Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Really Controversial Film for Spike Lee

Spike Lee has just released a film called “CSA: The Confederate States of America.” Entertainment Weekly hails it as what could be the most controversial movie you will ever see. It shows scenes of slaves being sold on QVC and other projections of what life would be like in a modern day Confederacy.

Mr. Lee and his colleagues have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to discuss race relations through their film. I do not question their motives. Allow me to suggest a much better subject that could do the same thing with far greater appeal. I suggest a biopic on Dr. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer.

At the time of his explorations in the 1840s and 1850s, England was opposed to slavery. Livingstone vigorously fought it and that partially motivated his exploration. From Exploration of Africa, by Thomas Sterling:
“I feel assured,” wrote Livingstone, “that if Christian merchants would establish a legitimate commerce on the Zambezi they would drive slave dealers out of the market, and would certainly be no losers in the end.” Initially, at least, his desire to explore the Zambezi was prompted by a passionate belief that if he succeeded in marking out trade routes in southern Africa, the institution of slavery would topple.
In the 1850s, slavery was a profitable enterprise. Many African tribes were making a handsome profit selling slaves and mining and agricultural firms in the New World were buying them as fast as they could. The financial temptations of slavery seduced the buyers and sellers into evil and Dr. Livingstone knew it. So long as selling humans made more money than selling the fruit of their labor, Africans and Europeans captured and sold slaves.

Dr. Livingstone’s life had great drama and moral choices. His explorations were amazing feats of human endurance and determination. The people he encountered, both African and European, ran the full spectrum of the human experience, from sublime to utterly evil.

The movie could also be shot entirely in Africa. The cinematography would be gorgeous and the filming would prove an economic boon to some places that could use the cash. I’d pay just to see the landscapes in the background.

Most of all, the movie could be a vehicle for the kind of complicated messages that Spike Lee has given us in the past. My favorite film of his was one of his first, Do the Right Thing. Subtle and deeply layered, that movie caused me to do a lot of soul searching about my own attitudes towards race. A movie about Dr. Livingstone could explore the personal conflicts in religion, politics, relationships, business and more.

As for controversy, what subject could have more? Imagine a popular, avant-garde, modern day filmmaker doing a film complimentary of a white, Christian missionary and revolutionary Africans who tried to use free market forces to eliminate tyrannical oppression. In Hollywood, how much more daring could you be?


Monday, February 27, 2006

Zarqawi's New Command Structure

With a hat tip to freerepublic and adn, I give you the official Scratching Post review of this article.


Baghdad, 27 Feb. (AKI) - The organization of al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has adopted a new command structure, according to Salafite sources quoted by the Arabic news portal Wifaq.
Let me guess. It has him at the top. With that in mind, what’s the big difference? When you’re not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
The new line-up is said to include a sort of shadow government at the head of the organisation mandated to direct all the activities of the group.
Activities?!? What is this, a church youth group? Wait a minute. Holy scriptures, young recruits, older mentors leading prayers and other daily events…that’s exactly what this is. It’s a very demented church youth group. I’d love to hear their guitar group songs.
Al-Zarqawi has been flanked by six 'ministers' and by a chief of staff who will coordinate all the operational brigades, the sources said.
These six ministers will also act as pallbearers for the successful recruits…

In a document entitled "The strategy of al-Qaeda in Iraq", the group outlines a new decentralized and flexible organizational structure.
Read: a bunch of maniacs, slathered in Semtex running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

In the new hierarchy al-Zarqawi's number two would be Abu Abdel Rahman al-Iraqi who also has the role of 'interior minister' and oversees the internal affairs of the organization.
In the time-honored tradition of such people, first initiated by the 1960’s television series, Star Trek, Abu Abdel Rahman has donned a red uniform.
He has also been tasked with overseeing the direct links between al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Iraqi and other Arab volunteers who enroll in al-Qaeda.
Enroll in al-Qaeda? Do you receive a brochure in the mail when you get near grade-school graduation? “Considering your future? Worried about your career? Consider joining al-Qaeda. Within a few weeks, both your career and future will be, er, taken care of."

The 'minister of defense' is Abu Asir, whose role is to infiltrate militants into the Iraqi security forces and army, as well as direct the suicide bomber brigade which al-Zarqawi considers central.
When your minister of defense is in charge of killing your soldiers, you need a new minister of defense.
“Mr. Zarqawi, I need some more soldiers.”
“What did you do with the last ones I sent you?”
“I killed them all.”
“Well, that’s a relief. For a second I thought they had retired and we owed them a pension.”

A 'religious affairs' post has been given to Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi, who issues fatwas and other religious edicts as well as overseeing the spiritual life of the group.
OK, here’s what I want more than anything else in the world. Well, almost anything else. I want the rubber stamp on his desk with his signature. You know, the one his secretary uses to “sign” all of the mundane paperwork that goes through his office. Imagine the fun we could have signing one preposterous fatwa after another. It would look like Woody Allen’s Bananas. “From now on, the official language of al-Qaeda will be Swedish!”

The crucial role of 'information minister', overseeing Internet statements and working to attract recruits via the Internet, has been given to Abu Maysira al-Iraqi.
Well, that’s a dead giveaway. Set up your filters to send everything from this guy into your spam bin. Spam. Hmm. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

Well, there you have it. A marginally interesting post on a grumbleblogging Monday. Just remember, I warned you before. Link to this blog or face doom.

Monday Morning Grumbleblogging

It's Monday. I had to work for too much of the weekend. It's 5:30AM and I have more to do for work before I go in to work. I have a headache. I have a bunch of blog posts in my head, but they won't come out. I didn't get an entry into the Carnival of Cats in time. Grumble grumble grumble.

On the plus side, a bunch of cute 8 and 9 year old girls, including my daughter, gave me a present and a card yesterday for helping coach their soccer team. Last night I helped my son mix lead, rythym and bass tracks he had recorded off of his guitar. It came out pretty well for a first cut. The excitement in his eyes was worth it all.

Hmmm. Not much to grumble about, really.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Renewable Resource for Peace

Here at The Scratching Post, we’re all about slavish obedience to our blog masters. Stoptheaclu and the Alliance send the commands and we leap into action!

The Alliance has asked, “What underutilized resources could we apply towards winning the War on Terror?” Fortunately for us, Stoptheaclu has provided the answer.

The answer is conspiracy theories!

Just look at the stoptheaclu post. A group of people has put off grocery shopping, mowing the lawn and fixing the sink to make signs and march because they’re afraid that a bunch of civil servants are spying on them. Can you imagine what that would look like if it were really happening? Large-scale spying would require a huge organization.

Imagine the DMV or CALTRANS carrying out domestic surveillance. Dozens of people standing around with orange vests and surly attitudes taking endless coffee breaks and telling each other that this or that wasn’t their department. They’d be fumbling around with antiquated equipment trying to listen in on some moonbat’s conversation with the phone company where said moonbat was trying to delay paying their bill as they had spent all their money making signs for the protest.

I once heard a young man on Michael Medved’s show discuss a book he had written claiming that the 2004 election had been stolen by rigged electronic voting machines. He had all kinds of circumstantial evidence that, taken at face value, strongly suggested a conspiracy. Just the slightest understanding of politicians and software showed this to be idiocy. The people running our political parties aren’t smart enough to be given the pointy scissors, much less rig a computer system that undergoes all manner of IV&V. The author thought he was marketing his book while all the time he was telling us what a moron he was.

What is the result of conspiracy theories? Fear. Paranoia. Paranoid people take no chances. Any risky behavior could lead to incarceration or worse. Mustn’t make waves or stand out. They will see you. They will get you. Live a quiet, ordinary life. Discuss the conspiracy with your comrades in secret code. Tell each comrade a slightly different story, just in case they are working for them.

Protest? I think not. They are watching. Their cameras are everywhere! The unblinking eyes of their robotic minions are all around!

Riot? Hardly. The stormtroopers are massed just around the corner, awaiting a signal from them to rush in and bludgeon all who oppose The New World Order / Halliburton / The Zionists / K T Cat. (The latter is true. Link to our blog or you will regret it.)

Just think of a world where more people are strongly motivated by the dark fears that come from a belief in these conspiracies. No one would dare cause problems. It would look like we were all living with Ozzie and Harriet. It could be even blander still, like My Three Sons.

There you have it. Conspiracy theories. A renewable resource for peace. If you don’t agree, leave a comment and your current location. We would like to know.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

The World's Most Expensive Shoelaces

No, we're not talking about the ones the President of Dirkadirkastan bought his nagging wife as an apology after a night of knocking back frozen Stolis with the boys. We're talking about this:

Woman Sues Nike Over Poor Shoe Design

The Nike Corporation is reviewing a complaint by a woman who argues she fell while running when her shoelace hooked on the back of her right shoe tab. Due to the permanent injury to her right wrist, the woman, who is an orthopedic surgeon, claims she can no longer perform operations by herself. The claim, which seeks an award upward of ten million dollars, has been filed in the State of New York.

This gives me an idea. Let me tell you my (mostly) true story and you can let me know whom I should sue.

One day while I was jogging over to the orphanage to bring them chewable vitamins (the ones shaped like Hollywood celebrities, the ones with the slogan "they make you grind your teeth anyway, so you might as well get something good out of it") I stopped to tie my shoelaces. The laces had come undone because I had to donate one of them to make a tourniquet for a hemophiliac woman who had stabbed herself with a "Save the Whales - Collect the Whole Set" button. I cut the other shoelace in half with my teeth while rescuing a disabled child's cat from a tree, dangling the two halves in front of the feline to coax her down from the branches.

Anyway, I was tying my half shoelaces when my eyes chanced to rest upon an injured vole, struggling to limp it's way across the street. I got up to rescue the vole when I tripped on my untied shoelaces and fell to the ground. Just then, an asphalt repair truck drove by and as it swerved to miss me, boiling tar splashed out of one of its containers, splattering me with a mist of sticky, hot, black liquid.

It being a windy day, I was soon covered in bracken as the tumbleweeds that were prevalent in this area rolled past me and stuck on the tar. When I reached down to rescue the vole, I accidentally speared the little creature with a thorn that had affixed itself to my right hand, impaling the poor beast and killing it instantly.

Stricken with grief, I staggered back to the sidewalk and sat down heavily upon the curb, tears welling up in my eyes. As it turned out, the tears were due not to the grief of having committed Arvicolinaeicide, but instead due to the sudden rush of pain as a particularly long spike of tumbleweed drove itself into my nether regions.

Involuntarily I leaped up, and as luck would have it, the violent motions of my arms dislodged the vole from my hand and flung it across the street where it landed in the teacup of one Mrs. Gorgonblatz, noted society matron, who was entertaining the wife of the Peruvian Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in Charge of Broccoli Hybridization in the patio dining area of the posh bistro Le Cuiller Graisseux.

As you might expect, this caused quite a stir and, attempting to avoid a scene, I endeavored to innocently resume my journey to the orphanage without notice. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it is not as easy to blend in with one's surroundings when one is covered with tar and brambles as one might think.

I was soon being pursued by the maitre d’ and two of his waiters who were brandishing salad dressing bottles and pepper mills in a most inhospitable manner, crying out dire threats to do me bodily harm. I pelted down the street at top speed, or as close to it as I might achieve, what with the bracken glued to my inner thighs chafing me mercilessly.

Seeking safe harbor, I ducked into the first open doorway I found. As fate would have it, the doorway belonged to Festus B. McGillicuddy, taxidermist, who was, at the time, on his hands and knees making repairs to the carpet directly in front of his door. (The repairs had been necessitated by an unfortunate incident involving a local hunter, a sewing needle and a puma who was not quite as dead as it first appeared. But I digress.)

I regret to inform you that my rapid entrance to his establishment and the unfortunate geometry of the situation led me to quite bowl over Mr. McGillicuddy and launch myself through the air onto his workbench where he was preparing an unusually large boar's head for a local sportsman.

I can now say with some certainty, that the diameter of a boar's head is somewhat less than that of a human head, but not so much less that it would be impossible to fit the latter inside the former with some application of force. This fascinating bit of information became quite vital to me as I attempted to remove the boar's head from my own.

At this time, the employees of Le Cuiller Graisseux entered the store and began to assail me with volleys of peppercorns and vinaigrette while fiercely exhorting me to avoid their establishment in the future. I can assure you that a blend of peppercorns, vinaigrette and small gashes on the skin from brambles is a most unpleasant combination.

To shorten this tale, let me just conclude by saying that I am now having to pay restitution to all concerned. However, my recent interaction with CALA has led me to believe that I might yet profit from this adventure with the proper mixture of defendants, fraudulent medical claims and unscrupulous attorneys.

I leave it to you, dear readers, to recommend a course of action that might maximize my advantage in this matter.

And I promise that all that I have related to you is true, save for the part directly following the phrase “One day.”


Friday, February 24, 2006

I Am An Adorable Little Rodent

I think they were talking about me.

I Am Not An Adorable Little Rodent

TTLB claims that I am an Adorable Little Rodent. That is patently false.

Accidents Happen

Last night I went to a friend’s house to attend a meeting of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA). At the meeting, a doctor and an activist spoke about the need for tort reform and the aggregate cost of frivolous lawsuits.

The activists showed a short video clip from a local news program where a lawyer had been going after local small businesses one by one and suing them for failing to comply with standards for disabled access. The guy used a form letter that claimed the business had violated all manner of arcane building codes and had a fictitious example of a disabled person who had suffered upon visiting that business. The expectation was that the business owner would settle out of court for a few thousand bucks.

Send a letter and get $8,000. Brilliant! Evil, but brilliant.

As I sat there, I tried to figure out what the general problem was. I came up with this:

Essentially, the problem is that the public is ignorant of the Normal Probability Distribution. Accidents will happen. For a doctor or dentist, if they happen at the first or second standard deviation, then something is terribly wrong. You can’t have a doctor screwing up 25% of the time. If they happen at the fifth or sixth standard deviation, then that’s probably just fate.

These lawsuits and the cases of egregious mistakes the press publish do not attempt to determine where on the probability curve the event occurred. Nor do they determine the cost of pushing these events one more standard deviation down the curve.

We all drive cars. We accept that there is some nonzero probability of getting killed in an accident every time we get in the car. From personal experience, we have some concept of just how unusual this is. We understand the cost-benefit trade off of driving. We could eliminate all traffic accidents if we just walked. What we don’t understand is just how unusual a tragically bad reaction to a drug is. Nor do we understand the cost-benefit trade-off of removing said drug from the market.

The real problem that CALA faces, the one we all face together as a society, is how to educate ourselves on this trade-off so we can make informed decisions in our laws and lives. My favorite talk show host, Hugh Hewitt, makes a good living crusading against the poor job done by the press, but at present, it is the press that will have to do the bulk of the education.

It seems to me that if the editors at the newspapers understood basic probability and statistics and basic business economics, they could read the articles written by their staff with an eye towards educating the public about the real cost-benefit trade-offs.

That job falls on those of us who care.

What do you think? Did I screw up somewhere along the line? Comments are most welcome.

The Blogosphere Strikes!
Following a comment by a reader, I removed a portion that claimed that a single malpractice lawsuit would end a doctor or dentist's career. I had thought this was a little on the hysterical side and a bit of research said it was indeed over the top. However, I stand by the rest of the post.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Action photos!

Here are some photos of me for you to keep or trade with your friends. Collect the whole set!

Just in case you were wondering, those tatoos weren't permanent.

And now, some completely gratuitous begging by the author.

Meet the next U. S. curling team!

Following our disappointing losses in the all-important Olympic sport of curling, the U. S. has turned to it's high-tech industries to provide an advantage. Meet Roomba, the 2010 U. S. curling team:

This team has the added advantage that should they lose, you can take them out back behind the rink and beat them to death with a shovel.

Not be outdone, the Russians have made similar modifications to their team in their own, typical, delicate Russian way:

I can hardly wait for the next Winter Olympics!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ferrari proves that kindness pays

Everyone has dreams.  Everyone wants his or her version of this:

In this discussion, the car is metaphorical.  It is an easily recognizable symbol of success.  It shows hard work and dedication that led to financial rewards that led to the ability to purchase something like that Ferrari.  The reward might just as easily be playing cello in the symphony or taking a vacation on Maui.

Why is there a Ferrari there in the first place?  How does one make a Ferrari so that the successful may purchase them?  Allow me to suggest that the Ferrari is not a symbol of power or of greed, but instead is a symbol of kindness and cooperation.  It all depends on how you look at it.

Everyone knows that cars consist of parts made of steel, rubber, leather, Plexiglas, copper wire and so on.  Stop and think for a moment what that means.  Just trace an oversimplified path of the steel for a little bit.  Steel is made from iron that is mined from the ground.  People got up in the morning, kissed their spouses at the door and went to work, mining iron.  Others mined coal.  The iron and coal were shipped to a furnace where other people formed it into rolled steel.  The rolled steel was then shipped to the Ferrari factory where people cut, shaped, painted, polished and attached it to the car.

The steel represents the cooperation of many, many people.  How many?  How about millions?  Billions?  Someone else manufactured the tools the miners used.  Those tools were made up of materials mined and collected by others.  The food the workers ate was grown and harvested by others.  It’s endless.  The same endless web of cooperation enmeshes the truck drivers who shipped the goods, the folks harvesting the rubber, the ones milling the copper wire and so on.

OK, I can hear it now.  “K T, you’re going off the deep end.  You’re turning into one of those hippy-dip lefties who preaches love and brotherhood and holding hands to save the rainforest.”

Stop thinking in terms of politics for a moment.  Look at it as enlightened self-interest.  You see, I want that Ferrari.  Well, my version of the Ferrari anyway.  I want Ferraris to be cheap and plentiful.  The Ferrari represents cooperation between people.  I want there to be more cooperation so we can have more Ferraris. Notice that I'm not mentioning government handouts or contributions in any of this.

I’m in marketing.  I’m relatively good at what I do.  I’ve been doing it for a while.  In the beginning, I was terrible at it.  I’m still learning.  What I’ve learned is that cooperation creates wealth.  Kindness accelerates cooperation.  Think about it.  How well do you cooperate with unkind people?

This post is getting too long and I want to return to the topic later when I’ve run out of ideas and I need an easy entry in my blog.  Wait a minute.  Did I just write that?  Dang!  I only meant to think it.

Anyway, I'm going to go off and get some tuna that was caught by fishermen on a boat built by boatyard workers using tools made from steel created from iron mined by miners who ate food grown by…

Here's some begging by the author.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bravery comes in many forms

Those of us that work with the military come face to face with brave men and women every day. Here's some bravery of a different sort. Scroll through her blog and I think you'll see what I mean.

Plus she's a Parrot Head, so she's even cooler. Whenever I see storm clouds on the Pacific outside my window, I think of the lyrics "Squalls out on the gulf stream, big storm's comin' soon..."

Humor (very early) in the Morning

On a tip from Angel, I checked out this. It's been determined to be cat-safe and 100% funny.

Man, this is too early to be going to work. Don't you people on the East Coast know that 0830 ET is too early for a teleconference?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Support the Danish Relief Fund!

Why be serious? This is a lot more fun.

From a Washington Post article by the editor who originally published the cartoons in Denmark describing why the cartoons were published in the first place:

At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.

This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship.
He couldn't urinate on a Koran? Well, that certainly disturbs me! I'm all for urinating on books. To think that such an act might meet with self-censorship is outrageous.

Well, there you have it. We're going through all kinds of convulsions of violence so that Danes can relieve themselves on books, free from any kind of restraint.

Support your local Danish Relief Fund. And be sure to visit your local library!

A few more squirts:

Assaulted by Islamofascist hackers, Michelle Malkin lists the most current reports. A web war and rioting so that Danes may moisten the Koran. Unreal. No, this isn't ridiculous. Absolutely not.

The criminal returns!

The local vandal and thief returned this morning to commit yet another crime. Sylvester the cat slithered into our house, jumped up on our kitchen counter and knocked over a bin of dog food.

This time I think he might have had an accomplice working on the inside.

Yes, we have a dog. He isn’t a blogger, though.

Last night it was kind of purple

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter! I was talking about the sunset. Sheesh!

Osama Bin Laden tripped up

Dear Scratching Post readers,

The animals and I were thrilled today to receive our first set of marching orders from our masters at stoptheaclu. In addition to being obedient robots, we thought we’d help them out by amplifying their message.

Please share this info with your readers.
Aha! A call to arms! We leap into action! Jacob is running furiously on his exercise wheel and K T has her face buried in her food dish.

Link to post at stoptheaclu.com

Osama bin Laden promised never to be captured alive and declared the U.S. had resorted to the same "repressive" tactics used by Saddam Hussein, according to an audiotape purportedly by the al-Qaida leader that was posted Monday on a militant Web site.
A militant website? Darn those militant websites! I’ll bet they’re the source of all those denial of service attacks. My website isn’t militant. It just kind of sits there. I mean, I don’t think it’s militant. I’m not watching it all the time and Lord knows the animals have more important things to do.

The tape appeared to be a complete version of one that was first broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel, in which bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce but also said his al-Qaida terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil.
Well, that tears it. A fresh attack on American soil. Just wait until the people at Proctor and Gamble hear about this. Or anyone else in the fabric care industry, for that matter. Enemy attacks on American soil are a direct threat to the dry cleaning and detergent industrial base that forms the foundation of our great land. This cannot be allowed to occur!

"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said.
Here Osama Bin Laden makes a crucial mistake. He reveals that he is an obsessive coupon clipper. “I have sworn to only live free.” We’ve got him now. Put out an APB for an Arabic man in a supermarket checkout line with a purse filled with coupons. OK, OK, it’s not really a purse. I mean, girls carry purses. Men carry those fanny pack things. And OBL, being a very manly man, would never carry a purse. His fanny pack would be a manly color. Like black.

In drawing the comparison to American military behavior in Iraq to that of Saddam, the speaker said:
"The jihad is continuing with strength, for Allah be all the credit, despite all the barbarity, the repressive steps taken by the American Army and its agents, to the extent that there is no longer any mentionable difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam."
Next time could we please have an English speaker record these OBL messages? What on Earth does this mean? It’s gibberish. Have fun diagramming that sentence. The subject is “The jihad” and the verb is “is continuing.” “Despite all the barbarity” is a modifier for the verb, but everything after that seems detached.

Wait a minute. Check this out. Let’s reconstruct the sentence from its component parts.

“The jihad is continuing.”

“The jihad is continuing with strength.”

“The jihad is continuing with strength to the extent that there is no difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam.”


That last clause modifies the original verb! OBL is calling his movement a criminal enterprise. What a dope! Perhaps he has an inferiority complex. Maybe he’s turning out like Howard Hughes. Howard was a millionaire who lived in a cave, too.

But I digress. Let’s finish that last sentence by paraphrasing it.

“The jihad is continuing with strength as a criminal enterprise because Allah wills it despite the best efforts of the Americans and their allies.”

Well, that’s a slogan I’m sure we can all support. Err, maybe not. And I’m not so sure I want to go around saying that Allah is backing criminal enterprises. Once He leaves the DA’s office, He’s going to come looking for the guy what ratted Him out. All those deaths by lightning could have been accidents, but I’m not taking any chances by turning state’s evidence on the Big Man.

So here’s what we’ve learned: OBL is a detergent manufacturer who clips coupons and speaks in gibberish who’s on the lam from Allah. OK, CIA, there’s your lead. Now run with it. You’re welcome.

Well that’s all for now, folks. The staff here at The Scratching Post has got a lot on their plates today. Jacob has to crawl into his den to sleep, K T has to go and contemplate the meaning of the universe while sprawled out on my son’s bed and I need to decide whether this is called “The Scratching Post” or the “Scratching Post” since I seem to be inconsistent in my capitalization of the definite article in our title.

Welcome Carnival of Comedy visitors!

May I also recommend: Meet the Next U. S. Curling Team!

Or perhaps: It's the Gumbelympics!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Danish Cartoons are Stalingrad

Defense of the Danish cartoons is becoming the equivalent of Stalingrad for the cause of defeating Islamofascism.  It’s a seductive, but totally worthless goal that’s devouring resources and sowing the seeds of future problems.

We were already defending free speech in the way the Islamofascists fear most.  Like this.

For the most part, we have completely blown it with respect to the Danish cartoons.  We have taken the bait and run headlong into the battle the Islamofascists wanted to fight: a frontal attack on Islam.

It starts with knowing what we want.  I would suggest that we want a peaceful, cooperative and constructive relationship with the Moslem world.  We would like to engage in economic and cultural trade with them.  Our actions suggest this.  We have not sent the military into Iraq to steal their oil.  We sent them into Iraq to help them build their oil infrastructure so they could sell the stuff on the open market.

Furthermore, we sent the military into Iraq to depose a bloodthirsty dictator, liberate a people and build a prosperous, stable, free, Moslem nation.  I emphasize the religious part because, implicitly, that’s what we were doing.  Iraq is a Moslem nation the way America is a Christian nation.  We didn’t go to convert them like the Islamofascists claim; we went to help them be stronger, freer Moslems.

What we want is this:

What we want to stop is this:

Any act that doesn’t get us closer to our objective is either counterproductive or a waste of time.  This is war and for those of us not at the front, the media, including the blogosphere, is our Victory Garden.

We have turned this into a defense of free speech.  On some level, it is.  But what do you think we were doing before?  What do you call this?

Putting a crucifix in urine is free speech, too.  Is that where we want to hold the debate?  All across the blogosphere we have reprinted the cartoons.  In the comments, trolls have flourished, pointing out or synopsizing passages from the Koran that suggest hideous things about the Prophet.  Allow me to quote from Leviticus, part of the book that serves as the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.

Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life. Anyone who maims another, what he inflicted will be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; what injury he gave to another will be given to him. One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death.
(Leviticus 24:17-21)

That’s not Mary Poppins, is it?  And yet we respect learned scholars of Judaism to interpret those passages in a way that suggests that we don’t want to maim and slaughter our way to societal order.  Have we done the same thing for the Koran?  

Instead, we’re engaged in a war of images and words where each side races to hurl still worse insults at each other.  Do you really want to spend your time in a discussion where Hitler is in bed with Anne Frank or the Prophet is committing bestiality?  If this were a party, would you rush over to join in such a conversation?  Would you care who was right or would you think that both sides were swine and move on to something more interesting?

The Islamofascists are going to incite violence.  It’s their most effective weapon and their going to wield it as best they can.  When they use it do this

they get enemies in the general population.  When they use it to defend the Koran and the Prophet from Western libertines, they get recruits.

Let’s withdraw from Stalingrad before the trap closes around us all.  The real battle is being won here:

What did you do to support the war today?

More dispatches from Stalingrad:

Michelle Malkin just sent more troops to take the heart of the city. Oh, this will work!

Powerline gives us evidence that we're losing ground in some sectors. Send in more troops!

Tigerhawk has an Instalinked post that discusses possible responses to the controversy. In it and the following discussion and comments, it's mentioned that the Pope disapproves of the Danish cartoons to which one commenter replies "F*** the Pope." Yay! Fratricide! Keep your eye on the ball, boys. We have met the enemy and he is us!

The American embassy in Indonesia has been attacked. Go team! Go back and look at the pictures of what we want to accomplish and ask yourself how those cartoons helped. Looks like we're deep into Stalingrad now. Time to deploy reinforcements and wage a defensive war against rioting mobs at our embassies. Hey, how about if we all publish new rounds of inflammatory cartoons? I'm just sure that will help rebuild the Afghan and Iraqi infrastructure and cut into support for the Islamofascists.

Dig this:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani security forces arrested hundreds of Islamic hard-liners, virtually sealed off the capital and used gunfire and tear gas Sunday to quell protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Right on! Yep, that looks like a sure path to victory to me. Hmmm, there's a word for this. It's when the other side is getting what they want and you're not getting anything you want. Oh yeah, I remember now. It's called "getting your ass kicked."

You know, a photo of an unveiled Iraqi woman holding up a purple finger is considered blasphemous to the Islamofascists. Good thing we didn't run those and chose instead to show cartoons of Mohammed with bombs. It's a real pleasure to have the Danish cartoonists on our team. Thanks, guys.

Michelle Malkin shows a map giving us the path towards, er, victory? Well, in any case, it's too late to get out now. Call for reinforcements!

The great Uncle Jim partially misses the mark. Moslems in Iraq are giving good intel about al-Qaeda at great risk to themselves. Moslem leaders are playing both sides and the press is what it is. Meanwhile, the cartoons have been a disaster for our side!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Art in a Time of Stress

This is a watercolor from Michael Fay, USMC, currently stationed in Iraq. I've been reading his blog for quite some time now and I just visited again to find this. He was kind enough to let me repost it here.

Fantastic work, Mike.

And the art's not bad, either! :-)

Mark Steyn's Europe

Mark Steyn is one of my favorite columnists.  I read everything he writes.  His articles on demographics have been enlightening and in the process of blogging, the crack research staff at The Scratching Post has started doing some thinking of our own on the subject.  

I’m not sure if we’re using the same metrics of good and bad or even concerned about the same kind of outcome.  My metric for the health and prowess of a nation is Per Capita Income (PCI).  I like that, because it’s one we can all relate to and it doesn’t need a scientific calculator to decipher.  My position is that while Europe will indeed become Eurabia, as a military or economic threat to the Anglo world, it will be no more or less potent than, say, South America.

In none of this am I disparaging any other country.  I’ve just had some fun playing with numbers and I thought I would share what I did.

Let’s take France as our baseline.  Let’s take per capita income (PCI) as our metric.  The higher a country’s PCI, the greater the threat it could be, should it decide to go bonkers and attack our interests.  France’s current PCI is $29,900.  The United States’ PCI is $41,800.  I discovered some statistics on earning power as a function of educational status and educational levels in the general population in the US.  I made a simple spreadsheet to look at the effects of changing education levels.  Here are the steps to my conclusion.  All are gross oversimplifications, but I would argue that the trends are accurate and trends are about as good as one can do for predicting the future.

  1. As education levels rise, earnings rise.  More people with higher degrees mean a higher PCI.  More people with no high school diplomas mean a lower PCI.

  2. As we discovered in the French riots, the Moslems in France are dropping out of school and are poorly served by the French school system.

  3. The French workforce of whatever ethnicity is shrinking.  PCI drops as the percentage of working people drops.

The pressure on the French PCI, then, comes from a worsening educational picture and a worsening labor force picture.  My calculations indicated that when the Moslems become 50% of the workforce, the PCI will drop to 82% of its current value due to their lower educational status.  I also took a wild guess at the changing labor force and guessed that by then the labor force will be about 71% of what it is now.  That gives us a PCI of about $17,400.  That’s above Argentina, but below Puerto Rico.  Not exactly a world superpower, but comfortable for its citizens.

It gets worse than that.  An infrastructure must be maintained.  That’s fine for a growing economy as the infrastructure represents investments from the past, when money was less plentiful.  Repairs are easier as incomes rise.  If incomes are falling, the infrastructure becomes a dead weight and more money is required to keep it going.  You can figure that PCI is actually lower in real terms to account for the added costs of keeping up with yesterday’s fading glories.

In short, Eurabia will look a lot like South America.  We like South America.  We like to visit there and trade with them.  We respect them, but we don’t run in fear of them.  Sometimes they elect wacky people.  In the end, however, what affects us most is what we do to ourselves.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's the Gumbelympics!

It seems as though Bryant Gumbel has made some disparaging comments about the Olympics.
"So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention."

I don't know what Olympics he's watching, because black athletes are everywhere! Some of them are winning:

Some of them are coaches along with their athletes:

Some of them are tremendous skaters. This fellow has managed to execute a triple axel while falling from a third floor balcony. Who can say he isn't a great athlete:

Some of them even seem to be taking on deviant behaviors with vegetables, which should please the people at HBO and encourage them to consider a new series based on transvegetablesexuals:

Anyway, I think Mr. Gumbel owes us all an apology.

We're Number 22,877!

Whoohoo! We're rocketing up the ranks of the TTLB Ecosystem. We're now in 22,877th place! Jacob was so excited that the little ninny went and had it tatooed on his side! We haven't figured out how to tell him that we're bound to keep moving up and the number will change.

Blog Education

Being an old hand at blogging now, having done it since February 11 of '06, I thought I'd write down a few things I've learned so far.  OK, so maybe I’m not an old hand.  Would you believed seasoned veteran?  Experienced journeyman?  Young punk?  (Sorry, I’ve been watching “Get Smart” reruns.)

If you keep in mind that these are the notes of a novice to himself and not the pompous ramblings of an upstart who thinks he's a pro, the pedantic tone that follows might not bother you so much.  

Most of it is blindingly obvious, but I need to write it.  Sometimes I feel the need to write down what I've learned; probably the same way a snake feels the need to shed it's skin.  Sloughing off a layer so that a new one may grow.  With similar results.  Once you see this, you'll probably want to turn over the rock I hide under and beat me to death with a stick.  But I digress.

Much of what I've done so far has been a series of experiments to drive traffic and links.  I've found that one can cause momentary peaks by posting links in comments and by doing trackbacks.  However, this only causes momentary peaks.  Unless there is something of value in the blog, there will be no repeat business.  

Good marketing is the act of building lasting relationships between yourself and your customers.  You have to show respect for your blog visitors.  Each visit is a conscious act by an individual to spend an irreplaceable resource of their own, a moment of their lives, to see what you had to say.  I haven’t done a great job of that.  I thought I could write stream-of-consciousness posts that would suffice, but in retrospect, they’ve been poorly formed and inconsistent even within themselves.

I wanted the blog to have an authentic voice and philosophy.  I’m still thrashing around with that.  I wanted to do humor centered on the animals in my house, but I’ve found that political commentary has been too seductive to avoid.

I’m also learning that the same techniques I find successful in marketing in business work in blogging.  Friendship and kindness sell.  If you keep in mind that you seek lasting relationships with your customers, you’re less likely to try and exploit them for short-term gain.  

I have recently begun to experience the greatest success of my 20-year career in marketing because I helped someone who was failing succeed.  They had invested a great deal in a business proposal, but they lacked key knowledge that our organization possessed.  We stepped in and bailed them out, asking for nothing in return.  I have not yet seen any financial return on my investment of time and care, but I have had opportunities and relationships willingly opened up to me that I could never have dreamed of.

This post is starting to get longer than I wanted, so I think I’ll leave the rest of my shedding for later.  But I do want to thank Laurence Simon, Mog and Angel for the unlooked for kindness they have shown me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sunsets and Her Serene Furriness

Pappy Boyington

K T warned me not to post while I was angry, but when she heard the news she got so angry she attacked her scratching post with rage.

Michelle Malkin posted about the students at the University of Washington not wanting to have a statue of Pappy Boyington at their school because
Student senator Jill Edwards, according to minutes of the student government's meeting last week, said she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

My father was career military and was in four wars. He flew one of these, among many other types of aircraft:

He earned many commendations and is written of in a couple of books including this one. That's his painting on the cover.

NOT THE KIND OF PERSON THEY WANT TO PRODUCE?!? What a pack of ignorant, pampered over-indulged, ignorant morons! Get out and see the world, you creeps. The walkways of your arrogant university are paved with the brave deeds of the men and women who sacrificed all so you could have a home and a school and teaching free from oppression.

Your University is there because construction workers, architects and educators made it for you. And they were able to build it for you to house your cushy, spoiled rear ends because people like Pappy Boyington and my dad made it safe for them to do so!

Words fail me. Time to post.

Thankfully, more eloquent people than I are on the net.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Jacob's Take on the Danish Cartoons

Hi! I’m Jacob, the Syrian hamster back to talk about the recent Danish cartoon situation. I’m a big fan of Thomas Sowell and I once heard him talk about how many people it took to make a pencil. The answer was thousands. Ask him for the explanation.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. In Syria, they grow cotton. Some of them spend a lot of time planting, weeding and caring for the cotton.

After it grows and flowers, they harvest the cotton and put it in trucks, like this one.

They send it to the local textile mill where it is combed, dyed and woven into cloth.

A lot of time and effort goes into this. Syrians don’t make much money. Their per capita income is only $3500. That means they work all year for about $2 an hour. Plowing fields. Driving trucks. Combing cotton. Weaving cloth.

When the final product is finished, it can look as nice as this:


YOU DUMB &*(^*&(! What the @&^*(@ are you thinking? You think people put their life savings into that farm or truck so you could take their cotton and burn something with it? When was the last time you did anything constructive?

And would it kill the MSM to show some Moslems doing something worthwhile? There’s more than 1 billion of them in the world. Most of them are doing stuff like growing cotton and driving trucks. Many Moslems risked their lives recently to toss the fascist Syrian government out of Lebanon and some are working within Syria in the cause of freedom. Many of them are risking their lives in the Iraqi army protecting their country. Sometimes they get wounded or killed protecting US troops! Check these guys out:

So what’s up with this war between civilizations nonsense? Why is everyone playing right into the hands of the fanatical dumb @&$*()s who want to take what we’ve all worked so hard to create and burn it? Lots of people are busting their rear ends to make a constructive living and some are risking their lives to get rid of these iditots:

So cut the good guys some slack, OK? If you don't like the terrorists, then mention them by name. Don't go drawing pictures of Mohammed and giving them the raw materials they can use to incite a riot!

Thank you.

Introducing Jacob!

Hi! My name is Jacob. I’m a hamster. I come from Syria. Like everyone else in this house, I happily serve our Maximum Leader, K T Cat. K T has asked me to comment about some of the things going on in Syria and across the Middle East, seeing as how I’m from that part of the world. I’ve got lots to say. I’ll be back later to tell you all about it.

In the meantime, would it kill you to get me some fresh fruits and vegetables? These alfalfa pellets taste like Michael Moore's pocket lint.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And God so loved the world...

That He gave us sunsets like these.

Al Gore, Total Dork

What do you call a politician who courts people who cannot possibly vote for him by slandering the people who can? Words fail me. I fall back upon my Junior High School lingo. What a dork!

Let me get this straight. He goes to Saudi Arabia to give a speech blasting the US? And he wants to run for office in what country? For his sake, I hope he wants to run for some position in the Middle East. Or Berkeley.

This is like romancing a girl by romancing her brother. Or something like that. I don’t know if there is an analogy here. It’s unbelievably stupid.

Michelle Malkin has a great round up of responses. And a follow up.

Hillary Clinton is Politically Savvy?!?

Ed Morrisey at CQ has a post today about a London Times article describing Hillary’s problems. The discussion centers on Hillary’s battleaxe personality. In spite of this, the London Times continues with the unchallenged line about Hillary being politically savvy. What on Earth does that mean?

An effective, savvy politician can convince people to support what he or she wants. Hillary can’t get out of her own way long enough for anyone to know what she is proposing. She’s like Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol.” One can just imagine her some years hence giving sage advice to some future Democratic pol. Barack Obama, perhaps?

"It is required of every person," Hillary returned, "that the spirit within him or her should walk abroad among his fellow persons, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"
Again Hillary raised a cry, and shook her chain and wrung her shadowy hands.
"You are fettered," said Barack, trembling. "Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied Hillary. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Each link is a triangulated position, each weight one more sell out and compromise. Hillary is becoming a caricature of a “savvy” politician. She opposes everything her opponents do, but only in style and not in substance. In addition to all the rest of her baggage, she has the worst aspects of John Kerry’s intellectual arguments in the last campaign. “I have a plan!” Or that dreadfully hollow reply to the last State of the Union speech. “There’s a better way.”

The old canard about the voting public being stupid is just that. A canard. The voting public is cynical. All this triangulation and transparent scheming by Hillary plays right into that cynicism. It’s the equivalent of leaning into a left hook. WHAMO! There go her poll numbers again.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rain of Terror

Thievery provides it’s own punishment.

In our neighborhood, we have a geriatric cat named Sylvester that loves human food. He’s an accomplished thief. Since our own Maximum Leader, K T Cat, doesn’t like the plastic flap on the cat door, we have nothing but a pet-sized opening on one of our doors to allow the animals access to the great outdoors. Last night we made Cajun Maquechou. It is a vegetable dish consisting primarily of corn with plenty of cayenne pepper. I accidentally left some of it on the kitchen counter. In the middle of the night, or so we suppose, Sylvester crept in and ate it.

Picture the results. Indigestible vegetables combined with cayenne pepper inside a cat’s digestive tract. Projectiles plus black powder packed into a narrow tube. Hmmm. I think it best we don our raincoats today, just in case any of those projectiles are launched with any kind of ballistic arc at all. Rain of Terror indeed.

Dickens predicted the Milosevic trial

Ed Morrisey at Captain’s Quarters has a post about the Milosevic war crimes trial. It reminds me of Dickens’ classic novel, “Bleak House.” Check out the comparison:


However, a four-year trial with no end in sight has to be some kind of record. Milosevic's sick days cannot account for all of the delay. In order to get that strung out, one has to find incompetent prosecution and ineffective courtroom management from the judges.


On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting here—as here he is—with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be—as here they are—mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might.

It’s not possible to improve upon Dickens’ perfection.

If, by chance, you venture over to Project Gutenberg to read a little from that Dickens’ link, just reading the first chapter will give you an insight into the character of the European state. Where in the world can you find any deliberative body that accomplishes anything of value, blathering on and on about an absolutely slam-dunk obvious subject for four years? Dickens and Kipling, two of my favorite authors, regularly reappear in modern life. I read somewhere that one definition of a classic is that it is timeless. In Bleak House, the lawyers are arguing Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce for years in order to milk all the money out of the estate. Can it be any different at the Milosevic trial? Imagine all the camp followers employed there.

As the EU member states fall into a geriatric death spiral, think of the resources tied up in these trials. Whenever I go to a meeting at work, I count the number of people present, estimate the salaries of those I don’t know and compute the dollars spent discussing whatever minutiae happens to be on the agenda. I then convert it to lab equipment or training and figure out the real cost of the meeting. Do the same of the Milosevic trial and convert the money into R&D dollars for any of the ailing state-run industries in the EU. Since those companies are run by the government, there is no need to compute the indirect effects of taxation on some company’s bottom line. That trial is dipping directly out of the future survival of some state corporation. As the EU gets positively squashed by the economic dynamos in the Anglo, Chinese and Indian economies, recall the Milosevic trial and think about the choices the EU countries made. While the case may be a UN case, the EU is most certainly providing support for it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

I must have tuna!


The old homestead

I recently got back from a business trip to the East Coast and managed to visit the house I was born in more than 40 years ago. I left when I was 6 months old, but it's still just the way I remember it. Err, well it would be if I remembered it at all.

My Enemy's Enemy

I’m going to disagree with almost everyone over the Danish cartoons. My enemy’s enemy is not necessarily my friend. The Danes who drew the cartoons are not religious people, interested in opening a theological dialog with their monotheistic brethren in the Middle East. From the looks of things, they’re just another pack of atheist punks who want to thumb their noses at all the ignorant peasants who believe in that organized religion mumbo-jumbo.

Could you imagine a committed Catholic or Lutheran drawing those cartoons? I doubt it.

So here we have a bunch of disrespectful creeps drawing cartoons that enrage a bunch of fanatical maniacs and we’re supposed to take sides? If, in 1940, Germany had declared war on Japan, just what would we have done? How about nothing at all and let them fight it out. It can’t be anything but good for us. Not every event in the world requires us to take sides.

Yes, the Danes are fighting on our side in Iraq. They have tremendous courage and deserve our total support. However, Danish cartoonists != Danish soldiers. The very same stupidity we detest in the Islamofacists when they equate Danish cartoonists with all Danes, we practice in equating support for Danish cartoonists with the Danish support for our cause.

Now that the Islamofascists have burned embassies, we should support the embassy personnel and the Danish soldiers and their comrades, but supporting a bunch of punks who managed to take time out of their busy day searching for porn on the internet to scribble some lousy cartoons mocking religion seems to be wasted energy.

It’s not a big free speech issue, either. This is not speaking truth to power. A movie describing Islamic fundamentalists murdering their daughters over adultery is speaking truth to power. Drawing a picture of the Prophet with a bomb, just like putting a crucifix in urine, is just swinishness. Not all free speech is worth defending.

One last analogy. If you go to a mall and see some young punk scream obscenities at a middle-aged guy’s wife until she starts crying, will you intervene when the guy turns out to be a kung fu artist and kicks the living daylights out of the punk? What if the middle-aged guy turns out to be a deranged poster on Kos? Whose side do you take? Why take a side at all? It’s free speech, disrespect and violence. What do you do?