October 30, 2005

A Poet Goes Traveling

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:33 am

It’s a happy little travel journal.

It’s a serious and somber history piece.

It’s short lined free verse.

In his very first blog post, Bob writes about he and Rik traveling to “New Europe“. A long read (my goodness, it’s like fifteen posts!) but worth the time.

Welcome to the blogosphere.

Sunday, 21st August 2005


on the 3rd day of any trip abroad

my brain slows down and

stops racing through interpretations/ opinions/ evaluations/ and judgments

of everything i see

so i can begin to see where we are

a little more clearly

tourists view everything / but see little / and understand nothing

we bear heavy baggage that blocks our vision

but it’s still much better

than staying at home

for me, business travel is better than tourism

because then i interact more meaningfully with local people

working to accomplish defined goals

the local laws and business realities become visible

for me the oddest travel is to america

where i am both at home and with rik a tourist

that’s where i feel most foreign, now

i see and understand more about america

than i ever did when i lived there

werner erhard said: a fish never sees the water

that it swims in

October 29, 2005

Department Of Now I’ve Seen Everything, Poo Edition

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:55 pm

Apparently it’s a “classic Korean children’s tale.”

And it’s quite poignant.

…Death is not a subject to be shunned in this story, but an integral part of the tale.

Aside from the thematically impressive story, based upon Jung-Seang Kown’s book published in the 60’s, the visuals and music create an amazing film that actually has the ability to make you believe doggy poo has the ability to fret as well as any of us. The music and lyrics are excellent, composed and written by Yiruma, and easily provide half of the movie’s emotional content. Oh-Sung Kwon’s adaptation of the tale helps expand upon a simple tale without bloating it to meaninglessness. Altogether, while this may not be as epic as The Lord of the Rings, it is an equivalently caring incarnation of a work that is obviously beloved.

It’s, uh, Doggy Poo. They made a cute little movie about doggy poo. I mean, just listen to the piano on the trailer (Quicktime), here. I think I have clearly lost my mind.

(h/t Ambient Irony. Den Beste says: “Good Lord!”)

Realism, Ideals, And Balance

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:24 pm

I now understand that idealism is as important, in its own way, as realism in international relations. This week, I found that understanding has been useful in assessing the utility of several very good essays.

Here’s an essay by Charles Krauthammer, who is eviscverating a smart man who has said some intelligent things, but is also referred to jokingly as “a man who’s never met a status quo he didn’t like” (Brent Scowcroft). Krauthammer’s point is that Scowcroft does not understand the power of the ideal, the necessity of an ideal, in dealing with others, and that is why Scowcroft is consistently wrong about some things.

This cold-bloodedness is a trademark of this nation’s most doctrinaire foreign policy “realist.” Realism is the billiard ball theory of foreign policy. You care not a whit about who is running a foreign country. Whether it is Mother Teresa or the Assad family gangsters in Syria, you care only about their external actions, not how they treat their own people.

Realists prize stability above all, and there is nothing more stable than a ruthlessly efficient dictatorship. Which is why Scowcroft is the man who six months after Tiananmen Square toasted those who ordered the massacre; who, as the world celebrates the Beirut Spring that evicted the Syrian occupation from Lebanon, sees not liberation but possible instability; who can barely conceal a preference for Syria’s stabilizing iron rule.

Even today Scowcroft says, “I didn’t think that calling the Soviet Union the `evil empire’ got anybody anywhere.” Tell that to Natan Sharansky and other Soviet dissidents for whom that declaration of moral — beyond geopolitical — purpose was electrifying, and helped galvanize the dissident movements that ultimately brought down the Soviet empire.

It was not brought down by diplomacy and arms control, the preferred realist means for dealing with the Soviet Union. It was brought down by indigenous revolutionaries, encouraged and supported by Ronald Reagan, a president unabashedly dedicated not to detente with evil, but its destruction — i.e., regime change.

For realists such as Scowcroft, regime change is the ultimate taboo. Too risky, too dangerous, too unpredictable. “I’m a realist in the sense that I’m a cynic about human nature,” he admits. Hence, writes Jeffrey Goldberg, his New Yorker chronicler, Scowcroft remains “unmoved by the stirrings of democracy movements in the Middle East.”

This is the crux of the argument for some of the elites I met in DC in 2002-2003. Stability above all, they said; chaos and blood is painful. The Middle Eastern folks I met this month cautioned a slow pace. Slow, they said. We don’t know what will replace what we have now. The people aren’t ready. We don’t want chaos and blood.

Chaos and blood…or fear. I didn’t truly grok King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (pdf, less readable html) until confronted with these nice folks with courageous positions cautioning not to go too fast.

Sharansky also opened my eyes with his book The Case For Democracy. He’s still emphasizing those themes. In this essay in the Washington Post this week he does what he sees as the most useful tool–naming names–and points out that unfree practices will not make a nation free.

Two years ago this week, Russian law enforcement authorities, guns drawn, stormed Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s plane. His arrest and imprisonment, and the insufficient response of the democratic world to his case, represent a great setback for the march of democracy in Russia.

The charges against Khodorkovsky ostensibly focus on financial improprieties related to his control of the Russian oil giant Yukos. But one need not be an expert in that company’s finances to recognize that the law was used selectively against Khodorkovsky to thwart the political ambitions of a possible future opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

Many democratic leaders are sympathetic with Khodorkovsky but are unwilling to press the Russians to release him for fear that this issue will undermine efforts to resolve other geopolitical issues. But I know as well as anyone that the supposed trade-off between democratic idealism and geopolitical realism is largely a false choice. In the early 1980s, my wife, Avital, who had been mounting a worldwide campaign for my own release from prison in the Soviet Union, had the hard facts of realpolitik explained to her by a senior White House official in an administration that was extremely sympathetic to my plight. Pointing to a map of the world, the official outlined the many geopolitical issues that were at stake between the United States and the Soviet Union. “Do you really believe,” he asked, “that we can subordinate all these issues to the question of your husband’s release?”

“What you don’t understand,” she replied, “is that only when my husband is released from prison will you be able to resolve these issues.”

Scowcroft comes from a military background, and understands deeply the military mindset. The military mindset is excellent for some things and a hindrance in others, such as analyzing grand strategy with an idealist bent or nonmilitary mindset. Scowcroft’s writing is somewhat echoed by an analyst in the UK, Chris Donnelly, who has an essay that’s been burbling through the most senior UK and US military ranks. The essay has many good points, and is a good read. The essay does, though, have a glaring mistake in my view: Idealism, particularly the desire for freedom and its current opponent the dystopian caliphate of Qutb and Wahab, has not made it into Donnelly’s analysis.

7. The main drivers of today’s revolution in the nature of conflict, in my view, are: (a) the growing gap between rich and poor countries, (b) the uncontrollable proliferation of technology, and (c) the information explosion.

8. For an example of the growing gap between rich and poor countries, a map of the Mediterranean basin is a good place to start. Write on the map, for each of the countries to the north and south of the Mediterranean, the UN figures for the population, GDP and per capita income for 1990, today and projected to 2020. The trends are clear. The demographic implications alone are very dramatic. Another example: The combined wealth of the richest 250 people in the world is equal to the combined annual income of the poorest 2.5 billion people in the world. Above all, the poor are now aware of the disparities.

9. The proliferation of technology refers to all modern technology not just to the technology for weapons of mass destruction. Technological advantage in war and conflict is normally transient, and always depends not just on the available technology but also on our ability to learn how to use it and to incorporate it into our systems. In the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the French had an effective machine gun. Wheras the Prussians did not. German Radar technology in 1939 was actually superior to the British. But in both cases the losers failed to integrate their technology into a system which would exploit it and as a result threw away their technological advantage. Note Al Qaeda’s effective asymmetric use of technology, or the skill with which criminal gangs use modern communications technology. Not only can we sometimes not match the flexibility of these organisations and their ability to learn, but it can cost us £1000 to defeat what it costs them £1 to do.

10. The ‘Information Explosion’ has two aspects: IT and Media. Today’s rapid developments in IT are well known. But with this presumed efficiency comes serious potential vulnerabilities. The ability to launch attacks on information systems depends not on wealth but on the cleverness of the attacker, and our opponents are just as clever as we are. As to media, I would argue that media (in all its forms) has become so out of control and all pervasive that it now constitutes an additional environment in which we must operate. To use a military example: a soldier planning a battle is taught always to give first consideration to the “ground”, ie. the environment in which the battle will be fought – open countryside, rivers, towns, mountains, etc. “Ground” affects both sides – not necessarily equally. It cannot be changed very much, if at all. But it can be exploited by either side. To ignore the ground is unthinkable to a soldier. To fail to prepare the ground is unforgivable. To underestimate its influence is usually disastrous. Today, media is like a new environment in which we operate and which affects everything we do in policy making as in armed conflict. Yet many of us still do not usually give in the attention it deserves.

11. Of course the key to understanding the dynamics of today’s revolution in the nature of conflict is to understand how all the above factors interact with each other and with the world around us. The spread of information and technology gives weapons, and the ability to use them effectively over a long period of time, to those with a grievance to redress.

Donnelly’s almost got it, he’s got all the parts that fit together, but misses what I consider to be key to such an analysis. Instead of thinking of the opening of repressive societies á la Sharansky or President Bush’s Second Inaugural, Donnelly writes in almost Marxist terms of economic disparity. Ralph Peters once made an observation that it wasn’t merely economic disparity but awareness of the better situation others have, in quality of life and not merely economics, that was such a bitter shock to people that it resulted in the same kind of apocalyptic terror groups that appeared when the Protestant Reformation overturned people’s basic life assumptions. An example of why that awareness is essential to revolution would be North Korea, or parts of China, where the lack of that knowledge keeps the dictator’s boot firmly on the throats of the locals. That’s why China’s building the Golden Shield information blocker, and why North Korea so tightly controls mass information inside the country.

One can also see “poor but proud” places where people see themselves as able to get to to a life they want to live, without the upheaval of revolution looming over them. Donnelly hasn’t quite thought this concept through in this way, thinking of economics as a military analyst, and that’s why I disagree with him here in an otherwise very good paper.

That disagreement forces a change in how to build and execute grand strategy. Brant Hadaway (via Instapundit) once said Bush was channeling Sharansky in his Second Inaugural, and points like these are as idealistic and not-Realist as Reagan’s “tear down this wall!“.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Scowcroft doesn’t get why this is important, I think. Neither does Donnelly.

In any struggle there are people who think one thing, people who think another, and a vast middle who is apathetic or undecided. The middle swings and so does the majority. Explaining and understanding why the ideal is useful and sometimes trumps a realist world is going to be important to achieving the goals of the Second Inaugural. Getting this idealistic thinking across to our friends and allies may be a hard thing to do, but perhaps worth the effort–at least to help others see where we’re going, if not to have them join us.

(Sent to Mudville’s Open Post)

Update: A friend sends along a New Yorker piece by Jeffrey Goldberg (“Breaking Ranks”, not on line, but there’s a Q&A here) that explains a little about the rift between the 1990-era administration and the 2002-era administration.

Update: I received a suggestion to link to one of my first posts, which had that speech by Scowcroft that I enjoyed attending. Scowcroft hit many of the themes Robert Kagan later mentioned about the difference in mindset between the U.S. and Europe. Here’s also a post with a link to Captain Ed, who argues against some Scowcroft suggestions.

Update: Le Corbusier takes a break from his machines to similarly out himself as an idealist.

Update: OxBlog has thought about a this subject too; see here (take one) and here (take two). David Adesnik quotes James Taranto’s point about realism and war, which I’ve mentioned in the comments.

Breaking Out The Photoshop

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:10 pm

The Swankster goes all grim milestone on us.

Allbritton With II MEF

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:33 pm

I mentioned Christopher Allbritton, TIME stringer who went over by himself before he joined up with those guys. He’s now embedded with the Marines in Karmah, a suburb of Falluja.

Fasinating work–and looking at Allbritton’s asides I wonder how Yon would have covered the exact same thing. I definitely want to be a fly on the wall in a bar session with Allbritton, Prine, and Yon…

October 26, 2005

The Excuse For Attacking The Baghdad Hotel

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:12 pm

Christopher Allbritton has been digging and reports on what he heard happened:

According to sources, who remain anonymous, al Qaeda in Iraq and Jaysh al-Muhammad, one of the largest Ba’athist groups, staged the joint operation in order to attack and kill members of one of the security firms stationed in the Palestine.

While it seems counter-intuitive that secular Ba’athists would work with jihadis of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s stripe, they sometimes combine forces for large operations against their common enemy: foreigners and infidels. They also often share information and techniques.

Allbritton and I don’t agree all the time, but he is a gutsy man and calls it how he sees it. (He’s also the voice of Time magazine for this article.) But the report, from his sources, doesn’t make sense to me. As I put it in comments:

My initial read of the posed reason for targeting the Palestine Hotel is that the stated reason is false—the AIF guys well know what the effect of a large boom with cameras means, and attacking the Palestine is an excellent way to get into the news again after other stories drove them off. Admitting this to a journo, though, would not be politic.

I’d take the source’s statements with a big grain of salt.

Dauber has more on the subject.

Carl Levin, Please Find Your Clue

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:04 am

The senator doesn’t like the new nominee for the Defense Department public affairs guy, because the nominee wrote an op-ed that Levin doesn’t agree with. Problem is, that op-ed has some points that hit home (link may not work):

The comments by the senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, during and after a committee hearing to consider the nomination of J. Dorrance Smith to be assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, cast serious doubt on Mr. Smith’s chances to win approval by the full Senate.

Mr. Smith, a former ABC News producer who has worked as an adviser in both Bush administrations, said in an article in The Wall Street Journal on April 25 that the Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera operated on behalf of terrorists and that American networks aided them by televising Al Jazeera’s videotape.

“Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.,” Mr. Smith wrote. “This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq.”

“Al Jazeera,” he added, “has very strong partners in the U.S. – ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes.”

Mr. Levin said Tuesday that coming from someone who had been picked to be the Pentagon’s chief liaison with the news media, those comments went too far. “That you would characterize them as aiders and abettors of the terrorists that attack us,” he told reporters, “as far as I’m concerned that is so far over the top, it’s unacceptable.”

Senator Inhofe, however, gets it:

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, took Smith to task for a piece he wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal in which he linked major U.S. television news networks with al-Jazeera, saying the U.S. networks occasionally shared video and other feeds initially aired by the Qatar-based network.

Through that association, the American news networks were in collusion with terrorists, Smith argued in the piece.

“That’s a very serious allegation,” Levin said solemnly. “Did you really mean that there is a relationship?”

Smith responded that he had learned a great deal about the way television networks operate during his stint in Baghdad and how footage used by al-Jazeera often can be picked up by U.S. networks.

It is a “collaborative” relationship, said Smith, who has worked at ABC’s “Nightline” and “This Week with David Brinkley” in his 30-year television career.

“I think that’s a serious mischaracterization,” Levin continued. “It suggests what your approach will be to information if you are confirmed in this position.”

That was when Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., jumped in. Inhofe, who volunteered that he has probably spent more time in Iraq than anyone on the committee, said he was rankled by a discussion he had with a field-grade officer in Iraq during one trip who told him that the media is distorting the picture of what is actually going on in Iraq.

Inhofe suggested that the war in Iraq is being fought on television and in newspapers as much as on the battlefield.

“More than half this battle is in the media,” he said. “They are winning that battle, and we have to do something about it.”

After complaining about the media for five minutes, Inhofe asked Smith what he would do to improve the media situation. “Whether or not we agree how bad the media is, we would all agree that we have to get the real story out,” Inhofe said.

I’ve written about this part of the war a number of times and will later update this post with some of the links–search “information” or look at the Prine vs. Yon series for more.

Someone alert Rantingprofs, Countercolumn, and a big chunk of the blogosphere. The Honorable Mr. Levin perhaps needs a slight application of Cluebat(tm)–so if you’re in a writing mood, he’d be the guy to contact.

Update: Wizbang has the article and it’s a corker. This guy gets it.

While I was in Iraq in 2004, Al-Jazeera was expelled from the country by the Iraqi Governing Council for violating international law. Numerous times they had advance knowledge of military actions against coalition forces. Instead of reporting to the authorities that it had been tipped off, Al-Jazeera would pre- position a crew at the event site and wait for the attack, record it and rush it on air. This happened time after time, to the point where Al-Jazeera was expelled from Iraq. The airing of the Ake video, however, demonstrates that it can still operate on behalf of the terrorists even from outside the country.

Al-Jazeera continues to broadcast because it reportedly receives $100 million a year from the government of Qatar. Without this subsidy it would be off the air, off the Internet and out of business. So, does Qatar’s funding of Al- Jazeera constitute state sponsorship of terrorism? As long as Al-Jazeera continues to practice in cahoots with terrorists while we are at war, should the U.S. government maintain normal relations with Qatar? As long as Al-Jazeera continues to aid and abet the enemy, as long as we are fighting a war on the ground and in the airwaves, why are we not fighting back against Al-Jazeera and Qatar, the nation that makes possible the network’s existence? Should the U.S. not adopt a hard-line position about doing business with Qatar as long as Al- Jazeera is doing business with terrorists?

In addition to being subsidized by Qatar, Al-Jazeera has very strong partners in the U.S. — ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al-Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes. The terrorists are aware of this access and use it — as in the Ake case — to further their aims. They want to reach the American audience and influence public opinion.

The arrangement between the U.S. networks and Al-Jazeera raises questions of journalistic ethics. Do the U.S. networks know the terms of the relationship that Al-Jazeera has with the terrorists? Do they want to know?

There has been no in-depth reporting about Al-Jazeera in the U.S. and virtually no scrutiny of Qatar and its relationship with the network. Why not? Is it that the American networks don’t want to give up their tainted video? And since they all get the same material and all air it at the same time, do they feel a certain safety being in bed together? The cable networks have become addicted to the latest B- roll video. If that video was obtained by means that violated their own standards and practices, would they air it? Would they even know?

What if one of the networks had taken a stand and refused to air the Ake video on the grounds that it was aiding and abetting the enemy, and that from this point forward it would not be a tool of terrorist propaganda? The terrorists know that the airing of such video creates pressure on the government to negotiate a release. It also sends a signal to Americans about the perils of being an American working in Iraq. If the Ake video had never aired in the U.S., the position of the hostage-takers would have been severely impaired. Had it never aired, terrorists would have had no incentive to continue making the tapes.


October 24, 2005

Michael Yon On Voting Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:24 pm

I thought the Weekly Standard article was good.

This, the longer version, is much better.

Tuskegee Airmen Continue To Inspire

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:30 am

These men have every reason to sit back and rest, to accept well earned accolades and be near their family.

Instead, sixty years after they broke barriers, fought like crazed demons, broke still more barriers, and succeeded in peacetime at everything they did, they are braving the infirmity of old age to go to Iraq.

TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Lt. Col. Herbert Carter is 86 years old and ready for deployment. More than 60 years after his World War II tour with the pioneering black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, Carter’s new mission will be shorter, though no less courageous.

Carter is one of seven aging Tuskegee Airmen traveling this weekend to Balad, Iraq – a city ravaged by roadside bombs and insurgent activity – to inspire a younger generation of airmen who carry on the traditions of the storied 332nd Fighter Group.

“I don’t think it hurts to have someone who can empathize with them and offer them encouragement,” he said.

The three-day visit was put together by officials with the U.S. Central Command Air Forces to link the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with a new generation.

“This group represents the linkage between the ‘greatest generation’ of airmen and the ‘latest generation’ of airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Walter Buchanan III, commander of the Air Forces command, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The retired Airmen who will make the trip – five pilots, a mechanic and a supply officer – shrugged off the dangers of Iraq, saying they have stared down the enemy before. Some fought in Korea and Vietnam as well as World War II.

These men, and their families, are national treasures, and I am in awe of these guys. For them to go to Iraq to visit their namesake is just wonderful. I hope the 332nd takes great care to ensure every one of the junior guys understands exactly who those old men are, and what giants hide inside those aging frames.

(h/t Blackfive, and thanks)

October 23, 2005

Planning A Good Drunk All By Yourself?

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:48 pm

Well, I can’t, exactly–weigh-ins coming up soon, and I’m too old to get as plowed as some people I might mention–but these guys would be happy to hang out with you.

This podcast has…wait for it…The Fishing Report As Sung By Sting. With many bad words and some mumbling about strapping anvils to people and dropping them into the East River and lots of giggling involving tuna.

What do you expect from EverClear Channel Communications?

Zombie Nails It

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:05 pm

Via LGF a report from Berkeley photoblogger Zombie–one of the more interesting photographers from China’s Cultural Revolution speaks.

And look what happened.

Robert Eugene Campbell (1936-2005)

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:54 pm

I quite liked the man, a true old school Southern gentleman, IBM’er, Mason, Johnnie Walker and a smoke, with a thought and a joke.

Please leave a note over at Barry’s place–he’s being the Good Son and keeping a lid on his sorrow until the work is done.

RALEIGH, NC — Robert Eugene (Bob) Campbell, 69, died October 22, 2005 at his Raleigh home after a long illness.

Born June 27, 1936 in Enochville, NC to the late Floyd William and Estelle London Campbell, Bob Campbell attended and graduated from the Rowan County public schools. He married Betty Sue Hodges in 1955.

A 1958 graduate of Indiana Technical College (now the Indiana Institute of Technology), Bob worked as an engineer with the International Business Machines corporation for his entire career, finally retiring in 1992 after 34 years. Bob and Betty lived and worked in Atlanta, GA and Poughkeepsie, NY, before moving to Raleigh with IBM in 1965, where they made their permanent home.

Following a motorcycle accident in November 1967, Bob was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. After a prolonged and difficult period of recuperation, he returned to work and continued for the rest of his life to provide for his family and to maintain what were for him the most important roles in life, that of a good husband and good father.

Although he had experienced declining health in recent years, Bob is still widely remembered in the Oak Park neighborhood of Raleigh as a friendly, gregarious presence, and, in his retirement, as the designated “Mr. Fix-It” for anyone who ever had a problem with a lawnmower or small engine. He delighted in using his engineering and analysis skills to diagnose and fix problems with just about anything, and dispensed advice freely.

Despite his ongoing struggles with health problems related to his paralysis, he maintained a positive attitude, due in large part to a mischievous sense of humor that none who knew him well will soon forget. His courage and determination to persevere in the face of incredibly difficult physical and psychological challenges were, and remain, an inspiration to everyone he met. The support provided for him by his wife, Betty, until very recently his sole caregiver following his paralysis, was a testament to the power and force of love and devotion.

Bob Campbell was a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Cary Lodge No. 198 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Wake County Shrine Club, and the IBM Quarter Century Club.

He is survived by his wife Betty, his son Barry and daughter-in-law Carrie, brothers Roy and Marvin, and sister Juanita Smith, as well as an extended family and a wide network of friends and professional colleagues who join his immediate family in mourning his passing.

In accordance with Bob’s expressed wishes, there will be no funeral service, viewing, or visitation. A memorial service, to be conducted at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Raleigh, will be scheduled and announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Wake County or to the charity of one’s choice.

He never got to meet our son–but I’ll tell our son about him.

October 22, 2005

I Want One Of These

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:47 pm

Apparently they’re not really for sale, per se, and they’re not exactly as attractive as the real thing, but considering my current employment it sure would liven up the cubicle.

Shakespeare Would Be Horrified

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:44 pm

Somebody alert the Professor…someone’s done bad things to a sonnet. And it involved Puff Daddy Sean Combs P. Diddy Diddy what’shisface.


Believe What You Want To Believe–But Be Aware

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:40 pm

One commenter asked me to discuss the Afghanistan burning bodies thing and I demurred. Another brought it up and made some assumptions.

Apparently the most useful assumption to make is to wait a few days and see what the correction on page A-12 turns out to be or should be. By that time, of course, the story has gone from a simple “BAD THINGS WERE DONE!!!11!” to a complex and hard to follow “At 1034 on Tuesday the left-handed guy was not in the room with Ed, so maybe bad things could not have been done, but it sure looks like it if you squint”.

So what happens in terms of information war is that a large majority of viewers or readers only get the first message, and it sticks. Credibility takes a hit, among some viewers, but not all by far.

Just like any number of “atrocities” reported on the front news with damning photographic “evidence”, this story seems to be a wash.

Lots of links to what happened, but due to laziness I’ll point to Jason Coleman’s outstanding digging and elaboration on this series of posts, starting with this one, and updated here and later here. Spot the warfare effect–Coleman does and names names in his third post. (Update: And of course van Steenwyk.)

Words do not describe my contempt for this kind of cheat-and-retreat.

Update: And let’s talk moral equivalence, shall we?

October 21, 2005

Third Session: Whither China

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:08 pm

This one was pretty interesting, actually; the last session I attended. Sparks flew in the Q&A, but different ones than were expected. I wound up in a rather forceful discussion afterward I’ll keep off the record–suffice it to say that I went out and bought the other guy a copy of Kagan’s book (cheapskates go here for the short-n-sweet) and handed it right to him at dinner. It freaked him out a bit, but why not.

The panel included a small businessman specializing in China, a human rights advocate, a Chinese government functionary, an American analyst looking at China from the perspective of Japan, and the ambassador to China from a small country. I did learn a lot–and like Chavez even less now than I did before…

(Previous posts in this series: Europe and the EU, Middle East reform, references, idle comments, two sentence short stories.)


Looky There, It’s Dave!

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:55 pm

Subman Dave has returned.

October 20, 2005

Defense Policy Bonsai

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:55 pm

It took a while for me to link to this but it was worth it. Lex points out the governmental starvation of Canadian military as a purposeful policy.

Which is one reason good men have to deal with Sea Kings and Chicoutimi as their best front line craft.


Second Session: Whither Europe

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:23 pm

Originally the panel discussion was to be “What Europe Has To Offer The World” but it devolved instead into a discussion about EU integration and enlargement.

Which is rather a piquant irony, actually.


The Adult Speaks

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:58 pm

Kid With Less Than Fifteen Hours Of Hornet Experience Tries To Tell Us How It Is, Fails

I saw the article in the Early Bird–pilot does an unauthorized airfield buzz at high speed in his Navy plane, gets all pointy when the guy running the airfield mentions it just might not have been a good thing to do, gets all harassing and unpleasant and not nice when he loses his wings because he was an idiot.

Although those words weren’t what the article really said, that’s what I got from it.

Neptunus Lex has more than 14.8 hours of experience in his plane, and more than one deployment flying fighter jets. He’s got the right words for this.

But this young man didn’t make a mistake. He deliberately set out to do something which he had to know would land him in dutch if he got called on it, and he did it in a fashion almost guaranteed to ensure that he would get called on it. That’s just damned poor judgment. You don’t get to be that stupid and finish flight school, so he either had a “bad things don’t happen to me” attitude, or he just knew that rules didn’t apply to him. Which are two of the world’s most efficient ways to kill yourself graveyard dead in fighter aviation, and maybe take a few innocent civvies along with you. Which is considered very bad form, and not at all what we’re getting paid for. It ain’t the movies, and he’s not Tom Cruise.

The most damning thing: There is such a thing as grace after failure. It is tough, but something we must occasionally do. Too bad the kid hasn’t quite shown it yet–because he was lucky and lived, and perhaps one late night he’ll realize that he came close to killing himself and others for a little fun.

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