Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Holidays

I'm out in a few minutes, heading towards New Iberia to do the family thing. Posting will be intermittent at best over the next 24 hours or so.

Have a happy harvest fest.

I came across several stories regarding an attempt to impeach Tony Blair--apparently in England, plenty of people aren't real happy about the various lies Tony spun in order to at least partially put Britain in the quagmire. Check them out.

Since I'm not real sure how the impeachment process works in the UK, I have no idea how big of an embarrassment this will be for Blair. There's no way he'll be thrown out of office, but the humiliation factor could be significant--impeachment hasn't been considered in the House of Commons since the middle of the 19th century (in spite of any number of sex scandals involving government officials over the ensuing 150 years)...

And, off topic, but: I wonder how the ministers of morality who went apeshit over Clinton and Lewinsky would react if, say, their dear leader was caught in a compromising situation with an adoring intern of his own?
When Pots meet Kettles

MSNBC and I guess everyone else is noting the problems with the recent Ukranian election--the United States, via the pathetic sad sack also known as Colin Powell, announced that we've "rejected" the results...

But we've got nothing but praise for the election in Afghanistan, which, um, elected a president I guess--it's hard to tell, given that "president" Karzai actually controls little beyond his villa in Kabul. And we're pressing ahead with the "election" in Iraq, scheduled for January 30th--an election that Rumsfeld recently admitted might take place even if entire regions of the country can't vote.

Then there's the small matter of voting irregularities right here. I dunno, but when it takes upwards of eight hours to cast a ballot in Ohio (or, like Oyster noted, when voting machines in New Orleans precincts were late in arriving, or broken), it's a little disengenuous for us to run around whining about the electoral process in other countries.
On Theories

A good friend of mine recently reminded me of something she heard from a friend of hers, a quote to the effect that human beings "still have a hand in the tree," to which she added the corollary "and both feet on the trunk." I offered my own addition: That leaves one set of knuckles to drag the ground--or one hand free to throw rocks and sticks.

In light of this, I came across the following while checking Needlenose--it suggests that most Americans aren't quite ready to give up on the whole "made in God's image" thing. And they seem to be in a stick-throwing mood, if recent events offer any indication.

This page, which I also found thanks to Needlenose, has some nice responses, created in the spirit of good satire, as well as a set of links to pro and anti-evolution websites.

As for me--I can't believe we're actually discussing creationism, intelligent design, or any other such nonsense as an alternative to evolution as part of a science curriculum. Now, I'll grant that the anti-evolutionists have a startling tendency to look, well, unevolved. But I'm really sick of hearing them prattle on about how evolution is "just a theory."

Well, so is gravity, relativity, and even 1+1=2, but I don't see anybody questioning those.

The Independent reports on the prosecution of an Israeli commander, who ordered his soldiers to continue firing on a ten year old Palestinian girl--killing her--long after she had been identified as a frightened child, NOT a terrorist or militant.

After the girl was "on the ground" (i.e., either wounded or already dead) the commander--who has not been identified--shot her twice at close range, then, after turning away, turned back around and proceeded to fire at her some ten more times.

He must feel really proud of himself.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I Fought DOS...

--and DOS won. Apologies for slow posting. I've been dealing with network boot disks here, without much success. The new Intel network drivers won't work with the boot disks we've got--and the server I'm putting together requires a Norton Ghost backup...grrr.

I spent the last couple of hours chasing my tail--carefully going over various commands line-by-line, occasionally getting close to success, only to have something else crap out on me. I'm basically back to square one.

Maybe I'll have something later tonight...if not, I'll definitely be back tomorrow.
For the Attention Span Challenged

Remember the missing 380 tons of explosives taken from the Iraqi nuclear facility following the "catastrophic success" of the initial invasion? (link via Cursor)

The last bit of new reporting we found on the matter was a November 6 Los Angeles Times story by Mark Mazzetti, in which he reported that "a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen ... said they witnessed the looting" of explosives from Al Qaqaa "in the weeks after the fall of Baghdad" and that they "could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by the looters." Mazzetti also quoted a Pentagon spokesperson, Rose-Ann Lynch, saying: "We take the report of missing munitions very seriously. And we are looking into the facts and circumstances of this incident."

Has anyone in the press since asked Rose-Ann Lynch how the Pentagon's fact-finding mission is proceeding and what's been turned up to date? Or are reporters permitting the entire matter to recede -- because the Kerry and Bush camps are no longer out there trading accusations about it, because the what-will-the-missing-explosives-mean-for-the-presidential-election angle is now moot, and now that every last pundit has weighed in on the question of with hindsight, did Kerry's embrace of the 380 tons story help or hurt his campaign?

A quick check on Google demonstrates that the media--after reporting the story--has lost interest, at least until something horrible happens--and, if it's just an "average day" where a US soldier or two is killed, well, then I guess they no longer consider it such a big deal--just a dead US soldier. I wonder what it WOULD take to get the press off their collective lard asses and look into the story...

However, while searching around for any recent stories on Al Qaqaa, I DID come across this story out of Mosul, which is as clear an indication as any why Operation Go Fallujah Ourselves actually IS a catastrophic success. It seems that just like in Baghdad, we're launching raids on the wrong houses. Call it Keystone Cops meets Depleted Uranium. It'd be comic, except that the potential for things turning deadly increases pretty dramatically when you've got heavy weaponry and you're working at night.
Dystopic Fantasyland

The fantasyland side of this story is the insistance that elections in Iraq will be held January 30th, in spite of, well, the fact that were talking about a place where conditions would have to improve before anyone could even say that things are seriously fucked up. I mean, c'mon--up in Mosul, three quarters of the "cops" either bolted or joined the resistance. After reading this story, it's not real difficult to see why:

"Take them over there and kill them," the leader said.

His gunmen hauled three men out of their car, bound their hands behind their backs and lined them up by the side of the road. They shot them in the chest. There was no hesitation, just a series of bursts from two Kalashnikovs...

The turned out, had been a policeman and two National Guards...

It was in the trunk...that the armed band found what they were looking for -- two Iraqi National Guard and one police uniform.

Too afraid to wear them, the men in the car in front had hoped to pass for civilians. But the uniforms gave them away.

Iraq's fledgling security forces bear the brunt of attacks by insurgents bent on overthrowing the U.S.-backed government.

Police have become such targets that many switch their uniforms for civilian clothes before going home at night. National Guards don balaclavas with their uniforms and keep their jobs secret from neighbours for fear of reprisal.

Sounds like a wonderful climate in which to begin an election campaign, no?

Mosul has seen offices of Kurdish political parties ransacked, a warehouse containing voter registration forms was burned, Fallujah has all the looks of an even more Palestinian-style hellhole than the rest of Iraq (which itself is doing a pretty good job when it comes to resembling the Occupied Territories)--and they're scheduling an election?

That's like scheduling a beauty pageant in the midst of a train wreck.

A popular expression in Iraq these days is "Ya Allawi, ya jaban. Ya 'ameel al-Amercaan. Sheel idak, sheel idak. Hatha shaabak mai reedak!" Roughly translated, it means that Iyad Allawi a coward, an American puppet, and should, in the words of this writer, make himself scarce (why do I get the feeling the writer is being, um, diplomatic?).

Elections? Ha. It'd be a miracle if the interim government could simply get a somewhat working civil society.

Monday, November 22, 2004

20th Century Fox Announces Shooting to Begin on Remake of "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" Posted by Hello

Thanks to Joel for providing both the picture and title to this post.

From Greenboy at Needlenose, here's a link to Kevin Sites post about the video he shot in the mosque in Fallujah. If you have the time, it's worth reading in its entirety, particularly in light of the very ugly reactions by some of the Freepers and Little Green Snotballs, who have openly wished for Sites's murder while comfortably enconsed on their sofas, or at their desks, staring into a computer screen. What courage they have...

Unlike Sites himself, who's only been reporting from war zones for most of the last five years.
Monday Art Blogging

I suppose I could have begun this week looking at more insane violence--like up in America's Dairyland, or I could come up with something about the pissing contest in Chile.There's the ongoing tragedy in Iraq...or perhaps I could even link to Oyster, whose intrigue with the JFK assassination prompted him to connect to a computer game simulation that's probably being denounced as often as it's being downloaded.

Speaking of denouncing, it's good that there's been an uproar over the utterly despicable attempt by the House of Representatives to open your tax records to partisan snooping, while I don't know if this story about finding the possible location where Ken Bigley and others were beheaded is really something to crow about--I think celebrations would be in order if Bigley and the others had been saved--or at least if some of those responsible for those vicious acts had been captured.

But, instead, I'll begin this week by...checking out art.

In a follow-up to something I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, New York City is honoring Romare Bearden, a North Carolina native who moved to the Big Apple, became a civil servant (hey, that gives ME some hope) and made the most of his spare time, becoming a defining figure in modern art.

There's more on Bearden in the online version of the Nation:

Bearden's work was in the modified Cubist style that had become a sort of lingua franca of Modernism. Always a person of deep culture and wide reading, he struggled in the 1940s to give visual embodiment to texts by Homer and García Lorca, as well as the Bible. The paintings from the Kootz period are quite rewarding and worth looking at closely. The underdrawing is in fact entirely in the Abstract Expressionist mode: It is made up of the swift, whiplike arabesques, with sudden jazzy reversals, that one sees in Pollock or de Kooning. The images that overlay them are constructed of Cubist panes of color, and feel, especially in the García Lorca series, as if they have been inspired by Guernica...

In the culture of the 1950s, abstraction seemed to be the only option for a serious painter, but Bearden ultimately realized that he was not cut out for it. There was accordingly no clear path before him. He was not alone in his frustrations, and though I cannot say that he and Philip Guston were part of one another's lives, they both went through the same sort of crisis...

Bearden's liberation came through a medium that combined collage and photomontage. The deep biographical question, to which I have no answer, is how he found this medium and made it his own.

My own hope is to somehow figure out a way to make it back to NYC while Bearden's work is still in the limelight. In the meantime, hope y'all enjoy a little culture with the normal dose of politics...