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Radically Inept
Friday, June 11, 2004
  Okay, yet another cheap attempt to be associated w/ "Fafblog!"

No, I'm not proud...But, who the hell said I would be in face of the vast wealth that is Fafblog!:

The Weekly Standard has just broken what Giblets has dubbed the prime story of the year: the discovery that numerous Beatles songs were actually about drugs! Backed up by a shocking confession by aging junkie Paul McCartney, intrepid investigative reporter Victorino Matus delves into the lyrics of 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' and explains for those of us uninitiated into the heady and terrifying world of illicit drugs:

For those not indoctrinated, it seems fairly obvious: 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' is a mnemonic for LSD... Where exactly has [Lucy] gone to? Did her eyes change from kaleidoscopes into the sun or are these two different girls? Clearly the only way to 'dig' the message is by going on an acid trip.
Giblets is 'hip' to your 'scene' now, Lennon-McCartney! Music's just not 'groovy' enough for ya without that sweet, sweet taste of Mary Jane! First comes the off-beat syncopation and experimentation with eastern rhythms, then comes the heady plunge into a world of vibrant textures and colors where music breathes, walls pulse, and Ringo's sellin' George's ass to Lucky Jim Crackpipe for just one more shot at the Reefer, the Cheeba, the Good Skunk, the Fox Job, the Monkeypaw, the Crab Habit, the Greek Freaky, the Jujyfruit!

For Beatles fans it is the equivalent, as Mr Matus points out, of 'finding out that Alger Hiss really was a spy.' And worse - a spy on pot! Giblets can only ponder how it would have affected the reputations of John Lennon and Paul McCartney back in the straight and clean days of the 1960s had they been exposed as slaves to the succor of the evil weed. Hopefully now that the record has been set staight the Beatles will be remembered as they should be - as nothing more than subliminal dope peddlers."
One should recognize the truth when it is presented. Somebody said that, I just can't remember who. Might of been Giblets. 
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  A music blog?

Harry, an evil troll, has suggested I do a 'music blog', but I'm not sure how to accomplish that when I read it. So, then I spend a while thinking about it, and I decide to contact the Pacifier [because besides muscle, he brings an opinion to music], and he can see contributing.

But what I thought was a little fun,was the fact that local cabal channel 25, Atlanta, which I can't find a link to easily, has been playing a stellar line up of tunes, at least if your over hrumpf, humprf years of age. No, commericials...

I have to move quick, as I am between loads of laundry [the Wife cracks a mean whip] well, [okay, she's the only one currently working and bringing in income] [but, hey, so what?!] [ er..., well...]

'Nough of that.all I wanted to say was, that for those of you who are not familiar with the story, the Guess Who song American Woman was not about "AMERICAN WOMEN", it was about "AMERICA". And possibly, in some way prophetic:
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes

Now woman, get away
American woman, listen what I say-ay

American Woman, said get away
American Woman, listen what I say
Don't come a hangin?around my door
Don't wanna see your face no more
I don't need your war machines
I don't need your ghetto scenes"


So, may have to consider Harry's suggestion...

Listening to a troll?!

Yet, I do find that I know lyrics and songs that are highly appropo to a lot of what's happening. So, look for some possible changes at Radically Inept over the next few weeks.

The following is a sheepish confession of ignorance, I didn't even know I owned FrontPage and Microsoft Publisher, or more importantly, I didn't know their capabilities.

As usual, expect an effort at continuous improvement here at Radically Inept.

Oh well, back to laundry...


 
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  Blogging forecast for the weekend

Forecast is for very light blogging due to an outbreak of things that need to be done around the Radically Inepthouse, like mowing the lawn, cleaning and repairing gutters...

But I want to brag that I finally learned how to link a photo. Yay me! So, over on the right, below 'Authors' Bios', go take a look.

No, it's not me, silly, it's the Radically Inept mascot. She won the spot in a landslide victory. Besides, a deaf pitt bull? You'll have to concede that's pretty Inept.

Her name is Friday, and her nickname, thanks to the Wife, is PITA Dog(Pain in the Ass Dog). We think previous owners used her as bait to train fight dogs. When she found us (there's a large neon sign over our house glowing in a frequency that only lost canines seems to be able to see, that says "SUCKER". Anyway, when she showed up, she was 15lbs under weight (you could count every rib, vertbra, and even the bones in her tail), and with cuts and open wounds, everywhere.

She's fine now. And she's my Radically Inept, PITA Dog, named Friday. 
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Thursday, June 10, 2004
  The Blogging of the President: 2004

I was going to comment, and offer my own 'insightful' analysis, but it ain't going to happen, at least not any time soon. So, let me just say this is an intriguing look at the Reagan presidency, and some of the points seem to ring true...I don't have the time...just check out: The Blogging of the President: 2004

Like I said, light blogging. 
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  It didn't 'just happen'

lies.com points to this article by Richard Cohen at The Mercury News writes Someone had torture in mind [Actually, lies.com links to a WaPo link, but WaPo's registration policy is just way too intrusive for my tastes. My job title and age, indeed! So, I've linked to The Mercury News version]:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose Justice Department prepared the memos -- one of them running to 50 pages and signed by Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office of Legal Counsel -- assured the Senate the other day that the memos are of no consequence. They were only internal Justice Department stuff, the scribblings of lawyers, and -- most important -- the president has not ``directed or ordered'' torture, Ashcroft said. In another administration, such an assurance would be enough for me, but given this one's cavalier approach to civil liberties, I have to note that ``directed'' or ``ordered'' is not the same as condoned. That's what I wonder about.
I wonder too why the much-pressed Justice Department -- with all those press releases to get out extolling Ashcroft -- went through all the trouble to come up with definitions of torture that might be permissible under American law when no one was supposedly considering torturing Al-Qaida prisoners in the first place. A 50-page memo is not an hour's work. It's clear someone had torture in mind. The Defense Department and the CIA were looking for guidance."
And, this
What if the CIA got its hands on a terrorist who it thought might have information about coming attacks? What should it do? What could it do? Could it, say, torture the guy a little bit -- not too much, mind you -- so he would cough up the information? In one of the memos leaked to the Washington Post, the Justice Department said yes, precisely -- torture, but only a bit. ``For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture, it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.'' This is a very odd -- shall we say ``tortured'' -- definition.
Which is what I've been saying, this is not the act of a couple of Specialists acting on their own initiative. This was policy, and in the military, privates don't decide policy.

 
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  When marketing goes wrong.

Mr. Ian Bell
Chief Executive
"Strategic Business Analysts Ltd" or is it "recruitusa@executivesituations.com" [I'm not certain]

Dear Ian,

Thank you of contacting me with what appears to be a wonderful opportunity. Your kind letter however, did leave me with some questions:
Dear xxxx [suggestion, if you are not personally reading my resume, I'd use Mr 'Surname', since I emphazise the use of a 'nickname']

We wish to expand our activities in the USA and have received your CV [NOTE: I have a resume not an actual CV. Minor point, but...] via an Internet job site matching service. We were impressed by your CV and request you to complete a preliminary “Assessment Test” [Referred to as the SBA Associate Database Form at the actual link] in the application of our recruitment web site www.strategicbusinessonline.com. [NOTE: This looks an awful lot like one of those tests, "do you have the personality to run your own business" tests, so often used at the beginning of a Multi-level Marketing recruitment meeting]

Upon review it is our intention to invite you to a four hour meeting [No interview?] with other candidates at one of the venues listed below. The purpose of the meeting is to enable us to provide comprehensive information about our business and for you to evaluate your experience and capabilities against the opportunities available.

The meeting will also give both parties the opportunity for assessment and where appropriate, a further “one to one” meeting will be arranged.

We request you study our UK operational web site www.strategicbusinessonline.co.uk to familiarise yourself with our organisation and its “modus operandi”.
So, Ian, I did. But, I was sadly still left w/ questions.

Why can I not access the "Investor" link? Are you excluding potential associates from investing? Also, Why does Page 2 of your "Copyright Notice and Disclaimer" contain this information?

Cost Reduction Analysis
(No Saving - No Fee)
'A Confidential Service with nothing to lose but your costs'
***
Mergers and Acquisitons
(Payment on Results)
'How much is your Company worth'
***
Retained Support Programme
(Low Cost Help on Tap)
'Targeted Expertise when it's needed'
***
Business Skills Training
(Low Cost Accredited Modules)
'Focused Training Delivering Tangible results'
***
Two Day MBA
(Tool Up for Business)
'Demise is often an Unnecessary Surprise'
***
Bank Interest Auditing
(Free Advisory Service)

'Does your bank owe you Money?'
***
Executive Situations
(No Result - No Fee)

'The right staff at the right time'
***"
What does it mean, that this is in the disclaimer? I'm just not sure how it fits in.

Then there's the "SBA: Search For Expertise" page, I kind of understand why there is no contact in formation, sort of, but it seems to cause problems for the entire 'networking' concept. I mean, when I searched for information about "Strategic Business Analysts Ltd" on Google, I didn't find a single link to one of your associates. Are they restrained from using your name in marketing themselves? That seems sort of self-defeating for a networking organization? Oh, and the Google search did not get me to your site. That is something I would definitely put my marketing people on, right away.

And on your Frequently Asked Questions page, I would have thought that you would have answered the obvious question of 'what are my expected costs in joining your association'?

Lastly, I think it might be a good marketing ploy to actually put a few comments on the site from 'happy customers', 'happy employees', and maybe even some links to media sites mentioning your business.

I have a lot more to offer in helping you in improving your internet recruiting interface, as well as your initial contact letter, and the overall presentation. I am available on a consulting basis of $200 or 108.79 Pounds Sterling/hr.

Really, I think if you are trying to recruit in the US, you should hire a marketing consultant, like myself, to help you get past the cultural cynanism prevalent amoung American workers today.

Consider this a 'no win - no fee service'. No invoice will follow if you do not see an increase in revenues by correcting the 'errors' I point out, following the suggestions contained herein.

Sincerely,

Rick

PS: Here 
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  The Soviet - Afghan War as a possible example?

Billmon points out:
It must be, because those guys are still there:
The first Army units that are scheduled to leave are elements of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment; they were originally scheduled to leave in late April but had their one-year tours extended for 90 days.
And it looks like most of them aren't going anywhere any time soon:
At least one of those Army units might face a second extension. On Monday, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he could not rule out keeping soldiers from the 1st Armored Division in Iraq beyond the current three-month extension.
One of the Whiskey Bar patrons, semper ubi [at June 10, 2004 05:20 PM] added this to the point:
"A lunch today, I was talking to my husband, a Viet Nam vet, about this issue of extending tours. I said 'Can you just imagine what the reaction would have been if you were a few days 'short' and your tour got extended in Viet Nam?' He said, 'Yeah. It's called 'fragging'.'"
As I said in "I remember the Army...", this kind of disintegration of the morale and discpline is something to be avoided, virtually at all costs. You know, I'm thinking that the Soviet war with Afghanistan might prove to be a better example of the dangers we face than Vietnam. You miss that whole jungle vs desert argument, and there are other similarities.

But what should concern us here, is what General (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan
& LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, almost presciently describe are delemma in their 1996,
THE SOVIET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HISTORY AND HARBINGER OF FUTURE WAR?,
"Morale"
During the war, draft-age Soviet youth increasingly tried to avoid the draft and Afghanistan duty. Large bribes were paid to exempt or safeguard the children of the privileged. A disproportionate number of youth from factories and collective farms served in Afghanistan. The conscript's morale was not great when he was drafted. At the training centers, they were told that they were going to fight Chinese and American mercenaries. When they got to Afghanistan for their eighteen-month tour, they soon discovered that they were unwelcome occupiers in a hostile land. Morale further plummeted at this realization. As in other armies, the field soldiers were too busy to get into much trouble, but those soldiers in the rear with routine supply, maintenance and security duties had too much time on their hands. Many conscripts developed a narcotics habit in Afghanistan. They financed their habit by selling equipment, ammunition and weapons. Many turned to violent crime. Soviet soldiers robbed merchants and passersby. At Soviet checkpoints, the soldiers would search Afghan civilians' luggage for weapons. Routinely, those Afghans carrying large amounts of money were 'sent to Kabul'. Being sent to Kabul meant isolating the civilian and his luggage behind a wall and out of sight of the checkpoint. There, the soldiers would kill the civilian and take his money. [emphasis added]
I hope this isn't the blueprint that gets played out over there. But as usual, there's more:Officer's morale also suffered. Although an officer got four years service credit toward his pension for his two-year Afghanistan tour, he saw that the officer corps had been given an impossible task and would be the scapegoat for its failure. There was constant tension within the officer corps at base camps as they vied for the affections of the female PX cashiers, nurses and secretaries. Afghanistan service saw the rebirth of the Soviet World War II tradition of the field wife. But, with a shortage of women, competition was fierce and sometimes violent among the officers. Vodka was the officers' drug of choice and some quarrels were settled with grenades and small arms.

In the field, villages were razed and the occupants murdered in retaliation for ambushes or suspected aid to the guerrillas. Some of these seem to have been officially sanctioned while others appear to have resulted from a break-down in discipline. Clearly, the guerrilla's morale overmatched the Soviets.
That whole 'morale' thing proved to be kind of important.
Lessons learned
1) Modern, mechanized forces are still in peril when committed to fight guerrillas in the middle of a civil war on rugged terrain. The Soviet-Afghanistan war demonstrated that:

2) A guerrilla war is not a war of technology versus peasantry. Rather, it is a contest of endurance and national will. The side with the greatest moral commitment (ideological, religious or patriotic) will hold the ground at the end of the conflict. Battlefield victory can be almost irrelevant, since victory is often determined by morale, obstinacy and survival.[emphasis added]

3) Secure logistics and secure lines of communication are essential for the guerrilla and non-guerrilla force. Security missions, however, can tie up most of a conventional force.

4) Weapons systems, field gear, communications equipment and transport which are designed for conventional war will often work less effectively or fail completely on rugged terrain.

5) Tactics for conventional war will not work against guerrillas. Forces need to be reequipped, restructured and retrained for fighting guerrillas or for fighting as guerrillas. The most effective combatants are light infantry.

6) Tanks have a limited utility for the counter-guerrilla force, but can serve as an effective reserve on the right terrain. Infantry fighting vehicles and helicopters can play an important role in mobility and fire support. Mechanized forces usually fight effectively only when dismounted and when using their carriers for support or as a maneuver reserve. Ample engineer troops are essential for both side.

7) Field sanitation, immunization and preventive medicine are of paramount importance in less-than-optimal sanitary conditions. Immediate medical support to wounded combatants is often hard to provide.

8) Journalists and television cameramen are key players in guerrilla warfare. The successful struggle can be effectively aided when championed by a significant portion of the world's press.

9) Logistics determines the scope of activity and size of force either side can field.

10) Unity of command is very important, yet sometimes impossible to achieve.

11) Domination of the air is irrelevant unless airpower can be precisely targetted. Seizure of terrain can be advantageous, but is usually only of temporary value. Control of the cities can be a plus, but can also prove a detriment. Support of the population is essential for the winning side. [emphasis added]
And in the end:
According to General Nawroz, the Afghan-Soviet War was a rare confrontation in history as it helped trigger the collapse of the greatest empire of modern times. Lessons learned from this conflict were gathered by both sides. Whatever else these lessons may show, the most fundamental of them is that no army, however sophisticated, well trained, materially rich, numerically overwhelming and ruthless, can succeed on the battlefield if it is not psychologically fit and motivated for the fight. The force, however destitute in material advantages and numbers, which can rely on the moral qualities of a strong faith, stubborn determination, individualism and unending patience will always be the winner. These may not be the optimum qualities always found in the armies of western democracies. [emphasis added]
I guess both sides learned something, and we were at recess? This kind of crap can get pretty scarey.

Oh yeah, published by the:

The United States Army
Foreign Military Studies Office
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA  
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  US Army Report on Torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib Prison

Found this site, The Memory Hole [rescuing knowledge, freeing information], last night. I don't remember how. I owe some site, somewhere, a site a mention, but I don't maintain any histories between sessions, so...Hell, it was probably a long torturous route [bad pun intended] to get to find The Memory Hole > US Army Report on Torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib Prison. I haven't read it yet, but I thought I should help distribute it as best I can.

But you should also check out a site that says "...it exists to preserve and spread material that is in danger of being lost, is hard to find, or is not widely known." Oh yeah, he warns that the site traffic may be heavy and cause slower download times, but he's working on it.

But hey, guess what? He's also a blogger...Who'd a' thunk it?

Same as below, I'll watch it, but it too, looks pretty good.
 
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  Libertarian defined and an info link

I won't say this is the 'authority' on the definition, but I think good enough for debating purposes. From American Encyclopedia Online comes Libertarian Encyclopedia : Maps - Weather - Travel - History - Economy - Government - Politics Encyclopedia : Maps - Weather - Travel - History - Economy - Government - Politics comes this:
"Libertarian
The term libertarian commonly refers to the ideas and adherents of libertarianism (aka classical liberalism).
[...]
Etymology of the word 'libertarian'
The term 'libertarian' originally means proponent of liberty, and can still be used in this meaning, in the proper context. It can be been opposed to authoritarian (in politics), or to proponents of determinism (in philosophy), etc.

'Libertarian' as 'anarchist'
The term 'libertarian' was also used by anarchists as synonymous for naming their movement, so that they would clearly avoid the confusion with the derogatory uses of anarchy as synonymous for anomie.

Just like the word anarchist, the word 'libertarian', at least in Europe, has long been synonymous with the socialist kind of anarchists, which may be specified as libertarian socialists. On the other hand, in the United States, it was rather understood as synonymous with individualist anarchist.

'Libertarian' as 'classical liberal'
However, in the US since the 1950s, the word libertarian has been massively used by classical liberalss, only a few of them being anarcho-capitalists. These classical liberals sought to avoid confusion with uses of the word liberal then widely associated to various social-democratic and even socialist parties and even ideologies. Indeed, the libertarian socialist tradition was not strong in the US, so the word was not deeply tied to left-anarchism, whereas there was a tradition of individualist anarchists and other non-socialists and non-anarchists calling themselves libertarians in the US. The word has spread to the US and then other countries, through the founding of think tanks, parties and other groups."
I think I fall in that chasm between Libertarian 'Socialist' and Libertarian 'anarchist'. Is that even possible? I don't know, but I'm not totally willing to give up "the protections of a state" to count on the "benevolence of corporations", but neither do I want the state to have "too much power" or become "too intrusive". Those terms and qualities are obviously difficult to define, but let me say, when-push-comes-to-shove, and it's the society, the state, the media, or a corporation or NGO vs the individual, I usually side w/ the individual.

Their "List of US /States cities" seems to make a handy quick reference guide to info on cities. I'd never been here before. I'll put it on the desk top, and if I find that I use it alot, I'll link to it from here.

It looks pretty good so far. 
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  Comic book art

I have long been a fan of the comic book medium, especially what I consideer the hey day of the early seventies. Well, Drunken Monkey Style Blogging used one these Pictures in one of his posts today. But I think you have to scroll through them (just keep hitting 'next') so you can see the changes in styles of art and costumes over time, even the tone and amount of violence depicted changes as time passes. Very reflective of society at large.

I think this one captures something. Maybe the idea that for all the saving of the world he does, we keep trying to blow it up again. Possibly the frustration/dispair of a never ending struggle to save a species bent on self-destruction. Anyway, I like it.
 
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
  There's something to be said for mercenaries

At least mercenaries work for something tangible (profits), while some fight for the preservation of fantasy, of myth. But worse, they may fly hi-tech military weapon systems...Professional Womens Fellowship San Diego.

Hell, via Whiskey Bar: There's Something About Mary.

Blogging efficiency rule number one: MUST NOT SURF WHEN TRYING TO COMPOSE A POST

Where was I anyway?

 
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  Still finding odd places

I was looking for the lyrics to an old byrds song, and wound up here: WOODSTOCK VALUES VS."GOD'S COUNTRY" The internet is a strange highway. 
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  I've always meant to visit

Now I have, by accident, in the quest for defense spending info. Hmmm...Interesting: Free Republic, I mean, some of the posts...Organizing a "Coalition of the Willing" to provide the troops with "The Warrior's Reward" are hard to disagree with...make sure you read the comments. 
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  The Reagan thing gets my goat again...

"I don't start a business to pay you"
(Should have been the title)

[I know, this is out of the order that you actually see it. I think this is a minor issue. When a draft posted is finally published, it probably should by default go to the top of the presentation. Just a thought.]

Look, the guy is dead. Can we get over it? I'm trying real hard to put him behind me, and all this media coverage just re-inflames old wounds. So, then I wander over to MaxSpeak, You Listen!, and he posted this: MaxSpeak, You Listen!: LEGEND, and as a result I wound up beating the dead old horse again in the comments:
"The whole concept of Reagonomics [sic] rests on premises that I don't buy into. The most important lesson I got when running my own business, was that employees are pure overhead. If you can automate a function w/ a one time investment of capital or if you can outsource a none core function. Or better still, if like Tommy Hilfiger, you can operate your entire business off a lap top, that's what you do. Businesses do not 'create' jobs, the market does. A business only hires people when if is forced to by product or market conditions. Otherwise, I ain't hirin' nobody. This ain't no social program, this is 'bidness'.

Yet, the popular myth is that the people at the top will invest money in ventures that create jobs, when the truth is, they invest their money for maximum return. Jobs are an unfortunate, if necessary drain on corporate resources.

The arguments that 'the company is it's employees' and 'employees are a company's most valuable asset' are often true but miss the point. The premise only holds true until I can maximize my return elsewhere.

I know you know this. I guess what I'm saying is that Reagonomics [sic] seems to imply that market conditions always favor or nearly always favor investing in human capital. That premise just is not true.

As soon as DOD can get 1/3 of their fleet automated by 2010 (I think that was the stated goal), look for serious profit potential to be made in the logistics chain. Once this technology gets cheap enough, and a 1/3 fleet purchase by DOD represents a significant move in that direction, look for the rest of the battle to take place in the courts, w/ Unions claiming the technology unsafe for the American streets, battling a well financed element fighting to immediately field the technology and reduce the cost of labor.

And Reagonomics [sic] will fail another test, but it's a test I don't think we can avoid, and I don't think labor will win. I'm just not sure how societies, economies, workers, will adjust. I'm not worried about those who will have the capital to invest in these ventures, just everyone else.

And I've said just about everywhere I've gone, I hated Ronald Reagan Zapp. Good -your choice of expletive here- riddance, just twenty years too -your choice- late. But this time, I mean that in a nice way..."
I linked to Gary Marshall because I like anyone who can cite Naomi Klein and Bill Hicks in a single article.

Well, this wasn't supposed to take this long to compose, but it's a victim of 'postus interuptus', call from old college friend. Hey?! So now I've forgotten the point of this post. Sue me. I'll post more..That's not a bluff...Watch me

I'm looking for the audio for the Woodstock line introducing "Drug Store Truck Driving Man" by Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons performed by Joan Baez. Truly, if you have the old vinyl (and your name is Brian and you're living in Australia) this would be a sound bite treat : ) [I don't normally resort to emoticons and crap].

Anyway, on to other thoughts... 
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  One stop shopping

Wow, it's like that old song by Leo Sayer - Long Tall Glasses lyrics:
"I saw so much food, there was water comin' from my eye
yeah there was ham an' there was turkey, there was caviar
an' long tall glasses, with wine up to yar"
What am I babbling on about that would justify bringing up Leo Sayer? Well, it's this great post over at North Georgia Dogma. It is a smorgasbord of points to debate.

It seems Ricky has broken his hand and finds typing difficult [hope it heals soon], and fortunately for me, he re-posted something he'd written previously as North Georgia Dogma: Blast from the past, which I missed in its original run. I don't know how long it took Ricky to write and assemble this post, but I know I could spend hours at a minimum debating just a few of the points he so cavalierly raises.

Anyway, it's a nice comprehensive list of government treacheries. Ricky doesn't believe most are true, whereas I have good reason to believe several of them to be factual. The point I addressed in my comment at NGD: "Trying to demean our credibility by making charges of violence of the American soldiers in Gulf War I to the tune of slaughtering retreating Iraqis who had surrendered and were trying to head home.", which includes a link to The Massacre of Withdrawing Soldiers on "The Highway of Death".

But I have a better source for this story as I commented there: "I will only address the "slaughtering retreating Iraqis" point. I have a friend down in Henry County who was there on the frontlines in Iraq. He and I served together as tank platoon leaders in Germany. In the Gulf War, he was the commander of an Military Intelligence company working the front lines. He related to me what happened. His soldiers, who also observed what GEN McCaffrey did, convinced him to bring the story forward, even though they all knew it was a career ending move. He wound up being interviewed all those years ago by 60 Minutes. He also wound up getting out of the army.

I've known him for over twenty years, he was there on the ground, and I believe him."

There are a few other points in the list that I might try to address at some later point, but really, I'm not sure to what affect.


 
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004
  Just an excellent little video

Via Dave at Drunken Monkey Style Blogging comes a link to MilkandCookies, which I hadn't come across in my travels. Well, they have some pretty good videos and animations. I thought this one was pretty cool: Mocky: I Mickey Mouse Motherfuckers.

Oh, if you don't mind graphic violence, profanity and blasphemey, check out...Rail! Entertainment - Animation  
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  Haloscan access not working (+ a comment)

I can not access my Haloscan account, so if you make comments on older posts, I may not see them for a few days. I hope they get it fixed soon as it is far more convenient to look at a list of comments with the most recent at the top, than scroll through the entire blog looking for where readers have commented.

Oh, it appears I can't even post a reply in the comment section. I hope they get whatever it is fixed, soon.

So, this is a reply to comments Steve and Dave posted in response to "The sadists are in charge":

Thanks for the link Steve.

I'm not so sure about a religious basis for the argument against torture, unless you're going to limit yourself to only the new testament, Dave. I mean, the old testament is full of this type of stuff, and the catholic and protestant church histories have plenty of examples of using torture.

Besides, with my belief system, it would be way too hypocritical of me to base the argument on a set of beliefs, which I feel are based on myths. No, my argument has to be made w/o reliance on extra-terrestrial, extra-human interventions. I keep starting to lay out for readers my belief system, especially in regards to supporting moral and ethical decisions and actions.

Oh, and I'm not a humanist either, as I don't think their arguments, at least those that I've read, don't seem to be based on premises with which I agree.
 
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  First science, now the law

Again, thanks to Steve for the working link
The Baby Bush administration is doing to constitutional and common law, exactly what it has been doing to science - ignoring it and making up something that conforms to their desires. From the article itself, Pentagon Report Set Framework For Use of Torture comes passages like these:
"The working-group report elaborated the Bush administration's view that the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere. It concluded that neither the president nor anyone following his instructions was bound by the federal Torture Statute, which makes it a crime for Americans working for the government overseas to commit or attempt torture, defined as any act intended to 'inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.' Punishment is up to 20 years imprisonment, or a death sentence or life imprisonment if the victim dies.
I didn't understand that lawyers had the power to grant immunity just by writing opinions.

'In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in chief authority,' the report asserted. (The parenthetical comment is in the original document.) The Justice Department 'concluded that it could not bring a criminal prosecution against a defendant who had acted pursuant to an exercise of the president's constitutional power,' the report said. Citing confidential Justice Department opinions drafted after Sept. 11, 2001, the report advised that the executive branch of the government had 'sweeping' powers to act as it sees fit because 'national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress.'
Wow...What kind of jack ass is in charge of the Justice Department anyway? I mean, I can't imagine a constitutional scholars sharing these opinions.

"The lawyers concluded that the Torture Statute applied to Afghanistan but not Guantanamo, because the latter lies within the 'special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and accordingly is within the United States' when applying a law that regulates only government conduct abroad.

Administration lawyers also concluded that the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 statute that allows noncitizens to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law, couldn't be invoked against the U.S. government unless it consents, and that the 1992 Torture Victims Protection Act allowed suits only against foreign officials for torture or "extrajudicial killing" and "does not apply to the conduct of U.S. agents acting under the color of law."
Are you supposed to have a law degree to be a lawyer for the justice department? But I do understand now, this administration is doing to the law, what it has done to science - if the answers you get, aren't ones you like, make up new ones by royal fiat.

"The Bush administration has argued before the Supreme Court that foreigners held at Guantanamo have no constitutional rights and can't challenge their detention in court. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that question by month's end.

For Afghanistan and other foreign locations where the Torture Statute applies, the March 2003 report offers a narrow definition of torture and then lays out defenses that government officials could use should they be charged with committing torture, such as mistakenly relying in good faith on the advice of lawyers or experts that their actions were permissible. "Good faith may be a complete defense" to a torture charge, the report advised.
So, by asking the lawyers first, you get an automatic get out of jail card?

"The infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental, is insufficient to amount to torture," the report advises. Such suffering must be "severe," the lawyers advise, and they rely on a dictionary definition to suggest it "must be of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure."
And just how does one objectively measure the amount of pain someone feels?

Better yet, can I just torture the lawyers that gave this advice?
 
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Monday, June 07, 2004
  The sadists are in charge

Actually, I started this at Billmon, but I think the dove tail works better in reverse order this time.
This is all in reference to a WSJ report, which seems to have been available w/o subscription in the googlesphere, but I can't seem to find a working link to it. [8:09 am. Thanks to Steve for providing a good link: Infoshop News - Pentagon Report Set Framework For Use of Torture] Regardless, it shows a 'desire' on the part of our administration to use torture.

I think that is sort of what is missed by Billmon and Phil. They address more the legality, and I think we really need to focus on the intent.

The thing is, how have people been put in to power, acquired power or been voted power, start w/ the premise that torture will be needed? There's something, truly wrong w/ a culture that starts from the premise of torture. I can't begin to offer a comprehensive ethical argument against torture in the space I'm allocating to this, but any person, who starts w/ the premise of 'we need to be able to torture', pulled the legs off Grand-Daddy Long Legs when they were children and probably tortured the cat next door. I think there terms for this kind of tendency, which include psychopath and sociopath. The sadists are in charge.

Still, I guess it's better to have strong willed leadership, willing to do anything and break any law or ethic to achieve their stated goal of relieving Saddam of his non-existant WMD, and saving me from some guy named bin Laden. I think he owns a construction company in Saudi Arabia, and was at a meeting w/ Papa Bush in DC on 9/11. I think.

Anyway, here's Phil's analysis, INTEL DUMP - Archives 2004-06-08 - 2004-06-14:
"Analysis: Normally, I would say that there is a fine line separating legal advice on how to stay within the law, and legal advice on how to avoid prosecution for breaking the law. DoD and DoJ lawyers often provide this first kind of sensitive legal advice to top decisionmakers in the Executive Branch (regardless of administration) who want to affirm the legality of their actions. Often times, memoranda on these topics can be seen both ways, depending on your perspective. I tend to think that the Yoo memorandum and Gonzales memorandum leaned more heavily towards providing advice about how to stay (barely) within the bounds of the law - not how to break the law and get away with it. But this DoD memo appears to be quite the opposite. It is, quite literally, a cookbook approach for illegal government conduct. This memorandum lays out the substantive law on torture and how to avoid it. It then goes on to discuss the procedural mechanisms with which torture is normally prosecuted, and techniques for avoiding those traps. I have not seen the text of the memo, but from this report, it does not appear that it advises American personnel to comply with international or domestic law. It merely tells them how to avoid it. That is dangerous legal advice."


And then at Whiskey Bar: Presidential Powers:
"I don't ordinarily go in for paranoid conspiracy theories, but thinking about the political implications of the legal castle the Bush administration has constructed for itself - and the possible consequences of being evicted from that fortress, I can't help but be reminded of ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern's recent warning:
The key question for the next five months, then, becomes how far the administration will go. An elevated threat level justifying martial law and postponement of the election? No doubt such suggestions will seem too alarmist to those trusting that there is a moral line, somewhere, that the president and his senior advisers would not cross. I regret very much to note that their behavior over the past three years leaves me doubtful that there is such a line.
Raving paranoia? Go back and read that bit about 'authority to set aside the laws is inherent in the president.' You just might be hearing more about that, one of these days."
Yet another song to express my thoughts, "For What It's Worth", Buffalo Springfield.

On the bright side, Reagan died. But, this brings to mind a very serious health issue, does Baby Bush have Alzheimer's? I mean, he's forgotten why we went to war in Iraq, he's forgotten completely about Osama, obviously doesn't remember a single campaign promise...I think he's got Alzheimer's too. If he's lucky, maybe he'll die before it manifests itself like it did w/ Reagan. We should all pray that Baby Bush dies so we won't have to watch him drool like a baby in diapers, though I don't know that I would particularily [it's the way I say it] notice a difference.

Maybe the people at the G8 Summit will be able to provide intervention. Doubt it, though. I mean Putin? He's pretty far down some road, and I doubt it leads to democracy. Maybe he's lost the map?


The guy in the DiTech commercials is a better actor than Reagan. It's painful to watch Reagan in most of his performances, though not all. Some are just irritating. 
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  A couple of new sites I'll be linking to

Because you can't trust the bastards: Corp Watch

For keeping up with and checking on military expenditures: Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments

Lot's of good info here, including the intel and homeland security communities: GlobalSecurity.org - innovative approaches to emerging security challenges

One of my favorite pages: MEGA START PAGE. And it is a MEGA start. Lot's of interesting links besides your usual sources, including categories of links like Underground, Media/Special Topics, Millennialism, Crypto(Hidden), and Politics and Conspiricys.

I know, they are time grabbers. You can spend alot of time browsing the sites, and I have over the past few years.  
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  Science Monday

Next a light sword?
New Scientist: Dancing lasers levitate carbon nanotubes
:
"For the first time, carbon nanotubes have been picked up and moved with a laser beam. The trick may finally offer engineers who want to build microchips based on nanotube components a way to move the diminutive devices into place.
The semiconducting properties of nanotubes - which are just a few nanometres wide and around 100 nanometres long - mean they might one day be used as the basis for low-power, ultra-fast chips. But until now, the only way to position the carbon tubes has been laborious: nudging them around with an expensive instrument called an atomic force microscope.
So David Grier of New York University and Joseph Plewa and colleagues from the optics company Arryx in Chicago, Illinois, wondered if a technique called optical trapping could do the job more conveniently."


Wonderful. When we get to Mars, DoD can destroy it.
Popular Science | Is This What War Will Come To?:
"Efficiency is also a factor to a military that finds itself stretched from old bases in Europe to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to calls for intervention in Africa, Haiti and other hotspots. The scores of potential combat scenarios sketched out by the Joint Chiefs, as well as individual branches of the U.S. military, have convinced the Department of Defense that a fast-track modernization program is critical to national security. Many current weapons systems are fast becoming out-of-date, from aging attack helicopter fleets to the early-'60s-designed rifles troops carry on the ground. Key trends will be automation--unmanned land, air and underwater vehicles; communication networks that connect all the players in a battle theater, so that information flows freely between pilots, foot soldiers and commanders; and finding new ways to solve old problems--such as firing ballistics electrically rather than with explosives.

But perhaps more in need of overhaul than the weapons systems themselves is the process that produces them. New weapons typically start out as ideas developed in one of the R&D labs belonging to the U.S. military or to private defense contractors such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin or hundreds of smaller companies around the country. As it progresses, though, a new technology may get bogged down by Byzantine red tape and excessive everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tinkering. Years may elapse--5, 10, 15 or more--while proposals and demonstrations are requested, Congressional approvals secured, contractors chosen, and the technology tested and fielded--and by then the weapon that emerges may be technologically obsolete, or designed for threats that no longer exist. The Defense Department has a history of continuing to fund needless programs because of political pressures and sheer momentum. A prime example: the Army's Comanche attack helicopter, which was canceled in February after a 21-year, $6.9 billion development program. One of its key missions, battlefield reconnaissance, is quickly being usurped by far less expensive unmanned aerial vehicles.

Weapons procurement is also plagued by redundancy: More than one branch of the armed services may develop different systems that accomplish the same goal. This could range from small-caliber bullets being developed for each branch up to entire weapons platforms.

Then there's the chicken-and-egg problem. New weapons usually address specific needs, but the reverse can occur. Military leaders can simply be dazzled by new technologies, and develop weapons to exploit them. "These are often solutions in search of problems," cautions analyst Loren Thompson of the Arlington, Virginia-based Lexington Institute, a Department of Defense watchdog organization. Meanwhile, U.S. military supremacy has made certain weapons systems seem like overkill--the submarine fleet, for example. In the case of the supercavitating torpedo described in this article, skeptics ask where the need is. "If we ever face a hostile navy again

I'd like to take a look at it," says Thompson. "Obviously it's an improvement over what we have, but what's the enemy? It's not enough to have a weapon that can use new technology creatively. It needs to answer a valid military need or threat." It's also wise to recognize that the technological supremacy that drove U.S. forces into the heart of Baghdad in record time won't necessarily forestall the low-tech agony of the fight that has followed.

To streamline weapons development, in the mid-1990s the Department of Defense implemented its advanced concept technology demonstration program, a sort of try-before-you-buy setup that helps bypass usual R&D hurdles. One result: In 1997 the Air Force, after only two-and-a-half years of development, put the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle into service. Then, in 2002, with only minimal testing, they equipped several of the drones with Hellfire missiles and used one to attack an al Qaeda vehicle in Yemen. "Someone came up with the idea and just did it," says Patrick Garrett, an associate analyst at GlobalSecurity.org. "It harkens back to the good old days of WWII."

Another example of DoD-backed corner-cutting: the littoral combat ship, a versatile vessel with interchangeable modules that can be a minesweeper one day and a special forces troop lander the next. "It normally takes a decade or so for a new ship class to be decided," says Garrett, "but the Navy put out the bid in 2002, had five or six shipbuilders come up with designs, and they're hoping to start construction in 2005. That's a major feat."

Officials hope new technologies will shorten combat, minimize casualties, and enable attacks to be carried out with greater precision.

Many weapons in the pipeline, such as the space-launched darts and electromagnetic railgun, will use no explosives at all, relying instead on kinetic energy to destroy targets. Some, like Metal Storm, will use electricity rather than mechanical firing mechanisms. Laser weapons will disable enemy gear with heat rather than force, providing pinpoint accuracy and speed-of-light delivery.
" The article then gets into the meat of a few of the weapon systems currently under very real consideration including:
A KINETIC MISSILE THAT FLIES AT MACH 7
A LASER CANNON THAT BLASTS FROM THE AIR
SPACE-LAUNCHED DARTS THAT STRIKE LIKE METEORS
A GUN THAT FIRES A MILLION ROUNDS A MINUTE [Metal Storm Limited -, see Metal Storm Videos
For more, see Space: The Final Battlefield? and Wired News: Pentagon Preps for War in Space. I did a research paper with a collegue a couple of years ago that argued that most technology spending in the US was driven by national security issues. Or, call it a national paranoia driven budget. I'll post more on this later.

More points to ponder
Wired 12.05: VIEW, Robots and the Rest of Us by Bruce Sterling:
"Since when do machines need an ethical code? For 80 years, visionaries have imagined robots that look like us, work like us, perceive the world, judge it, and take action on their own. The robot butler is still as mystical as the flying car, but there's trouble rising in the garage. In Nobel's vaulted ballroom, experts uneasily point out that automatons are challenging humankind on four fronts.

First, this is a time of war. Modern military science is attempting to pacify tribal peoples with machines that track and kill by remote control. Even the resistance's weapons of choice are unmanned roadside bombs, commonly triggered by transmitters designed for radio-controlled toys.

The prospect of autonomous weapons naturally raises ethical questions. Who is to be held morally accountable for an unmanned war crime? Are machines permitted to give orders? In a world of networked minefields and ever-smarter bombs, are we blundering into mechanized killing fields we would never have built by choice?

The second ominous frontier is brain augmentation, best embodied by the remote-controlled rat recently created at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. Rats are ideal lab animals because most anything that can be done to a rat can be done to a human. So this robo-rat, whose direction of travel can be determined by a human with a transmitter standing up to 547 yards away, evokes a nightmare world of violated human dignity, a place where Winston Smith of Orwell's 1984 isn't merely eaten by rats but becomes one."


Escalating computeer security
Atom-photon link demoed TRN 060204:
"Practical quantum information processing is likely to require atoms to process and store information, and photons to transmit information within and between quantum computers. The trick is finding a way to transfer information from atoms to photons and back.

Researchers from the University of Michigan have taken a significant step in that direction by entangling a cadmium ion held in a vacuum by radio waves, and a single, free-flying ultraviolet photon. An ion is a charged atom.

Entanglement, dubbed spooky-action-at-a-distance by Einstein, is a weird ability of particles like atoms and photons. When particles are entangled, their properties, like polarization, remain linked regardless of the distance between them. Polarization is the orientation of a photon's electric field. Entanglement is most often accomplished between like particles.

Entangling an ion and a photon makes it possible to instantly know the state of the ion by measuring the photon, wherever the photon is. 'Even if the photon traveled [several] light years to Alpha Cantauri before detection, the Alpha Centaurian who detected the photon would know what state the ion... on Mother Earth... was in,' said Boris Blinov, a research fellow at the University of Michigan.

This is potentially useful in quantum cryptography, which taps the properties of particles to provide theoretically perfect security. Two people can share a series of quantum particles and use them as random numbers to encrypt and decrypt messages. The process provides perfect security because when an eavesdropper observes the particles, he unavoidably alters them, making the security breach detectable.

Ion-photon entanglement also promises to advance quantum computing. Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain problems like cracking secret codes and searching large databases far faster than the best possible classical computer. Quantum computers work by checking every possible solution to a problem using one set of operations rather than checking possibilities one by one as today's classical computers do."


 
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Sunday, June 06, 2004
  Re--adding Shock and Awe

I meant to re-post the link earlier, but just never got around to it, so here is Shock and Awe. I know, Kynn admits to not posting there as much as he used to, but when he does, it's usually very good.

Besides, I like anyone who blogs between role playing games, and attends comic book conventions. 
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GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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