The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.
Friday, November 26, 2004
A gem from a beautiful setting
If you are interested in what is really happening in Iraq and the Middle East, you want to be reading Juan Coles' web logInformed Comment.
If you want to know the dismal truth about Falujah and the upcoming Iraq elections, you should read Mark Levine's guest contribution to Coles' web log, Iraq's Lose-Lose Scenario.
If you want to see a stunning insight into the Information Age from Levine's contribution to Cole, just keep on reading:
The irony of the twenty-first century Information Age is that the American public is uninformed as never before about the most crucial information in our lives. The new Age of Ignorance amidst information riches is made possible precisely because modern means of communication lend themselves to manipulation by wealthy, powerful forces that understand how to make an emotional impact that will obscure the real issues. This observation is as true of the Baath Party as it is of the Republican Party, as true of al-Jazeerah as it is of Fox Cable News.
At no point did anyone, including Chairman Powell, positioned now like Attila at the head of the Huns, produce one single living creature -- man, woman, child, toddler, infant, newborn, late-term fetus, dog, cat, rooster, horse or parakeet -- who saw the briefly exposed nipple and was in any tangible way harmed by it. Like most of the halftime entertainment, it was tastelessly inappropriate, but the ensuing mass fuss is a farce that has made America an international laughingstock again.
And then, to clear your brain, we have innuendo in a clip from a British kids' TV show from the 70s that lets fly with all manner of quite unbelievable chat and furry-costumed byplay, leading up to a mass rendition of "the plucking song", having more fun than Colin Powell ever dreamed.
The TV clip is safe for work because no one would ever believe what they were hearing and seeing.
I don't even want to get calls on my cell phone. I only have it to connect with AAA. I certainly don't want to play games on my phone, listen to music in stereo on my phone, or, grotesquerie supreme, look at pornography on my phone.
Instead of bending the knee to some guru in a Nehru, some higher spirit with an outstretched palm, some baloney-rhyming phony, you can take all your mystical needs to the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn.
Praetorius (neither the composer nor the organist, though fully composed and organic) offers the following meditation on French ("tongue kissing") and English ("making that cue ball behave"):
Since, from the Fox/Limbaugh viewpoint, the French are Part of the Problem and Pansies Unsuitable as Allies, I propose that promptly at 0900 Zulu time one week hence, the US military command prohibit the use by the American forces of military terms that have passed into English from French. This should remove any friction caused by the continual intrusion of French terms into American military orders, plans, dialog, chatter, etc. and everybody can relax a bit.
Using resources at hand (the dictionary built into Microsoft Bookshelf '95*) I've started unsystematically compiling a list (below) by looking up the etymology of any random martial term that came readily to mind. I should get back to work now, but I intend to continue at home and would be glad for any assistance in compiling the list.
Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.
Class 1: verboten! These terms (according MB95) passed into English from French, Old French, Old North French, Norman (no, I don't mean Schwarzkopf), etc.
advance admiral ally ammunition arm armor army array artillery assault attack bandolier barracks barrage barricade barrel base battalion battery battle bayonet beret berm bivouac bomb/bombard boot brigade/brigadier bullet caisson caliber camouflage camp cannon captain cartridge casualty cavalry chamber charge colonel combat command company corporal corps defeat defend/defense deploy division
duty enemy engage ensign epaulet fatigues feint flank force fort/fortify fusillade gauge grenade guard helmet infantry invade ort/fortify fusillade gauge grenade guard helmet infantry invade lance lieutenant line logistics machine maneuver march marine marshal materiel navy officer order parapet personnel platoon powder rampart rank regiment retreat revetment rifle round rout sergeant service siege soldier squad strategy supply tactic transport trench troop/trooper volley war/warrior
Class 2: mongrels These arrived in English via some other language, but passed through French before that.
Class 3: copasetic These arrived via some non-French language, with no French having insinuated itself along the way.
Class 4: no-man's land MB95 gives no etymology for these. Some (or most) may seem suspiciously French in provenance, but fair is fair and with no evidence of Whence Merde Descendeth, we won't attack them.
blockade enlist formation mobilize fortification
Although the remaining word stock of the Franks in French is rather small, MB95 lists an unusually high proportion of the military terms in Class 1 as having Germanic roots.
MB95 sometimes gives different points of entry for words with the same root. In each of the pairs squad/squadron, tactic/tactics MB95 lists the first as arriving through French, the second elsewhere.
All we need is a 4% increase in military force and democracy will bloom and flourish
According to an AP story I can't seem to find at the moment, Middle East commander Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith says the US cannot guarantee the January elections in Iraq with the 138,000 troops there now, but with 143,000 troops everything will be fine. He'll just keep back an extra 5000 for two more months.
And, shoot up a few more mosques and hospitals, but he didn't mention that.
Meanwhile, let's all get to working up a good mad at Iran. We'll be needing it soon, apparently.
Or North Korea.
Or Lebanon or Libya or Chechnya or some damn where. Provincetown? San Francisco?
Chainsaw Al Dunlap was a bust-out artist disguised as a capitalist genius. He managed to get a reputation for financial acumen by simple tactics willfully applied. These consisted of shutting down factories, laying off workers, and forcing customers to buy goods up to two years before they needed them while romancing stock analysts and business journalists. This approach had the happy results of driving the stock price up, whereupon Al would cash in his options, pull the ripcord on his golden parachute and move on to the next company. Usually, the previous company woke up the next morning feeling sloppy, sore, soiled and ill-used (which, for a company, comes down to being broke with a slumping stock), but by that time the genius was off sweet-talking the next sucker and garnering magazine covers as the savior of capitalism.
And then came Sunbeam. Al's act was finely tuned by then. All critics were enemies. Plants that knew the arcane art of making fine wires for electric blankets were shut down. They can do all that in Mexico, or so Al said. The Chainsaw cut deep. Al posed as Rambo. Sunbeam, despite its financial problems, had products with good reputations and Al was able to convince customers that buying next year's blankets and coffee-makers at this year's prices with this year's money was a dandy idea. Whether they would buy year after next's products next year was a question left unexamined, except by a couple of disdained analysts and enemy journalists. Nonetheless, the question arose, inevitably, and as foreordained, the once-happy stockholders were forced to drive him away before the entire company was detroyed. Al now sits snarling atop his piles of money, no longer working for anyone.
The whole story is told in lively words and detailed reporting in Chainsaw: The Notorious Career of Al Dunlap in the era of profit-at-any-price by John A. Byrne, 1999, Harper Business.
The Incredibles is getting good reviews all around, and I am prepared to ditto the dithyrambs myself soon, but, in the meantime, I can't let this pass. Someone (source already lost to history) referred to Elastigirl as "the first sexy cartoon character".
Granted, there is a sexual mystery to an elastic girl that deserves contemplation, but, really, in reverse order, Jessica Rabbit, Red from the Tex Avery "Little Red Riding Hood" cartoons, Cleo the Goldfish from Pinocchio, of whom Walt Disney observed, "There's a kind of a sexy wiggle about a goldfish", and, insert another really here, Betty Boop.
Here's a new web log, Democratic Freedom, with the motto: "Building the bridge between liberals and libertarians within the Democratic Party".
Slightly censored quotation:
Those of us who believe in freedom, in all its forms – the right to speak freely, trade freely, f2k freely, form businesses freely, invent freely, write software freely, download freely, blog freely – must now face the realization that one of America's two major parties has been captured by people who use the rhetoric of freedom to cloak an agenda of cultural suppression, slow erosion of civil liberties, and endless war.
The wooden library, or xylothek (from the Greek words for tree, xylon, and storing place, theke) consists of 217 volumes describing 213 different species or varieties of trees and shrubs.
A xylothek is generally speaking a collection of simple pieces of wood specimens placed together in some kind of cupboard. In a refined form it is in the shape of "books" where you can find details from the tree inside, everything arranged as a "library". This latter form flourished in Germany around 1790-1810. Four different manufacturers existed and three of them offered their products for sale. The Alnarp collection is an example of that.
Each "book" describes a certain tree species and is made out of the actual wood (the "covers"). The spine is covered by the bark, where mosses and lichens from the same tree are arranged. "Books" of shrubs are covered with mosses with split branches on both covers and spines
Great and silly fun to be had at www.madlibs.org. Here are my results from mad-libbing Linux Release Notes:
Madlib kernel release 1.2.3
These are the release grounds for Madlib version 1.2.3.archive them ass over teakettle, as they tell you what this is all about, tell how to shoot the pearl, and what to do if something goes wrong.
What's worse than eating the seed corn? Having it stolen.
It is really impossible to keep up with these people, and there are better web logs than this one for doing that, but still, doesn't this just stink?
As part of sweeping "economic restructuring" implemented by the Bush administration in Iraq, Iraqi farmers will no longer be permitted to save their seeds. Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US corporations -- including seeds the Iraqis themselves developed over hundreds of years. That is because in recent years, transnational corporations have patented and now own many seed varieties originated or developed by indigenous peoples. In a short time, Iraq will be living under the new American credo: Pay Monsanto, or starve.
A record FCC fine thanks to a half-hearted letter-writing campaign by three people. All discovered by web log Buzzmachine:
It is Constitutionally abhorrent that only three people can cause the government to abuse the First Amendment and attempt to censor and chill speech.
And the chill is real. Because of the FCC's rulings and fines against Viacom for Janet Jackson... and Howard Stern... and Fox in this complaint... and Bono for his F word, 66 ABC stations refused to air "Saving Private Ryan." The FCC's rules are vague and its enforcement irresponsibly inconsistent and so the stations said they could not take the chance.
I always wanted to known as a sensitive poet not a person who taught a generation to yell an obscene word. But then again it seems to have given such younger generation acts like Snoop Doggy Dog an opportunity to have a prosperous career where as before that might not have been possible.
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
- H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
As all Kingston Trio fans know, "Zombie Jamboree" originated with Lord Invader and his 12 Penetrators. The penetrating JO dug deep into the graveyard of memory to come up with some more lyrics:
One female zombie just wouldn't behave,
She said, "I want you for my slave!
"I'm gonna make you call me sweetie pie!"
I said, "No, no, get back, you lie!"
She said, "I may be lying, but then you see,
That's when you gonna kiss this dead zom-bie ..."
Did you ever see such a sight in your life?
Can you imagine me with a *zombie* wife?
If you look at a pure red state/blue state map (not one of those reassuring purple maps) it may be that the real difference between Bush states and Kerry states is the difference between rear-wheel-drive state (where drifting on curves is highly valued) and front-wheel-drive states where the ability to drive proficiently in snow is more valued. All wiped out, you might say, by four-wheel-drive mania.
Have you at any time meditate how much a common chap
hires for his medicinal drug? Pain pills, drugs to better the
select of real life, mass cut back narcotics, and many more.
I convey you the equivalent remedy, the plant version -- the equi=
quality, the equal formula at a greatly wise monetary value.
That's the text version. Strangely, the HTML is different:
Have you ever ponder how much a common person
hires for his medicament? Anodynes, drugs to improve the
quality of life, weight cut medicine, and many more.
I fetch you the equal drugs, the vegetable reading - the equivale=
choice, the equal recipe at a very reasonable price.
Barren scorched earth covered with dead bodies and garbage and toxic waste
From the Matron of Honor:
George Bush dies and goes to heaven and is met by St. Peter, who tells him they seldom come across Republicans; before they can let him in he will need to spend a one-day trial period in both Heaven and Hell to see where he feels most suited.
Dubya goes to Hell, and when he opens his eyes he finds himself on a lush golf course – the sun is shining on a beautiful clubhouse and standing there is his dad and thousands of other Republicans, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Jerry Falwell, Colin Powell and the whole gang.
They wave and greet Dubya and reminisce about the good times back on earth. They play a round of golf and dine on lobster and caviar. The Devil himself hands Bush a huge frosted Margarita. Dubya finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a very friendly guy who tells funny jokes and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like his Yale Skull and Bones brothers back in his college days.
They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Bush heads back to Heaven. For the next day Bush gets to hang out with a bunch of reasonably good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other as decently as they are able. While the food is good, there's no lobster and many of the people that he meets are from decidedly lower class backgrounds. Worst of all, Jesus is there and turns out to be a kind of Jewish hippie peacenik.
"Whoa," Dubya says to himself, "Pat Robertson never prepared me for this!"
At the end of the 24 hours St. Peter asks Dubya where he'd like to spend Eternity. Dubya makes a show of reflecting for a few moments before replying. "Well, to be honest I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."
The next thing he knows he opens his eyes and as far as he can see is nothing but utter devastation on an unimaginable scale; a barren scorched earth covered with dead bodies and garbage and toxic waste. His friends are all chained together and moaning in pain as they shuffle about trying to find shelter from the burning debris that falls continuously from the sky.
The Devil comes over and Bush stands there in shock. "I don't understand," says Dubya. "Where's the clubhouse and the lobster"?
The Devil smiles. "Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us."
After the election, my congressman, Barney Frank, said, "People voted for the Republican melody, let's see how they like the lyrics."
Speaking of zombies: Before cookies became incredibly evil, malign creatures that suck the brains out of unsuspecting web surfers, the cookie program was a simple little spouter of wisdom that showed up whenever you log on. This morning's cookie, via my Unix account on The World, the oldest ISP there is, was as follows:
Back in the cosy illusion that is movie-making, dawn is not far off, so for my last take – where I am shot in the head and my poor zombie brains get blown out – I dash back to make-up to have a latex bladder and hair cover applied for the entry wound and a massive compressed air-driven device glued to the back of my head from where the gore will shoot forth.
If you are fearful about zombie attacks on your own family, check out Zombie Alert.
Zombie Alert, by Onko, is the world leader in zombie warning systems. The patented cyclo-kinetic energy radiation server senses zombie presence up to seventeen hundred yards away and emits a shrill warning capable of waking the most sound sleeper. The links below contain the details about Zombie Alert and other products by Onko Enterprises. You owe it to your loved ones to take a few minutes and review this important information.
Comic book artist Alex Ross throws a Hallowe'en costume party every year. Here's a report, with pictures of many fabulous (literally, I don't waste good words on lesser meanings) costumes, with the host's evocation of The Spectre perhaps the best of all.
Link courtesy of Number Two Son. You may have to click through a couple of minor annoyances to get there.
Ed's bonus: The Spectre is fabled for having the greatest origin story of any superhero. He had to die.
The great essayist E.B. White was asked that question by the Writers War Board in the summer of 1944. This was his reply.
Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don't in "Don't shove". It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in voting booths, the feeling of communion in libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn't been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It's the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.
The story line of the party-line right-wing comic strip Mallard Fillmore has been "what it will be like when Kerry is president" all this week.
The true-blue Wall Street Journal editorial page weakly opined yesterday that George W. "W" Bush just might be "too strong a leader" for wimpy Americans.
The spunky but trivially Republican tabloid Boston Herald had a full front-page picture of Kerry and the large headline "CAN HE TAKE BUSH?" with the woeful little footnote, "Not a chance says confident President".
Finally, I've been looking through all my various messes for some cool web log items that don't have anything with politics.
Just in case all those Elvis Costello fans who came visiting for this are still with us, here via the ever-erudite Pseudopodium is the most impassioned, allusive, and doggone engaging review of an Elvis Costello album that you are likely to read this year:
Ridiculous stuff happens so often these days, you may have forgotten the last summer's contretemps in which Attorney General John "Nose Singer" Ashcroft said there was a heightened terrorist threat, whereupon Tom "Wide Body" Ridge responded that there was no heightened terrorist threat, and furthermore, he was in charge of the color and he wasn't going to change it. The Attorney General, undaunted, replied, "Well, there may not be a Homeland Security brand® increased threat, but there is definitely an Attorney General brand® increased threat".
Whatever. While we wait to be told next what to think, just what is the setting of the terror alert level today? Is it red, orange, or yellow?
Do you, as an alert citizen, know what the color is today?
Do you know what your activities should be appropriate to that color?
The answer: It is black. It has always been black and it always will be.
All the terrorists have to do to throw us into a tizzy is pick up the phone, drop a few synchronized smoke bombs, and settle back into the background for six months. Or, mail off some more anthrax. No one will even chase them for that.
If they really want to do us harm, they can do it in thousands of ways. How about a pipe mortar? That is, a pipe with some explosive in the bottom of it and a bomb projectile, that can be set up, fired at a fuel tank or crowded stadium, and abandoned in minutes, leaving the authorities a circle three miles wide to search.
Or, they could exercise their ingenuity. Chips get hot. What about a chip that can get so hot it will explode in flame? In every new TV set, filled with chips manufactured you know not where or why. Set to go off just before everybody gets up. Or a truckload of gasoline and a truckload of oxygen, parked next to each other, hooked together with some sort of pump and a torch on a timer. Or whatever the last ten Tom Clancy novels suggest.
Any team on Junkyard Wars, any bunch of mechanics, any graduate of the Navy Seals, Special Forces, Green Berets, or CIA, any farmer, for mercy's sake, can cook up a bomb or other personal weapon in a few days. Any industrial-engineering shop, hardware-development team, any movie special-effects crew, could come up with something more elaborate in a few months. Miners, building imploders, hot rodders, teenaged boys, woodworkers, campers, toy-train enthusiasts, model-aeronauts, all kinds of people that you know. Not to mention what could be done by the hundreds of thousands of people actually trained in devising and manufacturing weapons.
The way to get the terrorists is not scare the crap out of everybody, to impound box cutters, or, for that matter, to inspect the 95 per cent of shipping containers that are never inspected. The way to get the terrorists is to go after them, not after American liberties. The Bush campaign/administration laughs at this. They disdainfully call it police work. The fact is, the cops might have gotten a bunch of terrorists. This crew hasn't gotten a one.
How about using the tools that we have, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, trust in the people to fight terror? Aside from voting and constitutions and politicians and songs and bunting, there are two things that truly characterize a democracy:
The Rule of Law
The Open Society
Can anyone honestly say that the current party in power has any commitment to either one? Yet those are the things that can make us win, not only for ourselves, but for our enemies.
I don't want to be from the country that tortures, that jails without recourse, that expects a personal loyalty oath to the president, that wants to shovel money at churches, that gives my money to billionaires, that attacks without provocation, that warms the globe, melts the constitution, that makes fun of military heroism, and is operated on such a banana-republican basis that people like me who try to keep up can't remember the half of it and people who don't keep up hardly suspect a thing. And, is incompetent and stupid as well as evil. I don't want to be from the country that keeps George W. "W" Bush as president.
I say this, not because I hate my country, but because I love it, down to the last bubbleheaded Republican sucker in Wyoming. Thus, my misgivings:
(1) Bush gets reelected by hook or by crook (his two big chances), and, free from the restraint of having to get elected again, does all the things he hasn't dared to do yet, than which, look out!
(2) This leads inevitably to a political crisis in which the whole military-industrial state, the ties that bind the states together, and the very idea of a large rich democracy is thrown up for grabs. That is, secession, revolution, civil war, and horror.
So, if he wins, am I going to some place else? No. I am going to stay right here and fight for the land that I love.
(1) John Kerry in a convincing wins in both the electoral college and popular vote.
(2) Horrible crap from the Republicans.
When the Republicans took office through activist judicial fiat, the Clinton administration provided the traditional folders filled with information on ongoing issues and situations, which were promptly shredded by the Republicans, who were more intent on spreading lying stories about how the outgoing administration had pulled all the "W" keys off the typewriters and glued the pages of the Constitution together.
That is, they have already demonstrated their attitude about the transition, and are likely to pull all the amendments off the Constitution and glue the doors the Supreme Court shut in the time between their defeat tomorrow and the inauguration in January.
I am deadly serious about the joking here. How many executive orders, pardons, and interim court appointments, foolish military attacks and just plain spiteful cruel stupidities can be accomplished in under three months? We still may need to impeach Bush for actions taken in that period, although a prudent President-elect Kerry may counsel waiting for the criminal trials, particularly the war-crimes trials.
Bush is absolutely not to be trusted, either in his intentions or his actions, and defeat tomorrow will bring out the absolute worst in him, which is saying a lot as he has gotten progressively worse with each passing revelation of the last four years.
And, if we get through that, we will have to get through the next four years as the Kerry admininistration deals with the succession of train wrecks – Constitutional, ecological, international, fiscal – that have been left behind by this crew of hateful wreckers and heedless destroyers while the losers howl madly.
For a cowardly, lying incompetent who hates what this country stands for, George W. "W" Bush has accomplished much.