Sunday, September 30, 2007

American Lesbian in Space

Only a few pages into Michael Belfiore's new book, Rocketeers, and I'm hooked.

Reading about how Pete Diamandis started the X-Prize excites my inner geek.

(Pete Diamandis' grandfather is from the Isle of Lesbo. No, he has not been to space. And yes, the blog title is massive snark/EDIT)

I get the nicest rejection letters

Really I do. Must mean something. I'll keep plugging along, but I think it's necessary to set goals.

Set Goals:

  1. Get syndicated
  2. Get halfway through my Masters
  3. Learn basic Swahili
  4. Publish short story (3)
See, that wasn't hard. I think I'll use the blog more for worldbuilding (which explains the seeming randomness. Trust me, I write it all down in books), and less for "global politics and the big picture".

The big picture crap gives me ulcers, is to close to my day job, and in the end, it's all about 90 percent guess work.

The future. We'll get there soon enough. I just want to have fun on the way.


Molecular Rights Management

Funny enough, this sits at the heart of one of my short stories and one novel I’ve been working on.

I find the near future far more interesting than the far future. The chances that I’ll be living there approach 100%.

Iran and my self-interest

Convince me that a terrorist employing, nuclear armed mullah-ocracy is in my self interest, and maybe I’ll be willing to “give peace a chance.” Until then, I’m going to read articles like this and grin:

"Everyone in the government and military can only talk of one thing,' he reports.  'No matter who I talked to, all they could do was ask me, over and over again, 'Do you think the Americans will attack us?' 'When will the Americans attack us?' 'Will the Americans attack us in a joint operation with the Israelis?' How massive will the attack be?' on and on, endlessly.  The Iranians are in a state of total panic.'

Muddy boots and Pinstripe Suits IXXXII

Austin Bay on a much needed “Revolution in Diplomatic Affairs:”

Even the State Department's chardonnay and brie brigade suspects we have entered a new era of grimy, street-level foreign policy. It's an era where effective diplomacy starts with long days in bad neighborhoods, as culturally-savvy diplomats identify the hopes, fears and trends that seed future crises, and -- preferably -- create American-influenced opportunities to positively shape events.

In the past year or so, the phrase “Diplomatic Surge” came into vogue. I’ve always thought to myself, “yeah, you and what diplomatic corps?” At the end of the day, we’re left with a Corps of Diplomats more focused on their Foggy Bottoms than the national interest. More interested in leaking, undercutting, waiting out L’Enfant Terrible, and representing tout le monde to America than they are in advancing America’s interest, aggressively, to the rest of the world.

Short version: we’d have to blow less shit up if the diplomats did their jobs. Not strike deals, but advance America interest.

I kind of passed on this article saying that AFRICOM would be based outside of Africa. My reading, the decision is not made. But placing AFRICOM in the environs of Northern Virginia automatically piths any argument for standing up the command in the first place. If you wish to influence a region, go there. Putting it in Northern Virginia merely opens up another comfy career glide for the diplomatic corps.

Look, in general, the DoS (not all, there are a few bright spots) is the weak sister in this fight. A CIA without all the “sex appeal.”

Mood: Slightly Irritated

I just spent a half hour arguing about a policy I'd be in violation of if I discussed it here.

Blogging is a threat to large, dumb organizations. 

No matter which side they're on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gellner's Law

"Logical coherence and social solidarity are inversely related." (Sandall 12)

So, did you hear the one about the Jewish Lesbian who  Ahmadinejad?

The P-Funk Mothership has landed

Popsci also has up some new pictures of the Richard Branson/New Mexico Spaceport.

Tear the roof of the mutha...

China, Inc and the value of stuff

Popsci has an article out on the Chinese cloning industry. Short version, China (Amazon to our Google) is getting more sophisticated a knocking off "brand name" products. Money quote:

Samsung was impressed by the efficiency of the cloners, so much so that the company offered them jobs. The cloners said no. Earning about $1.25 per phone, the cloners said, they found it easier and more profitable to make fakes. The only known result of the investigation? Samsung now takes care to release products in China shortly after they come out in Korea. Its only defense is to give cloners a smaller window of opportunity.

Sure, the cars they put out now are death traps, and China industry in general, with lead toys, tainted food, etc, is going through an annus horribillis, but here's tome betting that they will only get better.

Someone should shrink China down, and stick it on a desktop.

Oh, wait:

The desktopfactory. Priced out at 5,000 dracma and heading south.

The sweet spot is going to be when the desire to make, move and create meet the means to do so. When the value of stuff drops relative to the value of ideas.

Airstrip One to launch Droneship One

Article in Defensetech on BAE's development of a drone carrying ship.

British-based BAE Systems is proposing a sea-going mother ship for unmanned vehicles (UXV) of various types.

The future might not be now, but it can't be more than a few minutes away.

Fraying at the center

The Florida Democratic Party decides to ignore the DNC and hold it's primary early.

I love it when a party, any party, loses discipline. Refreshing.

Via IP

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Inkless Pen

Well, because I'm left handed, I talked myself into buying one:

La Contessa

Part of my research of burning man keeps bringing back to one of the most beautiful pieces on the playa. La Contessa, a spanish galleon fitted to a school bus. 

Who’s afraid of Naomi Wolf?

Look, let me be the first to say I look forward to the end of the Bush Administration. If only because those who have made a living off of doom mongering will be forced to board the S.S. STFU and set sail for oblivion. Or reinvention.

Art and fashion critic Naomi Wolf is out with a book titled “The End of America, A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot.” In it, she outlines the ten easy bake steps to fascism.  Boing Boing has the link over here.

I’m constantly amazed, when pearl diving through the internet, how those who fear the government the most are the same ones calling for its growth. Bush’s Evil Surveillance State would be improved with universal health care, mandatory psyche screenings, fewer guns and less Bush. Right.

What they really want is to execute a capitated regime change while growing the rest.  

 Her list reads like the half remembered meanderings of a self absorbed literati. Without even reading the book, let me try and see if I can guess Naomi’s pathologies:

 1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. (Jihad? What Jihad? Seen those swank new burginis?)


3. Develop a thug caste . (BLACKWATER!!!!!)

4. Set up an internal surveillance system. (That thing Poindexter wuz working on!!)

5. Harass citizens' groups. (Bitchslapping Moveon)

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release. (I think she’s talking a fishing here).

7. Target key individuals. (People I know who’ve been inconvenienced at check in counters on the way to Vail).

8. Control the press.( FOX)

9. Dissent equals treason. (She talking about  Zombies?)

10. Suspend the rule of law. (FLORIDAFLORIDAFLORIDA)


If you want to understand how totalitarianism develops, you only have to read three books: 


True Believer

Road to Serfdom

If you want to watch it develop in real time, I mean see nuttiness really develop, then set your google alerts to “Venezuela, Chavez."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Moveable Feast

The weburbanist posts on a most delicious piece of vaporware: the GMC-PAD.

A house on wheels.

I'll put that piece of swank next to this, Lisa's Akoya microlight plane. This beauty lands on ground, snow and water.

The future will have homeless. And they're going to be loaded.


Well, that wasn't hard to predict. Via IP, Blackwater convoys protecting (dig in here, a bit) U.S. Diplomatic convoys resume in Iraq.

Read a little into the story and you get this:

The report, Khalaf said, recommended annulling a legal provision that gives immunity to foreign security companies operating in Iraq. It also recommended Blackwater compensate the victims' families and that all foreign security companies be replaced by Iraqi companies.

Always follow the money. Don't get me wrong, eventually that needs to happen, but Khalaf is, shall we say, jumping the gun a bit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Jerusalem and the Fractal Future

 "Brussels is the last obstacle," says Bart De Wever, a Flemish party leader. "We would have divorced years ago if it wasn't for Brussels."


It is with morbid fascination that I watch the dissolution of Belgium. The Brussels Journal has been, to my knowledge, one of the few places to go for information.

 If Belgium breaks north an south, Brussels, with it’s great food and high crime rate could be set to be the first city carved out of a nation state by an Intergovernmental Organization (IGO).

 And via BB, I dug up and read the new UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Good read. Follow the declaration to it’s logical conclusion, and you’re going to have many more nations falling apart.

 Everyone, it seems, has some line of operation on what the next world order ought to look like (IGOs, Jihad, flat earth socialist). All I know is, it’s going to be damn interesting.

 Bring popcorn. And a leatherman.

The Road to Serfdom

Well, I finally got my hot little hands on the Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom.” Particularly germane:

“We shall never be successful in our dealings with the Germans till we understand the character and the growth of the ideas which now govern them. The theory which is once again put forth, that the Germans as such are inherently vicious, is hardly tenable and not very creditable to those who hold it. . . The problem is not why the Germans as such are viscous, which congenitally they are probably no more than other peoples, but to determine the circumstances which during the last seventy years have made possible the progressive growth and ultimate victory of a particular set of ideas, and why in the end this victory has brought the most vicious elements among them to the top. Mere hatred of everything German, instead of the particular ideas which now dominate the Germans is, moreover, very dangerous, because it blinds those who indulge in it against a real threat…It is doubly dangerous because the contention that only the peculiar wickedness of the Germans has produced the Nazi system is likely to become the excuse for forcing on us the very institutions which have produced the wickedness.”

(Hayek 8-9)

Now fast forward to 2007.

The Army Combat Shirt: Now with more headlight protection

The Army’s gone ahead and updated the ACS. Put a little bit more fabric around the chest-al area. Fewer headlights.


That’s why you test products first.

Back asswards

Don’t ask me why, but I bought  my first CD before I even bought a CD Player. A Kathleen Battle/Winton Marseilles Duet, I believe. Well, creature of habit that I am I’m going to order some bling for an iPhone I don’t yet own. You got to admit, this is a sweet mod:

 And speaking of mod’s, I’d be all over this modbook if it had a swivel and a keyboard.

 I am Steve Jobs’ bitch.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Random T-Wall Art

Road to Serfdom

Short Hayek: socialism is just a speedbump on the road to fascism.

As a self described freedom freak, I say amen brother.

Blackwater: In or Out?

Heard the Beeb reporting that the Iraqi Government has moved to kick Blackwater, the private security firm (and market response to growing insecurity?), out of Iraq.

Do a blog search and you'll see some of the chatter beginning.

Straight line to the NYTimes, and it's a lot less clear:

The incident took place on Sunday in Nisour Square, an area in western Baghdad that is clogged with construction and concrete blocks. American officials said that a convoy of State Department vehicles came under fire, causing one to break down. It was towed. The officials did not say whether any of the convoy’s security guards fired back or whether they worked for Blackwater.

My two cents? Blackwater stays put. The State Department needs them to much (diplomacy is not an effective deterrent against complex ambushes). The spin? A car bomb, some gunfire and then a statement from the Interior Ministry? Sounds too pat. Probably just Jaish al-Mahdi acting up.

You now how those kids like to play.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A thousand words

And in remembrance of this day, the 11th of September: God bless America in all her myriad ways. May she prevail.

Buy Dinars!!

I got the chance to watch GEN Petraeus and AMB Crocker last night. The spotlight was on GEN Petraeus and the lethal fight, but I found myself fascinated by this proposal buried in AMB Crocker's remarks:

(yes, I'm too lazy to type it out)

Looks to me like a Marshall Plan light. An attempt to invest in Iraq's future. You know, with the 'Surge' (or Phantom Thunder/Strike) focusing bottom up on security (start small and stay there), the Iraqi electrical grid privatizing, the Anbari awakening and the ISE up 64%, I'm suddenly bullish on Iraq.

Next time someone asks you when we'll be bringing the 'trupes home,' hand them a juice box and tell them, gently, 'effectively never'.

Now, where can I get me some dinars?

Tom Links, I thinks.

Thomas P.M. Barnett links to an article in MSNBC titled “The Next Battlefront.” It’s about Africa, so of course I’m all over it like the Third ID on Baghdad (we must keep our metaphors current).

 Tom comments:

“Pretty good summarizing piece that I'll cite primarily as an example of rising MSM awareness of AFRICOM.”

True as far as that goes. However, the article strikes me as phoned in and formulaic.

I mean, come on:

1.     Associate U.S. with ‘Imperial.’ Check.

“Not surprisingly, the establishment of a major American base in Africa is inspiring new criticism from European and African critics of U.S. imperial overreach.”

You see, U.S. ‘imperial overreach’ is an established fact. Like global warming. So, without running the numbers, we’ll fiat the overreach and queue up the critics.

2.     Unnamed Eurocrat? Check

"If you have soldiers hugging trees and painting hospitals at the same time as they're killing people, the perception of the local populations is going to be altered significantly," says one European official, who spoke to NEWSWEEK on the condition that his identity be kept secret.

O.K. The kid (me) is about tired of listening to certain European ‘officials’ for whom freedom and self determination are second languages. Europe, IMHO, is heading in a direction wholly incompatible with increased liberties and prosperity. Their Bono-Heavy approach to foreign aid while jealously guarding the Common Agricultural and Common Fisheries Policies are, in some part, responsible for the mess Africa is in today (though, consistent with my philostainment approach to life, African’s are at most to blame for their continued acceptance of bad philosophies dressed in worse governments).

3.     Quote an African Leader? Check.

Two weeks ago South Africa's Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota called for a continental ban on Africom and said 14 nations of southern Africa—including South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania—would reject the presence of "foreign forces."

True enough. The article is here, and Minister Lekota did say:

"Africa has to avoid the presence of foreign forces on its soil, particularly if any influx of soldiers might affect relations between sister African countries," Lekota said. 

Minister Lekota also had this to say recently:

Earlier, ANC chairman Mosiuoa Lekota said the continued existence of the tripartite alliance was the only way South Africa would ever become a socialist country.

Seems Minister Lekota doubles down as the Minister of Defense and the Chairman of the ANC. Perfect for indulging flat earth beliefs in the benefits of ‘socialism.’

Unfortunately, Minister Lekota fits in well with the government of Thabo Mbeki. Fortunately, Liberia looks like it’s offering up some turf. Plus side, plenty of beach and a more direct flight for the Strategic Overwatchers of AFRICOM.

Pity South Africa.

4.     Actually contact AFRICOM (they have phones now)? Not on your life.


The Global War on Terror and dirt napping as many Jihadi’s as possible and AFRICOM  are about as related as a violent SWAT action with the Live Action News Chopper is to community policing and Guliani’s Broken Windows Theory. Different ends of the spectrum.

AFRICOM fits in more with a global counterinsurgency (a hazy concept I’m betting will pick up steam in the next few years). It’s part of a response to a developing, or I should say, devolving problem. The rise in this century of Movements and the quick buck, easy answer shamans who lead them. I believe it’s a correct response. Part lethal and part non lethal effects (mustn’t use ‘kintetic’ anymore, no siree), AFRICOM will be headed by a Four Banger, GEN Kip Ward, and his two deputies will be a Four Banger for lethal effects and a Four Banger equivalent (out of State) for non lethal effects.

Olive and the arrow. Great Seal type stuff.

AFRICOM, as I mentioned earlier, will also break with the traditional Staff approach and adopt an effects centric organization. Smart move:

AFRICOM’s will have divisions called outreach, plans and programs, knowledge development, operations and logistics, and resources.

AFRICOM is going to have to go through the storming, norming and forming all organizations pass through. AFRICOM will not be a lineal descendant of CJOA-HOA and the Pan Sahel Initiative, our current jihad bashing initiatives in Africa. AFRICOM will, by the time it reaches IOC, have the benefit of personnel, knowledge and methods in counterinsurgency hard learned in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran (hey, I’m kidding about the last one. Don’t spill your Starbucks).

Let’s face facts. The rate of change in the international system is accelerating. It’s an almost natural response to the entropy that settled in after the welcome demise of the SOVUNION. The nation that innovates the next, best, security arrangement is the one that’s going to set the model for the next few years. Look at it as the dysfunctional Iranian/Hezbollah model on one hand versus the U.S. AFRICOM model on the other with the Chinese, Euro’s and Russians muddling up through the middle.

The gold medal goes to the country that innovates the best, the fastest. And I'll bet on the U.S. any day of the week.

Anyways. My two cents.

Circumstances Reduced

Alas, my scanner is down. I'll have to await a shipment from Amazon before I can start posting cartoons again.


That was a little too close.

And loud. And [AUTO-REDACTED]

Really, someone needs to talk to our neighbors about their behavior.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Burner Culture

Randomly adultish flickr stream here.

(sorry for the 'blue' post. Safari acts funky sometimes.)

I need to buy one these...

Unfortunately, the link through from Neatorama has crashed the originating site. I'll stop by in a day or so.

If these two mated...

...they'd give birth to a future.

File under random eye candy. (Virgin Galactic and Galactic Suites)

Ask Hoffer

Via LGF, Slate asks "Why are so many jihadists converts to Islam?"

I'm getting ready for my classes, and given that I've got to read Sayyid Qutb's "Basic Principles of Islamic Worldview", I figured I'd reread Eric Hoffer. So I  reordered a copy of Eric Hoffer's True Believer as an innoculant.

Short Hoffer: they're nutters.

Long Hoffer; they are broken inside.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Note to self

I need to add Burning Man to the list of places I want to go.


I'll just need to find a nice hotel nearby for the wife and I.

Man, this just spark's

I mean all the white noise about hotels in orbit, a new X-Prize and commercial space flight. 
Richard Branson got together with New Mexico to launch Spaceport America. I'd vote for Bill Richardson (notionally) on that alone, dammit.

Drool. I am.

Needs must

I see my explanation for my hiatus from the blogging world didn't make it up into the cartoon panel.

Unforced error. I'll fix tomorrow.

In other news, I've learned that at critic who can rip apart your work, while at the same time makes you laugh, is one hell of a critic indeed.

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