Monday, July 28, 2008

Review of John Ringo's "The Last Centurion"

In some ways this book reminds me of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" but amped up as only John Ringo can. For those who have read any of Ringo's previous books it is not secret what he thinks of politics and liberal politics in particular. Bandit Six, the hero of TLC, is "Kildar's" Mike Harmon without the non-family friendly sexual view point. If you haven't read any of Ringo's previous books this is not for the weak hearted liberal in the family.

The book basically looks at what the world would be like in ten year if three disasters occur almost simultaneously, some reviewer would argue that it is only two but the miss what may be the book's primary point. The disasters are, in order, a pandemic, environmental and political. The book is written as a review of Bandit Six's experiences as if he was writing his journal's after the fact. Much, maybe way too much, of the book deals with facts. Facts about pandemics, about the way we handle disease control in a pandemic. About global warming and how politics has adopted it as a party issue and about political leadership or the lack thereof.

The book can be pretty dull at points but those points are critical to the story line and if they aren't understood because the reader hasn't heard them before the story doesn't work very well. So it is pretty important to pay attention to the dull parts as well as the rest.

Another major part of the story is the way blogs are, and will likely continue, to affect the news media. It also lays out what might happen if the military was to get serious about using blogs and the access they provide to the public to counter-act much of the misinformation that the media presents, aka media propaganda.

In a large part the story is like much of the Kildar novels, a fantasy about what the world might be like if people with the power to do so would do what makes sense rather than what the rules say they should do. It also has a lot to say about trust, although I think a lot of this falls under the heading of personal responsibility.

You'll notice I haven't really said much about the actual story. That is because I don't like to read reviews that lay out the whole story for me because it takes away much of the pleasure I have in reading a book myself. But for those who prefer a review to actually tell you what the book is actually about I will put that below. For the rest of you stop reading here and go get the damn book!
Paper version here and electronic version here.
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Bandit Six is the son of a Minnesota farmer who joins the military and is a captain in Iran in the year 2019. We have successfully invaded Iran and are at about the stage in Iran at this point as we are in Iraq today. Then the avian flu mutates into a form transmittable between humans. Luckily the military identifies this early on and the military is immunized non-voluntarily with a non-certified fully effective vaccine. The rest of the world gets immunized on a purely voluntary basis depending on the individual country's health and governmental policies primarily with a less effective, but certified vaccine. Death rates are severe (30-60% depending on many factors). How the immunization program is handled is much of the first part of the book.

Coincidentally the sun's solar output (OK that is probably redundant but I want to be as clear as possible about what's happening) declines. This causes global cooling while most of the world is still worrying about the effects of global warming. So there are the two natural disasters that all reviewers have agreed on. People die, so many that much of the infrastructure that keeps our personal worlds going falls apart. Food, fuel, and all goods are no longer distributed or produced for the most part. This of course causes the economy to tank a but only the government seems to be very focused on the economy.

Because of this breakdown US forces are withdrawn globally to return to the US to deal with the disaster. Except for a few who are left to safeguard the equipment and there is a LOT of equipment. Bandit Six is one of those left behind as the supply officer in charge of all the equipment left behind in Iran along with one company of mechanized infantry and a bunch of Nepalese contract workers who have no transportation home. A good bit of the action story is about the ordeal Farmer's Freaks go through to make it home. Due to an intrepid group of reports from Rubert Murdoch's news staff (read over zealous idiots) this ordeal is widely reported and the Freaks become national heroes. The way the reporting of the story is managed by Bandit Six is a prime part of the story and leads to the final chapters of the book.

The last half of the book deals with what I consider the third disaster (which actually is also part of the first half on the immunization program). The third disaster comes in the form of a Democrat women president named Warrick, though mostly known as The Bitch through most of the book. Warrick bears an uncanny resemblance to Hilary Clinton, but I am sure that is just coincidence. Basically every wrong decision that could be made by a president is made up to and including misuse of powers to keep the office of president.

Of course in the end good triumphs and the forces of evil, Democrats, are soundly defeated. But the story is really interesting and richly rewarding.

Monday, June 09, 2008

News books from some of my favorite authors.

As always when one of my favorite authors new books came out I had Amazon rush them to me and there have been several lately.

Jim Butcher Small Favor - 10th in the Dresden Files series
It's time for Harry to repay the Queen of the Winter Court for past favors and in the process his friend Michael and Michael's family face mortal danger. Not the best in the series, but damn good.

Elizabeth George Careless in Red - 14th in the Inspector Lynley series
Lynley is far from dealing with his wife's death. This book follows his trail of despair and the seeds of recovery.

Charles Todd A Pale Horse - 10th in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series
Inspector Rutledge struggles on with the ghost of his army sergeant muttering away. As always an interesting and disturbing tale.

C.J. Box Blood Trail - 9th in the Joe Pickett series
Joe and his family have finally moved out of their mother's reach and a good riddance to her. The governor has assigned Joe another no win case where he is very likely to get killed. And if you thought Nate was safe in prison guess again. A very good story with Joe treading the bounds of honor and stepping over the letter of the law....again.

Randy Wayne White Black Widow - 15th in the Doc Ford series
Doc no longer has the contacts he once had and is facing more personal issues while helping his goddaughter out of trouble. If you like Doc you will really like this one.

W.E.B. Griffin & W.E. Butterworth IV Death and Honor - 4th in the Honor Bound series
Like most of the Honor Bound series this novel is more involved in the back story of history than in action. It is a good read and full of interesting insights into figures from history that don't always match what I remember from the history books, or the media stories.

Lee Child Nothing to Lose - 12th in the Jack Reacher series
I have been a fan of this modern day knight errant series for some time. This one felt a bit different from the start. I am not sure exactly why, but through the first three quarters of the novel the story just felt like it was missing something. There were women who needed help, as usual, but for the most part they were unwilling to talk to Reacher. The last quarter of the book explained it all and is where I suddenly found myself reading a book that I ordinarily wouldn't bother to pickup. Jack comes out against the War on Terror and all that comes with it.

Tanya Huff Valor's Trial - 4th in the Confederation series
Torin is back with her old company and ready to deal with normal combat. Of course the universe is not having anything to do with normal and Torin is once more called upon to show the marines that a gunny always knows the right thing to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sea Patrol Second Season sucks!

Has anyone else watched this Australian TV show? It is about the crew of an Aussie patrol boat, so even though they are navy their mission is very similiar to our Coast Guard. Last year I enjoyed this show immensely, however this year I have felt like I am watching something straight out of Hollywood. The crew seems to do everything possible to not fire their guns, at times I wonder if they even load them!

In the first episode they are sent into the harbor of a pacific island which seems to have a revolution going on in order to pick up a NGO team fleeing the violence. With the NGO land rover in sight they see natives with AK-47s and machetes pull them from their truck and beat them. But because one mortar open fire on the boat they turn and head away! Then when they send landing parties they arrive at the dock armed only with their sidearms to face a larger party of natives with automatic weapons and hostages. Then they lower their sidearms to show they mean the locals no harm!

In the third episode they pickup what seem to be refuges who's ship has sunk. However three of the refuges are mercenaries who take the two female officers hostage along with the other refugees. Ok so far, and when the mercs manage to open the door leading to the engine room the captain has two crewmen blocking their path who get in a gun battle with them. The captain and some crew go down to reinforce the blocking party who are running low on ammo (apparently the mercs packed a whole lot of clips in their pants). But instead of holding the mercs back from entering the engine room the captain and crew retreat! Additionally the navigation room is on the other side of the room with the mercs and they enter it with no contest. Now the three mercs armed only with pistols have control of the ships power and navigation! A crew of 21 simple lets three mercs gain complete control of below decks.

Tonight's episode starts with the crew going after an illegal fishing mother ship (ice ship). But they give up after the fishing crew fends the rubber boats off with poles and flares all the while waving machetes. The Armidale class boats have small arms for the crew as well as a 25mm deck gun and two 12.7mm machine guns.

I am not sure if I can watch any more! I wonder if they are going to paint a peace sign on the boat with a motto of "Make love not war"!

What do y'all think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

TV to watch until writers strike delay of new episodes is over

Sea Patrol - An Aussie TV show from last year with 13 episodes. The show focuses on the Australian coastal patrol boat HMAS Hammersley with missions very similar to the US Coast Guard. Watch for the appearance of Yvonne Stahovski (of Chuck) in the final episode.

The Border - A Canadian show currently airing it's eighth episode featuring the Canadian Immigration and Customs Service. Sofia Miloz (Miami CSI) plays a US Homeland Security agent who of course shows lots of American arrogance that the Canadian political heads cave to every time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Different forms of Libertarianism

This posting from on the different forms of libertarian philosophy was a surprise to me. I would never have thought that so called "Geoliberatianism" or "Social libertarianism" would fall anywhere in the sphere of libertarian philosophy.

Good article on libertarianism in the US today from Time magazine!

I was amazed to find this article from one of the largest media outlets that actually expresses much of my feelings about the current political parties. Amazed because the main media outlets generally have a more "in the rut" view of politics.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beccy Cole "Poster Girl"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Do our current political labels fit anymore?

What is a liberal? What is a conservative? And just what the heck is a moderate or centrist? I started thinking about this after reading an article on Iran's president telling students they should be asking that liberal professors be fired. I today noticed that Pajamas Media is addressing the issue of what to call those who don't want to be called centrist or moderate.Let's look at the word liberal first;
1.favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

2.(often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3.of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4.favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5.favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6.of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies. from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners. or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9.characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10.given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11.not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12.of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13.of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
14.a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion. 15.(often initial capital letter) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.

There are many things about progress (#1 and #2) that “liberals” are completely against. For example; nuclear power, the global economy, GM crops, new drugs or chemicals, nano-technology, etc.

How does #4 match up with restricting people’s property rights in order to prevent sprawl or promote mass transit (through building high density neighborhoods required to support transit stations)? How does it match up with restricting people’s access to tobacco products, fatty foods, or energy (in an effort to reduce “global warming”)?

How does #5 match up with restricting people’s expression of religion? I have never understood how restricting someone from saying a prayer (as opposed to mandating it) restricts anyone else’s freedom of religious expression.

However #4 and #5 are the principle definitions used in non-democratic countries like Iran. Thus it pays to know in what context the word is meant, either in a western democracy like the U.S. or Australia or in a despotic country like Iran or Libya.

I really don’t see how the current political correctness attitudes show any tolerance as called for with #8.

You can really one use #9 or #10 if you count generosity with other people’s money as the money they generally want to spend is from taxes or lawsuits, not from their own pockets for the most part.

We better take a look at another often used label for the left (one that I think they prefer as it has not become a dirty name, at least so far).

1. favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters: a progressive mayor.
2. making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
3. characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
4. (initial capital letter) of or pertaining to any of the Progressive parties in politics.
5. going forward or onward; passing successively from one member of a series to the next; proceeding step by step.
6. noting or pertaining to a form of taxation in which the rate increases with certain increases in taxable income.
7. of or pertaining to progressive education: progressive schools.
8. Grammar. noting a verb aspect or other verb category that indicates action or state going on at a temporal point of reference.
9. Medicine/Medical. continuously increasing in extent or severity, as a disease.
10. a person who is progressive or who favors progress or reform, esp. in political matters.
11. (initial capital letter) a member of a Progressive party.

I already addressed #1 under liberal, but #2 represents a challenge because it is so broad. Better conditions and more enlightened are very subjective that almost anyone can claim that their view represents. Much of what the left wants today is not very new or experimental, though it was 60+ years ago when the term was much more popular with the party.

Now #6 is of course very popular with the left and while the subject of #7 is close to the heart of the left I don’t think they can show that education has progressed as in improved.

Ok, now let’s look at the other side.

1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4. (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
7. Mathematics. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
8. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
9. a supporter of conservative political policies.
10. (initial capital letter) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.
11. a preservative.

While this one is a better fit for those on the right than liberal is for the left there are still some inconsistencies. For instance #1, the conservatives have come up with some rather fresh ideas about government that are not what I think of as traditional and are also not existing conditions. The “Contract with America” of the Gingrich era is good example. Also #2 doesn’t cover much of what they have come up with, why else would the left call them radicals?

But much of what the right does or represents is close to #3, so 1 out of 3 is better than what liberal scores as a representation of the left.

How about the so called middle of the political spectrum?

1. kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense: a moderate price.
2. of medium quantity, extent, or amount: a moderate income.
3. mediocre or fair: moderate talent.
4. calm or mild, as of the weather.
5. of or pertaining to moderates, as in politics or religion.
6. a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions, esp. in politics or religion.
7. (usually initial capital letter) a member of a political party advocating moderate reform.
–verb (used with object)
8. to reduce the excessiveness of; make less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous: to moderate the sharpness of one's words.
9. to preside over or at (a public forum, meeting, discussion, etc.).
–verb (used without object)
10. to become less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous.
11. to act as moderator; preside.

Well these are certainly more subjective descriptions than those that apply to liberal or conservative. Still I have heard some pretty extreme views and positions from so called moderates, the only difference is they seem to share some views with both sides. The problem is the number of combination of views that can be shared with both sides presents a very, very broad spectrum. This represents a collection of views far too large to be identified as a single group.

1. (esp. in continental Europe) a member of a political party of the Center; moderate.
2. of or pertaining to centrists or to their political views; middle-of-the-road.

This may be a better term for the middle as it doesn’t really imply that they all share the same view, only that it is between the two sides. The problem again is it doesn’t tell you anything about their views, it is just a convenient label. One that many, particularly the press, likes to use and act as if those who share the label also share a common viewpoint.

One of the points that seems to have lead to confusion is a couple of words that get used quite often, but their definitions don’t seem to stretch as far as intended.

Before we can really address the word liberty we need to be clear on one of the words used;
1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision. 2. decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute. 3. having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government. 4. capricious; unreasonable; unsupported: an arbitrary demand for payment. 5. Mathematics. undetermined; not assigned a specific value: an arbitrary constant.

You would think that #1 has been covered as we are a country ruled by law and not by men. However when the law can’t easily fit in a eighteen wheel truck trailer it looses a lot of meaning. The power goes to those who can read the law, and by that I don’t mean literally, I mean the lawyers and politicians who are able to apply the written law to their own purposes while the rest of us or left to capricious interpretations or selective applications of the law.

Now obviously when speaking about the power of a government #2 and #3 take on special meaning. And given how many things happen today due to judicial rulings that you can’t just point to the words in our law you might argue that are laws are becoming more arbitrary rather than less.

Given the ever expanding breadth of the law there seems to be very little that is unrestricted or uncontrolled. Consider just how many things require a license to do now days. Not only actions, like marriage or driving, but also professions like barber or tattooist.

Ok, on to the word liberty.

–noun, plural -ties.
1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
4. freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint: The prisoner soon regained his liberty.
5. permission granted to a sailor, esp. in the navy, to go ashore.
6. freedom or right to frequent or use a place: The visitors were given the liberty of the city.
7. unwarranted or impertinent freedom in action or speech, or a form or instance of it: to take liberties.
8. a female figure personifying freedom from despotism.
9. at liberty,
a. free from captivity or restraint.
b. unemployed; out of work.
c. free to do or be as specified: You are at liberty to leave at any time during the meeting.

You must admit that #3 has taken a pretty big hit with a lot of words being verboten as they can be considered actionable, either as sexual harassment or a hate crime.

It would also be hard to argue that #4 has taken a pretty major hit given just how many people are in prison. What ever you think about drugs you might want to consider whether it really is a good thing that so many people are in prison for no other reason than drugs.

So now that we know how the labels match-up or fail to match-up with the people they are meant to describe, I would like to suggest some replacements.

First for those not familiar with the Nolan quiz, also known as the world’s shortest political test, take a moment to check it out. I think that this two-dimensional view of the political world is much more accurate and just as easy to understand as the current left-right view. Much of the current Left would actually fall into the bottom of the diamond under the label Statist due to the firm belief in Big Government. I think the remaining set will mainly fall into Centrist or Libertarian as I seldom hear anything from anyone who believes in the more classical Liberal viewpoint, that is personal liberty but economic controls.

The current Right will mainly fall into the Conservative camp and as I have discussed this label is not too inaccurate a view of most. Many though who have begun to focus on personal liberties as those liberties have eroded will find that they fit better in the Centrist or Libertarian camps. Some (particularly Capital Hill Republicans and many Alaskan Republicans) will fit quite nicely in the Statist territory.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Astronomers really acting like government employees lately

First they started playing games with what a "planet" is. Now they are so married to the ancient gods naming convention they won't allow the team that discovered the new planet (pluton, dwarf planet, whatever) name it. I much prefer Xena with a moon called Gabrielle than something called Eris with a moon (or disease) called Dysnomia.

X-Prize Cup

This is a really cool idea and has a lot of potential to drive development that can help in achieving private access to space.

I am concerned about the size of the course. While 10,000 feet by 3,000 feet seems pretty big, when you think about the speed that a rocket powered plane can reach it should go around the course pretty damn quick!

The fans at the event could be a really interesting group. Imagine your NASCAR fans camped out with their satellite TV equipped RVs sharing space with space geeks with RVs bristling with antenna and dishes for every bandwidth and technology. Tail-gaters grilling ribs next to LAM parties playing Total Annihilation!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Is Kofi Annan really that clueless?

At what point does the world admit to the fact, that's right fact, that Kofi Annan is either the most clueless diplomat since Neville Chamberlain or a real, and not very well hidden, ally of the Islamic terrorists?

Speaking to reporters at the airport before departing for Qatar, Mr Annan said Syria had agreed to increase patrols along the Syrian-Lebanese border and "when possible" to start joint patrols with Lebanese troops.

Oh, great! Joint patrols with Lebanese troops, that would be the Lebanese that Hizbollah is part of the government right?

Mr Assad had agreed to take "all necessary measures" to implement paragraph 15 of UN resolution 1701, which deals with the arms embargo, he added.

And exactly who is defining what is "necessary" and "necessary" for what?

He said he was confident the Syrian measures would work.

He is also sure that there will be peace in Lebanon as long as we all just hold hands and sing Kumbaya!

"I think it can happen," he said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency. "It may not be 100%, but it will make quite a lot of difference if the government puts in place the measures the government has discussed with me. I have no reason to believe it will not be done."

Of course it can happen, it is in the Syrian's and Hezbollah's best interest to patrol the border so that no one can catch them transporting weapons across it. I am sure that if you asked the inmates at your local jail to patrol your city streets to prevent burglaries they would be down right ecstatic about the idea!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

What is your definition of Peacekeeper?

“peacekeeper” – 2. a soldier, military force, etc., deployed to maintain or restore the peace

I doubt that this is what is meant by the U.N. or the Europeans. I think they have confused the definition with this one;

“observer” – 1. Someone or something that observers
2. a delegate to an assembly

The commander of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon described the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah as "very fragile" and "dangerous" and said that an expanded international force would not disarm Hezbollah.
"The Israelis cannot ask UNIFIL to disarm Hezbollah. This is not written in our mandate," French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini, commander of the 2,000-member UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, told reporters at UNIFIL headquarters in the coastal town of Naqoura.

If France does return to seek to lead the peacekeeping force, where would that leave Italy's leadership offer? Apparently the Italians would only be in charge from the other side of the world;
A report in the Rome daily "La Repubblica" today says France has offered a dual command with Rome. France would continue to command the force on the ground in Lebanon through General Pellegrini, while Italy would take control of the UN Office of Peacekeeping Operations.
That means France would have operational command on the ground, with Italy given political control at the UN in New York.
All these details are due to be discussed on August 25 in Brussels when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan meets with EU foreign ministers.

So the UN and Europeans seem to be insistent upon the French being in charge, as if that worked so well in Yugoslavia or in Rwanda.

A spokesman for the Italian Foreign Affairs Committee had this to say;

In the last few years, Italy, with the previous government, has had a more pro-American and pro-Israel foreign policy. The new center-left government is interested in acquiring a new role that is more focused on Europe and to be more active in the Middle East, including the rebuilding of our ties with the Arab world along with our ties with the government of Israel. This is why the new government believes that the strongly pro-American position of the previous government had weakened Italy on both the European and international scene.
So, by assuming a lead role in this conflict, the Italian government believes it can recoup some of these past losses. Besides, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which was decided by the new government, risked weakening Italy on the international scene.
And you will recall that last year, there was debate regarding the reform of the United Nations Security Council, which involved the possibility of making Germany a permanent member of the council. This would have further declassed Italy on the European scene. Italy believes that taking on a lead role here can help it reacquire prestige and status with regard to the United Nations.

Italian politicians may look forward to this chance to strengthen their international image but the Italian military seems to understand the big pile of shit they are going to be left standing in.
"If we must draw lessons from past experiences, then we must admit in all honesty that the operations commanded by the U.N. have turned out to be failures, in some cases a total disaster," Gen. Fabrizio Castagnetti was quoted as saying by Milan daily Corriere della Sera.
Asked why, Castagnetti replied, "Because the commander has his hands tied," Corriere della Sera said. "He cannot make decisions without consulting U.N. headquarters in New York."
The commander's "appeals to receive clear directives clash with the elephantine bureaucracy of the United Nations ."
"A mission under U.N. command creates a lot of problems. I will say so to the (Italian) defense minister," the general was quoted as saying.

Other nations also seems to have the idea that the humanitarian mission has priority over the actual job of peacekeeping;
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Manila is likely to send "non-combat" troops as well as medical workers to Lebanon, where the UN is trying to muster an international force to serve as a buffer between Israel and the Hezbollah militia.

Hezbollah has promised to cooperate with Lebanese and U.N. forces but has made clear it will keep its weapons.
Larsen said 2,000 soldiers had been deployed along the eastern border and the government aimed to boost that to 8,600.
"This fact that Lebanon is now forcefully establishing its authority will contribute to pave the way for troop contributors to come forward to a reconfigured and beefed up UNIFIL," Larsen said.

The 2000 troops of the current UNIFIL force have focused on putting out daily reports that show they have been demolishing unexploded ordinance, supplying water to the locals, reporting violation (principally air violation by the IDF), ground and air patrolling to “assess the situation on the ground and to monitor the cessation of hostilities” and accepting handoff from the IDF and handover to the Lebanese Army. They even went so far as to report second hand reports in the area of Baalbeck even though there are no UNIFIL forces in that area and therefore can’t provide direct knowledge of the event.

The demolition of ordinance is done by the UNIFIL-Mine Action Coordination Center which was added to UNIFIL after the Lebanese requested help in eliminating mines and unexploded ordinance in 2000. Just to show what kind of support a UN group provides the organization chart for the MACC Southern Lebanon which not only shows their current members, but also past members. The org chart starts with Serial #1, the admin/log Assistant, #3, the Genitor, and includes past drivers, Programme Managers, Finance Officers.

The UN has been involved in some 59 peacekeeping missions have they ever used force in any of them? Even if the rules of engagement give the peacekeepers authorization to use force in self defense, even prior to being fired on, how likely is it that they will do so? Just look at all the second guessing that goes on with use of force in Iraq and imaging how European forces will react when in a situation where they could fire or not.

Kofi Anan certainly is giving them a good example;

Secretary General: Let me say that the resolution does not require deployment of UN troops to the border. It indicates that, if the Lebanese government were to ask for it, we should assist. The Lebanese Government has not made any such request.
As to your question on disarmament, let me be clear that resolution 1559 asks for the disarmament of all militia, national and non-national, and this was reaffirmed in resolution 1701. The understanding was that it would be the Lebanese who would disarm. I think it is also generally accepted that the disarmament of Hezbollah cannot be done by force. It has to be a political agreement between the Lebanese; there has to be a Lebanese consensus and an agreement among them to disarm. In fact, before the war, this issue was part of a national dialogue going on in Lebanon; I hope they will return to it in earnest. Obviously, if at some stage they need advice or some help from the international community and they were to approach us, we would consider it, but the troops are not going in there to disarm. Let us be clear on that. The other question, perhaps I will defer that to you, that part of the question.
Resolution 1701 paragraph 11(f) calls for UNIFIL to support enforcement of blockade against arms smuggling from Syria only if Lebanon asks for help.

With the way that European nations have been giving Hezbollah status equivalent to actual nations how likely is it that they will provide any opposition to violations of the resolutions by Hezbollah;

"We have no problem with Unifil (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) as long as its mission is not aimed at disarming Hezbollah," Nasrallah said in an interview aired on Lebanese television. He added, however, that if Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon encountered armed militants, the national forces did have the right to collect weapons.
The UNHCR has the mission in assisting with supplies for relief, this should not be the primary mission of peacekeepers. Yet Resolution 1701 paragraph 11(d) calls for exactly this, not that their mission needs any further confusion.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Libertarian fiction - Freehold

Just finished Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson and highly recommended. Science Fiction is one of the best mediums for showing what a libertarian society might be like and showing the absurdity of most western governments. This one has the added benefit of included lessons learned from terrorism and U.N.'s modus operandi.

Also working my way through The Teutonic Knights - A Military History by William Urban. Though it contains a lot less military than I usually expect from a military history I find it very interesting. I had no idea that there were crusades other than those for in the Holy Lands, much less in the Baltics.

Cool Hot site!

Most of my friends know that I am a big fan of spicy foods. My recent oral surgery when I had to stick to bland food to prevent irritating my sutures was a real trial for me. I just found, don't know what took so long, this blog devoted to hot sauce and hot foods in general. While usually I won't touch chili made outside the southwest and usually just those that have been tested and honored in the Terlingua Chili Cook-off, this recipe for Cincinatti Chili is definitely one I want to try. Though I will avoide the 5-way or beyond which includes beans as that is taboo to real chili.

Why doesn't the media provide map context?

It seems like every media report from Lebanon gives general directions for the location but they don't always mean anything. For instance the latest story about the IDF raid in eastern Lebanon describes it in three versions each picked up by many news sources; 1) They landed 30km east of Baalbeck and drove east to Buday, 2) near Baalbeck in the village of Bodai, and 3) 20 km east of Buday near Baalbeck.

It took me a while to find a web source that could locate Buday, but finally on I did. After mapping both Buday (no Bodai found) nd Baalbeck on Google Earth using the latitude and longitude provided by maplandia I then used GE's Measure tool. Buday is 15km west of Baalbeck and Baalbeck is 10km west of Syria. So the later story was the most correct.

Only a few stories gave additional background such as;

Some say Yazbek, who is a senior member of Hezbollah's Shura consultative council and representative in Lebanon of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in charge of financial grants from Khamenei's office, was seen in the area as recently as Friday.

Yazbek, who is originally from Buday but does not reside in the village, was glimpsed attending the funerals of Hezbollah fig
hters who were killed during Israel's month long offensive in Lebanon, they say.

Really with the ease and speed of web sources there is no excuse for reporters, or at least their editor when the reporter is in the field, to not check the web for correct locations, place names and other facts.

**** So that's what an Instalanche is! Thanks Glenn! And thanks to all of you who stopped by to read my tiny little blog here. ****

*** Some noted the lack of good online maps for Lebanon. The best I could find was this though it didn't have Buday on it. One thing I did find very intesting about this detailed map were the roads shown. By the zig-zags depicted on some roads I expect some awesome mountainsides are involved. I was less than thrilled with maplandia's display ability but at least it had most sites mentioned listed with Lat/Long data. ***

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hezbollah still uninterested in defending Lebanese

One of the reported goals of Hezbollah is the defense of Lebanon, but by now no one should believe this. Their actions speak far louder than their words. So far the only military actions they have performed are offense missle attacks against Israel that do not differentiate in military or civilian targets. Hezbollah has acted against ground troops but this is completely in it's own defense.

If they were interested in defended Lebanon and the Lebanese they would have been trying their best to shoot down some of the Isreali jets that have bombed targets deep into Lebanon. There has been one report (from Hezbollah) of a SAM shoot, however absolutely no follow up which in real terms means it didn't happen. You know that if Hezbollah had actually shot down an Israeli jet they would have the media crews their lickety split. According to Brian Hoffman, a counterinsurgency expert at Washington's RAND Corp, " also had to be assumed Hezbollah had at least some surface-to-air missiles to take out planes, though there have not been any reported uses yet."

Most of us recognize that Hezbollah sees the Israeli bombings in Lebanon as another weapon for Hezbollah, a weapon in the modern media battlefield. For ever bombing that occurs Hezbollah has another opportunity to attract attention with the media of how Israel is killing, wounding or endangering civilians. This has lead them to concentrate on manipulating the media as their likely best weapon and the only one where they seem to have an advantage. But, as it currently appears, if the media stories influences the diplomatic actions then Hezbollah could win the "war" just based on this. So far few media have reported on this Hezbollah weapon, and none have put together what their strategy means as to the defense of Lebanon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Too weird!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

UN observers killed were UNTSO not UNIFIL

I have yet to see any of the reports correct this or the fact that the post was an UNTSO post and not a UNIFIL post. The difference between the two seems to be that UNIFIL is armed and UNTSO is not. There is also a UNTSO media release stating that the fact that the "Patrol Base" and it's men were UNTSO and unarmed.

If you read the email from the Canadian soldier (which many of the reports reference) the first thing he does in the email is introduce himself and states is assignment to UNTSO and it's mission. The reason it matters is UNTSO is yet another, as if we need one, example of how the UN doesn't accomplish anything. UNTSO's mission on it's website is listed as "* To observe and maintain an unconditional cease-fire ordered by the security council, pending the final status peace settlement." and "* To assist the parties in the supervision and observance of the terms of the Armistice Agreements of 1949." Though Major Hess-von Kruedener quotes the mission of his team and OGL (Observer Group Lebanon) as " maintain the integrity of theWithdrawal Line (Blue Line), and report on any and all violations or activities that threaten the cease-fire and international peace and security here along the Lebanese/Israeli border, and Israeli Occupied Lebanon, and to support the UNSC resolution 1559, within our mission mandate."

With that mission I would expect their command to recall them once full scale combat broke out between Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon. Instead they were left their to "observe". Isn't that the same as left to get shot or bombed? Did their command not care or was this what they hoped for. After all unlike UNIFIL this observers are unarmed and if the post is a UNTSO post likely no one there was armed.

Why in the world would you leave unarmed men in a combat zone? He is quoted as saying "It appears that the lion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in our area." Surely they reported this to their command structure? If so, again why would their commander leave them in the principle hot zone in a major combat effort?

If their mission was to monitor the cease fire/truce and that had obviously ended, why keep them in the field?

Iraqi politicians continue to show their independence

Yet another Iraqi politician has decided to distance himself from the U.S.. The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani a Sunni Islamist, spoke before the UN sponsored conference and likened U.S actions in Iraq to "butchery". The conference sponsored by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was on the subject of transitional justice and national reconciliation and was meant to support the government efforts.

He was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying "If a reconciliation project is going to work it has to talk to all the people. It must go through our Iraqi beliefs and perceptions. What we need is reconciliation between Iraqis only, there can be no third party." He then related an anecdote about how American soldiers keep people waiting in lines at checkpoints for hours because they insist on resting their bomb-sniffing dogs. "The sleep of American dogs is more important than people being stopped in the street for hours," he said.

The UN host called his speech "spirited".

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Frigging great Pepsi commercial

This ad rocks! Britney does better than expected, Beyonce just has to clear and smooth a voice for this rock anthem. But Pink! Holy moly, she kicks butt! Wish she would record this!

The Pepsi Gladiators - video powered by Metacafe

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Did BBC just recognize that their reporters statements are opinions?

This article from the BBC on current state of events in Israel includes this paragraph;

The Israeli leader must choose between going ahead with military action that would endanger the life of the captured soldier or risk being seen as weak, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Jerusalem.

There are no quotes around the statement, but the way it is seperated and includes the name of the person making the statement makes it appear like they are quoting a spokesman. Is this a way to implicitly show that they recognizes that their own reporters statements are opinions? I hope so but won't count on it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Singapore caught in sex=courtesy cycle

This article reports that they have figured out why they are the fifth least courteous city, it's because they don't get enough sex!. For thirty years the government has sponsored campaigns to get people to be more courteous. The article's author suggests that they should just tell people to have more sex!

However I think that his logic is incomplete, but since he does not provide full references to the surveys I can't be sure. The opening sentence is "IF it's not bad enough that Singaporeans are the second worst lovers in the world, apparently we are also the fifth least courteous people in the world, according to Reader's Digest." I found the Reader's Digest survey on courtesy here. I am not sure how to take it given that it show's New York got the highest rating (80) while Paris fell in the middle of the pack with 57, the same as London. I would love to see a comparison of US cities (New York was only US city on survey).

Apparently the survey he is referencing for "...second worst lovers..." is this one from Durex that shows in 2005 Singapore men and women reporting having sex on average 73 times a year, down from 79 in 2004 and 96 in 2003. I can't find anywhere in the survey where they rated sex, so I guess this author believes that quantity equals quality or maybe that lack of quality equals lack of quantity. Singapore comes in seventh on age at which first had sex (18.4 in a range of 15.6, Iceland to 19.8, India with a global average of 17.3).

There is a section on Views on Sex, but it seems like Singapore comes in around average for; a) I'm happy with my sex life (44 average, Singapore 42), b) I wish I had sex more frequently (36 average, Singapore 42), and c) My sex life is monotonous (44 average, Singapore 42) . One would think given how low on the list of frequency they stand that more would want sex more often, but their number is quite a bit below average. For comparison the US is 52, 45, and 9 on this three questions and 113 times a year.

I would say that there may be a link of less sex causes less courtesy which leads to less sex and so on.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Confusing report from Environmentalists

A new report (or should I say a repackaged report?) from environmentalists (I won't call them scientists) states;
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The last few decades were the warmest on Earth in the past 400 years, and may well have been warmer than any comparable period since the Middle Ages, U.S. scientists reported on Thursday.

Gee, like we didn't know that at times it has been both colder and warmer than it is today. But later the message gets more confusing.

First they have to restate the facts (actually their opinion)

The scientists also noted that temperature reconstructions for periods before the Industrial Revolution -- when levels of climate-warming greenhouse gases were much lower -- supported the notion the current global climate change was caused by human activities, rather than natural variations in climate.

But this guy actually comes out an tells the truth (emphasis is mine).

"Natural climate variability is something that we'd like to know about," said Kurt Cuffey of the University of California-Berkeley, who served on the council's committee and spoke at a Webcast about the report.

"But if we did know for example that the climate was as warm at 1000 AD as it is now, it would have no essential impact on our understanding of climate change in the 20th century, the role of humans in causing it and the need to think seriously about how that may evolve in the next few centuries," he said.

So no matter if the evidence says that it has been warmer at times in the past before the Industrial age it won't change their understanding (read opinion)!

Friday, May 05, 2006

La Familia Aguilar

A friend from work who attended the Farewell concert of the La Familia Aguilar last night reported that he incorporated the May Day protests into his act. Joking that his horse was from Mexico and was here to march (this to setup the horse to march around the stage) and when he said this the audience burst into enthusiastic applause. However a few minutes later when he got serious and encouraged the audience to remember what America had done for them, calling out "Viva Los Estados Unidos de América" the audience gave a more polite applause, with the exception of those citizens like Ana and her family who jumped to their feet.

I have searched and searched and can find no mention of this. Apparently La Familia Aguilar is a very well respected and loved musical and rodeo family (they have dancing horses) and it would be nice if this kind of statement about the feeling of Mexican immigrants (legal ones) was given a wider audience.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Update on books read

The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross
I think if you asked Dilbert to write a thriller based on magic this would be it. After a while the sheer ludicrous nature of most of what is going on just fades into background because the story and characters are so enjoyable. A must read for any Dilbert fan.

In Fury Born - David Weber
This is a re-release which I read the first time round, but since it has been almost fifteen years since then I had to get it to read again. This was written about the time of the first Honor Harrington book and in many ways is similar with a strong woman heroine and a sidekick. But in this case the sidekick can not only talk but recides in the heroines head so providing insight into what she feels comes as a matter of course.

The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume 1
- David Drake
Another old favorite that has been combined several stories in re-release. David Drake and Jerry Pournelle are what I consider to be the godfathers of military SF. If you like Eric Flint, David Weber, or John Ringo then this is a must read.

Engaging The Enemy - Elizabeth Moon
This is the third in the Kylara Vatta series. The universe is similar to the Liaden Universe of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, but pure science. The characters are family structures are similar to her Familias Regnant series, but universe is very Balkanized. Unlike most SF there is no star empire or even any powerful star nations. It calls for some interesting problems and solutions and even more problems with the solutions. Very enjoyable.

Crystal Dragon - Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
This is in the prequel series (the second in the Great Migration Duology) to the Liaden Universe and helps to understand the more exoteric portions of the later series. A bit short but still very worth reading.

Boundary - Eric Flint & Ryk E. Spoor
The characters are similar to those used by John Ringo in Into the Looking Glass and Travis Taylor's Warp Speed and The Quantum Connection, that is smart and capable men and women. Also similarly these smart capable people are drawn into something entirely beyond what they expected and excel at it. Does remind me of the first in the Grey Lensman books a little.

Mourning Dove
- Aimee & David Thurlo
This is the umpteenth (ok, 12th) in the Ella Clah series and holds up very well. Sticks close to the formula of the rest and consequenly is very enjoyable. A very worth successor to Tony Hillerman.

Monday, April 03, 2006

LAX Times shows their class (or lack there of)

From the media who is too sensative to show you the cartoons that the Muslims dislike comes this display of one of our troops. I am at a lose for words to describe what I think of the reporter and editors who chose to use this picture! I find the media's need to go invade people's privacy to either sale papers, feed the public's need for emotions or just support their own viewpoint to be beyond any possible sort of decency!

P.S. Now would be a good time to show your appreciation of the troops and their dedication to duty and freedom!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The media and polls

When I was younger I worked as an assistant manager at a fast food chain on evening shift. After cleaning up a few of us would stick around and just talk. One of the guys was from a religious family and when he was a kid they lived in Africa where his parents taught at a mission school. He bragged that they taught all religions there, but that all their students selected their religion as they one to follow. He felt that this proved that his religion (I don't remember for sure, but I think he was Baptist) was the right one. He could never understand why I thought it didn't prove anything but that their students liked them or what the school provided.

Recent media stories on the War in Iraq is failing based on polls reminded me of this guy. I wonder if he works for the Washington Post or CBS now? This comic today from Winger says it best;

By the way, why are we still calling this the War in Iraq? Isn't this more of a Police Action than Vietnam or Korea?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Free market approach to bus service

I was overjoyed to see this article which provides good example of how a libertarian society could solve some of our real life difficulties could work.  Many people reject the idea of relinquishing city services to private ownership or even just to policies used in business because they just cannot envision how they could work.  The problem is that we cannot foresee the way ingenuity can conquer problems.  These kinds of stories are a very good thing in that they make the unimaginable something that people can wrap the brains around.

Ginsburg speaks out for interpreting U.S. law based on the laws of other countries

I really don’t understand how judges get selected or elected when they believe in something as dangerous as interpreting U.S. law by considering foreign law. While I am sure that there are some foreign laws that some people in the U.S. would like to see here, if this gets accepted for general use in the U.S. how do you prevent this from abuse?

The basis of our government is that we are a nation of laws and not subject to the whimsy of man. This was to prevent capricious abuse by kings and other hereditary rulers from mandating our lives based on their own wants and beliefs. But what happens if our judges get to use foreign law as a “…store of knowledge relevant to the solution of trying question.”? This is just another means of trying to make our constitution and laws bend to enactment from the bench rather than the elective representatives of the people.

While these, usually liberal, interpreters of the law maybe very happy with the results as long as they are in power, how will they feel if this becomes the basis for interpreting U.S. law based on the muslim law of Sharia or some other repressive countries of the world?

I am not really surprised that this has riled some of the crazies to target those justices who represent this view, though I do not support such actions. How can such a view that skews our laws not stir the passions of Americans? I hope that this becomes an issue in the elections of all U.S. elected officers over the coming years. We face enough enemies to our way of life without creating our own.

A religious "two-fer"

This may actually be a good thing, though I am not convinced of the science behind the need to preserve bio-diversity.  But at least this way we are getting a “two-fer”, using the same property for both the religion of the locals and the religion of “bio-diversity” and Gaia.

Another defeat for red-light cameras!

Here is yet another win for the Everyman, (Everyperson?).  I think, hope, as more people catch on to the fact that red-light cameras are more of a means for cities to try and get more revenue than to try and protect the people that these will disappear faster than they are introduced.

A new play toy for "Q" the future of warfare

I am sure that “Q” would love this, though James Bond would want it to have a cockpit so he could fly it.  The future of UAVs looks to be very exciting and combining it with Trident submarines is very cool!  I can envision converting several of these submarines, no longer needed for nuclear deterrent to use as Special Forces platforms.  They could be the base for Navy Seal Teams with air support provided by these Cormorants and heavy artillery provided by vertically launched cruise-missiles.  This would provide a really quick response team with some awesome combat capabilities.

Ambivalent about the Dixie Chicks

I have enjoyed the Dixie Chicks for quite some time.  One of my favorite of their songs is “Good-bye Earl”, I just loved the dark comedy of it.  However like many I have become distinctly ambivalent towards them since Natalie decided to inject politics into their public image.  Now I heard that, according to Natalie, they don’t even want to be “county” anymore I don’t have very high hopes for my enjoyment of any future titles they release.  

I am not sure about getting their latest album “Taking the Long Way”, I read a pre-release review that stated “Songs look at small-town narrow-mindedness ("Lubbock or Leave It") and the psychology of celebrity ("Everybody Knows"). “   My mom was from Lubbock and I spent many a summer growing up their visiting her folks.  I certainly never thought of Lubbock as a small-town, maybe a small city.  I have to hope that it was the reviewer that attached the “small-town” moniker on Lubbock and not the Chicks.  Though if so I have to wonder at a country music writer who doesn’t know the difference between the two.

I am getting used to the need to separate my feelings about the artist themselves, and their political views, from my enjoyment of their performance.  I am a great fan of Janeane Garafalo, but hate her politics.  I wish that all performers would quit trying to use their popularity to sell a view point, but I am coming to accept that that is just life as we know it now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Let's hear it for Amazon's penchant for showing alternatives to your current selection

I have found a lot of good music that I ordinarily would not have known of by following Amazon's recommendations and links to purchases made by other buyers of the particular CD I am ordering at the time. I have also found some good books this way but don't normally try it for selecting DVDs.

I bought the first season of Grey's Anatomy and apparently this drove a link to Wish Upon a Star which also has Katerine Heigl in it. Normally if I had just read the story description I would have given this a pass. However this time I read an Amazon buyer's review that convinced me (along with the price tag of $6.99) that this might be worthwhile. So in today's shipment from Amazon along with Doom the movie (Ok, so it probably stinks but I am a SF nut!) came Wish Upon a Star and I popped it in the player.The first half of the movie was pretty predictable though it was interesting to see a younger, brunette, Heigl. But the last half made up for it in being much less predictable and just plain fun.

Latest Books Read

The Merchant’s Partner – Michael Jecks
This one was not easy to figure out and the action was sort of uneven. I enjoyed but not enourmously.

Traitor General – Dan Abnet
I only got about a third of the way through before I had to put it down. I guess the Warhammer 40,000 universe is not for me, waaayy tooo dark.

The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell – Lilian Jackson Braun
Another light mystery story so much like all the rest of the The Cat Who... series. The characters stay facinating so I don't intend to stop reading them any time soon.

Kildar - John Ringo
Ringo has turned into one of my favorite authors, but this book was a bit of a disappointement. I enjoyed Ghost, the first in theseries, quite a bit. But with this one I believe that Ringo got so wrapped up in creating this fantasy world that he forget that it needed to be more than just an intellectual exercise. There is little action in this book, most of it is the details of building the Kildar's new home and telling the background of the Keldara.

I hope this doesn't become like Leo Frankowski's novels which became more of a intellectual masturbatory fantasy than an action series. I would have preferred a longer novel with more action or less details of building up the valley what ever it takes to provide more balance in the book.

Hopefully now that he has developed the vallery of the Keldara the next novel, Chooser of the Slain, will be more on a par with Ghost.

Princess of Wands - John Ringo
Case in point, this book kicks ass. I am a bit tired of so many SF and Fantasy novels that feature women as the action hero, but so long as the are all this good I will never stop reading them. It is also is a better magic in the real world story than any of the Buffy books or movies. I think it is as good as the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and better than Simon Green's Nightside series.

Sour Puss - Rita Mae Brown
This one was a bit too easy to figure out which eventually made the denoumout turn a bit sour as well. But again, this is a series I read for the characters more than the story line.

How to identify parody on the internet?

I ran across this article on the "Scoop Independent News" website while searching for Casey's gravesite location. After reading it became fairly obvious it is a parody, however for much of the world, particularly the Middle East, they may not be able to tell that. After I thought about it for awhile I realized that a lot of people in the U.S. that either don't pay attention to the news or just certain sites may also not get that this article is not and could not be true.

So I did a search for "riding across the symbolic gravesite of Casey Sheehan" on Google and found 22 postings. This same story was repeated on "No Censorship Zone", the Inbox Robot - A News Service for Research Professionals,, (the story's author),,,,,,, (Not Your Father's America),,, and a commetator on Not a single site reported this as a parody and in fact most sites were made to look like real news sites. So exactly how many people are being fooled by such "reporting" on these sites?

No headstone for Casey?

I haven't corroborated this yet, but SMASH is usually a pretty good source. I would certainly say that there was been more than enough time, 2 years, to get a marker of some kind put on his grave.

This site (seems to be Cindy's site) purports to show the temporary wooden cross on Casey's grave in "Arlington West" cemetary on August 23, 2005." However this seems to be the symbolic grave site set up in Crawford at "Camp Casey".

This is the original site of the photo SMASH uses and the blogger on that site claims to have received the photo from a Vacaville reporter. Also includes a post stating that she hasn't had time to get a marker.

Meanwhile posters, rather loud posters, on the Randi Rhodes show forum claim that she has no marker because all markers at Arlington National Cemetary for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are government provided and come with a motto that she does not approve of. Consequently she decided to go with the plain wooden marker.

However Vanity Fair and the New Republic both state that the gravesite is in Vacaville-Elimira cemetary in the photo a photo is included in Vanity Fair's January 2006 issue for the magazine's 2005 Best of the Best -- "Heroes! Winners! Guilty Plea.

So take your pick; a) Cindy hasn't had time to get a marker, b)Casey is buried in two different places, c) Cindy doesn't know she can buy the marker herself, or d) Cindy has spend all the the $250,000 dollar insurance payout from the government and is too cheap to buy one and won't accept the government provided marker

AP Demonstrates Their Definition of Clear Reporting

I ran across this article today by the AP reporting on Cindy Shehaan’s latest stunt. The portion of the article I have a problem with is this one sentence, “The march to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations by about a dozen U.S. and Iraqi anti-war activists followed a news conference at U.N. headquarters, where Iraqi women described daily killings and ambulance bombings as part of the escalating violence that keeps women in their homes.” If you are reporting what a group says of anti-war activists are saying you would think the complaints would be against the US. Thus this sentence seems to be saying that the US is committing daily killings and ambulance bombings wouldn’t it? I searched the web for ambulance bombings and can find no reference to it except in the use of ambulances as suicide bombs. However I did run across this gem on the Codepink web pages of Women Say No to War, “Cindy Sheehan with Iraqi Delegates at the Women Say NO to War press conference. Iraqi women described daily killings and ambulance bombings as part of the escalating violence that keeps women in their homes.” See any similarities? I wonder who is copying whom here?

While checking on this I ran across a statement of goals on the Code Pink web site. This is obviously the work of a committee and one that doesn’t care if their message makes much sense. While mandating the elimination of foreign control (withdrawal of all foreign troops and fighters, commitment to discard plans for any foreign bases in Iraq, etc.) it also calls for an imposed “full representation” of women in the peacemaking (making how?) process and a commitment to women’s full equality in the post-Iraq war. Ok how exactly would the later be done if the former is done? If all foreign nations remove themselves from Iraq then how can you insure the role of women if the Iraqis don’t want it?

Also I am not sure why this goal made it into the list “The nullification of privatization and deregulation laws imposed under occupation, allowing Iraqis to shape the trajectory of the post-war economy;” Are there some socialists are anti-capitalists in the group who are against private ownership?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades

I just finished John Scalzi’s latest novel The Ghost Brigades. It fulfilled the promise of his first, Old Man’s War, and more. At first I found the secondary issue of Boutin’s consciousness as an irritant to the general story line, but I believed that he would eventually become important and of course it did.

The climax of the story when the villain explained his reasons for his villainy was pretty poignant. I think that it is an excellent example of how people who only have part of the reasons why government does things can be so sure that they have a better way and then go to extremes that they would heartily denounce in others to try and implement their own world view.

Yes, I am tip toeing around the details to give my impressions without giving away the story, but what it comes down to this an excellent novel.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Germany surrenders to Terrorists

This story from the StrategyPage points out the silliness of the European left.

WHO WINS:  German Court Backs Terrorist Tactics
February 20, 2006: A German court ruled that a hijacked aircraft could not be shot down to prevent it from crashing into a stadium full of people. The court said that the rights of the passengers on the hijacked aircraft took priority over attempts to prevent greater loss of life in the stadium. The ruling came as Germany was organizing security for the soccer world cup. There will be a no-fly zone over the stadiums, but because of this ruling, the fighter jets patrolling the air space will not be allowed to shoot down aircraft threatening the thousands of people in a stadium. The games will be played, in twelve different stadiums, between June 9 and July 9. Germany will try to come up with another way to stop a hijacked aircraft, or seek another legal solution to the prohibition on shooting down attacking aircraft.

Cities creating Police State in the US

It doesn’t take a dictatorship to implement oppressive laws or implement a police state.  The very fact that a Police Chief in a major US city could think it was a good idea and not see how requiring surveillance cameras could affect privacy is ludicrous!  These city officials must think that they are in England!

Friday, February 10, 2006

TV Programming needs to grow up

TV Programming needs to move faster.  The major networks are just starting to catch on that a 20-26 episode schedule September to May is not the only profitable schedule any more.  Notice the season premieres that are beginning to show up for summer and spring in response to cable’s non-traditional scheduling.  

However there is one tradition I wish they would reconsider soon and there is some evidence in favor of changing if they pay attention.  I am speaking about special event night programming.  Ever since I can remember (yes, they had TV when I was a kid) when certain major events were on the channels not carrying it would schedule repeats or low budget specials.  Like for the next few weeks while the Olympics are on NBC we can look forward to a long run of repeats on ABC, CBS, UPN, Fox, etc.

But, if they look at what happened this week on Grammy night, they might find reasons to try something different.  American Idol beat the Grammys in viewers by 28 million to 15 million.  Now media stories are all about how the Grammys have been loosing viewers, we see the same stories about Monday Night Football, the Presidential conventions, Miss America and almost every other traditional show.  What they don’t seem to understand is that these events were always more entertainment than interesting.  Now that people have choices even if they aren’t great, they turn to other shows.  

If the TV networks would try to capture some audience away from events like the Olympics or The Academy Awards they might be more successful than they would expect.  But, and here’s the kicker, they then have to accept that their view of what’s important in the world may not prove to be reality!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First Mystery Novel Heroine who is a Blogger?!?

I just finished J.A. Jance’s latest Edge of Evil in which the heroine becomes a blogger and solves a murder. Throughout the story she learns the ins and outs of blogging as well as overcoming some of life’s biggest challenges.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Books on top of my reading pile

Books on top of my reading pile

The Merchant’s Partner – Michael Jecks
     Another in the Knights Templar Mystery series.

Edge Of Evil – J.A. Jance
     A mystery by the author of two of my favorite mystery series, Joanna Brady Mysteries and J.P. Beaumont Mysteries.

The Star Tablet – Jay Caselberg
     The next in the Psychic Investigators series

Traitor General – Dan Abnet
     A novel in the Warhammer 40,000 world

The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell – Lilian Jackson Braun
     The latest Cat Who mystery



After a bit of a dry spell I have run into several books that I have enjoyed and thought I would post about them.  Here are the books that I have read recently (last two weeks);

Blackcollar – Timothy Zahn
     This is a good SF adventure book, not deep, but thoroughly enjoyable.  The general scenario is that Earth was defeated in a war after establishing a limited multi-star nation.   Their conquerors are the typical barbarians who have succeeded by using ruthless tactics and using technology taken from their victims.  The key to the story is that one of the Humans greatest weapons in the war was their Blackcollars.  Basically they are a combination Navy Seal and Ninja but greatly enhanced based on advanced drug treatment akin to a super-steriod.  A generation after the war the resistance begins to fight back at the same time that the Ryqril are hampered by another war of conquest.  Looks to be the first in a multiple book series that I will look forward to enjoying as they are released.

Starship: Mutiny – Mike Resnick
     More along the lines of a space opera somewhat like the Retief series by Keith Laumer or the Sten series by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch.  Again very enjoyable and the story has enough twists too it to keep you on your feet.  The story is about a hero who was too good and his superiors have decided to get him out of the way, and out of the war, by assigning him to a worn out old warship with a crew full of rejects in the backwaters of space.  Another starting book in what looks to be a thoroughly entertaining series.

Rebel Ice – S.L. Viehl
     This is the latest in the Stardoc series and a bit of a diversion from the main story.  The heroine has suffered amnesia after surviving a spaceship crash on an ice world.  Caught in the middle of a rebellion against the lords who rule the planet she, and her friends, become key players in the rebellion.  This story keeps the series fresh and provides a few clues into the main story line of the series without actually providing a major step in the series major war between the Human League and the Jorenian Clans.

Against All Enemies – John G. Henry
     The latest in SF’s answer to JAG, this series follows a naval officer who through his duties as the ship’s legal officer gets involved in one major legal issue after another.  The latest involves a spy among his own shipmates.  Each book has a bit of action and more than a bit of legal maneuvering and this one has followed that formula well.

The Last Templar – Michael Jecks
     While this series has been around for a while it just now came to my attention.  This book is the first in the Knights Templar Mystery series and introduces Simon Puttock, a knight in England who has just been promoted to bailiff of Lydford Castle.  He quickly meets an unusual group of months and their abbot, a knight recently returned to England from abroad to assume his inheritance of land, and not one, not two but several murders.  A good mix of crime solving and adventure which has hooked me on the series which I mean to start my way through the rest (well over a dozen published to date).

Strong Arm Tactics, The Wolf Pack: Book I – Jody Lynn Nye
     This book is an obvious homage to Robert Aspirin’s Phule series though with less of Pfule’s outright outrageous events it certainly retains many of the same outrageously funny events and tactics.  Like Pfule, Wolf has set out to prove himself and do something good by joining the military, though he is very wealthy and comes from a powerful family.  Though his family’s power and wealth comes from a darker source, more of a 31st century mafia.  It was enjoyable, fun, and again has me hooked on the series.  

By Order of the President – W.E.B Griffin (Presidential Agent I)
The Hostage – W.E.B. Griffin (Presidential Agent II)

     I missed this when it first came out but when I ran across the next in the series I grabbed this one to read first.  It follows the same formula of the rest of Griffin’s books though in a modern day times and stories.  The main character is the son of two wealthy and respected families, one Tex-Mex and the other German, who has joined the Army in the tradition of his ancestors on both sides of the family tree.  We visit two of Griffin’s favorite regions, Germany and Argentina, and like many of his heroes Carlos Castillo/Karl von und zu Gossinger is not hesitant to use his family, friends and money to help complete his mission.  Another excellent series that will be on my “buy on publication date” watch on Amazon.

A Long Shadow – Charles Todd
     The latest in the Ian Rutledge Mystery series it follows the normal formula well, though I am starting to tire of “Hamish”.   The series is set in England after World War I, Ian was an officer on the front and not only was wounded physically but emotionally as well.  He carries with him the “ghost” of a soldier he had executed for cowardice on the battlefield.  Hamish is always right over his shoulder whispering both helpful hints, complaints as well as outright whiny comments.  This story is a bit more complicated than previous novels in the series in that besides having a difficult case to solve that involves solving other older cases that are the key to the current one, dealing with avoiding traps and virtual landmines left by his superior, he also is being stalked by someone from the war that seems to want him dead.

Nothing But Trouble – Michael McGarrity
     The latest in the Kevin Kearney series this book provides a bit more of his wife Sara’s story than previous books.  Kevin is getting close to retirement from his position as Santa Fe’s Chief of Police and is convinced by and old, but not so close any more, friend to act as the technical consultant on a film being shot in New Mexico’s Bootheel area.  Of course the film becomes another source to get him involved in solving crimes that have nothing to do with Santa Fe.  Meanwhile his wife as a case of her own with enough political explosive to blow her career out of the water.  Nice story, but more low key than most of McGarrity’s it leaves me wondering where Kearney and Sara will end up next.

Well as you can see I have spent a good deal of time reading lately, though given that I tend to read a book through until done rather than putting it aside to do such boring things as sleeping it didn’t take me long.  Next I will post the books on the top of my reading pile and afterwards will provide my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Failed Economics but passed Bible School

Failed Economics but passed Bible School

A woman in Olathe, KS has decided that Spencer’s Gifts should be treated as an adult store even though it does not meet the city specification as to percentage of sales from adult products to be designated as such.  She was offended by some pictures that she saw, that I am sure are no worse than what Playboy or what ever has in everyday book stores.  Jerry Agar on the local talk radio spent some time this afternoon speaking about the issue.  There were plenty of women who called in to say they were offended by the products Spencer’s carried and embarrassed.  Jerry tried to steer the middle path saying that the woman who went to City Halls said she is not trying to shut down Spencer’s just get it treated like an adult business.  That’s like saying that you don’t want to treat someone as a criminal just as a drug addict.  Most cities treat adult businesses as if they were breeding grounds for anthrax.  They can only operate in certain parts of the city far removed from anything but warehouses and such all of which are a long way away from malls where Spencer’s Gifts are usually located.  Course these are the same people that don’t like the KY Warming Ultra Gel TV commercials.

So I ask; Why do these people always go to city hall first rather than trying to use the power of the consumer?  Try boycotting the store, ask your friends to get together to write to the headquarters to change their product line, do something without trying to add yet another law to our staggering load we have now!  

Monday, January 09, 2006

Suspended for kissing?

I think about 25% or more of my school would have been suspended when I was in 8th grade if they had these rules. The kid didn't even initiate the kiss. A girl kissed him on a dare (it is the 8th grade after all) and he is suspended for not snitching on her. Jeez!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

I like Albert Brooks and this movie looks like it might be funny and timely.  At least the trailer was interesting.  Likely won’t be a big hit but should be enjoyable.

This was posted and then edited to add this sentence using the Blogger for Word add-in.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Honor Harrington movie or TV series?

It seems that rumors are out that the long anticipated movie based on David Weber's Honor Harrington series may actually be moving towards reality. I also noted that there is a posting for the movie with producers names who have at least some films to their credit. I don't know how long this has been up, it also lists Peter Sands (Ayn Rand, The Happy Valley, Diamond Skulls, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne - two episodes) as the Screenplay writer, Victoria Burrows (all three Lord of the Rings, Hostage, King Kong and Polar Express) as Casting Director and Tom Meleck (Brainstorm-1983, Drive, In Enemy Hands, an episode of Quantum Leap and Across the Tracks) as Production Designer.

However Peter Sands bio on IMDB and VisionFire states that it will be a TV series which means most the names being bandied about to play Honor probably won't be available for such a long commitment. Though this was caught first by whoever edited the Wikipedia entry for Honor Harrington and it's clones.

There has been an ongoing debate as to who should play Honor in the movie, we should probably now turn out thoughts to who would play her on TV. Most of the ones I have heard suggested for the movie probably would not commit to a TV series as it is a much longer commitment that most screen actresses would steer away from.

Maybe Michelle Lintel (Black Scorpion)

or Shannon Elizabeth (yes her!)

or Robia LaMorte though at 5'6" she may be too short

A popular vote in poll for playing Honor in the movie is Claudia Black who I agree would be good, but I think is a little too old (certainly not old, but for the role) given the perceived youth of prolong receipients (you have to read the books)

Another choice from the movie poll that would be good but too short is Kristen Kreuk

An excellent Honor that might be talked into going back to TV, though also in the too short category, is Jessica Alba

Though I would love to see Charisma Carpenter as Honor!

A vote from the movie poll that would be a good possiblity for TV is Lexa Doig (Andromeda) though also too short