Monday, February 28, 2011

libya problem

after you read this nyt article, i'll ask one question:
BENGHAZI, Libya — Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war...

An international campaign to force Colonel Qaddafi from power gathered pace on Monday as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions. As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.”
i'd like to see all tyrants disappear, the violent ones like (q/kh/g)addafi quicker than others. but which law allows obama to seize his assets, and does that seizure constitute a declaration of war?

it's a free country

or not

Thursday, February 24, 2011

those who are ruled can now communicate

the title is one comment from this article about worldwide upheaval:
"The fateful quarter-century leading up to the World War I was a time when the world of Privilege still existed in Olympian luxury and the world of Protest was heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate. The age was the climax of a century of the most accelerated rate of change in history, a cataclysmic shaping of destiny.

Sound familiar?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

it'll never happen 2

i wish there were some laws that would make our nations roads safer, or some kind of governmental authority to enforce safe driving - and i'm not talking about those few agents patrolling empty roads to collect a velocity tax.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"the fate of individual freedom in a neo-collectivist age"

Roger Kimball:
"At least since LBJ and his preposterously misnamed “Great Society” programs, the United States has been lurching down the collectivist path. The government has intruded itself in one aspect of life after the next, always with ruinous results."

Friday, February 18, 2011

if you can't say something nice,

say something funny

so basically

after my vacation around the sturgis area and having watched many american chopper reruns, i'm starting to think that biker culture - except for actual gang members - has mostly devolved into one perpetual "easy rider" cosplay.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

a better valentines day thought

it's about time to revamp my previous practical valentines post:
Here's a great idea for Valentine's Day:

Give your "significant other" potatoes.

Let's take some time to rethink the common Valentine's Day gifts. First, there's roses. Their only purpose is to be pretty, and they only last about a week or two. Giving roses is like saying "My love for you is fleeting, and based solely on your appearance". Roses reinforce that message of fickleness by 1) twisting in the wind, and 2) wilting if not pampered. Roses also have thorns, and you probably do not want your significant other associating you with "pain" any more than he/she already does.

Next, there's chocolates. They may be well-received at first, but the risks of weight gain and health problems outweigh the benefits. Also, since 97% of the population is on some diet or another, the consumption of chocolate may lead to guilt issues about food. Those guilt issues could fester in other ways, and your "sweetie" may become addicted to guilty pleasures - anything from shoplifting to secret office affairs to drug smuggling - none of which contribute to a happy home.

Lingerie? No way! That's as insulting as saying "I don't like how your body looks - please cover it up." (Trivia: The word "lingerie" is the ancient French word for "paint job".)

Now think about potatoes. They last much longer than flowers, and are more nutritious and wholesome than chocolates. Potatoes are durable and do not melt in the sun. Even when left unattended, they will often actually sprout and grow. That part alone makes it a good symbol, but there's more! Potatoes are far more useful than almost any other gift (except appliances, which everyone knows should never be mentioned before Presidents' Day).

There are many ways to enjoy potatoes! You can:
  • let them grow in a cup of water in your windowsill
  • use them to copy simple graphics
  • peel them, mash them, julienne them
  • boil them, bake them, fry them
  • make chips from them
  • play games with them (okay, just two games, "mr potato head" and "toss")
  • make a battery with them
Giving your loved one potatoes is like saying "I have many ways in which I show my love for you". You just can't do any of those things with flowers or candy (except for tossing them). Potatoes are roots, which reminds your significant other of the deep-rooted-ness of your love. And although potatoes may not be as visually attractive as flowers, they are still wonderful. The gift of potatoes says "It doesn't matter at all what you look like, I'll still love you".

If and If Not

One line of this just popped into my head, so I expanded on the idea to rewrite the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling from a pessimist/realist viewpoint:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
You should start looking for a better job.

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
Congratulations! You'd be a great politician.

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
Try running on the Republican ticket.

If you can dream, and not make dreams your master;
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;
Stick with the thinking.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Ask your doctor for some anti-anhedonia medication.

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
You'll have no problem watching CNN.

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Stop, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
Please seek help for gambling addiction.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
Try out for the next season of "Survivor".

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
You must be living under a rock.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Instead of "Survivor", try out for the track team.

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you're a fictitious character,
And do not have to suffer fools like I do!

a valentines day thought

"We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the bridge and Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there bravely while the rest retr . . . Mazarbul. We still . . . but hope u . . . Óin’s party went five days ago but today only four returned. The pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin - we cannot get out. The end comes soon. We hear drums, drums in the deep . . . They are coming"

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011

it'll never happen

but it's an interesting idea:
"(Let the US buy Mexico) and en masse, move Israel to the Yucatan peninsula. It lacks the Biblical back-story, but it gets one of the USA’s stoutest allies out of the middle of the Musselman basket of snakes, lets those hunyaps rip each other’s guts out."
p.s. i'd never heard the word "hunyap" before, but i can guess what it means. the closest sounding word i knew was "honyock", which means an otherwise intelligent person who does something uncharacteristically stupid.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

egypt interests

update: Lileks on the abysmal coverage of the riots in Egypt:

"Here’s the problem:

I can’t stop watching the live feed on Al-Jazeera. I’ve watched dawn break on Liberation Square in the last half hour, watched Molotov cocktails arc across the screen, the thin bands of “pro-Mubarak protestors” – goons, in other words, security forces in street garb – heaving stones at the protestors...

Nothing on DirecTV covers the story. Nothing. CNN at this moment has Piers Morgan – who? WHO? – interview Baba Fargin’ Wawa about something or other, which is like cutting into the news of the Iranian revolution to grill Hedda Hopper about her favorite interviews.

Oh, update: CNN is now showing a video of events in Cairo at 4:45 AM, because they’re replaying the Piers Morgan show. I don’t know what Barbara Walters is saying about it, and I couldn’t care less.

Okay, I turned the volume up. She was talking about the protests but now she’s back to discussing her early career... I have a dish on the roof talking to a satellite in space, and I can’t pull down one channel covering this. I wonder how many other people are stabbing the remote, thinking hey, I’d like to see the story covered. It’s got to be somewhere between these 47 juicer informercials and preconception-reinforcing talk-shows.

...National and international news has to be updated hourly, or it’s still fishwrap. Without the added functionality of, you know, actual fishwrap."


update & bump: here's more insight

this is one of the few articles i could find that was more concerned with the big picture of what's currently happening in egypt than that country's internet cutoff.

office space

You mean there's someone else out there who has to deal with unfair complaints from co-workers? Inconceivable!

Lileks handled a banal assignment with intelligence and humor, and...
"...received a substantial dressing-down for not following orders and carrying out my assignments, and held my tongue throughout. There are moments in life when you sit there and take it, because there’s only one response possible and it would just spoil everything, forever, permanently. The sort of response that burns working relationships down to the ground and salts the earth.

I actually replayed that event in my head today, and tried to remember what I wanted to say. I was glad I did not say it. But let’s just say that was the last time I got assigned to a banal, straight-news story that involved going out and talking to someone.

Ever unloaded on someone at work? Come to think of it, I never have. The few times someone’s taken me to task I’ve either taken it because I deserved it, or because I’m not an Escalator. My instincts are to de-escalate, perhaps because I fear what would happen if plain truths were spoken with bounteous gusto. Or maybe because I’m chicken. Or maybe because I don’t care. A man can live with two out of those three."
My instincts are also to de-escalate, for similar reasons. But, his "moments in life" are my "at least twice a week"...