Jeepers cripes! Nick is back and he’s on a roll!
Archive for June, 2004
I just got my gmail account. Pyra Labs, the company that developed blogger, was bought out by Google, and so Google is giving Blogger users gmail accounts. And I think we get four invitations to pass on to other people. Chelle pointed out the gmail4troops program as a great place to send those invitations. Gmail allows for larger mailboxes and bigger attachments, something handy for troops overseas who want to share pictures with family and friends back home. I first read about the program from Blackfive, but was too lazy at the time to do anything aside from laugh at Wil Wheaton’s goofy haircut. Just kidding about the haircut. He seems a nice fellow. And I need a haircut.
Thanks to Arthur Chrenkoff’s new Good News in Afghanistan segment, I find out that my fears about Karzai were totally misplaced. He’s not “our bastard” or just-another-warlord like many on the left like to believe; he’s a righteous hero to the Afghan people. Check out the entirety of Chrenkoff’s roundup, and the four-part Good News in Iraq series, linked on his right sidebar. (Hat tips to the Indepundit, who has plenty of good stuff, as usual.
I ran into my old roommates last night and talked to the husband of this couple for a while. He’s a good guy, but seems to see Vietnam in just about every aspect of the GWOT, especially the Iraq campaign. He came of age in the early 70s working in the music industry, so I guess that’s to be expected. He also thinks the lunar landings were an elaborate hoax, so it’s worth noting that some of his opinions on things are out there. Last night he was remarking on how the insurgency reminds him of vietnam, that the same folks hiding out in mosques at night were the ones smiling and waving in the daytime; and that he’d expected the people there to be a bit more helpful in putting down the insurgency if they were in fact ba’ath remnants and foreign fighters as MI suggests. If he were there, he said, he’d probably be going nuts like the door-gunner in Full Metal Jacket.
JOKER: How do you shoot women… and children???
Doorgunner: Easy… I just don’t lead as much.
I didn’t press, but I’m guessing he’s one of many people who think that the Abu Ghraib nonsense was overblown and that we should be doing worse to the captured fighters, since they were trying to kill us and our friends. There are a lot of them, including Rush Limbaugh, who’s become asinine beyond measure the few times I’ve heard him lately. Read this piece by Jeff Jarvis on the topic of extremists in our midst. Link thanks to Donald Sensing, who has more comments. For a while, I thought the fear of Gitmo on the part of the Jihadis was a good thing, perhaps thinking along these lines. I’m not sure at this time, whether or not we should be promoting the idea that Guantanamo is a fate worse than hell among the terrorism-oriented foreign demographic. But in Iraq we should certainly encourage small time locals who’ve gotten caught up in the insurgency to give it up and turn in their handlers. This won’t happen if we mistreat prisoners. In WWII, we treated German POWs incredibly well. (At least until we liberated the camps, and you can’t blame us for that.) At the time, our hope was that we could get the Germans to treat captured Americans similarly. It didn’t work out that way. But the Germans who we captured were shipped to Texas and put to work in farms. Many of them survive to this day and have reunions in the United States with fellow Germans and Americans who they met while POWs. It should be obvious that we want Iraqi prisoners, upon release, to spread the word about the humane treatment they received; or to lie their asses off and be discredited later.
Oh yeah, back to that Seattle PI article linked at the beginning… The same sentiment is at place here. The article says that analysts (and relatives of the victims of Libyan-sponsored terror) think that the US has failed to live up to the Bush doctrine wrt Libya in that we’ve established formal diplomatic ties with Libya in response to the Libyan government’s new policies towards terrorism (formally a supporter of the GWOT) and the international illicit WMD network (they opened the lid on it, effectively shutting it down for at least a year, and exposing the members and their roles in the pipeline.) What do these people want? It is better to have your enemy surrender and accept that the world has changed than to kill your enemy and lay waste to the world. That’s as old as Sun Tzu. As bloodthirsty a warmonger as I may be to some people, war is unnecessary when your potential adversary is willing to agree to all the things that you’re ready to fight over. That should be obvious, but it doesn’t seem to be. And so I suspect that these folks, the writer in particular, have an anti-Bush agenda more than an anti-terror agenda.
Today’s Bleat is a beaut. There’s quite a few things in there that resonated with me. I like bossa nova! I ask my girlfriend what sorts of plants in my garden are weeds and which aren’t! At least I used to. Now I’ve developed a ruthless strategy that I suspect is the one she uses, although I don’t have the heart to hear the answer. If I didn’t plant it, then it’s a weed. Makes sense. I’m the one who dug up all the grass, picked out all the stones and buried crap from the previous owners. I tilled cow manure into the soil and I’m the one who keeps it watered and fertilized. And I do all that for the plants I put in there, so I can eat them later. If some greedy, lazy plant thinks my garden dirt looks better than all the other dirt in the yard, he’s right about that. But if it thinks it has the right to hop in there and soak up all the tasty nutrients from that dirt, he’s got another thing coming. I worked hard to make it so tasty. So off with his head. The weeds don’t stand a chance. Although my weekend camping trip, preceded with a soaking of miracle grow let them get another idea. I’m now looking forward to getting home when I’ll go postal on those parasitic bastards. The Bleat ends with a young lady getting an unsuccessful tutorial on why she oughtn’t wish to live in a totalitarian state. Check it out.
And speaking of the camping trip… It was naturally a fantastic time. I didn’t walk through the hot coals though. I got a fancy sunburn on my back and the fronts of my legs though. During the float trip, my sandals gouged into my pinky toe on the right foot, and a leech (parasitic bastard!) couldn’t help himself and latched onto me for a treat. He sunk his jaws in to the webbing between my toes, and had himself locked in there pretty good. Tried to burn him out, just burned my toes worse than el Leech. This dude saw my situation and loaned me his pocket knife, which I successfully used to pry the little bastard (parasitic bastard) out from in between my toes. And then I smashed him with a rock, because the river was crowded, and not place for a leech with a taste for human flesh. He probably would have died of alcohol poisoning at that point anyways. It was about 4:30 and I’d been downing Budweisers and jello-shots since 8. The trip was a real good time all around. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died before I could even take any pictures. Hopefully Nick will put up the ones he took.
The Blues picked up Pat Lalime, the goaltender for the Ottawa Senators, notorious for giving up soft-goals in pressure situations. He should fit right in!
Choice quotation: “Patrick will be in a situation where he can make a mistake now and not be criticized for it.”
Just finished reading VDH’s new column, “Three Years”. I’m thinking about Christianity as it shapes the Western notion of heroism. A loose interpretation of his life would be that he rose to the top and then sacrificed all he’d built at the peak of his mortal existence to hand it off to his worthy successors to spread the word. This is a profound re-analysis on the hero theme; one alien to much of world mythology (where one intentionally walks away from what they’ve built for others to continue). I think it might have something to do with the prevalence of dictatorship in most of the world. George Washington walked away from the presidency after two terms; setting a very good precedent that became law in the last century. We expect the same thing of men like Karzai and Allawi, that they will work their asses off to consolidate legitimacy for their position, and then to willingly give it up for others to take over. Not having studied Islamic tradition in any detail, I wonder if the Islamic hero archetype is similar, or whether one must be literally martyred for this aspect of the idea of great men to take place. Just thinking. Waiting to leave for the camping trip. Pack, woman! Pack!
Smash has a round-up on yesterday’s pre-transition violence in the Sunni areas of Iraq, including reactions from Iraqi bloggers and a must-read post (as if all of them aren’t) by Wretchard of the Belmont Club. In it, he considers the next phase of the GWOT: to Tehran or occupied Lebanon. Iran is a prickly sitch, for if we show to strong of a hand, we’ll crush the nascent revolution taking place there; yet if we do nothing, the mad mullahs will have nukes in no time. I had expected outright revolution by now in Iran, what with the majority of their military resources massed near the Iraqi border and much of their special units in Iraq. So far, all I’ve heard of was minor unrest in a few towns. Assaulting the Bekaa Valley seems to me the more prudent move. As a brief primer, Lebanon is a small country to the north of Israel under occupation by Syrian Ba’ath forces. The Bekaa valley is a lawless region, governed by Hizbollah and other terrorist groups. This valley, the Pakistani tribal areas, Tajikistan, and the region where Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet are the remaining large terrorist bastions. (Also parts of the Malay peninsula). The Syrians are already doing everything in their weak military capability to damage the Iraqi nation; it would not be a major escalation to invade Bekaa.
My department and the Beckman Institute are hosting the Ninth Laboratory Phonology conference this week. I’ve been volunteering to drive a van, shuttling linguists to and from their hotels. Lots o’ fun; meeting some pretty sharp people. Too bad I don’t have a dark chauffeur hat to go along with my black suit. I gotta split to go do my duties soon. But first I’m gonna go practice my four-seamer. Gonna be playing catch quite a bit this weekend on the camping trip I presume. The weather is looking even better than it did when the week began, a very good thing. I think I’m gonna try to get out of my late morning-early afternoon conference duties so I can leave earlier and get myself out in the sunshine in my hawaiian shirt with the coconut husk buttons. I’ll bring the camera, take plenty of pictures.
Hey campers! Don’t forget your mitts! I keep a bat in my trunk, so maybe we can play a friendly game of softball one of the days.
From Bernie Micklasz’ column on last night’s game:
Left fielder Moises Alou flipped an unfriendly signal [da bird!] to Cardinals fans after they taunted him for making a two-base error in the fifth.
What a class act! I doubt anyone would remember Steve Bartman if Moises hadn’t thrown a hissy fit on the field after not catching that foul ball. Especially if the distraction he provided didn’t cause the rest of the team to fall apart in that fateful inning. Tonight‘s a must-win (against some tough pitching).
I’ve been renting a lot of movies lately, since getting a membership at Family Video. I swear that place must be a front. I pay a buck to get two movies for a week. Right now, I’m in the middle of watching the Band of Brothers series. I was drawn in tightly with the first episode, and they haven’t let me down yet. “Replacements” was a very good episode. Now I’m on tape three. Another movie I have is Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian. Nick V recommended it a while back, but I hadn’t found a VHS copy until recently. I started watching it while falling asleep last night. So far, so good. It’s about Seinfeld putting together a new act after retiring all his old material a few years ago; also some up-and-coming comedians getting a start in the business. Good stuff; Nick tells me that all young comedians study it intently. The prize so far is The Straight Story a Disney movie directed by David Lynch. It was in the previews for “The Bicentennial Man,” a movie I rented last week. BM was crap. It wasn’t that bad. Many, many scenes should have been left out. And Robin Williams annoys the shit out of me. “The Straight Story” is definitely worth checking out. My woman slept through most of it but upon waking up declared it to “suck.” I disagree. It’s a story of a centenarian in Iowa who finds out that his estranged brother has suffered a stroke. He broods over it for a few days then decides to travel from Iowa to Wisconsin on his lawnmower. The film is beautiful; the cinematography of the midwest gorgeous. It’s got classic Lynch shots of roads moving slowly under wheel. The narrative structure is masterful. The old man encounters people of increasing age as his travel goes on, leading up to his reunion with his brother (if he survives the weeks it takes Alvin to reach him!); this drives the story delicately yet without pretense. You’ll come away thinking it was a simple and charming film with a few dark spots. It’s got a great deal of depth, although Lynch’s skill as a filmmaker keeps the viewer from drowning in them. You know when the water’s deep by how cold your toes are, so to speak. Of course, if you sleep through it, you might just think it sucked.
Check out Iraq the Model. This post praises the Korean government for standing up to the terrorists and condemns the Spaniards for failing to do so. (Did you hear about this???) The next one is a letter from a Marine. The next one discusses the first (to Omar’s knowledge) baseball games in Iraq, and says they have two women’s teams as well; among other things including good news on the phone system. Scroll on!
Seeing as how I live in Illinois, I feel obligated to write something about Jack Ryan’s prospects as the Republican Senatorial candidate. George Will, who grew up here in Champaign, thought pretty highly of him as his campaign set out. But now that the Chicago Tribune has gotten the California supreme court to unseal his divorce records to super-fox Jeri Ryan, those glowing accolades have no doubt smoldered. The story is that Jack’s got some unusual sexual desires, taking that smokin’ hot woman to swingers’ clubs around the world so that folks could watch them slap skins. Reading through the file (via smoking gun), Ryan comes across as a manipulative passive-aggressive joker, a whimpster even. He admits that it happens and refers to the trips to swingers’ clubs as romantic excursions. I know Romantic, and that is not Romantic, sir. So anyways, even though his goofy, weird desire to have people watch him make sweet love to his beautiful ex-wife wasn’t exactly the same thing as sticking a cigar in a 23 year old girl’s vagina; it’s not the sort of thing (and especially considering the accompanying weasally behavior) that I can set aside in choosing who to represent me in government. People who act out on abnormal sexual needs are the kind of fools that turn whores like Jessica Cutler into professional whores. So I won’t vote for Jack Ryan, and hope that the Republicans can replace him with someone who has a chance to keep half of Illinois’ senatorial representation out of Democratic party hands. If not, I’ll be voting for the Libertarian. Or maybe write someone in, if possible. I haven’t seen this year’s ballot yet.
I do think things like that are rather perverse. Sweet, sweet love should be about giving your lucky woman all the attention you can muster (thinking about baseball from time to time, as necessary) and not about getting attention. I would find it extremely distracting and distressing to have some horndogs watching me perform coitus with the woman who bears our children. People who think that would be fun are most likely dangerously narcissistic, and definitely not worthy of my vote.
Updated (7/24): I’m not very pleased with this post, since as Jeff points out in the comments (and I’d considered while writing it), this sort of nonsense is presumably fairly mainstream(ish). So Ryan’s guilt lies not so much in creating a situation where others would break the IXth commandment and in my interpretation, himself violating the IVth; but in that he broke the XIth as put in stone by SDB. I don’t know what more to say. I won’t vote for him. Nor Obama, of course.
Oh, that kind of linguist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Dave Barry linked to a website grading the world’s flags the other day, and I guarantee you’ll laugh at least once. (Libya, ha!) For some reason, he didn’t include the worst looking flag I’ve ever seen. That would belong to the Isle of Man. It’s like something a pretentious 16 year old would want to get tattooed on himself.
I haven’t taken a syntax course since Fall 2001. That fall I took a class in Minimalist syntax, Noam Chomsky’s current attempt to keep his sycophants working. Amritas has a post illustrating very clearly how goofy Minimalism is to someone who isn’t brainwashed in the theory. The explanations for simple things are absurdly, anti-intuitively complicated. Granted, language is complicated–any computer application closely approximating human language use like a translater or even a summarizer would be classified AI-hard. Minimalism deals with a very small subset of possible sentence types and only makes it so complicated because Chomsky wants the set of syntactic primitives to be short while marginalizing any lexical contribution to what sorts of sentences sound good. It’s been a while since I worked on syntax and vowed that I wouldn’t again. The syntax field is a hopeless mess; and of inflated importance.
The Cards open up a huge series tonight against the Cubs. This is our second to last series against them, with the final one coming mid July. That’s pretty ridiculous scheduling, since we won’t be seeing them much when I expect the Cubs to heat up down the stretch. Once they get their key players back from sneezing injuries, that is. Jason Marquis starts against Greg Maddux. Go Birds.
It’s been a long time that we uncultured Westerners have noted that Islam needs a Martin Luther, or at least a pope. Islam is a religion for which state and religious authority are canonically the same, and so the sorts of secular, pluralistic societies that have provided the greatest benefits to humanity and the most comfort for the humans comprising them are a heresy to Islamic doctrine, to be brought down by sword. The Islamic religion is not so much a faith, as it is an order of life; and all aspects of human life are regulated by whatever local religious figures make the most compelling claim to authority, even if their training is solely from internet hate sites. Every aspect of your life. Don’t believe me? Check out what the Ayatollah Assaholah commanded of his peons: (Chris stepped in this link.)
It is required that everyone, when urinating or defecating, hide his sexual parts from all pubescent persons, even his sister or his mother, as well as from any feebleminded person or children too young to understand. But husband and wife are not required to hide them from each other.
The Ayatollah was wise, however, and foresaw that some may not know what to conceal their junk with:
It is not indispensable to hide one’s genitals with anything in particular; one’s hand is enough.
Excellent. Now I can dump in peace, one hand concealing hangdown, another covering the escape hatch. And now that I’m done pinching a loaf, time to check my manual again:
In three cases, it is absolutely necessary to purify one’s anus with water: when the excrement has been expelled with other impurities, such as blood, for example; when some impure thing has grazed the anus; when the anal opening has been soiled more than usual. Apart from these three cases, one may either wash one’s anus with water or wipe it with some fabric or a stone.
I wouldn’t call my anal opening any more soiled than usual, but damn, no fabric handy! All I see are these three stones and a bone. What to use, what to use?
It is not necessary to wipe one’s anus with three stones or three pieces of fabric: a single stone or single piece of fabric is enough. But if one wipes it with a bone, or any sacred object, such as, for example, a paper having the name of God on it, one may not say his prayers while in this state.
Having finished the tough part of the business, I’m done saying prayers, so I’ll wipe my ass with that bone.
It is preferable, for urinating or defecating, to squat down in an isolated place; it is also preferable to go into this place with the left foot first; it is recommended that one keep his head covered wile evacuating, and have the weight of his body carried by the left foot.
Now you tell me! And there I was leaning on my right foot like a heathen!
During evacuation, … one must avoid talking, unless one is absolutely forced to or is addressing a prayer to God.
I think we’ve all been there.
It is better to avoid urinating standing up, or urinating onto hard ground, or into an animal hole, or into water, especially stagnant water.
Why the hell should a man squat to drain the main vein? And what’s up Ayatollah? No admonishments not to piss into the wind? Jim Croce is so holier than thou, dude.
It is recommended not to hold back the need to urinate or defecate, especially if it hurts.
Not in my car, motherfucker!
After urination, one must first wash the anus if it has been soiled by the urine; then one must press three times with the middle finger of his left hand on the part between the anus and the base of the penis; then one must put his thumb on top of the penis and his index finger on the bottom and pull the skin forward three times as far as the circumcision ring; and after that three times squeeze the tip of the penis.
Yup. This dude’s loony. I recommend reading the rest of that excerpt, which includes advice on when it’s ok to eat animal feces and boogers (never, ever when the animal has had sexual relations with a human); and sound, sound advice about drinking water that’s been shit or pissed in (it’s ok so long as it’s not discolored).
More interesting excerpts from Khomeini’s book here. I can’t find an online version… a “little green webpage,” but I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled when I’m around bookstores from now on. That’s some handy shit!
My bro-in-law has his weblog up and running. You can expect it to be a very good read in short time. There’s a guy with a lot of experience and insight into events playing out on the world stage. Permalinked on the right sidebar as “Chris in DC,” so thanks to C. Naffs for moving to Baltimore and making room. And it promises to have plenty of pictures of that Godson of mine. Bonus! Also baseball discussion from a Beantown fan.