Thursday, August 31, 2006

Worth A Read

Why I read Lileks, Part XXIV:

When I realized that the footage would be interesting only if a pair of eyes stared back at me, I shut off the camera, and looked up. To paraphrase Dave Bowman:

My stars. It’s full of God.

I went back into the cabin, got Gnat out of bed. She held my hand as we walked around to the front; I told her to look down. We got to the middle of the lawn between the cabin and the shore, and laid down and looked up.

She gasped.

It’s so beautiful, she said. We saw the clouds of stars, the bright ones burning a billion years away, the dim pricks in the firmament that probably represented an entire galaxy, or two, and as usual you remember the wise man’s formulation: either we are alone or we are not, and either is astonishing. Although each has its own implications.

We laid in the grass for a few minutes, holding hands, looking up at the stars. Your mind goes through moods quite quickly – they’re pitiless, indifferent; they’re somehow benevolent. They’re remote but tantalizingly close. They overwhelm with their numbers, yet you can ignore them all by studying one, and giving it the full force of your conjecture. A choir of light, a million silent voices, one great chord you cannot begin to imagine – but you’d know it if you heard it.

The man can write. Lordy, can he ever.

A Few Good Words, and a Lot of Mediocre Ones

A couple of updates to yesterday’s second post…

First, Rumsfeld vs. the Associated Press. The AP has changed its story, without indicating the original copy has been changed. The Q and O Blog notes:
AP has edited the original story. Yesterday the story had the following lead paragraph:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease "a new type of fascism."
Now the lead paragraph says:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.
Additionally this paragraph has gone missing as well:
In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.
To be replaced by these:
Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies."

Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons." Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration's critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras.
Well imagine that.

Indeed. Imagine that. The quotes above are an update to a good post that contrasted, once again, what Rumsfeld actually said vs. what the AP said he said. Very good stuff.

It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of imagination to visualize the Hard Left’s outrage shrieks about Rummy “stifling dissent” and “questioning our patriotism.” Oh, no, it ain’t hard at all; the Lefty blogs were chock full of it (pun intended) yesterday. And yesterday ended with the oh-so-cute Keith Olbermann delivering a “A special comment on his attack on your right to disagree” on his MSNBC Countdown show. Olbermann Watch has all the details and rather pointed comment. If you can stomach it, Crooks and Liars has the compete transcript of Olbermann’s “special comment.” The comment was indeed special… “short-bus” special.

Finally, this post at RedState is tangentially related to Rumsfeld’s speech, but goes even deeper to examine the administration’s approach to Information War. I think the President and his principal cabinet members (the Veep, SecDef, and SecState) have been waging an ineffective info war, characterized by its on-again, off-again approach. Charles Bird at RedState has, among other very good things, this to say:
Rumsfeld has been too late recognizing, addressing and responding in the Information War. It's within his power to change the communications set-up, yet little has happened (but give him credit for addressing it these past couple of weeks). In this War Against Militant Islamism, a Defense Secretary needs to have a competent media apparatus. Bush is also responsible for these lapses. This doesn't mean that we answer untruth with untruth, but we do have to answer. If not, false perceptions will continue to supercede in the Muslim world.
Bird’s article is also chock-full of great links on this important subject.

CBS comes clean, the Couric photo was Photoshopped. The linked article is from the AP, but I’ll believe ‘em this time. And just for the record, I’m completely ambivalent about Ms. Couric. I’ve never watched her, and the chances of me watching her in future are pretty slim, actually (no pun intended, honestly). I do admire the fact Ms. Couric struck an excellent business deal with CBS and wish her well. Couric, by the way, was quoted thusly on the brouhaha:
Couric, 49, said she hadn't known about the digitally reworked version until she saw the issue. The former NBC "Today" show host told the Daily News, "I liked the first picture better because there's more of me to love."
Heh. “there’s more of me to love.” Katie is right up my alley in that space!

The US Military Sees Iran’s Nuke Bomb Five Years Away (Washington Times):
The U.S. military is operating under the assumption that Iran is five to eight years away from being able to build its first nuclear weapon, a time span that explains a general lack of urgency within the Bush administration to use air strikes to disable Tehran's atomic program.

Defense sources familiar with discussions of senior military commanders say the five- to eight-year projection has been discussed inside the Pentagon, which is updating its war plan for Iran. The time frame is generally in line with last year's intelligence community estimate that Iran could have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon by the beginning or middle of the next decade.

But the sources said that while the five-year window provides President Bush additional time to decide on whether to launch military strikes, they suspect it underestimates Iran's determination to build a bomb as quickly as possible.
Yes, this explains the “general lack of urgency.” But…have we seen this movie before? From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
Working under a stubborn and scientifically ignorant administrator, the Soviet scientists struggled on. On August 29, 1949, the effort brought its results, when the USSR tested its first fission bomb, dubbed "Joe-1" in the U.S., years ahead of American predictions. The news of the first Soviet bomb was announced to the world first by the United States, which had detected the nuclear fallout it generated from its test site in Kazakhstan.
Yeah, I know. Take the Wiki with a grain of salt. But American intelligence has a nasty habit of getting it wrong, perhaps more often than they get it right. And getting it wrong, in this case, makes the problem/issue a helluva lot more difficult than it currently is. Just sayin’.

A problem I don’t have… From the WSJ:
In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit.

To be sure, most bloggers don't agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer -- 10% -- spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs.
Wow. I didn’t realize I was in such a small group of bloggers – the 13% that post daily, and the ten per cent that spend 10 or more hours a week on their blog. I don’t know if the reading required to keep up the blog counts (I think not), because I did about the same amount of reading both before and after I began blogging. I will admit, however, that the focus of my reading has changed somewhat. I find I ask myself “Is this ‘bloggable’?” when time runs short in the morning. There are times I’ll skip something if the answer to that question is “no.” Sometimes I go back, most often I don’t. Be that as it may, I have no compunctions at all about leaving EIP unattended while I go off somewhere. It’s sorta like what Dylan said: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” At the rate I’m going, it’ll take me eight years to get the traffic Sullivan gets in a single day. As I said: this is a problem I don’t have, or, in other words: “No worries, Mate!”

Today’s Pic: In the Japanese Tea Garden. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. April, 2001

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Now That I've Made the Rounds...

Rummy’s in the news, and not in a good way. Come to think of it, he’s rarely, if ever, portrayed “in a good way” by the media. And that’s what I’m on about. The SecDef gave a speech to the American Legion’s annual convention in Salt Lake City yesterday, and here’s what the AP had to say about the speech. Excerpts:

In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the Bush administration's critics as suffering from ``moral or intellectual confusion'' about what threatens the nation's security. His remarks amounted to one of his most pointed defenses of President Bush' war policies and was among his toughest attacks on the president's critics.

Speaking to several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failure to confront Hitler in the 1930s. He quoted Winston Churchill as observing that trying to accommodate Hitler was ``a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.''

The AP staff writer went on to quote several Democrats’ knee-jerk responses to Rummy’s speech, with a lead-in sentence that said “Rumsfeld's remarks ignited angry rebukes from Democrats.” OK, that’s real news, ain’t it?

So, what’s the problem, you ask? Context. It’s all about context, and the AP writer, using the time-honored “cherry picking” method of putting an individual in a bad light, strung together several isolated quotes from the Rumsfeld speech and built his negative story accordingly. Here’s the full transcript of Rumsfeld’s speech. You can compare and contrast what the SecDef actually said versus the way the AP reported the event. Or, you can go read Lex, who has an excellent post up on the subject; Outside the Beltway has another. The interesting thing about OTB’s post is he reads the Leftie responses to Rummy so you don’t have to.

This is interesting…Fun With Photoshop! Poor Katie Couric just don’t get no respect! But I find the examples of photo manipulation illustrated in the Hot Air article fascinating, as are the explanations of the techniques used. Is it any wonder we distrust photojournalism of late?

And this is FUNNY! Oops! CNN Airs Anchor's Girltalk Over Bush Speech.

Looking for a "passionate, compassionate, great, great" man? Well, according to CNN's Kyra Phillips, they do indeed exist. During CNN's live coverage of President Bush's remarks from New Orleans, Phillips was unaware that her microphone was on and picked up portions of a conversation she was having with another woman.

Transcript and video at the link. It could have been worse, much worse. I’ve heard women talk about men when said women didn’t know they were being listened to and it can get brutal. Funny, too.

Update: This is amazing! A 2:39 minute YouTube video. You won't believe your eyes. Hat tip: Cassandra.

Just a Quickie...

My bizarre sleeping habits have returned…Slept waaay late, and was up and drinking my first cup only minutes before 1100. Talk about late starts! So, here’s a pic and a quick read for ya until I really get going. Gomen.

ANOTHER Israeli atrocity! Via Iowahawk:

QANA, LEBANON - Israeli Defense Forces face fresh charges of war atrocities today, as international press agency Reuters released stark photos showing the devastation caused by a daylight IDF missile attack on a clearly marked Reuters press ambulance.

According to Reuters spokesman Martin Aldwyn, the vehicle was used by the agency's local freelancers to transport poignant war-ravaged street urchins to Lebanese hospitals. Although clearly marked with a red cross, "PRESS," fuzzy dice, and the international symbol for "Baby On Board," the flaming 1950 Mercury was left nearly unrecognizable by the attack. Photos show that the impact of the Israeli missiles slammed the vehicle to the ground, lowered its roof five inches, and left it with a pancaked hood, shaved door handles, frenched headlights and De Soto grille.

Ya gotta be into Hot Rods and the associated terminology to really appreciate this… Most Americans understand it, I think!

Today’s Pic: Speaking of cars… Pictured is a copper-bodied Rolls Royce displayed at The National Auto Museum in Reno. The copper is so highly polished it’s mirror-like. Most impressive, as is the museum itself. I’ve never been to a better automobile museum.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bad News and a Couple of Blurbs

Bad news… The First Mrs. Pennington is in the hospital with a pretty serious ailment. Her doctors originally thought the problem was her gall bladder and had scheduled surgery to remove it yesterday, but further testing revealed her gall bladder is functioning within normal limits. Now the doctors don’t know what it is, and further testing (MRIs and such) will be done today. SN1 is in California taking care of Mom and keeping the doctors honest. Say a prayer…

The NYT: Details Emerge in British Terror Case.”

“As you bomb, you will be bombed; as you kill, you will be killed,” said one of the men on a “martyrdom” videotape, whose contents were described by a senior British official and a person briefed about the case. The young man added that he hoped God would be “pleased with us and accepts our deed.”

As it happened, the police had been monitoring the apartment with hidden video and audio equipment. Not long after the tape was recorded that day, Scotland Yard decided to shut down what they suspected was a terrorist cell. That action set off a chain of events that raised the terror threat levels in Britain and the United States, barred passengers from taking liquids on airplanes and plunged air traffic into chaos around the world.

The ominous language of seven recovered martyrdom videotapes is among new details that emerged from interviews with high-ranking British, European and American officials last week, demonstrating that the suspects had made considerable progress toward planning a terrorist attack. Those details include fresh evidence from Britain’s most wide-ranging terror investigation: receipts for cash transfers from abroad, a handwritten diary that appears to sketch out elements of a plot, and, on martyrdom tapes, several suspects’ statements of their motives.

Interesting stuff, this. While it appears there wasn’t an imminent threat, as in measured in hours or days, it also appears the Brits had very good reasons to move when they did. But hey…this is the NYT reporting. One never really knows what to make of their stuff these days.

A short little blurb from Reuters, in the WaPo:

NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nevada (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned potential adversaries on Monday that the United States remained capable of responding to military threats at home and abroad, despite its troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, Reuters being Reuters (of course), the fourth paragraph in they say this:

More than three years into the Iraq war, the military is showing signs of stress. The Army and Marine Corps, in particular, must spend tens of billions of dollars to replace and repair equipment. Army officials have said the combat readiness of many units and their ability to take on new missions have suffered.

No sources or attributions for that generalized statement, just a well-crafted “on the other hand” sort of comment that calls into question Rummy’s veracity. A pox on your house, Reuters.

WaPo columnist Dana Milbank, commenting on an anti-AIPAC forum held in Washington yesterday:

Yesterday, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), they held a forum at the National Press Club to expand on their allegations about the Israel lobby. Blurring the line between academics and activism, they accepted a button proclaiming "Fight the Israel Lobby" and won cheers from the Muslim group for their denunciation of Israel and its friends in the United States.

“They” are University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School, co-authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a highly controversial (understatement, that) paper Christopher Hitchins called "partly misleading and partly creepy." I watched the whole thing on C-SPAN yesterday and agree with the observations Mr. Milbank makes in his article. Of the two, Walt came off as the more rational actor, taking great pains to declare himself free of anti-Semitism and emphasizing the factual nature of his and Mr. Mearsheimer’s claims. Still and even, one can present “facts” in such a way as to distort their meaning, and this is exactly what these two academics have done. And one simply must wonder about the forum these guys used to present their arguments…the sponsor of this event was CAIR. Remember what Mom said: You’re known by the company you keep.

Today’s Pic Vanity Shot: I have absolutely no idea where this was taken, only the date: May 16, 2000. It has to be somewhere in Wyoming, given that the dates of my Yellowstone pics are between 5/18 and 5/25 of 2000.

Monday, August 28, 2006

On a More Serious Note...

Mary Katherine Ham, writing at, tells the MSM “Why We Don’t Believe You.” I’ve only lightly touched this subject, and usually in the context of the Beeb’s biased coverage. Ms. Ham provides 22 discrete links on the subject of doctored photos, staged news “events,” and other examples of biased or outright false reporting. If you’ve not been following this story previously, then Ms. Ham’s essay is a very good place to begin.

Most interesting… Tim Worstall, writing at TCS Daily, maintains “America: More Like Sweden than You Thought.”

If we accept (as I do) that we do, indeed, need to have a social safety net, and that we have a duty to provide for those incapable or unlucky enough to be unable to do so for themselves, we need to set some level at which such help is offered. The standard of living of the poor in a redistributionist paradise like Finland (or Sweden) seems a fair enough number to use and the USA provides exactly that. Good, the problem's solved. We've provided -- both through the structure of the economy and the various forms of taxation and benefits precisely what we should be -- an acceptable baseline income for the poor. No further redistribution is necessary and we can carry on with the current tax rates and policies which seem, as this report shows, to be increasing US incomes faster than those in other countries and boosting productivity faster as well.

Well, The Left, exemplified by Maha, one of my favorite Lefties, has this to say on the subject:

Righties pooh-pooh standard of living comparisons as so much socialist hocus-pocus; they prefer numbers. But I would really love to see a side-by-side comparison of how average working people live in several industrialized nations. Take some common occupations, both white and blue collar — e.g., truck driver, cashier, teacher, office administrator — and compare how people in those occupations manage in various countries. Take into account what kind of house they live in; how much of their income goes to pay for housing (mortgage, rent, property taxes); what major appliances they own; how they get around on an ordinary day (car, bus, bicycle) and how much time they spend commuting; how many hours a week they spend on the job; vacation and leisure (how much paid vacation they get, and what they do for fun); the quality of health care they receive and how it’s paid for; how much they spend on child care and education; etc.

Take your numbers and shove ‘em, in other words. Show me how ordinary working folks live. I suspect the U.S. would look pretty average in such a comparison — better in some ways, worse in others.

Actually, Maha has a lot more to say on the subject. Running into the realm of the verbose, even. I can only offer anecdotal evidence from my personal experience of living overseas for about, oh, 12 years or so: Americans are a helluva lot better off than any other nation, period. By a long shot. And the lengthy queues to obtain visas at our consulates and embassies around the world testify to that fact. But you can’t tell a Lefty that. Oh, no. The entire nation is becoming “Katrina-ized,” to hear them tell it. Go figure.

Another tale from Britain’s multi-culti wars:

There are no photographs of him pictured with his students. But that was all a long time ago now. Mr Honeyford, 72, "retired" more than 20 years ago as the headmaster of a school in Bradford. Or, at least, that was when he was vilified by politically correct race "experts", was sent death threats, and condemned as a racist. Eventually, he was forced to resign and never allowed to teach again.

His crime was to publish an article in The Salisbury Review in 1984 doubting whether the children in his school were best served by the connivance of the educational authorities in such practices as the withdrawal of children from school for months at a time in order to go ''home" to Pakistan, on the grounds that such practices were appropriate to the children's native culture. In language that was sometimes maladroit, he drew attention, at a time when it was still impermissible to do so, to the dangers of ghettoes developing in British cities.


Last week, 22 years on, he was finally vindicated. The same liberal establishment that had professed outrage at his views quietly accepted that he was, after all, right. Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, made a speech, publicly questioning the multiculturalist orthodoxies that, for so long, have acted almost as a test of virtue among "right-thinking" people. As Miss Kelly told an audience: "There are white Britons who do not feel comfortable with change. They see the shops and restaurants in their town centres changing. They see their neighbourhoods becoming more diverse.

This lengthy and sad story is but a cautionary tale for our own brand of multi-culturalism that thrives in the Academy, among other places, today. One hopes that our illustrious academics can read the handwriting on the wall, but I doubt it. After all, aren’t these the same folks who make the argument that socialism failed only because the “right” people weren’t in charge? And continue to perpetuate the socialist myth, at the same time? Just sayin’, ya know…

Required reading: Shelby Steele, in yesterday’s WSJ, “Life and Death, Western Guilt Blinds Us to the Nature of Islamic Extremism”:

And, of course, it is not just Hezbollah's cause. There is Hamas, one more in a family of politicized terrorist groups spread across the Muslim world. Beyond these more conventional groups there is the free-floating and world-wide terrorism of groups like al Qaeda. In Europe, there are cells of self-invented middle-class terrorists living modern lives by day and plotting attacks on modernity by night. And around these cells there is often a nourishing atmosphere of fellow traveling. Then there are the radical nation-states in league with terrorism, Iran and Syria most prominent among them. From nations on the verge of nuclear weapons to isolated individuals--take the recent Seattle shootings--Islamic militancy grounded in hatred of Israel and America has become the Muslim world's most animating idea. Why?


White guilt in the West--especially in Europe and on the American left--confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness. But Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism--not their continuance--forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.

This may be more “preaching to the choir,” I suppose, but I come from the “tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and tell’em” school of debate. And Mr. Steele eloquently states what should be obvious. Again.

Today is the anniversary of what just might be the most important event of my life. On this day, 43 years ago, I boarded an airplane at LAX and flew off to basic training in San Antonio. August 28th, 1963, began at oh-dark-thirty at the Military Examining Station in Los Angeles and ended just shy of 24 hours later when I finally fell into my bunk, exhausted, at Lackland AFB. So, today is the anniversary of the beginning of a 22-year odyssey that took me to England, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and numerous other places, some of which I barely remember and others I would like to forget. Nonetheless, I always celebrate this day. The Air Force was very, very good to me. In more ways than one.

Oh…while we’re on the subject…the last thing my Dad (a retired USAF Lt. Col.) said to me before I got on the plane? “Remember: stay away from airplanes!” And the words he used to comfort my Mom? “Don’t cry. He’ll be back in a week or two.” Item One was good advice. As for Item Two? Fooled ya, didn’t I, Dad?

The Need for Speed and Mom Clean

Well, my ‘net connection is back up to speed today and I’ve spent my (abbreviated – I slept in quite late) morning trying to catch up on my reading, which was nigh-on impossible to do all weekend. One would think any connection is better than no connection at all, but I don’t subscribe to that point of view, at least when it comes to semi-serious reading. If the time it takes for a web page to load exceeds the speed of thought by, say, a factor of four or five, then the experience becomes an exercise in futility and frustration rather than enlightenment. Perhaps I’m impatient in the extreme. Or maybe I have a very minor case of ADD. Whatever the reason, I finally came to the conclusion that things weren’t going to get better, speed-wise, and I abandoned the ‘net for the duration... “duration” being defined as “until Monday.” Oh, and the speed I was getting? It varied from ridiculous (2400 bps) to abysmal (12 Kbps). You just can’t surf today’s web at those speeds. The experience truly becomes the “world wide wait.”

So…Given the lack of internet, I took the opportunity to spruce up El Casa Móvil De Pennington, among other things. Cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, washed windows, dusted those places that normally don’t get dusted, purged the magazine pile… yadda, yadda, yadda. The bottom line is my abode now meets or exceeds my personal standard of order and cleanliness. And, as we all know, the standards for “clean” and “order” vary wildly. The hierarchy, as I know it:

1. Mom Clean
2. Microelectronics assembly facilities (“Clean” Rooms)
3. Surgical Amphitheaters
4. Military “Inspection Order”

39. Slaughter Houses
43. Health Department Standards
47. USDA Inspection Standards
63. Open-air markets in Southeast Asia
72. Any given college dorm room
96. Chicken Coops

And so on… I’m probably somewhere around 13 or 14 in the general hierarchy, and I certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to have my Mom visit today. Emphasis on “my.” Not all Moms are created equal, ya know, and I suspect the definition of Mom Clean depends on the Mom. The Second Mrs. Pennington defined “Mom Clean” for me on the occasion of my former mother-in-law’s first visit to our household back in 1981 or so, when we were living in England. That visit was preceded by a cleaning frenzy the likes of which I had never witnessed before, and it sorta mystified me, as we were the first tenants in brand-new Air Force family housing (see list item four, above) and I thought our home was very well-kept. But clean we did. For a couple of weeks. In the end our house was immaculate, and I’m surprised TSMP didn’t go out and acquire some of those “Sanitized For Your Protection” glass wrappers and toilet seat covers one used to find in motels, back in the day.

And so it continued all through the ‘80s. The in-laws never arrived unannounced, even when we lived within a two-hour drive of each other. We always had at least a week’s warning, and that week was marked with a cleaning campaign. I must also add that our day-to-day standards of cleanliness were quite good; I never had reason to complain about the way we kept house. TSMP eventually abandoned the whole concept of Mom Clean somewhere in the early ‘90s, to my great relief. I often wondered if TSMP’s Mom thought we’d gone into some sort of housekeeping tailspin. But she (my Mom-in-law) never said anything. But the concept of Mom Clean lives on in my mind, at least, if not in actual execution.

Today’s Pic: More Yellowstone, this time it’s a collage of four pics. Taken in May, 2000.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

ANOTHER Placeholder…

I beg your indulgence, Gentle Reader. My ‘net connection has been erratic and slooow this morning, very slow. Surfing is a right-Royal pain in the nether regions when it takes 30 ~ 45 seconds to load a page, assuming said page loads at all. I’ve received numerous “connection time-out” messages instead of a functioning web page when trying to access various sites today.

I’ll be back when things improve.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm Baaaack....

Christopher Hitchens is my favorite liberal. While the man has more than a few chinks in his armor, his noisy and very public divorce from The Nation, and his on-going feud with George Galloway (spit!) endear the man to me. Chris’ raised his standing a couple of notches last night when he gave Bill Maher’s audience the bird after said audience repeatedly jeered the name of George Bush. From NewsBusters (sanitized by Your Humble Scribe):

Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad “says the Messiah is about to come back.” Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way.” That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: “That's not facetious.” The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an “idiot” repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous.” Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, “F**k you, f**k you,” while the groans continued.

Transcript and short videos (Real and Win) of the event here. Oh, just for the record: I think Maher’s a twit.

Iran Updates…

From USA Today:

KHONDAB, Iran (AP) — Iran's hard-line president on Saturday inaugurated a heavy-water production plant, a facility the West fears will be used to develop a nuclear bomb, as Tehran remained defiant ahead of a U.N. deadline that could lead to sanctions.


Though the West's main worry has been enrichment of uranium that could be used in a bomb, it also has called on Iran to stop the construction of a heavy-water reactor near the production plant that Ahmadinejad inaugurated.


The spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor can be reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in a bomb.

Wow. What a surprise, eh? (I’m in full-sarcasm mode with that statement.) Returning to my straight mode…there are no surprises here. The NYT reports:

MOSCOW, Aug. 25 — Russia’s defense minister said Friday that it was premature to consider punitive actions against Iran despite its refusal so far to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium as the United Nations Security Council has demanded.

Although Russia agreed to the Security Council’s resolution on July 31, Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov’s remarks made it clear that Russia would not support taking the next step that the United States and Britain have called for: imposing sanctions against Iran or its leaders over its nuclear programs. The Council set Aug. 31 as the deadline for Iran to respond to its demand.

I’m still shaking my head. Russia knows all about terrorism. And yet they are persistent in their refusal to side with the West in the confrontation with Iran. Do the Russians lack the imagination to visualize nuclear weapons in the hands of Chechen terrorists? Or are their business ties with Iran simply too important to jeopardize? Talk about short-sighted…

And finally…this is very, very interesting. Chad, writing at The Jawa Report:

In my line of work I have come into contact with people in the IAEA who naturally are afraid to express their views in public. In conversations with them a short while ago, there was cautious optimism after the German newspaper 'Die Welt' published details about the dismissal of Chris Charlier, one of the senior IAEA inspectors in charge of the Iranian nuclear issue, simply because his conclusions were unsympathetic towards Iran. These people hoped that the details revealed in the media would force the IAEA to set its house in order, despite the person at its head, and thereby expose the relationship between Iran and El-Baradei, who has on too many occasions been Iran's savior. But nothing has come of this affair. On the contrary, El-Baradei did his utmost to prevent sullying Iran's name and to conceal the affair as quickly as possible. The resentment of my colleges in the IAEA and their astonishment only grew when it came out that in recognition of El-Baradei's conduct Iran sent him 'gifts' - including extremely expensive traditional carpets of the highest quality (one Persian carpet could be valued as high as 50,000 euros.)

I’m not sure what to make of this, as the source of the information wishes to remain anonymous. However, even a casual reading, backed up with some superficial wondering/thinking, leads me to believe the accusations have some substance. I mean, would it surprise anyone if there were dishonest bureaucrats working at the highest levels in the UN?

The WaPo provides an analysis of casualty rates in Iraq: Service in Iraq: Just How Risky?

The consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom for U.S. forces are being documented by the Defense Department with an exceptional degree of openness and transparency. Its daily and cumulative counts of deaths receive a great deal of publicity. But deaths alone don't indicate the risk for an individual. For this purpose, the number of deaths must be compared with the number of individuals exposed to the risk of death. The Defense Department has supplied us with appropriate data on exposure, and we take advantage of it to provide the first profile of military mortality in Iraq.

Wretchard at Belmont Club analyzes the analysis. I recommend reading both…

Weather blogging… Thursday and Friday we returned to our normal summer weather pattern, which is to say temps in the low-to-mid 90s and lotsa brilliant sunshine (no clouds). I took advantage of the weather yesterday to do the Mini Grand Tour: P-Town – Big(ger) CityTM – Cannon AFB and return. All that rain has had a most amazing effect: everything, and I mean everything, is incredibly green. The weeds wildflowers are blooming in profusion and the overall effect is quite grand. I’m betting we’ll have a bumper crop of tumbleweeds next year, and that isn’t a good thing. Oh, well. Take the good with the bad…

Today we’re back in the “monsoon zone” and are supposed to stay that way for the next few days. The dominant high pressure dome has moved back to the east, setting the stage for more moisture flow up from the Gulf. We’re in no real flood danger here on the High Plains, but I can’t say the same for Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico. All this rain, on balance, is good. I’m not at all tired of it. Yet.


{Sigh} It’s another tale of network woe. I keep my computer on 24x7 when I’m home, turning it off only when I’ll be away for an extended period of time. So…with that in mind, I awoke just before 0600 this morning, lit off the coffee, and sat down to check mail and make my morning rounds. No net, and no net for the next three and three quarter hours. This is getting just a wee bit irritating, to say the least. My connection returned around 0940 and was intermittent (at best) until just now.

I’ll be back later after I make the rounds…

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hey! It's Friday!

Amir Taheri in today’s WSJ: Hezbollah Didn’t Win.”

The way much of the Western media tells the story, Hezbollah won a great victory against Israel and the U.S., healed the Sunni-Shiite rift, and boosted the Iranian mullahs' claim to leadership of the Muslim world. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the junior mullah who leads the Lebanese branch of this pan-Shiite movement, have adorned magazine covers in the West, hammering in the message that this child of the Khomeinist revolution is the new hero of the mythical "Arab Street."

Probably because he watches a lot of CNN, Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, also believes in "a divine victory." Last week he asked 205 members of his Islamic Majlis to send Mr. Nasrallah a message, congratulating him for his "wise and far-sighted leadership of the Ummah that produced the great victory in Lebanon."

By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.


Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it.


The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

“Rather different” is an understatement. Mr. Taheri cites and quotes dissident voices in Lebanon and elsewhere, many of them Shiite, to what has become the common wisdom in the West, i.e., “Hezbollah won,” “Hezbollah is popular amongst the Lebanese,” and so on. This op-ed is the perfect antidote to the “mainstream” analysis and aftermath reporting of the Israel – Hezbollah conflict, as seen on the Beeb and CNN and read in wire service reports. As a matter of fact, Mr. Taheri’s op-ed is so positive I became a bit suspicious, wanting to know more about him and his credentials. His Wikipedia bio is here. I’d say he’s qualified to express his opinion…much more so than the idiots reporters on the Beeb and elsewhere.

Iran plays the “moderate” card, and Captain Ed calls “Bullshit:”

For those who have studied the coordinated diplomacy of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the late 1930s, this sounds depressingly familiar. Some people compared UNSCR 1701 to Munich, but this is much closer to that infamous Western collapse. In 1938, Britain and France rushed to dismember Czechoslovakia -- a democracy with highly defendable borders -- in order to assist the "moderate" Mussolini in appeasing the radical Hitler and keep him from waging war. Italy got what it wanted by appearing to be a rational actor, while Hitler got the Sudetenland and the most formidable natural defensive barrier in central Europe.

This sounds almost exactly the same, even playing on the West's analysis of Iran as two separate entities. The mullahs and the hard-line Islamists comprise one portion of the Iranian ruling class, while men like Mohammed Khatami supposedly offer a more reasonable partner for negotiations. It's hogwash. The ruling class in Teheran all share the same goals: an Islamist Caliphate in Southwest Asia with its seat in Teheran. Some of them just happen to have a better sense of Western public relations than Ali Khameini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but that does not make them more rational or less supportive of Islamist triumphalism.

I think the good Captain is spot-on. Unfortunately, a significant number of folks in the West will latch on to the “moderate” myth and urge us to go slow with regards to meaningful sanctions or other appropriate action. There’s nothing, nothing moderate at all about the regime in Tehran. To believe otherwise is indulging in magical thinking.

This makes me sad: Tower Records files for bankruptcy. And here’s an interesting column on the subject.

Readers of a certain age will remember the days of record stores with listening booths and the big downtown department stores having their own record departments.

Readers of a less slightly advanced age (that's you, baby boomers) will remember the emergence of national chains such as Tower, Peaches and discount, as well as the discount department stores that stocked records.

And readers still decades away from an advanced age may come to regard record stores only as a historic curiosity -- and may someday be asking, "What's a CD?" the way some now ask, "What's a record?"

Well, yes. I’m “of a certain age.” I remember, quite well, in fact, making the short trip from Torrance to Tower’s Hollywood store on weekend nights in ’61, ’62, and ’63 to listen to new releases in the listening booths…until the clerks kicked us out. My love of record stores began with Tower and it’s not ended yet. The best thing about my year-long sojourn in Berkeley was the great record stores, specifically Amoeba Music and Rasputin Music. I visited those stores, which were within walking distance of my apartment, on a weekly basis. And I actually bought music in those places, too, unlike the “listen only” forays to Tower during my high-school days. Record stores will always be with us, especially in college towns. But it looks like the days of chain music retailers are marked. And that’s kinda sad, isn’t it?

I didn’t mention the fact yesterday that SN1 was away from home on his birthday. He’s in San Diego, in fact… for another short boondoggle school. But he wasn’t alone. Buck celebrated his birthday by having dinner with his Aunt Jo (two years his junior), her family, and Grandma Pennington, who made the short trip from Hemet to San Diego for the birthday dinner. I’m told it was a great night out. Too bad I missed it!

Today’s Pic: Another shot from the Brownsville Air Show (03-2000)…this time it’s a B-17. I have a soft spot for the great old Boeing bomber, because my Dad flew in them in Big Bang II. That and the fact they are simply beautiful machines, arguably the “prettiest” bomber, ever. And there were two of them at Brownsville that year. It was a great weekend…

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slow Day...

Today brings two opposing views on the West’s Iranian options. First, the utterly defeatist (:

What then should America and its allies do in the face of Iran’s nuclear defiance? The answer is clear: concede defeat. Iran has won this tussle and there is no point in pretending otherwise. Instead of trying to stop Iran’s nuclear programme, the international community must bring Iran back into the civilised world. The only way to do that is to stop issuing empty threats and to start offering Iran real incentives for co-operative behaviour — non-aggression guarantees from America and Israel, removal of the residual US economic sanctions dating back to the 1980s and the prospect of steadily improving treatment in investment and trade. Of course, such a U-turn seems inconceivable while President Bush remains in office. But remember President Nixon’s historic opening to China as he was losing the war in Vietnam. To paraphrase Johnson, a politician’s mind can be concentrated wonderfully by the knowledge that he is faces defeat.

Yep, that’s the ticket. Give up. You win, Ahmadinejad. Have mercy on us, O Ayatollah Khamenei. Please. We beg you.

I’d laugh if this point of view wasn’t so damnably stupid. And dangerous.

I much prefer the approach laid out in today’s WSJ:

The obvious next diplomatic step is to show Iran that the world meant what it said by following through with the toughest achievable sanctions. A myth has developed in some circles that there are "no good options" available to pressure Iran, but that's more excuse than analysis. Iran's mullahs are unpopular at home and their citizens will notice if they are declared a global pariah state. Sanctions on travel by Iran's government officials, diplomats and sports teams may be largely symbolic, but such symbolism will not be missed on the Persian street.

Iran is also vulnerable economically. Sanctions on banks that deal with Iran can limit the regime's access to global credit markets for trade and other financing. Despite its oil exports, Iran also imports some 40% of its refined gasoline. A ban on selling gasoline to Iran would surely lead to gas lines and other shortages there, with possible domestic political repercussions. And it is domestic discontent that the mullahs rightly fear the most.

The worry in the West is that Iran would respond to a gasoline embargo by playing its oil card in retaliation, withholding its supplies and sending world oil prices perhaps to $100 a barrel. But the mullahs can't eat oil. Amid other economic sanctions, they would need their income from oil sales more than ever. They are also watching closely to see if the world is serious when it says it won't allow them to go nuclear, and they know better than anyone that gasoline imports are their biggest political danger. They'll know a wrist slap from a serious policy.

The problem with the WSJ’s approach is two-fold: China and Russia. Both nations wield veto power in the UN Security Council, both nations are on the record as opposing sanctions and wanting further “negotiations.” We’ve been negotiating for three years now to no avail. Further from the WSJ:

Yesterday, the Bush Administration said it is still studying the Iranian proposal but that the reply "falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council." You can say that again. After three years of Iranian stonewalling since their nuclear deception was discovered, the June resolution was deliberately written to make an end to enrichment a first-order obligation.


And already yesterday, the mullahs' strategy was paying dividends as Russia and China took the bait and urged further negotiations. These countries have their oil or nuclear energy deals with Tehran, and they don't seem to worry all that much about Islamic radicals getting the bomb. Perhaps they figure that's America's problem, or Israel's, though how an Islamic regime with a nuclear arsenal helps Russian or Chinese interests is a mystery.

At least the French are standing firm, for the moment. What is it with the Russians and Chinese, anyway?

Slow news day, and that’s not all bad, I suppose. I’ve been surfing the Big Dog blogs and the news outlets all morning for things that I find interesting and/or strike my fancy. Aside from the stuff above I’ve basically struck out. Now that can mean one or perhaps two things…either it really is a slow day, or I’m slow. You decide!

Today’s Pic: One of two immaculate propellers on a Confederate Commemorative Air Force Douglas A-26, taken at an air show in Brownsville, Texas, on March 4, 2000. The CAF guys keep those old birds clean!

Happy Birthday, Buck!

SN1 and Grandson Sean with Friend

SN1 is 40 today. Depending on your point of view, life is either just beginning or Buck is starting that slide down the other side of the hill. I tend toward the former, rather than the latter. I’ll spare you the details about the wonderfulness of my life at 40, except to say it was good. Very, very good. I think Buck has a lot to look forward to!

Drop by his blog (updated quarterly!) and wish him a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Irony. ESL. A Plan. And Complaints!

Ann Althouse, writing in the NYT on Judge Anna Diggs Taylor and Taylor’s recent NSA eavesdropping opinion:

TO end her opinion in American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency — the case that enjoins President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program — Judge Anna Diggs Taylor quoted Earl Warren (referring to him as “Justice Warren,” not “Chief Justice Warren,” as if she wanted to spotlight her carelessness): “It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of ... those liberties ... which makes the defense of the nation worthwhile.”

As long as we’re appreciating irony, let’s consider the irony of emphasizing the importance of holding one branch of the federal government, the executive, to the strict limits of the rule of law while sitting in another branch of the federal government, the judiciary, and blithely ignoring your own obligations.


For those who approve of the outcome, the judge’s opinion is counterproductive. It will be harder to defend upon appeal than a more careful decision. It suggests that there are no good legal arguments against the program, just petulance and outrage and antipathy toward President Bush. It helps those who have been arguing for years about result-oriented, activist judges.

Ms. Althouse’s blog is one of the best there is, and her editorial today is very good, as well. Kick it, Ann!

Thank you, Kathleen Parker, THANK You! For writing this article in Real Clear Politics:

"'Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).'' -- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Bush-bashing for sport has never lacked fans in the blogosphere, but questioning the president's intelligence lately has gone mainstream.

Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and host of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country,'' recently tossed his beanie into the ring, running a 10-minute segment titled: "Is Bush an 'Idiot'?''

Scarborough wasn't calling Bush an idiot, mind you. He was just quoting that renowned American intellectual, Linda Ronstadt. Recently, Ronstadt had commented on the president's performance while attending an international summit of heads of state.

No wait, my mistake, she made those comments to reporters and audiences while touring in Canada. But never mind. When Ronstadt talks, people listen. Citing other leading American intellectuals -- The Dixie Chicks, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez -- Ronstadt said:

I'm embarrassed George Bush is from the United States. ... He's an idiot. He's enormously incompetent on both the domestic and international scenes.

Scarborough said he felt compelled to explore whether the president is sufficiently intellectually curious, not just because of Ronstadt, but because there have been no shark attacks all summer. No, sorry again, I said that. What Scarborough said was that even conservatives had been making comments similar to Ronstadt's, as reported last week in The Washington Post.

Is there a living, breathing Republican who hasn’t wished, at least once, that Dubya had the oratorical prowess of say, a Tony Blair? I doubt it. My Lib-Left friends make the “But he’s such an idiot!” argument when all else fails, which is often. And it’s one of the more difficult arguments to counter. I usually use the “Stephen Hawking Defense,” which is to say “Do you think Hawking is an idiot simply because he’s inarticulate?” That defense is pretty weak, as defenses go, simply because the President doesn’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ms. Parker has given me another defense, another tack to take. I hope Dubya reads her piece and abandons his contrived and ineffective Washingtonian mannerisms. Just be yourself, Mr. President, and damn the critics.

There is a plan… Zalmay Khalilzad, US Ambassador to Iraq, describes the Baghdad Security Plan in a WSJ article today. Further, Mr. Khalilzad goes on to say:

It is understandable that when the American people hear of new U.S. casualties and witness the images of bloodshed from the streets of Baghdad, they conclude that our plans for stemming sectarian violence in Iraq have failed. Yet, implementation of the Baghdad Security Plan has only recently begun. Iraq's national unity government has been in office barely three months, and its ministers of defense and interior have been on the job for less than 80 days. Iraqi ministers are still hiring key staff, and they are learning to work together, under the leadership of a new prime minister. The Committee for National Dialogue and Reconciliation, charged with overseeing implementation of the reconciliation plan, was formed only three weeks ago.

Moreover, as tragic and dangerous as the ongoing violence is to our shared vision of a free and prosperous Iraq, it is not representative of the Iraqi people's sentiments toward one another. In July, a poll by the International Republican Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to democracy promotion, found that 94% of Iraqis said they support a "unity" government representing all sects and ethnic communities, with only 2% opposed. Some 78% of Iraqis opposed Iraq being segregated by religion or ethnicity, with only 13% in favor. Even in Baghdad, where the worst of Iraq's sectarian violence has occurred, 76% of those surveyed opposed ethnic separation, with only 10% favoring it. The challenge of the Baghdad Security Plan and its accompanying effort at national reconciliation is to realize the overwhelming majority of Iraqis desire to live in peace with one another against the violent minority who seek to impose their vision of hatred and oppression.

This is the kind of article the American public needs to see. More, please.

Miscellaneous Moans, Groans, Bitches, and Complaints Dept: I got a speeding ticket last year for doing 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. Yeah, it was a speed trap. That ticket was the first citation I’ve received since being busted for excessive speed on a motorcycle in 1982 while in the Isle of Man for TT Week. Which, come to think of it, was another speed trap. But speed traps ain’t the bitch or the complaint. No, my complaint is the fact my insurance company raised my rates by 60 frickin’ per cent!! And there’s not a thing I can do about it, other than switch companies. I had a fairly long conversation with my insurance agent last week about this, and she confirmed my suspicions: you can’t fight City Hall Big Insurance. All you can do is switch, and you have to wait a short while before you switch, too. So: the ticket cost me $50.00. The rate rise will cost me $300.00. American Justice.

In the course of the conversation with my insurance agent, she asked “Didn’t you get my e-mail?” Uh, no. No, I didn’t. A quick perusal of my spam folder revealed the missing e-mail. Oh, Goody. Another chore to remember. G-mail is very, very good about keeping the spam out of my inbox and I’m not complaining about that. No sir, not at all. I’m just wondering how many other communications have gone missing and unanswered because G-mail thought the message was spam. Now I feel like I’ll have to wade through the spam swamp at least once a week just to make sure.

My ‘net connection has been dead-slow for the past day and a half. Dead-slow is 12 ~ 20 Kbps. I pay for a 384 Kbps connection and it just p!sses me right off to get only 10% (or less, much less) than the speed I pay for! I’ve written about this before, and the slow-down seems to happen most often near the end of the month or the first of the month. I have no plausible reason for this… I most certainly will be glad when the P-Town fiber project is completed and I’ll have a fast, reliable network connection. At Last.

So. No pic today…I’m not even going to attempt an upload given the speed I’m NOT getting at the moment. This too will pass.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just the Usual and... an Aardvark!

It’s August 22nd; Do you know where the Iranian nukes are? Lileks:

Okay, it’s later. It’s now 5:40 in Tehran. Still a little too early to start the end of the world, but it depends whether you’re a morning person or not. Of course, if you’re hastening the chaos to bring the Messiah, you’d want to tidy up first. Fresh flowers.

I like whistling, personally. And gosh, this is a big graveyard.

I need to find some code for smilies, so in the meantime, {insert big ol’ grinning smiley-face here}.

And speaking of Iranian nukes… The mullahs have handed over a formal response to the UN’s ultimatum, nine days before the deadline. There are contradicting interpretations about the actual meaning of the response. Personally, I believe the answer we got yesterday is the definitive response:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has made its own decision and in the nuclear case, God willing, with patience and power, will continue its path," Khamenei was quoted as saying by the broadcast.

Or, in other words, Khamenei is saying “Pound sand, Infidels!” Hmm. Not a bad idea. We pound sand pretty damned well, actually.

More Israel-Hezbollah fall-out… From The Telegraph (UK):

Hundreds of members of the Spearhead Brigade, a reserve unit that fought in south Lebanon during the month-long conflict, signed a petition published in a newspaper that attacked the "cold feet" of their commanders.

"There was one thing we were not and would not be willing to accept," the petition said. "We were unwilling to accept indecisiveness.

"The war's aim, which was not defined clearly, was even changed in the course of the fighting. The indecisiveness manifested itself in inaction, in not carrying out operational plans, and in cancelling all the missions we were given during the fighting.

"This led to prolonged stays in hostile territory, without an operational purpose."

In scenes reminiscent of the first demonstrations that ultimately toppled Israel's leaders after blunders in the 1973 Middle East war, about 100 people, many of them reservists, marched in Jerusalem.

But, on the other hand, when invoking the ouster of the Israeli government following the 1973 war, one should consider this:

Only in retrospect can the 1973 war be satisfactorily analyzed. Israel had been caught by surprise, because perfectly good Intelligence was misinterpreted in a climate of arrogant over-confidence. The frontal sectors, left almost unguarded, were largely overrun. The Egyptians had an excellent war plan and fought well. Syrian tanks advanced boldly and even where a lone Israeli brigade held out, they kept attacking in wave after wave for three days and nights. Within 48 hours, Israel seemed on the verge of defeat on both fronts.


It is the same now, with the Lebanon war just ended. Future historians will no doubt see things much more clearly, but some gross misperceptions are perfectly obvious even now.

Just being “fair and balanced,” ya know. Personally, I think Olmert and Co. should go. History may reveal parallels between the Hezbollah War and the 1973 War as well as lessons we’ve yet to learn. But for the moment I think it’s pretty clear that Olmert’s government botched it, and botched it badly. Your mileage may vary.

Oh, Spare Me! Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) - Turner Broadcasting is scouring more than 1,500 classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including old favorites "Tom and Jerry," "The Flinstones" (sic) and "Scooby-Doo," to edit out scenes that glamorize smoking.

The review was triggered by a complaint to British media regulator Ofcom by one viewer who took offence to two episodes of "Tom and Jerry" shown on the Boomerang channel, part of Turner Broadcasting which itself belongs to Time Warner Inc.

"We are going through the entire catalog," Yinka Akindele, spokeswoman for Turner in Europe said on Monday.

"This is a voluntary step we've taken in light of the changing times," she said, adding that the painstaking review had been prompted by the Ofcom complaint.

The regulator's latest news bulletin stated that a viewer, who was not identified, had complained about two smoking scenes on "Tom and Jerry," saying they "were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children."

The original (“classic”) “Tom and Jerry” cartoons aren’t Hanna-Barbera products…they’re MGM’s work. H-B later resurrected the characters. But, other than that, further comment not required. Because of my blood pressure.

Today’s Pic: What you see when entering P-Town from the south. The F-111 known as “The City of Portales.” F-111s, also known as “Aardvarks” due to their incredible beauty, were based at Cannon prior to their retirement from the inventory. SN1 knows all about Aardvarks…

Monday, August 21, 2006

Let's Build an ARK...

I sorta phoned it in yesterday; Gomen nasai, ne? But it was, well…Sunday. And I had a lot of catching up to do. I’m also a bit surprised no one asked just how I was able to post the beer thing if the network went down and I subsequently rebooted 17 times trying to reestablish my connection. Usually, if you try to post and your connection goes away during the uploading process, your post vanishes into the ether, too. It’s happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. This time, however, I copied the HTML after the third “connection timed out” message and pasted it into a Word document, hoping I could re-use it when the ‘net came back up. It worked. And there’s the answer to a question you never asked.
I’m thinking about doing some serious googling for plans and a Bill of Materials for an ark. The rain continues unabated; yesterday it rained for over six hours straight, which is highly unusual for this part of the world. It was worse in Albuquerque, where there was serious flooding. Reader Reese suggests this is our “Summer of Seattle,” and I agree with him. The last time I saw this much rain was probably in the Philippines or perhaps Thailand…seriously. And it’s raining again as I write this morning.
Even though we’ve had three to four times our average amount of rain in the past week, we’re right at or slightly below our year-to-date precipitation average here in Roosevelt County. I found that just a bit surprising! I’m quite sure the current maps, as displayed this morning, do not include yesterday’s rainfall. It will be interesting to see what we look like by the end of today.
Saturday’s thunderstorms were just a bit too exciting, for more than one reason. The wind was violent, so violent, in fact, that it took a tree down in my neighbor’s yard and deposited it right across the road about 100 yards away from El Casa Móvil De Pennington, narrowly missing another neighbor’s parked cars. The tree was only about eight or ten inches in diameter, small as trees go, and not enough to stop my neighbors with the big-ass 4x4 pick ups who probably cackled out loud (Hey Burt! Watch me go right over this here tree!) as they motored across the thing. But it was enough of an obstacle to stop a Miata, however. Two hours later, after much chain-sawing and general hustle and bustle, the road was clear again. But that wind! It was enough to cause the RV to do some serious, and I mean serious, rocking and create serious apprehension in Yours Truly. After all, any resident of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, etc., knows trailer parks are tornado magnets. I prefer to do my flying in airplanes, not RVs, thank you.
Another thing I failed to mention this weekend, and should have, given my general dissatisfaction with my ISP/network situation, was some Very Good News: on Friday the fiber-optic cable contractors surveyed and marked beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park for the fiber routes to all park spaces. Two gigabit service to the prem! By the end of the year! I’d have to buy a new network interface card (NIC) to take full advantage of the capabilities, as my current NIC only supports a 100 Mb connection. But, Hell…a 100Mb network connection is almost unimaginable and is certainly sufficient. But then again, wasn’t it Mr. Gates who said 640K of RAM was enough for anybody? “Too much” is just about enough in the IT Biz…
More (un)common sense in Britain… Muslim Labor MP Shahid Malik, writing in yesterday’s Sunday Times (UK):
I believe that as a Muslim there is no better place to live than Britain. That doesn’t mean that all in the garden is rosy; often Islamophobia is palpable. But my message is: whether you are white, Asian, black, Muslim, Christian or Jew, if you don’t like where you’re living you have two choices: either you live elsewhere, or you engage in the political process, attempt to create change and ultimately respect the will of the majority.
Mr. Malik’s comments were in response to a call from Muslim “leaders” for the implementation of sharia and granting of official Muslim holidays. Good news has been in short supply of late; it’s a good thing when a Muslim MP goes “on the record” for his society’s values. Yes!
Mark Steyn was good (as always) in his Sunday Chicago Sun-Times editorial:
Five years on, the United States seems to be back in the quagmire of perpetual interminable U.N.-brokered EU-led multilateral dithering, on Iran and much else. The administration that turned Musharraf in nothing flat now offers carrots to Ahmadinejad. After the Taliban fell, the region's autocrats and dictators wondered: Who's next? Now they figure it's a pretty safe bet that nobody is.
What's the difference between September 2001 and now? It's not that anyone "liked" America or that, as the Democrats like to suggest, the country had the world's "sympathy.'' Pakistani generals and the Kremlin don't cave to your demands because they "sympathize.'' They go along because you've succeeded in impressing upon them that they've no choice. Musharraf and Co. weren't scared by America's power but by the fact that America, in the rubble of 9/11, had belatedly found the will to use that power. It is notionally at least as powerful today, but in terms of will we're back to Sept. 10: Nobody thinks America is prepared to use its power. And so Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad and wannabe "strong horses" like Baby Assad cock their snooks with impunity.
It’s all about the will to prevail. In addition to taking the current administration to task, Mr. Steyn also makes the point, as so many others have, that it appears the Democrats are lacking in the “will to prevail” department. And that, to me, is the issue for the mid-term elections and the 2008 election. I simply do not trust the Democrat party with national security, based upon their words and deeds over the past four years. They just don’t get it.
I’ll leave you with that happy thought…