July 31, 2005

Best Insult This Week

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:58 pm

…over at Cerebus!

I Think There’s A Typo

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:55 pm

Perhaps the proprietors intended a “P” in place of the first “S” in the name of this lovely site. They would like to protest the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima. And Bush’s Evil War Machine. And other things too, I bet. Not even a “we support the troops” figleaf, either.

Nice of them to put their photos and home phone numbers on there, too. That’s a, uh, good indication they haven’t got much attention. Which is a good thing.

The security bubbas say they get some periodic microprotests at the base like this–I’ve seen a pair of forlorn Code Pink people at the flag gate–and down the street a mile or two were about a half dozen LockMart union guys on strike with a much more professional sign and everything.

I think I’ll go work out at the building that housed the maintenance for Enola Gay and Bock’s Car a few more times than usual this week, just for them, speaking as a member of (insert whoever the current president is)’s Evil War Machine. Maybe I’ll even go visit the base chapel, which has a pretty mushroom cloud in the stained glass window…

July 30, 2005

It’s Just So Simple, Really…

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:28 pm

…Or Not

John Walkenbach, of the excellent one-man Boing Boing-esque J-Walk blog, has a thought experiment.

If the U.S. spent $180 billion on world hunger rather than Iraq, 27 million starvation deaths would have been prevented and 300,000 innocent Iraqi citizens would be dead. And there would be $20 billion left over for something else.

It appears that it all boils down to a matter of priorities. Which lives are more important? 300,000 Iraqis, or 27 million people spread across the globe?


The first flaw is fatal and identified by the first commenter:

The flaw in your assumption is that starvation is a money problem. Money is NOT the problem – corrupt goverments/citizenry are the problem.

We can (and often do) get food to the countries where starvation is a problem, but unless there’s an moral infrastructure setup (one not contingent on bribery, extortion, graft, greed and any other vice of your choice) that can willingly deliver the food for humanitarian reasons, you’re simply funding major, minor and mini dictators.

In a perfect world, your suggestion would work. But not everyone wants to live in a perfect world.

The issue isn’t population control, either. People seem to forget that the guys in countries were starving because they were forced away from their home. Remember Sam Kinison’s comedy routine about moving to where the food is? It was funny until I figured out that the starving people had been moved AWAY from where the food was by guys with guns who wanted them dead.

P.J. O’Rourke once showed where we would have been more efficient just giving people money above the poverty level then we would have putting people in the projects with welfare. Just giving people food doesn’t fix the core reason someone’s hungry–especially if you send over surplus American wheat, for instance, which feeds some people but then puts the local farmers out of business–and now you’ve got more starving people.

But the deeper problem I have with the proposition (besides irritation at Iraq being the example used) is similar to this old rant, also inspired by a lefty desire to move money from one thing to another thing. It’s a false dilemma to assume that we have to give up X to get Y; there are lots of X’s out there, and some of them are pretty creative ones. I see this pop up in lots of places–“the inaugural money should be spent on (what the complainer wanted)”, “just take money from the Navy and buy Coast Guard stuff”, etc.

There are interesting resources if you really want to work on making fewer people starve to death, if you’re so inclined. (I’m trying to figure out where I can personally fit in this, by the way.)

–Oxfam America’s former leader’s now teaching at Fletcher; he’s got some great ideas about “sustainable aid” that could use being implemented.

–Barnett’s idea about “SysAdmin Force” is kinda shallow but it’s near an idea that’s got legs. The Americans have a shop in DoState called S/CRS working on figuring out how to do that work; the Canadians and the EU are also trying to get their brains around how to set it up. The core idea involves how to ensure a security space around aid and protect and grow fragile states so aid isn’t needed.

–Some of this is also working in NGOs and IAs–they’re realizing that the old way of doing things can be improved.

–My monthly plug for Hernando de Soto’s book The Mystery Of Capital. It’s germane here, too.

–The DoD effort in Africa over the last few months is doing some of that support work.

So. It’s a rant but at least I got around the 1000 character limit at the other guy’s blog…

Update: As I was writing this LGF pointed to this Yahoo article: Economist Blames Aid for Africa Famine. Note that this is the same economist I mentioned earlier who was interviewed in Der Spiegel.

This is more complex than our sympathy sometimes lets us see immediately, and the solutions may be counterintuitive.


Filed under: — Chap @ 1:02 am

That’s what Tammi says

Okay, I’m Weirded Out, But Okay

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:38 am

Alan E. Brain is a guy who is the Australian equivalent of a NUWC guy, I think–one of those engineering types who have worked with submarines and made them better but not an operator. He’s a thinker and has had a blog I check for some occasionally really good posts, although he had a thing for Doctor Who chicks I couldn’t quite get (my tastes run more towards The Avengers’ Emma Peel when talking Brit Sixties TV women). He was part of the blogger wargame SimTerror ’05 as the Aussie PM (I planned to participate, but when they rescheduled due to the tsunami I was at sea at the time).

Over the last couple of months he’d been dropping hints of some spectacularly worrisome medical problems.

Just had a medical appointment with a Professor in Sydney, an expert endocrinologist.

There had been some worry that my weird hormonal levels might have been caused by a Neoplasm (that’s tumour to you and me).

His words : “Don’t worry about it”. The signatures are all wrong, he’s seen far more weird things in his career too.

The not-so-good news : more tests, yet more tests, more bleedin’ tests, and blood tests using the thickest needle they had available. And I have to go back in two weeks for the first of many follow-ups.

The really not-so-good news : full treatment may cost well in excess of $50,000. And much of that won’t be covered by insurance, nor Medicare.

And the medical problems did weird things to him.

With the new hormone-induced changes to my brain structure (scary, but what can you do? lie back and accept it) I thought it would be interesting to see what my new (improved?) personality traits look like.

Once a Geek, always a Geek.

So I took the Jung Typology Test…

But things got really weird quick. From Tim Blair:

Earlier this year, the transformation began. Without surgery. And involuntarily. Al was experiencing something known as ideopathic sex reversal:

Basically, my body got radically feminised over 2 weeks (I don’t mean politically either, I’m talking about going from 43-49-46 and a middle-aged spread to 46A-35-46 with associated skin, hair, personality etc changes).

I got more changes in 2 weeks than male-to-female transsexuals my age get after 6 months of massive doses of female hormones. Since then, the changes have steadied down, and are at normal female pubescent rates. In fact it fluctuates on a monthly cycle, 2 micro-puberties per month, one very female, one slightly male, then back again. PMT, menopause, PMT, menopause ... yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

The guy’s married, middle aged, not much money (you know, NUWC-type worker bee bucks not big contractor bucks), with a four year old kid. And involuntarily turning into a woman.

Yikes. What a strange place to be. Some details in the comments at Tim Blair’s and Silent Running (den Beste thought he was playing a good prank; guess not). Sounds like he and his family are dealing with it as best they can, and trying to have a sense of humor about it. Blogosphere is supportive–Damian Penny says

Personally, I’m cool with it. If he was becoming a socialist, now, that would kind of creep me out.

Yeah, sorta…for something like that you’d have to go to Andrew Sullivan’s about four months before the election.

If he were an operator I would joke about “guess he was a boomer guy”, but instead I guess I’ll remember that life can be odd sometimes (h/t Bubbles), offer a copy of Switched-On Bach since a DVD of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert doesn’t exactly apply–and support.

July 29, 2005

Tweaking The Blog

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:34 pm

I didn’t have any tracking tools, so I just got one and am trying it out. I also found out I get a lot of referrer spam so I’m killing that with a different plugin. So if the blog goes funny, that might be why.

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:08 pm

Philosopher Norm Geras has an admirably dispassionate analysis of an article declaiming the Brit police procedure. Geras has some great points.

She [the author of the article that’s being critiqued] thinks that if the police can’t provide a guarantee that there will be no further mistakes, the policy should be abandoned. That is of course a call for the policy to be abandoned, since no human activity can be guaranteed to be free of mistakes. But the rationale for the policy is that it may save many lives, if it prevents a suicide bomber from triggering an explosion. So what Alibhai-Brown is claiming is that the particular threat to Muslim men is more important than the greater, but more generalized, threat to all of us (including, of course, to Muslims).

Leave aside the self-pity which permeates this piece of writing, at a time when the rest of us may also have cause to feel worried on behalf of our innocent children, though right now many of us are less worried about the activities of the police (kill rate: 1) than about those whose murderous activities they are trying to forestall (kill rate: 52).

(h/t Insta)

I Hadn’t Thought Of It That Way

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:01 am

Jennifer Harper in the Washington Times calls the “Over There” TV show “war profiteering“. Good phrase.

Some don’t see it that way.

“I have a problem with this program. I’m not watching something fictional which shows soldiers in harm’s way, for the sake of drama and ratings,” said Peter Ries, a Vietnam-era Army vet whose son is on his second tour of Iraq.

“As a father, I’ve got my own reality about this war, and so does every parent who has a son or daughter over there. I don’t need to see the TV version of it,” Mr. Ries continued. “They’re not showing a war which is 40 years old. It’s happening now, this second, and these people are making money off it.”

Good on Ries.

You can tell Harper’s a reporter because she uses that weasel word “some” to offer her opinion, though.

July 28, 2005

If I Were A Soccer Fan…

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:50 pm

this team may be the one to root for.

logo for East Stirlingshire

By the time I arrived at Firs Park, in the wake of the club’s worst season ever – eight points from 32 games – the relationship between Mackin and the hardcore East Stirlingshire support had reached an all-time low. The “Shire” fans hated the chairman; the chairman despised the fans. The fear of Shire fans was that Mackin and the board would simply sell up, walk away, and allow the club to join the ranks of other vanished Scottish football institutions such as Third Lanark, Clydebank and Airdrieonians. They felt the board – based on Mackin’s infamous decision in the summer of 2002 to set a wage cap of £10 a week and his lack of investment in Firs Park – was deliberately setting the club out to be uncompetitive.

Yeah. I figure a Pirates fan can handle such things.

But this team is so bad they don’t even have a place where they sell logo stuff! Isn’t the point of major league sports to sell logo stuff, according to the marketers? Wowsers!

Update: Odds have been set for their winning the Scottish 3rd Division title this year…five thousand to one…

…and I might have found a place where they sell a shirt. I’ll let you know if it ever shows up. My last attempt at seeing a soccer game was the San Diego Sockers, which didn’t pay their rent and canceled that game and every game afterward!


Filed under: — Chap @ 11:44 pm

Followup on the shot guy last week from London.

Looks like first reports (always wrong, always believed) were likely wrong.

Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

Okay. Smash’s original comment stands, I got that, but there’s a big string to be pulled here. What’s the deal?

The Sixties Are Over, There

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:38 pm

Yeah, I’m one of those guys who talks back at the TV, so I don’t watch much of it.

Seen enough of the steaming pile of crap Bochco and company called a TV show, though. Reviews on Mudville and Smash’s place are pretty uniformly negative. SGT Mom reminds us that the whiz quiz killed off the regular potheads a few decades ago.

Sure was nice to see some highly paid clean looking actor in Stereotype Six mode writhing in fake pain and fake blood on the TV just now as the clips come on the French TV news, and the gratuitous naked woman’s back for the fake adulteress. Way to support them troops.

Well, thanks, you pampered producer guys. Gosh, you guys are so groundbreaking and courageous and arty and stuff. Thanks a freaking lot. Don’t do us any favors or anything.

And my final reaction is how sad I am that someone can build something and be so empty inside.


Filed under: — Chap @ 11:16 pm

Charles Johnson relays that the fatwa mentioned for most of NPR’s news day this morning is bogus. Perhaps it’s an attempt to change, but the phrase “unindicted co-conspirator” and the “call for jihad against America” just don’t sound good.

You know…

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:47 pm

If you open like 134 tabs in Safari and get three quarters of the way through them, and have about eleven post-worthy things you’ve held on to, that you have just found the exact moment you hit the “quit” button instead of the “close tab” button?

And no, Firefox on a Mac is glacial with more than ten tabs, and don’t get me started on IE–Lynx, maybe.

So you get this instead of a link dump. Read it and weep, suckers.

Trolls abound on the Ihab Slimane post, and lots of comments on the Sestak post, if you’re desperate for more wordage for some reason.

July 27, 2005

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:37 pm

Next they’ll tell me the Onion’s “What Do You Think” quotes are made up…

FAO, Again

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:26 pm

Looks like they’re restarting the Foreign Area Officer thing up again. A memo from Dr. Wolfowitz kickstarted the services into doing what they said they were going to do when Congress told them to build FAO programs back in 1996. Air Force guys with .mil accounts can check their My AF website for the IAW program (FAO translated into light blue, I guess); Navy supposedly has something “real soon now”. Army and Marines will likely tweak and keep on rolling; they weren’t as broken, just have to get more language training available.

I went looking around at this once, as I was interested in things like how we counted all the guys who know languages and how we capture all that good knowledge and relationships with foreign navies.

The Army had a building with lots of people in it to track all their “strategic scout” FAOs.

The Marine Corps had a two star and a big Pentagon office and staff tracking guys from boot camp on and RAOs and FAOs.

The Air Force had their general type person and trackers, although they started a little late to the game.

Us? We had a captain with the cog, but he prioritized (properly for his boss’ needs) and gave the job to a collateral duty lieutenant. That poor kid.

So anyway, the subspecialty thing died horribly, and the selection boards kept going but didn’t mean anything, and there was no way PERS-Warfare Pin would release one of theirs from filling a vital power point job on a staff to go do something so clearly not helping them build more (insert warfare type lust object, like submarines), and nobody would release anyone for Defense Language Institute without someone with the hammer swung in their direction. (Even a JPME phase II billet, which someone else pays for and on the parent command’s time, is Just Not Done, or so I’ve been informed upon seeing it done.) And someone doing something odd in their career path would definitely be a promotion killer. So I’m glad someone’s finally reattacked the problem.

On the to do list for me: a post about the guy who singlehandedly allowed us to win OEF, a guy who had just retired from the job as defense attache’ in Pakistan and helped negotiate all those things we needed now now now. Talk about a force multiplier. That guy saved a lot of lives and let the other operators win. That’s the kind of thing a FAO can do for you. That new agreement between the Indian and American navies, solidifying Anglosphere ties for the first time, like, ever? Who gets basing rights smoothed over? Who gets your stuff out of the deep end when the E-2 does something unsavory on a drunk liberty night?

And why wouldn’t it be a good idea to select and train and care about those people, and use their talents when they come back from overseas in a way that uses that knowledge?

Don’t answer that; it’s rhetorical. It’s just rant time here tonight.

July 26, 2005

Smooth Tune Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:50 pm

Over at Funky 16 Corners, an mp3 from the sixties that takes some of that sweet elevator type instruments and blows it completely away with four to the floor pushing a flute solo into the stratosphere. I guess I’m going crate digging for more of that Soulful Strings stuff.

Update: You can compare the original to a cover on SoulStrut, with a RealAudio file here. Both are pretty durn tasty.


Filed under: — Chap @ 10:24 am

Navy Times reports something interesting.

“Command climate and how people exercise their leadership responsibilities are key priorities for Admiral Mullen,” the source said, “and this position is one of the key jobs that will help determine the success of the Navy, its people, and its future force structure.”

Sestak’s removal is one of the first moves made by Mullen, who was sworn into office on Friday.

I won’t comment on this news (for clear reasons) but know it might be interesting to certain people…

And The Vegetable Oil Is Equally Important

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:30 am

Didn’t this chickie just finish apologizing for the last time she pulled a trick like this?

Do Not Adjust Your Set

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:33 am

So one consequence of having Wild West Domains, Inc (owned by GoDaddy, apparently) attempt to steal the domain registration business from my hosting provider is that the domain autorenew is turned off and so are the notifications.

That was interesting. Apologies for the outage.

July 25, 2005

Now It All Comes Together

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:39 pm

I knew of the little shop in OSD with guys in the military and civilian world with deep pol-mil knowledge and experience in Middle Eastern countries and Afghanistan long before the runup to OEF. I knew that they had been advertised as some kind of evil neocon conspiracy on the more specious antiwar sites. It didn’t match my observations.

Little did I know that the guy who made that happen was a disaffected female O-5 getting support from the LaRouchies.

Ick, ick, double ick. And this stuff was big in the arguments in ’02, too.

This “officer” has a lot to answer for.

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