Thursday, May 31, 2007

Escapist Stories Thursday

All the recent bad news got you down?

Well sit down in front of your computer and hitch a virtual tramp steamer for Spontoon Island!

Allow me to explain.

Standup philosopher George Carlin said that there were pastimes, and hobbies. The distinction, he said, was that hobbies cost money while pastimes were quite free.

So I've been indulging in my favorite pastime, writing creatively for this anthology website.

The major setting for all of these stories is a small Pacific nation in the mid-1930s. It's replete with interesting characters, tropical beaches, warm ocean water, and anarcho-syndicalist military forces. There are quite a few talented contributors to the site, both writers and illustrators.

It may not be exactly your cup of tea, but hey - it's a great way to escape from reality.*

*Shameless plug - my stories are "Luck of the Dragon" and "Tales from Rain Island."

(This is cross-posted to Blondesense.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do You Feel Safer?

I sure as Hell don't:

From CNN:

Russia: Missile can pierce shields

POSTED: 12:06 p.m. EDT, May 29, 2007

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Russia on Tuesday test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, apparently developed secretly, that a top government official said could penetrate any defense system, Russian news agencies reported.

The missile would modernize Russia's stockpile at a time of rising tensions with the West.
"As of today Russia has new (missiles) that are capable of overcoming any existing or future missile defense systems," ITAR-Tass quoted First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying. "So in terms of defense and security Russian can look calmly to the country's future."

President Vladimir Putin and Ivanov, a former defense minister seen as a potential candidate to succeed the Russian leader in elections next year, have repeatedly said their country would continue to improve its nuclear weapons systems and respond to U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe.

The missile capable of carrying multiple independent warheads was fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch in northwestern Russia, and its test warhead landed on target about 3,400 miles away on the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, according to a statement from Russian Strategic Missile Forces.

Ivanov said Russia also successfully tested a tactical cruise missile.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


An NPR news update earlier today gave the missile's designation as the RS-24, probably a mobile evolutionary development of their older mainstay SS-24 ICBM. NPR added that it was capable of carrying up to ten devices in its warhead bus.

Russia has grown increasingly pissed off at us over our deals with former Warsaw Pact countries to house parts of our new missile defense system - a radar in the Czech Republic, ten interceptor missiles in Poland, etc. Now, we say that it's to protect Europe from missiles fired by rogue states such as North Korea and Iran.

Who the hell are the Bushies trying to kid? Iran's best missile can only reach Tel Aviv (and that's a stretch) while the best system the DPRK can field (the Taepodong-3) has serious design flaws that keep destroying it.

So, based on this, who do the Russians think this "Star Wars Lite" system is aimed at?

You got it in one. Those of you who didn't, write out 100 times, "I will not be so easily fooled again."

The neocons (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, et. al.) have missed the halcyon days of the Cold War when the world was divided into two neat blocs. It suited their black-and-white worldview, not like this multipolar world that they can't control. So they're trying to bring it back.

Russia's a proud nation, and the blows it's taken since the fall of the Communist state have rankled deeply. It doesn't like having the US trying to dictate to it, and with its oil and natural gas wealth it can quite literally hold Europe hostage.

And what good will the US missile shield be at that point?

Why Talking to Iran Matters

US Ambassador Ryan Crocker sat down yesterday with some officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Iraqi Prime Minister's office. The topic of discussion was Iraq, but it's important that we note this one fact:

It's the first time in 27 years we've sat down at the same table for direct talks.

Ever since the Revolution of 1979 (and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed) the US and Iran have been studiously talking AT each other, and never TO each other. And all the while things have festered and grown between us. To quote The Bride in Kill Bill, "We have unfinished business."

You betcha. Starting with an apology for our CIA backing of the Mossadegh coup in the 50s (and don't think the Iranians have either forgiven or forgotten that incident), and all the way up to our continued sequestration of their assets since 1979, there are serious issues that need to be addressed. Among those issues are Iraq and the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program.

First, Iraq: Our invasion and occupation of Iraq was the greatest boon to Iran since 1991. By first emasculating Saddam Hussein's regime and then destroying it, we created a regional power vacuum that Iran was only too glad to fill (who did the neocons expect to see step into the gap, Israel?) and now we have to deal with them on that basis. Whether our troops leave now or in 2008 or 2020, Iran will still be there and in a position to dictate matters to the Sunni Gulf states.

Believe me, it's just pure nut-cutting Realpolitik. There's no way around it.

Iran has suggested that it shoulder the burden of equipping and training the Iraqi Defense Forces. Since it appears inevitable (based on the power calculations in the region) that Iran will remain the biggest fish in the pond even if we don't leave, it will be a friend to the majority Shiite government in Baghdad. Of course, "friend" eventually becomes "client."

Their envoy also stated that our presence in Iraq is an occupation, and in that he is certainly correct. More than half of the Iraqi Parliament have signed a bill asking for a withdrawal timetable; will Bush ignore that if it comes to a vote in Baghdad? Will the al-Maliki regime go the way of Nguyen Van Thieu's, to dredge up a tired analogy?

Stay tuned.

Now, for Iran's nuclear weapons - the Genie of the Atom was released from its lair on July 29, 1945. That was almost 62 years ago, and there's no way to stuff that genie back into its bottle no matter what the US does or how hard Bush stamps his little cowboy-booted feet. The Hiroshima bomb ('Little Boy' for those playing along at home) was so simple that it didn't need to be tested - the brains at Los Alamos knew it would work. To this day, the Hiroshima or gun-type weapon remains the simplest form of nuclear weapon.

No matter what we do - whether we bomb them ourselves or allow our catspaws in Tel Aviv to do the job for us - we are going to have to adjust to the new power realities in the region. We helped create them, and we'll be stuck with them for a long time to come.

And that's why talking to Iran matters.

This is cross-posted to Blondesense, where I am a guest blogger.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Live Root Beer Blogging - Memorial Day Edition*

*(Hey, it's too early in the day for vodka - give me a break.)

So, here we go. I have CSPAN on and have settled in to watch. Let's see what happened:

1055 - Bush shows up and muffs his hand salute for the National Anthem. He looks bored. It's tough to hold those service flags at Present Arms, especially with all the battle pennants. Four drum flourishes, followed by the high, lonely music of Taps.

1057 - Wreath laying and moment of silence, then into Arlington House and out back to the Amphitheater. One of the inscriptions on the Amphitheater is The Old Lie, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. The Marine Band swings into This is My Country, and one can't help feeling the urge to join in the song. When it stops, all you can hear for a while is birds singing (thank God for CSPAN).

1103 - Karl Rove's in his seat (how's that for blasphemy?); John Warner looks disgusted at something.

1104 - There's a guy in the audience with a red Hawaiian shirt as loud as the ones I wear!

1105 - Stand up for four ruffles and flourishes, followed by Hail to the Chief as The Decider shows up.

1106 - Prayer, calling for remembrance and unity. Of course, unifying behind this President is kinda hard to do if you have more than two brain cells to rub together.

1107 - National Anthem. Extremely well done by the Marine Band's singer (much better than the asshole who muffed it at the concert last night).

1109 - General Pace, looking all spit and polish: Service members "must rededicate ourselves" to their oath of office, which calls on them to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Hmm. Must avoid paranoia today.

1111 - America the Beautiful, sung by the same Marine. Gotta applaud that.

1114 - DepDefSec England: Thanks to all active servicemembers and to veterans. Freedom is a gift that must be defended. Cites Reagan. Points out that the Commander-in-Chief bears the ultimate responsibility for leading us to victory - nice way to introduce The Commander Guy.

1118 - Bush speaks. Starts by invoking the dead of previous wars and says, "This hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes" who "believed in something larger than themselves."

1121 - Goes into the favorite method of humanizing the war by talking about individual soldiers. Of course, it's the only way he can humanize it - he's never been to the funeral of any soldier he's sent to die for this morally dubious cause.

1123 - Extolls freedoms and their costs and skirts close to the "9/11" by saying that find ourselves under attack. Says that our enemies question our moral strength - our friends are doing that too George.

1124 - He and Laura visited with wounded soldiers and the families of the dead. Isn't that nice of them? He also stated that 174 Marines asked to have their enlistments extended. Gonna have to check that.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

With Muffled Drum ...

Memorial Day, 2007

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through, just the way you used to do
Till the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away
Now, won't you please say "Hello" to the folks that I know
Tell 'em it won't be long 'cause they'd be happy to know that when you saw me go
I was singing this song
We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day
- Vera Lynn

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Drums Along the Tigris

While our attention (when not being drawn to the Next Shiny New Thing, like who won on some clotheared reality show - trust me, reality is bad enough without making stupid shows about it) is on Iraq and the fighting currently going on in Gaza and Tripoli, things are rapidly going from bad to worse along the Iraqi-Turkish border.

The reason, as you can tell from the CNN article, is the Kurdish PKK, which has been setting off bombs and killing Turkish soldiers. The Turks have massed about 150,000 troops near or along the border, with every intention of invading to put a stop to this.

Caught in the middle of the Turks and the Kurds are the Americans, who want to stop the PKK but don't want a new war starting in what had been a heretofore relatively quiet part of Iraq. The fact that Turkey's an ally of ours (a fellow member of NATO) won't matter to the Turks. If they want to march, they'll march.

There's also an internal political angle to be watched here too. The ruling party in Ankara could use the violence as a rallying point to gloss over the fact that many Turks see it as a threat to the secularist constitution and the separation of mosque and state.

Ought to be interesting to see how the Bushies manage to fuck this up, because you KNOW they'll stick their hands into that hornet's nest just as hard as they can. American dilpomacy ain't what it used to be.

This is also posted over at Blondesense, where I'm a guest.


I've been attending a sort of management seminar over the past few days, and while on break I had occasion to start talking about the Iraq Hubbub with a coworker. From the outset he asked, "Do you support the war?"

"I don't," I assured him. Another coworker chimed in with "He'll vote for Hilary."

I hastened to assure both of them that I had no plans to vote for any of the current crop of weasels in either party, but thought that Ron Paul was the clearest thinker. I then took a few minutes to excoriate Giuliani.

When I paused to catch my breath the first coworker asked, "So you think it's all our fault?"

What a question! And how should I answer it? Should I take time out of the break to carefully detail to him the entire history of our involvement in the Middle East?

"We are a contributing factor," I replied, and advised him to study the concept of blowback as it applied to our supporting naughty people throughout the world.

When we returned to our seats he asked, "So, you don't believe that the Muslims are going to take over our country?"

"No, I don't." He then proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that Muslims were overrunning the country and were doing it unopposed, because the Government kept looking the other way and granting them more and more rights.

(I refrained from telling him that most people in the US felt the same way about Catholics, blacks, Jews, Irish, etc. for about the last 170 years. Why disrupt his delusion pattern?)

He then threw back in my face the results of a poll I talked about yesterday about a sizeable percentage of US Muslim youth saying that suicide bombing was justified. I countered with the fact that the same question had not been asked to white Christians. He looked confused for a moment and mentioned Eric Rudolph and Tim McVeigh, saying that they weren't Christians. I pointed out that they were members of the ultra-right Christian Identity movement, which he quickly termed a "white supremacist" organization only.

I could see the instructor warming back up, and my coworker's body language becoming more defensive, so I stopped the conversation.

How do you think I handled it?

This is also posted over at Blondesense, where I'm a guest blogger.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Well, DUH ...

From the LA Times on May 20th comes additional evidence (as if we needed any more) that George W Bush is the best recruiter al Qaeda has ever had. I'll just toss out a few of the more glaring passages:

"In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity."

"Al Qaeda's efforts were aided, intelligence officials said, by Pakistan's withdrawal in September of tens of thousands of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border where Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding."

"Everything was undermined by the so-called peace agreement in north Waziristan," said a senior U.S. intelligence official responsible for overseeing counter-terrorism operations. "Of all the things that work against us in the global war on terror, that's the most damaging development. The one thing Al Qaeda needs to plan an attack is a relatively safe place to operate."

"Some in the administration initially expressed concern over the Pakistani move, but Bush later praised it, following a White House meeting with Musharraf."


Worst. President. Ever.

Best. Terrorist Recruiter. Ever.

Any questions?

This post is also over at Blondesense, where I am a guest blogger.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another Rat Rears Up on His Diseased Hind Legs and Squeaks

According to The Carpetbagger, Richard Viguerie is pissed off at Rudy Giuliani:

* Richard Viguerie, the conservative guru who pioneered direct-mail fundraising, is going after Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign with considerable gusto. “Rudy Giuliani is wrong on all of the social issues, is wrong on the Second Amendment, and is pretty much a blank slate on all other issues of importance to conservatives,” Viguerie adds. “If the Republican Party nominates him, it is saying to the American people that it has lost all purpose except the raw political desire to hold power. It will be time to put the GOP out of its misery.”

Sounds like a winner. I'll get the stake and the mallet.
(And I'M a Republican!)

This is also posted over at Blondesense, where I have the honor of being a guest blogger.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back to the Weirdness

This is further proof that The Madness is spreading:

Severed arm of beheaded mother placed in flower pot
The Asahi Shimbun

AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture--A 17-year-old boy suspected of decapitating his mother is also believed to have cut off her right arm, painted it white and placed it in a flower pot, police sources said Wednesday.

A saw likely used to mutilate the woman was found in the teen's apartment room where the killing took place early Tuesday, the sources said.

The third-year senior high school student also spent about two hours at an Internet cafe before reporting to a police station around 7 a.m. Tuesday carrying his mother's severed head in a school bag, they said.

The boy was arrested on suspicion of murder and was sent to prosecutors Wednesday afternoon.

According to Fukushima prefectural police, the teen allegedly killed his 47-year-old mother around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday while she was sleeping in the apartment the boy shared with his younger brother.

The brothers lived away from their parents so that they could attend public schools in Aizu-Wakamatsu. The parents lived in a town outside the city and the mother, a child-care worker, often visited the sons' apartment.

An autopsy showed she died of blood loss after her jugular vein was cut. Her body was found lying on her stomach on a futon.

Knife slashes on the palms of her hands indicate she tried to defend herself during the attack.
The boy was also slightly injured on both hands.

Sources close to the investigation said the severed arm appeared to have been spray painted white.

The boy showed up at the Internet cafe in the city around 4:55 a.m. Tuesday, with his arm wrapped in a bandage. He was carrying a black shoulder bag made of cloth, which apparently contained his mother's head, the sources said.

He watched a music video on a DVD in a private room before calling a taxi and heading to the police station, where he admitted killing his mother.

According to the senior high school the boy was attending, he had repeatedly missed classes since the second half of his second-grade year.

Since April 16, he had been absent from school, citing headaches and other reasons, according to the school.

He started seeing a psychiatrist early this month, and his mother asked school officials to check on her son.

Investigative authorities said they are planning a psychiatric examination on the boy.(IHT/Asahi: May 16,2007)


I asked a mental health counselor about this and he gave me his snap diagnosis: "He's fucking nuts."

This post also appears over at Blondesense, where I have the honor to be a guest blogger.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Sensed a Disturbance in the Force ...

... so I got up from my nap and switched on the TV:

Jerry Falwell
I'm a bit betwixt and between about this, folks. Part of me wishes condolences to his family; the other parts of me (roughly five of the seven voices in my head) say that he waited about twenty years too long to go, and recommend that we wait three days to make sure he doesn't come back.
I'll have the stake and mallet waiting.
Falwell was a greedy con man who took the Lord's name in vain in the pursuit of a fast buck so many times that he gave used-car salesmen a bad name. Some of his public pronouncements (like blaming gays, liberals and the ACLU for 9/11) were classic Far Right Christian stupidity.
Now I'm waiting for Robertson and Dobson.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Moral High Ground

One of the greatest generals in history, a fellow named Napoleon Bonaparte, once said that "The moral is to the physical as three to one," meaning that the moral foundation of your army - its ethics, values and principles - is more important than its fighting prowess or the weight of arms it can bring to bear.

When we fought in the Second World War our generals understood this, having been educated in Bonaparte, Clausewitz and other military thinkers. Every effort was made to succor the civilian population as the armies rolled in (of course, due to the indiscriminate nature of aerial bombing at the time, civilians did die in droves).

Back about five days ago, General David Petraeus, the US commander of 'coalition' forces in the Iraq area, issued a statement in response to a survey of the Army and the Marines. That survey brought up some rather disquieting points:

1. Only about 47 percent of Army soldiers and 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.

2. More than a third of soldiers and Marines reported that torture should be allowed to save the life of a comrade.

3. Fewer than half of soldiers and Marines would report a team member for unethical behavior.

Concentrate on points #1 and #2 for a moment. Less than half of our soldiers believe that ordinary Iraqi civilians should be treated with any dignity or respect. I draw two conclusions from this - that we have not learned anything about handling an occupied civil population since Vietnam; and that the Bush Administration's attempts to demonize and dehumanize people from that area has worked entirely too well.

Point #2 is just plain stupid. Even Napoleon knew that torture doesn't work, and to his credit General Petraeus repeated that, saying "Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful or necessary."

(I guess no one told Jack Bauer.)

Point #3 points out the camaraderie in the ranks. You look out for the people who are looking out for you in battle. In many ways, they become closer than family, so you try to protect them just as they'll try to protect you.

Now, General Petraeus made his remarks in a letter to the troops dated Thursday May 10, 2007.

Unfortunately, the horse has already left the barn on this one, General.

It left in 2004, three years ago when the Abu Ghraib scandal started to rear its ugly head. It ran off even faster after Haditha.

Any moral high ground the United States had when entering this ill-advised and foolish adventure has been squandered, and once lost it takes a long time to get it back. Mere apologies will not be sufficient to atone for what we've done in Iraq (and in Afghanistan, where we've admitted accidentally bombing families rather than terrorists).

A couple interesting tidbits in the news last week struck me as odd, and I managed to connect the two. Those two points are: The fact that the GOP leadership is intimating that September of this year is the decision point in our troop escalation, where General Petraeus will give a status report to Congress; and the fact that the Department of Defense has advised another 30,000 soldiers that they may deploy "this fall."
Here's what I see coming.
Petraeus comes to Congress in September, and (assuming he's as forthright as they say) admits that the escalation was a dunderheaded idea that has cost us dearly in terms of American lives (42 dead by May 13 - that's 4 per day). Congress frowns and begins arranging a timetable, which Bush blows off and commands - since he is the Commander Guy(tm) - the Pentagon to send 30,000 more troops into Iraq.
This post is cross-linked to Blondesense, where I have the honor of being a guest.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Generic Image for Any Random Bush News Conference

"Here President Bush is explaining his Iraq policy to the members of the press..."
(The painting is courtesy of the Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum (German Hunting and Fishing Museum), Munich.)

Mother's Day

Oh, sweet Mother of mine,
It's only for you I pine;
I'll try to get bail
And I'll drive up to jail
And I'll spring that sweet Mother of mine!
Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why Religious Leaders in this Country Need to STFU

You hear a lot of religious leaders in the United States today questioning the candidates for President on a wide range of subjects, such as whether they ‘believe’ in evolution (a nonsensical question on its face – science doesn’t require belief) or not, or their stand on abortion, or whether they believe in God or not.

Not a single candidate has called them on their bullshit questions yet, citing the US Constitution.

You recall the Constitution, of course.

The supreme law of the land.

Which states that the People are sovereign, not the “unitary executive,” not the President, and not some nameless Deity, Designer or what have you.

The Constitution quite categorically states that no candidate for office will be required to undergo a religious test as part of his or her quest for that office.

Now, you might wonder why the writers of the Constitution did that. They still recalled the English Civil War between the Catholics and Protestants, and the French Religious Wars, and the Thirty Years’ War that set back the German states for about two hundred years. The framers realized that setting religious tests would be tantamount to establishing a state religion in the United States, something they absolutely didn’t want to do.

Why? Because it sets up bigotry.

I also want to send out a major STFU to the Baptist leaders in this country. You see, the Baptists were scared that the US was going to establish an official religion, and the Baptists had been persecuted (as a Dissenting sect) for many years in England and in Europe. They were so pants-wettingly afraid of the idea that they wrote to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson soothed their fears in a famous letter where he described a “wall of separation” between religion and the state (ironically, Baptist and other sects of Protestantism have been chipping away at that wall).

You may have heard the latest screed from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, where he implied that the Mexican legislators who had voted for the legalization of abortion in Mexico had essentially excommunicated themselves. We saw much the same bullshit during the 2004 election, when Catholic bishops and priests implied to their congregations that they shouldn’t vote for any candidate that supports a woman’s rights of reproductive choice.

What His Holiness, Vicar of Christ on Earth and Successor to the Apostle Peter apparently failed to recall is that anti-Catholic sentiment in this country traces directly to the papacy and the pronouncements from the Vatican. Americans were suspicious of Catholics (some still are) because they felt that they were getting secret orders from a foreign potentate. Some old political parties, like the Know-Nothings, made anti-Catholicism part of their platform. In the 1920s, the KKK hated Catholics almost (but not quite) as much as they hated African-Americans and Jews.

In the 1960 presidential election, then-Senator John F. Kennedy had to go on TV and reassure Americans that, if elected, he would be his own man and act only in the best interests of the United States.

But the religious leaders, priests, preachers and other God-bothering blue-nosed wowsers in this country keep insisting on poking their noses and beliefs into the political process. That’s fine, but if you want to play the game, you’d better pay the entrance fee – and that means taxing the churches.

You think people (I use the term advisedly) like Falwell and Robertson would agree to that little tradeoff?

This post is cross-linked to Blondesense, where I have the honor of being a guest blogger. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Batten Down the Hatches (3 Weeks Early)!

The National Hurricane Center has announced the formation of our first named tropical storm of the 2007 hurricane season. TS Andrea spooled up off the coasts of Georgia and NE Florida today, and it's moving slowly toward the shore.

Today's Wednesday 9 May 2007.

Hurricane season officially begins Friday 1 June.

That's over THREE WEEKS EARLY, folks.

Luckily TS Andrea looks like a fairly weak beast, which could drop some much-needed rain on the fires that have made Florida smell like the world's largest outdoor barbecue pit for the past few days. But, and I want to make this abundantly clear, it's way too fucking early for this shit to start.

So, start stocking up on water and canned goods, make sure your generator's in order and you have a plan in place.

It may be a bumpy year.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Few Ruminations on an Anniversary

It had been a rainy day that day in New Jersey, May 6, 1937. At the US Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, sailors fretted and smoked in their pea jackets while awaiting the late arrival.

Gradually it appeared, a gigantic silver shape held aloft by eight million cubic feet of hydrogen and propelled by four huge engines. The tail fins were emblazoned with the national flag of the German Reich at that time, for this was the LZ-129 Hindenburg, coming in for a delayed landing. Its passengers, allowed the comforts usually found in the best ocean liners of the day, relaxed and waited for the airship to be landed.

Newsreel cameras and radio commentators watched as the airship came into trim and dropped its mooring lines. As sailors took the lines and started to guide the zeppelin to the mooring mast, a reddish glow could be seen near the upper rudder.

It was all over in under a minute.

The fire, now believed to be a static discharge that ignited the aluminum powder and iron oxide in the airship's skin, touched off the hydrogen and the airship began to burn. Thirty-six people died.

Fast forward a bit.

In retrospect, I should have known. My fiance and I wanted a weekend wedding and a relatively brief honeymoon, so we fixed the date of our nuptials at May 6, 2000. At the time, I thought the time propitious.

May 6th this year would have been my seventh wedding anniversary, had we not divorced in 2003.

Shows what karma can do to you.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Generic Bush Advisor Speech (retro version)

"Corona veniat electus - Victory shall come to the worthy.

Today, democracy, liberty, and equality are words to fool the people. No nation can progress with such ideas. They stand in the way of action.

Therefore, we frankly abolish them.

In the future, each man will serve the interest of the State with absolute obedience. Let him who refuses beware! The rights of citizenship will be taken away from all Democrats and other non-Americans. They are inferior and therefore enemies of the state. It is the duty of all true Americans to hate and despise them.

Henceforth this nation is annexed to the American Empire, and the people of this nation will obey the laws bestowed upon us by our great leader, the Commander Guy of America, the conqueror of Iraq, the future Decider of the World!"


Actually, this firecracker of a speech was written for the 1940 move The Great Dictator, and the lines were spoken by character actor Henry Daniell. Daniell played the Tomainian Minister of Propaganda, Herr Garbitsch.

Sounds like a generic speech that could have been given at any time since we went to war in April 2003, doesn't it? Of course, the object of Garbitsch's vituperation was the Jews of Osterlich, not Democrats and Iraq.

But it sounds awfully, chillingly familiar, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Ask any member of the Bushite al Qaeda, and they'll tell you that our current military adventure in Iraq is "just like World War Two," or will draw some parallel (no matter by what circuitous logic) to either Vietnam (where we won - didn't we?) or to the movie 300.

So much for that.

A former General in the British Army, General Sir Michael Rose, has written a book that draws a different parallel - he's drawn a parallel between the actions of the insurgents and the American War of Independence. The BBC put out the article on it.

Here's a few bits of the article:

"Gen Sir Michael Rose also told the BBC's Newsnight programme that the US and the UK must 'admit defeat' and stop fighting 'a hopeless war' in Iraq. Iraqi insurgents would not give in, he said. 'I don't excuse them for some of the terrible things they do, but I do understand why they are resisting.'"

"This meant the UK government would have to admit defeat, he added. 'The British admitted defeat in North America and the catastrophes that were predicted at the time never happened,' the ex-Bosnia UN chief said. 'The catastrophes that were predicted after Vietnam never happened. The same thing will occur after we leave Iraq.'"


Very heady stuff, dontcha think? Naturally the Bushies will go ballistic about this, especially if some snide fellow happens to throw Reagan's famous quote about a terrorist being a freedom fighter (it all depends on your point of view, after all).

Yesterday a cavalcade of "experts" paraded up and down Slave Media Street warning everyone of the terrible things that Would Definitely Happen if we just pulled up stakes and left Iraq. But how do they know this for certain? Do they have some kind of revelation given to them from Jeanne Dixon, or maybe Nostradamus? Perhaps an overly dressed guy with an English accent stepped out of a phone box and told them?

What I think will happen is this - we leave, and the foreign fighters will go, either willingly or forcibly, leaving the Sunni, Shia and Kurds to settle their differences. Things will get bloody, but haven't they gotten bloody already? Eventually things will shake down into a new order in Iraq, and things will quiet down a bit.

Until the next US President decides a hornet's nest is the best thing on the planet to whack with a stick.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Two schoolgirls got caught kissing by their principal, who captured the image and told the younger girl's parents. Their daughter was yanked out of school, and is probably now in some Gogolesque "deprogramming camp" as a result of her parents' homophobia.


In between all the footage shown of Cute Animals (like the polar bear cub Cnut in Berlin, or baby giant pandas anywhere, or that two-legged dog that has overcome its handicap), comes this movie review from

The movie's titled Zoo, and it's a documentary about a 2005 incident where a man died of a perforated colon after being sodomized - by a horse.

I'll wait for the collective "EWWWWW!" to die down. The movie doesn't show any re-enactments, but apparently this guy was part of a club that did this sort of thing.


Speaking of weirdness, one can't help but wonder what Our Dear Leader's drinking right now to keep him so dissociated from the will of the People and the complaints of the Congress. My guess is it's Brother Pat Robertson's Vintage Sacramental Wine (boosted with formaldehyde and laced with cocaine for that righteous high).