A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

Everyone is blogging about American soldiers today. That's a good thing; we owe them a debt that, as President Bush says, "is beyond our power to repay". I agree with The President precisely, and along with the rest of a grateful nation I say "Thank You" to those who gave everything so that we could be free.

Instead of making another lengthy tribute to our fallen heros - I'm sure you've all read about a dozen today - I would like to remind everyone that we have many servicemen and servicewomen abroad at this very moment. They are far from home and doing a dangerous job, and like anyone else they can get frightened, lonely, and sad when they're half a world away from those they love. But sometimes just a letter and a box of Oreos can go far towards alleviating such things, and Operation Gratitude is making sure our soldiers get them. I urge all of you to join me in throwing some money their way to help out.

Everyone enjoy their cookouts.



Sunday, May 30, 2004

Saturday Fun Stuff, On Sunday

We had guests yesterday and spent the day gaming with them (Mage: The Ascension, for anyone who's interested in RPGs) so this week's fun stuff had to be delayed by a day. It's a long weekend anyway, so today is kind of like Saturday, right?

First fun thing: Runes! Runes are an ancient Nordic method of divining one's fortune. As other cultures read tarot cards or tea leaves, pagan mystics of northern Europe cast rune-marked bones to discover what the future held. Here in the information age we've done away with those dirty, dirty bones and replaced them with more sanitary (but still very mystical) HTML code. So forget reason, logic, and Dr. Phil; make your next decision according to what the runes say!

Second fun thing is a plug for my new Favorite. Show. Ever.

First of all, I have to make a confession: I'm a Buffy fan. A fairly big one. My opinion is that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were pretty much the best shows on TV during the late 90s / early 00s. I also think that the creative force behind those shows, Joss Whedon, is the best script writer doing TV today. For everyone who's groaning in disbelief, let me tell you something: I thought the exact same way. I mocked my friends who watched Buffy. I was like "It's just a showcase of cheesy horror and good-looking teenagers. What a joke." But I was wrong.

Buffy was a great show. Funny, smart, and, at times, amazingly dramatic. Two episodes were nominated for an Emmy, and both should have won. But I'm not here to talk about Buffy; that show ran seven seasons and it's spinoff, Angel, ran five. They had their time in the spotlight and were retired, more or less, with dignity.

The show I want to tell you guys about is Joss Whedon's latest project, Firefly. I guarantee you it's the best show you've never seen. Fox cancelled it last season (they didn't even air all the episodes they bought) but the entire series is out on DVD now. And a theatrical movie, Serenity, is in production as we speak. If you are a fan of science fiction - and I mean a real fan, one who expects a lot from the genre - then you're missing out if you've never seen Firefly. It is the most creatively written, wonderfully acted, and perfectly paced sci-fi television since Babylon 5. I'm floored that Fox, a network known for taking big risks on new shows, canceled it so quickly. But that's network TV today - if it's not 1) some brainless reality show, or 2) ranked in Neilson's top 20 then it's head is on the chopping block. Sci-Fi Channel, if they were smart, would have picked up Firefly instead of Andromeda (but with some of the show selections they've made lately I doubt anyone is going to be accusing them of brain cell overabundance).

Anyway, serious sci-fi fans should check out Firefly on DVD. They should also make it a point to see Serenity when it hits the theaters next year. You won't be disappointed.


Update: Neil and I are obviously not alone in our enthrallment with all things Buffy.


Friday, May 28, 2004

An Analogy From Dad

Last night I had dinner with my parents. They're good folks and Mom makes a mean roast beef. When I got to their place, though, Dad was on the phone with a troublesome customer. He put in a new bathroom for these people back in February - yes, February - and it has been non-stop nitpicking ever since. "Leo, the tile surface isn't mirror-smooth like it was in the model" and "Leo, there's a 2-inch hairline crack in the caulking" and Goddess only knows what else.

Now, to be fair, there was a problem with their tile; it was a "bad batch" (which means the tile itself was bad, not the construction work) and my Dad ripped out all of it and redid the job. No charge. He's taking a bath on this one (no pun intended), losing about $2,500 when all is said and done, because he's the kind of guy that sticks with it until his customers are satisfied. Like I said, my parents are good folks.

After he got off the phone with Mr. Two-Inch Hairline Crack in the Caulking, Dad remarked how frustrating it was to have someone who knows nothing about construction, or masonry, or plumbing on your back every damn second. Especially when you've basically paid $2,500 to do the work for them. My Father has been in construction all his life and the overwhelming majority of his customers are just ecstatic over his work; though he respects his customer's right to be involved in the process, he certainly doesn't need them second-guessing every last microscopic detail of it. Sometimes people need to realize that the professional knows what he's doing, has shown every sign of good faith and honesty, and the best thing they can do it shut up and let him do his job.

So when Dad finished grumbling over all this, I remarked "Imagine how George Bush feels". What these people are doing to my Dad is exactly what the left in this country is doing to President Bush (and not just the way-out left either, but the "loyal opposition" centrist Democrats too). The analogy is nearly flawless.

This President has been saddled with the most troublesome events since World War II. He has devoted every resource and made every effort to protect American citizens, take the battle to an enemy that desires nothing less than our complete subjugation, and still keep the promises he made to the voters who elected him. His administration has removed one of the most brutal regimes on Earth, likely preventing an all-out Middle East war 10 or 20 years down the road. And all of it has been done with meticulous care to avoid civilian suffering; never in the history of our entire species has a nation attacked as viciously as America was in September of 2001 gone to war with such restraint. Had it been done to the Russians or Chinese most of Arabia would be smoldering rubble right now. Believe it.

Yet any shred of appreciation is a rarity. Forget Europe and everyone else; right here in America George Bush is being called "liar", "failure", and unbelievably, "Hitler". It's just disgusting.

Now no one is saying there shouldn't be dissent. This is America and dissent is important. But there comes a point when dissent becomes sedition, and some people on the left - not all, but some - have crossed that line without even seeming to notice. Every misstep, every mistake, every setback is capitalized upon for political gain. Every scandal is widely reported by every news outlet, but few (sometimes only one) covers the daily triumphs and small victories. We're building a Democracy from the ground up for Christ's sake, and every American was warned that there would be costs - possibly very high ones. Mistakes and casualties are part of war, and every last one sucks, but the way the left is reacting you'd think they somehow expect a perfect operational record all the time. I know they're not that stupid, so I know their constant braying isn't honest dissent. It's political opportunism.

People should watch what their government does. People should vote their conscience. People should redress legitimate grievances against their leaders when necessary. But their should not be a goddamn political free-for-all just to swipe a momentary advantage in the polls.

If you know nothing about the military, do not presume to tell the Secretary of Defense how to conduct a war. If you know nothing about counter-intelligence operations, do not presume to tell the National Security Advisor how to prevent terrorist attacks. And if you know nothing about the mind-boggling intricacies of managing a nation of 300 million individualists, do not presume to tell The President of the United States of America that he is a failure.



Thursday, May 27, 2004

Freedom of the Press(ed Ham)

The New York Press printed my letter to the editor concerning Alexander Zaitchik's spin piece, "Savagery All Around". It didn't get in unedited (having worked at a newspaper for several years I know that's not uncommon) and they gave it a snarky title, but at least they had the stones to print it. Plans to fly to NYC and moon their Editor-in-Chief have been put on indefinite hold.

The letter is here for those who'd like to see it for themselves; scroll down to "The War on Error". Following my letter is one from Australia that, I think, accurately displays the mentality and eloquence of the far left.

Tomorrow I promise much ado about politics and war.


Update: I just realized a couple things. They left out the part about Zaitchik calling Nick Berg's murder "kosher", and they printed the phrase "court-martials" instead of "courts-martial". Personally I think it's pretty cool that I know it's "courts-martial" and I wanted to flaunt my worldliness ... now they've made me look as stupid as a liberal newspaper editor. An angry e-mail is on it's way, you betcha.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I'm the Stupid-Looking One

Ginnie Springs 15May04 Posted by Hello

As I was warned by another of the Blogspotted, photoblogging in Blogger isn't very user-friendly. But it works, so I'll shut my complaining pie hole.

That's me right up front.



Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"...things are different in the private sector. They expect results."

Ray Stantz said that in Ghostbusters. It's true. I'm finishing up the content for our new web sites on Massachusetts and Boston, so for the next few days I will be busy, busy, busy. Blog posts here at The Zoo will be scarcer than French war heros. I should be caught up on work by Friday, though, so my twice-a-day blogging habit will return before the weekend.

One thing that I do promise to get up within the next 48 hours are some camping photos; Blogger has added a photoblogging feature and sometime tonight or tomorrow night I'm going to learn how to use it. Then I'll post a couple pictures of me and my goofball friends at Ginnie Springs.

For your daily blog fix I suggest you check out Cornpone and The Sicilian, who post frequently and always have something intelligent to say. And if you haven't yet read Bill Whittle's Strength, what the hell is wrong with you? Go now!



Monday, May 24, 2004

Worrisome Weekend

When I got home from work on Friday evening there was a message from my dermatologist. "Please call us so we can go over the results of your biopsy". Gulp. They don't call unless there's a problem.

You have to understand that I grew up in Florida; we've lived here since I was six. Every year between March and October I'm in the sun. A lot. I go for long bike rides. I hang out in pools. I go to the beach (though not so often as I did when I was in my teens and twenties). I go camping and tubing and canoeing. I'll put some SPF 16 sunblock on if I'm going to really get some exposure, but if it's just for an hour or so I won't usually bother. I keep a fairly deep tan all through the spring and summer ... it's not really intentional, it's just that I do a lot of stuff outside and the sun in Florida is strong.

I go to the dermatologist once a year. She looks me over, slices off a couple moles that seem like they might someday get revolutionary ideas about cell division, and then she tells me to stay the hell out of the sun. A couple days later I'm pedaling my bike down the Town & Country Greenway sans shirt, getting browner. What can I say? I'm stubborn.

So the dermatologist calls at 2 pm on a Friday, over a month after my appointment. I had totally forgotten about the entire business; they are supposed to call you with 10 working days if there's a problem. 10 working days at the most. After two full weeks you're in the clear!

"Please call us so we can go over the results of your biopsy".

Sure! Right Away! 6 pm on Friday evening I'm talking to my dermatologist's answering machine, which has lots to say about office hours and how to find the new medical center but very little on whether or not I'm dying of skin cancer. Shit. Couldn't they have been more specific? Or called me at work instead of leaving a message at home? Or waited till Monday!?!

Friday night: Worry. Worry. Worry.

Saturday: Worry. Blog. Worry. Have dinner and drinks with some friends, watch the Lightning bump off the Flyers. Worry.

Sunday: Sleep in. Worry. Watch The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (extended versions both). Worry.

Monday: Worry. Rush to work, call dermatologist's office immediately upon arriving. Worry while I'm on hold. Talk to the nurse. "Both moles removed from your back show a little bit of the beginnings of atypical-ness. How are they healing?" They healed just fine weeks ago! "Okay, good. In these cases we just keep an eye on the area, so the doctor wants to see you back in three months".

So, I'm not dying of skin cancer. No melanoma, no carcinoma, no skin grafts or massive doses of chemotherapy looming on the horizon. Just a couple moles that were indeed starting to head down the road of mitotic independence. Not any more! Now the little bastards are in a specimen jar over at the USF medical center! Hooray for medicine!

Add to grocery list: Tube of SPF 32 sunblock. To be applied liberally whenever I step out of the shade for more than 15 minutes.



Saturday, May 22, 2004

To Every Rule, an Exception

Though I said I'd keep politics out of The Zoo on weekends, Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! has posted another awe-inspiring essay. Whenever Bill posts there will be a link here, even if it's Saturday, Christmas, and your 50th wedding anniversary combined. Besides, it's not like I'm writing about politics, Bill is.

Go read Strength right now. But pack a lunch.



Saturday Fun Stuff

Yay! It's time for Saturday fun stuff. The Zoo is a politics-free zone on weekends, and I arise early to scour the internet for cool and interesting amusements that you can all enjoy.

Oh, I agree. I am the coolest.

Today I present you with a Shockwave game called Blackjack Elf from Thinks.com. If you like cards, this is a neat one. You play hands of Blackjack - placing bets and all - and your dealer is, for some reason, an elf (perhaps Santa's Toy Shop is having summer layoffs again). Bets are points, not money, for anyone who was worried.

Add this game to your website, click here.

This game requires the Macromedia Shockwave Player.

If nothing appears please install the player.


Like this game? Download the full version.

PC Version | Mac Version

Our second fun thing is a brief plug for my favorite board game, Klaus Teuber's Settlers of Catan. Mayfair Games maintains a site for Settlers (with links to other games) here.

The idea behind Settlers of Catan is that each player represents a budding society in the land of Catan. You start with a couple small settlements and the beginnings of a road system, and from there you have to collect resources to build more settlements, roads, and eventually cities and maybe even an army. Points are accumulated for the stuff you build, and the first one to 10 points wins. Games take about an hour or an hour and a half.

The best thing about Settlers - what makes it so entertaining, in my opinion - is that each player is doing stuff on every turn, not just their own. Resources are extracted from the land with each roll of the dice, and all players collect if they have a settlement on the appropriate game tile. Furthermore, trading can take place between the player who's turn it is and any other player, and in the 5-6 player version everyone gets a chance to build between turns. The end result is that you're not just sitting there waiting for your turn to come around; there is lots to do even on other player's turns.

If you like strategy world-building games (Civilization III, Starcraft, Master of Magic) or the kind of board games that require you to skillfully acquire resources and construct an "empire" (Monopoly, Empire Builder, Risk) then Settlers of Catan is for you. It has The Zoo's official stamp of coolness.



Friday, May 21, 2004

Into the Cage, Zaitchik

The Zoo has captured yet another barking moonbat; this one was pointed out by the beautiful, brilliant, and mostly-healed Serenity of Serenity's Journal. In this post she utterly fails to contain her exasperation over an article by the barking moonbat in question, one Alexander Zaitchik.

Upon reading it I experienced "exasperation" too, if we define that word to mean "a dark and purposeful anger bordering on the desire to do physical violence".

But instead of grabbing the nearest chopping impliment and driving up to New York to talk things over with our dear Alexander, I decided to just write a letter to the editor. It saves on gas and carries a considerably shorter jail sentence.

Dear Editor,

Knowing the vicious leftward slant of your publication as I do, I realize that chances are slim this letter will ever find itself inked therein. It’s always worth a shot though; I’m sure you believe in the first amendment when you can squeeze a dram of conservative-bashing out of it. This correspondence might annoy you enough to try.

Alexander Zaitchik, in his article "Savagery All Around", remarks on many events and incidents concerning the invasion of Iraq and the troubles our military is currently experiencing there. From Abu Ghraib to angry senators to dirty words written on high explosives, Zaitchik knits us a worrisome cat’s cradle of opinion that ties in every last string of discontent. Best of all is his characterization of Nicholas Berg’s murder as "Kosher"; I’m sure the Berg family feels much better knowing that their beloved son and sibling was slaughtered according to time-honored tradition. The renowned liberal empathy truly does live on in your deeply sensitive journalists.

What really made me write to you about Zaitchik’s article, however, is his ironic classification of the Bush Administration’s response to Abu Ghraib as spin. "Savagery All Around", from the opening by-line to the tasteless closing statement, is itself nothing but spin. Zaitchik spins the war in Iraq as "having no reality-based connection" to the larger war on terror, and he spins our entire military as "fist-pumping" savages based upon the actions of a few. Here’s the unspun truth: Iraq is part of the war on terror. It’s a risky, courageous, foresighted attempt to destroy the root cause of terrorism (brutal and backward third-world dictatorships) and bring secular democracy to a deeply troubled region. We were all warned that it would be costly and difficult, but Zaitchik obviously prefers to edit such warnings from his memory; self-righteous indignation is easier to pass off when one can act all surprised that casualties and mistakes are part of war. As for the quality and integrity of our soldiers, there are hundreds of thousands of them serving abroad. If there are few hundred – or even a few thousand – who write asinine epithets on bombs and humiliate unfortunate prisoners, that still leaves 99% who are doing a fine and honorable job. And when someone really does cross the line, America has now shown that a healthy pursuit of justice ensues.

When Saddam was murdering 20,000 people a year, where were the Iraqi congressional inquiries and courts-martial? Where were the Arab journalists with their scandalous photographs and endless demands for answers? And most importantly, where was Alexander Zaitchick and his sanctimonious bleating about the "Savagery All Around"?


Tampa, FL

I'll let you guys know if they publish it or if I get a response.



Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Royal House of Instapunditus I: A Filthy Lie About Naming Glen’s Children

To: sandor at the zoo
From: arbitration intelligence at the zoo
Re: The Royal House of Instapunditus I

Report Follows

Per your orders dated 20May04 arbitration intelligence at the zoo has produced a dossier regarding the members of The Royal House of Instipunditus I.

The first born of Instipunditus I is Instipunditus the Younger, the dark one’s heir apparent and favored offspring. Instipunditus the Younger was raised on a diet of fresh hobo rump roast wrapped in the musty pages of old law books. He is every bit as evil and twisted as his father and is still wanted by the Vatican for a scandalous panty raid on their main nunnery. When the unholy existence of Instipunditus I finally comes to an end – probably from arteries clogged with rich puppy fat – Instipuditus the Younger will ascend the Throne of Naughty as Instipunditus II.

Our adversary’s second son is Canis Minorus Blendicus. His only chance to attain The Throne of Naughty is the unlikely event of his older brother’s demise; as such, Instipunditus I has apprenticed Blendicus to his chief minion, Aylward de Wizbang. It is rumored that de Wizbang is teaching Blendicus the lost art of t-shirt babe thievery; if true, no Alliance t-shirt babe will be safe in the future.

Lastly we come to the daughter of Instipunditus I, Hoboia Morticia Maxima. She is only two blogyears old at the time of this report, but villagers across the land of Tennessee say her evil has already grown large on spaniel frappe’ and sled dog smoothies. If local tales are to be believed, Instipunditus I dotes on his girl-child by suspending live hobos above her cradle of darkness. She then chews off their helpless, naked toes as screams of anguish sound a terrifying lullaby into the night.

We hope The Zoo and The Alliance find the information in this report useful; many arbitration spies were lost to attain it. Instapundo delenda est!

Report Ends




I'm working on my next filthy lie assignment for The Alliance, but in the mean time I wanted to throw a couple excellent links out at you guys. Both come from comments made over at IMAO; Frank's readers have been especially chatty these past couple days (me included) and there has been pith and wit galore.

First up, Frank's brother Joe recommended Christopher Weuve's Thoughts on Starship Troopers for fans of Hienlein's book (or Verhoeven's movie). Weuve gives a fantastic analysis of Starship Troopers, refutes many myths concerning the book, and discusses the differences between the book and the movie. It's simply the definitive work on this particular "book vs. movie" controversy, and I insist that anyone who has an opinion on the subject go read this site in its entirety.

Next comes something most welcome: Conservative_D found a guy who is making a movie called Michael Moore Hates America. His web site describes the film project, has contact information, details their business plan, and provides us with several ways to support the effort. I assure everyone that I'm going to find out if this is on the up and up, and if it is you can bet I'll be buying their merchandise and helping to spread the word. Stay tuned on this one, announcements are sure to follow.

That's all for now ... more verbal abuse of the Evil Glen Reynolds tomorrow. Promise!



Wednesday, May 19, 2004

On the Bandwagon For a Quick Trip Around the Block

Many want to run her out of the blogosphere on a rail. Many others only wish for a chance to buy her breakfast. But regardless of what your opinion on Wonkette is, you have to admit that she's more entertaining than a cage match between Michael Moore and Ann Coulter. Most recently she's been bringing her readers the sordid tale of a certain Capitol Hill staffer who decided to kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, and tell - and did the telling on a blog called Washingtonienne.

Washingtonienne was a busy little ... uh, beaver ... and has now managed to get fired from her staff job and annoy Blogspot so much that they emptied her blog of content. Wonkette, however, managed to copy the content and post it on her own site here, so if you want the details please enjoy. A warning though: It is adult fare. If you're under 18 or my parents, don't read it.

Anyway, I find the whole thing fascinating because a) It's going to get the blogoshpere on the mainstream news again, possibly in a big way, and b) I'm interested in the psychological workings of a young woman who can carry on six simultaneous affairs and, at the same time, take a moral stand against mixed marriage. One imagines the yawning gulf between lifestyle and belief system generates cognitive dissonance of biblical proportions. How I'd love to interview the little minx.



Citizen Sandor, Part II

Part I here.

Last time I raised some practical objections to promoting the UN as an effective model for world government. They included its inherently undemocratic nature and its failure to fulfill its primary objective, the safeguarding of human rights. This part is supposed to cover my ideological differences with the UN, but in writing it I found that what I really have is one major disagreement. There are a host of smaller ones, but those are better covered by referring you to John Fonte’s The Ideological War Within the West; anything I had to say would only be a repetition of what Fonte has already stated far more eloquently than I could.

My big ideological problem with the UN is that it is, quite simply, a victimhood cult. By this I mean that the UN, as a body, views certain groups as victims – most notably the "Palestinians" – and then bestows upon them a favored status in negotiations and is willing to excuse in them the most intolerable of behaviors. In almost every general assembly vote that condemns Israel or The United States there are well over 100 "yea"s and barely a dozen (if that many) "nay"s. Yet the US provides tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries across the world and has stuck its neck out for them hundreds of times in dozens of different ways. The Israelis suffer more terrorist attacks than any other nation on Earth. What gives? Why are we the bad guys?

Simple. We’re not in the UN’s select group of victims.

The United States has never sought victimhood status – though when we became victims on September 11th, 2001 everyone sure loved us for a couple weeks – and the Israelis have long since given up on expecting fair treatment from the UN. Both nations fight their own battles and are willing to exercise unilateral authority in their own best interests. And along with a few others like the UK, Australia, and Japan, both Israel and the US are big on personal and national responsibility. When there is a blackout in Washington or Tel Aviv or Tokyo no one starts pointing fingers at Mexico City or Berlin or Beijing; instead we send repair crews to find the problem and just fix it. Not so in most of the rest of the world. Got a famine in North Korea? Blame the US. A power failure in Riyadh? Must be the Jews. Parisian kids speaking less French? Obviously the fault of the British. The basic upshot of all this is that nations that stand up for themselves and take responsibility for their own problems get no respect in the UN; conversely, those that consistently blame the Evil Empire and International Whatchamacallit Conspiracy become classified as victims and are virtually guaranteed UN sympathies.

And the sickest part is that acquiring victimhood status has little to do with actually being a victim – if it did, Israel would be the UN’s favorite son – but mostly with who plays victim the best.

Don’t believe me? Try this one on for size: Since 1945 the UN has passed over 700 resolutions, 450 of which condemn Israel in some way. And not one – not one! – condemning an Arab country or a terrorist organization. Israel, that tiny little scrap of land on the dry southeastern edge of the Mediterranean, lone Democracy of the Middle East and the region’s most productive nation (per capita), has drawn over half of all UN ire. But Al Queada, Saddam’s Iraq, The Sudan, and the Taliban? None at all.

Now here someone is almost certainly thinking Well, might that be because the US and Israel are actually evil? If they condemn you so much, you must be doing something to piss them off.

The answer is "Yes and No".

Yes we’re doing something to piss them off, but No it isn’t evil. The Israelis piss off the UN (and the 20 Muslim nations they "victimize") by steadfastly looking out for themselves, taking a hard-line stance against their enemies, and – worst of all – winning the wars that result when those enemies attack them. The US pisses off the UN for the same reasons often enough, but also because we refuse to join the victimhood cult; the US has vetoed almost every Security Council resolution that condemns Israel. Not because we don’t wish to condemn Israel for certain things – like any other people the Israelis are not without fault – but because the resolutions presented inevitably condemn only Israel and not Hamas or Islamic Jihad or any of the other parties involved. The US insists on being even-handed when passing a resolution, but the UN rejects even-handedness because that would regard all parties in the dispute equally. As far as the UN is concerned you can’t treat the parties equally – one must be the victim.

So we end up with the absurd circumstances we have today: 20 Arab and Muslim nations of almost a billion people successfully claiming to be victims of tiny Israel; those nations using their victimhood status to pass resolution after resolution condemning Israel but not Israel’s attackers; the US vetoing the resolutions because of their blatant unfairness; and finally the UN and the "victimized" nations calling us evil or rogue or empire (or sometimes all three) because we refuse to bow to the will of the victimhood cult.

Infuriating. I will not allow such an organization any power over me whatsoever. Period.

My other ideological differences with the UN are less important and have mostly to do with its Transnational Progressivist leanings. I’m not ready to accuse the UN of consciously pushing a Transie agenda just yet, but I don’t believe we’re more than a decade away from them trying exactly that (or something even worse). I encourage you to read Fonte’s article; pay particular attention to his arguments about the promotion of collectivism and the redefinition of democracy. You can see evidence of both in recent decisions and actions by the UN and the EU.

I’ve gone on too long again – sorry – so I’ll save the last part of this rant for later this week or early in the next. It’ll be about the idea of the world-state itself. Is such a thing possible? Or desirable? And if so, what might one look like?



Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Edam Cheese, A Stamp, and Nothing

Those are the answers to the riddles. Edam is a kind of cheese, literally m-a-d-e backwards. A stamp sits in the corner of an envelope but can travel the world. And "nothing" is what man loves more than life, fears more than death, what the poor have, the rich require, and what contented men desire. (And what the miser spends, the spendthrift saves, and all men carry to their graves, too).

A couple items this morning:

1) The Zoo is now the number five web site if one does a Google search for "sandor at the zoo". Almost everything else on the first two pages of such a search are my comments on other blogs. But it turns out that there is a gaming company (a gaming company!) called Sandor at the Zoo, and they occupy the number one position.

I'm considering two approaches: Build up The Zoo with great content, thereby getting lots of hits and links and eventually unseating those dirty name-swipers ... or I could simply have The Sicilian go whack them messily. What do you guys think?

2) A quote from a recent post by SDB over at USS Clueless:

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to choose sides. I have chosen my side. I am comfortable with my decision. I do not think everyone on my side is a saint, but I know that those on the other side are much, much worse.

Sometimes a man with too broad a perspective reveals himself as having no real perspective at all. A man who tries too hard to see every side may be a man who is trying to avoid choosing any side. A man who tries too hard to seek a deeper truth may be trying to hide from the truth he already knows.

That is not a sign of intellectual sophistication and "great thinking". It is a demonstration of moral degeneracy and cowardice.

Steven was speaking about why he feels secure in his decision to support the war in Iraq, and on why one must have the courage to stand alone when one's convictions require it (sometimes the right thing, the necessary thing, and the popular thing are not the same - in fact, you're lucky to get two out of three). The words I excerpted above are so true that they need no context, however, and every person who carries a "No Blood for Oil!" or "Bush = Hitler!" sign desperately needs to have a copy stapled to their forehead.

More Citizen Sandor coming later ... stay tuned!



Monday, May 17, 2004

Fun Stuff

Three riddles for you. Leave your answers in the comment section.

What kind of cheese is made backwards?

What goes around the world but stays in a corner?

What does man love more than life?
Fear more than death or mortal strife?
What do the poor have, what the rich require,
And what contented men desire?
What does the miser spend, the spendthrift save,
And all men carry to their graves?

I'm sure you could find the answers by doing a Google search, but that wouldn't be much fun. At least try to solve a couple on your own. Tomorrow I'll have the answers and Part II of Citizen Sandor.



Back To Life

The camping trip was amazing but there was no wireless signal out at Ginnie Springs, so I couldn't blog remotely. We did get some great pictures, though, and as soon as the digital camera faerie sends them to me I'll post a couple.

Blogging will be light today as I'm still really tired (and a little sore) from four days of nearly constant exercise; hiking, swimming, paddling around in an inner tube, carrying firewood and backpacks, etc... Drinking a lot of beer and staying up till 4 am every night didn't help either. But I am going to go find something fun to make up for missing "Saturday Fun Stuff" this weekend, so check back this afternoon for a cool quiz or game or something.

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing weekend.



Thursday, May 13, 2004

Gone Campin'

In a few hours I'm leaving for High Springs, FL, where I will spend the weekend camping at a park called Ginnie Springs. There will be much frolicking about in the water and drinking of beer.

Yes, I frolick. What to make something of it?

Didn't think so.

Anyhoo, there will be little or no blogging here at The Zoo until Sunday evening. One of the guys coming on the camping trip has a laptop with wireless, so if we can get a signal out at the Springs I'll post some fun camping pictures and stories on Saturday. Other than that I expect my weekend to pass largely free of computers.

I think the withdrawls are starting already.



Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Citizen Sandor, Part I

There is a BBS called BookTalk that I used to post to quite often (there is even a link to the site on my sidebar). I was unable to keep up the frequency of my posts after I started working on another degree, and now I have this blog on top of that, so my presence over there has been virtually non-existent. I’m sure few tears will be shed over my absence; BookTalk has a liberal – even socialist – majority and I was a thorn in many sides when I posted. There is, however, one thread from BookTalk that I always meant to get back to, a response that I wanted to give but never got a chance. Now that I have a few months away from school my opportunity has arrived – and I figured it would also make a good blog post, too – so Niall is finally going to get his answer.

He asked me why I disliked the UN and why I saw myself as a citizen of The United States of America and not as a "citizen of the world".

First of all, we have to look at two definitions of "citizen of the world". There is a denotative meaning to the phrase that simply implies one is a thinking being of the planet Earth. Along with this comes the idea that we all essentially share the same air, water, and sunlight, and that anything that threatens the world as a whole threatens all who dwell here; a meteor impact in the pacific is everyone’s problem. I can agree with this idea, as it is a simple truism. However, there is also a connotative meaning to "citizen of the world" and it was this meaning to which Niall referred. It is the meaning that implies "I reject the idea of citizenship in a particular group or nation, because I am a citizen only of my species as a whole". It has a solid post modernist ring to it, and like other post modernisms it sounds smart and enlightened and revolutionary. This type of world-citizenship supports the UN as a world government and is espoused by a paradigm called Transnational Progressivism. I dislike the concept for many reasons both practical and ideological.

The first and most obvious practical problem with such an idea is that there is no unified world or species in which one can have citizenship. Since the beginning of the Paleolithic age mankind has grouped itself into successively larger communities: First clans, then tribes, then city-states, and now nation-states and international alliances. It has taken us at least 50,000 years to reach our present level of organization, and as little as 150 years ago the concept of a nation-state was very difficult for many inhabitants of Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Asia. There are still places in all of those areas where people think of themselves as belonging to a certain tribe or family or religion, and not as Indonesians or Syrians or Nigerians. A full third of our species is still trying to digest the concept of nation-state, and yet the transnational progressivists are busily trying to force-feed everyone world-state.

Steven den Beste has written extensively on this and is of the opinion that the Transnationalists are not only pushing an agenda, but are trying to convince everyone that we already live in a world-state. I’m not sure if I’d go so far, but the idea is as intriguing as it is worrisome.

My second practical objection to a world government under the UN is that the UN is an abject failure. It has never brought a lasting peace to any part of the world. It has let opportunities to head off ethnic cleansings and pogroms slip by. It is marked by corruption at the highest levels and makes absurd decisions regarding its raison d’etre, human rights. A body that puts Sudan in charge of making sure other nations play nice has simply lost its marbles (and its credibility).

Furthermore, it is inherently undemocratic; I am not represented by an elected official in the UN, therefore I will not subjugate myself to its laws. In Europe, where support for Transnational Progressivism (and for the UN) is stronger than in the states, one can already see the erosion of Democracy. Many leaders in that part of the world view the voters as an obstruction and a burden, not as the people to whom they are ultimately responsible. It is inherent to a Democracy that its leaders serve, not rule. They’re not ruling in Europe yet, but the trend towards scorn for the will of the citizens might indicate that things are once again headed that way.

I am willing to obey the laws of America and to pay taxes to America. I’m willing to fight for America, and if the stakes are high enough I’m even willing to kill or die for America. There are many reasons I’m willing to do all of those things, but the biggest is that I feel I’m fairly represented in matters of government. I feel that I have a say. As a student of history I understand how rare that is for the human race, so I’m ready to go pretty far in order to protect it.

The UN, on the other hand, offers me no such franchise. I am therefore unwilling to empower it to make decisions on my behalf.

This post has now gone much longer than I intended, so I’ll continue it next week. Part II will outline my ideological disagreements with the UN and its Transnational supporters, and afterwards I’ll speak further on the subject of world governments ... if they are possible, necessary, or even desirable.



Fun Facts About Michael Moore

The new Alliance precision-guided humor assignment, "Fun Facts About Michael Moore", is due today. So without further ado:

1) There was originally one man named Peter Michael Moore-Jackson, but a transporter accident during an ion storm split him into two separate entities. To Peter Jackson went the filmmaking ability and genial personality, and to Michael Moore went the bad grooming habits and power to swallow an entire suckling pig.

2) Moore is actually controlled remotely by Noam Chomsky via a small receiver concealed under his ever-present baseball cap. Hey Noam, how about Shave and Eat a Salad once in a while?

3) When starved for attention and food, Moore will often sit naked at the high-tide line of a northern California beach. Eventually the Sierra Club's Stranding Response Team shows up to keep his hide moist with sea water and feed him fresh herring.

4) Michael Eisner is really withholding the release of Fahrenheit 9/11 because it's his only collateral against Moore's $40 million tab at Disney's Main Street Bake Shop.

5) Moore once captured Condi Rice, forcing her to wear a bronze bikini and lay next to him on a raised dais in his main audience chamber. But she was rescued when Don Rumsfeld and President Bush managed to infiltrate the evil director's hideout on Tatooine.



Tuesday, May 11, 2004


The Zoo has learned that war was declared between IMAO and Wizbang! earlier this morning. Apparently the thieving jackals over at Wizbang! have absconded with the runner up from Frank J.'s t-shirt babe contest. Willow will now be hawking their products in direct competition with Sarah, IMAO's heavily-armed spokesmodel.

Arbitration Intelligence at The Zoo has been investigating the sudden and mysterious transformation of Willow from loyal IMAO t-shirt babe competitor into imperialist Wizbang! running dog. Evidence now points to the possibility that Orbital Mind Control Lasers (OMCL) were used.

Members of The Alliance are hereby notified of this potential menace. Remember that the only known protection against OMCLs is an IMAO Nuke the Moon t-shirt. Tinfoil hats - popular among socialists for their ability to reflect VRWC telepathic spy beams - are not effective against the OMCL threat.

Further information will be posted as events warrant.



Will Talk For Food

There's another side to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. This AP article concerning the Red Cross report on Iraqi Prisons remarks on the treatment of prisoners who were deemed to be of "high intelligence value":

The delegates saw in October how detainees at Abu Ghraib were kept "completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness," the report said.

"Upon witnessing such cases, the ICRC interrupted its visits and requested an explanation from the authorities," it said. "The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was 'part of the process.'"

This apparently meant that detainees were progressively given clothing, bedding, lighting and other items in exchange for cooperation, it said.

The article goes on to say that there was some evidence of rough handling during arrest and such, but also that:

... the abuses took place primarily during the interrogation stage by military intelligence. Once the detainees were moved to regular prison facilities, the abuses typically stopped, it said.

Okay, let's get something straight: Beating a helpless prisoner (beyond the point of a few "we're serious here"-type slaps) is abuse. Making someone stand on a box and telling him he'll be electrocuted if he falls off is abuse. Lashing naked prisoners together for the purposes of humiliation is abuse. But depriving prisoners with valuable information of comfort and companionship is not abuse. It is interrogation.

Some of these folks are hard-core insurgents and Baathists. Since we don't do the bamboo-under-the-fingernails routine, the only real way to get them to talk is to make them want to talk ... to take away everything and then let them earn it back slowly as they cooperate. And yes, we do need to get the information they have; every weapons cache we discover and every plan we foil saves American and Iraqi lives. When the chain of command is followed and things are done right there is little abuse or humiliation and no murder, but we still have to have a way of learning what we need to know from these men. The "deprivation and reward for cooperation" schitk is our only real tool for getting these hardcore prisoners to give it up.

I suppose that I'm largely in agreement with Rachel Lucas on this one. I have a problem - a big one - with the senseless, random abuse of prisoners who might well be innocent; I have no problem, however, with military intelligence officials using rough means to learn important information from thugs and terrorists.

Those soldiers responsible for torturing "average Joe" prisoners need to be punished. If it is found that there were killings, that punishment should be appropriately severe. But we can't become so shy of using force that we loose our most effective tools of interrogation, because to do so would deprive us of staggeringly valuable intelligence. We must learn form this mistake, not be hobbled by it.



Monday, May 10, 2004

Monday Blogbusiness (and more!)

A couple things: Permalinks are working now, so anyone who wants to link to a particular post can have at it. Also, Blogger has added it's own comments. So far Haloscan is doing a good job so I'm not going to switch over yet, but if things get wonky I might have to. Everyone should just be prepared for all of the touching, insightful stuff they've said here to disappear suddenly if I give Halosacn the boot.

Which brings me to my next topic: Trackback. Halsoscan has it, Blogger doesn't ... which is yet another reason to stick with Halsoscan as far as a comments section goes. However, because Blogger doesn't support trackback it looks like the Halsoscan trackback ability will only let other people trackback to here. As far as me being able to trackback to other blogs, it looks like I'm still SOL. If anyone knows different, please comment on it or send me an e-mail.

Okay, now that all blogbusiness is out of the way here's some interesting stuff for Monday:

First of all, I was getting my daily helping of Cornpone last night and I discovered that rockynogin had an excellent analysis of a John S. Carroll lecture. It seems that Mr. Carroll - who is an editor for one of the largest newspapers in America - is having trouble telling the difference between editorial commentary and reporting. Or at least he does when the editorial commentary is delivered by a conservative; the main thrust of Carroll's lecture is "Bill O'Reilly bad!".

The truth is that the liberal media, who have found themselves getting some serious competition from Fox these past couple years, go after O'Reilly because he's an unapologetic Republican and a big target. But speaking as a Libertarian and a Humanist I can say with near certainly that social liberals have no better friend in the Republican Party than Bill O'Reilly. He has come out in favor of civil unions for homosexuals and the development of alternative energy sources. He has also publicly lambasted fellow conservatives for immoral and irresponsible practices, and he's every bit as hard on the Republicans as he is on Democrats when he does The No Spin Zone. If you actually watch his show for a little while before making a judgment - which I know is a lot to expect a liberal newspaper editor to do - you'll find O'Reilly to be remarkably broad-minded and tolerant. But actually listening to the competition (especially the conservative competition) isn't something Carroll seems to care for; it's much easier to just deliver uninformed, partisan rhetoric.

Secondly, it looks like there's some pressure on President Bush to reconsider his stance on stem cell research. I have trouble with a few of the President's social policies, but this one bugs me the most. I know just enough about biology and virology to understand that some conditions will never be cured without a quantum jump in our ability to repair complex tissues and organs. Stem cells are the quantum jump we've been looking for. Some people want to argue that a frozen multicellular clump of undifferentiated cells is sacronsact, untouchable to science, because it might someday have the possibility of being human. I counter that there are people who already definitely are human who are dying of horrible diseases that stem cells probably hold the secrets to curing. A woman's body rejects and kills fertilized embryos more than half the time they start, after which they get (unknowingly) flushed down the toilet or tossed into the trash. I hardly think that being used to cure Parkinson's Disease is a worse fate.



Sunday, May 09, 2004

Mother's Day

Since the cloning vats of Huxley's Brave New World aren't decanting babies just yet, all of us have a mother. You might see her every day, or every couple weeks, or you might not have seen her for years. Perhaps she has passed on. Regarless, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the woman who fed us, clothed us, and cleaned us when we were too helpless to do those things for ourselves. Happy Mother's Day, Moms!

Today is also a time to remember those Mothers who know the bitter sacrifice of losing a child in service to his country; only the soldier himself sacrifices more. The Gold Star Mothers, who's ranks are once again growing, deserve our respect and rememberance. Their loss is the coin with which freedom is purchased.



Saturday, May 08, 2004

Saturday Fun Stuff

I've decided that Saturdays here at The Zoo will be for fun stuff. No politics, religion, or news; just pure bread and circuses, baby. I think the first item will be a quiz or puzzle of some sort, and the second a light discussion about movies, music, games, or something else that's fun.

Thanks to Alliance member aolson for originally linking to the PolyGeek Quiz on Thudfactor, which is today's first fun thing. It turns out that I'm 28% geek, which makes me a "Geek Liaison":

You are 28% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

What's funny is that I worked for five years as a Technical Writer, where my job was to quite literally translate developer's technical jargon into usable, English software instructions. This quiz is really cool, except for the fact that one of the results bashes Heather Graham, whom I desperately want to run into the next time I'm standing naked in a hot tub filled with warm honey.

Fun thing two is a discussion about music. In my CD player right now is:

G Love & Special Sauce, Yeah, It's That Easy
Sleater-Kinney, The Hot Rock
The Clash, London Calling
Morphine, Good
Liz Phair, Exile In Guyville

What, praytell, are you readers and other bloggers listening to? Comments are working now, so feel free to sound off about whatever ... but especially about how much of a geek you are and what's in your CD player.



Friday, May 07, 2004

Power Corrupts: A Filthy Lie About Glen Reynolds' First Posts

August 3, 2001

Hmmm. I seem to be alone in this vast, empty … sphere. This vast, empty, web log sphere. Weblogosphere? Blogosphere! Indeed.

I am Glen the Fair and Compassionate, ruler of the blogosphere! In my capable hands, it shall be a realm of justice and kindness for all eternity!

August 4, 2001

Today I have brought my best friends with me into the blogosphere, because it’s so lonely. This is Patches the Puppy, and over here is Hobo Bob. Here Patches, have a Snausage™. Hobo Bob, why don’t you lay your head down on this nice soft pillow. There you go.

What shall I do now, as master of this realm? So much … power. Why, I can do anything! I can use this blender to make strawberry daiquiris, and this baseball bat to make, uh … smashed strawberries! No one can tell me otherwise!

August 5, 2001

[Smash! Smash!] Ha ha! I am wantonly smashing helpless strawberries! I am on my seventeenth daiquiri! I am beyond the reach of the laws of man!

Why, I could even … pinch this puppy. No one can stop me, but dare I step into the abyss?

[Pinch! Pinch!] “Yipe! Yipe!”

Excellent. Excellent, indeed! Hobo Bob, bring more strawberries and rum for my mighty blender! Patches, prepare for frequent pinchings at random intervals! I am Glen, Ruler of the Blogosphere, and my word is law!

August 6, 2001

Mmmm. Red and frothy, just like a daiquiri. But better! Full of sweet, sweet helplessness and trust forever betrayed. There is no other drink fit for the Ruler of All Blogdom.

What’s that, Hobo Bob? Mad, you say? Mad with power? Well, I may be mad with power, but at least I’m not getting my head smashed in with a baseball bat!

[Smash! Smash!]

Muwahahahhahaha! Muwahahahahaha, indeed!

August 7, 2001

It seems that Patches the Puppy had some comments yesterday about getting blended:

“Bark! Bark! Yipe yipe yipe! Gurgle!”

Yes, Patches, gurgle all you like. Hobo Bob also had something to say too, but about being beaten to death with a baseball bat:

“You’re mad Reynolds! Mad with power! But one day an Alliance will rise to stop you, and freedom will prevail in the blogosphere! I have forseen it in a MD 20/20 vision! Aieeeeee!”

An Alliance? Hmmm. Not likely.

Tomorrow I’ll have something about, oh, the music industry maybe. Or antitrust law. What the hell, why not both?

[ed. note: for those unfamiliar with the blog wars and evil Glen, go here.]



Thursday, May 06, 2004

Return of the Queen

Rachel Lucas has started blogging again. We can only wait with joyful anticipation to see how much and how often!

I only got to read Rachel's blog for a couple months before she decided to quit, but I found her to be one of the most interesting voices on the 'net. The blogosphere will be a better place with her back in it.

So very tired. Must sleep now.



Let Me Be Perfectly Clear

I support the occupation of Iraq completely, and its eventual liberation even more so. I supported the war that led to the occupation, too, and the one before it that crippled Al Quaeda. I support these things because I know - not think, but know - that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC in 2001 were only symptoms of a deeper problem. A problem that many Americans are either unwilling or unable to understand: We are at war with a culture that hates us because of who we are and what we represent.

Islamic Fundamentalists and Arabic Traditionalists despise us for many reasons. They hate us for practicing sexual equality, and for our religious pluralism, and for our ethnic pluralism. They hate us for helping to prevent them from pushing Israel into the sea, which they have longed to do more than anything else these past 50 years. They hate us because we are - according to their doctrines and traditions - a wicked secular culture that they should have subjugated long ago. They hate us for our prosperity and power because it reminds them so bitterly of their failure and weakness. They hate us because everything that we are clearly and plainly shows that western secular democracy is a vastly, wildly superior system to their own. They hate us because we've set the bar so high they're afraid they might never be able to reach it.

So when I say that I'm disappointed in - no, hugely angry with - a certain group of soldiers and their commanding officers I'm not "bashing the military". Not by a fucking long shot, bucko. I support our military passionately. I know that the vast majority are excellent people with amazing skills and dedication. I respect them for their sense of duty and I'm humbled by their willingness to sacrifice. The loss of soldiers sickens me every day, and I hope for many safe returns every night.

The reason I'm so angry is because there are now going to be more losses and less safe returns.

But it has been brought to my attention that I'm perhaps harping on this a bit too much. It's been over a week now, and we all know what's up and (more or less) who is responsible. Perhaps it's time to let military justice do it's job and move on. Many countries and organizations will undoubtedly drag this out for a month or longer, but those of us who understand that this was an isolated incident perpetrated by a very few people should probably stop beating this nearly dead horse.

It's advice I'm ready to take.



Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Disney Censors Dumbo

The far left's Minister of Propaganda is once again bleating about the unfairness of it all. Michael Moore, having apparently escaped from the clutches of George Bush and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC), has now discovered another threat to his life, liberty, and pursuit of an all-you-can-eat buffet: Disney.

Michael seems to suspect that Disney is keeping his new film, Fahrenheit 911, under wraps for fear of angering Governor Jeb with its criticisms of President George. Disney hasn't commented so we can't yet know why for the delay, but anyone who is familiar with Moore's deceptiveness and self-agrandizing paranoia shouldn't be surprised by this latest furor. The Cannes Film Festival is just weeks away, and Fahrenheit 911 is in competition without having received - gasp! - any buzz at all. Well, Michael has made sure there's some buzz now.

Having not as yet seen the film I can't comment on its quality. But I can comment on the quality of the man who made it; he's a deceitful jerk with delusions of adequacy and a lack of personal grooming skills. Perhaps Disney has joined the VRWC, but there's also the chance they're not releasing the film because it's crap, or because they're afraid it's filled with half-truths and lies of omission like his last one. Personally, I hope they get it into the theaters post haste. My philosophy on such things is that one should never be afraid to let a fool speak, because in so doing he will inevitably reveal his foolishness to the world at large.


Oh, and no filthy lie about the evil hobo killer this evening. Moore has (more than) filled up the holding cage here at the zoo, so Professor Reynolds will just have to wait his turn.


Lime's End

Frank J. over at IMAO has finally issued The Limey his coup de grace. Never before has a defeated socialist moron swayed to and fro in semiconsiousness for so long, the sensei shouting "Finish Him!" But I understand why Frank waited so long; if capitalism had actually ended on May 1st we all would have looked pretty silly.

But, alas, all appears well within the empire. Why, I personally oppressed several proletariat on my way to the pool this morning. Later I plan on disenfranchising someone. Probably the poor, but maybe an ethnic minority instead. We'll see.

Personally, I'm glad to see the end of Tony Pentin's time in the, uh ... limelight. He was marginally entertaining in the way that all self-destructive people are, but after three or four episodes it got repetitive. And just in case anyone is thinking "awww, how mean of Frank and his readers to pick on that poor Limey ... I bet he wasn't that bad", you should remember that this is the idiot child who mocked the victims of September 11th.

He can line up right behind the Abu Ghraib prison guards for a hiking boot to the teeth.



Freedom! Horrible, Horrible Freedom!

Remember how summer was so much fun when you were a kid? Even if you were a teenager that had to work (I did) you still had lots of time to sleep in, hang out with your loser friends, and generally do nothing. Not so when you're 34 and working on a Master's degree. Damnit.

The semester ended at USF this week, so next week I go back to work full time (I had cut it down to 32 hours while in school). No more getting up at 9 am on Monday and Wednesday, and no more getting home at 4 pm on those days either. Now I'm back to 40+ hours of plain old work, just like the rest of you suckers. Until fall session starts, anyway.

At least I have the rest of today to be a layabout; I think I'll go hang out by the pool and then have a late lunch. Ah, freedom ... thou art fleeting.

Tonight there will be a post of my first Alliance assignment - a filthy lie about The Puppy Blending Nun Beater!


Update: I just got my grades. An "A+" in Survey of Ancient History and a "B" in The Age of Alexander. Seeing as that's exactly what I had going into finals, both professors could have just let me skip the exam and saved all of us a lot of trouble. Silly professors.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Making The Job Harder

Imagine that you're one of Saddam's loyalists. A little over a year ago you got your ass handed to you by the US military. What was once the greatest Arab army in the world was reduced, in about a month, to a shattered wreck of burned-out armor and fleeing conscripts. The only soldiers who manned their posts as the Americans entered Baghdad were the foreign "fighters", men so desperate and hateful even Saddam would have killed them just a year ago. They die by the dozens, by the score, by the hundreds; once in awhile they get lucky and blow up an American APC or a tank, but for the most part they just die. Eventually even these men give up and fade into the slums and alleys of the Sunni Triangle. You've lost the war. Time to go underground.

An insurgency is a tough road. Supplies are scarce - especially after the Americans capture Saddam and his bounty on American soldiers dries up - and though your "troops" often get away with killing a GI or two they always lose the fight if they try to make any kind of stand at all. You're no longer a warrior, you're a criminal. The black market is your supply line, the drug dealer your ally, and the thief your quartermaster. It's a losing battle from the get-go ... death or capture is just a matter of time. The Americans will eventually succeed in creating a western-style Democracy in Iraq; you can only hope to make it as long and painful a process as possible.

One thing you would really like to do is turn the civilian population against the Americans. But hatefully, most of them are glad Saddam is gone. About half actually like the Americans, who keep building schools and power plants and don't seem to be stealing oil like everyone expected. The Americans have their bad days and you rejoice when they do, but they're slowly bringing order and prosperity. Two years from now it will be all but impossible to recruit gunmen, to say nothing of suicide bombers.

And now imagine that an American soldier walks up to you and says "Hey there, my Baathist chum, what can I do to help out your cause? How can I help you win the civilian population back to your side? If there is any single thing I could possibly do to enrage public opinion against me, garner support for my enemy, and endanger the lives of my fellow Americans, what would it be?"

If you're a smart Saddam loyalist (and we all know how common those are) your answer might well be "Well, you could torture and humiliate some helpless Iraqis, take pictures of it, and then make sure that Al Jazera and The Washington Post get the most lurid and incriminating evidence possible."

Now let me be very clear: I'm not actually saying these stupid, thuggish MPs actually did what they did in order to help the enemy. What I am saying is that they couldn't have given that enemy a better gift if they'd been asked. Winning the war is a matter of military prowess, and we have that in spades. But winning the peace is a matter of trust, and that we do not have. At least, not enough of it. And now we have even less.

The men and women who tortured those Iraqi prisoners - and whoever, if anyone, gave them the order to do so - are lowly brutal scum. They should not only be court-martialed and sent to Ft. Leavenworth, they should be stripped of American citizenship too. They are the dishonorable of the dishonorable, thugs better than Saddam's men only in that they didn't actually hook the wires up to a battery. I despise them, I'm embarrassed to call them my countrymen, and I'd love to give each a swift kick in the jaw. They are military police going to a military prison, though, and from what I hear around the 'net they are going to have a very bad time of it when they finally get there. Good enough.

But the US Armed Forces, and to a lesser degree every American on the planet, are now left with the backlash. We now look just as bad as our worst detractors have always said we were. Bullies, not saviors. Conquerors, not liberators. Brutal torturers no better than Saddam. Forget that we know it isn't true; it doesn't matter that 90% of us are every bit as appalled as the Iraqis are. To the average Iraqi, teetering between gratitude to a liberator and hatred of an occupier, it looks like the Baathists and Islamists were right all along. It looks like bin Laden was right all along.


Americans are going to die because of this. Not just Marines and Soldiers - which is awful enough - but women and kids and old people. For awhile, at least, the terrorist's ranks are going to swell with new recruits, and they'll bomb tanks in Iraq and embassies in Africa and maybe buildings in New York, too. We're all going to pay the price for this. Half of the Americans who die in terrorist-related activity over the next few years will have the MPs of the Abu Ghraib prison to blame for it ... or rather, their families will.




Okay, so I'm way behind on posting now. Saturday night ended up being more than just a couple beers with a buddy; it turned into many drinks with several friends at a casino ... till 6 am. Ugh. I only go out and whoop it up like that once in a while nowadays, so those of you with puritanical dispositions will just have to get past my once-a-month debauchery. Believe me, I am much improved over my college days.

So, first off, some news: The beautiful and well-armed Sarah of Mountaineer Musings has won Frank J.'s t-shirt babe contest. Long may she reign. Some of the runners-up include Serenity of Serenity's Journal and The Whomping Willow's uber-lass Willow.

Two who deserve special mention, however, are BerkleyChick and BerkleyGirl, who write for The California Patriot. These young ladies are manning the fort of liberty in the socialist wasteland of Berkley, California, so go give Reva and Carissa a read.

Secondly, the hole dug for all of us by a few cruel and irresponsible bastards is just getting deeper and deeper. I'll have a whole post on the subject later this afternoon, so for now just read the links and try not to vomit on your keyboard in disgust.

Last but certainly not least, Bill Whittle has a new post up. It's not one of his awe-inspiring essays. It is, in fact, about airplanes and his recent trip to Lakeland, FL for the big air show they have every year (Lakeland is about a 45-minute drive from my house, so I'm familiar with it). But I know I have a least one reader who is into all things aeronautical and Bill is interesting to read even when he's being an aviation geek, so linkage has been provided.

Later today there will be a post with much anger and soapbox-standing. Stay tuned.



Saturday, May 01, 2004

Hi all, and thanks to everyone who e-mailed me with advice and support. I just got back from West Palm Beach (we helped a good friend move out there) and now I'm off to meet a buddy for a couple beers.

Tomorrow (late tomorrow) I'll get to posting and responding to e-mails.