Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Portal Into Another Dimension

Join me now as we travel to the Huffington Post. Scroll down past the teaser for Absinthe and the one with the headline about having a three-way with God (not making it up). See this week's "little kid steals grandma's truck and wrecks it" story? Watch the video if you like; I didn't. Check out the comments. They're like flipping over a rock. Every aspect of the child's life is dissected, from his given name to his weight to his home situation to wild speculation about the ages of his parents and grandparents.
Great. No conscience, no sense of right and wrong, ignoramus grammar, and
fat as a pig. They ought to just preregister him at the county jail because
that's where he'll end up. Grandmother has custody. That means mama is mostly
likely a druggie. Where's dad? And grandmama drives a big ole gaz-guzzling SUV.
I don't feel sorry for the family; they raised him that way. Videogames, lack of
supervision, bad diet. So many things wrong with this picture I can't even stand
it. They ought to start saving up for attorney's fees.

Oh, and they're real worked up about that SUV.

Part of the reason I didn't look at the vid was I wanted to see if I could figure out what demographic the kid was part of just based upon the comments. We are a post-racial society, after all. Mr. Obama says so, and then Mrs. Obama smacks him in the head. How's she been, anyway? Haven't seen her in a while. At any rate, sixteen comments down the page and TA DA!!
This kid's got some of the qualities and tendencies of Your Typical
ReThugLieCon. Now if only he was white (or Clarence Thomas), he'd be afforded
the opportunities to hone his craft.

OOooo. Twofer. But he's not bigoted. At all. And that's not even the first post to blame 'society.' My favorite, and not just because he accidentally points out what might be a root cause of the little boy's resentment by misspelling his name:

So Latarina was out for a joy ride .... even though he is not of age
for a Driver's License, nor of age to get Car Insurance, nor is he of age to own
a car. But I bet anyone his driving abilities performed alot more better than of
those who are adults that goes out drinking and then drives. Sure, it shows he's
not growing up in a great environment that teaches him to be more disciplined
within his natural surroundings, a kid with no father figure perhaps, nor a
mother who teaches him right from wrong. This just clearly shows that, this is
the direction to where a country is going because the politicians are more
worried about corporate interests and their bank accounts, even at a time of
war. They could of done better things with their war money, such as give a kid
like Latarian a better living environment, not nooooooooooo .... that didn't
happen.Remember now, oppression is a dysfunctional disease brought to you, by
the country's political infrastructure.

I'm sorry; your what hurts? Shouldn't you be lecturing at a community college somewhere right now? Sociology, perhaps, or maybe pre-law? These are the people we share the roads with, the people blocking the aisle at the grocery store who give you that look when you try to go around them. The people who won't take their clothes out at the laundrymat when the machine is done running, like they're renting real estate. These people vote. They think they're right. About everything, all the time. Good thing that's funny.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fine. We'll Just Sit Here in the Dark, Then.

Syria's ambassador to the U.S. -- who sounds like a real fun guy, by the way -- says the CIA's full of crap. Well, not really. He was... diplomatic about it. Imad Moustapha said the photographs the CIA had that were allegedly taken inside a Syrian nuclear facility were fabricated. "The photos presented to me yesterday were ludicrous, laughable." Okey Dokey. What was the building for, then? Hello? Israel bombed it last year, the Syrians promptly bulldozed the ruins and built a larger building on top of it. They won't say what it's for.

Other annoying countries like N. Korea and Iran like to pretend that they need reactors to generate nuclear power, but it's argued that the reactors are really for generating weapons-grade plutonium. Here's the quick-and-dirty on how inspectors might figure that out. I'm not a scientist. Real, actual scientists are invited to correct me. Preferably over cocktails.

From what I just read, the difference is in how short a time a fuel rod is used in a reactor. The objective in power generation is to turn the turbines. Nuclear power plants use steam, and the heat to boil the water to make the steam is generated through nuclear reaction. The fuel rods are made of Uranium 238. During the course of the reaction the uranium isotope picks up an extra neutron and decays into Plutonium 239. You have the option of removing the fuel rods at any point in the reaction process. If you were generating heat for steam you would allow the rods to remain in place until all reactivity tapered off. You would no longer have much uranium 238 and you would have the higher isotopes of plutonium (240,241, and so on). P239 is the one you want for weapons, and if you remove the fuel rods earlier in the process that's what you'll have. So I guess if you have more uranium being expended in a given period of time at a given reactor than 'should be' you have a reason to ask what they're using it for.

Meanwhile, back in Syria, Mr. Moustapha isn't saying what the reactor is for. I guess it doesn't have wires hooked up to it. Bit of an oversight, that. He says there's no military checkpoints, air defenses or even a fence, so it can't be a sensitive facility. It's in the middle of the desert where it's flat and there's a whole lot of nothing. Good luck sneaking up on it, and who needs a fence? Anti-aircraft defenses would be like asking to get bombed again. So what's it for, Moose?

I Suppose "Murdering Crapweasels" is Out.

Style tips from our enlightened betters at the Associated Press. It would be funny if I didn't think it might actually kill us to be nice.

Some do's and don't's from the National Counterterrorism Center:

_ Don't use the term "jihadist," which has broader religious meanings beyond war, or "mujahedeen," which refers to holy warriors.

_ Do say "violent extremist" or "terrorist."

_ Don't use the term "al-Qaida movement," because this makes al-Qaida seem like a legitimate political movement.

_ Don't use "Islamo-fascism" and other terms that could cause religious offense.

_ Do use the term "totalitarian."

_ Don't label groups simply as "Muslim."

_ Do use descriptive terms to define how a group fits into society. For example: South Asian youth and Arab opinion leaders.

_ Don't use "caliphate" when explaining al-Qaida's goals, as this has positive implications.

_ Don't use "salafi," "Wahhabist," "sufi," "ummah" and other words from Islamic theology unless you are able to discuss their varied meanings. Particularly avoid using "ummah" to mean the Muslim world, as it is a theological term.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Politics Made Simple

One one side we have a Harvard-educated lawyer married to a harpy that's also a lawyer, running against a Yale-educated harpy lawyer married to a lawyer. Whoever wins will be running against a guy married to a good-looking blonde who owns a beer distributorship. I can't believe we even have to have an election.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Elian Times 437

Starting in 1983 the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, CA became the center of the largest, most expensive criminal trial in U.S. history. Three hundred and sixty children were deemed by the State's social workers to have been victims of abuse at the hands of the McMartin family. Lurid tales of satanic rituals and sexual abuse made international headlines. After seven years and $15 million dollars not a single conviction was obtained. The entire thing was a hoax, claiming the livelihoods of the McMartins and the innocence of the children involved.

On April 19, 1993, a Federal raid on the Branch Davidian home in Waco, Texas resulted in the deaths of 87 people when the building was burned to the ground. The rationale behind the raid was alleged to be the illegal stockpiling of weapons, but what brought in the tanks and the Bradleys was an allegation of child abuse. The Davidians midwived and homeschooled. Their children had little to no contact with those representatives of State authority euphemistically referred to as "the outside world." There was no way to prove the children had been or were being mistreated. It was impossible to make that determination from their charred remains.

Fifteen years later we have Waco without the flames. On the basis of a now-discredited allegation of abuse the State of Texas has raided the home and ranch of Yearning for Zion, a fundamentalist Mormon group in Eldorado, Texas. A phone call to a family violence shelter (not the police) purportedly from "Sarah Jessop Barlow" alleged sexual abuse was occurring at the ranch. After removing 437 children from the custody of their parents -- in some cases lying to mothers and children about where they'd go and if they'd stay together -- "Sarah Jessop Barlow" has yet to make her presence known. This is in spite of several identifying characteristics, such as her pregnancy, she gave to authorities. A 33-year-old woman in Colorado Springs is currently being investigated for placing the call. I thought I'd get that into print as it has already dropped down the memory hole.

Of course the State's argument for its thuggery is "It's for the children. We must protect the children." Towards that end Social Services has removed them from the only life they've ever known, interrogated them without benefit of counsel, separated them from their support network, and plans have been made to scatter them in a diaspora that encompasses the great State of Texas. They've promised to "try" to keep siblings in foster care together. That seems unlikely, as in many cases there are five or more siblings. An argument can be made that since the children were raised communally -- by the village, as it were, that all 437 of them perceive themselves as siblings.

The life of a foster child is very stressful. You know that at any time you can be returned like a pair of shoes by people you've grown to trust who are much too nice to tell you why. You're like a leased car; you receive the bare minimum of required maintenance and no improvements. If your table manners are abysmal, if you're lacking in the social graces, if you can't make heads or tails of Algebra, it's no matter. Your grades or behavior won't reflect upon your foster family since everybody knows you're not 'theirs.' In a few months you'll be someone else's problem. And if you're not lucky enough to get placed with a family you get to live in a group home, an experience I need not describe to anyone who's read "Lord of the Flies." It is a soul-eroding grind of a life for which you are perpetually expected to be grateful. There has never been designed a more mentally abusive system than that orchestrated by the State under the guise of protecting children.

This farce will continue into the indefinite future. The children will never be returned to the only home they've known. How long do you suppose it will take to perform 437 DNA tests? Most of them will be grown by the time the State can even figure out if it's been the recipient of a prank phone call. But the State's objective has already been accomplished: to remove those children from the weird scary Christians. That's why there's been nary a peep from the thousands of communes, group marriages, same-sex unions and polyamorists. They believe being raised in a fundamentalist Christian manner is more damaging to kids than being raised in foster care, and the State seems to agree.

The purpose of all those DNA tests is to determine which if any of the children were the result of a union with an underage girl and an adult man. In this setting a pregnant teenage girl is evidence of a crime. Let the exact same pregnant teenage girl turn up at Planned Parenthood for an abortion and she is embraced. No one would dream of asking her who drove the car she rode there in, much less who knocked her up. And polygamy is horrible and oppressive, unless the women are in charge. Cloaking the practice in religion is despicable, unless they're Muslim.

In fifteen years all the further we've come is nobody gets set on fire this time. The kids at Waco may have had it better, though. They got to stay with their family until the end.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The LAT Picks on the Cripple

Ralph Vartabedian ( is an extremely tough man. He laughs at danger with a boisterous, hearty guffaw. He thinks those guys on "Deadliest Catch" are pansies, that oil rig workers are mincing pantywaists, that the ice road truckers need to suck it up. He must; he also thinks John McCain, a fighter pilot who was shot down and spent five years as a POW in Viet Nam (thank you, sir), isn't disabled enough to rate a tax-free disability pension. After all, McCain has said he felt well enough to hike in the Grand Canyon. One wonders how ill one of Ralph's children would have to be in order to miss a day of school. I don't think chicken pox would cut it. Just out of curiosity, does John Kerry get a pension for his heiney-full of rice?

In the same story, Vartabedian worries that McCain might be too disabled to be President, given his history of skin cancer. One of the Left's secular saints, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was wheelchair-bound from polio. He seemed to work out OK enough. John Kennedy, a fellow veteran, had back trouble. Some days the pain was so bad he could barely cheat on his wife. So which is it? Is McCain too old and broke down, or not old and broke down enough?

Wierd science

From the BBC:

Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.
Mecca is the direction all Muslims face when they perform their daily prayers. The call was issued at a conference held in the Gulf state of Qatar under the title: Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice.
One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north. He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.

It figures that the shot across the bow is a thrown rock.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Vladimir Putin, Former President of Russia (You, there. Quit smirking) may or may not be dumping his wife for a girl half his age. He says no, but yeah, right. Anyhow, the lady in question is a former rhythmic gymnast (you're smirking again), lovely to look at and possibly double-jointed. She is also a member of the Duma, the lower house of Russia's Parliament. And now you have my attention.

Here's why Putin's a freaking genius. While he was officially in charge he arranged for a bevy of fabulous babes to be elected to the Duma. They were even called "Putin's Babes," greeted enthusiastically by the media and, one presumes, their fellow legislators. Attention is paid to their every move, especially if the move involves exiting a car or dropping a pencil, and nobody notices what's actually going on. A classic piece of misdirection done on a grand scale. Very Russian. But back to him and the girl.

Women everywhere are all balled up over the whole trade-in-your-wife thing. Again, look at what's actually happening without getting caught up in an emotional reaction. Putin set up his buddy Medvedev as president. Friendship engenders a certain amount of loyalty, but Putin shouldn't rely that his friend will always follow his advice. A very young lady with little world experience and a taste for the glamorous life is... malleable. She is easily manipulated into being an instrument of Putin's will. And nobody will think to question her because she's so pretty, and pretty people can never be evil.

Putin's not quitting and he's not going anywhere. He is installing a shadow regime made up of people he can blackmail or threaten or dominate. And he's being very up-front about it. It's like he thinks no one will challenge him.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oh, Jeez.

Today's "confidential blueprints found in the garbage" story is from NYC. The Port Authority is all in a knot because if these were to fall into the wrong hands it could be devastating, somebody's getting fired over this, yada yada yada. You know what? These have already been in the wrong hands and they threw it in the trash when they were done. You could fire everyone who ever laid a finger on those plans and it wouldn't bring back the dead. What's most galling is it would have been such a simple thing to encrypt the name of the structure, the architects, etc. on the plans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who Lets Him Out?

For everybody who voted Carter for President: Were you sniffing glue that day? Did your hand slip? Demonic possession, perhaps? Or were you momentarily distracted by something shiny? Seriously. I want answers.

The detestable old gasbag with the pinned-pupil thousand-yard Thorazine stare actually said this out loud:
"When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's
the dictator, because he speaks for all the people. But in a democracy like
Israel, there is a wide range of opinions and that counterbalances the
disappointment that I have in not meeting with the people shaping Israeli power
now in the government."

He prefers dictatorships because they're more convenient. He only has to talk to the one guy. None of this futzing around pretending to care what the people think; a dictator will tell you what they think. It's right there in the job title.

I can see that. An old guy like him needs his naps, and unpredictable travel schedules can be colonically binding.

Going to a democracy is such a darn chore. All those people and their opinions. No wonder they never get anything done. Plus, nobody seems to be in charge of validating Jimmy's personhood. He won the Nobel, for crying out loud. Little-d democrats care not a fig for the guy who used to hold the job. Not like in a nice, old-fashioned dictatorship. They know how to show respect. All their former leaders have beautiful memorials.

Jimmy Carter is the Norma Desmond of American politics. Why are we paying for this man to have Secret Service protection when we ought to have protection from him?

The Bravest Frenchman

For the fifth time, former actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot is on trial in France for "inciting racial hatred." Against Islam, which is not a race, it's a form of psychosis. This time Ms. Bardot received a two-month suspended prison sentence. I suppose France doesn't have the stomach to incarcerate a 73-year-old cultural treasure. They also robbed the old dear of 15,000 Euros, or $23,760, essentially for saying the sort of thing I say all the time: "I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts," The take-home message: in France truth is no defense for libel.

Here's a picture of Ms. Bardot from her acting days. She was a leading cause of the Great French Cinema Scare of the late 1950's. Millions of people who could only speak food sat through the interminable films of Roger Vadim, convincing the man he was God. Now, of course, she is a dear old lady with a fondness for dogs. She walks with the aid of two canes, so she's the ideal target for her bully government. Socialists prey on the weak; it's much easier than trying to impose the indigenous culture and rule of law upon the ungrateful squatters who've sworn to kill them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Too bad he's got all those cats

I am just crazy about this guy.

Sauce for the Gander

The following is from a work of popular fiction. I've played with the wording a tiny bit to illustrate my point. It's a popular enough work that you might recognize it in spite of that.

This little vignette plays itself out in offices everywhere, I expect:

She: I'm hoping we can work together on this project in the spirit of cooperation. I'll have some ideas, and you'll have some ideas, and together we can pick the best ones.

He: Sure, that's one approach. But I prefer to exhale deeply and roll my eyes while you prattle. Then I will verbally demolish your ludicrous ideas, and dismantle your mistaken self-image as a competent woman.The carnage will create a striking contrast for the warm, clear glow of my brilliant ideas. Later, I will round out the package by spreading amusing stories about how ignorant you are.

She: Is there any chance of doing it my way?

He: Now watch my eyes.

I've been talked to like that, and I'm sure I could round up a few other women across a -- pardon me -- broad spectrum of ages who could say the same thing. It's infuriating. It makes you want to cry. If this were to happen in a real life company what would happen to 'he'? Summary dismissal? Nasty lawsuit? A trip to Glorious People's Sensitivity Camp? I bet it does happen in real life. I bet it'll happen today and nobody will even notice. Because it'll be a woman saying that to a man. The above is from a Dilbert cartoon and I switched the speakers' genders. So it's funny now.

I'm sure some hairy, wizened old "feminist" will set me straight but I never saw the point in being equal to men. Not equally awful, anyhow. I appreciate men. I admire their dynamism, their ambition, even their occasional lapses in judgment. Most major advancements in civilization just had to be the result of a bet or a dare. Space travel, for instance. Women would never think to say, "Go big or go home"; we're more like, "What's everybody there going to be wearing? And did you look at a map?" Worthy questions, but hardly inspiring. I like how helpful men are, how the nicest ones make it possible for me to dress pretty and smell good, secure in the knowledge that gas will be pumped and jars will be opened; I have but to ask. Hard to square with being a welder? I only did it to make a good life for my kid. My male kid. My feminist relatives hate when I say that. I've always been their little mascot.

So how do you deal with the dismissive attitude? You remember that it's not unique to either gender and you quietly thank them for being such a dunce they'll never expect it when you outflank them. Take the lead in broadcasting that they were the brains behind the operation. If it was a good idea you seem supportive. If it was a crappy idea, well... Also remember they carry a grudge and they have lots of time to obsess over things because they're usually single. Plausible deniability. That's all I'm gonna say.

There. Now that I've alienated most of the women and they've stomped off in disgust we can swap dirty jokes. I used to work construction; I know some funny ones.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thanks? For the Help?

Popular Mechanics helpfully lists the ten most likely terrorism targets.
As a bonus, the comments section has a full list of secondary targets volunteered by the citizens who live near them. What further proof is needed that the GWOT is making progress than the big brains who read PopMech totally spacing on the fact that NYC and DC sustained damage to their infrastructures not so long ago.

Industrial Poetry

Fred Schoeneman posts on Blackfive about the surprisingly male former editor at Wine Spectator and current L.A. Times editorial writer. Matthew DeBord clutches his tasteful strand of pearls in distress at the mere sight of General Patreus:

"There he sits in elaborate Army regalia, four stars glistening on each shoulder, nine rows of colorful ribbons on his left breast, and various other medallions, brooches and patches scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. He even wears his name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt, just in case the politicians aren't sure who he is."

I think that's called a uniform, Mattsy. I hear all the soldiers wear them. Or as Schoeneman puts it:

"Your attempt to portray Gen. Petraeus as a chickenhawk is the weakest of all arguments especially coming from someone who could only charitably be called even a girly man. Go back to your fern-filled loft and compare notes on the latest swill turned out by the grape-stompers. You need to leave the important business of who shall lead our country in war to those whose concept of it has progressed farther than fashion commentary about a man whose glass you are not
fit to fill."

What he said.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And What a Mother

In most elections, the deceased mother of a candidate in the primaries is not the subject of a magazine profile. But Ann Soetoro was not like most mothers.,8599,1729524,00.html

You have to read this article. Every page has at least one gem. The "natural-born mother" who scraped her kid off on mom and dad used to cry "when she felt like she wasn't being understood in conversation." Spoiled much? Manipulative often? She met Barack Obama, Sr. in college in the early 1960s. In Russian class.

"He had this magnetic personality," remembers Neil Abercrombie, a member of Congress from Hawaii who was friends with Obama Sr. in college. "Everything was oratory from him, even the most commonplace observation."..."We would drink beer, eat pizza and play records," Abercrombie says. They talked about Vietnam and politics. "Everyone had an opinion about everything, and everyone was of the opinion that everyone wanted to hear their opinion—no one more so than Barack."

Yay. A chatty, know-it-all drunk. Mom hooked up with the commie Cliff Clayburn. He was married back home as well as to Ann and he dropped her like a hot rock when he got a scholarship to Harvard. Isn't that where his kid went to school? His American kid, I mean. So he's a legacy, then.

In1967 Ann Dunham Obama married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro and moved to Indonesia.

"Walking off the plane, the tarmac rippling with heat, the sun bright as a furnace," Obama later wrote, "I clutched her hand, determined to protect her."

He was five. When your kindergartener feels the need to protect you, perhaps you have not been diligent in providing him a sense of security. She did keenly feel the white man's burden, though, dispensing alms to every beggar that came by. Word travels fast in Jakarta, and soon she was forced to pass judgment on who was the most needy of the flood of people who came looking for a handout. Who saw that happening? Fortunately, Lolo worked for an American oil company, so they were pretty well set up.

Around the time that marriage ended, Barack was sent to live with his grandparents, the typical white people. Mom kept his sister. When Ann decided to return to Indonesia her 14-year-old son said, pass. He stayed in Hawaii. Ann didn't seem to mind. While he embarked on a dynamic career in Chicago politics his mom puttered about on the literal other side of the planet, spending over two decades to almost complete her doctoral dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia.

On the one hand I don't want to be thought of as badmouthing the dead; on the other hand, she's dead, she won't care. Her son is running for President; looking at how he was raised is prudent. If my own personal son became a hatchet murderer you can bet people would be taking issue with the way I toilet trained him at knifepoint. Mr. Obama has a problem with "white people" like his mother and the people who raised him. He married a woman who is stridently dissatisfied with the racist, sexist, backwards country that gave her everything. How he came to be that way has everything to do with how he'd run the show.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hairstyles and Attitudes

This post is not about freedom of religion or the nature of dissent or Tibet's right to exist or how all-round evil China is. It is also not about the Olympics or world unity or any of that hippie twaddle. San Francisco's pretty, pretty mayor did something that should outrage everyone who lives in the world's largest open-air looney bin: When confronted with potentially volatile political protesters bent on impeding the flow of traffic on city streets and the implicit threat of violence against the citizenry Mr. Newsom found a way to thwart their purpose and defuse the situation. There ya go, San Franciscans. He does have it in him, but only when he's worried about looking like a schmuck to the rest of the world. For you, every month, not so much.

The last Friday of every month with nice weather (I love their commitment) an enormous bunch of jackasses toss their bicycles in the back of the Odyssey or on top of the Forester and drive in from all over to block traffic in downtown San Francisco during the evening commute in a pointless little ritual called Critical Mass. They ride on both sides of the street and both sidewalks. Why should drivers be the only ones to fear for their safety? They vandalize cars and knock pedestrians down, and the police don't do a damn thing to stop them. I'm sure they'd love to, but they're not allowed. Mayor Haircut doesn't want the bad PR from hurting the feelings of some weekend white rasta from Danville with facial tattoos and plates in his earlobes. So everybody who needs to get on the bridge out of town because daycare in Oakland closes at 6pm -- for instance-- must sit and wait for the cyclists to work through their daddy issues. Its only redeeming feature is that it may cause some Bay Aryans to rethink their position on gun control.

Such a pity the only thing the citizens of San Francisco have to offer the mayor is their vote. He seems to think that's worth so much less than face time on CNN.

Zelly Zelly Bo-belly

It is a ridiculously beautiful day, even by local standards, and I have the afternoon off work. There's about eight thousand more interesting things I could be writing about, but lucky you, you get to hear about my dog, Miss Zelda Clifton. She gets mail. From Hillary and Obama. She thinks it's delicious.

I've never had a dog before and I didn't know anything about them. Yes, I've seen dogs before; I've just never lived with one. I thought I'd get something tiny. Smaller puddles. Zelda was listed for free on Craigslist. There was nothing going on with her family, they just really wanted to get rid of her. I did manage to get this bit of information out of their five-year-old daughter: Lexy (her name then) had killed two of the neighbor's cats. Oh. Good to know. I suppose if I'd had a cat mom and dad wouldn't have told me that. Come along, doggie; these aren't your kind of people anyway.

I took Zel (named after Ms. Fitzgerald and not the video game, thanks) to the vet and discovered she'd been chipped. I had it read and discovered Zel was thirteen months old, a purebred show-quality rat terrier and had had four different addresses. I made home number five. I wondered why so many people had given her up until I took her home.

I think she's grand. She does all the doggie stuff you see in cartoons: chases cats, digs holes, turns around three times before she lays down, barks at imaginary crap, all of it. As a special treat sometimes we'll watch Animal Planet. She goes nuts barking at the TV. Whenever the GEICO ad with the squirrels comes on she just hurls herself at the set. It's a crackup. I hope she gets them someday.

So I was thinking about how people say dogs get to be like their owners, or maybe it's vice versa. Let's see. She's got terrible manners. OK. Likes beer, liverwurst and onion sandwiches and steak tartare. Sometimes at the same meal. Check. Hobbies include annoying people and risking her life teasing larger animals. Whoa. Freaky. She's incredibly butch, yet dainty. She was run over by a pickup truck -- complete with tread marks -- and only sustained a broken pelvis and dislocated hip. And she lost a tooth. In the back, though; you can't see it when she smiles. She's very good with nonverbal expression. For instance, she never has an "accident" on the rug. That's all on purpose, my friend. And she's punctual. Every morning at 0551 she stands on you, checking to see if you're awake yet, because someone needs to go for a walk or else the rug gets it, see.

My best guess is that Zel had too much personality to suit her other families. I can relate. All in all, she makes a good alter ego. Plus, the camera loves her. She's much more photogenic than me.

Let's play "Stump the Analyst"

George Friedman, writing for STRATFOR, provides this week's puzzler: What the heck is going on in the Middle East? In a refreshing move for an Intel analyst, Friedman says.... he's not sure.

We would like to wrap this up with a crystal clear explanation and
forecast. But we can’t. The motives of the various actors are opaque; and taken
separately, the individual events all have quite innocent explanations....We are
not saying that the events are meaningless. We are saying that we do not know
their meaning. But we can’t help but regard them as ominous.

May I be the first to say, far out. Here are the basic elements, in case you'd like to take a whack at it yourself:

  • Feb. 2008: The US begins purchasing oil to top off the Strategic Oil Reserve, which is already at %96.2 capacity.
  • Feb. 2008: Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah is assassinated in Syria. Who done it is unclear. It is assumed to be the Israelis, but Hezbollah doesn't attack Israel in retaliation. They go after Yeshiva kids in Jerusalem instead. Maybe the Syrians did it, but who knows why.
  • The U.S. sent a couple of ships over to the Lebanese coast to irk the Lebanese, Syria's neighbors. Israel is announcing the start of a round of military exercises, irking the Syrians. Thus irked, the Syrians have deployed troops to their border with Lebanon. Hezbollah has prepared for a fight in that region, and the Lebanese have evacuated civilians.
  • While all this irking has been going on the U.S., who would ordinarily tell everyone not to make us pull over and smack them, has said nothing.

To Friedman this all spells potential war in the Mideast. But that's like predicting a flood in Missouri this year; you don't need to be Karnak. Somehow I don't think the U.S. is going to do what I think ought to be done with the region: Give a 168-hour evacuation warning, arm whoever stays and wall them in. They'll sort it out and Israel might just learn to defend herself. So the floor's wide open. All you have to do is read up a little bit and your guess will be as good as anybody's. There's a link at the bottom of the STRATFOR article. You can even tell George your theory.

Friday, April 4, 2008

How old I am

Ordinarily I don't give a rat's what those darned foreigners think of our politics, but this is funny. I live for the day when Hill makes reference to her Morgan Fairchild...

On being 'the first girl' whatever

The LAPD is in the process of training its first female SWAT team member and I am hearing the predictable gnashing of teeth and rending of garments because the selection process has been changed. I agree. Ladies who want to pursue that line of work should be held to the same physical standards as the men. If my house were on fire I would much rather have burly 26-year-old men come put it out. For instance. But in spite of the fact that standards have been altered, (some say lowered, I wouldn't know) resulting in two women becoming part of the newest SWAT class, maybe we could give the ladies the benefit of the doubt until we see what they can do.

For ten years I was a welder and bridge carpenter for the Piledrivers union. That is some serious hard work. A large part of the job consisted of packing lumber. Sixteen-foot-long 2X4s. You were expected to carry at least two at a time, and trot with them. Or singlehandedly lift and carry 4X8 sheets of 3/8 inch plywood. All day. Or 50lb. sacks of grout, or 98lb sacks of cement. You get the picture. There were jackhammers and bottle racks and welding machinery to be operated and moved. Nothing was small and nothing was light. A lot of men couldn't hack it. To be female and do that work you have to be one motivated chimp. And I was. I'm also gigantic, but I still had to prove on every job that I was up to the work.

I preferred the men I worked with to the other women. The guys on my crews were pretty easy to please; they just didn't want to feel like they had to do all their job and half of mine. As soon as I demonstrated I was as strong as they were (or stronger -- heh, heh.) I was all right with them. There were only very few times I may have caused an existential crisis in some caveman. "If she's doing the same work as me, does that mean I'm not actually a man?" No, honey. That's not why. The male engineers were a hoot. We'd swap puns while the tradesmen would glower at us.

Female engineers were ... different. I got the distinct vibe off them that they thought I was low-wattage or I wouldn't be out here getting dirty and beat up. I have an engineer joke: What's the difference between Mechanical engineers and Civil engineers? Mechanical engineers design weapons and Civil engineers design targets. I didn't say it was a great joke. I do the setup with a male engineer and get to the punch OK. I do the same with a female engineer and she very patiently explains to me the difference. Oy. My 'sister' tradesmen were a problem, too. They were very happy with affirmative action and demanded they only be given the easiest work. I would usually get partnered up with them and spend a lyrical eight hours doing all the literal grunt work while getting a full dose of feminist rhetoric. The next time you drive by a construction site and there's a lady flagging traffic she's probably a journeyman carpenter making $35 an hour while a $15 apprentice is busting ass doing her job.

The most contentious relationships I had by far were with the wives and girlfriends of my coworkers, most of whom had never clapped eyes on me. And so it is that the ladies are being hardest on the female SWAT recruits. They haven't even made it out of training and the wives and girlfriends are squawking about how their men are at risk of being killed because of them. Very funny. I had one of those go-to-work-and-get-killed kind of jobs. I've participated in a few rescues and I've needed rescuing myself. The Coast Guard hires some really cute guys. Maybe a bigger fear is that they don't want their men spending all that time with women other than themselves. It was never a consideration for them before. The SWAT recruits can't help them there, any more than I could help my buddies, short of explaining to their women that however loathsome the men might be at home, I saw them at their filthiest, most disgusting, crudest, and least attractive. They didn't want me to do that.

So perhaps it would be better to wait and see if the ladies make it through training, and see what they can do. Fighting and lifting are more about physics than mass. Los Machos Tacos they're likely trying to apprehend won't take them seriously, and that works to their advantage in a big way. And maybe real life is less like The Shield and they aren't shopping for your Prince Charming. One of the side effects of proving yourself in a difficult field is men have to try a lot harder to impress you than they would the other women. I'm just saying.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Peguins, Revisited

A little bit over a week ago I wrote about the big oil discovery in the Falkland Islands and how Argentina is developing a deep and abiding love for the place. Yesterday President Kirchner said her country's claim to the islands is 'inalienable.' You know South American politicians mean business when they start swiping our material. Here's an AFP story all about her claim without ever once mentioning why the sudden interest.

Here's why you should care. If Argentina and England get into it again over who controls the Falklands this would actually be a War For Oil. President Kirchner is a left-wing lawyer. She is a former First Lady who served as a senator before she became president. She's been compared to Eva Peron and she's cool with that. Sound at all familiar? If you wanted to know how Hillary Rodham Clinton would conduct a war there is a ready-made example in Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. I'm guessing things will get nasty in a hurry. Women fully comprehend the scorched-earth policy.