Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MBM, Black, Bright and Bathes.....

...seeks nomination for President.

It's not hard being a black man in America. One need only cover ones tail, shave the horns, go light on ones association with white chicks, and bathe.

Being articulate is a plus.

Delta Charlie Poli's say the oddest things.

So my wife and I are finally catching the movie "Flyboys." They're in the training phase. The flight training sequence is quaint. But that's the way it was. Homebrew technology, put in the service of war.

Comes around, goes around, I guess.

I'm beginning to look forward to Wednesdays, hump day, like never before. Two days until relaxation, core dump and extended sleep.

Funny thing, since starting my new job at SaltMineSaltCorp, inc, I've had less time to read blogs. Basically less than two hours a day, now. This is not a digg on blogs, just an observation.

It's fun having known unknowns.

I tell you, open society/source is going to kick my ass.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stealing a toy:

This picture on EU Referendum reminds me of my post below, on the JTLV.




Thing about the French, often missed. In addition to great cuisine, they produce world class soldiers. That the Metropolitan is corrupt, and the Code Napoleon a dead end, does not detract from my observations.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bimbo Eruptions

If you're of a certain age, you may recall newslines like this: "such and such was attacked/bombed/assasinated by a previously unknown group known as [insert name here]." Then, you never heard from the group again.

And if you did, they were called an offshoot, or, for purposes of respectability, an "armed wing."

Whatever.

In Najaf, we recently witnessed something of the same.

A Bimbo Eruption
.

Likely to see more.

I tried to hold out for cybernetic augmentation..

I mean, it's just around the corner, right?

Alas, I'm finally going to breakdown and go in for PRK on my eyes.

Not having to wear glasses is pretty exciting. Seeing a pair of cool sunglasses and buying them. Wearing sunglasses, and not having to carry around a pair of glasses. Non steel-reinforced peripheral vision.

Cybernetic eyes would have been cool, but I got tired of waiting.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Smart Mobs....

You know, I've always hated mobs. I don't know why.



Recently, cell phones featured in a school fight in Wisconsin:

MILWAUKEE - School brawls have gone high tech, with students using cell phones to call in reinforcements - in one case requiring police and pepper spray to break up a fight that swelled to about 20 family members on Milwaukee school grounds.

Handy's are great mobilizers of mobs. A call here, a group text message there. Meetups can be arranged by social networks like myspace, blogs and chat groups.

The only thing smart, here, is the technology employed. At the end of the day, you've still got a dumb mob. And mobs are ruled by he who yells the loudest.

There's a certain anonymity in mobs. This is not a dig on anonymity, by the way. I'm not irony challenged. But the anonymity afforded by the mob almost always, without exception, leads to bad outcomes. Rarely are great inventions, good books and art developed in a mob.

Mob are designed, almost genetically, to break and smash stuff.

Count the number of one man riots, where a lone mobster smashes a McDonald's window or makes off with a TV.

So, I'm always going back to a Digital Moses, of sorts. He's the guy who gets us to the promised land, and as the tribe is about to cross in, says, "Whoa. Hold up, folks."

I am, of course, referring to Jaron Lanier.




He's one of those voices in the wilderness (cheerfully mixing metaphores, here) I like to listen too. The other county heard from.

His piece, Digital Maoism points out some of the dust bunnies in the living room of Our Shinny New World.

We're trending to a world that is, at least in part, more open, in both society and source.

Me, I like sketching out where that goes bad. Can't all be upside.

At some point, that mob we develop is going to turn around and bite us in the ass.

While "no man is an Island, entire unto himself", all men don't need to become the continent. You'll always need somewhere to run. So, we'll always need islands.

Got to go.

Rome is on.


Landships

H.G. Wells, like that Heinlein guy, wrote science fiction that last. One of his shorts was The Land Ironclads, a story that laid the ground work for the modern tank.



Now, scale that sucker down, and you've basically got the WWI tank.

Military technology is all about tit for tat. Body armor started going out of vogue with the longbow. Plates were replaced by mail, but that was a stop gap. The rifled bullet pretty much ended any experiment with armor. From that point forward, "armor" was essentially flak protection. Then, along came kevlar.

A better helmet is created. Today, we have the SAPI (Small Arms Insert Plates) inside kevlar coats and called Individual Body Armor. Add some groin protection, throat protection, deltoid armor protection and that funky gunners helmet and you're back to looking like one of those knights in shiny armor. Digitized.

H.G. Well's Landships kinda went the same way. From WWI tanks to the M1 Abrams. The M1A2 is 60 tonne behemoth. Fast and lethal. But you know what? They get blown up also. Matter of physics. You can make a vehicle resistant to, say, 500kg of explosives. The vehicle gets destroyed, but the crew survives. Good outcome, right? But the enemy, well he's no idjiot, so for his next bomb, he plants 510kg of explosives.

Tat.

There's an upper limit to the effectiveness of up armoring. We've reached that, and you see it in anti IED operations. Instead of defeating the bombs, the focus is on defeating the bomb makers. So why all the steel?

War is as much about competing systems, as it is individual weapons or tactics. Best system wins. But that's beyond this post.

Here's the M4 Carbine.



You may have seen them before, in the hands of Rangers and SOF types, Infantry and the like. Surprisingly, they were originally designed for logisticians; 88M, 92Y, 68W types who spent a lot of time entering and exiting vehicles on the linear battlefield. Thinking was, foreshortened, they'd be easier to handle than the M-16.

Then along came the SOF, who liked the weapon, and adopted it, along with the wider Infantry community. Now, you see them everywhere. From the base model to ones tricked out with grenade launchers, widescreen TVs, iPods and can openers.

So back to the land ironclads.

If we are in a long war, then the model for conflict will be more like Afghanistan than Irak. Shadow wars in the nooks and crannies (if Thomas P.M. Barnett is right about the CHICOMS).

Bradleys and Abrams have large footprints and long tails. The Army introduced the Stryker variants which have performed surprisingly well. But the Stryker is an interim vehicle, a stop gap along the way to the Future Combat System, a family of vehicles powered by hope and able to shoot dreams. Sexy stuff. Problem is funding priorities. It might not get built.



(looks like an elongated Dalek: EXTERMINATEEXTERMINATEEXTERMINATE!!!)

Now, there's the issue of the HUMVEE, which is about at the end of it's useful life. Sit in one, lurching along with armor, FBCB2 cramping you, limited side visibility...well, you get the point.

So the Navy's decided to put out for bid the Joint Tactical Light Vehicle ('Joint' is a way of saying, give us more money) to outfit their Marines.

Well, Generally Dynamic has stepped forward with a, there's that word again, "family of vehicles" for the JTLV.

Looks something like this:







As a REMF mobile, probably won't get the "attention" it deserves, which means it will probably come in under budget, and work. REMF work is decidedly unsexy. Only necessary.

So, somewhere along the time the FCS disappears in a poof of competing priorities, someone will take a gander at the JTLV, rip out the BCS3, stuff in a FBCB2, MCS-Lite, CPOF, ABCD, XYZ, mount a rail gun and go to town.

Like the M4 Carbine.

At least, that would be my guess.

Among the most obvious things.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Maliki, Irak:

Dear Mister Prime Minister,

I am writing this letter to express my extreme disappointment in your behaviour, to date, as the Prime Minister of Iraq. Your failures, as a leader, a man, and chordate have been legion.

Let me be clear. I hold you, you, singularly responsible for the strife, turmoil and bloodshed currently roiling the talkshow circuit, the halls of congress and the confab in davos. You don't seem to realize, or don't seem to care, that every time an IED explodes in your country, some spending initiative, some bipartisan proposal, some earmarked proposal dies a little.

Mr. Maliki, I am responsible to the citizens of my great state to ensure the rapid and frequent influx of sweet lucre. Your failure to lock down your nation and get it off my list of talking points represents a clear and present danger to my ability to conduct business as usual.

Now, I understand that irresponsible persons in our government have led you to believe that freedom and liberty is achievable and desirable. It is not. As the violence on your streets show, when the cork is removed, the yobs behave like, well, yobs. In this, you have my sympathy. The violence you see everyday is replicated everyday on the streets of America, with it's rampant gun culture, and the refusal of her citizens to STFU before the Great and the Wise.

Mr. Maliki, you have ONE MORE CHANCE.

That is why I am authorizing my speech writer to conduct a SURGE of talking points. Mr. Maliki, you need to embrace a political solution to this crisis. You need to reach out, to all six or seven sides of this sectarian (as declared boldly by NBC) Civil War. You need to engage the Al Qods forces currently operating in Baghdad and the Diyala province. You need to bring them to the table, and discuss their need to shoot down US helicopters, conduct raids in Kerbala and import weapons into your country. After all, their ultimate target is the Zionist Entity, not you. Irak is a merely a road bump to their regional ambitions. Help them smooth that road bump, Mr. Maliki. Help Snowden.

Then you need to stretch your hands wide, and reach out to the Sunni's in Anbar, and ask them why they feel the need to detonate car bombs in markets. Is it, perhaps, because of something you've down? Ask them this, Mr. Maliki, ask them this.

Then look south, Mr Maliki, look south into the orphaned eyes of Mookie Al Sadr, and embrace his pain. Is it any surprise that this young man, almost a youth, orphaned so young, feels the need to surround himself with playmates, whom you dismissively refer to as a militia?

Mr Maliki, if you were a student of history, as I am (holding several honorary Doctorates) you would understand that it is only through rhetoric, cleverly, and forcefully employed, that peace and freedom can be achieved. History, as it were, is made by the snarky, irreverent and unserious.

Let there be no doubt of this.

So put down your long sword, and pick up your long pen, Mr Maliki.

Signed,

A. Dick

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Good Earth

If you were not afflicted with a postmodern education, you may have read Pearl S. Buck's book, The Good Earth.

Let me paraphrase the line, consistent throughout the book: "first generation coolie, second generation rich, third generation spends, fourth generation coolies."

Mrs. Buck (not wild) describes the rise and fall of peasant family in pre-collectivist China.

The Good Earth, in her book, refers to a peoples connection to the land, to the solidity of something real.

People straying far from the good earth, fail. For me, that good earth has always meant ideas. Stray far from them, and you are the fourth generation...coolies.

Reminds me of Europe.

I like reading the Brussels Journal. I like checking in on a place I lived so long. BJ, along with a couple of other sites, let's me keep tabs. In addition, they are prone to those longish post which leave me wanting to respond: "yeah, what they said."

Europe.

I was able to live in Europe without picking up any bad ideas (multiculturalism, arrogance or a second language), and I still do love the old girl.

The Good Earth.

So the Brussels Journal post On Fascism and Islamophobia.

See, here's my thing. People go on and on about intentions and good ideas. "Shave the Whales", "Tofu in every pot, and iPod in every hand", "Low Carbon emissions for the people", and a "Grand Caliph and Theme Park for the Masses." O.K. Got it. So?

There are good ideas and there are bad ideas.

People tend to adopt good ideas without much prodding. "Come inside out of the rain," for example. Bad ideas, however, tend to require a champion.

That gets us to methodologies.

Tyrants, to paraphrase Hayek, eat from the same bowl. Fascism, Nazism, Communism, Collectivism, crude Nationalism, nihilistic Internationalism, political Islamism?

Lame ideas, same methodologies.

We do ourselves a disservice by focusing on the minutiae of the tyrant's particular grievance, and forgetting that he's employing tried and true methodologies.

Which brings us, in a way, to our current crisis.

The Jihad would be a joke, if we didn't act like such fools, and recognize them for what they are.

Alas.

Maybe next time around, we'll know better, and rather than a wringing of hands and a gnashing of teeth, our (freemen) response will be simple, succinct, and on point:

Sic Semper, Bitches.

Alas. That's for the future.

A bloody night, indeed....

At least by homeland standards. Veal cutlets, done up in a red wine sauce, some vegetables. Followed by Natalie Mendoza, in The Descent.

A bloody night, indeed.

Cell phone camera's have a long way to go. Had a couple of good pictures I thought I'd post.

The second one was typical: a bumper sticker saying "Support Locally Grown Food, Shop the Coop", in, of course, the parking lot of our local MegaGlobalCorp Grocery Store.

The first one was a little harder to explain:

"Satan=faith. Death is hell. Long life, and wellness." and on the side, "To believe is to die."

Or something like that.

I live in a land of bumperstickers, so I'm generally not surprised by what I see, but this guy took the cake. He didn't ave a bumpersticker, he had signs, nailed front and back, to his car.

As to his message, I have no idea. Radical Transhumanism?

No good pics, tho. I blame camera phones. They suck. Sorry.

Natalie Mendoza, before The Descent.

Sometimes you get lucky:

My wife's sitting downstairs, using her iBook, when the damn battery goes "poof" and starts smoking.

She executes a flawless battledrill, unplugs the thing and brings it upstairs to me. Fortunately, not much harm, not much foul. Took the battery out, and noticed an odd smell, but little else.

Computer still work, sans battery. So, do I get her a new battery (129 dracma) or simply wait a month or two and drop for a new MacBook?

Think we'll go with the MacBook.

I've always wanted to dissasemble an iBook.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The coalition you have:

"Pragmatists say that a flawed trial is better than none and that there is no choice but to proceed with the tribunal you have rather than the tribunal you may wish to have."

From Best of the Web. (I'll update the link when I can figure out how to permalink)

As mentioned before, the merging of operational and homestation language is a little ball of shiny tinfoil which gives me hours of pleasure. How long before:

"Honey, let's let a sitter detain the kids, and let's you and I get out of the F.O.B. and do a little no knock raids downtonwn, and when we get home, put the kids in gitmo and do a little clear and hold ourselves?"

O.K. Maybe not.

One of the small pleasures of my job is the ability to it, and think contemplatively about the larger issues of the day. Technically referred to as "shooting the shit."

So I was having this conversation. Basically, my right hand man was saying that, pace 911, the Muslim were treated badly in America. Really? I asked him for a case. Besides the idjiot killing the beturbaned Sikh post 911, I couldn't recall a case. He mentioned that he'd been on a plane, there were some Muslims on it, and people looked, hold yourself, cross eyed at them.

See. That bothers me.

Look, if in, say, 1962, twenty black men had hijacked four planes full of white chicks and crashed them into the tallest buildings Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia, I'm thinking the reaction would have been a little bit, um, stringent. Maybe even a lynching or two. Certainly something beyond the cross eyed glance.

Am I saying the reaction would have been right? Of course not. But to compare the hurt feelings of Phobia pimps like the Council on American Islamic Relations and actual, real oppression by this country in the past is, in my mind, laughable.

Feel bad? Tough. Here's a quarter. Buy a hug.

America has the distinction of being best served by those whom she has abused the most. I'm thing of the 10th CAV (Buffalo Soldiers) on San Juan Hill, the Tuskegee Airman over Europe, the Japanese Nisei assaulting Sicily, the Irish Beat Cop and the Italian Lawyer. It has been, throughout her history, the job of the American oppressed to redeem her better qualities.

That's just the way it is.

Cross eyed.

So a guy I never heard of, on a show I've never watched, is entering therapy for calling a castmate a faggot.

Man, that's wrong.

Here's my take on the subject:

"Dude, you're a faggot."

"Look man, go fuck yourself. Or better yet, I'll do it to you. Bitch."

Crude? Yes, but effective. Instead, we have this self exposed idjiot going into therapy. Getting his mind right, no doubt, on his failure to communicate (too much). And the victim, he makes the talk show tour.

GMAFB!

Cross eyed.

It's what happens when feelings trump facts, and emotion is mistaken for courage.

UPDATE: Egg on the face. Reading down the story, I see that some Quaker School attending beat up some Palestinians and called them terrorists. One of three things:

1. Dustup among kids, blown out of proportion.
2. A Hamas meeting, gone overlong, and interfering with a preplanned kegger.
3. Or some dicks.

Since it was reported in the "noos", I'll withhold judgement, until more surfaces.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Liking this:


Back in the day, I used to buy the International Herald Tribune on a daily basis. That' when it was selling for about a buck ten. Then, the price went up to about a buck thirty five, around the same time I figured I could read it online.

Stopped buying.

Newsweek and the Economist lasted a bit longer. I dutifully, weekly, transferred wealth to them for the Product of Ideas. Problem was, the innernet kept speeding up, and information just came pouring out.

So now, I get most of my information from the innernet, or Earl, the Undocumented Canadian who does my lawn.

It's not that I'm unwilling to buy, it's just that I live in a world were, well, a weekly seems dated. I always thought of weeklies as places of sober reflections. Silly me.

But I'm glad to see the e.e. conomist using clouds on their free exchange blog.

I'll look forward to this experiment. Put the opinion in the clouds, and give me the hard news in the weekly.

I'll buy that for a dollar.

The Tribe Gathers...

My wife and I have good friends. The problem is that they're scattered over two continents. Our nearest friend is about two states east, and one state down, or there abouts.

Probably has something to do with my definition of friends. They have to be kidney worthy.

By and large, our friends are. The kind of folks you'd slide some money, pick up from jail, or swear in a court of law that no sir, no way, that's not them on that convenience store video.

Salt of the earth.

We stay together by email, post and the occasion (wish you were here) jealousy call.

The last time we were together, en mass, was back in September. We we're celebrating a friends return from Europe. He was the best man at my wedding and a buddy I crossed the Rubicon with (really).

Well, two mutual friends are getting hitched, and my wife and I are going.

The tribe gathers.

I know I'm going to run into one buddy. Last time I saw him and his wife was at the Christening of their son. We drove across a (medium sized) country to get there.

He and I are on opposite ends of the opinion meter. He's a deluded, naive, pollyannish, collectivist freak. I'm a blood soaked, kill 'em all, "murder was the name that they gave me", type of guy.

Man, we argue, and have been arguing, since sometime around December 2002.

I feel like I've been whacking that mole longer than John Henry.

So, instead of being in the defensive mode, I've got to figure out some questions to ask him. Things that keep my noggin active. Simple questions:

1. Is life, no matter how lived, the highest value?
2. Do the free have obligations to the unfree?
3. Does cowardice have a price?
4. How do we overcome fear?
5. Are different systems compatible?

I like to list things in five. Ten is too hard to remember. Figure I'll ask him these, or some variation thereof.

Then let the yelling begin. Hopefully, after the vows.

But you know what, it's all good. Because at the end of the day, we're still Brothers.

Still kidney worthy. Way it ought to be.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hehehehehe....

heh, heh, heh, heh:

The Crumbs also wanted to shield their daughter, Sophie, from a growing conservative and fundamentalist Christian influence while continuing to educate her in what they consider the classics. They reared her on “Little Lulu” comics from the 1940s and ’50s and Three Stooges videos.

Hahahahahaha. The "classics?" That was a joke, right.

Maybe not.

Oh well.

My new creed: live what you want, do what you want, but don't think you've solved the New Model Man conundrum.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Best of the Worst....

China Rising.

It's a consistent theme, recently. China, the Rising Dragon. Got it. China, the Next Superpower. Yep. China, It's Not Just Takeout, Anymore. Sure.

So it was weird to see this Ad by Alberto VO5 cross the t.v. waves:



My wife, who grew up under the Soviet Union says it reminded her of school. Tyranny. It's the one size fits all philosophy.

(One day, I'll figure out how to embed youtube. Can't be that hard.)

So, Mark Steyn, Christopher Hitchens and a three legged midget walk into a bar.

Sorry, no punchline, on account of there's no joke (well, except the part about the three legged midget.)

Hitchens reviews Steyn's book, America Alone.


This post is about impressions.

I'm a fan of both Hitchens and Steyn. I like going over to Hitchens place, because he sets a table of the finest sacred cow. I like Steyn because his deserts seem all fluff and sweetness, but when you take a bite, you think "ah, this was the meal!!"

Hitchens reviews Steyn.

Both men come from opposite ends (by current definitions) of the Divide (TM), but are actually of the same place.

Hitchens. Atheist. Secularist. Humanist. Writer.

Steyn. Believer in Christ. Father. Populist Demographer. Writer.

Both men are most sober in thought. Both men, unfortunately, are coming closer to closer in thought.

Yeah, about the current crisis.

Hitchens, emerging from a nightmare. Steyn, peering into one.

Autocide of the "West"?

Hitchens, the optimistic pessimist and Steyn, the pessimistic optimists.

Again, this post is about impressions. Nothing to see here.

I do find it funny, however, that both of them are furry foreigners. Exiles from Commonwealth. Both men are able to see, identify and explain a problem. Eloquently.

I'll keep that in mind, tomorrow, when Chip, who collects my garbage, announces on his website his intention to run for President.

The thing I like most about my serene republic, the thing I love, is that it is an idea not bound by borders. Or birth. It is before all, about attitude.

Again, this post is about impressions.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bring the Paine...

Last week, one of my kids asked for a smart book on some of the corporations more arcane terms and acronyms. Now, I see that Austin Bay, via the New Phampleteer's has delivered:



I'm not a linguine linguists, but I'll bet one of the unintended consequences of the current conflict is how the language will change. Imperial Grunts returning from far flung F.OB.s and Jihadi in Manjammies wafting across our meme's will shape the language in a few short years.

Which may be useful. See, the next time someone declares a Jihad on Bad Parenting, or suggest we appoint a Drug Caliph to fight the War on Kaht, well, then you'll just now. Right?

The Zen of Lil' Jon

I had been out of the country for several years, when I heard the news the David Chappelle had turned down fifty million dracma for additional seasons of The Chappelle Show. I remember thinking, what kind of idjiot would turn down fifty million dracma!!

A genius.

Sometime later, I got to watch the two seasons of The Chappelle Show, and I couldn't stop laughing. Chappelle created so many characters, and pointed out so many absurdities, that I realized (belatedly), we'd lost something when he stopped producing.

Of all his characters, it was his send up off the rapper Lil' Jon that has come to mean the most to me. By studying Lil' Jon, I've been able to achieve an inner harmony with my outer katra.



Sundays, I wake up early, turn on the coffee pot, flick on CNN, fire up my computer, and check out the week in review. It's times like that, when the voice of Lil' Jon comes to me, as if in a audiovision.

For example:

Sadr has decided (for no reason) to "rejoin" the Iraqi government.

WHAT??

Sadr has decided (for no reason) to "rejoin" the Iraqi government.

WHAT??

Sadr has decided (for no reason) to "rejoin" the Iraqi government.

OOOHKAY!!

Amadenijahd blames sanctions for the suckosity of the Iranian economy.

WHAT??

Amadenijahd blames sanctions for the suckosity of the Iranian economy.

WHAT??

Amadenijahd blames sanctions for the suckosity of the Iranian economy.

WHAT??

Amadenijahd blames sanctions for the suckosity of the Iranian economy.

OOHKAY!!

'Merkin furry policy enrages Europe's mooslum yoofs.

WHAT??

'Merkin furry policy enrages Europe's mooslum yoofs.

WHAT??

'Merkin furry policy enrages Europe's mooslum yoofs.

WHAT??

'Merkin furry policy enrages Europe's mooslum yoofs.

OOHKAY!!

OK?

Best headline, though, while looking for links, was this: "Troop ‘surge’ unlikely to help gay Iraqis".

'“For the foreseeable future, Iraq will remain very unsafe for lesbians and gays,” said Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the British gay rights group OutRage.'

Earth ends; women, children hardest hit...as Taranto would say.

Funny thing, yet again we see the Arab world lagging behind confessional politics. A Sh'ia/Sunni divide? Pikers. They should spend awhile examining the Hyphenated-Hyphenated-Hyphenated-American-Hyphenated Divide.

WHAT??

Friday, January 19, 2007

Designer Despotism

Five things you need:

1) The Narrative. It has to address a problem. Real is preferable but percieved will do just as well.

2) Teach the Narrative. The earlier, the better. The young tend to be gullible, and easy to steal from.

3) Reinforce the Narrative. Here's where you get the crushing of dissent.

4) Impose the Narrative. Some light violence, bit of egg breaking.

5) Narrative overcomes reality. Endgame?

Five simple steps you can write down or remember.

I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out a scenario where "degenerate individualism" results in some kind of despotism.

We will have peace when we learn to love each other. Nah. We will have peace, when we learn to love ourselves.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snailback Jack

Awhile back, John Scalzi wrote a post about entry level science fiction. Well, it was a long while back (I blog in reverse. Eventually, I'll comment of the first blog post ever, by a Cro-Magnon named Og.)

I just finished rereading Heinlein's "Expanded Universe" and was using wiki to look for another of his books to reread. Probably "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls." I first bought that book as a young teenager. Gwen on the cover, in the geisha getup and the space suit...well, seemed more entertaining than curling up with the Sears catalogue.

Loved the book.

But back to Scalzi. He writes:

You all know I love me that Robert Heinlein as much as anyone, but why does my local bookstore still have more of his books than anyone else's in the genre?

The "Cat Who Walks Through Walls" opens on a spacestation. Hmm. What kind? An O'Neill Cylinder a Stanford Torus or a Bernal Sphere? Who built it and how? How was the environment maintained?

Who knows.

See, this man, sitting in a restaurant has a dinner guest who is rude enough to get himself shot. And then the story begins.

Asimov had a galactic empire, a few positronic brains and "atomics". From there, a universe sprang.

These are worlds in which the science is a small, recognizable part of the fiction. A world where themes and characters dominate, like Heinlein. I'm pretty much in agreement with Scalzi on this point.

There's room for "Entry Level" science fiction.

Of course, you won't catch me reading that crap.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things Not to Do # 5789

When your spousematelovewife is going around the house, after watching American Idol, singing, "Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?", do not stop her and say, "Yes. I wish she was hot like you. It's something I'll have to talk to her about."

Eventually, she gets over it, but she's still staring at me out the corner of her eyes.

Smile. Type. Avoid. Repeat.

Yip....

...eeee!!!

We Made It (as Niven would write)

A tremendous weight off our shoulders.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dayz

So tomorrow is a big day in our house. For both my wife and I.

Butterflies.

The first time, as an adult, I felt like this was when I asked out my [First] "Love of My Life (tm)". You know the girl. She was the one you always had your eye, the one who was, somehow, genetically, magically, fated, to be your wife.

The girl whose smell you could recall with a thought.

You'd been away a college for a year. You'd dropped a little weight, ditched the glasses, and had a high top fade Kid n Play would envy.

You come to church one day, and here the clump, clump of heels behind you. They stop, you turn around, she smiles, you melt.

Eventually you get up the nerve to ask her out. But that first call. You're nervous. You pace around for a little bit, you weigh the pros (a date) and the cons (rejection). You laugh at all the people who say the worst thing a girl can can do is say 'no'. You know, see, you know, that the worst thing a girl can do is stand up on a chair, point, laugh....and say no.

So you get up your nerve. You screw your courage to the rotary dial, and you call.

And of course, she says yes.

And of course, it ends badly, a few years later. After all, she's the first love of your life. Practice.

Butterflies.

So my wife (the love of my life) and I wait for news tomorrow (not a baby, BTW).

And the butterflies wait with us.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why do I find Ellen Degeneres funny....

..but Rosie O'Donnell, not so much.

I'm prepositioned on the couch, waiting for part II of '24'. An ad came on, featuring Ellen. She was amusing, charming, and upbeat. Go figure.

Editors.

When I look back over posts or drawings, I cringe. Not because of what I wrote or drew, but because of how it came out in the end. Misspelling here, missed word there. When you're your own "Check on Learning", you make mistakes. Sometimes, I'm tempted to back and change the errors, but figure, with Google Earth Cache (see what I mean?), all my sins are remembered, anyways.

Khalifa.

Do the wiki and you come up with this:

Khalifa (خليفة ẖalīfä) is Arabic for "stewardship" of nature and family, and is a key obligation of a Muslim.

So maybe Urban Outfitters is really not so far ahead of the curve.



It's not easy being green.

Can't escape the feeling that the Boyz in the Nedj are in for a nasty surprise. This "base" thing, these little YouTube posts?

Man, they don't know jack about marketing.

Speaking of which, I stayed up late last night. Seems "24" and "Rome" were on head to head. So, I stayed up to watch the repeat of "Rome".

Nice show, that "Rome".

UPDATE: Smokes. Just finished "24". Guess I'll sign on for the whole season. That show may do more than all the incessant talk about surging. At least with regards to to the Homeland.

I'm starting to watch this as an allegory.

Jack's tired. He's been at this for six days [six years], he's the one everyone calls on and he's the one everyone's willing to sell down the river. Jack can go from hero to zero in 4.2 seconds.

Nature of the game. The wordmongers in Delta Charlie. The infights closer to home.

And still Jack presses on. Until he's forced into a decision he'll damn himself for...now he can go no further.

And then a city is lost. And Jack rises again.

See, it's all fun and games, until someone loses a city.

Funny, that.

Final Society

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"23 so far, including....

...the suicide bomber."

To which I'd respond, "so, that's 22 casualities."

Sitting down for my first Destination TV in a long while. Watching the season premiere of "24" with the wife.

Given the the first few minutes of dialogue, I don't know if this is going to be love or hate. But given "24's" ability for plot twist, this will be interesting.

UPDATE: O.K. It's over. Funny watching Jack run around in a Toyota Prius. My wife and I played the "who's the traitor?" game, but this being "24", expect more twist and turns.

That they started with carbombings on U.S. streets.

You know, whenever those Live Action Secret Squirrels with Big Brains brief us, they talk about bombings on U.S. street not in terms of "if", but "when." Of course, they're just paranoid, and can't see the election cycle big picture.

Night.

U.S. Department of Challenges

I'm not one of the Ferengi, or Acquisition Corps members, that my corporation uses to buy stuff, but it does seem to me that we could be better stewards of government money.

For example, back in the mid nineties, the U.S. DoD issued a bid for the a Quantum Fratblaster Space Time Continuum Dominance Weapon [for some reason, I can't find a citation]. Now, the DoD puts out a request for proposal, views the bid, selects the most competitive bid and then....assumes all the risk.

Say Lockheed Dockmartens gets the bid. The government agrees to pay them the extraordinary sum of ONE MILLION DOLLARS (in Dr. Evil Money). Well, Lockheed Dockmartens production schedule slips. So the government throws them another million. Then gives them a bonus. Then the DoD Project Manager retires, and goes to work for Lockheed Dockmartens, LTD (an unrelated company). Finally, after twenty years, ONE BILLION DOLLARS (in real money), and fits and starts, Lockheed Dockmarten delivers the weapon system.

Only it's a duck. With a slingshot.

When I bought my latest car, I didn't walk into the dealership, tell them what I was looking for in a car, and then wait for them to build the car. Instead, the Car people developed a product, and hoped it met my needs. The producer assumed the risk, for an eventual pay off, and made a good product, to boot.

So, how would the U.S. Department of Challenges work? Well, instead of a request for proposal, you'd issue a request for product. I need this weapon system to do this. Get back to me when you're done. Or, I need a lunar colony, able to support ten astronauts (and this slingshot wearing duck), get back to me when you're done. I need and oil shale burning, pebble nuclear reactor. You get the point.

Researching my post on Private Space Ventures, I kept coming across the various challenges out there.

"Revolution through competition."

The best known: The Xprize foundation. They ran the initial prize, about ten million dollars, that inspired Burt Rutan to put develop Spaceship One. Now they're running a Lunar Prize, Genomics Prize and an Automotive Prize.

You also have NASA's Centennial Challenges. Their "Regolith Challenge" has me pretty excited. But the sums there, especially compared to the Xprize, are kind of miserly. Come on, guys.

So, the Secretary of Challenges figures out what a certain challenge is worth to the Federals, put out a request for product, tags a price, and waits.

You'll probably have a lot people climbing that mountain.

Just because it's there.

Crazy Eddie

Probably one of my favourite sci-fi duologies is the Niven-Pournelle gang up to write "The Mote in God's Eye" and it's followup, "The Gripping Hand."

The action centers around the Second Empire of Man's first alien contact. The race is called the Moties. The Empire sends an expedition to Mote Prime and, in the ensuing drama, discovers the Motie secret.

The Motie's must breed, or die. Stuck in the same system for over a million years, this leads to the Cycles. Motie civilization rises, reaches a boiling point, and blows itself up, over and over.

The Moties have a mythical character called Crazy Eddie. Crazy Eddie believes she can break the Cycles. One of the Mediators (a Motie subclass) describes Crazy Eddie as someone who: "when a city is in perfect balance, and the amount of trash going out directly matches the amount of resources coming in, then Crazy Eddie leads the garbage collectors on a strike for better working conditions." [I paraphrase]

See, by trying to break the Cycles, Crazy Eddie always hastens the destruction.

It takes the Empire of Man to finally come in, and solve the Motie's problem, in the "Gripping Hand."

Cribbed this Guardian article from Defense Tech: 'The jihad now is against the Shias, not the Americans'. It's a surprisingly good read into Iraqi sectarian violence, and it's development, since the fall of Saddam.

"Baghdad has become a Shia town. Our brothers are being slaughtered every day! Where are these al-Qaida heroes? One neighbourhood after another will be lost if we don't work on a strategy."

"We have been deceived by the jihadi Arabs," he admitted, in reference to al-Qaida and foreign fighters. "They had an international agenda and we implemented it. But now all the leadership of the jihad in Iraq are Iraqis."

Some straight line reasoning, a year or two back, would have predicted that. The Arabs are stuck in their own Cycles, and Al Qaeda are the Crazy Eddies. Crazy Eddie has a way of eating his own seed corn. Eventually, someone over there will ask, why is it that everything AQ touches turns to shite?

Maybe because they are, as an instructor of mine once said, nucking futs.

Crazy Eddies.

Breaking the Cycles will require some tough love, both on the part of Arabs, and anyone with a mind to helping them.

Reinforcing Arab preconceptions about they're own predicament is not the way to go.

The Brotherhood of Man: "Hey, solving the Israeli-Arab conflict is central to regional peace and will solve the problem of Arab humiliation brought by orientalism and colonialism and we need a regional style Democracy, not one imposed by alien invaders, and me and my brother against the clan and me and my clan against the Toyota dealership, and did I mention the Jews?"

The Brother-in-Lawhood of Man: "You need to get off the couch and get your shit together."

Why do MBA's study and learn best business practices, while Political Scientist discuss "theories". Seems to me that everything proposed, from the Happy-Happy Joy-Joy Khalifah to the Really-Really Brand New Socialist Republic of Venezuela, are mere retreads of failed political theories.

But hey, let's give it a try. You keep proposing "new" ideas, and reality will keep blowing them to hell.

I hope.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Romans were dicks....

...but the Celts? Pretty cool.

My knowledge of Celtic history is limited, but I know a few things. I know, for example, that during the the 1980s B.C. (before Chicago), they struggled mightily against the water worshipping L.A. Lakers. I know that they raised a near mythical warrior, Lawrence of the Byrd who battled the water worshippers Magician, named Johnson.

For nearly a decade, the Celts and the Lake People waged war over a holy totem, the Chalice of Champions. Cities were reduced, farms destroyed, clubs pillaged in an orgy of destruction this country has yet to recover (such as Poughkeepsie).

At least, that's what I remember.

That's why I like watching History International Chanel No. 5 shows like Terry Jones' Barbarians. From him, I learn that the Romans were dicks, the Celts pretty advanced, rich and had a calculator. Ceaser, it seems, murdered two million Gauls, to settle some debts. No word if oil was involved.

Terry likes him some barbarians. Not a big fan of Rome. Still, entertaining show.

Now, he's doing a show on "germania", who, to the best of my knowledge, never played basketball.

Best line:" the border between barbarians and the civilized was not black and white, it was a gray zone." Word. I feel you.

Driving around town today, doing some light shopping and keeping an eye out for "jobs Robots could do."

I think this qualifies:



See, I've never seen something like this, people standing in sub-freezing temperatures holding signs. I pretty sure these are jobs robots could do, but what do I know?

Maybe it's a charity, of sort. Which always causes me to ask what is charity. I seem to remember something about slapping a man with a fish, or teaching him to slap someone else with a fish. Again, my meme-ory is not clear.

Perhaps the Celts would have done better.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"MBM seeks 'god person' for subjugation and light bondage"

Today, a group launched an attack, of sorts, on the U.S. Embassy in Athens. In a sort of dog bites man, this attack was not by the usual suspects. Seems the more cheerfully progressive elements of Greek society are rediscovering their roots. With the fall of the SOVUNION, it appeared that the days of the Wild Wild Left (Red Brigades and whatnot) were at an end. Posh. The forward march of ennui, oppression, and collectivist dystopia cannot be stopped by the mere disappearance of a champion.

There was idea that was Rome 2.0 (New Model Society, INC, All Rights Reserved).

Glad to to see the kids back in the game. But....

Let me be frank.

Hi, I'm Phrank, Phred's alternate personality. This is an open letter to all collectivist dystopians out there.

Come on fella's. What's going on here. We live in a time when Global Capitalists Entities (DON'T SHOP AT WALMART!!) are on the march, raping and pillaging the PEOPLE(TM) sowing DISCORD and BAD FEELINGS. Since the beginning of AMERICA NUMBER ONE WAR FOR TERROR, over four million, two hundred and seventy eight placards have been produced, three hundred and fifty two thousands rallies held, and untold short tonnes of naked flab ass written on, tattooed and otherwise displayed.

Direct Action? Zero.

Until today. Finally, some brothers in Greece (which is near Athens, where the attack occurred) took direct action. Now, by today's standards, their action sucked. I mean, here's this big blue eagle, and they, um, miss? No casualties, no collapsing towers, no shaped charges, no kidnappings followed up by a good old fashioned headchopping hoedown.


Come on guys. You don't even seem to be trying.


It's fine to be against the man, seek to subvert the dominant paradigm, transgress bounds, and party, but when you only do it on the weekends, after permits have been secured, and police protection assured, well, you know what you end up looking like?


Stone punks.


Take the ManJammie Jihad A.G. These guys have been against the man (Khafir), seeking to subvert the dominant paradigm (Reason), transgressing bounds (Human Decency) and partying (the aforementioned headchopping hoedown) for the past forty years.

These guys have spunk.


Now, full disclosure. I'm not down with their version of the New Model Society. Black manjammies don't flatter the old figure, if you know what I mean. But I got to give credit where credit is due. As far as barbarians at the gate, the ManJammie Jihad A.G. is the only game in town.


Unless we get our act together and stop being revolting and start revolting, then the ManJammie Jihad is going to set the New Model Society.


We need to start taking some of our old ideas, dust them off, and attach the prefix "neo-" to them, or we're done for, ok? Time is not on our side.


That's why today, I praise the actions of the brothers in Greece (which is near Athens, where the attack occurred). Bravo. As I sit here, watching the picture square, sipping a glass of (non-GM, Fairtrade) wine, I salute you.


Forward the future.


Thanks Phrank.

I see on the web, that Sealand is back in play. Sealand is one of those micronations that were back in vogue awhile back. I never did like the word micronation. For my shorthand, I liked to call them pocket nations. Sort of like pocket battleships. Pocket battleships had heavy weaponry, like battleships, but were faster and more lightly armored.

Kind of fits my idea of pocket nations. And hell, with thermonuclear weapons becoming more and more man portable, who knows?

Well, the guys at Pirate Bay are looking to buy Sealand. The idea is to put it's servers out of the reach of traditional law enforcement, and continue running their bittorrent sites. O.K. We'll see how that works out.



Sealand is like socialism, good in theory, but a failure in practice. Don't know why. Maybe the theory is flawed.

What tickled my funny bone were the comments in the forum, particularly the one on communism:

I dont think that the owners will begin to murder people when others dont agree. I will just stop downloading from them, and use mininova.

Sure. That's just what Andrei Sakharov did.

Personally, I think that one of the best possible governmental styles would be a country with a Communistic economy and distribution of wealth with an Athenian democratic descision-making style

Generally, Athenian Democracy matches the description of communist countries. You have a small group of participating Citizens (the Party), and a larger group of non voting, non participating Slaves (the Proletariat). The Athenians differed from modern communist in a few ways. For example, their buildings were better built.

I've never been a huge fan of communism, but when i think about it... the idea of "Open Source" is communistic in nature... and me thinking that if they won't give it to me for free.... then i'll take it... is less communistic, but i do think that if you have it... share it if it's for the good of the people.

I'll file that for later.

For communism to work, we must find a god person who lives for put idea.

He probably meant good. But I'll take that Freudian.

Anyways, good luck to the Pirates in the Bay.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where did that come from?

"So, what do you think if we buy a monkey?"

Um. No. Sometimes my wife comes up with odd ideas. I think it's misdirection. She wants a dog (Akita), maybe a cat or one of those things that happens when man lays with women.

A baby.

So she starts with the monkey. Figures we'll negotiate from there, I guess.

Me, I've attenuated my adolescence to the breaking point, so I guess it's about time.

Tomorrow, we go shopping for a monkey.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Snow Days

You know you read to many blogs when the first thing that pops into your head, when waking, is "Here's a post by Catherine Seip discussing Post-Modernist quitting." I have no idea what that means, but I'm sure I'll be seeing it someday.

When I was a phrap, I got untold pleasure from waking up and seeing a fresh blanket of snow, um, well, ah...blanketing the ground. That meant no school. That meant frolicking around all day in a winter wonderland. That meant shoveling snow, not because I had too, but because I wanted to build a snow castle.

That pleasure hasn't gone away with age. In fact, I just might go back upstairs and surprise my wife with a fresh packed snowball.

I still want to be married.

Still, I like this getting up early, thing. Puttering around the house. Works delayed, so I've got about four hours of "me" time. Nice. Coffee in hand, computer on the lap, brain firing on all two cylinders. Nice.

Nibblets.wife with a snowball. Or maybe not.

So Steve Jobs, from whom all gadgets flow, finally released the iPhone. Finally.

I couldn't find any links to the release on the interwebs, so you'll have to take my word. But it's a sweet piece of tech. Truly, a little all in one. Video, phone, organizer, full up Mac OS, music player and decent storage. It's a little beyond my price point, but maybe if I save my quarters, then Christmas will come early

.

OK. This scares the hell out of me: "It's a gorgeous work of art. The colors in the bus windows are appealing" Link.



Now I love the British. Island folk. Sunny disposition, gorgeous women, every meal an epicurean delight. A happy people, running naked along sunkissed beaches beneath gently swaying palm......

Wait. I love the British. Everything I know about civilization comes from the British. They did a lot of the hardwork (a revoltution here and there) in establishing what works in creating a civilized society. Like the rule of law. You need it, see, even when you're "trangressive hipster doofuses." Breaking societies binds wot binds you is cool, but at the end of the day, it is nice to know who to sue.

The Brits are early adopters. They can't he'p it.

When the Brits started out with speed camera's, they were among the first. Then they put camera's just to, you know, watch the streets. Given that the natural right of self defense is questioned in England, maybe they'll find a way to hook camera's onto telly's, to protect against home invasions.

An ever watchful government.

Orwell had it wrong. The future is HDTV and a smiley face.

Speaking of Brits, Belmont Club links to and develops this Samizdata article about the revolutionary effects of cell phones in third world cultures.

It's like the old internet saw, about how "the internet treats censorship like damage, and routes around it, until it recieves a restraining order or is in someway influenced by business contracts in China or has entire ports shut down in Iran." Technology is having that affect on the system of societies, and it's nice to see it happening.

When I told my wife, last night, that Russia had cut off oil to Europe in a dispute with the White Russians, she asked, well, where else can Europe gets it's oil? Um, House of Saud. Not a lot of good options, there.

She then went on about how Russia could be a great society, if the oligarchs spent the money on developing the Russian economy. Well, it's "reign in hell, serve in heavan" dichotomy. Societies that treat wealth as finite (those are usually your resource...oil, diamonds, timber... boys) tend to hoard and become oppressive. Societies that treat wealth as infinite (the idea boys) grow and develop.

Least that how it makes sense to me. But remember. Only two cylinders going, here.

That technology will bring change is a given. How, well, now that's the fascinating part.

Look forward to seeing iPhone in the hands of dissidents, psuedo and actual, worldwide.

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