February 2003

02.28.03 Let me preface this by saying it is wrong to perpetuate stereotypes about a religion, nation, ethnic or sub-ethnic group - unless it is more or less true. With that said we can now safely make fun of the French.

02.27.03 Getting late in the morning... have to complete blog entry so I can stain coffee table... brain locked... must come up with witty comparison of Bush's relationship with Afghanistan to deadbeat dad... ah, fuck it - you're on your own.

02.26.03 You know, this whole Iraq thing is all academic because we're soon going to be conquered by the aquatic alien saucer men inhabiting thermally warmed oceans underneath the kilometers-thick icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa. Sure - laugh it up smartass, but we'll see who laughs last when someone is caught without UFO abduction insurance.

02.25.03 "Sell a bong over the internet; go to jail". Attorney General John Ashcroft has taken a taken a break from the boring task of hunting Osama bin Laden to go after the drug-paraphenalia industry that is rotting the moral fiber of our nation's youth. As everyone knows it is far more dangerous to go after an aging hippy in a head shop with a computer than a large cocaine smuggler.
"The illegal drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without the knowledge of those families." Ashcroft said, specifically referring to the fiendish siren-like call of the internet, which will soon turn our children into dope-smoking, devil-worshiping, pedophile terrorists if the FBI is not immediatley given the ability to monitor all online traffic.
I'll tell you what Bubba - if you think this in part of a science project that Bubba Jr. is putting together in his room, you're way too stupid to have a computer connected to the internet, much less engage in the business of producing little duplicates of you. No wonder the little bastard is free-basing and listening to Marilyn Manson.

02.24.03 The North Korean communist party newspaper is urging - and by urging I think they mean "do it or we send you to re-education camp" - the citizenry and soldiery to respond to imperialist yankee running dog aggression by breaking into song. That's right - if they sing "Long Trip for Army-based Leadership" loudly enough it will have the power to fill their enemies with "mortal terror".
That's nice; kind of a Dr. Suess Who-ville type approach to domestic defense. Someone please draw this -

A Grinch-like George Bush, standing on the peak of Mount Paektu about to throw off all of Kim Jong Il's Taepo-dong missles, listens - expecting to hear the sound of North Korea's proletariat crying "boo-hoo". Instead he hears them singing and realizes that Juche doesn't come from a nuclear plant at Yongbyon - it comes from the revolutionary thought of the Worker's Party and the Great Leader.
And what happened then...? Well...in Pyongyang they say that the Bush's small heart grew three sizes that day!

02.21.03 I've been debating the inevitable invasion of Iraq with a friend who is very committed to opposing military action. My major argument for invasion is that the government that will replace Saddam will see the Iraqi people far better off than they have been under his dictatorship. My friend's argument has been that he doesn't believe this will happen, and the US will just leave the country in a ruin with no one to pick up the pieces.
Just in time for my side of the debate comes an official plan for a post-Saddam Iraq. The plan is to have the country immediately governed by the US military, under the command of Gen. Tommy Franks, with retired Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner in charge of humanitarian relief. The US is already working with other nations and the U.N. World Food Program to help with humanitarian relief. Once security and order are established an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be-named American civilian of stature will take charge until a representative Iraqi government can take over. The plan borrows from the de-nazification program implemented in post-World War II Germany in that current Iraqi government officials will be allowed to continue in their current positions, unless they are too "tainted" by their ties with Saddam's Ba'ath regime.
The plan is being opposed by the opposition Iraq National Congress (INC), a view echoed by Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh who said "I don't think they (the US) or anyone else should discuss how Iraq is governed in the future. That's for Iraq to discuss." Lindh should consider though the less than high esteem that the INC is held with by many foreign policy analysts, and that two of the largest component groups of the INC - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) engaged in a civil war in northern Iraq in 1996. The worst was to come when the KDP briefly allied with Saddam's forces against their rivals. Are these the kind of people Lindh and others like her want to place in charge of a post-Saddam Iraq? If views like her's won out I would hope her mush-headed moral relativism would be a comfort to her when Iraq descended into civil war and tribalism. Jalal Talabani, head of the PUK has voiced his opposition to the US plan also but said "I don't think there will be an earthquake if America ruled Iraq for one or two years."
The Bush Administration has said it will not recognize any provisional government organized by opposition groups. I'm encouraged that it seems they did learn something from their mistakes in Afghanistan, and are intent on not letting warlordism establish a foothold in a postwar Iraq.

02.20.03 Idleworm has made a really nice Flash game/satirical cartoon of what he thinks Gulf War 2 could be like. I don't agree with his predictions - he's admittedly working from an anti-war viewpoint - but none of it is beyond belief, especially if the ham-handed Rumsfeld school of foreign policy gets its way.
I'm not really pro-war in that I support the Bush Administration and its reasons for wanting to topple Saddam; I just think its time we started getting rid of dictators who menace their neighbors, kill their own people, and threaten world peace. It's the 21st century - high past time we put an end to that kind of shit. If you're a moral relativist who thinks "who are we to judge who is and isn't a dictator" I would reply that you do make a good point about US foreign policy during the Cold War, but if you think because of that we have no basis for judging Saddam Hussein as an intolerable dictator then you need to lay off the crack pipe. From the diplomatic perspective, could he be contained indefinitely? Sure, but why should we allow him to continue to oppress his people, destabilize the region, and god-knows-who take his place when and if he and his supporters are finally overthrown.
Primarily though I believe the best reason for doing it is that the people of Iraq will be better off for it in the long run.

02.19.03 When I want to topple a corrupt West African dictatorship or need a brisk aftershave I turn to Kalashnikov - The 83 year old inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov has signed a deal with a small German company to produce a line of consumer goods bearing the Kalashnikov name. That's right homey - soon you'll be able to biz-ust ciz-aps with your AK rifle, while wearing an AK watch, sippin' on a gin and AK energy drink.

02.17.03 Lest we forget that all religions - not just Islam - have their loony conservative fringe groups:

Last week in an ultra-orthodox Jewish enclave of Jerusalem a postal worker delivering government produced "Information About Civil Defense for the Family" brochures had his ass kicked, his brochures ripped up, and was threatened with another ass-kicking if he tried to deliver more of the brochures. The problem? The cover of the brochure features a picture of a smiling woman wearing a turtleneck sweater, but no head covering, which the residents of the neighborhood are pretty sure that God said is a bad thing. Maybe they should change the name of the neighborhood from Mea Shearim to Little Kabul - except that doesn't work because women can now walk around Kabul without having to cover their heads.

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day either, but members of the Hindu nationalist group Shiv Sena went a little too far, looting shops selling Valentine's Day cards and gifts, then burning the offending items in bonfires. In some instances they even harassed couples holding hands, because as everyone knows, that's how non-Hindu cooties get spread.

No Christians have been guilty of any bug-shit crazy behavior worthy of making the news in the last few week, but just give them some time.

I have yet to hear of anyone being kidnapped by a gang of Buddhist monks who force them to drink a nice cup of tea, and reflect on the need to practice compassion for other living creatures - although I'm sure it could happen. To be fair though, in Japan in 1469 the Tendai warrior-monks of Mount Hiei went on a rampage and burned down much of the aristocratic section of the imperial capital of Kyoto.

02.14.03 I suspected that Washington State politics might be kind of boring, but I've lived here less than two months and so far this is what we've got.
A Republican State Senator - who we'll just call Senator Gun Nut for reasons you will see - had both of her staffers quit on the second day of the session because 1) if you can judge by the number of staffers who have quit on her she is a real pain in the ass to work for, and 2) she reportedly brandished a gun during a disagreement with one of the departed staffers. If that's not good enough she then immediately hired a staffer with a questionable ethics history, who subsequently has been dismissed for retrieving emails sent by the two departed staffers. Senator Gun Nut now claims that there's a big power struggle going on in the Republican Caucus and she just may jump ship to become an independent or a Dem. Now you might say "why would the Dems want to take some nutjob like that on board?" It just so happens that the Senate is divided 25 to 24 in favor of the Republicans. To add icing to the cake there is also a bill to change the primary date to allow more time for recounts and mail-in ballots to be counted, but guess who is on the committee that the bill has to get through, and has indicated that she has "been given no particular reason why it should be changed"? That's right - Senator Gun Nut.
To make things even more interesting there is dispute over the wording of a new citizen initiative that would issue a resolution declaring a noted Washington State anti-tax activist a "horse's ass". The problem is that the State Attorney General refuses to use the word "ass" because it would blemish the sanctity of the process. The real problem is you have someone abusing the process to make a point about someone else abusing the process, and the State AG is concerned about the sanctity of the process. I love democracy in action.

02.13.03 Even if you don't agree with all his views on politics, philosophy, and economics - Blupete, Nova Scotian lawyer, lecturer, and man of letters has written up some kick-ass biographies of a good number of noted jurists, writers, philosophers, scientists, and economists. It's a good site to just browse around in.

02.12.03 I just found a statement from Azzam Publications, an honest-to-Allah al Qaeda propaganda organization "unmasking" the unofficial al Qaeda propaganda website, Jihad Unspun, as a front for the CIA. My favorite part from the Azzam statement is -

"As for George Tenet, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, we say: Perish in your rage for all your attempts to discredit the Jihad and weaken support amongst the Muslims for the Mujahideen will be in vain. Allah has exposed your plans and he will help the believers against the disbelievers, hypocrites and their allies, no matter what 'intelligent' plans your spin-doctors come up with, for our Lord has promised us: 'Never will Allah allow the disbelievers a upper-hand over the believers.' [Quran 4:141]".

Man alive - them little al Qaeda fuckers sure can talk purty when they ain't climbing around on monkey bars for the cameras!

02.11.03 With tiny Belgium making the news by being a pain in the ass (along with Franco-germania, formerly known as France and Germany) of the rest of NATO it seems like the time to talk about one of my favorite paintings - Gustave Wappers' "Episode During the Belgian Revolution of 1830". It's romanticism at its best - an overwrought scene of common citizens arming themselves, rallying around the flag and the bodies of their martyred comrades to kick the asses of their villainous Dutch oppressors. The Belgian Revolution of 1830 is one of the only revolutions in history that was sparked by an opera performance. It is also interesting in relation to current and recent history.
At the time of the revolution, Belgium was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands - an artificial country that had been created at the Congress of Vienna in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars - kind of like all the little countries created in Africa and elsewhere as the colonial period wound its way down. If you couldn't keep the Belgians and the Dutch together as a nation, should places like Iraq, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone really be expected to hold together as nations?

02.05.03 Well, I'm convinced. Faced with the immediate threat of attack by the U.S. Saddam still thinks he can fool the weapons inspectors and get away with processing chemical and biological weapons, while at the same time developing a nuclear weapons program. There's evidence for this and still the majority of the U.N. Security Council still seems to think he'll undergo some Grinch-like change of heart in the 11th hour. He will never stop as long as he is in power. If the U.S. does not take unilateral action the UN Security Council will have to agree to multilateral action at some point. Eventually someone is going to have to kick his ass. It is the only possible outcome. Why wait?

02.04.03 I was looking for some material on a program I saw on Discovery last night about how people related to Australian Aborigines may have settled in the Americas during the last Ice Age before the ancestors of American Indians, but were wiped out and absorbed by the latter in a frenzy of xenophobia we normally associate with Whitey. It was going to lead into a brilliant essay on race, xenophobia, cultural superiority, and moral relativism - but instead of the Discovery Channel stuff I found a very angry black man - he'll do.

02.03.03 I finally join the twenty-first century by buying my first DVD and now they tell me there's this thing called "DVD rot" that may or may not be caused by poorly designed cases, but most likely is a manufacturing fault. Apparently if you're an Australian failure analysis engineer with access to an optical microscope, the producers will replace your DVDs, otherwise you're shit outta luck. Well I'll tell you what's gonna happen if my fuckin' DVDs start "delaminating" - I'm gonna jump on the inevitable class-action lawsuit juggernaut, and we're gonna crush your nuts beneath our trundling wheels! You ain't gonna have a pot to piss in when we get through with you, Bubba! God bless America!

02.01.03 I saw a good documentary on Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett on the History Channel the other day. The section on Boone made reference to one of my favorite unknown American historical figures - Simon Girty. Girty was a frontiersman very similar to Boone, but one who developed a very close attachment to the Indian nations of the frontier. At 14 he was captured and adopted by Indians, and lived with them for 8 years before returning to White society. Though at first on the Patriot side during the American Revolution he switched to the English side for various reasons - although most historians who have studied him would actually say he switched to the Indian side. Those were the people with whom his sympathies lay and he would spend most of the rest of his life among them or in close relation to them. Not surprisingly Girty has been branded a traitorous renegade and savage - and that's that was echoed by the documentary, which portrayed Girty and Boone as opposite sides of the same coin. But a case could be made for Daniel Boone having turned his back on his own country, for while was during his lifetime he was accused of treason and exonerated, during his later years he moved to MIssouri, which at that time was under Spanish rule and granted land and an administrative title by the Spanish Governor. When the territory was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, Boone's land grant was declared void, although later Congress did grant him rights to some of his former land.
The most damning evidence against Girty, other than the fact of his turning his back on White society, was the testimony of a captive who claimed he stood and actually took pleasure while another captive was tortured and burned by Indians. This testimony is countered by another captive there at the time who claimed that Girty tried to purchase the condemned man's life with all his possession, and didn't quit arguing for his release until the Indians threatened to kill Girty. This testimony is strengthened by many more eye-witness accounts of captives who say that Girty acted in a compassionate manner toward them. Probably one of the worst things that can be said about Girty is that along with almost all of his brothers he succumbed to alcoholism and was by all accounts a very mean drunk.
If you're interested in Girty, probably the most even handed, albeit fictionalized account of his life is the graphic novel Wilderness: The True Story of Simon Girty by Timothy Truman.

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