Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Posting Slowdown

Some of y'all may have noticed the lack of posts from me over the last few days. I must apologize. I'm currently in New Orleans with family and lo and behold, Sprout's hand me down Sony Vaio doesn't want to work. So, while I try to figure out how to use my wireless connection on an ancient laptop, or until I find a library with public computers, posts will be very slow in coming.

In the meantime, How Bout Dem Saints? Any of y'all watch Monday Night Football? Instructions came through on the radio Monday morning that folks in town ought not wear red (I was told this meant me), and when I went with my cousin to pick her son up from school, there was a small army of younglings clad in Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush regalia. "Go, Saints!!" and "Who Dat, Who Dat!?!" chants were ringing through the cafeteria.

That was something to see, let me tell ya.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mr. Evil at the UN

Of course, we've all heard the Dubya = Devil comments from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez by now. RightonPeachtree has a hilarious interpretation of this, as did the Daily Show, who actually took a phone interview from the Devil to get his take on the comparison. (Can't find the video just yet...)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Still More Dangerous

I'll believe it when I see the transcript, but if Pakistan's President is saying he's helping us in the War on Terror so we won't bomb them, that ain't a good thing.

The Pakistani leader, whose remarks were distributed to the media by CBS, said he reacted to the threat in a responsible way. “One has to think and take actions in the interest of the nation, and that’s what I did,” Musharraf said.

Musharraf “saw the wisdom in the decision he took,” Powell said.
For those of you keeping score at home, Pakistan is the Muslim nation that does have 'the bomb.' And they've been acting squirrel-ly of late.

I wonder how much help, how much of a "steadfast partner" in the GWOT Pakistan really is.

Dreaming Big

The Unity government of Palestine renouncing violence and recognizing Israel? Let us hope there is some serious substance here. I know we've had plenty of false alarms and near misses, though.

Maybe this has more to do with the very real spectre of war looming too close for comfort for those in power, who have benefited in the past from strife:

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Thursday that Arab countries have reached a “very significant” consensus after the recent war in Lebanon that there must be a new start with fresh ideas to the Middle East peace process.
Maybe they've realized that continued anarchy and chaos and violence is only going to lead to the kind of instability that generally leads to overthrows...

Design by Committee

(And why its a bad idea.) This stuff from the AJC is hilarious. Hillary gets the hattip, and the roundup of hilarious suggestions. Like this one, looking fresh:



As if we didn't have enough trouble with the flag...

We have so many personalized plates in Georgia, I thought we had all just agreed to disagree. In Georgia, you could go with the plain license plate, and then add garnish to your liking. I have an eagle, stars & stripes on mine in support of wildlife. You can also get deer, turkeys, flowers, dogs & cats, the 'educator's apple,' the 'educator' title, the National Guard tag, the Georgia Bulldog, the Tech GT, the Georgia Southern Eagle, a "Sons of Confederate Veterans" flag - and that's just in South Georgia.

If they wanted to really redesign the liscence plate, they'd make it simpler and add even more garnishes (and make waaay more money). As a practical matter of purpose, I wish we'd add high school tags (like the college tags), with the money going right to the school in question. My high school could have a pitchfork (Glynn Academy Red Terrors). Sweet.

But why stop there? We could do so many neat things. Hurricane symbols for those of us who live on the coast with the money going to coastal restoration. An Okefenokee logo to help keep up maintenance in the swamp. MLK's face for civil rights, Ray Charles' face for music history. The list goes on and on, and you know people would pay every year for a more personalized logo on their plate.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Reasonability and you...

So, say I were to make an untoward remark about Yech fans, or the Cheeto-heads in Knoxville. Say these remarks incited much swearing, gnashing of teeth, and burning in effigy. Say I apologise for these untoward remarks, truly, madly, and deeply. Is the proper response to this apology to:

A) Accept the apology and move on with your life?
B) Not accept the apology, and harbor many bad feelings towards me and my bretheren?

or,

C) Demand that I immediately leave the Holy House of Sanford and redecorate in either puke orange or puke yellow?

Apparrently, if you're Mohammed Gaddafi, son of Lybian 'leader' Muammar Gaddafi, C is the only obvious choice.

But it's a religion of tolerance and peace...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Counterrevolution: Preparations

Thinking about the world situation today has me more than a little worried. With the current agitation re: the Pope's comments and continued anarchy and chaos in the third world, I think we now have to begin entertaining thoughts that radicals in the Islamic world and misunderstandings in the Western world may saber rattle all of us into outright war.

Some may say that the War on Terror is World War 3. Some say that the War on Terror is World War 4, and that the Cold War was World War 3. I think, if the world continues on its current path, that particular semantic argument will be absolutely put to rest by the sheer unimaginable horror an actual World War III.

What is true is that the chaos in the third world is increasing, and the ability to deal with that chaos is decreasing. An imbalance of power currently exists, and America has been unable to effectively apply her weight of influence as a leader.

So now that I've looked at this, I take what I know of military history and world history and being applying this knowledge to the current situation. It is an academic argument thread, to be sure, but one thing has always rung true about the lead ups to America's great wars: we were not prepared for them when they started.

Right now, America is not prepared for a conventional worldwide war. Luckily, we are more prepared than the next, like, eighteen nations, and we've proven time and time again that we can become prepared and adapt rather quickly.

Here are some things I think we need to begin thinking about in regards to our preparedness in dealing with the world situation:

1. World War is not inevitable. At the current time, we can still apply diplomacy, economics, culture and international police action in order to move away from the 'clash of civilizations' radical punditry seems to want us to engage in. The fuse is lit, to be sure, but it ain't made it to the poweder keg just yet.

2. Chaos in the Third World is the breeding ground for terrorism; religious strife is the result of this as well as the banner under which popular support is rallied. The West cannot physically take and hold the whole of the Third World by itself.

3. America is not prepared, materially or psychologically to fight either a conventional world war or an ideological struggle. Any way you cut it, American democracy is divided almost 50-50 on any direction (or non direction) this nation plans to take. Here are some bi-partisan concepts I think should be considered:

A. National Serivce. Military, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Education, Medicine, Infrastructure. Reinstate the draft and start folding folks into those six fields.

B. Business interests, especially international businesses, are subordinate to the interests of the American State. Alternative fuels, more efficient vehicles, and local sources of oil are strategic priorities at this point. Doing business with brutal regimes are strategic blunders.

C. Nation-states within our sphere of influence must be pressured to liberalize. modernize and strengthen. Somalia is bordered by two developing nations in Eithiopia and Kenya. The longer Somalia stays in chaos, the more chance that chaos will spread into Eithiopia and Kenya. The stronger Eithiopia and Kenya are, the more chance that modernization will spread into Somalia.

D. We must work with and lead International Organizations.

E. We must have far greater organization with our local disaster response programs. During any disaster: man made, natural or terrorist, first responders are going to be the boots on the ground at hour zero. First Aid, supply dumps, basic deputization training, and access to vehicles can save lives in the first minutes after everything goes wrong. Americans have proven a willingness to do this on their own. The government of the several states needs to find a way to empower, encourage and help organize such volunteerism.

GM FORD!!!

Just doesn't have the same ring as Principal Skinner's 'GM CHRYSLER' exclamation, but we may all be saying that in the future. The news has come out that GM and Ford are having talks regarding a possible merger.

This, if it actually happened, would be beyond huge. Ford and GM have been hemmoraging money for years now, and are fighting each other for dwindling market share. A merger between the two makes a large amount of sense, at least to this blogger.

Thoughts?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sticks and Stones...

...may break your bones, but words can set the world on fire.

The proponents of the Clash of Civilizations mentality were handed another victory recently, when one statement by Pope Benedict XVI was ripped from the context of a speech he gave and was presented to the world in such a way that apparently offended Muslims worldwide. Muslim radicals were able to play to their base and point to the Pope – the ‘ranking’ Christian authority on Earth – as being anti-Muslim. Western radicals were able to play to their base and point to Muslim reaction (the Arab Street being the ‘ranking’ Islamic authority) as more ‘proof’ that there is no redeeming quality to Islam. Radical ideology on both sides of the schism are reinforced, radical ideologues gain more power and credibility from their respective bases.

Normal, everyday people get crapped on, again, by ideological nonsense, and peace, prosperity, rationality and ecumenical reconciliation move further away.

Here are the Pope’s remarks, (taken from the full text English translation):

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (M√ľnster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that sura 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under
threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

(Emphasis and links added by HR)

Why so much focus on the first part of Manuel II’s quote (“Show me just…”), and nearly none on the second (“God is not pleased by blood”)? I know that all I have seen in the media so far never quoted that second part. The Pope’s words are being lost in translation to both the Muslim world and the West.

So, right now, the world is being presented an out of context quote where the Pope is attributed with saying Mohammed is evil and inhuman. The telling of this particular story only benefits those with sinister agendas (the Islamic “Hate the West” Crowd, and the Western “Islam Sucks” Crowd).

The reaction, on both sides, has become nothing short of predictable.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

all your news are belong to us

Interesting read about a media ownership study allegedly conducted and then buried by the FCC. As a disclaimer, I was never a fan of media ownership deregulation. I'm one of those folks who sees a link between the "news media as entertainment" and the "freedom of the internet" issues directly to said deregulation.

Business must still follow rules and laws that the people, through representative government, decide. If the people are OK with deregulation, then I'll disagree but live with it. What I really don't like, however, is the possibility that government funded studies about the cons of deregulation are getting buried.

And when that happens, I tend to think there are some political and financial shenanigans going on. But that's just me...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Un-Revising History

Found this on Slate. I hope they screen more of these shorts, where they fact check The Path to 9/11 with subtitles on the screen. This could be the most effective rebuttal tactic I've ever seen.

Update 9/14/06:Liberal&Proud has posted a link to a more "low-brow" or "zazzy" "rebuttal". You Tube sho' is a useful thing...

Eight



But # Eight is on a much more sinister track. Her name will be Helene.

Hurricane Gordon (Seven)



Almost forgot to introduce y'all to this fella. Doesn't look like he's going to be too much of an issue, however.

Violence

DADvocate discusses violence by women against drunken men.

At the same time, Hillary discusses violence by (reportedly drunken) men against other men.

Some thoughts:

1. Everyone wants to beat up that drunk, obnoxious, disrespectful & groping guy in the bar. Everyone.

2. Where were the chick's friends who allowed the drunk, obnoxious, disrespectful & groping guy to harass her? Where were the drunk, obnoxious, disrespectful & groping guy's friends to sit his ass back down at the table and apologise for him?

3. Why bring your pregnant wife & kid to a Deftones/Korn show?

4. Why expect the audience to remain reasonable at a Deftones/Korn show?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

If the Machines Took Over...

...People would wait in line to get signed up for the Matrix.

I know I keep coming back to this subject again and again, but it just trips me out.

Yeah, I used to be the geeky kid with Dungeons & Dragons dice, dressing up like a vampire once a month, beating the snot out of my friends with pvc-pipe-covered-in-foam-and-duct-tape-swords (that was the most fun of the bunch, by the way). I was even known to engage in 16 hour Axis and Allies binges and I have lost almost as much of my life to the Warcraft, Starcraft and Civilization video games as I did to Elementary School.

I've even been known to spend a little time with this whole 'blogging' hobby...

But I fear what would happen if I delved into online RPG's. I may never be heard from again. Much like hard drugs, I have 'just said no' to online gaming.

Not that there's anything wrong with it...

Making Daddy Proud

I often see the commercials late at night. Keyboard synthesized steel drum music tells me all I need to know. Here's yet another installment of what I call "Proud Daddy TV," as images of blondes, beaches and strategically placed 'censored' graphics blaze across the screen. It is another "Girls Gone Wild" video, on sale for the lonely male, with a bed too cold to sleep in.

I don't own any of these vidoes (I used to work in a restaurant on Island City, after all....) but every time I see these commercials I get to laughing. Who are these girls? I mean, what is going to happen in many years if their careers in voyerism (sp) don't take off? Will they become doctors, teachers and lawyers, or at least nurses and paralegals? What will happen if someone recognizes them? What awkward conversation will commence?

And what is Daddy going to think when he gets his new GGW copy in the mail, and sees his baby darlin' at State U up on the bar showing off?

Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Speaking of possibilites, get your shocked face on, because the makers of the GGW series are being prosecuted for not adhering to age requirements and record keeping. I guess this is like a "Well, duh" moment for the prosecution, because I could have told you some cheatin' would be goin' on the first time I ever heard about this.

Then again, it could just be that someone's Daddy saw baby darlin' on the DVD, and said, "Hey, wait a minit... Honey, how old is Bianca?"

Guess he didn't like the answer.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Former Iranian President in US

Wow. Remember, this guy - the most moderate President Iran has ever had, who won two terms in office - was the guy ol' Dubya called out when he uttered the words 'Axis of Evil.' The Beard wasn't elected until after that particular speech.

I think it is a shame that he is facing such a cold reception, and it speaks volumes of the affect of bellicose discourse in this country, and the misunderstanding of history I was speaking of earlier. I especially think so since his message is one of dialouge and reasonability over saber rattling (and has been for some time). I remember reading plenty in the late 90's regarding Iran's thawing attitudes towards the West, all coinciding with this guy's Presidency. He had many reforms blocked by the Mullahs during his time in office and rolled back by the Beard in the last few years.

Was he a saint, leading Iran to a perfect diplomatic place with the West? No. But you don't have to look very far to see the striking comparison between Khatami and 'the Beard.'

Who would you feel safer with, leading Iran?

The War on History

As if we didn't have enough trouble determining what has really happened in our past already, the new version of history of September 11th will be available on ABC shortly.

Pardon me if I have a problem with this (that goes hand in hand, I must say, with my distaste for the Assassination TV, the Uruk-Hai known on our Earth as Michael Moore, media sensationalism, the Nazgul known as Ann Coulter, ad nauseum, ad infinitum....).

This is something that, for me, would be laughable if it didn't follow the 'war on history' pattern that has circulated around the internet for some years now. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, tell me if you've ever recieved the "we attacked Germany in WWII, and they never attacked us" email.

This would be laughable if there was actually a coherent and concrete national belief regarding the lead up to our current state of affairs. There is no serious historical question that the South lost the battle of Gettysburg, for example, and therefore authors like Newt Gingrich and Harry Turtledove can write all the 'what ifs' and 'historical fantasies' they want about the South winning the battle, winning the war and world history based on that outcome. But that stuff is only good reading if you know the real story and can appreciate the distinctions.

Unfortunately, there is little or no consensus among historians and punditry regarding the war on terror, and not much on the events leading up to September 11th. (Perhaps there will be, with the release of the 9/11 Commission Report as a very well done and pop culture accessible Graphic Novel.)

Too many are engaged in "blame the other side" theatrics rather than pointing out true missteps and failings, and addressing incorrect perceptions that led leaders and agents to make the decisions that might have seemed accurate at the time but costly in the long run.

What this kind of thing leaves us with is a wildly distorted view of history, and that is not a good thing for a society facing the challenges of security vs. privacy, civil rights, and policy that we are currently engaged in. You cannot solve a problem if you do not first know what the problem is, what methods have already been tried, and the honest assessments of effectiveness.

And to muddy those already difficult-to-navigate waters by confusing fantasy and histroy for nothing more than political and monetary gain? That's called moving in the wrong direction.

Newt gets it...

So, either Newt has been reading my stuff, and stealing from it, pun intended, liberally, or I'm just that much in line with what should be the leading voice in the GOP.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has come out with what he calls the American Eleven. Eleven platform planks that fall lock-step in behind 2/3 of my Dream Conservative Platform(yeah, I know, the social flexibility one will never fly...that's why it's a dream...).

Granted, I disagree with item 3, but I'm just a godless heathen like that. Well, that, and I'm too busy trying to push the other 10 to care if I'm requested to add in two more words to something I don't really repeat anyway.

I can only hope the GOP will give the American Eleven the 60 days and two years that they need to, to ensure that we never have to hear the words 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi' or 'President and Supreme Dictator for Life, The Smartest Woman In the World, Hillary Rodham Clinton' without massive laughter immediately following it...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Worst. Lawsuit. Ever.

This is the craziest I've ever seen. It is at least in the top five. In brief?

A Broadmoor man who said he rescued more than 200 residents after commandeering a boat during the flood after Hurricane Katrina is being sued by the boat's owner for taking it "without receiving permission."
Boggles the mind.

Humid Haney is not a fan. Meanwhile, YRHT takes a more "modest-proposal-meets-no-tolerance" approach.

So what if I have a boat that might be used to rescue hundreds of people during a flood-- that's none of your business, is it?! Just because I might own a vital commodity, that doesn't give others the right to trespass on my property and take my possessions. If these so-called "heroes" want to do rescues let 'em buy their own boats (or build them, like Samuel White did). Why should they get to stink up my craft with uninvited guests, and scratch it on sunken debris?
Here's hoping the judge laughs this one right out of the courtroom (as if New Orleans judges didn't have more pressing matters on their docket....). The plaintiff lists among his grievances: "mental anguish" and "embarassment."

Something tells me that his mental anguish and embarassment are about to increase somewhat...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And I would have gotten away with it too...

Had those meddling kids just bothered to show up.

Guess everybody else was too busy drinking and having fun. Well, that, and I hear the BSU had a bitchin' kegger...for Jesus of course...

Scooters?

In the latest battle against gas prices, apparently some folks have taken to buying scooters. No, not choppers or street bikes. Scooters. Personally, I think gas prices are a red herring in this situation. These are obviously closet scooter heads who now have a rationalization to be who they really are. Don't think for a second that spending thousands of dollars on a glorified moped has anything to do with gas prices. This is just an opportunity for people to get in touch with their inner dork.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Iran Debate

Today I watched "Meet the Press" and Sen. Santorum (R-PA) said that Iran is dangerous because they have people on their streets who call for our destruction. What does it say that we have members of Congress and media who constantly call for theirs? Can war with Iran be avoided, or are we (us and them) destined to smack-talk our way into a fight?

Is there any way we will be able to have a rational policy debate on the Iran question? I hope so. The link is one of the best I've read on the situation.

UPDATE: 9/4/06 7:29pm EDT Just ran across another link in this same vein: Fareed Zakaria tells everyone to take a deep breath, and reminds us to look at our calendars - the year is 2006, not 1938.

In the Land of What If?

The news is discussing the Japanese Prime Minister's coming election. That got me to thinkin'...

Directed thread here. I've thought about a particular geo-political policy for some time. The pros, the cons, the possibilities. With the world situation being what it is, should we allow Japan to seriously rearm?

Would they be a counter to China's growing power, a more versatile ally, or a potentially emergent military rival?

In the Land of Make Believe

Someone made a fictional "what if?" movie about the assassination of President Bush?

My distaste for this exists on many levels. Not the least of which is that, if something like that actually happened, there'd be mobs lining Southern liberals like me up against the wall within 24 hours.

Maybe I just have on some rose colored lenses when it comes to past political discourse, but I'm pretty sure I remember a time when there wasn't a lot of assassination fiction regarding sitting political figures.

These days, members of Congress have spoken of violence against the Judicial Branch as political expression; well read pundits advocate sending people like me to Guantanamo, assassinating people who disagree with them, and 'religious leaders' like Pat Robertson advocate the assassination of other world leaders; I even remember the famous quote back in the day that President Clinton ought not come to North Carolina.

I mean, is it just me, or does the discourse more easily move towards talk of political assassination and violence these days than it once did? I just can't remember it happening back in the day. I can't say I like this kind of talk one little bit.