Monday, December 25, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

A compliment

I consider all my readers to be extremely well informed. So, you'll all forgive me when I don't provide you with a link to what I'm talking about in this post. I'm tired/lazy, and I know you know what I mean anyway. Ok?

Alright. First of all, all the people predicting doom because one of our congressmen in the 110 (A democrat from Michigan/Minesotta? Not important) will be sworn in on a Koran. These people need to stop whining, because this isn't a big deal, at all. Ever.

Our politicians swear on a bible because it's a book that they feel will make us take their oaths more seriously because we are supposed to think that they take that book seriously. This politician happens to have no problem with us believing he doesn't take the bible seriously, and feels instead that the Koran is more worthy of respect in his eyes. That is perfectly fine, both with our laws and our traditions. I'm glad that he isn't swearing himself in using a bible, because the book wouldn't mean anything in that case.

There is ablsolutely nothing wrong with using the Koran to be sworn in, just like there is nothing wrong with using nothing to be sworn in.

The other thing I'm going to refer to without linking, is the attempt to provide the world with Peace today, by having an orgasm. I'm glad that the left (well, the college-left) is still creative, but I can't see how this will help at all. I can imagine that this would create some good pick-up lines.

That's it. Both of these things have been pretty extensively blogged, so you should be able to find some good links from Althouse or TigerHawk if you have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'm still too lazy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

General Themes of Terrorism

(Eventually I'll provide links between the posts, but since it's not hard to find the previous one, I'm just going to be lazy now.)

The perception of terrorism among the general public is not very well developed. When asked what terrorism is, most people would respond with something like: “violence targeted at civilians." While it is true that a terrorist might target a bomb at a civilian group, one must realize that this is not the essence of terrorist tactics. Also, one should consider if it is possible for a civilian group to be targeted where terrorism is clearly not involved. For example, should the mafia be considered a network of terrorists? Generally, mafia-like organizations or gangs are described as “organized-crime,” which is a phenomenon distinct from terrorism. The difference is that the mafia lacks a political motive. Its violent acts are intended to coerce, but not for a political cause. The mafia may attempt to influence politicians, but only in an attempt to gain more power to support greed. The end goal of organized crime is not a new system of government, or the independence of a region from an existing government (which would both be examples of a political motivation). These things might happen (for example, the police might refuse to enter a certain area of the city, thus giving up the oportunity for the government to control those areas, but the goal of the mobsters is to get more money. A mobster might blow up a rival’s cafe, but this would not be terrorism because of the lack of a political motive.
The common perception of terrorism (violence against civilians), while probably not completely described in the words above, does include an important characteristic of terrorism. The tactics of terrorism are violent tactics. This is one of the most common elements in all the existing definitions of terrorism. However, some definitions disagree about the extent to which violence is necessary. Is the threat of violence sufficient to be called an act of terrorism? The answer to this question lies in another common element of definitions of terrorism, namely, the intent of the violent acts.
For something to be considered terrorism it needs to have a political motive. Groups that act as gangs rarely have a larger objective, so they cannot be considered terrorists. For something to be terrorism, it needs to be intended to create fear, which the terrorists think will allow them to more easily achieve their objective. Perhaps the most basic definition of terrorism would be that it is “violent propaganda,” because the violence is not the goal, it is the tool used to draw attention to a larger cause. Terrorists attempt to draw attention to themselves by killing others, or threatening to kill others. The media coverage helps the terrorist group spread its message, and the coverage also helps to encourage fear among the target population. This fear is the other goal (besides spreading their message) of terrorists. They want to cause the target population to fear, and thus be intimidated into giving the terrorist group what it wants. Usually, the fear felt by the target population is unfounded. For example, on 9/11, there were four hijacked planes, out of thousands of planes that would have flown that day. The actual chance of being aboard a hijacked plane is slight, as is the chance of being killed by any terrorist act on a given day. Far more violent acts caused by criminals without a larger cause each day, than are caused by terrorists, but a terrorist group tries to convince people to fear it more than they fear ordinary criminals. That fact is what causes terrorists to choose the specific tactics they use.
It is important for the public to have a better understanding of what the tactic of terrorism entails, and what is not terrorism. The reason for this is that spreading more information about the way terrorist groups operate and what are the goals of the use of terrorism is a way to combat the effectiveness of terrorism. The goal of terrorism is to spread fear, and is used by people who have limited options and strength relative to their opponents. Sometimes, the goal of a specific act of terrorism is to make the targets overreact and make it easier for the terrorist group to recruit people to their view. If the public knows what is and what is not terrorism, it will be better able to resist the evolution of society into a totalitarian state in reaction to a terrorist campaign. It will also be able to realize that terrorism is essentially a publicity stunt, and resist the effect of the media campaign put on by the terrorist group and its associates.
As Fallows said, the biggest danger posed by terrorism is what we do in reaction to the campaign, not the destruction of the campaign itself. That is why it is worrying to see that in Italy, a prosecutor said "The charge he is accused of is hijacking, and I'm working to see if we can qualify this as terrorism,"[1] This was in response to a man who hijacked a plane and forced it to land in Italy. At first glance, the charge of terrorism seems valid. However, looking at the details in the case, it can be seen that it was not. The man entered the cockpit of the plane while the door was left open. He lied about having an accomplice with a bomb on the plane, and he told the pilots to land in Italy. He also demanded a meeting with the pope. His goal was to get political asylum in Italy – arguably a political motive. His method was to threaten violence. However, he never had the intent to cause fear among a target audience. It is enough to arrest and jail him for the things he did do, rather than make up charges because they sound better, or will gather more support or a longer sentence. If the prosecutor feels that hijacking airplanes should carry a longer prison sentence than it does, he should lobby his government representative, not try his cases under false pretences. The erosion of civil liberties that this represents, this underlying tension of fear and willingness to submit to anything to be safe, will eventually cause more damage than the bombs of terrorists ever could. Correcting the public’s perception of terrorism will help keep this from happening.So, a basic, informed definition of terrorism could be: terrorism is an act of violence with a political cause, an act that is designed to promote fear. Is this sufficient? Is this all that is important about terrorism? In fact these are the most important characteristics of terrorism, but there is still disagreement, and a few other important points.
[1] (Giuseppe Giannuzzi, 10/05/2006, “Turkish hijacker may face terror charge” AP, accessed on 11/10/2006)

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Nature of Terrorism

So, I'm going to try something a little bit different. This past semester, I wrote a paper that discussed the nature of terrorism, and proposed a definition and a system of classification. It is quite long, so instead of posting it here in full, I'm going to post parts of it at a time, and then interlink it. I hope people are interested in it, cause I had fun writing it, and I think the points I made are pretty good points. So, read on, and feel free to give me comments...

The exact definition of terrorism has caused academics and politicians difficulties for decades. It is a very important concept to clarify, but there seems to be as many definitions as there are agencies and writers trying to define the term. These definitions range across a spectrum, and while they differ on many specific issues, there are a few concepts that are included in almost every attempt. It can be generally agreed upon that terrorism is violence, and that violence is used for a specific purpose. However, the nature of that violence and the nature of the purpose are defined differently, with some scholars and bureaucrats being more inclusive while others are more specific. This paper will explore these definitions and point out the significant aspects of each, while also exploring contributing issues - such as the nature of guerilla warfare and the concept of state terrorism - in an attempt to offer a more exact and complete definition.
Just as confusing and complicated as the issue of "what is terrorism," is the issue of the different kinds of terrorism that exist. Is there a substantial difference in the way that different terrorists (whoever they are) carry out their objectives? Do terrorist groups (whatever form they may take) have commonalities in their objectives? And, if these commonalities or differences exist, is there any way to create a framework to better understand the nature of terrorism? This paper proposes that there is a way to classify the majority of terrorist groups, and it will explain the system while giving examples for each type.
A rational observer might be tempted to ask the simple question: Why bother with an exact and specific definition? This is especially true when there is such disagreement and almost no hope of reaching consensus, and when most people agree that terrorism in whatever form is a bad thing that needs to be defeated. The reader might argue that a definition such as the one sought by this paper is a problem better left for academics, and then only after everything is settled and the immediate threat of terrorism has abated. While this point is valid, understanding the threat and its tactics is crucial to being able to combat that threat by developing useful strategies. Other factors must also be considered, such as society’s response in dealing with terrorism. Terrorism is fought in more locations than just on the battlefields spread across the world. We fight terrorism in the United States, where it is a tactic used by ‘homegrown’ dissidents. We do this using legal structures and protection of vital and vulnerable areas in our cities, but this is done in the western world of public opinion. We need to be careful that we don’t over-react, and target innocent people in our midst. We need to have a useful definition of terrorism, so that prosecutors and journalists will be able to describe violent actions appropriately, so that the right people are caught and the rights of the innocent are not infringed upon. James Fallows pointed out that the biggest threat caused by terrorists is how we allow them to change our society and culture in a negative way.(Link) Our reaction is potentially much more damaging to our long-term cultural health than any bomb the terrorist might (and probably will) set off inside the U.S. or anywhere else. If we become a culture that suspects each and every one of our neighbors or one that builds strongholds to protect ourselves, the terrorism will have succeeded in harming our way of life more completely than it could by destroying all the buildings in New York City.
To avoid this fate, the culture and its people need to understand terrorism. We need to have a definitive grasp on the nature of terrorism. This extends, but is not limited to, understanding what tactics are used and what are the motivations for those tactics. In this way, a culture can avoid confusing the issue in public discourse, and it can avoid locking people away for imagined threats. We have begun our fight against terrorism blindly, and we need to clarify what we are fighting so that we can fight effectively.
This paper will analyze current definitions, focusing on the official definitions of American federal agencies, and some of the definitions used by our allies in the war on terror. This paper will also examine a few of the most current and popular academic definitions. One factor in defining terrorism is defining what terrorism is not, so this paper will explain the difference between tactics used by guerrillas and tactics used by terrorist. This paper will discuss the nature of state terrorism and how that differs from state supported terrorism. This paper will also examine the old adage of “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter". These examples will be used to find a final, complete, definition, followed by an attempt to provide a classification structure for the different terrorist groups in the world, along with some general characteristics of groups in each category.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Leaving DC

There's no reason you should be interested, but tonight is my last night in DC. I have had a wonderful time here, and I've met the most wonderful people.

I spent the semester interning at The Terrorism Research Center, which is quickly becoming the foremost private intelligence and analysis firm in the world. They are now a part of the Black Group, which includes Blackwater, and they produce some of the finest analysis of world events on a weekly and daily basis. I encourage you to check out their website -
It's full of excellent information, including a weekly report that I feel is a great addendum to The Economist magazine, and a database of terrorist attacks from the world over. It's pretty exhaustive; I know, because I've contributed.

My friends here have been great; I have enjoyed my time with you all. Tonight, we will very much enjoy ourselves, and soon we will gather together again at the Lincoln Memorial.

Tonight I recieved the best card I think I have ever gotten, and it means the world to me. The writing on the card reads:
"Friendship is when people know all about you but like you anyway."
I think that just about sums it up perfectly. I will miss you all, but not too much, cause of facebook and aim and cellphones. Of course.

I'll miss DC, but I can't wait to get back to my home and school. DC is a great town, and I know I'll spend a good portion of my life here, so I don't feel too bad about leaving.

Now, to all my regular readers, sorry for the interuption.
Starting on Monday, I think I'll begin putting out a series on the nature of terrorism, but that depends on how I feel about blogging through the holidays. See you all again soon.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thoughts on Christmas Trees

So, tonight I went with my dad to see the Christmas (good word to describe them) Trees that the Congress and the White House put up. I'm surprisingly technophobic (I scored a 52% on the Geek Test) where cameras are concerned, so I have no pictures. Sorry, go find it yourselves.

The Congressional tree was the first one we went to. It was nice. It was a tree given by a native tribe from out in the northwest. I forget which one. They used ornaments probably made by talented school children, which were cool, but I'm not sure exactly who made them because it was dark and I couldn't see a sign. The tree was kind of strange, because it had a trunk like a birch tree, and evergreen needles. There was also a surprising lack of branches. It was a fir, but unlike any fir I've seen in Maine. The lights were led lights. I like leds, but they didn't work perfectly here. Instead of using colored leds (they come in many colors now, in fact, white light was one of the more recent innovations in the technology), they used white leds inside colored globes. This made the lights shine not so brightly.

Overall, in this grade-inflated world, I give it a B-.

The White House tree was much cooler. It was huge, there were many train sets running around the base. Also, in the area around the tree, there were 56 smaller trees decorated by an organization from each of the 56 commonwealths/territories/states of the Union. Quite impressive, and cool, to boot. They also had an amazingly hot fire, in place of the traditional "Yuletide log." The lights were of the normal variety, and it worked quite well.

Overall, it gets an A-. Not perfect, but cool none-the-less.

However, some of the states had interesting ideas about who should give the ornaments. There were a couple states that decided to make ornaments that related to their states - Mighigan had ornaments with "the mitts," and Maine school kids decorated sea urchins (which we're trying to push as a sideline industry with Lobsters) - props to them. Others had local artists make some pretty things. That worked well.
Other states - the usual suspects - decided to make statements. New York (and some others) had origami cranes, for peace. A good idea, and in keeping with the season. That was fine. However, one state decided to use triangle folded American flags as their ornaments. This doesn't have much to do with their state, but is I'm sure intended to comment on the Iraq deaths. Protest is fine, and I encourage it. However, a Christmas (or holiday) celebration meant to bring the nation together in celebration should probably stay away from controversial subjects. There are plenty of other avenues for that kind of thing. Even if you insist on using the venue for a protest, you could choose to do it with some class, like New York and others did. Using an image that is meant to invoke scenes of military funerals is pretty inappropriate.

Any guesses as to which state it was?

If you guessed Vermont, you were right - 10 points to you.

If not, try not to feel bad. There was only a 1 in 56 chance of getting it. A 1 in about 20 if you pay attention to state politics and what I said above. And, if you cheated and saw it, so you knew, then no points. Just cause I feel like doing it that way.

If I'm reading this wrong, please let me know how and why, and if you have more information than was apparent to me, I'd love to hear it. But, based on what I know, I have to condemn Vermont for their decision.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More comment responses

So, over at Frank J.'s blog, a bunch of liberal commenter's got a head start on the regulars, and the result is priceless. I urge you all to go over there and check it out.

I felt the need to post a comment, and I want to put it here too...check out a couple of the comments over there for context, and then take a look at this. Enjoy.

Wow! This is the comment thread that keeps on giving! Frank, I don't think you even need to play "the game" with these guys; it's funny enough as it is.

I would love to see some proof from you guys about all the "constitution a**wiping" and whatnot. If that were actually happening, I would be concerned.

Your best arguments are: wiretapping without warrants and the "secret" prisons where torture happened. I will deal with them both.

First, I was quite worried about the wire-tapping until I read about the details, as published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and several liberal blogs. You get the best damaging information from those who would like to see the target fall, so if something bad for Bush happens, I'll read about it from his detractors.
It seems that those wire-taps were only used on Americans when they were part of an international call to known terrorists, and when they used key words, like "bombs". I, for one, would like to see those calls watched. Do you think those kind of calls last long enough for the FBI to run down to the local (hah!) FISA court? I concede that Bush should have asked congress to change the law to one he could work with, but I'm ok with stop-gap measures to plug the dam in the meantime. Then again, FDR (and every subsequent President) ordered tapped phones with wild abandon, in similar circumstances, and look at how the country ended up. Maybe I should be worried.

Now, the "secret" prisons where torture happened. Again, I read everything I could about it from the usual suspects before making a decision. And, I'm sorry, but sleep deprivation is not torture. The waterboarding stuff (which I have researched extensively, and I will give you a disertation, if you are actually interested) is harder to dismiss, so I won't. It's a rough treatment. It has not, however, crossed the line into unbelievably bad torture. "Torture" to me, involves electrodes attatched to nuts, and possibly carbatterires, when there isn't actually whipping and balls and chains.

The people we're dealing with aren't exactly nice guys, and if we don't leave physical marks, then I think I'm ok with it. Remember that when they get their hands on an American, they often behead them. That's not exactly torture, but it's also not very nice.

Also, remember the class with which our military and government servants act. When something horrible happens (like when one of our own does horrible things), we own up to it. Abu Ghraib was not reported by a news agency. It was first disclosed in a Pentagon Press release, following a preliminary investigation run by the military after recieving a tip from their own. People who break the ROE's (which are far too tight, and lead to many unneccesary deaths. The only "appropriate" level of military force is the "overwhelming" level) are tried, convicted, and sent to jail - and that doesn't happen very often. Not because of cover ups, but because of the class with which our American military servicemen, (republicans or democrats alike; it doesn't matter, they're all Americans) act in every situation.

Like I said above, I'd love to hear some more detailed claims from you guys, but I think you'll just give me more propaganda. Now, I like propaganda. It's fun to study, and it makes for some amazing posters and bumper stickers, but it isn't really good for making decisions and opinions. I don't think most things that have happened in the past few years lead up to fascism. If you'd like to see some real fascism, take a look at Russia or Venezuela. Until we start rounding up people like you, who "speak truth to power," into internment camps, I'll watch, wait, and not go off my rocker. Thanks. I hope you enjoyed my reasoned rant.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Today was the day

I took the Oral Assessment. I didn't pass, but got a 4.7. Which is fine, because I'll be taking the test again anyway. The score isn't low enough to make me think I'll never pass, and I've still got plenty of time to take the test. This was the first year I was eligible anyway. Thanks to everyone who helped me, I appreciate the advice, and I'm sure that I'll do better next year.

Bold line

"If I am correct about this, which I am" - Christopher Hitchens.

I haven't read the whole essay yet, but the parts I have read (Found on Althouse) are pretty good.

The Work Week

This is in response to this post, over at Consul-@-Arms.

While the sentiments of this post are right-on, it's still not a good idea to have congress sit around in DC all week. Most of the congressmen go home on the weekend - not just to hang out with their families, but to check into regional offices on Friday, and then attend events all weekend. Obviously this isn't true for the Alaskan and Hawaiian reps, but you'd be surprised how many west coast congressmen go back to their districts. This is a good thing, for three reasons.

First, they need to be with their consitutants.

Second, the longer they're in washington, the longer the lobbyists know exactly where to find them. This also places them outside of the more watchful eyes found back home.

Third, it just isn't a good idea for congress to spend more time making laws - have you seen what they've done already? I mean, do you really want them to do more of this "work"?

I'm actually a fan of a decentralized congress - one where the representatives work from their home districts. This is easily possible with available technology, and will be even easier as more effective video technology comes into play. This spreads the representatives out and makes them a more difficult target for two different kinds of vultures - terrorists (or rather, the issue is security in general) and Lobbyists. You only need to visit the capital once to know that the national teamster's union is but a block away, along with many, many other groups that vie for the attention of our representatives.

Many people say that spreading the congress out will not help them get work done, and would in fact make it harder to do any worthwhile legislation. While I've already mentioned that less is more from the congress, in my opinion, this is actually a valid point. However, every representative we elect is quite capable of getting things done through e-mails and phone calls instead of face to face contact. They may not be the smartest members of society, but they are certainly capable. (as are their staffs)

So, don't be so quick to disparage the three day work many ways it's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wouldn't it have been cool...

...if the Dixie chicks had a press release like this after their infamous out of the country quotes?

I mean, here's a good celebrity. She's probably still crazy liberal, but at least she's got her heart in the right place...and England's a decent enough place too...

Oh, and to make sure people don't get the wrong idea about this, I noticed a few weeks ago that Paltrow had allegedly said that the English were smarter than Americans...which I thought was a stupid thing to say. Then, Instapundit (no link; you know how to get there, and he didn't give me one when he used my name. Tit-for-Tat! How doya like 'dem apples?) posted a link to this post, so I checked it out. I'm glad I did, cause I don't like to be under-informed. UPDATE: The point is, I don't generally follow celebrity gossip. I have a reputation to uphold, you know! issue.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Verification Words

Althouse does this sometimes, and I think it's fun, but this is the first time I've had a worthy word.


definition - crazy to the max. Ubercrazy doesn't even come close to describing that which is cairazqy.

For a real world example of this phenomenon, please see, CAIR.

What do I think about the resignation of John Bolton at the end of his term?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

First off, he's done an excellent job representing our president at the UN. He may not have gotten as much reform as he would have liked, but that's a tough nut to crack. Plus, since everyone watches American politics, especially foreign diplomats, everyone knew he didn't have the full support of congress. That made it easier to ignore his inconvenient truths. (heh, I made a funny pun.)

It will be a long time before we have such an effective representative of our country, and I hope one day to be as successful at that job (representing his president) as he was.

Too bad, that's what I think about the resignation.

Senseless bragging (about what? ask TigerHawk)

The context is that a friend of mine just got home from class, and I'm chatting with my friend who is her roommate. This girl generally works out everyday, but the gym closes at 9:30. It is now 9:08. Thus, the following conversation ensues. (oh, and we plan to go watch some football and have me watch them eat wings later tonight at a bar)

Ben: I figured she was out...
J: not yet
Ben: foolish athlete type people.
J: shes at the gym
Ben: evan just ran out the door...
Ben: that's what I mean...
Ben: there's only 20 minutes left...
9:10 PM
Ben: not worth my time...
J: i know lol
J: me too
Ben: course, I am lazy and fat, lying on the couch, watching athletes on tv.
Ben: which is kinda funny.

Today I wore size 36 pants for the first time since my sophomore year of high school; I've lost about 38lbs since the beginning of the summer.

Oh, and don't really ask Tigerhawk, it's just that's he's doing the same thing I am...

ABC is doing a decent job

in the interest of fairness, we should applaud the MSM when they do something good. The bar is set so low, however, that just doing their job deserves props.

I have followed the MSM relatively closely as part of my job, and ABC seems to do the best job. They haven't plastered sketchy AP stories on their news sites and such after following them up themselves, and they do good reporting on their own. Also, I can not detect any bias in their reporting, and I haven't heard that they're shills for the administration (which I also don't see, but my view is colored, so I'll depend on someone else's vision), so they must be reaching a good tone.

It's important to reward good behavior as well as discipline bad behavior. We bloggers should remember that.

My Favorite President

"Dare greatly. It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

Theodore Roosevelt

TR is my favorite. He had a good foreign policy, he had a decent domestic policy, and he worked hard to protect the environment. Plus, he had a good public persona, which is important for presidents now-a-days. I am one of the 'scholars' who see a distinction between the 'modern' presidency and the classical presidency. TR was the first modern president, though there were a couple more classical ones that came after him.

I'm not sure I like his role in the Spanish-American war, though I suppose I can explain that by attributing to him extreme patriotism (which if not good, is at least not horrible), and a media-induced blindness. The rough riders will go down in history, and it added to his later persona that I like so much. I'm sure that I could find some more things to dislike, but since he's got some great quotes and almost no effect on the current situation, I think it's safe to just like the guy, rather than be totally informed about him. I have already done quite a bit of research, so I don't think the marginal utility of more research equals the marginal benefit.

So, there you go, that's my word.

UPDATE: New quote, and I'm going from memory. "Walk softly and carry a big stick." - Advice for Foreign Relations.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Go check out the Instapundit...I'm not too excited about my last name being used without a link, but, hey I'm not going to complain.

Friday, December 01, 2006

British Committee Names

But in a sign of the continuing high alert on the political level, the government's top level COBRA committee, which usually meets in national emergencies, was convened again.
Why can't we have awesome names for emergency committees? I guess that's just what you get when you have a government as old as the Brit's do.

I'm also carefully following this spy case, especially the connection between this, the sickness of the former Liberal (read pro-democracy, I think) Prime Minister, and the killing of the reporter about a month and a half ago. More to come, I think.

Also, go check out Sadly, No. They are a good liberal blog, and I could use some fire support in the comments. They probably think I've abandoned them, since I haven't responded since yesterday, but I have a life, you know?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You'll probably be hearing more about this idea in the next few weeks (as soon as I get that paper on terrorism done), but here's a sketch of my plan for world peace. I explained it well in this IM conversation with my, you get the benefit of me seriously explaining why a draft is such a bad idea that it will never happen.
(jeez, sometimes liberals need the most basic things explained to them (though, this doesn't really include my friend, most of the time)

Here we go(edited slightly for readability and anonymity):
Ben: guess what E and I decided we need to do this summer...

A: I heard protest for the invasion of Iran

Ben : Yup. But actually, it was to "Protest for the Ending of Human Rights Abuses" the world over...though particularly in Iran, cause we're strategically placed, and a couple other reasons.

A: I think its a great idea
A: I just hope you guys like the draft cuase thats the only way its happening

Ben: Not really...we don't need the draft.
Ben: We just need to redeploy from Iraq to Iran...We have them surrounded, and we'll be able to use the Navy more...
Ben: There will never ever be a draft again, it's inefficient.
Ben: It takes us about a year to train someone to be a basic soldier, at which point we send them to specialized training, which takes at least another 6-8 months. Most specialties take more time than this. (remember, this isn't exact, I was thinking off the top of my head. It is generally correct. - ed.) If we drafted people for two years (like the draft is currently set up, and how it worked in Vietnam) (In WWII we drafted people for the duration. - ed.) we would barely get to use them at all. Plus, they would not be as good as the volunteers we currently have, who are in top physical shape and all that. So, a draft would increase our needs and costs and we wouldn't really get much (a draft would also reduce the number of volunteers)
Ben: A draft is just pretty much all-around, bad strategy, and we can increase the size of the military without it.
Ben: Like we have been doing, for the past four years, despite the fact that we missed our overall recruitment goals for one of those years.

A: and its your asses that are going

Ben: I probably would go... but I would be a volunteer...not a draftee...

A: I would volunteer to but thats not the point
A:I guarntee if it was necessary which it very likely could be in the future
A: Training and standards would be lowered which is yes bad strategy but if you can't get enough kids to volunteer you don't have a choice

Ben: I just told you all the reasons it's not necessary, even, not helpful nor beneficial...
Ben: We don't have wars that need bodies to fill trenches or storm a beach anymore. We use skilled technicians that complete highly specialized missions that come together to create the desired impact.

A: And when it comes down to it the military is going to what they have to to keep enough people there
A: Well good fight the war without them then

Ben: We need people who can use a computer with one hand, while shooting a gun with the other, while running full speed at a crouch.

A: and how are you going to redeploy

Ben: from Iraq to Iran?
Ben: well, no one wants us there anyway, right?

A: we can't even keep iraq stable now and the Iraqis sure as hell can't do shit

Ben: I assume we'll just take the helicopters, tanks and everything and drive across the border to Iran...

A: no one wants us there but we can't leave it in chaos

Ben: I mean, if the trainers and suppliers can come this way, it can't be that hard to go the other way.
Ben: why not?
Ben: If we did, they would bleed out, and the problem would fix itself. (please, sarcasm - ed)
Ben: Plus, it would show them that being stupid and violent never works.

A: then all your various insurgents that are keeping global terrorism down by busting the shit out of iraq will start moving around or just go to iran
A: and then we will just be fighting the iraq war in iran

Ben: yeah, so?
Ben: we'll move to Pakistan when that happens.
Ben: Run once, run twice, what's the difference?

A: can't do both at the same time
A: yes alexander the great
A: go take over the middle east i don't care i just want a job wiht the CIA

Ben: eventually, we'll destroy so much stuff (which is what our military is designed to do, not be a police force) that the insurgents won't have anything left to make bombs with.

Ben: I don't want to do two things at the same time.

A: please keep me in business for the next twenty years or soo

Ben: I want to leave Iraq, and go to Iran, then leave Iran, and go to Pakistan, then leave Pakistan, and go to North Korea, then leave NK and go to Burma, then leave Burma and rest for a few minutes before we get to Africa, (cause we'll need it to pump ourselves up for being in Africa, which is far more confusing than the Middle East) but we'll have to be there eventually.
Ben: See, just one thing at a time...

A: fine go to iran see what happens just make sure they don't nuke cuase austrailia has great surfing but i don't wanna live there with bunny rabbits

Ben: and if we move quickly enough, the terrorist won't be able to run fast enough to keep up.
Ben: and we'll just kill the leaders in every place, so that the terrorists won't know how to build bombs any more, and they'll have to spend more time learning all over again.


Ben: It'll be like they got sent back to kindergarden from (well, I almost said 10'th grade, but that's too advanced for where they're actually at) 6'th grade.
Ben: Well, I think that for best effect, we should use them both in conjunction with each other.
Ben: Maybe Nuke The Moon again each time we have to move on to another country.

A: fabulous

Ben: Maybe people will eventually get the point and stop being stupid idiots so that the moon doesn't get destroyed.

A: probly not

Ben: *Sigh* Probly not.
Ben: But, on the plus side for us, we get to downsize our nuclear armament, and meet those treaties we have that the russians aren't following.
Ben: it'll be cheaper than disposing of them (im)properly (cause properly disposing of them would be to blow them up, but everyone wants us to just take them apart), and it'll make us look good for meeting our treaty obligations, unlike Saddam

A: they will scream about killling infdels and muhammad and 70 virgins and stuff keeping trying

Ben: Yeah, but we don't really want them to stop anyway...we want to go in and destroy stuff.
Ben: I mean, what's the point of being the most militant country on the planet if you don't get to use a few bunker busters and such?

A: good point

I always make good points, thank you very much.
And just for the record, the US spends 4% of GDP on our military. Iran spends closer to 20% currently, though there aren't really any good figures. NK has no good figures, but you gotta believe that it's closer to 90% of GDP. And, our 4% investment makes most countries (aside from Iran, NK, and France) feel safer in the world, while the Iranians and North Koreans just make everyone feel scared about the crazy things they're going to do next.

Ok, off to lunch.

I am a typical Yankee


What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
North Central
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

So, the results of that dismay me...however true it might be. My accent has been heavily influenced by the couple years I've spent out of the country, and also by the international and country-wide setting in which I went to high school and college.
However, they didn't ask me how I say "room" (I pretty much say it like "rum").

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jesus is Coming!

Quick! Look Busy!

That was a bumper sticker I saw on the drive down to my family's house for Thanksgiving. It made me laugh for a long time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Valour-IT wrap up

So, here is a preliminary final account, which also pays due tribute to the Navy team, which crossed the line first. Thank you all for the support you've given us!

If you'd like to follow the project during the off time throughout the year, check this blog out.

And if you'd like to see more analysis of the statistics, check this place out.

And congratulations to everyone who helped, and big thanks to everyone who donated, and remember to come back next year!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It seems to me that I need to live in Germany

This isn't part of the great beards series, cause there's too many of them, and some of them don't count as beards, just facial hair...but which one of these is great?

Does anyone speak Gaelic?

Cause I've got a question for them.

So this past weekend I went to a great band at a cool bar. It was an Irish bar, which they had actually shipped over from Ireland, piece by piece. It was quite a lot of fun. But the company that does this is not all that old, maybe 10 years or so, from what I can tell. Their name is Ri-Ra, with an accent over the i which I can't put in.

Does Ri-Ra mean anything in Gaelic?
'Cause the acronym could mean something in English, and given the history surrounding those groups, I'm not sure spending money there is a good idea. RIRA is the name of the successor to the the IRA, and they are one of the few republican groups not standing by the cease-fire. And, it was common for the IRA to raise money in bars in America...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Exciting Day

So, I don't normally diary my life here on the blog, but tomorrow is exciting enough to merit a post. If only to calm me down a bit by telling someone about it!

Tomorrow I'll be going to the State Department for my first full working day there. I'll be at the OSAC security briefings, because the internship I have currently, is intricately involved in international security matters. I'll just be sitting around and taking notes, but I will be doing all that within the confines of Foggy Bottom...given the fact that I really, really, want to work for the State Department as my career, that's enough to get me excited about the prospect of being there.

So, if you work at State, or are there for the same reason I'll be there, say hi to the kid with the dark suit and red bow tie who looks slightly over-awed by it all. I hoping it won't be that obvious, but the last time I went to a conference at State, my friends teased me incessantly about how I was constantly looking around, marveling at the slightest things. (by the way, I'm not embarrased, it's good for me to be over-awed by something as big and cool as the workings of the State Department, especially if I plan to work there. The problem would be if everything was mundane to a person as young as I am.)

As an added bonus, I'll be meeting a contact at the state department for lunch, cause my roommate was cool enough to mention that he and I were going to be taking the OA's in a couple weeks when he met this person. The timing actually worked out perfectly for us, since I'll already be there, and I won't have to take an absurdly long lunch to go meet them.

In the next few weeks, I'll be posting my Statement Of Intent (which is a short essay about why I want to work for state), in case anyone would like to comment on it. That will be two of these boring posts about my life (and both betray my own innate pride, because who really wants to read about my life?), but I hope you'll forgive me. By the time I post that business, I'll hopefully be in the middle of a series of posts looking at several current definitions of terrorism. I'll be trying to create one that works in all the important parts, but is still simple and robust enough for general consumption. It should be starting soon, so be on the lookout for something of that nature.

That's enough rambling without much cause, so go back to your regularly scheduled blog reading, if any of you decided to stick around through this whole post.

note: when I say that a diary post like this is boring, I'm only wondering why I should presume that anyone is interested. It's my life, and most people have done similar things. I already tell my friends and family what I'm up to, and it's not like I'm on an exciting adventure in africa. I'm not disparaging any bloggers who do blog mostly about their life; I just think that anyone who does that needs to have insights on life or a writing style that far exceeds my own. I do enjoy reading blogs like that, and you can find a couple on my side-bar. But in general, I feel that my own life and writing don't pass that level of interest; hence, the boring label...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Veteran's Day!

Marines and Navy are over the line! Well done guys! Now, lets help the Air Force out, because the army's got the biggest team, and they should be able to get the rest of the money.

Give some cash to help the fly-boys!

Also, take a moment to remember our veteran's today. They have given us the world, we should give them a few moments of remembrance.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Navy Made it!

Good work!

Now go help the Marines! It is their birthday, after all...

Happy Birthday to the Marines.

You're a hell of a fighting force.

“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.”— U.S. Army Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing

“The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!”— U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Frank Lowe

“Marines have it [pride] and benefit from it. They are tough, cocky, sure of themselves and their buddies. They can fight, and they know it."— U.S. Army Gen. Mark Clark

“Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.” — Rear Admiral Jay Stark, U.S. Navy

“[U.S.] Marines have the swagger, confidence, and hardness that must have been in Stonewall Jackson's Army of the Shenandoah.” — A British military officer in a report to his command after visiting U.S. Marines in Korea

And this one, from a more recent conflict:

Still, from a combat-power / force-multiplying perspective, it is the old formula – which creates the magic – that truly sets Marines apart from other soldiers. Perhaps impossible to define, this magic may be expressed in the words of a frantic terrorist whose radio transmission was intercepted by U.S. forces during the assault on Fallujah in 2004: “We are fighting, but the Marines keep coming. We are shooting, but the Marines won’t stop.”"

But give money to the Navy anyway!

Update: Apparently, I didn't realize how close we were to the goal, and how much work is left to be done. It seems to me that we in the Navy should play it straight and lend a little support to our younger brothers, the Marines...
Lets all cross the finish line together - tell your friends to donate, get everyone you know, and have them give money to the team that is farthest away. That way, we should still raise the money (which is the important part) and everyone gets to play. Of course, Navy still gets bragging rights, but why would we need any more of those?
So, give money to the Marines now, cause it's their Birthday, tomorrow, I'll look for the other codes...

Rumsfeld Resigns; Some Thoughts

I've been hearing some Republicans bemoan the fact that Rumsfeld waited to announce his resignation until after the election.

What they're forgetting is that American politics don't happen in a vacuum. Sure, having Rumsfeld step down would probably have helped us with a few voters, but the reason Republicans in the field didn't vote for Republican's in the elections is not really that the war was going badly; it's more that the Republicans in office have failed us on domestic matters. Letting Rumsfeld go would not have fixed that problem.

Rumsfeld's resignation also signals something else, to everyday Republicans, and to our enemies abroad. "We're weak." (I don't think this is true, but that is how the terrorists will try to play it off, in fact they have already.)

The effect on voters in America would have been negligible. The effect on the terrorists would not have been. If Rumsfeld had resigned two months ago, the terrorists would have had a chance to crow about it, a chance to declare it a victory for them. It would have been reported as a sign that America was leaving the battlefield in disgrace. That none of these things would have been true doesn't matter.

With all that negative news (especially with news of the a renewed series of attacks in Iraq due to a renewed sense of hope), we would have lost the election solely because of Iraq. We might have, as you said, kept the Senate, but we would have still lost the House. And that, coming less than two months after the resignation of Rumsfeld, would have been seen as yet another victory for the enemies of America, yet another sign that Americans are weak and cowardly.

The two events (Democrats wining the election, and Rumsfeld resigning) give the terrorists cause to celebrate. However, instead of giving them two victories, Bush only gave them one. Instead of two separate boosts, they only get one. One point is just a dot on a plane, two points make a line, a trend, and that perceived change of momentum would have caused lots of problems for us. Bush also signaled that he's willing to work with the Democrats, gives the DD a new set of fresh eyes (and a set of eyes that has seen insurgency tactics before, something that is obviously useful now), and he gave the democrats a challenge. In effect, he said, "I'm willing to work with you as long as you give me what I need to do my job to keep America safe." Or, I'll get rid of Rummy if you give me Gates without any trouble, and we'll see where we can go from there.

We'll obviously have to wait and see how things go, but I think the resignation of Rumsfeld was played in a decent way. It's a natural time for a shake-up, and we've seen the Rumsfeld resignation coming in one way or another for a long time. This way, we limit the damage it does to us, and Bush gets to send a balloon up to the Democrats to see how they're react to a more Uniter-type policy.

Just another silver lining (though admittedly a thin one) that I'm seeing this week.

She gets it right

I suspect lots of people feel this way...
I too wanted the Republicans to take losses this election, but I think I realized that we were going to loose the House and Senate (Though I held out hope for the senate until the end). I'm not sure everyone had the foresight to see that this is what would happen if enough republicans were thinking the same way that Althouse and I were, and were therefore unprepared for the reality of Wednesday morning. I think we'll probably survive, but it is kind of disappointing.

However, there are reasons to think that it isn't all this bad. For one, it's less than a normal second-mid-term election pickup, according to Krauthammer. Number two, like everyone's saying, we've elected a lot of conservative Democrats. They used to be a dying breed, and if they can overcome their populist tendencies, I think we could use a bit of that philosophy right now. There are more than enough of them to overcome anything Pelosi really wants to do, and there are also enough of them for them to make an impact in all the committee's. Sure, the committee's will all be headed by really Liberal democrat dinosaurs. However, with both houses being so close, the margin in each of those committee's will also be very close. Look for a lot of defections from the more conservative democrats over the next two years. Also, remember that Bush can always start using his veto-pen like he's supposed to. Divided government generally leads to lower spending and fewer laws created, which is a good thing most of the time. In fact, if it wasn't for the war, (which, as Althouse correctly pin-points, is the main issue today) I'd be pretty happy at the moment.
Though this election was certainly a loss for the Republicans, it was just as certainly a victory for the conservatives in this country. I can think of worse things that could happen.

I still think we're going to be suffering from buyer's remorse this week, a la Jane Galt...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A tasteful disagreement

Well, the Gregg at TMQ put this paragraph in his column: "The most offensive attack ad of the season is the "Harold, Call Me" spot run by the Republican National Committee against Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee. The woman who declares in the spot, "I met Harold at a Playboy party" has, in fact, never met Harold -- she's an actress reading lines. All the people who give opinions about Ford in the commercial, presented as men and women on the street, are actors. That is to say, the commercial consists exclusively of lies. You can't go any lower. The ending lie is especially repellant on the part of the Republican National Committee, as viewers are not warned that the person presented as knowing the candidate personally actually has never met him. "

He seems to think (as evidenced by this quote) that it's not ok to use actors in political comercials, unless they are giving their own true stories, not reading anything someone else wrote. I think that's a little unfair, and if everyone felt the same way, political ads would be ever more boring and annoying than they actually are.

I actually thought (racist allegations aside) that that particular ad was one of the more comical ones from the season. It was arguing against Ford using the "argumentum ad absurdum" or however you spell it, so obviously nothing said there was actually true. It did turn around a lot of Ford's statements to phrases that Tennesseans would disagree with, and that Ford would never say, but only because he would phrase them differently (I'm not sure about the gun-comment, though I'm sure that Ford probably support more restrictions than his opponent). As far as the girl went, Ford did go to a playboy party (though not at the playboy mansion) and the Corker campaign was trying to play up the young, irresponsible image that Tennesseans already had of Ford (because he was in the public eye because his family has long been involved in politics). I think that all that is fair game, and the American People are smart enough to figure things out for themselves.

Sorry for a late midterm elections post, but I'm just reading the TMQ now...and I will be giving my silver lining later...

A fitting Tribute

This is a good way to remember our Rummy. Later I'll talk about the silver lining of losing him and losing the congress.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NPR Surprise

So, I've been listening to NPR today at work, cause I wasn't getting enough election stuff from the web...but then I ended up getting a long screed about some road they're building somewhere near a wet-land environment. And I didn't care.

But, I did hear this clip, which I thought was interesting, since it was a republican on NPR. They even let her talk. 'Course, she was black too, so they were just fulfilling their diversity quota. She spoke well, I want to see if we can get her to come all the way out to my college...

Monday, November 06, 2006

New blog, plus great tactics

Ok, so the republicans aren't the only party playing dirty tricks, but they may have the funniest technique. According to the new Economist blog, Democracy in America, some republicans are computer dialing voters with a message from a democrat, and setting it to redial anyone who hangs up. This is wonderfully funny and creative. Those silly republicans, what will they think up next? Push Polling? Google-Bombing? Who knows? I know only that it'll be funny and amazing!

MSM watch

So, sometimes even the NYT can't help but put out inspiring stories about our troops. They do at least pretend to tell the truth, so one can't be surprised that sometimes a few things they'd rather not publish get slipped through the cracks. Today we've got two stories that show the honor and valour of our troops, although they ran sometime last week. You have to get through the first couple of paragraphs before you can see the good stuff, but they're both good stories.

While we're on the subject of Valour, and the Troops, I should mention that you should give money to this great project that I told you about last week...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

If the Democrats win the house, Pelosi becomes part of the line of Succession

It is for this reason, and this reason alone that I withdraw my previous opinion that it might be better if the Republicans lost the House. I love to read The Economist, but I'm not a fan of their current endorsement. In it, they say that the Democrats should have control of the House, and then go on to list many reasons why, in my opinion, Nancy Pelosi should never get close to that kind of agenda shaping power.

I was aware of all these reasons not to like her before, but I was willing to swallow my distaste because I thought the Republicans could use a wake-up call, and the US could use some divided government to get the budget and excess regulation-making under control. Plus, I think the Republican's could use some plausible deniability for the state of the world in the run up to the 2008 elections.

Those reasons are now all moot. Even though I knew that the speaker of the house was third in line for the presidency since forever ago, it never connected in my mind that Nancy Pelosi would be this person. Prior to this, the best reason for not assassinating President Bush was that Cheney would assume power, and that Hastert (or Delay) would after Cheney. However, now that would not be the case. I call on the secret service to step in and not allow the Democrats to take control of the House based on security reasons.

Just think what would happen if a bomb went off at the wrong time and we then had Madame President Pelosi, instead of just Madame Speaker Pelosi! I leave you with that nightmare as you get ready to vote on Tuesday.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan about this

Here's the link.

I'm pissed at us for listening to PM Maliki about withdrawing from Sadr City. It's actually more complicated than that - Maliki told us we should take down our barricades, not that we should stop searching for our soldier, and we should probably do our best to work with the PM of Iraq. However, we got no back up from the Iraqi's who should have replaced us at the barricades, but didn't because Maliki is listening too closely to Al Sadr, who wants his militias to be able to go and kill whomever they'd like to, mostly cause that will keep them too busy to try and take power away from him.

It's a bad situation, and what should be a great story (an American citizen from an Iraqi background who married an Iraqi woman before he chose to join the military and go to Iraq) is now a story about us abandoning our soldiers. It's disappointing, and I want to get him back. Not that I can really do anything about that, but I do want us to not get into a situation where our soldiers continue to get kidnapped. We need to be resolute and not tolerate anyone who keeps our people from us. Especially since, like I've said before, our enemies don't even have a counterpart to Gitmo, let alone whatever prison the left would like to point to as being the ultimate in respecting human rights.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"You are going to burn in a very special level of hell."

"Hello? Woman-person?"

"Yeah, we're pretty much just giving each other significant looks and laughing incessantly."

Firefly quotes that are running through my head after recent events. Not in the context that they were said on the show, of course...I don't talk at the theater or anything like that. But they fit into my situation anyway...

Wow, this is kind of a zen post. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The reason France didn't go to Iraq

They've already got enough trouble at home.
This is from an article on Oct. 28'th, the first anniversary of the start of riots that errupted across France last year.
"Some 100 cars were torched nationwide overnight, half of them in the Paris region, police officials said. The figure was higher than usual ?? police say between 30 and 50 cars are set on fire during an average week, though some weekends the figure jumps to 100. On the most fiery night of last year's riots, more than 1,400 cars went up in flames."

30-50 cars are burned a week, on average? Wow. I mean, those kids need to get back into school or something. Make them play more soccer so they're too tired to go out and burn stuff at night.


I'm worried that no one has finished my comment over at this post on IMAO. Will I have to go finish it myself? I know it's not exactly the same as the quote I'm going for, but I feel that it's similar enough for a fan to understand (and there are plenty over there) yet subtle enough to not impede the flow of comments...oh well. Maybe I'm crazy.

Do exactly what Frank J. Says

And donate money to our team! Go Navy! Beat Army!

Squirrel Attack

Just more evidence for the conclusions that I posted earlier on this blog.

Sticking it to the French

So, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani just finished visiting France, as he tried to heal the wounds in their relationship, caused by France's refusal to support freedom in the region. He urged them to look at Iraq with a fresh eye, and maybe we'll return the favor. At the end of his speech, he said: "Without this war, perhaps you wouldn't see me here as a president, but as a refugee."

That's some pretty tough language in diplospeak. Good for him.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I love DST

Not really; I actually think it's a symptom of over-powerful government feeling its oats. But I can't explain what brings it up specially this year better than the tastefully-named Gregg Easterbrook. Here we go:

Congress Is Afraid to Do Anything About Petroleum Imports, But Happy to Issue Orders to God: Enjoy your trick-or-treating in the dark tonight, because starting next Halloween, Daylight Savings Time still will be in effect on Oct. 31. The recent energy bill enacted by Congress -- which contains hundreds of pages of special-interest favors but largely does nothing about energy supply or consumption rates -- had a title lengthening the part of the year when DST remains in effect. Beginning in 2007, Standard Time will be in effect only from Nov. 4 'til March 9 -- two-thirds of the year will be non-standard, only one-third Standard. (Unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii, which do not observe Daylight Savings Time.) Though I like an extra hour outdoors in the summer too, Daylight Savings Time seems to have gotten completely out of hand. The God-given cycles of sunrise and sunset aren't good enough for us?

Proponents of DST always say that it reduces electricity use, by postponing by one hour the time when all the interior lights of structures are turned on. See Michael Downing's "Spring Forward," an entire book devoted to attacking Daylight Savings Time! Downing acknowledges DST cuts electricity use but maintains it increases petroleum demand, which is more harmful than reducing electricity use is helpful -- especially considering Congress refuses to enact a meaningful energy policy. "Spring Forward" demonstrates that the primary energy impact of the extra hour of evening daylight is to cause people to drive places to do things; and while the United States has centuries' worth of coal and uranium to make electricity, we're already too dependent on imported petroleum from Persian Gulf dictatorships. What sinister conspiracy does Downing believe is behind the extension of Daylight Savings Time? The golf industry! Spring Forward asserts the extra month of DST added that Congress mandated in 1986 "represents $400 million in added annual sales and fees" to golf-course operators because more people play in the evening.

Royal Observatory
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
We can tell you this is part of the Royal Observatory, but for PC reasons we cannot mention that it is in England.

The Obvious Solution Is to Rename It "Politically Correct Time": Speaking of Standard Time, since 1847 the world's time has been judged in relation to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, United Kingdom. In the days of sailing ships, Greenwich Mean Time was what British sailors set their timepieces to, in order to calculate longitude. Gradually, hours plus-or-minus GMT was accepted as the world standard for delineating time zones. Of course it's an arbitrary standard -- some place on Earth must be chosen, and whatever place is chosen would be arbitrary. In recent years a politically correct movement has demanded that Greenwich Mean Time not be spoken of, as it implies England is the center of world culture. Instead, Coordinated Universal Time is now the preferred term, since it makes no reference to the existence of English culture. But Coordinated Universal Time is still based on the time in Greenwich, England! Changing GMT to CUT changes nothing except to replace an exact physical description with a PC euphemism. And what about "Zulu time"? The clock reading in Greenwich is abbreviated Z, which is pronounced "Zulu" in radio argot (like "whiskey" for W, "November" for N and so on). This means United States military communications commonly refer to Greenwich Mean Time as "Zulu time." How long until saying "Zulu" is deemed politically incorrect?

This global time utility can be useful, though beware it is only "accurate to within 0.3 seconds." Think such tiny amounts of time can't matter? In calibrating the GPS guidance devices of the bombs dropped on Iraq in March 2003, Air Force planners took into account not only the lag between when a GPS signal was transmitted from a satellite and received by a smart bomb -- far less than a second at the speed of light -- they took into account the effects of relativity on the signals, since time passes ever-so-slightly differently when the bomb accelerates by falling.

John Kerry (same initials as just kidding)?

So, is this all a joke? Michelle covers the John Kerry thing pretty well...but I can't believe it. Especially his appology...But I saw the video and read the press release straight off the website (though at fist I though IMAO had sent me to a satire of John Kerry's website).

However, sad to say, I wasn't surprised that he thinks things like this. I went to the same boarding school that J(ust) K(idding) went to, and the in the atmosphere there, lots of people think similar things. For example, there was huge resistance against a group of my friends when they tried to organize a senior prom. The argument against them was, "we don't go to public school," as in, we're better than that.
I enjoyed my time at that school, and I learned a lot, despite being surrounded by people who felt this way. Most of them eventually grow up. JK evidently didn't...but who here is surprised about that?

Last thing: what better scandal than this to get people to give money to the Valour IT project? I mean, you don't want people to think you agree with JK, do you?

A worthy cause

Go Navy!

Click this link to give money to the Valour-IT project. They're raising money to buy laptops with voice recognition for wounded soldiers with injuries that would make typing difficult...

It's a great cause, and I'm honored to lend my support...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Luddite Rantings

I think I'm turning into a luddite with a blastphemous love-affair with the internet. Enjoying this blog post and comments is one of the symptoms. Of course, I could just be a stick-in-the-mud conservative that likes things the way they used to be. Of course, this track is full of all kinds of logical fallacies for me, because the stuff I like usually isn't how things used to be for me...because I'm too young to have experienced them. Oh, pitty the troubles of the youth!!!!

Music Videos

So, I like this song. It's got great music, and it's got great country roots. I also like what the song stands for. She beats the heck out of the Dixie Chicks for disenting musicians. (She's on the side of the diggers, the Aussie soldiers). My dilema is that I'd like to have this song widely played, but I'm not sure if it would play well in the states. She's a great singer (very strong, beautiful voice), but the subject of the song might not play well over here. I mean, she's supporting the aussie soldiers...will people transfer that to our soldiers? I think it works well. It's got a great sentiment, but I'm not sure people will make the connection. Oh well. Enjoy the video for yourselves, and pass it on to others if you feel so inclined...

I love the gaggle

Tony Snow is great, and he's doing a great job. Even the NYT says so...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Suprise gem found in MSM

This article (from the LA times no less) is a great read. It's about the hope given to iraqi's from a reality tv show that was aired during Ramadan. They didn't tell me who won, but it was good information none the less.

But being the cynic and amoral bastard that I am, I had a thought. They filmed this show in the north, the relatively safe Kurdistan. Obviously, this was for security reasons. However, my thought is, now that they're established, and people like this show (eveidently it was a major hit.) maybe it's time to try the Baghdad edition. If someone died, then there would be national outrage against the murder gangs and devisionism. If no one dies, then they get to celebrate the fact that Baghdad was slightly safer than they thought. I think there would actually be little risk, because the show's producers would obviously take every measure they could to ensure safety, even if they didn't show it on TV, and they could publicise the effort so much that even the militants would hear about it somewhere, and the smarter ones among them would realize how bad it would be if they actually killed one of the national TV stars...even in a mistake. They would probably quiet things down a bit near the show's location to make sure no mistakes happen. Of course, I could easily be totaly wrong. I am just making the argument and presenting possibilities, after all.

Bonus Note: The TV station putting this on, Al Sharqiya, has been doing a lot of national unity type shows. Which is awesome. I wish there was a way that I could think that we had something to do with their success, either by supporting them monetarily or with production and ideas assistance. However, it appears that this is an entirely iraqi led venture. Which is, in fact, even cooler...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Concerning a case where a man tried to kill his ex-wife (who was allergic to latex) by shoving a latex glove down her throat, the investigative prosecutor said this: "Latex is an unusual murder weapon. It was definitely an eye-opener looking into the background of the case and it has broadened my horizons."

Check out the guardian for more info.

(hat tip: Althouse.)

First Thought

Will they be giving tours soon?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Question for my readers

Why isn't there an Al-Queda holding area similar to Gitmo?

inspired by this article.

Read this

If you can read Russian, that is.

This is the article that the recently assassinated Russian journalist (a re-hash from Radio Free Europe, who does great work on Russia and Post-Soviet states, of course) was working on when she was killed. It's suspected that it's part of the reason she was killed, but who knows?

The report(that's an English link) describes incidents of police torturing suspects in Chechnya, and the official hullabaloo that went on around it. It would remind me of something similar in America, but this is real torture, you can see the pictures for yourself.

The whole situation is like a movie. A prominent critic of a dictatorialesque president is murdered by contract killers on said president's birthday. Meanwhile, she is working on exposing yet another incidence of torture. And a few days later (three or four actually, maybe five), said president comes out and condemns her death in relatively strong language. Yet, no senior government officials attended her funeral.


Do you remember the Lancet? Why isn't there more condemnation of their methodology? Or at least more note that it's not exactly accurate because it depends entirely on anecdotes, and takes no account of readily available statistics? I can see them wanting to prove the point that there are unreported deaths in Iraq, but if there were anywhere near as many decomposing bodies lying around (because if they're unreported, the at least don't get burried or taken care of as well as they would have in an un-rushed, organized operation), then the whole country would be sick from some disease or another. And I respect the fact that our troops are busy, but don't you think someone would see all the bodies lying around?

One more question...why is a medical journal publishing politically inspired articles like this? I mean, I can see publishing a reasonable study which takes account for uncertainties...but the way they are trumpeting this every time they put it out tells me there is more to it than just medicine.

I'd really like to hear the other side of this (at least in a coherant way), because there must be some facts that I'm missing. But I read a lot of news and I think I would have found at least some of them by now. Anyway, if you know the other side, please enlighten me. If you take the other side, even better.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


This artist is a genius. I hate rap, but I can appreciate the beauty of this music video. (That link's broken, try this one. The quality isn't as good, but it works.)

(This is actually a good song, as well. It's not so much the boring music/beats that i don't like, it's the lyrics. The boring beats are annoying sometimes, but there are some good beats, and then they get co-opted for techno songs, so it's fine for me.) Holy cow, it's obvious this song is about me.

Jonah Goldberg remains my favorite Columnist

Almost entirely for lines like the following: "Battlestar Galactica remains the best Sci-Fi show on television (particularly since the criminal cancellation of Firefly)."

And you know I'm talking about the part in (). BSG is a good show, but no where near firefly quality. The old one was fun, this one is good for sci-fi that's still on TV. But whatever.

Of course, Jonah is a pretty smart guy about most things, and I'll probably come around if I ever get a chance to watch more of the BSG's...anyway.

Update: Click the links in that column from Jonah, they're good reads.

here we go again

in denmark.

Why oh, why do they give in and make the situation worse for the next time? These kids did something stupid, but not wrong, and we should explain that to the muslim world. The people in the muslim world should feel welcome to draw pictures of danes and bombs and whatnot, but not give truth to the pictures and give in to retaliating with violence. It just makes things worse for next time (both the criticism and the reaction)

The Norks

Are pretty incompetent, it looks like. But, of course, let's not forget about Iran while we laugh at NK.

They're jailing Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a cleric, for radicalism - he has committed the crime of believing the religion should stay out of politics. Crazy guy, huh?

So, maybe what the puppy blender says about Iran and NK (and Syria, though they go with Iran) has some truth behind it. Just when Iran was getting unpopular at the UN, and when they decided they needed to make a domestic move that no one outside the country would like, we suddenly hear about the Norks deciding to test a bomb. There is no real reason for them to be testing a bomb right now - things are quiet in their neck of the woods, and they don't stand to really gain anything from it. Also, it appears that they weren't really ready to do the test. It sounds like one crazy dictator was doing a favor for another crazy dictator, just like they had done in the past.

Update: Here's some more goodness.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

somewhat happy news

So, I'm researching the string of school shootings from the past few weeks for my work, and I needed to take a break and find something else to think about.
I found it at op-for - it's a story about a connection made between a grieving marine parent and an Iraqi citizen. Sometimes we get caught up in how bad stuff is in Iraq, and we forget about good things that have happened there. I don't want to imply that I think it's all good...but you can read stories of Iraqis (like the guy I linked to) who are now free, realize that, and are grateful for the fact that we 'bit the bullet' so to speak, for them, and then you can remember the real reason we needed to go there - so relieve saddam hussein of the awfuly stressful tast of leading his people, which was a job that was so obviously stressful to him that he went crazy and tried to kill them all off. (That's sarcasm, by the way, not rationalization) That may not be the reason the press thinks we went over, but it is the real reason we needed to be there, none the less.

Of course, I was looking for a story like this one, but those only come along once in a very long news cycle...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This is interesting

A possible case of effective diplomacy in action? I'm not sure about that, but it's still cool.

Evidently a couple of American soldiers in Afghanistan were restoring an old soviet airforce memorial, dedicated to five of their pilots who were shot down by (most likely American provided) Stinger missles.

According to Fedchenko, who completed two tours in Afghanistan from 1986 to 1989, construction of the monument was a team effort by members of his Air Force regiment stationed at Bagram. "We had a lot of creative people there: artists, writers, painters, woodworkers," Fedchenko said. "So anybody who had some free time would help out."

The airplane model atop the concrete wall was fashioned out of wood -- no other materials were available -- by a pilot still flying in the Stavropol region, while a self-taught artist stationed nearby used photographs scrounged up from military papers to paint the oil-on-wood portraits of the pilots, Fedchenko said.

It's a memorial created by soldiers in a combat zone, being restored by soldiers in a combat zone.

Evidently, however, the soldiers who were working on restoing the monument have been ordered to stop, while the Army considers how to handle the monument.

I think they should allow work to continue, because as the main restorer says ""No matter if history is good or bad, it must be preserved," Keeley said in a Sept. 15 post. "Ray, Tom and I are 'soldiers,' like the five pilots honored by the memorial. I would hope another soldier would honor us as we honor these five men.""

There are other benefits to allowing the work to continue (some russians who learned of the project had reactions like: ""I've changed my mind about Americans," one forum user identified only as Airwolf wrote. "Thank you, David."" "Another forum user wrote that his "eyes became wet" when he heard about "such good people. Even among Americans, most of whom I dislike," he wrote." "Fedchenko called Keeley and his fellow soldiers "great guys who are doing a good thing.""), like improving relationships between Russian and America, but this could also be something like a symbolic demonstration to the outside that we are here not only to free the country (by tearing it's little infrastructure apart) but also to preserve it and rebuild it. We should be looking for other (non-russian) monuments from around the country to restore at the same time, but this memorial can be protected first.

If I knew where to send money or support, I'd tell you. Since I don't, for now I'll just have to publicize it a bit more than it has been.

It's a noble cause, and it is just one more way our military shows it's quality.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No link cause I'm lazy

and you should know about this anyway. Chavez is claiming that his "sources" in the white house are warning him of an impending assassination attempt coming from our government.

Does anyone really believe that Chavez has supporters in the White House that talk to him before they talk to the Washington Post?

Friday, September 29, 2006


Lets play a new game. I say something outrageous, you post comments about it. Here we go:

Russia, can go explode.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Check out this editorial!

From the LATimes, no less. From that bastion of such conservative writings from Barbara Streisand comes this editorial, about Clinton and his legacy. Note: I'm not really trying to say that this is a typical liberal view, and I'm not trying to say that because this conservative piece comes from a liberal paper, it is somehow more legitamate. I'm just making fun of the LATimes, basically, because I got the chance when it became topical because I'm linking to this article. There, I hope that clears things up.

Also, I like Clinton more after that Fox interview - it showed me that he was human. But just because I like him more, doesn't mean I'd vote for him any faster. He did a better job than I'm willing to give him credit for, but the places that he screwed up are causing us problems right now. A ton of the anti-American sentiment due to American "imperialism" in the world is due to the insane number of "human-rights" missions that Clinton sent our military out on (without enough support, no less!!!), and not to anything Bush did by himself. But every interview that I've seen with Clinton showed him calm and collected, seemingly in control of the whole process. But this time, he got animated, and it was great television!

Friday, September 22, 2006

A good NYT op-ed for the day

Following up on my thoughts about what to do with convicted suicide bombers from yesterday, LAWRENCE WRIGHT from the NYTimes writes about what we should do with Bin Ladin when we catch him. It's a good piece...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why are we killing a failed suicide bomber?

Well, 'we' aren't, but our allies in the war on terror are. Jordan sentanced to death one Sajida al-Rishawi, a Iraqi woman, who was part of a suicide bombing attack on western hotels in Jordan a couple of years ago. Her bomb belt didn't work, so she went home, but she later surrendered herself to authorities. She didn't feel guilty, she just turned herself in after Al-Qaida took credit for a suicide bombing that involved four people, and the Jordanian officials said something like, "Uh, Ussama I'm not sure what you were talking about...we only found three bombs! So...there's someone else out there! After them, Ahmed!"

I'm not saying she doesn't deserve to die, I just question which action brings us and Jordan the best results. The crime she committed should have ended in her death anyway, so is it a punishment for us to to kill her? Is it going to be a deterant for these types of attacks in the future? Of course not. She wanted to, what, precisely, are we doing that isn't exactly what she wanted to happen?

I'm not a huge fan of the death penalty (which probably has something to do with some Tolkien quotes)), but I'll concede that if anyone really deserves to die, it would be a suicide bomber. However, all I can see happening from killing one that we manage to catch is that we marytr them anyway, after we give them a chance to tell the world about their cause in a fair court.

I would prefer to use this opportunity for some propaganda of our own, thank you very much. Lets give her a fair trial (already happened), then, lets give her a humane jail cell for the rest of her life. I'm not talking about a fancy American jail cell, with netflix and fresh bread, or even a slightly less fancy Gitmo cell. I'm just talking about maybe a 10x10 concrete cell that is dry, with windows up high from which there is no escape. I'll even give her a chance to excercise everyday (a right that is given to all of America's prisoners, including those at Gitmo, but is denied most other prisoners in the world). I might be willing to give her books to read, or a craft of her choice (within reason) on which to work. There would be no torture, no beatings, just humane treatment and detainment of a prisoner that is dangerous to society. Of course, there would be media interviews...many of them.

There are two reasons for this - first, the interviews would serve the purpose of proving our humane treatment of the prisoner, thus giving the Terrorists no cause to say they've managed to change our culture one iota out of fear. It also would increase 'our' (by saying 'our' I of course mean the allies in the war on terror, because I would do this across the board, and we Americans will get blame for anything bad that happens anyway.) civilized stature in the world. The second thing this would do is absolutely humiliate the Terrorists. Not just the woman in jail, but all those who helped her, all those who promised her a quick pass to heaven, and all those expecting the same treatment. She would be a captive - a well-treated captive - but not free in any strech of the imagination. She would be denied a chance to be a martyr, completely and totaly. She would become just another failure for the side of the terrorist. She couldn't even get us mad enough at her to leave our own principles.

I think that if we start doing things like this it will have a greater impact on the world terrorist movement than our current strategy.