons of locals making runs to top their cars up.

Guys, I know you don't want to get caught paying five bucks per gallon for the next two weeks, but you're creating the same shortage we're trying to avoid!
Can we please leave some gas for the evacuees who actually need it?

Schlieffen never had it so good.

A little while ago, I posted a quick essay, Suddenly Desert Storm Looks Hopelessly Primitive, which tried to bring to light just how significantly the existence of true mil-spec beam weapons changes the military game and strategic balance..

Let's look at one angle of that essay: it's 2012. What could one of our opponents put up on the game board that might change the equation? It's a legitimate question, given the Chinese military's desperate fixation on the US as the hegemon to be toppled with shashoujian weaponry. Let's assume that the Israelis have, as usual, screwed us over on technology transfers, and have leaked China beam-weapon tech (call it 100kW), and that their UAV program has gone forward with Russian assistance to something that would be ambitious but not unthinkable given what we can put up now.

Let's try this: UAV tech meets the Soviet Tank Army.
A stupidly-expensive-to-produce 50-by-50 UAV array, each separated at cruising speed by a distance of 5000 feet horizontal and 1000 feet vertical, communicating with each other via a distributed laser-comm suite run via a dozen "quarterback" airplanes bringing up the rear by a healthy margin. It's crude, overwhelmingly massive, and technically ambitious but by no means impossible. If you can create a "Beowulf" massively-distributed supercomputer, you can network this puppy. And by its very nature, it has precisely the sort of perverse appeal of inhuman scale put to direct, top-down control that fascist and communist governments love.

The result: an array that can be converted to any size aerial formation that makes sense, from a tight-mesh blanket flying ground suppression at stomach-churning cruise missile heights just above the treeline, to a fifty-mile-wide by fifty-thousand-foot-high flying wall sweeping the ocean like a giant net, to a giant flying donut flying continual station over Taiwan and shooting anything demonstrating the proper speed and/or heat-signature.

How do you counter this?

1) It can put massive overkill on anything within the horizon it can see, including missiles and kinetic-kill railgun rounds (and, nota bene, from high altitude, that horizon is significantly greater than 12 nautical miles).
2) It can evade radar by flying low prior to "assembling in formation" for deployment with strategic surprise.
3) It's huge, but mobile: it has, in theory, the ability to evade satellite recon that's not actively looking for it, if satellite flyover schedules are known.
4) Flight range and refueling is a massive issue, but flight speed in theater is not.
5) It has psychotic radar coverage, and if all units are engaged in active radar, massive radar-image parallax for defeating stealth technology.

Is it sci-fi? Yep. But it's hard like diamond, near-term sci-fi. If DARPA's not in the middle of some 1980s SDI-style information sting, this is something that could be on the planning desk somewhere in the Pentagon right now.

So here's your challenge, folks. Assume the following:
a) The opposition is smart enough to anticipate top-down and bottom-up attacks via satellite and submarine.
b) The opponent knows that it can get away with massive destruction and collateral damage in a limited-theatre war, given the conventional (non-nuclear) nature of the threat.
c) Cutting the array to a smaller size is acceptable by making economic arguments, but you are then limited to realistic procurement assessments yourself.

Knowing that first-deployment counts, put yourself in Schlieffen's shoes. What can you put up to counter this?

Republicans to Base: Shut up if you know what's good for you.

“A Conservative Vision of Social Justice,” by Rick Santorum and Iain Smith (from Britain’s Conservatives), published in the Wall Street Journal this morning, and thankfully made available online, posits that conservatives should push the growth of the Nanny State. Let’s look at the rhetoric and see what’s going on.

For all the differences between the United States and Europe, we share a
common challenge: how to improve the social well-being of our citizens without a
massive growth in the size and intrusiveness of government. We're convinced that
conservatism--properly understood--offers the surest road to social justice.

So far, so good. What’s going on here is a clarification of what it means to be conservative, and, naturally, an assertion that conservatives stand against the Nanny State.

In many conservative circles, "social justice" is synonymous with socialism
or radical individualism. No wonder: For decades, the political left has used it
as a Trojan horse for its big-state agenda. Yet the wreckage of their policies
is obvious. Compared to the U.S., most European economies are struggling with
inflation, unemployment, low growth and a declining tax base; nearly all
European societies are burdened with increased crime and family breakdown; and
there is a draining away of hope and opportunity.
Europe is a leftist basket-case and Social Justice is synonymous with socialism, yep yep yep. Social Justice is synonymous with radical individualism? Where’d that come from? Where has a spirit for the radical individual, oh, heck, even the moderately individual individual, shown its face on the political left?

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond are charting a new
vision of social justice. It recognizes that the problems caused or aggravated
by the growth in government cannot be corrected by a crude reduction in its
size. Policy must also deliberately foster the growth of what Edmund Burke
called "the little platoons" of civil society: families, neighborhood
associations, private enterprises, charities and churches. These are the real
source of economic growth and social vitality.
Hold on a second. First, one castigates the left for being big-government – while simultaneously accusing it of rampant libertarianism (or, for the Brits, classical liberalism). But, hold on a second, conservatives aren’t for the diminution of government, either, but instead for an activist government implementing their own social policy (naturally, a better one than the leftists come up with.) Since when is cutting pork and getting rid of ineffectual agencies "crude?" And, maybe that Burkean quote plays big in Britain, where people are used to being treated like sheep by their government... but the notion that families are units to be deployed in a great government march to victory is a notion that sits more comfortably with the Great Leap Forward, than with anything I've ever known as the Republican Party.

The social justice agenda we endorse is grounded in social conservatism.
That means helping the poor discover the dignity of work, rather than making
them wards of the state. It means locking up violent criminals, but offering
nonviolent offenders lots of help to become responsible citizens. It endorses a
policy of "zero tolerance" toward drug use and sexual trafficking, yet insists
that those struggling with all manner of addictions can start their lives
afresh.
So social justice means getting rid of the miasma of the welfare state… and a hodge-podge of blatantly self-contradictory pablum regarding crime. So, where does a non-violent pot-smoker stand in Mssrs. Santorum and Smith’s view? In jail for zero-tolerance? Or not locked up, because they’re not violent? Is the state going to help them to quit their habit via a well-meaning program? Or is the conservative idea of helping somebody with a drug addiction to lock them up in a metal cage surrounded by sodomite gang-rapists? What aid should we be giving to an embezzler or car thief in order to help him become “responsible?”

In America, this vision emerged a decade ago with bold conservative
initiatives aimed at empowering individuals and grassroots groups helping the
nation's neediest, such as the Community Renewal Act and other antipoverty
initiatives. Today's CARE Act is part of the same tradition. Likewise, the Bush
administration's plan to create a Gulf Opportunity Zone after Hurricane Katrina
would offer tax relief and small-business loans to support a culture of
entrepreneurship.
I’m not a policy wonk, but how precisely do FEMA’s “pass go and collect two thousand dollars” cards equate here?

Britain and America have long enjoyed a healthy exchange of ideas. British
Conservatives are learning from America's experiences with zero-tolerance
policing, welfare reform and school choice. George W. Bush's vision of an
"ownership society" owes a great deal to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. These
efforts seek to empower individuals and families, not bureaucracies, and unleash
the creativity and generosity of neighbor helping neighbor.

At this point, we can see Reagan rolling in his grave. Does Ms. Thatcher know her name is being taken in vain? The views of Santorum and Smith are in stark opposition to those of us who listened to the Gipper… why on earth do we need the government to “unleash” what already exists, except insofar as it’s busy dodging well-meaning but stupid ideas put out by conservatives in Washington?

The rest of the paragraph continues, with the notion that conservatives can do better than liberals at building just societies. Okay, fair enough, if one equates “liberals” with trade unions that are saved from well-deserved extinction only because they’ve managed to infest the government, or the Democratic Party’s collection of hyperbolic moonbat leftists. When Rick Perry got his “mandatory child seats until eight years” policy pushed through here in Texas, was that any less intrusive than similar well-meaning ideas that nevertheless make the State the master, and destroy individual creativity? Sure, it does great things for keeping the SUV market afloat, given one’s chances of successfully maintaining three child seats in the back of the Honda Accord hatchback we repeatedly took cross-country… sometimes, in the –gasp—front seat!

What happened to the Republican Party? You know, the party that used to at least give lip service to getting government out of our lives before screwing us over in the mid-term? Is this the best that a conservative movement can come up with? “We’re the nanny-state, but at least we’re better than that other nanny state?”

The Reagan Coalition used to be made up of conservatives and libertarians. To the point that many folks actually equate some of libertarianism’s (or liberalism, if you’re in Europe), with being conservatism. Now, I don’t mean the Libertarian Party. They were never in the coalition, and thus have no room to gripe… but once again, it seems like the Republicans have failed to learn from history. Bush Senior got his po-po whacked politically when he went big-government, and decided he’d balance out his (sudden, inexplicable) polling numbers by going big-government even faster. It seems very much like the Republicans’ “trouble with the base” is being, once again, healed through the sovereign expedient of ignoring that base completely and trying to spend his way back to high approval numbers. Well, guess what? Republicans can't do that. That's what Democrats do. There may be fewer Republicans who know the difference in political philosophies, thereby calling libertarianism what it is... but there are plenty of Republicans who think they're conservative, and want Washington DC to get the hell out of their wallets, and the hell out of their way.

To which one can easily see a number of conservatives saying “we own your butts politically, so why should we care? We know you’re not voting for the Dems.” Well, the reason that the conservatives should care is a matter of numbers. There aren’t enough conservatives to win the Republicans office on their own. If the (small-l) libertarians stay home, guess what? The Democrats win. And why shouldn't they? To paraphrase a Croatian politician, "Keep us in power. We've already stolen everything we want. What will these new guys want to steal?" We know how to stonewall and work around the Democrats' version of the Nanny State... we've been listening to their arrogance and condescension for years. We know that the Clintons are shamelessly corrupt, power-mongering elitists who hold their electorate in disdain and believe that government is a piggy bank that exists in order for them to rightfully plunder it. Bill may be a world-class wuss, but does anybody seriously think that Senator Clinton will hold back and pull a John Kerry when it comes to foreign policy, or allow her hands to be tied by people like Jacques Chirac?

Is their well-known perfidy really all that distinguishable from the new brand that's starting to come to light?

Tell me, Mr. Santorum, why are you taking rhetorical potshots at your own constituents? if we don't like their Nanny State, why should we vote to let you implement yours?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

He's proud to be an Asshole from El Paso...

and he LOOOOOOOVES Texas!

Really, I think Kinky's hit it right on the head. Given what the governor of this state actually does, how hard could it be?

Uh-oh.

Listening to the radio this morning as I talked to my overnight guest about her kitten's propensity to walk on people's faces at 3 a.m., they said "Hurricane Rita...... expected to reach Category Four by nightfall..."

It was Cat-4 by the time I left the house, less than forty minutes later. Not good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wet Weekend!

Well, at least not going this weekend means I don't have to drive right through the remains of Hurricane Rita... if the NOAA is right, this sucker's either going to drive right past us, and hit us with the nasty side of the storm, or else if they're wrong, and it tilts more strongly clockwise (the normal error in path prediction), it's likely to come right down on our heads.

Hopefully, this sucker won't pick up power and still be a monster by the time it passes through the Hill Country... but either way, tonight's the last day the lawn gets watered this week...

One-Shot Sinus Headache Relief.

Okay guys, you know who you are, listen up.
If this doesn't apply to you, point it to somebody to whom it does. I've found the world's simplest sinus headache cure. Much more effective than other methods to which I've been reduced, like sticking my nose in the vacuum cleaner, because OTC painkillers aren't even slowing the pain down. (Don't laugh. Okay, go ahead and laugh, but I get them bad.)

It's a variant on something my Dad used to use for migraines.
The loose theory is that sinusitis involves the swelling (obviously) and irritation of the sinuses. So the first key to reducing sinus headache isn't to pop pills, but to simply reduce the irritation.

How do you do that? Cut out the dryness from the equation. If you work in AC, the dryness of the air is one of the issues with which you're having to deal. But since running humidifiers all the time isn't much of an option, especially in the summer time, or in places where mold is a serious issue....

Step One: do you have a sinus headache? Is ragweed kicking your butt?
If yes, proceed to step two.
Step Two: get a paper towel or washcloth. Wet that sucker down with the hottest water you can get. If you're at work in an office, that's probably the hot water on the side of the coffee machine that some NPR listener is using to brew green tea at 8 a.m. while the rest of us are drowning in our coffee pools. At worst case, you may be forced to boil water. Go for it.
Step Three: Put this ridiculously hot cloth right on your nose. Yes, I know, it's hot. Deal with it, you have to be in contact with the cloth for this to work.
Step Four: Inhale through the wet washcloth or paper towel. It should be close enough to your nostrils that you can literally hear the water burbling the fiber matrix as your inhalation strips it from the progressively-cooler towel.

Instant portable humidifier. It won't last you all day, but I've found that I get a pretty consistent fifteen or twenty minutes of being able to breathe beautifully with no sinus pain at all, followed up with the pain camping out at a much more tolerable level for the next couple of hours. Which means that if you have a hot tap and can do this in a convenient fashion, it's no sweat to "huff fabric" six or seven times a day.

And that's a heck of a lot better than suffering through the alternative.

Couple of quick updates...

1. Not going to Missouri this weekend for a long vacation shooting at 11th-century Saxons and hanging out on a replica Viking longship on a lake. Needless to say, bummer.
2. Handsewn trousers which were being made for said trip now shockingly lower priority, but I think I'll turn them into a "keep hands busy" project while I try to figure out how to make adequate hand protection for playing double cane.
3. Savate last night sucked. I pulled class early, due to the heat. Mike will giggle, of course, but my schoolteachers aren't doing so hot: they work in absolutely frigid classrooms, and then have to try to force-acclimate from a 70-degree classroom to a 105-degree salle... not good.
4. New blog will be added shortly: Freedom in the World. It's a Freedom-House tracking site, for those of you who'd like their "who's free and who's not list" more than once a year.
5. Bunny's travelling, so I'm doing terrible things to the cats. Rudy is really starting to show his age, this time probably for good. Instead of ups and downs, it's downs and drifts. So we may be looking for a kitten soon.
6. I have a new Unmitigated Geekery(tm) project... more on that later.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I want to live long enough to be on a colony ship...

and apparently, with the Methusela (sp) Mouse issues running, that's looking less like an impossibility, and more like a potentiality...

On the brain...

Everybody's got their hobbies.
The one I haven't done any of in two months now is archery, and every time I pass a decent-sized streetsign, I can feel myself mentally smacking an arrow into it while I zoop by...

Great! No more math wall!

Okay, shopping list for a brave new world in which computers really are super...

Me: I want the new MicroMath, Linguisoft (the new chip, with the archaeolinguistic and on-the-fly cypherlingua processing), and CelestialNav 4.
The Wife: OmniRecipe6, The Library of Congress, predictive version.

Still saving up for that sweet neuroadaptive "expert in every sport" system...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The beginning of the end...

of the Third Cold War. Or something like that. To put matters bluntly, with so much at stake between the U.S. and China, and so many reasons that both countries have for encouraging peaceful development across the board... why should we stick our necks out for the Taiwanese, considering that the Chinese have legitimate (and, truly, crucial) geopolitical interests in securing their energy conduits in the region, if the the Taiwanese continue to fail to take steps to defend themselves?

I won't be the first one to say it... but US promises are the reason that most of our allies in NATO don't have militaries worth spitting at. (Which is a pity, because some of the continentals, like the French, have great soldiers... who are then consistently backstabbed by their own people.) Why should they, when Uncle Sugar will foot the defense bill, and arms money can go to buying votes with social spending, instead?

Bush has already made some noises in this direction, but he needs to make it absolutely clear that we're not going to WWIV on behalf of those who won't pull their weight. If the Koreans think we're less palatable than Pyongyang... let's go. If Taiwan won't defend itself, let it suffer the consequences. Let the Germans mewl all they want about the evils of American Cowboyism when the only troops we have near their soil are a Stryker brigade and some folks hanging out with the (still-testicularly-equipped) Poles.

Above all, let's stand back long enough for everybody to come back to grips with reality, rather than subsidizing infantilized regimes that won't take responsibility for their own survival.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I say to you, Mr. President, and to the glorious American people, thank you, thank you.

There are those who think that we should never have invaded Iraq.

Some of these are simply playing politics.
Some of them are committed leftists, for whom any increase in freedom is a disaster directly contradicting their self-appointed position as "the smart people" in a herd of sheeple.
Some of them simply don't have access to actual Iraqi voices, and have to get their news through CNN, etcetera, whose business depends upon reporting the news in the worst possible light.

To the people in this third category, allow me to link here the remarks of the Prime Minister of Iraq, from his press conference today with the President.

For example:

In the name of the Iraqi people, I say to you, Mr. President, and to the glorious American people, thank you, thank you.
Thank you because you have liberated us from the worst kind of dictatorship. Our people suffered too much from this worst kind of dictatorship. The signal is mass graves with hundred thousand of Iraqi innocent children and women, young and old men. Thank you.
And thanks to the United States, there are now 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq liberated by your courageous leadership and decision to liberate us, Mr. President.

....
To those in America and other countries still ask if war of liberation in Iraq it was the right decision. I say, "Please, please come to Iraq to visit the mass graves, to see what happened to Iraqi people, and to see what's now going on in Iraq."
To those who talk of stability, I say, "Saddam imposed the stability of the mass graves."


Read the rest.
UPDATE: The Lexis-Nexis links seemed to Michelangelo'd for some reason R Replaced with whitehouse.gov.

I know Taebo, and I'm gonna kick your ass.

Top Ten Reasons why that Taebo Chick(tm) is going to wipe the walls with all you dojo darlings:

10. After Taebo Chick kicks your ass, she's going to get the hell out of there, rather than mouthing off and turning the entire biker bar against her.
9. Taebo Chick doesn't think ten reps is enough to know how to kick.
8. Taebo Chick goes to class to train, not to hang out in a circle jerk being told how dangerous she is.
7. By definition, Taebo Chick understands that conditioning counts.
6. Taebo Chick doesn't have to be bitched at constantly about slacking off and poor form.
5. If Taebo Chick realizes she has to fight you, she's going to keep her pumps on and use them to kick your teeth in, not dramatically remove them and drop into a kung fu stance.
4. Taebo Chick recognizes poseur tricks like bowing to a real-world opponent for the candy-ass dick moves they are, and would never spend a half hour fantasizing about it out loud with other Taebo Chicks.
3. Nobody's ever seen a Taebo Chick whine about doing a hundred reps.
2. The Taebo Chick doesn't think that she can beat you up with her chi.

and....


1. If she has to run, Taebo Chick's knees still work.

Iran and Syria pledge free trade zone

Involving major international projects, like, a cement plant and a few grain silos.

Now, I've actually seen some drawings for grain silos. They are a serious piece of engineering, given the threat of explosion. But major bi-national project? The best and brightest of Syria can't build a silo?

There's clearly more afoot. I'll be curious to know how many of those Iranian engineers are going to have dual passports, and heavy contact with Hezbollah...

Friday, September 09, 2005

"As the full horror sinks in..."

Go read Mr. Newton Emerson, reprinted by permission from the Irish Times, on the various horrors columnists have had to face since Katrina struck....

Great writing. Now if only we were that clever...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Governor Blanco criminally negligent?

I have tried to stay out of the hurricane fray... but according to this interview with FEMA, the reason that there were no supplies at the Superdome is that the Louisiana DHS (not to be confused with the federal agency of the same name) refused the Red Cross entry, and LA officials are apparently STILL denying them entry, in order to force an evacuation.

Did the governor order that supplies were not to be sent to the crippled, elderly, and those unable to flee Katrina, in order to force them out? This is beyond explosive.

1. Relief supplies that were ready and waiting were not allowed in -- because people might get access to those supplies.
2. Recall that for some time, the people inside the Superdome were also not allowed out.

ergo:

By fixating on the policy of forcible removal (why, rather than feed and enlist these people as search assets in order to save trapped peoples' lives), but also directly hindering peoples' ability to get out, the Louisiana government effectively ordered its population to flee or be starved.

I'm a medievalist.
Medievalists have a word for this: it's called SIEGE.

A government that besieges its own disaster victims deserves .... words simply fail at the inhumanity. What is the point of forced evacuations like this, under these terms? What possible level of corruption and ineptitude could explain intentionally inflicting misery like this?
Heads should very literally roll for this depravity.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Meme ecology

Anti-idiotarianism could, if we can allow for a slightly larger definition of "idiotarian," be considered be predatory memes in action.

No, seriously. What do predators do? They prey upon the sick, the weak, the stupid for their own benefit.

Sounds like half the blogosphere to me....

Brains! I mean, Jobs!

Stone-throwing Gazans and their pet zombie wonder why they're unemployable.
So, here we are. The Israelis have left. The Palestinians are in charge. And nobody has a job. So, what's a guy to do?
A. See if there's some service he can provide.
B. Make something and see if it can be sold.
C. Sit it out and get yourself in with a boss or list, so that you can be in a position to benefit in the near future while you sit it out.
Oh no. That would be for reasonable human beings. These asshats chose:
D. Riot and throw rocks at the gub'mint until things get better. (Shades of "the beatings will continue until morale improves," eh? We all know that jobs happen because you've made the streets too unsafe to travel...)
And this is the first sign that things are going to go poorly in Gaza, if the left-wing mentality that has generally characterized the pro-Palestinian positions allows it to be manifested in daily life.
Left-wing mentality? What are you talking about? Have you been listening to AM radio again?
Nope. Across the Third World and other various Unpleasant Places(tm), only in those locales seriously infected with leftist movements do you see people rioting because they think that it's the government's responsibility to give them a job. Not just the role of your "boss" or "roof," who plays fixer and gets people what they want in systems that are hopelessly corrupt... but the government itself.
Bread and circuses... (Bread and katyushas?)
If this is indicative of the typical "thinking on the street" in Gaza, then it really may not matter what Abbas and his cronies want to do in terms of regional economic development: the Gaza territories are screwed, pure and simple.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's official: Plano and Highland Park suck.

Reading the DMN, locally, schools are opening their doors to transfer students, especially at the elementary level, waiving normal requirements (since all the records that would normally be required are, well, underwater), and otherwise doing their neighborly best to help out...

except for Plano and Highland Park. Plano has said "wait at leasta week," and Highland Park's response has effectively been, particularly for the munchkins, "go away."

On the one hand, it's unfortunate... but on the other, it's ... typical.

Hey, thanks for confirming those stereotypes, you white-flight Stepford jackasses! Good job!

(If you're not local, these are the parts of the Dallas metroplex that crinkles their noses at my home of Irving for having too much "white trash" and immigrants.)

Well save us from evil paper cups...

So an unclean kafir touches a cup. The cup is shipped to the faithful. The faithful touch the cup. The faithful become unclean. The filipino guy working there has no clue... oh, save us from disaster, as we track down this source of unholy Israeli paper cups!