December 31, 2004
I was just watching a TV program detailing some nastiness going on in Africa.
Groups of a “tribe” will psych each other up, and then go out on raiding patrols. When they find a member of another tribe in their territory, they beat and or kill him. In one videotaped case, 15 males surrounded the intruder, beat him, tore off his genitals, ripped out his throat and organs, and left him lying there. Another videotaped case, the offending intruder was only beaten severely, and then allowed to leave.
The same program detailed hunting expeditions, where the tribe specifically likes to feast on monkeys, particularly the young. Occasionally rogue hunters will steal into villages and kill and eat human infants. It’s a level of war and savagery that we don’t see in our world.
Think I am talking about humans in Rwanda? The Sudan? Al Qaeda? Nope. This is the behavior of chimpanzees, on Nature’s Nightmares (Nat’l Geographic Channel). Those cuddly, little diaper-wearing furballs we see in TV and the movies, grow up with a dark side. The very animals that we thought were most like humans, from their DNA up to their social interaction, seem to be more like us than we thought.
All in all, this was one of the more chilling programs I’ve ever watched. Not only was it graphic and brutal, but it raises some very serious questions about humanity. What level of our human violence is closely related to genetics and evolution? What level of our violence is human nature, not the repudiation of it? If this is tied to our true human nature, to what extent can we expect to control this in the future?
I think we are not without hope. Society and communication can overcome this nature. With this knowledge, we may have the intelligence and will to fight natural violent tendencies, and achieve peace despite our genetic wiring. But to do so is a long road, and in the nuclear age, there is very little margin of error. I say that we are not without hope, but as to the odds, I’m not ready to venture a guess.
Martha Stewart is one of the smartest businesswomen in the world. Despite the fact that I think she’s likely a raging bitch on a personal level, I respect her business acumen. And I may be one of the few people who can’t stand her, yet think it is absolutely wrong that she’s in prison.
However, she made a glaring miscalculation, when her team lost the prison decorating contest. The first rule of show-business, entertainment, as well as decorating and business is to know your audience.
Martha’s team constructed paper cranes to be hung from the ceiling. An inventive, classy touch, that would take her far in the circles of nor’eastern society. The winning team, however, created pictures showing snow and the outdoors. If you’re in prison, are you going to vote for hanging paper cranes, or the memories of freedom, sledding down snowy hills and seeing clouds on a blue sky? C’mon Martha, you’re smarter than this!
December 30, 2004
Last time I mentioned Anna Nicole, you may remember that I was not very kind to her. I believe I mentioned that all that fortune would do nothing but increase her self-destruction.
Which is why what just happened may have been the best possible thing for her. The 9th Circuit Court finally did something good.
Anna is going to have to start living in reality. Perhaps she’ll even get a job. At least until she finds the next old, decrepit millionaire.
December 29, 2004
We were treated to a glorious sight last night. Notre Dame getting routed 38-21 by Oregon State. Of course, I’m quite biased against the Fighting Irish. I have nothing against the players, mind you. The sanctimonious fans; who think that God wants Notre Dame to win, that probably never even attended the school, have always been what truly irked me.
The season was a long road to this point. Notre Dame started out 3-1, before Purdue routed them so badly that it crushed their morale and will forever scar their memories. A 25-point loss, in their own house, to a team that hadn’t beaten them at home in 30 years. The only way to go was farther down. And farther down they went.
Ty Willingham, who is a decent coach but whose recruits were only slightly superior than girl scouts, continued to falter. When there were no longer any steps down for Notre Dame to take, they took a few more. A school with a long history of honoring its contracts fired Ty 3 years into his 5-year term, with the hopes of drawing Urban Meyer out of Utah. But they miscalculated. Thinking that the wonderful aspect of coaching for God’s Team and living in beautiful South Bend, Indiana was an offer he couldn’t refuse, they proceeded to lowball his salary. Reportedly, they offered 1 million a year. Florida, on the other hand, offered 2 million, and is in sunny Gainesville. Meyer, and his family, chose Florida.
At that point, I thought that Notre Dame was screwed. Of course, the Luck of the Irish took over, and they managed to snag Charlie Weis, offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. They may finally be taking a few steps back into a winning direction, but even Weis can’t turn them into the national power they once were.
But last night was a final spout of mediocrity. The luck of the Irish may be one thing, but luck isn’t enough to override not having a head coach. I slept well, knowing that Irish fans will feel last night’s sting at least until next year’s football season. Secure in the vision of another Purdue rout next year, I’ll be sleeping well for a long, long time.
A story, much like all the others, came across the wires today. Terrorists in Iraq lured Iraqi police into an ambush, and then detonated a bomb. At least 29 Iraqi police were killed in the attack.
I understand when the rest of the world doesn’t care about Americans killed by terrorists in Iraq. After all, they think we deserve it for invading such a wonderful peaceful nation like Iraq. For the French, the only good American is a dead American, at least as long as we keep buying their wine and sending them tourist dollars, as that is a large portion of their economy. Most of the press in the Muslim world actively supports the terrorists who kill Americans. I may think their sentiments are wrong, but I’m not surprised when we don’t get sympathy.
What I’m wondering is why there is no outrage over the terrorists killing Iraqis? We see, more and more often, that the terrorists are attacking Iraqis rather than US troops. They do this for several reasons, chiefly that Iraqis are becoming more of the ‘face’ of the reconstruction, and that US troops are a much harder target. So the terrorists go after Iraqi police, the new recruits for the Iraqi army, and anyone that appears to be advancing the democratic plan in Iraq.
It’s obvious that the terrorists are showing their hand. But nobody is paying any attention! The terrorists are not only against the US invasion, or they would concentrate on finding ways to attack US troops directly. It’s not that simple. They are against democracy in Iraq. They are killing other Muslims to stop the advance of freedom in their homeland. How long do we need to keep watching before it is reported that the goal of the “insurgency” is not the defeat of the Americans, it is the defeat of liberty.
The terrorists know that a free people is a happy people, and a happy people have no use for terror. These terrorists are trying to create nothing more than chaos, because only in chaos can they achieve their objective: rule by the tyrannical force of the terrorists themselves.
December 28, 2004
I am fed up. Everyone wants to worry about the cost of their prozac prescription for their anxiety, their lipitor for their cholesterol, and the plavix for their heart problems. In the future, I expect they’ll start complaining about the cost of their obesity medications.
Really, what the hell happened to us? I know I’m out of shape and gaining weight. So that means I need to adjust my diet and start doing some exercise. Once I have that down, will I have cholesterol or heart problems? Nope. If I had anxiety problems, isn’t exercise one of the best ways to reduce the stress that may exacerbate those problems? Yep. And if exercise doesn’t do it, get some counseling. Medication is a temporary crutch for anxiety, not a solution.
I know it may sound harsh, but people need to get real. Life is hard. Resisting that piece of cake is hard. Getting up early for a run is hard. Finding effective ways to cope with stress is hard. In the long run, though, it’s the best option available.
December 27, 2004
Some people just can’t help themselves. A horrendous tragedy occurs, and they exploit it for their own political ends. This reporter sounds like a defense attorney for a rape suspect, trying to blame the victim. His claim: Human activities contributed to the carnage in the Asian tsunami disaster.
“What has made this a disaster is that people have started to occupy part of the landscape that they shouldn’t have occupied,” he told AFP in a telephone interview from Paris. “Fifty years ago the coastline was not densely occupied as now by tourist hotels.”
Of course, what the reporter states is fact. It is certainly true that there would not be this level of human loss, were it not for a large number of people who now live and work so near the coastline. Fifty years ago, the coastline didn’t have these hotels, but at the same time, world air travel had not progressed enough to make it a viable destination.
Where this reporter goes off the reservation is by making claims describing places that people “shouldn’t have occupied”. This reporter came into this story with the pre-existing belief that nature is more important than human life and enjoyment, and that they got their just desserts for scoffing at mother earth.
Instead of looking at ways to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future, such as the implementation of a warning system, coupled with more flood-friendly building methods, the blame automatically falls on the evil people (especially tourists from Europe and the US) who willfully destroyed a vibrant human-free ecosystem. You can quickly tell that this reporter is more concerned with advancing the Green agenda than with the 23,000+ casualties of this horrific tragedy.
I caution to read the news defensively at all times. Often, you can spot the fallacies and bias in the arguments and stories with a little work. This, on the other hand, was downright blatant op-ed material masquerading as news.
December 26, 2004
I found the above article, and really felt it put a lot into perspective. If you choose to take a look, bear in mind that it is long, but well worth reading if you have some time.
The article makes the claim that our current war on terror is only accurately understood if it is seen in the context not of a single war, but as World War IV (WWIII, of course, being the “cold” war against the Soviet Union). To put it succinctly, it describes the true nature of the war we are fighting, in historical, present, and future contexts.
The 9/11 Commission was tasked with determining how we allowed such an attack to occur. For the lefties (Michael Moore, Howard Dean, etc), it was Bush’s fault, for not doing enough to stop it. For the righties (Sean Hannity), it was Clinton, for not doing enough in the years leading up to Bush. But neither group is correct. Since the early 70’s, we’ve been regularly assaulted by a fanatical enemy bent on our destruction. All presidents, from Nixon up through Bush before 9/11, did not actually respond with true force to deter future attacks. We all woke up on 9/11, and this is the first article that I’ve read that really makes the point hit home. The groundwork for 9/11 was laid by 30 years of inactions, so assigning blame (as attempted by the 9/11 Commission) is bound to be fruitless.
As for the future of this war, the author draws many parallels to the conditions at the end of World War III, aka the Cold War. Perhaps Eastern Europe and Russia are still going through growing pains (i.e. Ukranian elections), but it is obvious that they are on the road to democracy and prosperity. Even more impressively, some of the nations most familiar with being under the boot of Soviet oppression are the closest US allies in this current war.
Suppose that we hang in long enough to carry World War IV to a comparably successful conclusion. What will victory mean this time around? Well, to us it will mean the elimination of another, and in some respects greater, threat to our safety and security. But because that threat cannot be eliminated without “draining the swamps” in which it breeds, victory will also entail the liberation of another group of countries from another species of totalitarian tyranny. As we can already see from Afghanistan and Iraq, liberation will no more result in the overnight establishment of ideal conditions in the Middle East than it has done in East Europe. But as we can also see from Afghanistan and Iraq, better things will immediately happen, and a genuine opportunity will be opened up for even better things to come.
The Anti-War group has been on our case about the troubles and difficulties faced in building a free Iraq. And not without cause, as this has certainly been a difficult and troublesome process. But anyone looking at the progress that has been made cannot believe that given the reality of a years- or decades-long struggle, that we are losing. A point made by Haim Harari in an April 2004 speech is highly important. Our two biggest remaining foes in the region, Iran and Syria, are now completely surrounded by hostile nations. I’ve been one of those hawkish fellows who has long wondered whether invading Iraq was only done first because it was more politically expedient than invading Iran, but had noted that we now have two flanks on Iran, which may be a way to exert greater pressure.
Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq.
As someone who naturally savors political debate, I am unfortunately drawn into the peculiarities of the specific debate at hand. An article like the above gives a much more adept look at the “big-picture view” of the situation. Specific debates over the nature, timing, or necessity of the invasion of Iraq truly boil down to something much more simple. If you view Islamic terror as mostly a reaction to our support of Israel, our foreign policy, and our export of American culture, then Iraq is just a bigger mistake that will cause the pot of Islamic terrorism to boil over. On the contrary, if you believe, as I do, and as this author does, that the United States is embroiled into a conflict accurately described as World War IV, you most likely support the invasion of Iraq. The article above makes a strong case for the latter.
The last year has seen the invention of the “fridge pack”, 12 cans of soda/beer in an easy-loading container for your fridge.
Now, Miller has upped the ante, with 18-packs for the fridge. I say, give that marketing weasel a raise!
December 23, 2004
A link to the top 250 movies.
Me, not being a movie buff, has seen only a paltry 82 of these. Anyone seen over 100? 150? 200?
December 21, 2004
Throughout the term of this whole war, there has been an undercurrent. There is a divide in this country, and it is not a question of whether our not our soldiers can do their jobs. It is a not a question of whether we will succeed. The question is whether we CAN succeed. What does it take to turn a society that has seen 30 years of tyranny and repression into a free society? Can the people of Iraq ever transition to that society?
I believe the question is even more basic. Are people, in general, good or evil? Do people want a society where they can flourish in freedom, or do they desire power over their fellow man? I believe this question is the fundamental point that drives the previous question. An intrinsically just people will prefer a government which governs least, while a fundamentally power-hungry people will require a government that enforces a justice that the world itself is not capable of on its own.
This single question is what drives the questions our own government faces every day. Conservatives believe that people, if left to their own devices, will protect each other. Conservatives believe that human nature is such that people by nature are charitable, and that state-run charity is unnecessary. Those of us who are against being taxed for social programs are not against helpful, we simply feel that forced virtue is no virtue at all. As contrast, liberals believe that people, if left to their own devices, will work to protect their own, but none other. And thus, an outside source such as government needs to step in and pick up the slack. They believe that if helping others is a noble goal, then it naturally follows that we should all share the burden collectively, even if it requires the force of government to make it occur.
The very same debate comes up for Iraq. There were many reasons for supporting the war, and for some, those reasons included humanitarian goals. These people believe, as Bush does, that people have an intrinsic yearning for freedom. If we help them to defeat the tyranny they are under, and give a kick-start in the right direction, after a couple years we’ll be able to remove the training wheels and a free, flourishing society will follow. On the contrary, there is a group of people who believe the exact opposite. They believe that group dynamics will force the country into eventual civil war, because the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds will not find enough common ground to form a common government. They believe that even if we do succeed by ensuring self-rule, that Iraq will shortly vote themselves into a totalitarian Islamic regime, and all our suffering and assistance will be for naught.
As is probably expected, I find myself in the group that believes it can work. As evidence, I look at such places as the former Soviet nations. These eastern bloc countries have taken great strides from the tyranny of Communist rule to become some of Europe’s leaders in economic and social freedoms. Afghanistan, a country that for thousands of years has been a land of squabbling warlords, only periodically drawn into community only by the desire to repel foreign invaders, has just had a presidential election, and appears to be on its way to becoming a shining light in its region. Such countries as Japan, ruled by an Emporer up until WWII, is now one of the leading economic powers in Asia.
I think that all people, regardless of race, creed, country of origin, are fundamentally equal. We are all interested in simple things like providing for our families and our futures. We all want security and freedom. I think the people of Iraq, like the people of Afghanistan and Japan before them, will fight to shake the bonds of oppression and assert these desires for freedom. They are fighting against a determined enemy and need our help, but they will ultimately prevail.
It is not a question of whether Iraq can succeed, for Iraq MUST succeed. We started them down a long and dangerous road, but it will be well worth it when they reach the end. They are but one nation who has started the journey down that road, but I believe all will make that journey in the end.
December 20, 2004
I found someone who hates Michael Moore even more than I do. A soldier soon to be on his way to Iraq weighs in on exactly what he thinks of the person (I hesitate to use the term ‘man’) behind Fahrenheit 9/11. I’ll have to warn you, there’s some profanity. Quite a bit, in fact.
I also found a little short film:
Michael Moore’s searing examination of the Aragorn administration’s actions in the wake of the tragic events at Helms Deep.
With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering – or if necessary fabricating – the facts, Moore considers the reign of the son of Arathorn and where it has led us.
He looks at how – and why – Aragorn and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saruman connection to Helms Deep, despite the fact that 9 out of every 10 Orcs that attacked the castle were actually Uruk-hai who were spawned in and financed by Isengard.
I’ve always respected my fellow bloggers and debaters from the opposite side of the fence. But Michael Moore is nothing more than a propagandist. A rational case could be made either for or against the Iraq war. But Michael Moore wants no part of rational debate, he wants to inflate his ego and pocketbook on the backs of the very people securing his ability to disparage them.
Maybe it’s just me, but what happened to Jessica Lynch? I hadn’t thought about it for quite a while, but the media attention given to her midnight rescue and the story behind the young West Virginia girl has disappeared. I realize that hearing about the Scott Peterson trial is FAR more important than the story of a soldier’s capture and the daring rescue to bring her home. But the complete story hasn’t been told yet, and I, for one, would rather hear about this than some wack-job psychopath who offed his wife.
And on the subject of missing news stories, has anyone heard of a country called Afghanistan? Last I heard, they were supposed to be having elections and moving down the path of democracy. All I hear now is that our soldiers can’t find bin Laden. I guess that must mean there’s nothing newsworthy in the Afghan government. And since only failure and death is newsworthy, things must be going well.
December 18, 2004
Folks. While I know my little monster is only a 5 lb Yorkie, I see quite often that he will tear his toys to little shreds. We had a nice squeak toy that was not audible for humans, but that dogs could hear. That was a great toy, but it only lasted about two days before Guinness tore it to pieces.
There’s gotta be a better way. Fortunately, Lab-Tested has the answer. They take toys and “test” them with a young, excitable Labrador Retriever. If the toy survives him, it is Lab-Approved.
December 14, 2004
Gonna be gone a few days. Heading to the South. I’ve got a wedding at Auburn to go to, so I’m going to have to hold my tongue about the Orange Bowl. That might be difficult when the booze starts flowing.
While, I’m gone, here’s a couple sites to keep you interested. One on the left, one on the right. Oddly enough, they both make a little sense!
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