Monday, October 31, 2005

Maureen Dowd embarrasses herself in public again

with a humiliating screed assaulting all of masculinity, and declaring feminism a failure, simply because men, particularly successful men, are smart enough to flee running when a solipsistic vituperative gold-digger like her has her beer goggles on.

We've all been having a good time ripping this painful, festering rectal boil a new one over at Ann Althouse... but what I really want to say can't be said in another blog's comments. My own, on the other hand, can contain whatever crudity the truth requires.

Q: What is the difference between a gold-digger and a whore?
A: The quality of the marketing plan.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Peggy Noonan goes off the Deep End(tm)

In this marvelously whiny screed, Ms. Noonan posits that America is basically going to hell in a handbasket, and that the elites that should be doing something about it... mostly aren't.

Well, besides the Jimmy Carter-esque sense of doom and gloom... since when are "elites" supposed to be saving this country? I thought that was what Democrats thought...
and, then, if you ask people in this country who forms the elite, what do you think their answers might be? Doctors? Lawyers? Scientists? Athletes and Musicians?

Not Ms. Noonan. In her world, somehow journalists and politicians are considered the social elite... as opposed to the regular old schmucks of the country, who openly hold both professions in contempt. Is there a profession held in worse contempt than "politician," except maybe the lowest of the low-end ambulance-chasers?

"Do you have confidence in the CIA? FBI? I didn't think so."

Wow, there's a news flash... people don't trust the feds. That's been the case, since, what, smallpox blankets and FDR's thugs smashing up storefronts in the Depression unless the store owners agreed to artificially elevate prices?

"The presidency is overwhelmed.The whole government is. And people sense when an institution is overwhelmed."

The presidency is overwhelmed? By what? Who's running the coup, and what are his new policies to be? Ms. Noonan's despair simply because Bush is down a few points betrays an odd journey for somebody who used to be a Reaganite.... Ms. Noonan thinks that the government is supposed to be running the country, as opposed to most citizens, who think its job is to generally provide physical defense and otherwise get the hell out of our lives while we, the citizens she posits to be in despair over government failures, go about running the country....

Something is definitely in the water at the Noonan household. Something not good, and hopefully able to be counteracted with Prozac.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Encomium for partisanship

Recently, Bush proposed a Supreme Court nominee intended to skirt controversy.
Recently, Bush rescinded his suspension of the Davis-Bacon act, in order to skirt controversy.

The President is doing himself a profound disservice. The American political scene has changed radically since his father was in office. With roughly a quarter of America identifying as themselves liberal/Democrat, and a third as right-libertarian or conservative/Republican, the unrepresented "moderates" hold the largest political bloc. Due to the political structure of the United States, however, no third party can credibly emerge unless one of the two major parties becomes defunct. This is particularly true because those "moderates" are themselves often ideologically neutral, and thus politically impotent.

The Republicans have a chance to make that happen, and to guarantee a majority for the conceivable future without resorting to ideology-neutral DeLay-style governance. Why is this?
Let's do the math: state structures aside, in order to obtain an abstract majority, the Democrats must pick up roughly 26% of the electorate that falls outside of the party. In other words, in absolute terms, the Democrats must a greater percentage of the electorate outside their own party than within it. A Democrat simply cannot be elected on the national scene without "running to the center." This is well-known, thus the great degree of cynicism regarding Senator Clinton's moderate-sounding remarks after a history of hardline liberalism.

The Republicans have it much easier. With roughly a third of the active electorate in their party, the Republicans have to obtain only 18% of the "moderate" votes in order to get to 51%. In other words, it is possible for the Republicans to win (again, we're dealing with abstracts here, so this will vary by office), while losing the majority of the moderate vote.

This is not exactly rocket science, and a quick trip through RealClearPolitics or any other political link farm will show a number of people writing about what has to be done for Democrats to start winning again. In this process, though, nobody seems to be addressing what the Republicans need to do in order to win in perpetuity:

Moderates base their votes upon their perception of the candidate and the candidate's plans. If Joe Moderate sees no difference between the candidates, he stays home. If he sees what looks like a credible plan, in contrast to a fuzzy set of platitudes, he tends to go for the plan. Because what Joe Moderate hates politics: all he wants is for government to do its job and then get out of his life. And the surest way to guarantee he never votes for you again is to engage in hateful or over-the-top hyperbolic political grandstanding.

"Establishment Republicans" who try to run to the center in order to avoid controversy alienate their base. That base will stay home, and is willing to lose in order to ram the message home. The Democratic bases tends to be an agglomeration of interest groups; the Republican base, occasionally in distinct contrast to its political class, is openly ideological. They're Reagan Republicans, mugged-by-reality JFK Democrats, and social conservatives who are tired of being slandered and openly misrepresented across society for the sake of others' gain. In short, they are wide-awake political animals who are on the hunt, and are actively spoiling for an ideological fight.

It is critically important for Republican politicians to recognize that, with the structure of the electorate, picking fights will guarantee their re-elective success. This is not the 1990s, when the MSM can simply harp about "mean-spirited Republicans," and thereby dash any hope of Republicans appealing to the center. There are too many media outlets -- mainstream, wacko, and pajama -- for that trick to work any more. If the Republicans go for the Democrats throat, and simply try to beat them over the head enroute to ideological victory, they will, in that process, draw a clear and distinct choice that can be understood by any moderate... and the Democrats' traditional ad-hominem response will alienate enough of the political center that the Republicans will be able to continue capturing increasing "market share."

In other words, the more that the NYT, Daily Kos, George Soros, and all the Michael-Moore Hollywood types scream bloody murder and go on full-out attack mode, the harder it will be for the Democrats to appeal to the center which they need in order to continue to exist... and the more that Republican proposals such as tax cuts, school choice, Social Security reform, and other basic structural reforms to fix situations that everybody knows are broken... will appear to be calm, mild-mannered, and appropriate... precisely the sort of thing that a political moderate can get behind... because any "running to the Center" a Democrat engages in will seem, by contrast, wishy-washy and short on details (because those details would enrage their own base). A Supreme Court fight? A red-in-tooth-and-claw budget reform fight? Hard-core, brutal pursuit of the War on Terror and the expansion of democracy in the world? What could possibly better guarantee Republican dominance than a continual media hurricane, complete with opinion-page-poision raindrops (which, in turn, further enrages the base and improves turnout!), as the Republicans actually try to deliver to their base what they've been all but begging for over the last thirty years?

Conservatives are currently livid with their leadership, because they perceive the latter to be snatching defeat from the jaws of long-sought, hard-won victory. If the Republican political leadership is serious about its own future, it will realize that the base is right.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Recruiterland, p3

Hrm... still no response from that guy in Dallas, and the Denton guy continues to avoid OCS (referring to apparent unlikelihood of age waiver) in favor of enlistment and sticking around looking for a direct commission. Which is not that I'd have an issue with being a skills specialist, but unless the age is a truly serious issue, the hard-sell away from it definitely makes me wonder.

Weird. Turns out that there are four units in the area if you count CID (which seemed a little off-base to me, but what do I know?)... two straight MI, and one PsyOp.

Turn Your Hamster into a Fighting Machine

Was reading Michael Yon's latest dispatch, (go read it, and then pass the link over to your friends who still get their news from CNN -- it's an eye-opener), and couldn't help but link this.

Okay, I've got the duct tape, now where'd Squeak get off to?

p.s.: for those of you not in the know, "Squeak" is a small filipina martial artist. So if I go missing and finally turn up a week later mummified in electrical tape, y'all know what happened...

Sometimes you can't win.

Passed my yellow glove test.
Hoo boy I'm sore. But frankly, I'm surprised that I'm not more sore than I am. They went easy on me. My wind *stunk,* which was only to be expected since I was still so weak on Monday that I couldn't make it through warmups, but let's face facts: running out of gas during two-on-one sparring is NOT a good idea. Actually, it wasn't really wind, but that endurance, that horrible "the body betrayeth thou" feeling, that I could feel coming on after my very first round. One down, eleven plus two two-on-one plus weapon sparring to go... hrm, define SubOptimal.

Otherwise, it was good, or at least that's what I'm told. Picked up a (rare) compliment on the test from my instructor, twice.

Blew through the sets without missing more than a couple of points, I think. Didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped on stringing combinations of kicks together, but I wasn't hopeless, either, and I got to play with guests, which is always a blast. Pancho, who is much, much better than me (and he ought to be, since he's in his late forties and has been doing this since he was seven), worked my angles and distance and kept me moving around while he whupped up on me, and I got in a couple of honest shots on him, too, which I found immensely gratifying. His student Elijah and I are probably about the same level -- we'll have to figure that one out next time I'm not ready to keel over after round three. But he's a former boxer with a mean uppercut... two rounds in a row I played doubled over, because he'd simply tapped me in the breadbasket so often that my abs wouldn't let me straighten up. At any rate, Elijah and Pancho are real gentlemen, have fantastic control, and are just a true pleasure to play with... they'll take it from pattycake to organ-pounding, wherever you want to play, and remain cheerful, nice guys all the way through.

Then there's Grayson.
My teacher, God grant him long life and bless his evil little heart, set me up. For three weeks prior to the test, he kept pushing the idea that my job on the test was to hurt this guy or I'd be in trouble, as he slowly and carefully sold me on the notion that this guy was roughly my level, but a wrestler.

Such bullshit wrapped in literal truth... such incredible naivete on my part not to see this coming.
Wrestler. Yeah. As in, former national sambo champion. As in, has been training since he was a kid in a weird can't-believe-this-survived traditional lineage just like ours... one of those really awful Japanese styles done not by American samurai wannabes, but by the real deal who compared "child abuse" to "child casualties" and did the math. Yeah. Que quiere decir "I didn't stand a fucking chance?" It was bad. I've sparred guys who were faster, guys who were stronger, lord knows tons of guys who are just plain better... but I've also been lucky enough to have seen a lot of different martial arts, so I have at least a beginning of a clue how guys are going to play.

Not this guy. He dropped back into what I later recognized as ichimonji-no-kamae, and showed me that, yes indeed, Virginia, there are guys who can actually fight out of that. He didn't fake, he didn't feint, he didn't even bother hiding any holes. I knew a move and a half ahead of time what he was going to do, because he was so much better than me that he didn't even have to bother hiding it. Grayson gave me two attempts to figure out how to break the guard (I actually had the right idea, not that it helped), and then gave me a front kick I saw coming from far enough away to stop and make tea and biscuits, but not from far enough away to actually avoid.

For his second act, he flowed around me like water, and took me flat-ass on the mat in a neck break on the entry (actually, because I have a leftover neck injury from previous training, I can vouch that he "broke" it while he entered, and then switched to two different neck breaks on the way down, each of them taken precisely as far as they could go without making the cripple/kill... not that I have even the foggiest clue how he did any of them). Bang, dead, game over.
Needless to say, I'm glad the rest of the rounds were friendly, because I was about as much a challenge for him as picking your average supermarket orange.

Anyway, yellow glove is supposed to test heart, so the moral of the story as given to me is "sometimes you can't win, and all you can do is take the other guy with you." I don't think that's good enough. I think it's more involved than that. Any schmuck can keep getting up after they're knocked down. Sometimes you can't win, and you're not good enough to take him with you... so all you can do is go down swinging, andtry to make it last long enough for more good guys to get into position, or else long enough for the picture to change in some way that makes him lose down the road.

If you're not somehow involved with violence on the retail (martial arts, security) or wholesale (military) levels, that probably sounds depressing. But it's not, truly: it means that there's always a way to pull a win out of a defeat. It may not be your win, but it's a win you can hope to help bring about. Hope doesn't go away just because you're out-everythinged.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Seizing the high ground

This is a Post of Unmitigate Geekery(tm).
Well, actually, let's say mitigated geekery, because it's a topic in which I'd love to be competent, but am not, and that is astronomy and orbital mechanics.

According to New Scientist, which I'm too cheap to pay for (though it's a darned fine magazine), one of the fuels on our current horizon is powdered metals, particularly iron. Makes sense: folks have talked about turning the Al2O3 on the moon into rocket fuel for years.

Great! Um, now what?
Well, I was mulling over the notion of "how do you have a reasonably coherent Sol economy, and started looking at what asteroids were made of. (Yes, asteroids. People going to moons and planets is too obvious, given what a friend says about the obvious cultural imperatives of Martian horses.)

Let's take Golevka.

And why not? Golevka's pretty cool. It's a giant rock shaped sort of like what you get when you clumsily mate a pyramid and an acorn. Now, realize, by "giant," I mean as compared to, say, the stuff in your average quartz garden. Golevka is the 4'2" spunky hobbit of the asteroid world. It's a silicate asteroid, highly irregular in shape, almost certainly containing olivine, a basaltic rock made up in large parts iron and oxygen, and may contain quite a bit of magnesium as well. At an estimated five grams per cubic centimeter, for an object that is, roughly, 350x250x250 meters, that's roughly 12,000 tons of processable material (a bit more massive than a nuclear-powered cruiser), some of which can be put to use sustaining atmosphere, and some of which can immediately be put to use for either fuel or structural material.

Okay, that's still not solving your whole "I like gravity" problem, even though Golevka does come fully-equipped with highly-variable gravity, meaning it's a lot easier to get into orbit around it from one one end of it (the skinny one) than the other. So, um, what gives? What's the point?

Well, if you've got Celestia or some other ephemera, it becomes obvious pretty quickly, but if you don't, check this out. It's a cool little rough orbit simulator. Turns out that Golevka has an interesting little orbit, that brings it mightly close to our favorite Blue Marble(tm), all the way out to within spitting distance of the main stretch of near asteroids. Equipped with some kind of mass driver, and made capable of receiving packages sent the same way (or by means of a space elevator sling, which is made simply by extending your elevator past the stable points until the far end whips around with plenty of energy), Golevka would tend to be in a good position to do basic commerce. Equipped with supplies, fuel, and a medical staff, not to mention a really extensive rack of movies and hot dogs, she also tends to turn into a pretty decent way-station, and a cheap, slow-boat means by which one can get out towards the Jovian moons, or back, without actually owning a vessel.

In other words, once we're wandering through the black on a regular basis, this dinky little asteroid has commercial and strategic value. Probably not military value, but it has serious potential as an interplanetary truck stop.

Truck stop... Rock Stop?

World Population Trends

Think China's going to take over all of Eastern Russia?
Well, may-be... but you might not know that US population growth is figured to be four times as fast as China's... which will begin to start to look puny by ever-crowded India. By 2050, there will probably be more people living in Los Angeles than Australia...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Perverse Incentives

Apparently the Hawaiians are starting to discover why the laws of supply and demand aren't voluntary...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wow. Side effects.

Nexium, the purple drug that works like a charm.

And then tries to kill you.

Guess what, folks, it ain't the flu. It's side effects that are slowly fading away as I stop taking this damned pill.

I'm one of the lucky ones, so this is only the second time I've had seriously adverse side effects from a medicine... unlike one of my old JROTC buds from Rogers High School, who proposed to me in a letter she wrote while her room was spinning from Lortab....

The downside is the recovery's slower than I'd like, and I'm still a warmth-craving lizard. The upside is that I no longer need be quite so paranoid about my immune system.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Company Cookbook: A Tale of Terror

Added to the "nifty" section of the blog, I bring you... well, food?

Some of it's not all that bad, I suppose. At least, the ingredients are okay...

THEL almost ready for initial deployment?

Jeebus, that's even quicker than I thought. You know, the "HEL weapon," able to knock out a missile in-flight? No word on specific timetable, but it definitely seems to be in the works, even if there is a profound difference between smoking a katyusha, and doing down an ICBM.

Hamas morons about to get diced.

Yep, it's official. Al-Quaeda has officially begun taking over Hamas. Makes sense to me. After all, the last Hamas guy I was mixed up with would have made your average Pakistani Salafist blush.

But strategically, this is GREAT news for those of us who think that waging holy war by murdering little girls in their beds should be replied to with castration by acid, followed by disembowling, followed by flaying, and then supplemented with the best IVs medicine can devise and a cage with a half-dozen hungry rats. Why's that?

Well, when AQP (Al Quaeda's basically a franchise biz. So you have AQI, "Al Quaeda in Iraq", and AQP...) starts really cutting loose, you'll see more and more Arab regimes deciding that, you know what, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really isn't something they care about after all... (this process has already begun, btw) at which point Israel will have a free hand to wipe the bastards off the face of the earth.

Now, some of you out there may still hold to the moral-equivalence theory and be just itching to point out how the Israelis are not nice people. That's not really the point. Yes, the Israelis are a bunch of perfidious bastards who will happily sell our equipment to the Chinese, who will then turn them into tools for killing our soldiers. And yes, they really do have a ridiculous amount of influence on Capitol Hill. But that's at least partly because they don't tend to do the "AK47 monkey dance" every time some asshole with a virgin fixation blows himself up on a bus full of kids.

The point is this: just how close is Hamas to actual extinction, if

a) they are acting rationally
b) this is understood to be a move that strengthens their position?

It's murkier than trying to read Kremlin seating charts... but there's no way this doesn't come up as good news for those of us who are part of civilisation.

Russia losing control of the Caucasus

Check Gateway Pundit's Nalchik wrap-up for basic details. This bodes badly on some counts, well on others... the immediate silver lining being that serious northern pressure on the Azeri opposition groups may be minimal. Five bucks we have a new "colored revolution" this winter.

Have a nice day.

Remember the new Dawn of the Dead? That's what the band is playing, "have a nice day," in mellow tones, as the nurse drives home, and under the radar, zombies begin to overrun the hospitals and emergency services...

Charles Krauthammer wants you to have a nice day.

But this is also why idealists and simple, well-meaning folk are very rarely allowed to be the ones making momentous decisions... sometimes there are no simple answers. It's easy to sit back and use 20/20 hindsight to criticize decisions, when the guy making them has, at the time, "plenty of choices but no real options." And sometimes, one makes a truly horrific choice, in order to avoid an even more horrific potentiality.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Porkbusters: Texas 32nd District

Spoke in the local office with "Sandy," and attempted to find out whether there were specific offsets he'd be willing to cut. (Am under the weather, and thus was sufficiently tonguetied that I didn't attempt to get her full name.) Was told that ~"Congressman Sessions is very dedicated to cutting the budget, but we'll have to get in touch with the D.C. office for specifics."

She promised a timely reply after taking down my home address and daytime phone number.
Of course, that reply might come in a more timely fashion if more locals bugged them... particularly up in said DC Office:

Washington D.C. Office: Congressman Pete Sessions
1514 Longworth House Bldg. Washington, DC 20515-4332
(202) 225-2231
(202) 225-5878 fax

Dallas, TX Office:
Congressman Pete Sessions
Park Central VII 12750 Merit Drive, Suite 1434 Dallas, Texas 75251
(972) 392-0505
(972) 392-0615 fax

This district was gerrymandered into Sessions' favor last year (no complaints, the previous gerrymandering made even less sense). Sessions himself has voted pretty well for an Establishment Republican, including voting against some of the more insane educational and social-liberty-cutting measures that came down the pike, in stark contrast to Martin Frost, against whom he ran last year. If Sessions' staff can be made to understand that the budget is taken seriously, then he might be shifted from the "secure funding = happy costituents" into being a bit more budget-minded.

Time to sell your Tyson stock?

H5N1 has been confirmed, in Turkey, and an H5 variant in Romania, combined with an as-yet unexplained duck die-off in NW Iran.

This means that:
1. The Black Sea poultry trade is going to be in trouble, particularly given the (well-known but little-referred-to-for-politeness' sake) unsanitary health conditions in Moldova and Moldavia.
2. Bird flu will come up the Danube, and likely the river systems north of the Black Sea.
3. Significant mutation, as the disease skips between poultry and migratory birds, has already begun.

This may not become the Holocaust Death Plague(tm), but if you like your Sunday afternoon fried chicken, I'd start packing it in now while the packing's good.

Emperor says "sure is drafty in here."

In a startling admission gained by an AFP reporter (hat tip and link: SpaceWar), top-ranking NATO officials have stated that Europe's political leaders are so unwilling to fund their militaries that if military procurement is not pooled collectively, spending at least 25% of its budget on weapons and research, and no more than 40% on personnel costs, across the European side of the alliance, that NATO will not be able to deal with international terrorism.

The French, obviously, are all for this, while the Brits are stoutly opposed.

For those of you who don't think in "Game On" terms, let me spell that out for you.
1. The Brits are opposed because they actually have a functional military, and they don't want to see it watered down.
2. The French are for it both for the influence, and because they are trying to get research done on big-ticket items (particularly, in conjunction with Italy, some naval vessels worth speaking of), but cannot get sufficient funding to do so on their own (and if you think we have a history of screwing over our troops every chance we get, the French will just amaze you.)
3. None of the NATO nations are spending enough on their own to afford much more besides busywork and pension jobs -- NATO Europe is seriously in danger of becoming completely second-rate in terms of military technology. (As opposed to Canada, which, though it used to be a serious player, has already become militarily irrelevant.)
4. If NATO will soon not have sufficient force to handle international terrorists... what will it be able to do in the case of outright invasion? Seriously: take a look at how low these two generals set the military bar, and still concluded that Europe would fail.

Folks following defense issues have known this for a while. For it to be said publicly, however, is an indication that it may even be worse than has been suspected.

UPDATE: No record of this whatsoever at NATO's website.

Miers and the 2006 elections

Okay, some folks have asked me lately for my take. Here it is:

Texas tends, on the ideological spectra, to lean strongly libertarian. In other words, a Texan "moderate" is, for the rest of America, a mild libertarian (not an ideologue like me). The average Texan wants as much local governance as is possible, and as little federal governance as is prudent... and will debate what constitutes "prudent" in a calm and seemly manner. That said, Miers, a fairly squishy liberal at SMU who found God and went literalist, is certainly not going to satisfy conservative ideologues. SMU isn't where you go to school because you're smart... but it's not stacked up with imbeciles, either. You can get a very good education there if you're one of the few who actually tries.

However, if one takes a look at who she's replacing, Miers is likely to be a *vast* improvement over O'Connor. I personally tend to think that a lot of the Evangelicals' dispensationalist theology hews to evidence of forebrain-removal, but somebody who is inclined to take texts at their face value, with as little interpretation as possible, may be precisely the corrective required for O'Connor, who frequently subjected the Constitution to incredible convolutions. It may not be a bad thing at all to have an un-brilliant literalist reading "what the words say" when it comes down to understanding the Constitution. After all, that description fits me pretty well.

Now, don't get me wrong. Sean Hannity I'm not. I don't "trust the President" as far as I can throw a piano. Geopolitically, his response to the Islamofascists has had some real hitches in execution, but is the only credible response to it available to us politically. The teams the Dems would put forward for the job are a disaster (remember Madeline Not-So-Bright?) -- and don't think I'm happy about having my nose continuously rubbed in that fact. In terms of civil liberties, the big intrusive bills have been passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and cheerleeding on both sides of the aisle: a pox on both their houses.

(And yes, it's one side or the other on this. My ideological party of choice, the Libertarians, have a position that would be absolutely perfect if we were working from a historically-clean slate. But we're not, and abandoning our treaty partners and the high seas to military pacifism/isolationism would result in a global bloodbath within six months.)

Domestically, I think he's been an almost-unmitigated disaster. The areas in which I think he's done okay are union-busting and spending political capital to push tax cuts. Tiny tax cuts, for sure, but tax cuts, and cuts across-the-board, not little social-engineering credits that the Democrats put forward, that you only do if you rearrange your life the way the guys in power want you to. In terms of the unions, actually keeping at least part of DHS from turning into a union sinecure for bureaucrats was good, and using the combination of ridiculous costs from hurricane Katrina relief as a means of utterly discrediting, rather than merely temporarily suspending, the Bacon-Davis Act is the sort of slippery, twisted, political sleight-of-hand genius that I've come to expect from and admire about the President. Heck, they're now debating that one in Salon, of all places.

We need more of that underhanded brilliance. Miers may be part of that. Don't know. But I don't think the President and Miers are all that relevant to the 2006 elections. Rather, I think that the Congressional Primaries are where the real ideological battles are going to matter. After all, if you care about pork and spending in Congress, chances are you have a pretty good idea where your Congress-critter stands. Mine, Pete Sessions, isn't nearly as good as I'd like, but is tons better than anything the Dems have come up with. There are Republicans out there who have not been afraid to take serious friendly fire politically in order to stand up for fiscal discipline.

The Democrats are the same way. Everybody knows that Hillary will still be the nominee in '08, no matter who Hollywood and the hyper-rich leftists (insert irony here) push on the party. But in 2006? The Democratic Party honestly believes that it is moderate and ideologically neutral -- which is obviously not so, since all those "neocons" they currently despise are nothing other than JFK Democrats who've been effectively booted from the party for ideological impurity, and certainly not heartless Republican "realpolitik" wonks. Party activists who hold moderate liberals like Lieberman to be a DINO (Democrat in name only) need to seriously examine where they sit on the ideological spectrum, and how they can stretch themselves to appeal to their own axis, let alone a very different center.

In short, both parties are undergoing serious identity crises, and what the President does to achieve and to fail may hold down Republican turnout somewhat -- but it may also be a serious spur for each side to get "their man" on the ticket. It's far more complicated than it looks at first blush.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Crap, I've acclimated.

The first sign must have been when I was the only one in the salle besides the ridiculously-fit dance major not regularly skirting heat injuries sparring in a 100-degree-plus building.
The second sign might have been the other morning, when I turned on the heater in the car because it was in the high fifties on the way to work.
The third sign might have been when I found myself craving long baths, heatlamps, hair dryers, etcetera, in the morning and after the sun went down.

But the


is definitely when I picked up the Classic Creeping Crud (you know, the one that comes out of nowhere because you ran your sistem too hard?) on Saturday and still haven't quite shaken it for three days.

Crap. I shouldn't be ill like this until Thanksgiving, or Halloween at earliest. I'm pretty infamous for going outside in the dead of winter in my bare feet (even in Hungary), and generally not caring about the cold.

Not any more. I may be loving the return of beautiful fall cloud cover, but as far as my blood's concerned, I think I've turned into a lizard.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Guardian editorial on European enlargement

Worth reading.

Commonwealth, not superstate? What's the problem with allowing Turkish succession? Obviously, Turkey's imperfect human rights record, and Islamist/NonIslamist fears. What's the good side? It torques off the french desire for a "counterbalance" state, provides a ready model for the rest of the Islamic states, and guarantees that the EU spreads far enough that it cannot form (too much of) an oppressive superstate.

Not 100% sure I agree with all of this, but it's definitely one of the Guardian's better editorials.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Can anybody out there in recruiter-land tell me...

Okay, I'm going to post this to the milbloggers, and see what they say.

I'm 34, have a master's in history and medieval studies (medieval military history). I speak good but rusty french and intermediate Hungarian, and pick up languages at the survival level very rapidly. If you've ever spent more than ten minutes on my blog and checked where I link, can see that I've got a keen interest in international relations, intelligence matters, etcetera. Doing martial arts three days a week, I'm not in the shape I should be in, but I'm far from the shape I could be in, if you get my drift.

Everybody I've talked to says we're desperately short of junior-officer S-2s. I'm seriously thinking of going into teaching. Unlike a lot of folks, I married a gal who grew up under the Communists and is ridiculously supportive of me doing both of these, so long as we don't have to move. My only tie-down obligation is to my martial arts salle and to my wife.* Outside of a twin brother who thinks it's nuts -- mostly because he doesn't like the idea of me getting shot at -- it seems like I'd fit the bill, at least on the basic level.

So why then, do the recruiters seem to be pushing me for 37f? Now, 96b intel analyst I could understand, on the grounds that with no prior service, nobody reading this knows whether I'm actually officer material. But 37f?

Is there somebody who can sell me a vowel on this one?

TBF (to be fair): said twin is also moving from California onto my street at my instigation. So, deploying is fine, moving is not.

My job is dead-end suckage, but my boss is pretty good.

I gave the official first notice.

As in "is GCIB's hiring freeze still on?"


"Well, yes, there is a reason I'm asking, since I haven't had a performance review in 18 months or a raise in four years, and it's getting harder to justify not going into teaching. So if the hiring freeze is still on and I leave, I don't know if that leaves you in the lurch for an admin."

He took it quite well, all considered. There are few things in workaday life more valuable than a boss with whom you can be candid.