Monday, July 31, 2006

Everyone's Responsibility is No One's

There have been cases where people have been mugged or assaulted in earshot of many witnesses. The witnesses saw the assault or heard the calls for help, but did nothing. When interviewed later, they responded that they figured someone else was taking care of the problem. The issue was that there were too many witnesses. In similar cases, where the witness thought no one else could hear or act, they were much more likely to take action.

Three times on this blog, I've asked my readers to do me a favor. I had a friend whose mother was dying and later had died of cancer. I put out a request for some kind comments on his blog. Nothing. Yesterday as part of the Carnival of the Cats I asked my readers to visit the blog of a fellow whose cat had killed a scorpion in their house, but had been severely injured in the fight. Following an Instalanche and the subsequent massive blog traffic, only a few people had stopped by to offer their comments on the fellow's blog.

This is not in any way a condemnation of those that did not do so, it is merely an observation that blog visitor behavior seems to follow the model of the many witness scenario.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Carnival of the Cats #123

SPECIAL ANOUNCEMENT:

Morrison the cat is hereby granted the Feline Theocracy's Legion of Feline Merit Medal with Catnip Leaf Cluster for his conspicuous gallantry in protecting his family. It is a catwa from our Maximum Leader that you immediately visit his blog post and complement him vigorously. We now continue with the normal Carnival.

Obey the catwa or no tuna for you!

And so it begins. The Carnival of the Cats. Perhaps the greatest blog carnival of them all. An attempt to capture the essence of those most mysterious and wondrous of all creatures, cats.

Out of her Theocratic vestments and exhausted from her daily exertions, our Maximum Leader, K T Cat, issues a single word command. "Carnival."

This week's carnival is organized the way a cat might organize its day.

Purring

Beezer plus chair. You do the math.

Hakuna and Matata with predictable results.

Meowing

Tucker knows what time it is. Do you?

Chatty Catty hides.

Scratching and Stretching

The dangerous, but beautiful Hiss.

The House of Chaos finds that tail movement is not always what it seems.

Nicholson would prefer to let her back do the talking.

Stray sunbathing.

Da Nator has all the poses.

Ritzi stretches out on the sofa.

A wet Izzy dries off.

Morris stretches this way and that.

Contemplation

Foolish human, says Bagheera, thou knowest not what thoughts I think.

Picato thinks existential thoughts.

Lovely photo. Mysterious caption. Far Cartouche has it.

Tanya thinks shapes undrawable in colors unseeable.

Lilly thinks about her life as a photographer's model.

Tiny thinks deeply.

Hobbes is in charge. Was there any question?

Pepper and friends have unfathomable expressions.

Sabby sits and thinks.

Grace with thoughts that live up to her name.

Do they draw inspiration from us as they draw warmth? Is that something we supply? Catymology poses the question.

Piper thinks dark thoughts.

Dining

A limerick from Lim.

As close as you come to Bagheera, the mystery remains far away.

Hunting

Mr. Cornelious will not allow his prey to escape. Even if it can't move.

Mr. Gato sleeps a watchful slumber.

Kai and Xena are growing into clever hunters.

Squeaker watches. Squeaker knows.

The mouse caught, Taboo cools down.

Rico Loco looks for birds.

Sleeping

Is it a prelude to sleeping for Minga, or is just another inscrutably cute cat?

Tigger reacts to a new addition to the family.

Rico and Rafe take a well-deserved break from the neverending demands of being cute and furry.

Jax must sleep. Jax will dream of lovely ladies in California.

Many things are more fun when shared. Ginger says sleep is one of them.

Cold gems, warm heart. The elms have it.

Peaceful warmth is all Rocket asks.

Active cats need regeneration. Pixel says.

A jumble of cats. Or a furry octopus? Stereophile has the answer.

BYOP. Stereophile has the answer again.

Mycah just before the lights go out.

Maggie, warmth and darkness. Does it get any better than this?

Beds mean sleep. This is a bed, isn't it? Ajax is on the job.

Hugo and Charlie coming up or going down?

Lilly is lovely when lounging.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. Bows plays the part.

One way to beat the heat is to be...under the covers? That's what Maddie says.

Exploration

Tinker and Harley let curiosity be their guide.

Princess Lotus Blossum and Riley find the world anew each day.

Manx Mnews shows how to explore new yoga positions.

Sisu's kitten explores the world.

Tiny must find the answers.

Crinkly things, oh crinkly things! They must be explored with great vigor! So sayeth Sergei.

Velvet and Arty explore the jungle.

Moving means change. Change needs we must explore. Mog has more.

Thanks to everyone for participating and a special thanks to Laurence Simon for making this possible.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Questions CNN Should Ask

We've been using CNN pretty boy Anderson Cooper as a piƱata lately, but this time let's offer him some suggestions.

Here is a Google Earth photo of Kansas farmland from 10,000 feet.


Here is a similar one of southern Lebanese farmland from 10,000 feet. Look at the size of the cultivated plots relative to those in the Kansas photo. The size of such plots is relative to the amount of land that can be managed by a single farm using whatever tools it has bought.


Since all purchases are consequences of decisions and those decisions could have gone in other directions, let's ask the friendly Hezbollah people to describe their thought process. That makes sense, doesn't it? After all, isn't that what Mr. Cooper's blog is trying to do? He flits back and forth across the border showing us how they live and getting inside of their heads to show us what it is like to be them, doesn't he?

Here's my list of questions.

1. What's the per acre yield of your farmland? As a comparison, give the per acre yield in Kansas.

2. What kind of mechanical tools and fertilizers are you using? As a comparison, show what the state-of-the-art American farm uses.

3. How much money has been spent buying Katyusha rockets and other weapons in the last eight years? As a comparison, show per capita weapons purchases in Kansas over the same period of time.

4. Compute the return on investment assuming that the difference between the two investments in weapons had been spent on farm equipment instead and the resulting improvements in per acre yield. Account for compounded investments and returns. Show this to the Hezbollah representative along with the following photographs.


AP Photo from the Jerusalem Post.

Question: In retrospect, what would you say about your investment choices?

5. Since all moral viewpoints are equivalent and everyone on Earth is the same, the responsibility for an American to respond to, say, the tsunami in Banda Aceh, is no different than the responsibility of a Lebanese farmer to respond. Question: How did you, Mr. Hezbollah Representative, contribute to the relief efforts in Indonesia? As a reference point, here's what Mr. Kansas Farmer contributed through tax dollars and his children joining the U. S. Navy.


Ahangama, Sri Lanka (Jan. 16, 2005) - Steelworker Constructionman Nikolas Matthews, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seven (NMCB-7), Air Detachment, stacks roof tiles that were removed from damaged buildings at a primary school in Ahangama, Sri Lanka. The Seabees cleared the debris as part of the humanitarian relief efforts of Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian relief effort to aid the victims of the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Greg Bingaman

6. A final question for Mr. Hezbollah: What are your future investment plans?

Anyone want to bet that our beloved little CNN team will never ask these?

Update: Our Vicar of Victory has this outstanding post on the kind of moral equivalency beloved by CNN.

Captain's Quarters has a post that suggests Hezbollah might be applying for their equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I would suggest that their CEO (thanks, Colossus) should step down.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

The Carnival of the Cats is Coming!

We host the COTC this weekend and we can hardly wait! Our Maximum Leader is meditating in preparation for the event.


Or is she discussing the situation with her staff? It's hard to tell.

Oh well. Be sure to stop by on Sunday evening for the Carnival.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Anderson Cooper Batting Practice

If you're just joining us, yesterday we discovered that CNN's Anderson Cooper has his own blog. It's like a car crash. It's so horrible that you just can't tear your eyes off of it. It's also a comedic gold mine...

Well, since K T got to take Anderson deep yesterday, I figured I'd go out and take a crack at it today. Let's see here, what do we have...

Holy Mackerel! Right at the top we have a total winner from Christiane Amanpour. "Hezbollah's submission remains elusive goal."

So here we are: Two Wednesday's (sic) ago Israel started trying to bomb Hezbollah into submission...But now into the third week of war, the Katyusha rockets keep coming, even though Brigadier General Friedman told me Hezbollah is being pushed back...Too slowly for some here. Already, the armchair generals are questioning the wisdom of Israel's military tactics
Almost three whole weeks! That's an eternity! It's way too long for the ADD-afflicted staff of CNN.

I'm with you, Christiane. I am soooo bored of it already. I wish we could go shopping and have a latte, but instead we have to cover this silly war. And it's taking like forever, you know? Hey, let's play a game to pass the time! Remember when we used to watch Sesame Street and they played that cute game, "Which one of these is not like the other ones?" You know, the one you were watching last week! Let's try that.

In terms of duration, Chrissy, which one of these is not like the other ones?

1. Doing your nails




2. Washing your hair




3. Picking out a pair of shoes




4. War




This is too easy.

Business Week has a blog where they had this bit about why journalists should blog.

Vulnerability. It's a good thing. It's what people need to establish healthy relationships, and it's why journalists (among others) should blog.

This thought occurred to me when I was talking to Technorati's David Sifry six weeks ago. He said that he tended to place more trust in journalists who blog.
That's great unless the journalists turn out to be complete freakin' idiots like Anderson Cooper and his pack of morons. Until she wrote this, I thought Christie A. was a reasonably intelligent woman who had seen and experienced much. Now I can see that she's a total airhead.

Um, Anderson? I don't think this blog was such a good idea.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Anderson Cooper, Gold Mine

Thanks to Mary Katherine Ham, we have discovered CNN's Anderson Cooper. Great was our rejoicing! Mr. Cooper is a blogger's dream. He is that most elusive of all creatures, a pompous blowhard who is at the same time, a prolific writer and a complete imbecile. I think you could create an entire, highly successful comedy blog just commenting on Anderson's paralyzingly stupid posts.

Here's the post that caught Mary's eye. We'll start here only out of deference to her. It really is an embarassment of riches over at Mr. Cooper's blog. This post was written by one of Mr. Anderson's fellow dim bulbs, Tom Foreman.

Take deep breaths. Don't get too excited. He's throwing meatballs right over the plate. Just stay within yourself and watch the ball. Here it comes...

...for the purposes of news organizations defining terrorism, what should the definition be?

The United States and others clearly call Hezbollah a terrorist group: The source of countless raids, bombings and attacks on Israel...All this makes Hezbollah, especially for many westerners, the very definition of a terrorist group.

But some people describe another part of Hezbollah. They talk about a group that is beloved in southern Lebanon for running schools, hospitals, social services, even clearing snow in the winter for some communities...So what should the standard be? If you ran a newsroom, how would you define who is called a terrorist and who is not?
OK, let's get the easy one out of the way first.

If I ran the newsroom, Mr. Foreman, you'd be taking coffee and doughnut orders and emptying the trash.

Poor Tom Foreman hasn't got a thought in his pretty little head. The fact that the members of these terrorist organizations haven't devolved into cannibalistic savages that run naked in the wilderness is a testament to the fact that they pursue the basic exchange of goods and services. (Did you know they use money, Mr. Foreman? Real money! Just like you and me!)

OF COURSE THEY RUN SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS, YOU MORON! WHAT DID YOU THINK THEY WERE DOING? EVERY SOCIETY FOR THE PAST 4000 YEARS HAS DONE THIS!

Whew. Sorry. Got too excited there. Let's calm down and do an Anderson Cooper 360-like thought experiment.

...for the purposes of news organizations defining primitive life forms, what should the definition be?

Some scientists call amoebas a primitive life form: They cannot take orders at Starbucks or listen to Noam Chomsky...All this makes amoebas the very definition of a primitive life form.

But some people describe other aspects of amoebas. They talk about respiration, the consumption of food particles and the ability to reproduce...So what should the standard be? If you ran a newsroom, how would you define who is called a primitve life form and who is not?

An amoeba about to start it's own blog and lay an enormous smackdown on Anderson Cooper and his fellow bloggers.

Words fail me.

Here are some other bloggers with posts about this.
Lorie Byrd at Wizbang
Beth at My Vast, Right Wing Conspiracy
Thespis has a book title suggestion for Mr. Cooper.

Big Changes at the New York Times

The Scratching Post has just learned that in order to stop their current death spiral, there are major changes in the works at the New York Times. All current staff members will soon be deported to their adopted home country, Iran. They will be replaced by a workforce composed entirely of illegal aliens.

After all, there are some jobs that Americans just won't do.

Reporting the news without first trying to figure out how it can be slanted to attack the United States seems to be one of them.

As an added note, once in Iran, the New York Times staff will investigate possible infringements on citizens' civil liberties in that country. Iran's government has pledged complete cooperation. Like this.

Iranian officials help a New York Times reporter get a, err, um, better view of the situation.

Explanation here.

Glenn Reynolds at the Brewery

Unlike puppies raised on feedlots, free range puppies can be tough and stringy. If you're going to throw a big party for your friends and you want the puppies to be moist and tender, you really need to pressure cook them.

The Instapundit plans to use a facility like this for his next big bash.

Explanation here.

World of Good Blogburst, Cambodian Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) blogburst here at The Scratching Post. I was researching an entirely different WOG when I came across this topic. One of the problems with writing WOGs is that there is so much to choose from. If you're looking for stories of kindness, you can find them everywhere!

Sam Relief is a charity organization for the poor of Cambodia. It was started by Mr. Sambonn Lek when his mother passed away and left him an inheritance to share with the needy in their native land. Mr. Lek is a Cambodian-American with a big heart and a lot of determination.

Here, Sam, let me help you with that tray!
Err, there were two drinks on it when you handed it to me, Sam, why do you ask?

Here's what he has to say about his organization.

Our organization is neutral and nonpartisan to all political parties in the Royal Government of Cambodia. We are dedicated to serving those in need with whatever amount of funds we are able to raise from our supporters. We are presently focusing on giving chidren ,improving the education infrastructure and providing food and medicine.
How well do they do their job? I clicked on their 2003 link and came across this.

August 2003 we planned to rebuild one school a year at Prey Veng Province. Fortunately, Mr. Clifford Laughton donated $15,000.00 to build the entire school and Mr. Stephen Meagher donated $10.000.00 for two sections of another school at Kam Pong Speu Province. Therefore, we are able to build two schools with all other generous donations.

One of the schools they built.

Here, the children display their school supplies. Sadly, due to a scheduling error, all of the children had to fill out tardy slips before they were allowed back in their classrooms.

Here's a little more from their list of accomplishments.

Last year 2002, we had 37 wells donated from ours supporters. This year we have 59 wells and we donated 55 ton of rice to the needy ones.

Wells mean water. Water means...waterfights! Yay!

The stories of kindness from Sam Relief go on and on. Check out their website and you'll see what I mean. For now, let me leave you with some motivation to get involved with Sam Relief or with acts of kindness of your own.


Thanks to people like Mr. Sambonn Lek, we have other WOG posts by the bucketful just waiting for you to visit and read.

All photos came from Sam Relief website and were used without permission.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where's the NYT When You Need Them?

Funny how the New York Times didn't break this story of eavesdropping.

Earlier, Brigadier General of Division 91, Commander Gal Hirsch, revealed that troops operating in Bint Jbeil discovered war rooms with eavesdropping and surveillance equipment made by Iran, being used by Hizbullah against Israel.
Guess they were too busy breaking stories about legitimate banking surveillance. You can hardly expect them to be in two places at once. Both the President and Hezbollah? That would be a two front war. First things first, you know.

This is NOT the Way to Make Friends

I was reading a great Wall Street Journal article this morning about how NBC is promising to pay one of its advertisers, Toyota, based on the amount of information retained by viewers. Sort of a broadcast media version of Adsense. You only get payed if people noticed your ad.

The WSJ is now listing blogs that link to their stories. There are 17 blogs linked to this story, a huge number for a WSJ article. I looked through their list and visited them. Unless I'm a total idiot, which is very possible, the links are all just spam from a single blog group. I couldn't find references to the article on the blogs listed.

This really ticks me off. I like hits and links. I work very hard for them. When I link to a WSJ or WaPo article, I like the fact that my blog gets listed with the article. My WaPo commentaries typically generate about 50 hits. The more blogs linking to an article, the fewer hits any one blogger will get. 17 is a lot. I won't get a darn thing out of this one.

That's OK if there are 17 bloggers actually writing about the topic. I was really interested in what they had to say about the article. When I found nothing at all, it was infuriating. Go check it out and see what you find. It looks like someone running their blog host threw the link up there and associated it with all their blogs. Furthermore, the links go to the root page of their blogs, not to individual posts by the bloggers. That's pretty incriminating.

The lion's share of them come from a blog group called "Visual Editors." They all seem to work in the MSM. Many of them work in advertising. You like advertising? Here's some for you. This sucks.

Those links didn't get there by accident.

Not funny, guys. Not funny at all.

Trooper Clerks

This is great!



H/T: Chris Olds.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Chiapas, Here We Come!

A while back I wrote a World of Good post about a group of medical professionals from New Jersey that travel annually to Chiapas to provide free medical care to the people living there too poor to afford it. It was wonderful to research and was a heartwarming story. A few days ago, I received this anonymous comment on that post.

THAT'S TRUE, BUT HERE IN CHIAPAS ARE NOT ONLY A PLACE TO MAKE A "ADVENTURE TRIP TO HELP POOR PEOPLE", U CAN COME TO VISIT AND TO MAKE ECOTURISMO, EN MUCHOS LUGARES, IN A LOT OF PLACES. THANKS FOR THEY HELP, BUT WRITE A BOUT THAT BEAUTIFULL PLACES, Y VERAS QUE ESTAN PADRISIMOS.
It occurred to me that I had treated the people of Chiapas like housepets instead of people. Poor things, let's put out a bowl of water for them and take them to the vet if they're sick. That was entirely the wrong attitude. When I tagged along with the Love on a Leash crowd or when I went to the Special Olympics I saw that acts of kindness like this aren't done to inanimate objects, but instead to real people.

I did some research on Chiapas. Thanks to this anonymous commenter, I found a place that is now in my top 10 places to go. It has some absolutely stunning scenery and spectacular Mayan ruins. Here are my favorite photos from my Internet search.

Chiapas has some blue water rivers that look like they were colored by a happy 4 year old. It comes from mineral deposits that dissolve into the water. Unreal.


You want rainforests? We got rainforests.


Mayan ruins humble the visitor with their grandeur.


It's got everything I love in a vacation spot. Heat, beaches, jungles, rivers and ruins. I can't wait to go!

Here are some cool links for Chiapas.

Virtual Tourist photo album from Chiapas. You just have to see it to believe it. Spectacular pictures. If you don't visit any other link on this post, go here.

Andale Mexico! Travel agency information about Chiapas.

A group of women visited Chiapas and offer this travelogue. Great stuff!

Thanks, Anon. Come back any time.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

This Week in the Theocracy

Welcome, truth seekers on the information superhighway! It's me, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, faithful beadle of the Feline Theocracy here to guide you through the best posts from the feline theocraticians for the week.


There were so many excellent posts that it is hard to choose, but choose I must. Here we go, in no particular order.

Our Holy Scribe hits another one out of the park with this touching post. I don't think I can take many more of these. He's one heck of a writer.

The Theocracy's Knight Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has a quick sight gag for you. I love it!

Poet Laureate Aloysius moonlights as a Private Eye.

The Grand Almoner of England has a post about a Wikipedia for businesses. Pretty cool stuff.

The Archbishop of Texas poses as Superman.

WOG Squad Member and Holy Scholar Happy Julie gives us a great joke involving my beloved New Orleans Saints.

Our Monsignor of the Breweries has an interesting post about smog alerts. Hmmm.

Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish breaks off her relationship with Tom Cruise. Like we didn't all see that one coming!

The problem with a large government is not just the money sucked out of our wallets, but the lack of time available for our representatives to examine any particular issue. Our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media has more.

Our Court Jester is probably the only blogger I know who could get away with a post like this one. Terminator and Jesus? Yep.

The Official Artist of the Feline Theocracy shows us what happens when a man asks a woman for directions. You may want to cover your eyes.

One of our new members, the Vicar of Victory, has a really cool cartoon about the conflict in the Middle East.

One of the things I like about our Patriarch of the Airwaves is his ability to acknowledge wisdom wherever he sees it. Here's a case in point.

The Anchoress has a great post about the ascendence of Pajamas Media.

Our new Prelate to the Primates looks at Iran's growing uneasiness over Hezbollah's future.

Holy Scholar and WOG Squad member Georgette is experiencing the Indian crackdown on blogging firsthand.

Holy Scholar Eric Scheske has a think piece on...Paris Hilton?!?

This video from the Abbess of the Priory of the Small Princesses had me laughing and crying. It's a must see.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring does some local photojournalism. Well done!

Catholic politicians should learn a little about their faith before they run off at the mouth about. Mark Shea has more.

Well, that's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed these. Just to let you know, I will be doing these every two weeks instead of every week from now on. The list is getting long and I don't always have the time to do them. We'll still call it "This Week in the Theocracy" because "Every Other Week in the Theocracy" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Best wishes and see you in two weeks!

A Glorious Day for the Feline Theocracy

Today is a wondrous day in the Feline Theocracy! Today we invest three new members who have served our Maximum Leader in links and blog posts. Quickly bring the finest catnip and let us roll in it; put a new mousie toy on the floor and drag a string around as well. Take the fattened tuna and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because these bloggers have come into the fold.


The first is the inestimable Hugh Hewitt. He is hereby granted the title of "Patriarch of the Airwaves for the Feline Theocracy." He has been extraordinarily solicitous and supportive of our blog. We are deeply grateful.

The second is Gaius Arbo of Blue Crab Boulevard. Gaius is named "Prelate to the Primates" in honor of his blog's founder. You'll just have to visit his site and see what we mean. Gaius has been very generous in his links and comments. We pledge not to shed on his sofa should we ever come over to visit.

Finally, we have The Ugly American from The Real Ugly American. The Ugly American may hereby use the title "Vicar of Victory". In the last week, he has been an active linker, far surpassing the required link to this blog and tithing of 10% of his traffic. His title doesn't refer to victory in war, but to his very impressive accomplishments in life.

Thank you all. The Official Artist of the Theocracy, Justin, produced this handsome graphic. Feel free to use it on your blog if you'd like.


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Saudis Must Love the Resupply of Israel

Hugh Hewitt notes that the New York Times is fretting about American replacement of Israel’s arsenal of precision-guided munitions as they get used up against Hezbollah. The New York Times completely misses the boat with their analysis.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
Angering Arab governments? What are they talking about? The Arab governments have come out strongly against Hezbollah. They’re all scared to death of Iran’s violent rhetoric and have no intention of assisting Iran’s client state, Syria. There are two increasingly polarized camps in the Middle East and it’s no longer Israel vs. the rest.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Saudis. They have money, power and lives of luxury. The last thing they want is some bunch of maniacs bringing instability to the region. Saudi Arabia and the others have no illusions about attacking Israel ever again. Michael Medved’s notions of Israeli land grabs aside, they’re also not concerned about an imperial Israel taking over the region. All they want is stability so they can enjoy their bank accounts. If they have to pay off the Palestinians from time to time and a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv gets blown up, well that’s fine. At least it wasn’t a pizza parlor in Riyadh.

With all that in mind, why would they care whether or not Israel gets resupplied? The bombs will be used against Iran’s puppet terrorists, and the Arab world will be far better off with less of them around. Sure, they’ll tut-tut about it and make fussy pronouncements to the media, but the die was cast when they came out and publicly chastised Hezbollah at the start of this whole thing.

That brings me to another thought. The Europeans are in a real quandary. Fanciful notions of the EU being a counterweight to America notwithstanding, they’re playing to the guys with the oil. They can’t very well come out and take a side against the Saudis. I would bet that’s why the one thing the G8 could agree on was criticism of Hezbollah. Supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia means domestic unrest from their pro-Palestinian immigrants. What a mess. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a great article on possible internal motivations driving Syria’s support for Hezbollah.

Syria faces serious economic problems at home -- unemployment and poverty are rising, while oil reserves are about to run dry -- the pro-Hezbollah foreign policy provides the regime with a convenient rallying cry to shore up support among citizens.
That pipeline of missiles from Syria to Hezbollah won’t last forever. The timing of the attacks may have coincided with purges in Syria and the feeling that it was now or never.

The state-dominated economy is stagnating, and the Baath party, after tentative steps of economic overhaul, appears to have slowed down the pace. The economy is dominated by inefficient industrial and agricultural production, while oil, which Syria has long used to finance its bloated public sector, could run out as early as 2008, presenting the government with serious economic problems, particularly among the restive, unemployed youth. "A potential crisis is around the corner, because of oil," says Mr. Sukkar, the economic consultant.
For the Saudis and their friends, Israel blowing Hezbollah into the hereafter is the best of all worlds. It depletes Syria’s stock of ammunition that could be used against them if Syria ever went critical and best of all, someone else is doing all the dirty work for them.

Other bloggers discussing this:

The Real Ugly American, who rocks vigorously, has a great post.

All Things Beautiful has a great bit of artwork followed by an artful post.

The Partisan Times has a good one, too.

Hyscience connects the dots.

Captain's Quarters goes to town on this, too.

From the Mailbag: Supreme Leader vs. Maximum Leader

Sometimes we get email queries from people who are curious about the Feline Theocracy and want to know more, people who ask for autographed photos of our Maximum Leader or Jacob, people who want to sell us Viagra, Swiss watches or enlarge our organs (which ones?) and people who were married to the finance minister of Nigeria and he just got caught in a threshing machine and all his money is just collecting dust around the house and gosh wouldn't it be nice for us to have some of it.

Where was I?

Oh yes, the mailbag. Anyway, we recently received this letter.

"Dear K T Cat,

We hear on the radio about Ali Khameini, the Supreme Leader of Iran. We know that you are the Maximum Leader of the Feline Theocracy. What's the difference between a Supreme Leader and a Maximum Leader?

Edward Neephus
Billings, Montana"

Well, Mr. Neephus, the two are fairly easy to tell apart. One makes messes on the carpet, claws your drapes, throws up on the floor and brings dead things into your house hoping for a treat. The other is a cat.

It's a subtle difference, but we think that from these photos you'll be able to tell them apart.

Here, Supreme Leader Khameini is appearing on public access TV late at night to warn us about the dangers posed by silverfish. Or something like that.


K T Cat, our Maximum Leader, quietly shares her beauty with us all.


You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep.

Many of the Supreme Leader's friends have suffered terrible burns on their faces from accidents freebasing cocaine and have to wear masks.


Our Maximum Leader's friends are gorgeous creatures with their own blogs.


Their karaoke style is quite different, too.

Supreme Leader Khameini needs the lyrics written on a piece of paper. Here, he's performing some ghastly Peter, Paul and Mary protest song without any feeling at all.


Here, our Maximum Leader belts out The Girl I Knew Somewhere by heart. The crowd is rockin' out off camera.


The most notable difference, Mr. Neephus, between a Supreme Leader and a Maximum Leader is best defined by Taco Bell. A Supreme Leader is a leader covered in sour cream and guacamole. Just try doing that to a Maximum Leader.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Feline Milk Attack!

I'm sitting here trying to surf a few blogs while I eat a bowl of cereal and what happens? Our Maximum Leader executes a classic Milk Attack. First, there is the frontal assault.


After the bowl is put out of her reach comes the reconnaissance.


Not to be denied, she explores bridging the gulf that separates her from her objective.


In the end, she withdrew, tempted by a sunbeam in another room. Whew! Was that a close call.

General Sherman Correctly Predicted the New York Times

"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are." - General William T. Sherman from the Civil War.

Alien Thought Process

When I started writing this post, I had planned to make the point that the thought processes of Hamas and Hezbollah were utterly alien to us by showing how they were allowing their countries to fall into ruin while they spent their energies pointlessly attacking Israel.

For example, here is the Google Earth image of the only port in the Gaza strip in the town of Gaza.


The port is crude with no facilities to load freighters and virtually no roads leading to it. It is useless for anything more than small fishing boats.

The per capita income in Gaza is about $600. A comparable country is Yemen, whose per capita income is $900. Here's the port at Aden.


Aden, in contrast to Gaza, has paved roads and significant port facilities. I was also going to point out the state of the airport in Gaza.


Check out the unrepaired bomb damage that has made the runways useless. The point I planned to make was that Gaza, where there is a practically endless supply of cheap labor, was using their labor to dig tunnels under Israel's wall to capture Israeli soldiers by the ones and twos instead of repairing their airport and improving their port.

The analogy I wanted to pose was this. If you lived in a house that looked like this


would you work with whatever was at hand to repair it or would you tunnel under your neighbor's fence and kidnap his dog? The Palestinians (and by analagous, associative action, Hezbollah with its rocket attacks) chose tunneling.

That's a thought process that might as well come from Pluto for most of us. It represents a value system totally incompatible with our own, to the point where negotiation is impossible because we are negotiating to achieve orthogonal ends.

I was disappointed with the images of condemned houses I found and I began to search for images of homes in Gaza when I came across this site from David Sauveur.

This image from Gaza made me start thinking of the problem in terms of a mental disorder.

(Translated from French by Babelfish) In the district El Brazil, thus named because it was built thanks to assistances of the Brazilian government, a man makes his nap in what remains of its living room. The house with half destroyed at the time of an Israeli raid does not have any more a frontage.

I began to see the Gaza Strip with the Israeli wall as a sort of gigantic mental institution. The difference between that image and this one from Skid Row in Los Angeles seemed to be immaterial.


As I surfed through David Sauveur's photos, a totally different thought occurred to me. If you translate Mr. Sauveur's text it reads as if the Palestinians are victims of a heavily armed Israeli gang that just won't let them alone. My first thought after reading the translation above was that it lacked the context of the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel. After all, the Lebanese border with Israel was quiet for years until Hezbollah decided to attack. Mr. Sauveur's photos and text cried out for sympathy for the Palestinians, but all I could think of was "What did you think it was going to be like? That's what war zones look like."

Then it finally hit me. It is a war zone. The reason it still goes on is that the Palestinians don't realize that they've lost. In 1945, Germany was in ruins, but the Germans fought on. If you read first hand accounts from German soldiers, they all knew the war was lost so when the Nazi government surrendered, the soldiers laid down their arms. Compare photos of Gaza with this.

Gaza, today.

Germany, 1945.

The difference is that Hamas and Hezbollah don't think they've lost.

During the Civil War, General Sherman said this. "This war differs from other wars, in this particular. We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war." There is a better quote of his that I cannot find right now where he states that because they are fighting an idea rather than a government, victory will only be had when everyone who holds that idea dear knows, deep in their hearts, that they are beaten.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what we face today.

Blue Crab Boulevard suggests that the people of Gaza may be getting a clue.

Update: Thanks for the links and welcome to readers of The Real Ugly American, Woman Honor Thyself and The Random Yak!

Hot Diggity! The WSJ is Linking in the Blogosphere!

It may have been there for some time, but I just saw that the Wall Street Journal, at the bottom of every article online, uses Technorati to link to all the blogs who link to their articles. I used to read the Washington Post and blog from time to time about their articles, but now that I see the WSJ is throwing some linky love our way, I'll drop the WaPo like a rock and reference the best newspaper in the country.

The WSJ is getting in tune with blogging in other ways, too. For example, they offer a blog link aggregator a la Pajamas Media and TTLB giving their favorite blogs from the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. My favorite of their favorites was this entry from Israelity:

Suburb North of Tel Aviv: On Israelity, Maven offers an interesting take on news that Hezbollah's longer range rockets can reach deeper into the country. "All of a sudden it wasn't about those poor folks up north. It was about us. And we got the strangest instructions from the IDF: residents of Tel Aviv northward were told only to 'stay alert.' Stay alert? What did that mean? I followed orders and immediately made myself a strong cappuccino. OK, so I was alert. Now what? The order sounded suspiciously like the government was merely trying to say, 'if this happens, you can't say we didn't warn you, but really, we don't have a clue.'"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Declining Test Scores at the Columbia School of Journalism?

If the New York Times and its brethren are seeing lower circulation numbers and the network newsmedia are seeing fewer viewers, what does that do for people considering a career in journalism? Wouldn't you expect to see fewer people applying for journalism schools?

An interesting metric would be the average combined SAT or GRE scores of those entering into the Columbia University School of Journalism. With fewer applicants, you would expect those numbers to decrease.

Actually, you'd probably see it first at the secondary journalism schools. Hmmm. I wonder where you could find such data.

Thursday 13, Totally Random Thoughts Edition

1. My new gaura lindheimeri are blooming. It sure didn’t take them long to get used to their new home.


2. My home router died this week. It had been slowly getting worse and worse and I had suspected the cable modem but when it finally gave up the ghost, I was able to quickly isolate the problem.

3. The key to solving problems like this is to simplify the system and then add components until it fails. I started by removing everything and hooking a single laptop up to the cable modem with nothing in between. When I found that it worked, I knew the problem was probably the router.

4. The speed increase is amazing. I must have been living with near dial-up speeds for quite a while.

5. While the router was down, the computers were off. It was a nice break.

6. I still looked forward to blogging some more. I would get ideas for posts, but not be able to write them. It was frustrating. Of course, the new router doesn't solve the blogger photo upload problem. It is still a dog. I've got a gaura photo to bring up, but I can't seem to get it to work. Update: My blogging buddy Justin suggested www.tinypic.com and it is the best! That's how I got the gaura photo up there.

7. I planted some festucas last week. What’s a festuca? This is.


They’re teeny right now, but they eventually grow to 8-10” tall. I can’t wait.

8. In the last two weeks I have become comfortable with cooking homemade spaghetti sauce and slow-cooked barbeque. I had done spaghetti sauce before, but I always needed a recipe. I’m used to Cajun cooking and I can do that by memory.

9. The key to the ribs is to use a dry rub of spices on them and then cook them in the oven at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours before putting the sauce and grilling them briefly.

10. Yum. I love ribs.

11. The death of my router stopped me from doing a World of Good (WOG) post this week. That’s two of the last three weeks without a WOG.

12. I’ve got two great WOGs waiting to be written and posted.

13. I usually visit lots of other Thursday Thirteens on Thursday mornings and leave my links. I don’t have time for that today. Let’s see what happens when I don’t. Update: I gave in when I came home tonight and I'm stopping by others' TTs.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This Had to Hurt

Asymmetric Naval Warfare

The cruise missile attack by Hezbollah on the Israeli Saar 5 corvette this week threatens the entire Israeli Navy with obsolesence. Other bloggers have discussed the missile. It has a range of about 50 miles, can be launched from a truck and by all rights should have sunk the corvette if its warhead hadn't been a dud. This is just a guess, but I would bet that the corvette costs on the order of $100M fully equipped. That's a lot of money to lose from a single truck-launched cruise missile.

CDR Salamander has a timely post that suggests that the Saar 5's Close In Weapon System (CIWS) was not turned on due to the presence of friendly air assets in the area and the concern that the CIWS would shoot down Israeli aircraft.

The consensus is that the Saar 5 should have been able to stop this threat cold. It's designed to do so. I've got another question. What will the Israeli Navy do when Hezbollah launches shore-based torpedoes? If they've got one, it's not unreasonable to think they've got the other.

The Culprit has been Found!

It turns out that my Internet connection was just fine. Stellar, in fact. The problem was my router. It must have been clogged up with bits in its filters. I probably sent too many 1's.

As soon as I can replace the router, there is much blather to come!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dead Home Internet Connection = No Blogging

Being unable to blog with so many cool things going on in the world to blather about is like being on the Cindy Sheehan liquid fast for peace diet at K-Paul's.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Giving In

This is an entirely vain post. Before I go on, let me see if I have something to reward the people that took the time and clicked over here to see what was going on at The Sratching Post. Hmmm. How about this?



As I was saying, this post is all about subject matter choices and how to handle comments. I've discovered that I am a spastic blogger. I can't entirely direct my writing energies. If something looks interesting, I write about it. I've tried to stop writing about politics, but sometimes the call is too great. I then put some mild disclaimer at the top of the post about how I wish I wasn't doing this and then go on to blather for another 8-10 paragraphs. No more. When I feel the need, I will embrace the Dark Side.

The primary reason I wanted to avoid politics was to the nastiness that crops up in the comments sections of such blogs. Yesterday I discovered a way to do both. I went 16 rounds with an anonymous commenter on this post and discovered a way to calm things down.

It's said that you can get a loud drunk to quiet down if you whisper to him. I tried the same thing in that comment thread. Ever time he tried to be aggressive, I didn't resist and came back in (what I hoped was) a kind voice. At then end it seemed to work. See for yourself.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rationalizing My Gloating

In the past, I have gloated over the decline of the Mainstream Media (MSM). Sifting through the blogosphere today, I've come across some outstanding posts by Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters that discuss the Saddam-era Iraqi documents currently being translated. Mr Morrisey's work has been stellar and are helping describe the inner workings of the Baath Party and it's relationships to the rest of the world. Nowhere is this to be found in the MSM.

I find the lack of this kind of contextual analysis utterly immoral on the part of the MSM. The documents paint a picture of a very active enemy bent on sowing chaos and destruction across the globe. If it weren't for blogs like Captain's Quarters, we'd never know about this.

I've written numerous times about the dire financial straits of the MSM. Read CQ and you might come to the same conclusion that I did: they deserve it.

CQ links:

Baathist Iraq plans terror campaigns against the West.

More linkages between Osama and Saddam.

Baathist concern about radioactivity problems following Clinton's cruise missile strikes. Radioactivity problems!

Saddam's subsidies for terrorism.

My previous posts on the MSM:

The MSM using bad news as cheap filler material.

An economics discussion of the decline of the MSM.

Comparing the MSM to ignorant, rioting French students.

Comparing the decline of the MSM to the French Revolution.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Syria's Already Lost

I know I swore off political posts a while back, but recent world events have been too tempting and I can't resist playing the parlor windbag one more time.

Preliminaries

Someone asked if what happened to the Israeli corvette could happen to US Navy ships. Not likely. Our ships are equipped with point defense systems designed to shoot down incoming flying things. You'd need many, many flying things all at once to hope to get one through. Picture the Japanese kamikazes in World War II.

With all due respect to the Israeli Navy, they are the JV team. When the varsity squad shows up, it's time to run away.

Update: My bad. Both the Saar 4 and Saar 5 Israeli corvettes have the Phalanx close in weapon system. The Saar 5 that got hit had its turned off because of friendly aircraft in the area and ignorance about Hezbollah's missile technology.

The Israeli campaign to date is a classic prelude to invasion. They've gone after sensors and transportation. Knocking out radar installations, bridges, power plants and the rest effectively blinds and paralyzes the people on the ground. Hezbollah had better be ready to fight with what they've got right now because there isn't much new stuff on the way.

That also means that every rocket they fire is one less they have. After firing, what, 500-800 rockets they've managed to kill 5-10 people? That just won't cut it. Yes, I know, the MSM has a mayfly's memory and images of Berlin and Tokyo in ruins may as well be from Cromwell's era, but in reality that's a pretty poor strategic bombing campaign.

When the Israeli Air Force is finished, the Israeli army will be able to choose the time, place and duration of all engagements. Maybe they're coming to stay this time, maybe not. The choice will be theirs, not Hezbollah's, Lebanon's or Syria's.

Which brings me to my main point.

Syria has already lost.

Big Pharaoh has the scoreboard. Syria's buddies in the Middle East have smacked them down hard in public. They are most displeased with Hezbollah.

"These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them," Saudi al-Faisal told his counterparts.

Supporting his stance were representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, delegates said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
By my count, that's 8 Arab states taking the side of Israel over Hezbollah.

Put yourself in Syria's shoes. You're surrounded by enemies on all sides. Your only friends are the Iranians and there are three or four US divisions, two carrier battlegroups and 1/3 of the US Air Force between you and them. Your economy is a Stalinist train wreck. Your army is designed for killing your own civilians. You've lost your proxy government in Lebanon to a local revolution.

Now your only remaining friends in Lebanon, Hezbollah, have pulled off a stunt that is the equivalent of whacking a beehive with sticks and then chucking it over the fence into your yard.

What's the end result?

Your Arab brethren have taken the side of the Jews over you. The Jews! Once this is all over, you're going to have a lot of wheedling and whining to do to get back in their good graces. Unlike Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, you don't have any oil money to do it with.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are revealing you for the cowardly blowhard you are. You don't dare march in to help your Hezbollah buddies in Lebanon because you know the Israelis would mop the floor with you.

Of course, there's an easy way for Syria to get back on the good side of her neighbors. Some Syrian general could put a shiv in the back of el presidente, have a quick, but hyper-violent purge and then inform the world that there is a new regime in Syria and can't we all just get along?

I really don't see what Syria has gained from all of this.

By the way, if you've come across this from a link, here's what this blog is really all about, in addition to photos of our Maximum Leader and the Syrian hamster.

Update: Commenter Carol Herman on the Captain's Quarters blog has hit the nail right on the head.

The Israeli demand that Syria make sure the hostages are released assumed that there is some kind of command and control link between Syria and the kidnappers. It may be that this whole thing took Syria, Iran and even the Hezbollah leadership by surprise. I'd bet that right about now Syrian leadership has almost no clue as to what the tactical situation on the ground looks like.

By the way, I think you can just forget about the idea that this will be a distraction for the West while Iran marches ahead with it's nuclear program. Unlike dictatorships and the MSM, free societies can multitask like there's no tomorrow. The folks working on the Iranian situation will get up and go to work on Monday and work on the Iranian situation. It's not like they're all rushing over to deal with Syria. We empower and entrust our subordinate organizations to do their jobs without the constant oversight of their hierarchy.

OpFor's got a good take on the Israeli's prepping the battlespace.

Update #2: Michael Totten suggests that Israel's spasm of violence was a bad idea in the way it was practiced because it went too far north into Lebanon. They could have separated southern, Hezbollah Lebanon from the rest and gone crazy against them. He certainly knows more than I do. I bow to his superior knowledge.

Rescue Me - Or Maybe Not

Yesterday I was getting ready for work when I heard our Maximum Leader crying out in her "I fell asleep in the closet and you didn't notice me and closed the door and that was OK, but now I want out and I'm trapped" meow. Expecting to find her behind one of our doors I searched until I found her on top of our stackable washer-dryer unit, looking down and crying.

It was all a false alarm. She could get down easily, but she wanted me to come and resuce her or at least notice where she was. I told her she could get down by herself. Typically when these things happen and I try to rescue her, she moves away from me so I can't reach her and makes me get a taller ladder. I don't think cats like to be picked up by someone under them. It must be more comfortable to be picked up from above.




Be sure to visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Two Quick Thoughts

Two thoughts I had today while reading the news out of Israel.

1.  The two alternative concepts for dealing with the Islamofascists have been tried.  The Coalition invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and tackled them head on.  The Israelis disengaged.  The result of both efforts was war.  One war fought on Israel's homeland and the other fought on the Islamofascists homeland.  This leads you to conclude that the West did not declare war, the Islamofascists did.  No matter which way you turned, you got war.

2.  If Saddam were still in power, he'd be working feverishly to get the bomb.  He couldn't afford to allow his arch-enemy, Iran, to have it and be without it himself.  Imagine a Middle East with both Iraq and Iran nuclear powers.

The Left Side of the Blogosphere as Mrs. Jellyby

Charles Dickens described the current left side of the blogosphere quite accurately in his novel, Bleak House.
Mrs. Jellyby, whose face reflected none of the uneasiness which we could not help showing in our own faces as the dear child's head recorded its passage with a bump on every stair--Richard afterwards said he counted seven, besides one for the landing--received us with perfect equanimity. She was a pretty, very diminutive, plump woman of from forty to fifty, with handsome eyes, though they had a curious habit of seeming to look a long way off. As if--I am quoting Richard again--they could see nothing nearer than Africa!

The left side of the blogosphere is finally weighing in on the Israeli actions in Gaza and their conclusion, like their conclusion to every event, is that the Bush administration has screwed everything up.

E. J. Dionne:
Today, with Israeli troops battling on their northern and southern borders, with Iran ignoring calls for negotiations on nuclear weapons, with Baghdad in flames and with many of Iraq's moderates living in fear, those Cheney sentences stand as the most telling indictment of the administration's failures.

Taylor Marsh:
Hey, but by the time I wake up out here in the western United States, who knows what could have happened. One thing I believe, no matter the outcome, is that none of this would have happened if Hezbollah and Israel, our ally, didn't feel we were in a weakened state, due to Iraq and President Bush's lack of credibility, which has set us all on an unknown course.

Carl Nyberg:
Some in the Bush administration clearly want to widen the conflict to the United States attacking Iran. What are the drawbacks of attacking Iran? How is the Israel lobby pushing the United States toward war with Iran?

jmsjoin:
As we watch the latest sparring between Israel and Lebanon I had a lot to discuss with you. However I find it necessary to mention the latest and include links for you to read.  We are hearing many say they fear this conflict could lead to a total middle east breakdown. It has broken down and the world better realize that, act accordingly, and thank Bush for setting it in motion.

There are mighty strategic end games being played out across the globe.  Iran and Syria, surrounded by enemies, yet implacable in their hate for the West, are drawing to an inside straight in the hopes of destabilizing the region and gaining power in the chaos.  At the same time, bombs are going off in Indonesia, Russia, India and elsewhere, driven by the same forces.  Some in the civilized world, such as Europe, are on the sidelines while the US, Britain, Israel and Australia are striving to protect civilization.  The day is coming when India as a neutral will be a thing of the past.

Nothing from the left side of the blogosphere addresses the geopolitical situation.  Nowhere is Iran or Syria or the wider global Islamofascist Jihad discussed except within the context of American blundering.  It's as if we are the primary agent of instability in a region that without us would be peaceful and prosperous.

The right side of the blogosphere, with uneasiness which we can not help showing, is debating and examining the issues.  The left has cultivated the curious habit of seeming to look past these issues, as if they can see nothing but their hatred for George Bush.

A special thanks to Hugh Hewitt, Austin Bay and Pajamas Media for providing outstanding summaries of the situation.

KT and Orchid