Thursday, November 30, 2006


Photos From the War Against Jihadists--Iraq Front

An American soldier, Staff Sgt. Michael Marker, chats with the local boys on a street in Mosul, Iraq,
on Nov. 20, 2006. Marker, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, and fellow soldiers are conducting a joint presence and community engagement with Iraqi army soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division.

Some of the Iraqi children look pretty much the opposite of what we've come to recognize as Muslims from the Middle East. I foresee difficulties in profiling these boys should they join the Jihadists in the next few years and, for example, try to board a plane in America.

DoD photo by Sgt. Antonieta Rico, U.S. Army.


Light Posting Excuse

Woke at 4:00 am with a pretty sharp pain in my back on the left about where my kidney is. It got worse--a lot worse--and now I have a differential diagnosis of kidney stone to be confirmed with a CT scan, which I've already done but I've not yet heard the results. I really hate the effects of the drugs I'm taking for the pain--retching, puking, feeling spacey and sleepy and just generally really bad, all at the same time.

Now I get to urinate through a big strainer each time until it passes and drink more water than I like for the rest of my life. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I don't feel much like writing just now.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1782, representatives of the nearly liberated colonies (later to become, of course, the United States) and Great Britain sign a preliminary peace agreement to end the Revolutionary War that would nearly 2 years later become the Treaty of Paris. Our success at Yorktown more than a year earlier could not become a real policy change for the Brits until Lord North had resigned as Prime Minister.


Thought of the Day

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man almost nothing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Speaker to Be Pelosi Denies al Qaeda in Iraq Exists

President George Bush yesterday in Estonia stated that it's not yet a civil war in Iraq but that the Iraqi on Iraqi violence is largely being perpetrated by al Qaeda in Iraq. One can disagree with that statement regarding the degree of al Qaeda involvement, because sectarian violence started before the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, escalated the latest round by blowing up the al Askari shrine, the so-called Golden Mosque, in Samarra, Iraq. But it is sheer idiocy to deny that al Qaeda in Iraq exists. So guess what position Speaker of the House Elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took.

David Gregory: “Iraq's worsening civil war will dominate the President's meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Concluding his visit to Estonia earlier today, Mr. Bush blamed the violence not on civil war but on Sunni terrorists.”

President Bush at a press conference in Estonia: “There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of these attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal. And we will work with the Maliki government to defeat these elements.”

Gregory: “Back in Washington, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed, warning that such rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it harder for Democrats to work with the White House.”

Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “The 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again.”

Actually the 9/11 Commission wrote about a supposed lack of pre 9-11 operational links between the Iraq government under Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda (in Afghanistan) under Osama bin Laden, and of course something released on July 22, 2004 could not possibly comment on things that have occurred and are occurring after that date.

I've never been impressed with many Democrats' grasp of the facts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Pelosi is at best sadly misinformed and at worst a complete dolt about those areas. Neither supplies the fuel for confidence for the future of the House leadership. Pelosi--what a maroon!

UPDATE: Dafydd (he's Welsh) at Big Lizards Blog has about the same take except a little more funny with a cool reference/exegesis to The Shining. But otherwise pretty similar.


Social Priorities at NYT

In an unsigned editorial today in the NYT, a perverse yet self-serving misordering of social priorities is revealed in the discussion of the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsberg) refusing to stop the issuance of subpoenas duces tecum to NYT reporters for phone records in an effort to discover who tipped off, in 2001, Muslim organizations about an impending search pursuant to warrant. Money quote:

Now the Supreme Court, in refusing to intervene, has effectively allowed the prosecutor to search through the records in hopes he can pinpoint the source of the leak.

This is a bad outcome for the press and for the public. The phone records reveal the identities of lots of sources having nothing to do with the leaks. The appeals court’s disingenuous suggestion that The Times might redact irrelevant records would simply have helped point to possible leakers.

The public will be ill served if this case reduces the willingness of officials to reveal important but sensitive information. The privilege granted to journalists to protect their sources needs to be bolstered with a strong federal shield law that would preserve the public interest in newsgathering and dissemination of information.

We're at war (I know the NYT editorial board refuses to accept this simple fact) and we need to protect our secrets, sources and methods or become completely blind to future attacks. Finding leaks has a greater priority than promoting the willingness of officials to leak, as stated, "to reveal important but sensitive information." The NYT is the primary leaker of sensitive information in the past half decade. Its reporters are being investigated for tipping off the Muslim charities near the end of 2001. One could expect them to support their employees, but finding who leaked is more important than loyalty to employees. In a greater sense, the NYT can of course print what it wants, but it's employees are citizens first and are subject to the laws of this nation. There is no right to protect sources absent a shield law which does not exist at the federal level and I hope never will.

Do the editors really think that tipping off the Muslims to the coming search was a proper thing to do and advanced any social priority? If they do, we Americans are in deeper trouble than I thought.


This Day in History

On this day in 1898, Christian writer and medieval scholar C. S. Lewis is born. I still like the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy better than the Narnia septology, but both are great children books. The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity good non-children books. There's a movie about some of his life (Shadowlands) but it's not that good.


Thought of the Day

The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Another Gem from the 80s

STABILIZERS - One Simple Thing

This is another two guy band (not even a one hit wonder) people hardly remember--I'll admit the singer isn't the manliest guy around, but this is a good song. The one simple thing I would have done for the video is ever time they say "We'll build a wall no one else can see" I'd show some poor dweeb running into a glass door like in the windex commercial with the magpies. Couldn't have hurt.


This Day in Mid 14th Century History

On this day in 1340, Iberians under Alfonso XI of Castile & Leon, helped by the Portuguese Afonso IV defeat the Merenids in the Battle of Salado near Seville, which defeat ends the threat of further Muslim expansion. The Merenids were led by the king of Fez, Abdul Hassan, and helped by the King of Granada. After that begins a slow, fits and starts offensive which will drive all the Moors completely from Spain by 1492.


Thought of the Day

The whole art of war consists of guessing at what is on the other side of the hill.

Arthur Wellesley

Monday, November 27, 2006


Photos From the War Against Jihadists--Iraq Front

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Coriey Burkman and an Iraqi army soldier clear the roof of an Iraqi home during a cordon and search operation in Hawijah, Iraq, on Nov. 11, 2006. The soldiers are looking for insurgents, unauthorized weapons and materials for constructing improvised explosive devices. Burkman is attached to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.

DoD photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Guillory, U.S. Army.


Comparing Apples to Oranges

The Associated (with Terrorists) Press reporter Tom Raum wrote a story this weekend stating that the war in Iraq has lasted longer than United States involvement in WWII. He's wrong. He's comparing the clash between armies in uniform to the occupation of the defeated country. WWII lasted, for us, just under 4 years (December 7, 1941 to September 2, 1945). The war in Iraq, which should be called Gulf War II, lasted just a few weeks (March 19, 2003 to April 9, 2003--the fall of Baghdad).

The Allies' occupation of Germany after the surrender on May 8, 1945 lasted nearly 10 years, until May 5, 1955, but if you count an occupation as foreign troops remaining on bases in the conquered country then the occupation of Germany has lasted 61 years and is still ongoing. The occupation of Japan ended on April 28, 1952, although we still have military bases in Japan.

The occupation of Iraq has been slightly different from the occupation of Germany (the insurgents have been much more numerous than the Werewolves). Japan was a pretty peaceful nation under the US occupation. But those differences don't effect the start and stop dates for the war fighting.

It has been a pretty bloody occupation though. Especially for Iraqis by Iraqis.

UPDATE: Now the war against Jihadists, that's still going on, and some of it is taking place in Iraq. If you want to put the start date of 9/11/01 on that wider war, that's OK with me (even though it started under President Carter). This new world war may well last a 100 years, unless we go nuclear early.


This Day in History

On this day in 1941, the Wehrmacht advances toward Moscow under extremely difficult wintry conditions; units of 9th Armee (Strauss) reach the Volga Canal 60 miles NW of the Soviet capital. Some armed patrols penetrate the western suburbs of the city and get a good look at the Kremlin. Like 2:30 pm, July 3, 1863 is for the Confederates, this is the high water mark for the NAZIs in WWII--that far and no farther; by December 8, 1941, the war is lost.


Thought of the Day

Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.

William Westmoreland

Sunday, November 26, 2006


See, There Was Some Good Music in the 80s

David & David - Welcome to the Boomtown

My favorite line is: "Handsome Kevin got a little off track, took a year off of college and he never went back." Whatever happened to these guys?


Whom to Believe?

John Zogby's recent poll of Venezuelans or your own apparently lying eyes (the photo to the left of an estimated 1.4 million at a rally in Caracas for Chavez's main opponent, Manuel Rosales)? I have been predicting Chavez's being voted out on December 3, 2006. That date's not too far away to wait for resolution.

My personal interactions with Venezuelans causes me to think that they tend a bit to selfishness and vanity, but they are not, in general, fools.

(h/t Gateway Pundit)


Animals Are Stuck with Differential Birth Rates but Humans Can Do Things

The brilliant and funny Canadian-American (with the upperclass British accent) Mark Steyn has been pushing the "demography is destiny" meme well lately and it makes a lot of sense. However, the insightful curmudgeon Ralph Peters has a great "Hold on there, kitty cat" reminder today in the New York Post about what Europeans can do regarding their fellow man when they no longer regard the fellow as a man.

Here's an elephant in the room example from history just under 70 years ago. The Jewish population in much of Europe dropped by a net 6 million (55%) between November, 1938 and May, 1945; and it had absolutely nothing to do with birth rates. There's a direct precedent for Muslim ethnic cleansing in Srebrenica, a village in Bosnia Herzegovenia, just 11 years ago.

Many people are in hysterics about the minor skirmishes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and Lebanon (just as a few insightful people were up in arms about the Japanese atrocities in China in 1938, but that early fighting was nothing compared to what was to come beginning on September 1, 1939). Just so, Peters and I, who are trying to be optimistic in the face of an overwhelming sense of history, see a coming storm that will make the current fighting seem like swatting flies, especially compared to the horrors of the new religious wars circa 2020. I hope I'm wrong. (And I was wrong in predicting a nuclear war between America and the CCCP in the 1980s).

I have said over the past 6 years that if I were President I would implement the Fraley Doctrine which would be never to provide military force in Europe again. If the various socialist and semi-socialist nations there get into an internecine trouble again, they're on their own. We're not coming. Whoever the President is in the future, it might be worthwhile to give my idea (and not just mine) a few minutes of consideration. Peters is right about the bad moon rising in Europe.

UPDATE: Because the two columns were next to each other at Real Clear Politics, the connection was obvious. John Hinderaker at Powerline had a good post on these and a strong riposte by Steyn on the nut of the issue. My mind's not changed. The American Revolution was won with the support of only 1/3 of the nation's population and the active opposition of 1/3. Even if only one third of Europe goes anti-Muslim fascist, they could do a lot of damage.


This Day in History

On this day in 1944, Third Reich minister of the interior, et al. Heinrich Himmler orders destruction of the Auschwitz & Birkenau crematoria, in the vain hope that the crimes against humanity committed there by the SS-Totenkopfverbände will not be discovered. Himmler committed suicide with a cyanide capsule in 1945 and now resides in the lowest level of hell.


Thought of the Day

The surest way to prevent war is not to fear it.

John Randolph

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Poem of the Month (twofer)

Caeli, Lesbia nostra, Lesbia illa.
illa Lesbia, quam Catullus unam
plus quam se atque suos amavit omnes,
nunc in quadriviis et angiportis
glubit magnanimi Remi nepotes.

Catullus XXXII

Caelius, our Lesbia, that Lesbia,
that Lesbia whom Catullus loved
more than himself and everything his,
now loiters at the cross-roads and in the alleys
to peel the grandsons of the brave Remus.

Catullus 32

Huc est mens deducta tua mea, Lesbia, culpa
atque ita se officio perdidit ipsa suo,
ut iam nec bene velle queat tibi, si optima fias,
nec desistere amare, omnia si facias.

Catullus LXXII

To this point has my mind been dragged down, Lesbia, by your fault
And so by its own devotion my mind has destroyed itself,
As now it is not possible to wish you well, even if you become the best,
Nor is one able to stop loving, even if you did everything.

Catullus 72

These poems are clearly from the period during which he loves and hates Lesbia at the same time. He says so as often as he can in these short poems. In the first, he has to repeat his identification of her three times, in a sort of breaking though a former denial. He declares that he loved Lesbia more than himself and all that is his, but then calls her a street whore--wonderful use of the word (glubeo) which usually denotes taking the rind off fruit but here means both strip and rob. She robs them by inferior love making for money (and perhaps literally). That's some sort of bitterness on Catullus' part--World class bitterness, I think.

In the second, he claims that she has ruined his mind because of the strength of his love so that now he can hold contradictory thoughts (like love and hate) about her, but worse--he's stuck; now he can't think well of her if she is very good or stop loving her if she is bad (the clever optima/omnia dichotomy).

As a school boy, I thought nothing of these poems--just worked through the translations. Now as a person somewhat wounded in love, I can see the truth and pathos in his predicament--his rational mind is repelled by the very things his overwhelming emotion is drawn too. Welcome to the party, pal, Catullus now says to me in exo-text from nearly two millennia's distance in time.


Radiation Poisoning

Ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvenenko has died from his recent poisoning in London, probably by Polonium 210, a radioactive substance. I think you can see that he was dying in the photo to the left.

Radioactivity means generally that three things are put off by the isotope of a heavy element, which is decaying on the atomic level--alpha and beta particles and gamma waves. The alpha particle is relatively slow and heavy with two protons and two neutrons. It has extremely wimpy penetrating power--it would be stopped by paper or even by the layer of dead cells on top of our skin. But inside a cell a beta particle ionizes and causes thereby damage to the cell (and to the DNA). If you can keep from ingesting something emitting alpha particles, either through eating or drinking it, breathing it in or having it enter a wound, there is little to fear from alpha particles. However, since Mr. Litvenenko ingested Polonium 210, the alpha particles did a lot of cellular damage.

Beta particles are pretty much electrons and are fast and light and have some penetrating power. Aluminum foil or better, or even a plastic like perspex stops the particles and even heavy cloth is an effective shield. Again, ingesting what emits beta particles makes them deadly inside. The particles cause little ionizing but people exposed to beta particles develop on their skin what is called a beta burn, which is like a bad sunburn on steroids.

Gamma radiation is not a particle so it has no mass or a charge. It is the top (highest frequency) of the electro-magnetic spectrum (which includes radio waves and visible light) and it does not directly ionize the cells it hits but causes changes in the cell which in turn can cause ionization and the damage of the particles. Several inches of lead or several feet of concrete can stop gamma radiation. The only way to escape it in the open air is to get out of the area, as quick as you can.

There really is no cure for radiation poisoning. The treatment is merely to react to signs and symptoms with palliation and hope the body can repair itself. Anti-radiation medication merely helps the thyroid not develop cancer. Sometimes a bone marrow transplant can save a person after a usually deadly dose of radiation. However, double the usually deadly dose (measured in rads or seiverts) and death will occur. Increase the usually deadly dose by a factor of ten and debilitation occurs almost instantly and death within a few hours.

It's not a pleasant way to go.

However, if a dirty bomb were to go off, put on clothes (with aluminum foil underneath if you're home) and a Michael Jackson like mask, maybe some goggles and move quickly away from the detonation point (upwind if that's possible) and you should be OK.

To avoid Mr. Litvenenko's fate one could avoid sushi bars or, better yet, pissing off Vladimir Putin.


This Day in American History

This day in 1960 was the last day of broadcast for "Amos 'n' Andy" (the third version--Amos 'n' Andy Music Hall). The original radio "Amos 'n' Andy" ran from 1928 to 1943 with two white guys, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, as the Georgia born blacks living in the "North". At its height, 1930 to '31, the show regularly had 40 million listeners. The new version in the 40s was very popular too and in 1948 there was a television version of the show with at last black actors for the title roles. The TV series was cancelled in 1953 but continued in reruns until 1966.


Thought of the Day

The Republicans are the party of bad ideas. The Democrats are the party of no ideas.

Lewis Black (He's half right)

Friday, November 24, 2006


This Day in Mid 19th Century History

On this day in 1859, Charles Darwin publishes his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, a turning point in natural history. Because the transcription of DNA is not perfect (and because of the "shuffled cards" combining of two slightly different half measures of DNA during conception), there is a larger number of genetically unique individuals than could be successful in the various niches in the environment. So the individuals whose phenotype causes them to reproduce more offspring because, in part, the phenotype fits the niche better, sets over time the genotype of the species and changes the species visibly at times. This is a theory as real and true as the theory of gravity (Ann Coulter is dead wrong to oppose this) and probably takes place in a punctuated equilibrium as Stephen Jay Gould described.

The single rule for mere animal life here on Earth is have children which have children, and almost all animal behavior can be explained vis a vis this rule.


Thought of the Day

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Even More Rock Sellouts

B. J. Thomas--Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head Advance Auto Parts (OK, so he's not exactly rock) Listen

EMF--Unbelievable Kraft Listen

Fatboy Slim--Right Here, Right Now Coors Listen

John Mellencamp--This is Our Country Chevrolet

The Who--Baba O'Riley Cisco Listen

The Rolling Stones--I'm Free Chase Bank Listen

Allman Brothers--Midnight Rider Prison Break Listen

Steppenwolf--Magic Carpet Ride Chevrolet Listen

The Beatles--From Me to You Macy's

Max Frost and The Troopers--The Shape of Things to Come Target Listen

The Clash--Rock the Casbah Cingular Listen

The one with the Clash song is pretty funny because the gen Xers in it are apparently too stupid to get the easy to understand lyrics right--they hear either "Rock the cashbox" or "Rake the catbox." Very droll.

I heard this from Joni Mitchell for about 15 years: "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got to lisk on." I always wondered what 'to lisk' was, but put it off to some Canadian term with which I was unacquainted. So the last ad seems particularly funny, to me.


French Ass Backwards Priorities

The French forces in southern Lebanon apparently are blind to Hezbollah's rocket rearmament, but have become very sensitive to the normal, non-hostile overflights of Israeli Defense Force aircraft, which they threaten to shoot down. So typical.

Who needs enemies when we have allies like these?


Sharper Than the Serpent's Tooth...

Muslim Debates Tucker on Removal of Imams from flight

Tucker "White Men Can't Dance" Carlson makes a lot of sense about the semi-hysterical, politically motivated CAIR stance about the removal of 6 Imam from an airplane in Minnesota. If the Muslims who have immigrated to America really follow the CAIR line here and think that we Americans are a rabid, systemic, anti-Muslim/racist nation, I would invite them, politely, to leave and return to the Muslim paradises that are their home countries. It's not like we won't be rounding them up for internment after a nuke goes off in NYC, anyway.


This Day in Mid 17th Century History

On this day in 1654, French mathematician Blaise Pascal, 31, underwent a profound religious conversion. He afterwards abandoned his study of numbers and natural science and devoted himself to serving God. He later wrote that "the Christian religion obliges us to live only for God, and to have no other aim than Him."

I still like Pascal's Bet although it has never really helped with my faith problems (which exist probably because I have trouble loving). You either believe in God or you don't. God either exists or He does not. That gives four distinct combinations and results. If you believe in God and He exists--heaven is your reward. If you believe in God and He does not exist--nothing bad happens to you after death. If you don't believe in God and He exists--hell is your ultimate destination. If you don't believe in God and He does not exist--nothing at all happens either before or after your death. So belief in God gets you rewarded eternally or nothing at all (including nothing bad) happens. Non-belief in God gets you eternal punishment or nothing at all happens. Only a fool would therefore not believe in God.


Thought of the Day

I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life.

Anatole France

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Robert Altman Dies

American TV and then movie director Robert Altman died at age 81 two days ago. He was a director capable of both greatness and wretchedness. Here are the movies I liked by him: Gosford Park; The Player; Nashville; California Split; Thieves Like Us; The Long Goodbye; McCabe & Mrs. Miller (probably his best movie); MASH; and, Countdown.

Here are the famous ones to stay away from: Dr T and the Women (Richard Gere is just unwatchable); Pret-A-Porter (a waste of a talented group of actors); Short Cuts (so bad and bleak you want to shower after watching it); 3 Women (pointless and affected); and Popeye (worse than you are capable of imagining).

Here are the ones which ultimately stink but have great moments in them: Kansas City (just for the saxophone 'head cutting' contest); O.C. and Stiggs (mall lawyer); A Wedding (if you listen closely a wealth of gossip is revealed); Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson ( just the right tone on the noble savage theme); and, Brewster McCloud (Stacy Keach is terrific).

I've been told that Altman smoked marijuana every day (there's a visual reference to it in MASH and in many other films). It makes sense viewing all of his work and certainly explains why he often fell flat.

His last movie, A Prairie Home Companion, was so awful--really truly a complete waste of filmstock--that a place in the first circle of Hell is almost certainly reserved for Altman's soul. His punishment will be that he has to watch it for eternity--a very harsh punishment.


Sheikhs on a Plane

Half of the six Muslims on a flight from Minnesota to Arizona after attending an Imam council, stood up simultaneously and began praying just before getting on the plane and so freaked out the passengers and crew that they were removed from the plane. Guess who is being investigated for possible wrongdoing.

If you guessed the Muslims, you need to guess again.

Ann Coulter is pretty funny about this, but it's funny with a bite because we are so screwed up on how to provide air security properly, this shouldn't be funny.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a lefty who had defected to the Soviet Union, shot and wounded Texas governor John Connally and shot and killed President John F. Kennedy. Oswald, a former Marine rifleman, with a sharpshooter rating, fired three shots in under 9 seconds from a 6th story window with a WWII Italian Mannlicher-Carcano rifle in 6.5 mm at a moving target, and only missed once. The bullet from his first shot went through Kennedy's neck and through Connally's back and arm and into his leg, from which last wound it later fell in the hospital and was discovered on a stretcher looking pretty pristine (the magic bullet). Oswald's last shot blew up Kennedy's head on the right side. Pretty good shooting. All of the successful presidential assassins in this country were men of the left, either Democrat, Communist, Anarchist or too weird for easy description.


Thought of the Day

You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.

C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Paul Campos Shows Himself Humorless and Misinformed

In his Tuesday column, local law professor Paul Campos seems to support the Charlie Rangel stillborn idea of a return of the draft in order to involve the "upper class" of America. Campos invokes what he calls the most important economic idea, "externality." My knowledge of economics is so limited that I shouldn't talk about that part of the article. I will talk about later parts of the column, though. Professor Campos writes:

When Jonah Goldberg, a columnist for National Review and the Los Angeles Times (and a man of prime fighting age), argues that "we" should "throw a crappy little country against the wall" every few years, just to remind the rest of the world who's the boss, this "we" has a special, technical meaning. In fact it's the meaning normally conveyed by the word "they."

It is incredible to me that anyone could read Jonah Goldberg's article (titled Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two) containing those words and come away with the idea the Goldberg was being serious and actually advocating meaningless but punitive wars constantly against small countries. What he was arguing is that weakness (like we showed in Somalia) has real consequences, which it does. I guess the left really is humorless.

But Campos goes on to reveal his belief in the lefty lie that the military is full of losers, largely from ghettos, who are in the military only because they had no other prospects, while the rich, "privileged' class stays out of the military.

Goldberg and his ilk - and in this latest splendid little war his ilk includes pretty much the entire American upper class - are always somewhere else when the trigger is being pulled. "We" can blather on about how freedom isn't free, and Gettysburg and Omaha Beach, but it's the great anonymous "they" - the kids from the projects in Rangel's Brooklyn congressional district and from depressed farming towns in North Dakota, and from East Los Angeles barrios - who do the fighting and the dying.

The truth is that the American Armed Forces are full of capable patriots proportionally from all economic "classes." The soldiers are from all over, they are all colors (although in a mostly white nation, most are white) and they have better grades, scores and prospects than a random sampling of the nation's youth. The one thing that they seem to share is a love of our country and a willingness to put their lives on the line, for very little money, in order to defend her.

I really do wish the haughty likes of Campos and Kerry would learn about our modern military before they condescend to insult the soldiers by implying they are losers and insult the members of the rich, "privileged" class who are in the military by claiming they aren't there.

It really is annoying.


University Diversity in Everything but the One that Matters--Ideas

The University Lefty's intolerance for ideas they don't like is becoming difficult to ignore. A while back, lefty hooligans prevented citizens who favor border enforcement from speaking at Columbia University. Although the head hooligans are on tape and known, Columbia has done nothing to punish them for their preventing people invited by the University from speaking.

Brown (still the least of the Ivy League in my book) has disinvited a moderate Muslim, with the courage to criticize the extremist of her religion, from speaking. Nonie Darwish, invited by Hillel, has been blocked as too controversial by Muslim groups at the school. I guess the range of acceptable ideas at Universities is contracting.


This Day in History

On this day in 1878, the British begin a three column invasion of Afghanistan as the start of the two year Second Afghan War. The gist is they replace a Russian friendly leader with a British friendly ruler, lose about 2500 men, defeat the Afghans soundly near Kandahar in 1880 but still leave the country that year because of a change in the ruling political party (the Liberals) back home. Sounds vaguely familiar.


Thought of the Day

I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.

Edmund Burke

Monday, November 20, 2006


A Restoration of Decorum

OJ Simpson is not going to explain details of his double murder in the subjunctive on Fox nor is his ghosted book How I Did It (or If I Did It--I can't keep it clear in my mind) to be published. Fox and Judith Regan (bowing to the will of the boss Rupert Murdoch) have abruptly cancelled the plans for the interview and the book.


In a related detail, Christopher Hitchens, who apparently doesn't like many people, reveals that as some gifted football players seem to be able to do, Mr. Simpson graduated High School and USC (not that unbelievable there) without really learning either to read or write (or at least he's not strong in reading and writing). Who knew?


This Day in American History

On this day in 1983, nearly 100 million watch on ABC the made for TV movie The Day After, about nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Most of the action takes place in Kansas. It remains to date the most watched made for TV movie. The British film, Threads, shown the next year and about nearly the same subject is much, much better, but doesn't draw the audience it deserves.


Thought of the Day

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Additional Military Plea Bargains

Of the seven Marines (and one Navy corpsman) who were accused of executing a disabled Iraqi grandfather, fully half have now taken deals which puts them in jail for a matter of months. I thought it was more like negligent homicide than first degree murder (sarcasm alert).


This Day in American History

On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims (intolerant religious zealots/separatists, who couldn't stand to live in the society of either England or Holland) reach Cape Cod in the Mayflower cold, hungry, sick and dis-spirited. 400 miles to the south, the English colonists in Virginia have, in 13 years, built a stout, defensible fort and many houses, developed a relationship with the local coalition of tribes, developed the beginnings of a successful cash crop--tobacco, already celebrated a government sponsored day and meal of thanksgiving; and are warm, comfortable, healthy and happy in Jamestown. That may be my Virginia born chauvinism clouding my historical vision, but I doubt it.


Thought of the Day

You don't want another Enron? Here's your law: If a company, can't explain, in ONE SENTENCE....what it's illegal.

Lewis Black

Saturday, November 18, 2006


More Reason for the Saudis to Hate the Jews

The stuff we call oil shale out west here is a total misnomer. It's neither oil (kerogen) nor shale (dolomites and limestones) but our state certainly has a lot of it--North America has an estimated 3.34 quadrillion tons while the rest of the world combined has a mere 105 billion tons--that's a ratio of 33 to 1. Our recoverable oil shale reserves are estimated to be 3 times the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. The problem has always been extracting the kerogen from the rock. We've in the past tried to squeeze it out with heat or high pressure or both, a costly, difficult procedure with no small amount of environmental downside.

So the clever Israelis of the A.F.S.K. Hom Tov energy company have come up with a patented method for extracting the kerogen by coating the rock with a byproduct of crude oil refining, bitumen. The Israelis (who have no oil reserves but some inferior oil shale) estimate that the recovery process they have invented will extract at a cost of $17 a barrel, which is incredibly low compared to the cost of the extraction we have tried out near Parachute, CO.

The company estimates it will consume 6 million tons of oil shale and 2 million tons of refinery waste each year, for an annual production of 3 million tons of product.

Sure hope this pans out.

(h/t Instapundit)


This Day in History

On this day in 1916, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig finally calls a halt to the pointless slaughter along the Somme river in northeastern France which began on July 1, 1916 after a week of intense (but ineffective) bombardment of the German trenches. The Germans survived in deep dugouts and when the bombardment lifted and the British came out of their trenches and walked in waves across no man's land, the Germans carried their Maxim '08 machine guns up to their firing points in the trenches and shot out the heart of the British attack with cross enfilade fire. 60,000 British soldiers fell dead or wounded on the first day. During the four months of the battle, there were 90 separate mass infantry charges towards the well defended trenches and a horrible butcher's bill--146,000 British soldiers died (more than the American battle deaths during its 2 years in the war).


Thought of the Day

Old men are fond of giving advice to console themselves for being no longer in a position to give bad examples.

Francois de la Rouchefoucald

Friday, November 17, 2006


Citizenship Ceremony

Went to a local citizenship ceremony (at the Loretto-Teikyo Heights University theater) where about 280 people from all over the world (81 nations) took the oath of allegiance (which has grown a little unwieldy) and then were led by a private first class fresh from Iraq in the pledge of allegiance and instantly, they were Americans. Welcome to the party, pals.

The ceremony itself had a tension between drivers license office bureaucratic grayness and uplifting American boosterism (as was appropriate). Maybe I have not been getting enough testosterone lately but the recorded message by President Bush and the music video behind Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA, both made me a little misty eyed. And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free...

Before the oath, the Immigration man named the countries where people were coming from and the crowd of soon to be Americans stood serially as their former countries were named. Lots from Canada. I was surprised. But when he named Mexico, about half the room stood up. OK. Thanks for obeying the law and not jumping the line, guys.

I was happy for Beata, who apparently represented Poland alone, and proud of all the new citizens and indeed proud of our welcoming nation. Everyone should see one of these ceremonies, once.


Our Enemies Rejoice at the Democrat Victory

Amir Tahiri, writing in the New York Post, lists a lot of reaction by radical Islamicists to the recent trouncing the Democrats gave to the formerly majority Republicans in Congress (and elsewhere). Money quotes:

Arab radical circles are even more hopeful that Bush's defeat will mark the start of an historic U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East. They draw parallels between the American election and Spain's 2004 vote, days after the Madrid terrorist attacks, which led to an unexpected change of government.

The radicals expect U.S. policies to change on three issues:

Iraq: The assumption is that America will cut and run.


Iran: Radical circles are unanimous in their belief that Iran can now proceed with its nuclear program without fear of U.S. and allied retaliation. They expect Democrats to revert to Clinton-era policy and seek a "Grand Bargain" with the Islamic Republic - acknowledging Iran as the major regional power and recognizing its right to the full cycle of nuclear technology.


Israel: Radical Islamists in both Iran and the Arab countries believe that the Democrats' victory indicates "growing American lassitude." They believe that, once it becomes clear that Americans don't want to fight for the Middle East, many in Israel would emigrate to America and Europe to escape the constant daily pressure from Islamist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

It pains me to say that these Muslims seem to have a clear idea of what the Democrats are capable of.

I posted this in response to requests by my European readers (or rather reader).


Good News and Bad News

According to Ana Marie Cox: "Steny 'Slightly Less Corrupt' Hoyer was elected Majority Leader, beating out John 'Bribe Me Later' Murtha. The vote in the Majority Leader race: 149-86. . . ." Since New Speaker of the House, Nancy "Eyes Wide Open" Pelosi, strongly backed Murtha, in writing, this is a stumble start and some proof that she is not the political powerhouse the press is portraying.

However, it is a good thing objectively for the Democrats that Murtha lost as he has been an objective embarrassment to his party as he, like Kerry, says stupid things poorly, regularly.

John Hinderaker adds: "The Democrats stepped back from the cliff on this one. Two years of Jack Murtha as a visible symbol of Congressional Dems would have gone a long way toward regaining the [Republican] majority in 2008."


This Day in American History

On this day in 1812, during the Creek War, General Andrew Jackson threatens to personally shoot any deserter. There aren't any after that statement.


Thought of the Day

Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

Milton Friedman (who died yesterday at 94, a brilliant economist and true friend of freedom RIP)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Short TV Post

I quit watching ER years ago. I don't watch Grey's Anatomy or Scrubs or House, but I decided to give 3 Pounds (European title is 1.36 Kilograms) a try. The title apparently refers to the weight of the brain, because the show is about neurosurgery. Here is the good stuff--it's about neurosurgery; it has Stanley Tucci as a good doctor with no bedside skills; and, it has Indira Varma (who was the adulterous wife in Rome--and who really must be dead in that series) as a barefoot neurologist; and, it has now and again Griffin Dunne (good to see he has work outside dinner theater in Joisey). Here is the bad stuff--it is apparently a complete House rip off but Tucci is not as endearing as Hugh Laurie; it has actor Mark Feuerstein as the West Coast touchy feely doctor; it has other TV cliches such as the wise beyond her age daughter of Tucci and worse of all, Tucci the brain surgeon has a brain problem (involving visual hallucinations and seeing water drip up). What are the odds? Anyway, it follows The Unit (and thus replaces early casualty Smith) so I might as well stay for the second course.

UPDATE: CBS has the unshown last four episodes on Smith on its website for free (but still with a single, unstoppable commercial every 15 minutes or so). Might as well show them somewhere--they're already paid for.


This Day in Early 16th Century History

On this day in 1532, illiterate Spaniard Francisco Pizarro, with only 180 men and 27 horses captures the Emperor of the Incas, Atahualpa, in northern Peru. The Incas could have fielded perhaps 80,000 warriors, but, in their defense, had just completed a very debilitating civil war where Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar. The Incas had perhaps the only workable socialistic society under a very strict hierarchy. Pizarro captured the head of the Empire and the body was largely helpless. Still, 180 to 80,000, yet the Spaniards won. You have to admire the odds. Besides superb steel weapons (West Asian technology) the Spaniards also had smallpox on their side.


Thought of the Day

If the truth doesn't save us, what does that say about us?

Lois McMaster Bujold

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Some Soldiers Take the Deal

There are three or four major cases out there involving multiple American soldiers and Marines in Iraq accused of major crimes: The Haditha group, accused of a rampage against civilians after an IED killed one of their number; the kidnap the innocent guy and kill him group; the worst of the lot, the rape the 14 year old, murder the whole family group, and, the group accused of shooting prisoners (they say it wasn't clear there was any surrender). Horrible crimes, if true.
There is no news on the Haditha guys or the shooting prisoners guys, but bad news for the others--members of the groups are taking the deals and pleading out. They no doubt will have to testify against the others as part of the deal.

Money quotes:

One of four Army infantrymen charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in Iraq last March and then killing her and her family pleaded guilty today to all charges in a military court at Fort Campbell, Ky.


At Camp Pendelton, Pfc. John J. Jodka 3d was scheduled to be sentenced today for his part in the killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, who was suspected of being a terrorist. Private Jodka, 20, was part of a squad of seven marines and a Navy corpsman who were accused of kidnapping Mr. Awad in the town of Hamdania, taking him to a roadside hole, shooting him and trying cover up the incident.

Private Jodka pleaded guilty on Oct. 27 to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice, in exchange for prosecutors agreeing to drop other charges including murder and kidnapping.

As part of the plea agreement, Private Jodka testified that he participated in a plan formed by the squad leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins, to kidnap and kill a known insurgent. In the dark, the squad kidnapped and killed the wrong man.

Private Jodka’s sentence has already been determined as part of the agreement, regardless of what the judge rules today.

Another member of the group, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Melson J. Bacos was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison, but will only serve one year because of the plea agreement.

I don't want to rush to judgment here, but it's beginning to look like some of our guys are war criminals. Wanting to kill an insurgent but getting the wrong guy in the dark--isn't that negligent homicide at worst?


Insomniac Theater

Watched an old Czech movie, The Loves of a Blonde, made by Milos Foreman in 1965, on IFC last night, the first time I have seen it beginning to end. It was OK, pretty funny (but not as funny as The Fireman's Ball which Foreman made two years later). In black and white, it often looked like a modern American indy film (it had that sort of pacing and scope as well) except for the people speaking Czech. It definitely went downhill when the action, such as it was, moved to Prague. Still, it sticks with you and it's not so much sad as merely and subtly human.

This was one of the films which helped make the brief Czech movie renaissance before the brutal Soviet crackdown in August, 1968. (The best of the lot is Closely Watched Trains, which makes the top 5 movies of all time list).


Not All Quiet on the Gaza Front

Yesterday Palestinians fired 6 homemade rockets (called Qassam rockets) into the Israeli town of Sderot. That's not really news; Palestinians fire Qassam rockets into Israel every day. What was newsworthy was that the rockets wounded a 20 something man and killed a 57 year old woman. Qassams are usually more nuisance than deadly (but they have killed 9, all civilians, since June, 2004). Still no nation could just sit by doing nothing while under cross border rocket attack. The question is what specifically to do. Israeli soldiers have struck back at the rocket squads in Gaza, killing approximately 400 (many collateral civilians) since June, 2006. Mere retaliation seems not to deter, however. Is there a technological fix?

American counterbattery radar, that is, computer aided radar posts at an artillery battery, can detect a rocket flight (or artillery shells in flight for that matter), plot the angle and distance for a return salvo of 155mm artillery fire and put rounds onto the rocket launch site just seconds after the rocket hits. That might not be soon enough. The Palestinians could light the fuse on the rockets and then sprint out of the area ahead of the return fire. What would be better is real time detection by a camera carrying drone of preparation to fire the Qassams and then counterbattery fire before the rocket launch, but that appears to be a matter largely of luck. Destruction of the rocket making metal shops also would appear to be a sound policy, but that too seems difficult and a matter of constant surveillance, Palestinian betrayal or luck.

There appears to be no good solution now that Israeli forces have pulled out of Gaza and the Palestinians have decided to bombard Israel ineffectively rather than live in peace (quelle surprise). So outgoing rocket launches and incoming retaliatory raids seems to be the future in Gaza as far as the eyes can see.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1806, Zebulon Pike sighted the mountain, just over 14,100 feet high, now called Pike's Peak. The Indians knew about it of course, but the Indians aren't writing the history of the United States. History is written by the winners. Pikes Peak is about 70 miles south of here, a handsome mountain and one of the few peaks over 14,000 I've been on top of (notice I did not use the word 'climb').


Thought of the Day

Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?

U.S. Army soldier (left) from the 4th Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team speaks to a city council member (center) about a food delivery with the help of an interpreter during a medical and humanitarian mission in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 9, 2006.

DoD photo by Master Sgt. Mike Buytas, U.S. Air Force

I take it as a very bad sign that the interpreter has to cover his face for fear of reprisal. That's not good at all.


Armed Forces Recruitment in October

You'd think that it would be tough to sign up guys and girls (mainly guys) for the Armed Forces when the papers were full of news about nearly four a day battle deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan (mainly Iraq). You'd be wrong. All the branches made at least 100% of their monthly goals in the active part of the services. In the reserves, the Army fell about 35 recruits short and the Naval Reserves (always the last in the stats--I have no idea why) only recruited 87% of their goal.

God bless and preserve them all.


Kennedy Cousin/Killer Stays in Jail

Michael Skakel, 46, who beat young girl Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in 1975, was finally found out, convicted of murder in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years to life. He has been fighting the conviction ever since. His arguments so far have dealt with a 5 year statute of limitation which was repealed in 1976. Skakel is represented by former solicitor general (and 9/11 widower) Ted Olsen. His claims on a seperate appeal involve discovery disputes and other witnesses and something about a conflict of interest. Dead losers.The Connecticut Supreme Court already upheld Skakel's conviction. The United States Supreme Court just refused to issue a writ of certiorari (that is, refused to hear the case). All Skakel will soon have left to argue will be the last refuge of the guilty-- a claim that his attorney was ineffective. Yeah, that should work.

I had always worried that the evidence would fail to convince a jury that this rich kid did it and indeed the evidence is only OK. What firmly convinced me that he did it was how his life absolutely fell apart after the murder. It was a perfect 'eating Roskolnikov up with guilt' sort of decline.

The Skakels have more money than God; they consider the Kennedys nouveau riche. The idea they hired a bad lawyer is laughable. It's just good to see blind justice triumph now and again.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1889, New York World reporter Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) began her attempt to beat the literary journey of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg by traveling around the World in less than 80 days She succeeded, finishing the trip in January, 1890--in 72 days. Because airplanes have put other means of travel into a deep decline, it is difficult to imagine that anyone could beat the 72 days now without resorting to airplanes. Monty Python guy, Michael Palin did it in 80 days for BBC television about a decade ago, but it was a close run thing. He followed the Jules Verne path and his real problem was travel in the Muslim world. Hmmm.


Thought of the Day

Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.

Lois McMaster Bujold

Monday, November 13, 2006


Insomniac Theater

Watched Hotaru no haka, a 1988 Japanese anime film whose title translates as Grave of the Fireflies or Tombstone for the Fireflies, on Turner Movie Channel last night and cried and cried, as all parents would. It is as sad a cartoon as ever drawn, nearly as sad a Japanese movie as The History of Oharu, which is the saddest movie ever made. It's about a 12 year old brother and 4 year old sister struggling to survive the last six months of WWII as orphans in Japan. Anti-war and beautiful--don't watch it if you're depressed.

This was a product of Studio Ghibli, the Walt Disney Studios of Japan. Difficult to imagine Disney doing anything like this. The director was Isao Takahata not the slightly more talented Hayao Miyazaki who is the most famous director at Ghibli, who is Ghibli. I was impressed that it was not political or preachy. The voice in English of the little sister was by someone named Rhoda Chrosite--but since that is almost the name of a mineral, I'm doubting it's a real name. The story is based on the private history of a Japanese writer who carried these memories for his whole life. Rent and watch it if you dare. Not really for children.


This Day in History

On this day in 1941, while on its way to Gibraltar, the British aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, which had been instrumental in the sinking of the Bismarck half a year before, was struck by a single torpedo from U-boat 81. The resulting, progressive flooding quenched the boilers and cut off power to the pumps. All but one of the crew was able to abandon ship while the Ark Royal was towed towards Gibraltar. The doomed ship rolled and sank the next day.


Thought of the Day

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.

Theodore Rubin

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Steyn is Right Again

Mark Steyn the Magnificent has another strong, depressing column today, full of truth. From his computer screen to Bush's ears. Money quotes:

Whether or not Rumsfeld should have been tossed overboard long ago, he certainly shouldn't have been tossed on Wednesday morning. For one thing, it's a startlingly brazen confirmation of the politicization of the war, and a particularly unworthy one: It's difficult to conceive of any more public diminution of a noble cause than to make its leadership contingent on Lincoln Chafee's Senate seat. The president's firing of Rumsfeld was small and graceless.


For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn't about Iraq; it's about America, and American will. I'm told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it's steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China's powerful enough to challenge the United States it won't need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere -- are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we're bored with. Sorry, we don't want to stick around to see if we win; we'd rather vote ourselves off the island.


On Tuesday, the national security vote evaporated, and, without it, what's left for the GOP? Congressional Republicans wound up running on the worst of all worlds -- big bloated porked-up entitlements-a-go-go government at home and a fainthearted tentative policing operation abroad. As it happens, my new book argues for the opposite: small lean efficient government at home and muscular assertiveness abroad. It does a superb job, if I do say so myself, of connecting war and foreign policy with the domestic issues. Of course, it doesn't have to be that superb if the GOP's incoherent inversion is the only alternative on offer.

As it is, we're in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can't muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

It doesn't work like that. Whatever it started out as, Iraq is a test of American seriousness. And, if the Great Satan can't win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win? That's how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it. "These Colors Don't Run" is a fine T-shirt slogan, but in reality these colors have spent 40 years running from the jungles of Southeast Asia, the helicopters in the Persian desert, the streets of Mogadishu. ... To add the sands of Mesopotamia to the list will be an act of weakness from which America will never recover.


Short and to the Point Book Review

Finished Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior, with a few skims here and there, especially about his magnificent struggle over Christmas. Bill, the populist, defender of the herrenvolk, sorry, the folks, is well grounded in common sense and traditional (i.e. good) values, but his egocentric book is like an Argus Pheasant, preening and full of 'I's.


Friday Movie Review ( late)

Went with Sheila to see the new Ridley Scott film, A Good Year, with Russell Crowe and it was OK. It had a few laughs, (mainly involving yelling 'Lance Armstrong') and a good message. It was, I suppose, romantic and gazed now and again on a lovely countryside in southern France. Like a French meal with tiny portions, it didn't fully satisfy. I think that there was not enough Albert Finney in it, at least enough Albert Finney to love him or loath him. Had he made a more solid impression, the emotional payoff at the end would have been much more substantial.

There is little doubt that Ridley Scott is a great director, but even the great have off projects time and again. After leaving TV, his first three movies were knockouts: The Duellists, Alien and Blade Runner. Other highlights are Black Rain, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. This one will not make the highlight reel.

Crowe has a deft touch with romantic comedy--who knew? However, at 42, his ability to seduce apparently any beautiful 20 something girl (even a cousin) seems a bit overblown. There has to be a time when he becomes creepy old guy. Since he's playing a guy apparently about as old as the female lead, the beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard, who is just over 30, I suppose Crowe was playing a 30 something not yet creepy old guy.

Fans of the British comedy series Coupling (alas, no longer shown on BBC America) will have recognized a standout of that series, Richard Coyle, as a rival money trader (but Coyle was such a standout, all I could see was Jeff and waited, in vain, for him to be funny). Another strong small role was estate agent Charlie (completely moonstruck by Crowe's American cousin babe) played by Tom Hollander (who was a believably bureaucratic evil in Pirates of the Caribbean II and a delightful but incredible prig in the wonderful new Pride and Prejudice). Finally, the most attractive woman in it for me was the all knowing West Asian executive assistant Gemma, played by Archie Panjabi (she was also the older sister in Bend it Like Beckham). What an intelligent dish, despite the weird haircut.

OK, who's making the the CP boutique wine? I'm sure the mystery was solved somewhere in the film but I must have missed it. The central choice presented in the movie seems to have been: Sex, money and power in London or love and the good life in Provence. No brainer. And because it's such an easy choice, the drama of the film falls flatter than a crepe.

Still, you could do a lot worse for a date movie.


This Day in Medieval History

On this day in 1035 King Canute, who ruled Denmark, Norway, Pomerania, Schleswig, part of Sweden and all of England but Wessex, died in Shaftesbury, North Dorset, England at age 41, perhaps the greatest of Viking kings before William the Conqueror.


Thought of the Day

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

H. L. Mencken

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The Weapon That Helped Send the Israelis Home From Lebanon

This is the Soviet made RPG-7. We translate the acronym 'RPG' to rocket propelled grenade but that's not quite accurate. The name of the weapon in Russian, Ручной противотанковый гранатомёт, РПГ, translates to 'handheld anti-tank grenade-launcher.' No rocket mentioned.

The green part is the visible part of the warhead (a shaped charge that can send a jet of molten metal through up to 200 mm of steel). The rest is the launch tube. The launch tube is designed to have the 'rocket' part burn only while the warhead is still in the tube. This puts all the extremely hot exhaust gas out the dark blue cone to the rear (and none into the face of the guy firing it) and also spits out the warhead faster than just the propellant could do without a surrounding launch tube.

The RPG-7 is of course the direct successor to the RPG-2 which, in turn, is a copy of the Panzerfaust, a German weapon from 1942. Technically, there is nothing rocket about the Panzerfaust hand launched shaped charge warheads. Indeed, the Panzerfaust is a small, disposable preloaded recoilless gun. A black powder charge shot the warhead on a wooden stick (with folding fins) out the front of the tube. Out the back of the tube came a lot of extremely hot expanding gas.

In Lebanon recently, Hezbollah fighters could move down concrete lined tunnels and pop out, un-noticed, at preparedfighting points right next to attacking Israeli Merkeva tanks and knock them out. (They also used the longer range Kornet, Concourse and Metis anti-tank missiles to good effect--52 tanks hit, 22 penetrated and 23 tankers killed). That made the tankers not very eager to attack tunnel warren, Hezbollah strong points. Without bold tank support, the IDF troopers on foot or in armored troop carriers (also vulnerable to close range anti-tank missile fire) had to be superbrave to storm the tunnel complexes. The IDF soldiers were brave but there are apparently less superbrave ones than in previous wars so that the attacked Hezbollah strong points didn't go down each time easily. The attacks bogged down and the Israeli casualties mounted. The Israelis were only too glad to agree to a cease fire and come home. The Hezbollah fighters, having lost about a 1000 men, were pretty glad to cease fire for a while too.

The tunnels are still there, and the Hezbollah fighters have plenty of RPG-7s, etc., so the problem next time the Israelis have to attack will be just as difficult. I would propose heavier than air poison gas delivered by mortar fire, but I don't think history will allow the Israelis to use poison gas. The tunnels are largely immune to air attack, so the best of the IDF, the always victorious Air Force, is impotent. Tough nut to crack. But if, as we hear, Hezbollah is rearming with Russian made (Iranian purchased and Syrian delivered) Katyusha rockets, the IDF will have to go into south Lebanon yet again. There is talk of a high tech solution on the tanks--a rapid detection and return fire system which will knock out anti-tank weapons almost immediately after the first shot is fired. Whatever it takes.


Sound Advice for Our President

Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles has a posting that offers some very sound, specific advice to President Bush over the next few weeks, indeed until January, 2009. Money quote:

So an agenda for Bush:

Fight like Hell for Bolton, even though you'll get nowhere ... except to show the Dems to be flagrantly overprotective of the UN.

Push more and more conservative judges up for nomination and make the Dem leadership beat you down. Get the GOP base mad at the Dems, not you.

Demand border security first, then a guest worker program. The Dem win is not an excuse for you to join hands with Nan & Harry and skip into an immigration meltdown.

Demand that the Dems put realistic cost/benefit analysis to the Pelosi propaganda of adopting all the provisions of the 9/11 Commission. Veto the bill if it's not sound.

Do not, do not, do not, do not withdraw from Iraq. Put your fist down firmly on the Iraqi government about stopping the death squads, re-assign most of our troops to train Iraqi police and military and make the Iraqis take the lead on protecting their country, and dying for it.

That just might allow you to exit the White House in 2008 with your head held high, Mr. President, knowing you dealt with all manner of adversity honorably, intelligently and with the nation's best interests in mind.

I couldn't agree more.


A Post About How Tuesday's Election Was Not That Bad

I have known about and liked James Webb since 1979. He was a good Republican and a good man at the time. I don't think he has seriously changed for the worse just because he sought to run for Senator from Virginia on the Democrat ticket. (We righties never criticize or call traitors the guys who switch Democrat to Republican). This story on the NRO Corner website restores my soul about the ultimate effect of this Republican debacle last Tuesday. There are indeed good guys on the left, they just don't see things as we do, more fools they.

See if you don't agree about how good a guy Senator elect Webb is from this account of a victory rally.

He started off by mentioning that "tomorrow is an extremely important day for America," and the crowd went wild, thinking he was talking about taking power. But of course, he launched into his praise of the Marine Corps, and the crowd cheered a little less loudly. Then he thanked all the brave veterans and brave men still fighting, and the crowd cheered a little less loudly again.

Then he mentioned that he received a call from Sen. Allen, and the crowd went nuts again. Then he mentioned how pleasant and dignified Allen was, and the crowd grew quiet. Then he said he was having lunch next week with Allen--and the crowd was dead silent. Finally he told the audience that they should all thank Sen./Gov. Allen for his many years of dedicated service to the people of Virginia--and you could almost hear the people gathered looking at each other asking, "What the $#@! did we just do?"

It was priceless.


A Post About How Bad Tuesday's Election Was

If I were the Democrats, I'd cobble together some sort of response to these news stories. Silence will be taken as acceptance.

The Associated (with Terrorists) Press reports from Teheran:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush's defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.

With the scandalous defeat of America's policies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, America's threats are empty threats on an international scale.

Reuters reports from Baghdad:

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said ...I tell the lame duck (U.S. administration) do not rush to escape as did your defense minister...stay on the battle ground.

I swear by God we shall not rest from jihad until we...blow up the filthiest house known as the White House.

The American people have taken a step in the right path to come out of their predicament, they voted for a level of reason.

As I had noted, our enemies in this war supported the Democrats in the election and are happy that the Democrats won. What does that say about the Democrats?


This Day in History

On this day in 1918, the Allies signed a cease-fire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France ending the Great War, WWI, one of the worst wars in history, in a way guaranteed to engender a sequel. The Allies should have gutted it up and invaded Germany and marched to Berlin rather than merely cease fire while German troops were still in France and Belgium. The proof of the error is evident by the fact WWII started not 21 years later with the same participants (and it only ended--really ended--with the utter destruction of Germany by air and by occupying ground forces). Between the wars, November 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day in the United States, Great Britain, and France. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to veterans of both world wars. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.

I salute the better, braver men and women (mainly men) and thank them for their service and sacrifice, as all Americans should, especially on this day.


Thought of the Day

Wise men never sit and wail their loss, but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.

William Shakespeare

Friday, November 10, 2006


Becoming Again the Nation Our Fathers Served

The guys I've talked to about service in Viet Nam, the ones who will talk, told me that the year in (13 months for Marines) and then rotate back to the World was a bad idea. You spent the first 90 days terrified and then the last 90 days really scared of dying so you were effective for only half the time and then the hard won knowledge of survival and effective combat just went away. Viet Nam was hard, too hard for the soft folks back home and we went home. Then the bad stuff started. We refused to help South Viet Nam again and then we cut off meaningful military aid to our former ally. When I say we I mean the Democrats in Congress.

We had Vietnamized the war; the South had an army and a small airforce. We still had bomber bases around there. We had trained them and supplied them and they were able to withstand, all on their own, a strong NVA attack in September, 1973 near Pleiku. But we betrayed them. "You can trust us. We will help you. You can stick your neck out. We need to stop the spread of Communism. We will keep you supplied and provide air cover. You'll be fine with us gone. We won't abandon you." Then we betrayed them. And when I say we I mean the Democrats in Congress, starting on June 19, 1973.

After the relatively bloodless (for us) ass kicking we gave the Iraqi Army, the World's fourth largest at the time, in Gulf War I, we ran out of UN mandate and stopped without destroying the Republican Guard, without taking Baghdad, without deposing Saddam. And when I say we, I mean the 60 nation coalition that had fought the Iraqis and forcibly removed them from Kuwait.

Then our President urged the Shia and Kurds to rise up against the Ba'ath party, against Saddam. "You can trust us. We will help you. You can stick your neck out. We will provide air cover. You'll be fine with us at your back. We won't abandon you." And then when the Shia and Kurds rose up against Saddam, we abandoned them and lifted not a finger as the tanks and helicopters of the World's formerly fourth largest army slaughtered them. And when I say we I mean George Herbert Walker Bush, the first president Bush.

Then we tried to ameliorate that horrible stain on our nation's honor by coming back into Iraq during Gulf War II in Spring of 2003 (12 years too late, but better late than never). After a relatively bloodless (for us) slaughter of the World's formerly fourth largest army and the capture, at last, of Saddam (dead man eating Doritos), we urged the Iraqis to set up a democratic form of government in the power vacuum we had created by deposing Saddam. "You can trust us. We will help you. You can stick your neck out. We will train your new army and police. You'll be fine with us at your back. We won't abandon you."

If we abandon the Iraqis now because it's been difficult and frustrating and expensive and we are suffering unprecedented low casualties for warfare, who will ever trust us in the future? And when I say we I mean each and every citizen of America including our political leaders, especially our political leaders, on both sides of the political aisle.


Passing of a Minor Giant

Actor Jack Palance has died, at his home in Montecito, Calif., surrounded by family. He was probably 87 but the Actors Guild has his age at 85--you know how vain those actors are. Palance was the son of a Pennsylvanian coal miner, a Ukrainian; his birth name was Vladimir Palaniuk. Palance was a heavyweight fighter with 15 victories, 12 by knockout, before 1941. After Pearl Harbor, he signed up for the Army and was badly burned (so it is reported) bailing out of a burning B-24 on a training flight near Tucson, AZ in 1942. He had to have his face reconstructed and was discharged after several operations in 1944 as a "pilot in training.' He hit the acting trail running thereafter; given his size and the fierce demeanor his war service had given him, he was almost always the heavy. He was great in two good 50s B movies, Panic in the Streets and The Halls of Montezuma. He was equally good in a bigger part in seldom seen noir film Sudden Fear with Joan Crawford, but then had to do TV here and there (including a good version of Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight) both before and after his defining role in Shane in 1953 (he was the bad guy of course, but it was an intelligently guided performance (and I swear something else, something weird, was going on between him and Alan Ladd--tough to pin down)). Other highlights include The Professionals in 1966 and Monte Walsh in 1970. The rest are pretty bad, especially the foreign ones where he usually just stands there looking mean and/or being larger than life in a totally unbelievable way. The bad ones number nearly 120--that's a lot of movie roles.

He also had a minor but going career in European, mainly Italian, movies (Palance spoke Ukrainian, Russian, English, Italian, Spanish and French). Despite his tough guy screen persona, he painted girly man paintings (actually some are quite beautiful) and wrote poetry. He graduated from Stanford in 1949 with a BA in Drama. He could do several one armed push-ups in his 70s, as he demonstrated at the Academy Awards when words failed him during his poorly practiced acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in City Slickers.

One day in late 1971, when I was crossing the football practice field to get to soccer practice, Jack Palance was out there watching the last Stanford team to go to the Rose Bowl and win. Our eyes met, but I was too shy to say anything. He was a big guy and imposing. Hollywood doesn't produce many like him anymore. RIP.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress of the American colonies, in preparation for their revolt against the British, authorized the formation of two battalions of marines. Although this was the true birth of the U.S. Marine Corps, it wasn't until 1798 that Congress recreated the Marine Corps as a separate military service.

So gung ho, semper fi, ou-raw and all the other weird things the Marines say in celebration and solidarity. Happy Birthday!


Thought of the Day

A man's subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour.

P. G. Wodehouse

Thursday, November 09, 2006


A Blast from the Past, Seriously

Jeff Beck - Ambitious

This is a mainstay of 80s music videos. Not all the humor works but some of it does. I recognize about half of the faces shown at the fictitious try-out. The guy in line early (sometimes he has number 100 on) and singing away from the microphone at the end is the guy who sang the song on the album, Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie non-fame. I think the somewhat unsubtle message of the video is that singers are a dime a dozen but there's only one guitar virtuoso like Beck. The solo was way ahead of its time in 1985 and still sounds great to me.


This Day in History

On this day in 1938, the ruling National Socialists Party gave a pretty clear idea of what was in store for the Jews in German held territory over the next 7 years by an organized, coordinated series of Synagogue burnings and vandalism and burglary of Jewish businesses and homes all over Germany and Austria. The amount of broken glass on the street in front of the smashed front windows inspired the name of this Holocaust preview, die Kristallnacht. However, many Jews were beaten to death by the storm troopers that night, and as many as 30,000 were taken away to concentration camps, so it wasn't just a property pogrom.


Thought of the Day

The Republicans lost and the Democrats won for the same reason -- they distanced themselves from their base.

Dave S (a commenter at Tim Blair's site)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Thoughts on the Elections

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who is also a medical doctor, writes that the one certain thing we learned from this mid-term election is "the total failure of big government Republicanism." True, and a good thing.

I never appreciated how much Dennis Prager is better than Rush Limbaugh than today where Prager had on his show a series of lefties whom he questioned closely and fairly in an effort to gain insight while Rush talked about how the election went vis a vis him; "and they mentioned me without naming me in Missouri..." The bold ego schtick was unlistenable today.

Still I thought Rush was good about the President's press conference today (which Christopher Hitchens just called masochistic on Hugh Hewitt's radio show) if a bit too cynical and gloomy. Cassandra ended her pronouncement of generalized future suffering and doom with the cheery note to lighten up and not be so sad. OK. I'll do my best.

I hope Hugh Hewitt plays that song from Annie today at the end of the show--"the sun will come out, tomorrow." He used to play it for Democrats when we used to spank them.

UPDATE: Hugh played both the Republican disaster song (Hiatt's The Tiki Bar is Open) and Tomorrow for those deep in a funk. What a mensch.


Short and to the Point Book Review

America Alone by Mark Steyn has the REM like subtitle "The End of the World as We Know It" which is a good brief review in and of itself. Brilliant and funny. Due to diferential birth rates, the Europe we used to go camping in by rail pass is doomed and gone by 2050 (I'll be 97, if I live). America will be next if we're not careful. A depressing book you're glad you read.


Democrats Spank the Republicans

In a fairly normal bloodbath for the party in power in a 6th year of a presidency during a war, the Republicans lost the House and Senate to the other party. 6 Senate seats lost (just what the Democrats needed), at least 27 House seats lost (12 more than they needed). OUCH. There is no silver lining, because the Republicans are too hard headed to learn quickly. There has been some very bad Republican leadership in Congress in the past 4 years and those guys should be swept out (and my former pupil, Eric Cantor (R-VA), should be bumped up further in the minority (alas) leadership in the House). The only other advice I can offer is to be gracious not bitter, admit you got smoked and need to reform (especially on spending and growing the government), and then actually reform (especially on spending and growing the government).

My hat's off to the Democrats. The biggest risk they took was deciding that not having any concrete plan for the future, other than not being Republicans, was OK this election. Bold move that paid off. Locally, I have to praise good guy Bill Ritter, who ran a campaign without serious error--out in front early and never looked back.

OK, I'm going to go drink my breakfast and then go back to bed.


This Day in History

On this day in 1793, the Louvre Museum opened in Paris. Americans, dressed as if they were camping out, including backpacks, won't show up for 180 years.


Thought of the Day

Vis nescia vinci.

A power ignorant of defeat.

(former motto of the Republicans since 1994)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Report on Voting

I had a long, but pleasant wait to vote, not at my regular precinct, (we've abandoned the precinct system I learned), but at the Voting Center (District 3 sub-station of the Denver Police) one of 50 some all around Denver. It took an hour waiting in line to get to the starting line inside but it was an orderly, English type line on a very warm, flat calm day and everyone in line (all white, I have to report) was pleasant and helpful and talkative, so the time passed. In fact, it kind of made you proud and we'll be free at last from those horrible, annoying political ads at least for about 19 months.

I'm feeling pretty good about the results for no apparent reason. We'll see.


This Day in History

On this day in the Russian Empire in 1917, beginning in St. Petersburg, the great, 'Red October' Bolshevik Revolution (Великая Октябрьская социалистическая революция) began against the provisional government of Aleksandr Kerenski. The Petrograd Soviet, under the guidance of Trotsky and Joffe, started the ball rolling for what would soon become a full blown Civil War. More human suffering resulted from this than from any other single event (until post-war China went red). Loyal readers of this blog know why the October Revolution began in November.


Timely Reminder

Get out and vote today. Voting is your ticket to political discussions. If you don't vote, you can't complain about the government for the next two years.

Monday, November 06, 2006


This Day in History

On this day in 1943, the Red Army kicks the German Army out of Kiev in the Ukraine.


Thought of the Day

That's why the Church of England and the Episcopal Church and the Congregational Church and the United Church of Canada and many others are sinking beneath the bog of their own relativist mush, while Islam is the West's fastest growing religion. There's no market for a faith that has no faith in itself.

Mark Steyn

Sunday, November 05, 2006


A Galaxy Like a Tossed Pizza Crust and Other Amazing Things

Most galaxies are spiral --either plain spiral or spiral barred--(the other categories are elliptical or strange) but nearly all of them are flat, seen edge on, except this one, ESO 510-G13. This warpage is from interaction with another galaxy (not in the picture).

Our Galaxy seen in Earth's night sky (when you can see it) takes up about a third of the sky. A planet in the unfashionable west end of an outer spiral arm of that galaxy would have the galactic plane of stars (a milky way) take up the entire night sky.

But that's nothing compared to another common galactic feature, the globular cluster of stars. To the left is one of the 147 such clusters in our galaxy, M80 (NGC 6093), with hundreds of thousands of relatively close packed stars. Imagine the night sky of a planet in the center, which night sky would be nearly as bright as day here. Isaac Asimov used that idea as the central physical feature of his story Nightfall; stay away from the horrible film of the same name.

In space there is the repeated physical feature of aggregations of stars and planets, like in solar systems, star clusters and galaxies, surrounded by a lot of empty space. Just so, as there are cluster of stars, there are, here and there, (an amazing, even mind blowing concept) clusters of galaxies, like the one below, Abell 2218.


Report on American War Dead

It has indeed been a bloody 31 days; as reported by the Department of Defense for the period October 4 to November 3, 2006, 113 Americans were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan--107 in Iraq and 6 in Afghanistan. Here's the breakdown.

In Afghanistan, one was killed by an IED, two by small arms, one from a non combat cause (suicide?) and two in the catchall category combat operations. Most of Afghanistan is patrolled by American troops with the south patrolled by NATO troops (some of which are American troops) so it is difficult to make any analysis of these numbers. Last year the advent of winter weather shut down fighting and that appears to be about to happen again.

In Iraq, 40 were killed by IEDs (including mines), still the most effective weapon the Jihadists and Insurgents have. 35 were killed in combat operations, mainly Marines, mainly in the western desert province (approximately 1/3 of Iraq) of al Anbar. There appears to be a real shooting war going on there and in and around Baghdad. 19 Americans were killed by small arms fire (including RPGs). Only two died in vehicle accidents (an extraordinarily low number) and five of non combat causes (which I'd lump together as suicide but for the fact one was listed as a "non combat medical cause"--that sounds like a disease to me). One was listed as the result of a non hostile cause. I admit that I don't have any idea what that could mean--loved to death, hugged to death--I'm mystified.

Not exactly Tet numbers (over 500) but not good.

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