August 31, 2006

Don't Miss the Connection!

Dr. X posts this from the shadows of the shiny, newly-renovated, Stanford Stadium:

"I am hoarse from screaming at my television set. The Raiders have a chance to make history, and they are blowing it.

"Come on! All together now!

"George - to - Moss!

"George - to - Moss!

"George - to - Moss!"

August 30, 2006

Final Exam, First Draft

Dr. X posts this from the Center for Overly Ambitious Parents, Curriculum Department:

"One day these boys will leave our home. But will they be ready to face the world? How will I know?

"We are now a nation of tests - so rather than tediously point out again how fucking stupid that is, I have decided to formulate one of my own.

"This is the first draft of an exam to be given to someone who hopes to leave home and enter public life as a citizen. I think 10 questions is the right number, but anticipate revising this many times in the future. Suggestions are welcome.

"Without further ado:

1. Who was George Ball? (Answer here.)

2. Describe the theory behind Alekhine's Defense. (Answer here.)

3. Was Feyerabend right or wrong? (Answer here.)

4. Who said: "We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." (Answer here.)

5. Name a republic that lasted more than 300 years. (Answer here.)

6. "Oh my luve is like a melodie
That's sweetly played in ____." (Answer here.)

7. "Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony." Why is this an important insight? (Answer here.)

8. What was it Proust sought so frenetically? (Answer here.)

9. True, False, and Explain: Repeated game theory provides a solid theoretical explanation for the widely-accepted view that collusion is more common than predation. (Answer here.)

10. Matisse said: "You study, you learn, but you guard the original naiveté. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover." Discuss.

En Garde!

This American rugby is fascination itself. I have begun to watch the tv shows of it, and now I know that the Oakland team, these Privateers, is the one of history and spirit.

And now, with their famous new player, they come to Seattle to challenge the second-best team, the demi-champions...

Attention Seahawks, En garde!

August 29, 2006


Dr. X posts this from a sub-urb:

"Today marks the third year of Eisengeiste, this political and cultural collaboration among French architects, mariners of the Pacific Northwest, and bagpipers of various kinds. Since our first post, it has, inadvertently, been a tonic to my undernourished mind. In middle age one notes the walls closing in a bit - years rush by - leisure time disappears - babies become toddlers become students (our oldest starts nursery school tomorrow)... justlikethat.

"And this little outpost, little-noted though it be (well, the robot people have noticed us - hit this link and search for 'robots'), has become not only a place to post, but a place to learn. Reading these posts over the years it has gradually dawned on me that most of my friends are very, very bright, and that I should pay more attention to what they say. Noticing this has made my life better. It is almost too much to ask for - an endless conversation with a group of bright people who hold similar human values.

"It's been a good thing.

"Darkening the picture somewhat, it is also another anniversary, that of Hurricane Katrina, which formed August 23rd, 2005, and dissipated August 31, killing at least 1,800 people and ending the life of an American city. But it was most notable, and remains most notable, not for its devastating effect. For me it remains the ultimate moment of disillusionment with our national government - the moment when I realize a contract that had been held my entire life had been broken. At the time I chalked up the incompetent response to arrogance, and imagined that, shamed by their horrific performance, our leaders would rapidly put things right. You know how that turned out.

"The only silver lining is that the toxic combination of incompetence and indifference is now visible to even to the most-indoctrinated among us. Maybe it is has gone so far that 'Had Enough?' will be enough to tip the scales to a reality-based power structure.

"You know what's odd about it? I'm not angry about it anymore. It's a waste of energy. There are people who need help, kids that need to be raised, work that needs to be done. Yogi Berra, in the fine memoir he wrote with Tim Horton said something like: 'I don't hate anyone. You know why? Because it doesn't work.'

"I found a copy of George Ball's autobiography, The Past Has Another Pattern, at a yard sale the other day. It is a grand tour of another time - you meet Adlai Stevenson, Kennedy, Johnson, you go to Paris on V-E Day. He tells the story of a Jewish colleague who found his mother in Paris, brought her out of the cellar she'd been hiding in for four years, and took her to the top of Montmartre, 'so she could, like Saint Genevieve, look down on Paris.'

"The title is from Eliot:

It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence—
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past.
The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection,
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination—
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness.


What's the Big Deal?

Americans back anti-terrorism racial profiling: poll - Yahoo! News

I'm afraid I have to disagree with the ACLU on this one. After all, aren't (almost) all terrorists Middle Eastern?

August 27, 2006

The Terrorists Have Already Won

Dr X. posts this from an Earth First! rally in Karachi:

"The Terrorists Have Already Won...if we don't harass this person.

"From the article: 'Dooley noted that when it comes to determining security threats “there’s probably a lower threshold after 9/11.” '

"Let me fix that for you: “there’s probably [no] threshold after 9/11, [especially for people who criticize the Army].” "

August 25, 2006

Not to Be Outdone

Dr. X posts this from the rumpus room at Aunt Dahlia's:

"Hugh Laurie intimates that Wodehouse saved his life. "

My Heroes: Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart

For us Eisengeisters, I'm sure this is already-chewed-food, but the transcript is still deliciously satisfying:

Stephen Colbert:

"What are you implying, Jon? That O'Reilly and Geraldo are narcissists enthralled with their own overblown egos? Projecting their own petty insecurities on the world around them? Inventing false enemies for the sole purpose of bolstering their sense of self-importance? Itty-bitty Nixons, minus the relevance or a hint of vision? Shame on you!"

Joe Scarborough provides a nice ten-minute recap, which is, at present, the only positive thing I have to say about him.

August 24, 2006

Additional Respect

I nominate this post as the greatest flame-bait ever. Fark comment thread is here.

A Moment of Respect

Dr. X posts this from Starbucks in Mid-Town:

"I don't have much use for John Edwards. Pretty boy. Lawyer. Senator. Couldn't deliver his own state when he was on the ticket.

"But right now, today, he is talking serious sense - one of the few Democrats who understands that they can only win if they drop the bullshit and own up to what they stand for. Here is a bit from an appearance in Connecticut last week:

" 'And it's not just what's happening over there. We have to demonstrate that we will do what needs to be done right here. I grew up in the United States where we believed that we were the shining light, remember? Before Guantanamo, before Iraq before Abu Grhaib. We were the model for the rest of the world. By the way, we're not the only ones who saw those images coming out of New Orleans. We're not, the whole world saw them. And they're watching to see if we will actually turn our backs on 37 million of our own people who wake up everyday worried about feeding and clothing their children. My view is this is the great moral issue within the US... Ned mentioned another, 46 - 47 million people who have no health care coverage. Why can't my party, the Democratic party show some courage and leadership and say, "we will fight for universal health care for every single American?" '

"Why indeed."

This Will Make the World Better

The steampunk raygun.

August 23, 2006

Normally I hate motivational posters,

But in this case, due to the sheer geekery of these, I'll make an exception.

August 20, 2006

Where economy met style

Early this year, Ebert added three cartoons to his list of great movies. Guess which three he picked?

To be honest, I would have substituted Rabbit of Seville for one of them. I'm not sure which. But let's not pick nits.

Though not in the same league, this Flash update of Duck Amuck is worth at least a chuckle.

August 19, 2006

Suit Up Gramps

Dr X. post this from a Starbucks near Camp Pendleton:

"The Army has raised the enlistment age (and future draft limit) to 42. As a 44-year old let me just say: bwah hah hah!"

The Depth of Comedy

Dr X. posts this from the back room of the Drones Club:

"I have been hacking my way through a book I set aside long ago, Knight's pioneering work of Shakespeare interpretation, The Wheel of Fire. I set it aside long ago on the off chance that if I waited ten or fifteen years, I would be better-able to understand what the hell he was talking about.

"So far, so good. It's interesting if you're into that sort of thing - Knight is credited with being the first critic to give a coherent account of Measure for Measure, and Eliot felt Knight had set him straight on a few important points in Hamlet. I also suspect the Laird will approve his claim that Timon of Athens is among The Bard's greatest works.

"Knight can only be taken in measured doses, however. He is drawn to darkness the way a moth is drawn to light. In his essay on Hamlet ('The Embassy of Death'), he draws our attention to a series of unbearable scenes, remarking that 'it might be objected that I have concentrated unduly on the unpleasant parts of the play. It has been my intention to concentrate. They are the most significant parts.'

"So off to the antidote, Wodehouse.

"It is the conventional wisdom that comedy cannot truly move us, that tragedy is the deeper art. But I say it is comedy that instructs. It is in the nature of tragedy that the author assumes a God-like pose, enforcing the hideous strictures of some alternative universe, driving the afflicted characters down the dusty road to their inescapable doom. But comedy is a completely different matter. The creator of great comedy is always fallible, always as much the butt of the joke as the maker, always human. Where the tragedian lectures and controls, the creator of great comedy laughs with us, and collaborates with us in our own entertainment.

These friendly Russians have posted an essay on Wodehouse by Stephen Fry, in which he notes the great man's ability to make the reader a participant in his comic sketches. And I wish to approvingly quote its conclusion:

" 'I have written it before and am not ashamed to write it again. Without Wodehouse I am not sure that I would be a tenth of what I am today – whatever that may be. In my teenage years, his writings awoke me to the possibilities of language. His rhythms, tropes, tricks and mannerisms are deep within me. But more than that, he taught me something about good nature. It is enough to be benign, to be gentle, to be funny, to be kind.

" 'He mocked himself sometimes because he knew that a great proportion of his readers came from prisons and hospitals. At the risk of being sententious, isn't it true that we are all of us, for a great part of our lives, sick or imprisoned, all of us in need of this remarkable healing spirit, this balm for hurt minds?' "

August 18, 2006

Microsoft + Office = Excellent

Well it's not a product, per se.

But I also highly recommend the service pack

Hope for America

It is the hopeful sign when the President of America reads The Stranger.

August 17, 2006

Thriller Comedy Sale

"Elk Herd on a Submarine"

"Komodos in a Bodega"

"Lemurs in a Subaru"

"Bi-Polar Orcas in a Wading Pool"

"Zombies in a Sauna"

''Robots on a Hoagie"

"Douchebags in a Hummer"

"Lawyers in My Loft"

"Contusions on an Oaf"

August 16, 2006

New Movie

Dr. X posts this from a snake-free area on solid ground:

"Samuel L. Jackson recently appeared on The Daily Show discussing his latest project which is, apparently, about snakes on a plane. "

August 14, 2006

Do You Think You Can Tell?

Yes, I refer of the Pink Floyd song, "I Wish of You Here". I have been today to this place, the wise fool of the American cities, the dissolute robber-baron - the Houston!

It is amazing, indescribable. The secret: no zoning.

Alphaville Continues

Forbidden shirt-words of the American football.

August 11, 2006

Forbidden Speech

I thought you would like to know that 83 words have now been removed from the dictionary. Alphaville begins...

The Terrorists Hate Our Bagpipes

No liquids on planes, or snakes, or Strativarius violins, or now, bagpipes.

(From the BBC story) Your comments:

This has been a huge problem for (believe it or not) bagpipers around the world. Thousands of us are traveling to Glasgow this August for the World Pipe Band Championships. Pipers normally carry their pipes on for the instrument's safety. Some of these bagpipes are antique and very valuable. African Blackwood is prone to cracking with varying levels of moisture and temperature, not to mention mis-handling by airport workers. It has never been a problem before to x-ray the intruments and open the case for inspection. This is going to be a disaster for pipers, and all instrumentalists, until the airlines find better ways to secure international flights., Seattle, USA

Blowing One's Self Up: Less Jihad, More Git Off My Lawn

As Harry Shearer says, the cure for the rhetorical is the empirical.

A University of Chicago professor actually researches, looking for facts about things, and writing about the facts that he found out when he researched his subject, and then he checked them and asked what other people thought, and then he changed what he originally thought based on the facts he discovered.

Strange, I know. Alert the media.

The subject was: suicide bombers. He looked at their videos, their backgrounds, their history.

Researching my book, which covered all 462 suicide bombings around the globe, I had colleagues scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and biographies of the Hizbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. We were shocked to find that only eight were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a female secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

The shocking conclusion: not all suicide bombers in the Levant* were Muslims, or even religious.
Jihad was less important than opposition to invasion of what was perceived as home territory: in other words, more political than religious.*

*I just like that old term for the general area: Sinai, Israel, Lebanon, Syria. As a friend pointed out when she spent a few months on a kibbutz, the big difference you notice between Israeli and Arabs is that the Israeli fallafel stands are a little more professional and clean, but the food is better at the Arabic fallafel stands. Is the whole bloody history caused by disagreements over fallafel presentation? I'd like to think so, because that sounds like a solvable problem, and the illusion of a solvable problem is beloved among us Americans.

*An important distinction, particularly in sorting out what exactly is the motivation, but to an agnostic like myself, religion essentially is politics.

August 10, 2006

Bush's Last Advantage Gone, and a Little Rhetorical Exercise

Interesting crack in the polls: while general approval/disapproval is holding at an average of around 38% for Bush, look at this, the first time a majority disapproves of his performance on his best single issue. Also, the Fox poll "favorable" polls hit a new low for Bush, suggesting a new level of dislike

Front and center Democrats, front and center against terrorism. Hit again and again with the truth - terrorism is usually stopped by effective police work, like, oh I don't know, today, and sufficient resources for effective police work. Below I've worked up a rousing some such bit of shameless rhetoric:

"Instead of funding police and good security, Bush builds up his own power at the expense of democracy. Instead of finding Bin Laden, Bush poured everything into the wrong war. Instead of pushing the bureaucracy hard, he made a clueless and dangerously incompetent new bureaucracy, in his own image, that let Americans on the Gulf Coast die through inattention and inaction.

"We are indeed under attack. We must stop terrorists. But that means we have to find them and arrest them and punish them, and to do that we need more cops and more police resources, and we need the goodwill and cooperation of the world. Republicans thwarted many of these efforts, all in order to shore up a bad war. Republicans would rather indulge their easy fantasies of American military might than do the hard, unglamorous work and compromise it takes to really protect America. That means hiring cops. That means inspecting cargos. That means cooperating with allies rather than dictating to them.
That means everyone contributing to this effort rather a bunch of privileged CEOs seeing what they can get out of it. That means winning the hearts and minds of a new generation in the world, not with ill-conceived wars of choice, but with living up to our ideals as a democracy and a great nation, and abiding by our generous, open nature as a people.

Yes, we bring the hunt down on people who would kill for cruel ideology and the diseased pleasure of violence. And we focus on that like a laser. We find Bin laden now, we break Al Qaida, and we use every resource we have, not just our military.

But that's not enough. To be safe, we must help the world feel safe. Our military power can be a critical partner in this struggle, and in the past it has, but military might instills fear in others. Part of the problem has been that we've made a whole region fear us, indiscriminately. The Administration targeted the wrong country, the wrong people. They neglected potential friends, and instead they made brand new enemies. The Administration winked and nodded at the latest war in Lebanon instead of pushing hard and harder for peace from day one. They taught us fear instead of confidence, greed instead of selflessness, division instead of unity, all to elevate themselves above us.

When we fail the interests of peace, when we demean our laws and our Constitution, when people around the world come to think of America as a place that tortures prisoners and locks up thousands without trial, we put ideological ammunition in the hands of terrorists.

America can lead the world to a secure and noble peace. It has done this in the past, and it will do so again when we return to living up to our best instincts as citizens. But under this Administration, our government has been a leader in greed, incompetence and catastrophy.
When Americans wanted to help stop terrorism, they told us to shop, and gave Paris Hilton another tax break. And did it again. And again. And people wonder why we don't have enough salaries for good people to man our borders and spot trouble coming.

The difference between effective anti-terrorism and the wrong war is the difference between coming home for dinner with fresh quail, and shooting your lawyer in the face.

It comes to this: Do you feel safer than you did before George W. Bush was put in power? Or do you feel more isolated, less certain, more at the mercy of the government, than one of the people who own the government?

America can be the light of the world again, the shining city on the hill that promises dignity and liberty and freedom, guaranteed rights and unlimited opportunities, the rule of law over the rule of greed and corruption, an unity of pupose of all the people across the world that
want control of their own lives and peace with their neighbors and the brightest future for their children. America can do this. We have done this. But we need citizens in power willing to stand up to the bullying and lying and corruption that erode the respect a great nation is due.

You can say "freedom" all day long without understanding or honoring the principle. Freedom is more than a word. It is a practice. It is free men and women controlling their own lives, and dictating to their freely choosen government, and working together toward the common good that benefits us all. Our enemies quake when we practice our highest ideals, because these, no rocket or bomb or explosion can wound.

Go Seahawks!

ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Aug. 3-6, 2006. N=approx. 500 adults nationwide. Fieldwork by TNS.


"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling the U.S. campaign against terrorism?"


Approve Disapprove Unsure

% % %


47 50 2

6/22-25/06 51 47 2


Joe Lieberman Dives in

Forgive me for judging a politician by his actions.

Lieberman conflates Iraq and everywhere else, and suggests that Lamont and all Democrats who think the botched, mistargeted war might BE the problem, really want to hand victory to these worse-than-Nazis.

Meanwhile Rove and Cheney give him aid and comfort.

Joe Lieberman, Telling Democrats To Be Quiet and Not Criticize So Much

I Cant Even Begin to Imagine Conceiving of It!

Britain says it foils "mass murder" plane bomb plot - Yahoo! News: "'We are confident we have disrupted a plan by terrorists to cause untold death and destruction,' said London police Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson. 'Put simply, this was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.'"

To put it mildly, this is the understatment of the millenium.

We Fly to Alaska Tomorrow

The NY Times has reports of an attempt to blow up airplanes leaving Heathrow for the U.S. Details are few but the gist of the plan was to smuggle liquids that could be combined to create an explosive and use detonation devices hidden in personal electronic devices.

So now, no liquids will be allowed on airplanes: no bottles of water, eyedrops, sunscreen, shampoo...

Britain has just banned all carry-on luggage except personal effects carried in clear plastic bags.

I guess Buck Naked Airlines is just around the corner.

No Candy for Morlocks

Dr X. posts this from a fortified room into which no liquids are allowed:

"Alaskans get to discover this week what life is like in places where money doesn't continually spout up out of the ground. For one thing, the nice people in the government don't hand out money in quite the same way.

"There can be only one solution - tax breaks to encourage free enterprise. Because, you know, it's just not profitable to drill for oil unless you have financial support from the government."

Majority of Americans Out of Step With America

Lieberman loss offers signs of angry electorate - Yahoo! News: "The White House said the vote did not reflect American views on Bush's policies, but rather how the Democratic Party dealt with the Iraq war and other issues of national security.

'I know a lot of people have tried to make this a referendum on the president. I would flip it. I think instead it's a defining moment for the Democratic Party whose national leaders now have made it clear that if you disagree with the extreme left in their party, they're going to come after you,' White House spokesman Tony Snow said."

When are Americans going to realize that they are against themselves?

August 09, 2006

What the Lieberman Loss Is and Isn't

One collateral casualty of the Lamont victory will be Mark Warner. Connecticut Democrats rejected acquiescent, hollow centrism on Iraq when they rejected Lieberman's active defense of Bush's war, his fetish for executive power, his barely disguised contempt for dissent. It was getting out of the mushy middling that won the Repuiblicans the House in 1994.

What it is not is some kind of quasi-Green Party hijacking of the Democratic Party. Lieberman was rejected by mainstream Democrats, not for voting to authorize the War, but for something far worse: his growing, moralistic egoism, his unwillingness to stand up to the Administration in the middle of a national crisis of government as well as war policy, his persistent running from hollow center to hollow center to avoid tackling tough problems. Votes like his support for the Schiavo legislation were not important, but they were symbolic of his disconnect from core Democratic party principles - worse is the tone, and now actions in his Independent bid, that suggest that Democratic primary voters had no right to reject him.

The Lamont victory clarifies the range and message of the will of ordinary Democrats on Iraq: the Bush Administration endlessly dissembles, misleads, and botches policy. The consensus position is to stand up to them, force a real plan to win or get our troops out, not apologize and shuffle our feet and kvetch into our sleeves out of a sense of self-preservation and a dirty conscience.

Our near-term case is that electing a Democratic Congress will improve our national security: we will challenge Bush when he's wrong, which is always. Lieberman's defeat clarifies this. Hilary's tardy and almost hypocritical but fairly effective attack on Rumsfeld, is fine, because it is simply what needs to be done. Lieberman made no such efforts, and did his best to block criticism of Iraq policy.

Here is, I believe, a consensus Democratic position on the war:

Our national security suffers every time the Republican Congress lays down for an incompetent Administration. Republicans have proven not only inept and making and conducting war, they have weakened our nation's military position, nearly destroyed its diplomatic position, and thereby weakened America's ability to defend ourselves against real terrorist threats, which of course they have done everything to spread. The only possibility of winning in Iraq is clearing out neo-con ideologues and making adaptive, practical, clear-eyed war strategy. Only the pressure from a Democratic Congress gives a possibility of that, AND only a Democratic Congress will be able to act to withdraw and stop the daily waste of our troops lives when and if the war is truly beyond hope.

Russ Feingold and Hilary Clinton could agree on that, but not Joe Lieberman.

Salon. Guardian. New York Times/IHT.


Seattle faces Dallas in the preseason opener this Saturday, but will probably miss the chance to destroy T.O. Oh well.

We've lost Hutchinson. But we have a Pork Chop and a Taco, and Seneca "Emergency" Wallace (ok,"Emergency" is just my suggestion, because besides being backup QB he's good for almost any emergency - recall the deployment as wide receiver in the NFC championship).

The enormous pink-red blimp face that resembles Mike Holmgren arose when the offense was struggling a bit against the defense in practice. I say: this bodes well.

"Definitely. Without a doubt. I think this year's team would beat last year's team pretty good." -- Alexander, when asked if the 2006 Seahawks were better than the 2005 NFC championship team.

Good short summary here.


This picture is horrid, yet mesmerizing.

Would it have have half so much attractive power, or indeed any at all, if one encountered it in a different context - as one of a stack of 3x5 prints, for example, or in an unadorned frame?

No matter. It's perfect. A perfect example of what, I'm not sure.

August 08, 2006

Murdoch's News of The World Illegally Taps Royal Household

Again, today from the BBC. This should be fun.

It added that as a result of initial inquiries, police now believe "public figures beyond the Royal Household" have had their telephones intercepted.

Sen. Lieberman To Run Again.

A whiny run as an independent is indeed not cool, not cool at all. This back-up plan was probably the biggest cause of his primary defeat, and he still sticks to it.

Accept this defeat, Senator. Policies aside, your excessive self-regard bested you. Your willingness to put yourself ahead of your party tells us exactly where your priorities always were.

Fire Up the Whale-Oil Fueled Hummer

The best of the I'm not exactly calling them whacky schemes to solve global warming with radical alterations to the atmosphere, at BBC.

So there's no reason to be concerned.

August 07, 2006

A Radical Step Forward in DeEvolution

BBC; Scientists have now bred mice with reactivated ancient genes, thus throwing evolution into reverse.

"We have reversed our lack of significant progress in reverse progess," said General Boy.

How to Win in Iraq.

This Administration, obsessed with military dominance and personal loyalty, will never take the internal actions necessary to stabilize Iraq. What I have listed here is hardly a solution, but steps that seem necessary to make success in Iraq conceivable at all.

1. Accountability. The time for puffy posturing is long, long over. The public face of the invasion and subsequent intransigence must be fired: Rumsfeld, Bolton, Cheney, and immediate minions: out. Every day they are in office is a day more American soliders get killed. Every day they are in office, America's ability to act becomes narrowed. Our diplomacy is fatally hung up on these personalities.

2. Beg our allies. Step 1 is necessary to make step 2 even slightly plausible. We must assemble a very large international policing force to secure, at least, Bagdad and suburbs. This part civilian, part military force must be trained for occupation and civil administration, not assault. The US could lead this effort, but Iraq is dying from a kind of mafia war more than anything: we need Eliot Ness, not Patton. We must bait for peace: make it clear to the Insurgents that accepting an international, NATO-UN policing force means less U.S. troops. This police force must be overwhelming in size and authorized to kill to protect civilians. We desperately need a neutral authority in Iraq, as the police degenerate into death squads and our own troops succumb with increasing frequency to brutality.

3. Negotiate with Insurgents. It happens already, even commonly. It must become national policy- led by the State Department with the Pentagon out of the way. We have to give up the permanent bases we're building - to NATO or the UN or both. We have to make it possible for Iraqis to succeed politically in Iraq without street murder and yet without appearing to be collaborators with the U.S, which invaded, De-baathified, and totally destabilized the political structure. This is why international forces are absolutely necessary - a potential source of cooperation. It guarantees nothing, but it makes progress possible.

4. Take care of urgent business. As international police forces move in, withdraw troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban are resurgent. Again, assault, secure and internationalize. It's what worked in WWII, but we've failed horribly at part 2 and 3 in Iraq.

5. The U.S. should throw a curve ball by proposing the internationalization of Jerusalem. We've been supporting and arming the bombing of Lebanon, which is setting things much farther back than they already were - Lebanon was a wobbly but functioning democracy a few weeks ago, and a stable civilian government MIGHT have been able to undercut Hezbolah's legitimacy, and eventually lead to their disarmament, or at least the transfer of control of the arms to an actual government. We have to distance ourselves from Israel, while standing by its essential safety, but we're doing precisely the opposite. This proposal alone would give us new negotiating power.

But absolutely none of this or anything like it will be done. The egos of those in our government will prevent any responsive diplomacy, and will continue to perpetrate their incompetence. Neo-liberal Tom Friedman, a long, long supporter of the invasion, calls the situation "baby-sitting a civil war."

Without a major shift in our leadership, the most likely non-bloody outcome may be Iranian dominance of Iraq, as Syria is in Lebanon. You might compare the situation to Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1979, which did end the organized genocide of the Khmer Rouge, though with plenty of brutality to go around.

The other likely scenario is endless cycles of death and murder. I'd give us about an 18% of some sort of awkward success with the current plan, which will continue until 2009. We have no real actions to take under this Administration that will improve Iraq, less to "win" it, although the sheer skill of the U.S. military will mitigate it's deterioration. That will take American lives. So the question becomes: how many American lives are worth preventing a significantly worse civil war in Iraq over the next three years? Are we just buying time until we can change governments here?

The intrasigence of the Bush Administration will likely be the cause of our defeat.

August 06, 2006


Dr X. posts this from a non air-conditioned shack somewhere in California:

"Good-bye, Susan Butcher, one of the greatest athletes of all time.

"I remember reading an interview with another musher (Swensen?) who said he could see her ahead and he just tried to keep up, because he knew if he lost sight of her he'd never see her again.

"And now she disappears out of our sight, running her own race, on her terms."

I Have Two Words for You

Dr X. posts this from a coffee shop in Menlo Park:

"Transactional lobbying."

Domesday Book: Total Information Awareness

The Domesday book is now searchable online. We'll pass over that William used the famous census in the middle of his general slaughter of the populace, and for the purpose of further subjugation of the English people, far worse than the battles that brought him to power.

(Much like today. Information collected for political control. )

My withering criticism of the Norman Conquest aside, below is the entry for Wargrave, the village near Henley where I lived for a year at Timber Cottage, a small house that dates to at least the 14th century (spooked the 11-year old me out, man, coming from Splitlevelville, Alaska); what we heard was that the namesake timbers were from Thames barges, and the barges were a hundred years old when torn apart for the house, and they were of course built of local oak, from around the 11th century.

Hard not to like the names: Aethelgifu, free woman, and Froger the sheriff.

Place name: Wargrave, Berkshire
Folio: 57r Great Domesday Book
Domesday place name: Weregrave
People mentioned: Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel; Aethelgifu, free woman; Almaer; Almaer, free man; Eadraed the priest; Earl Harold; Earl of Roger de Breteuil Hereford; Froger the sheriff; Gilbert; Hervey; King Edward as landholder; King Edward as lord; Leofflaed; Peter, Bishop of Chester; Priest of Geoffrey de Mandeville; Queen Edith; Rainbald; Richard; Robert; Saxi; Walter Giffard; William the deacon; Wulfflaed; Wulfric, free man

August 04, 2006

Tesla, Lotus, Proton, Mitsubishi: This Car Business Appears Complex

A little more research on the Tesla Roadster is promising, but with typically complex business:
The Tesla Roadster is already selling the first 100 models, at $100,000, due next summer. Designed and organized in the Bay Area, by Googleaires in cooperation with Lotus (neat!), the cars will be built by Lotus in Norwich, England. Tesla's private held, but Lotus is owned by the Inodensian car company Proton, which I think is publically held. The Lotus car-group has taken advantage of the multi-source part reassembly nature of car manufacturing, sort of like Boeing stapling the 787 together now in Everett from bits all over the world. Proton company is now trying to re-partner with Mitsubishi.

I bring this all up on a suspicion that there is a real chance that since the technology is this close to practical, non-U.S. government resources may eventually be going to go into it, as the sedan model is already under development. The company is counting on steady battery improvements over the next two years from Laptop companies. If 1000 of these are on the road in America, the pressure to mass produce may become huge in three or four years, with a revivial of the zero-emission requirement from California (which just negotiatied a carbon emission agreement on its own), a spate of heat waves, a couple three wars coincindently occuring near huge oil reserves, and the strong position of American car companies weakening. The potential involvement of large non-U.S. car companies is already there.

So goes the artist's analysis. I can't even renegotiate my Visa bill.

But the aesthetics are critical. The Tesla doesn't look like a watered-down, emasculated VW. It looks like a powerful machine. It taps the primordial desire for the first time - the step even more necessary than effective technology. I am still blown away by the brilliance of making an electric car sexy and fairly expensive - make the assholes want it and the assholes won't stand in your way.

California can point to the real car and say: "why not? You want it already. "

There seems to be only one serious technical issue: the batteries have to be made just right, as laptops have been exploding recently. 6000 laptop batteries and the statistics of failure rates gives one pause.

Holy Shit, It's Finished

How do I explain this mystifying development to our non-Alaskan correspondents?

The McKinley building remodel is finished. It's OPEN for OCCUPANCY.

This subarctic..ahem..modernist structure, seen left with scaffolding, and once the tallest building in Alaska, sat like an enormous pink lump for our entire working lives, losing it's last occupants in 1986, blotting out the mountains and depressing residents for decade upon decade.

Yes, it was pink, with big red stripes, like a demented Brice Marden painting. There were a large number of pink buildings in Anchorage in the 1960s, supposedly because the Army was getting rid of cheap paint after the earthquake, and pale pink and puke green were everywhere. It was peeling pink for 30 years, a cement folly with a skin disease.

Too expensive to fix, too expensive to blow up, too depressing to ignore, it was like a huge benign tumor on the city's face, or perhaps a goiter, not exactly life-threatening but definitely scotching Anchorage's film career.

Well, I'm glad it's fixed. About fucking time. I notice it's trimmed now in puke green.

August 03, 2006

Angry, Angry Hippos

I am perversely fascinated by this New Scripps/ Howard poll:

More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

The national survey of 1,010 adults also found that anger against the federal government is at record levels, with 54 percent saying they "personally are more angry" at the government than they used to be.

Its not often that the general American Left goes off the deep end en masse, this being, I hope, a rare example. (The only thing to give me pause was a guy I know who was in the British SAS for many years who was calmly certain that the attacks were an orchestrated conspiracy involving the Bush administration. The theory may be crackers with cheese on top, although the SAS guy was well-educated and disarmingly thoughtful. But you can't really go off on conspiracy tangents from guys you know, you know. )

But what it does suggest is that there is a profound disengagement of a large segment of the populace from the polity, which the DC Centrists (again, as opposed to moderates) in the Democratic party simply can't see and are unable to either influence or take strength from.

More than a third of American voters believe there was a 9/11 Bush conspiracy? Look at it another way: understandably susceptible to total cynicism, and therefore a bit deluded, this an unused leftist power base that alone outnumbers "strong approvals" of Bush (about 20%). (Strong disapprovals are around 39, 40%). Forgetting the conspiracy for the moment- there is huge potential power base here, that the MSM has got us believing does not exist. This is considerably larger than self-described and more thoroughly-deluded evangelicals, for example.

On a related note, Lieberman is about to lose the primary, and my bet is that he'll lose the general. His actions in recent days disqualify him from being the Democratic nominee - his willingness to betray the party election process, his extreme self-regard, his condescension to critics. It's more than the war - he's embraced everything around the Patriot Act, the gutting of the Constitution and the concentration of executive power. I am reminded of a punk rock rant from years ago: "these are the kind of people that, when the Gestapo comes for you, offer to water your plants while you're away."

The danger to the party is absurdly overstated. I have little patience for the elite whining about a primary - service is a privilege, and if you forget that, out with you.

Name My Fantasy Football Team

Last year, I used FSL's suggestion: The Aristocrats.

I need some ideas for this year's team. What say you?

August 02, 2006

An Isengard.Gov Shocker: We Cite the SF Chronicle

Hmm. A total revolution in autos, now in production. From Tesla motors, available 2007.

0-60 in 4 seconds. 230 mile range. Not unsexy. ALL ELECTRIC.

From the Chronicle:
Lie lie lie lie lie like evil little ratdogs because they are, after all, corporate greedmonkeys and war profiteers and duplicitous oil-sucking cretins (is that too polite?) who would eat their own mother's heart for a notable uptick in share/barrel price. Nevertheless, it's always a bit of a jolt when you see it all up close and personal and they basically rub it in your face.

Just look. Look over here. It's a new sports car. It's a new sports car that looks deliciously like a Lotus Elise and reportedly drives like Michael Schumacher's wet dream and goes from zero to 60 in about four seconds with so much torque and freakishly instantaneous power it makes the gods swoon.

Much credit to the headline:

Lick My Silent Sports Car / How much has Big Auto lied? Take a drive in this four-wheel electric orgasm, and find out

Even more amazing, I cite Wired for the first on-board review. Wired really irritates me.

My Already Utter Contempt for Republicans is Reinforced Yet Again

The Republican party takes yet another unnecessary opportunity to fuck over people with nothing.
Under the bill language, the seven affected states ''would seem to be prohibited from enforcing the minimum wage rate provisions of their laws with respect to a tipped employee'' said the memo, written by Jon A. Shimabukuro, a legislative attorney at the research service, for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.


Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he is in a stable condition and good spirits following surgery, according to a statement read on Cuban TV.

"I feel happy," Mr Castro was quoted as saying.

August 01, 2006

Six More Weeks

Today is August 1, the start of the season for anticipating football season.

Oh, and just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Seahawk's secondary...

Ohio GOP seizes the high moral ground.

Just kidding.