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  xSaturday, March 22, 2003

retro gaming post of the day

aotp main menu
f-6f hellcat external view
zero cockpit view

I have an old 100 MHz Pentium that I use for a platform for various anime and abandonware games. The other day I successfully installed and configured one of my favorite combat flight sims, Aces of the Pacific. (Configuration was the real trick; it requires a huge chunk of DOS conventional memory, and I had to call upon some long-dormant skillz to manipulate the config files just right.)

But what fun! AotP lets you pilot aircraft for the American or Japanese sides through a variety of WWII missions, from dogfighting fighters to dive-bombing ships in a Douglass SBD Dauntless to strafing airbases. The flight model is pretty decent, and the detail is fairly high for a 256-color game with simple polygon models. Combat is actually fairly hard, just as it was in that era (the manual is right when it says one should not fire until the enemy aircraft almost fills the out-the-canopy view, and that's pretty good advice). Career options are available that let the player "enlist" in the Japanese Navy or Army air forces or the US Army, Navy or Marines, and provide different mission types depending on the role chosen. The game also provides information on various Japanese and American ships, aircraft, and famous aces of the war.

  xFriday, March 21, 2003

grudge match

CalPundit Kevin Drum points out, via Tapped, an ominous WaPo article about "George Bush's ability to hold a grudge pretty much forever:"
As the United States wages war this week following a pair of ultimatums to the United Nations and Iraq, the airwaves and editorial pages of the world have been full of accusations that President Bush and his administration are guilty of coercive and harrying behavior. Even in typically friendly countries, Bush and the United States have been given such labels this week as "arrogant bully" (Britain), "bully boys" (Australia), "big bully" (Russia), "bully Bush" (Kenya), "arrogant" (Turkey) and "capricious" (Canada). Diplomats have accused the administration of "hardball" tactics, "jungle justice" and acting "like thugs."

At home, where support for the war on Iraq is strong and growing, such complaints of strong-arm tactics by the Bush administration nonetheless have a certain resonance -- even among Bush supporters. Though the issues are vastly different, Republican lawmakers and conservative interest groups report similar pressure on allies at home to conform to Bush's policy wishes.

Although all administrations use political muscle on the opposition, GOP lawmakers and lobbyists say the tactics the Bush administration uses on friends and allies have been uniquely fierce and vindictive. Just as the administration used unbending tactics before the U.N. Security Council with normally allied countries such as Mexico, Germany and France, the Bush White House has calculated that it can overcome domestic adversaries if it tolerates no dissent from its friends.

Kevin elaborates: "Bush seems to have an almost pathological desire for obsequious loyalty, and when he says "either you're with us or you're against us," he means he expects you to be with him on everything. The result, though, as Democrats learned last year and Republicans are learning now, is that there's not much payoff for supporting Bush unless you're willing to toe the line as thoroughly as Waylon Smithers donating a kidney to his boss. If you're not — well, you might as well be Al Gore as far as Bush is concerned."

Not a day goes by I'm not glad I didn't vote for this man.


quote of the day

"I'm very, very sad ever to see the day my country did something like this."
--Vote Quimby, Thursday, March 20, 2003


'a reaganite republican takes on bush'

The Left Coaster points to this Washington Times column by the Hoover Institution's Paul Craig Roberts, saying "When a Reaganite Republican from the Hoover Institution attacks Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the deceptions used by Bush in driving us there, you have to take notice. When that same columnist draws comparisons to Hitler and mentions the word impeachment, you have to sit up and read it closely."
Mr. Bush has permitted a small cadre of neoconservatives to isolate him from world opinion, putting him at odds with the United Nations and America's allies.

What better illustrates Mr. Bush's isolation than the fact that he delivered his March 16 ultimatum to the U.N. concerning Iraq from an air base in the Azores, where there was no prospect for massive demonstrations against his policy. Standing with Mr. Bush against the world were Britain and Spain.

The U.S., once a guarantor of peace, is now perceived in the rest of the world as an aggressor. Its victim is a small Muslim nation unable to defend its own air space, much less to project power beyond its borders. If Iraqis attempt to resist invasion, they will be slaughtered.

On the eve of Mr. Bush's ultimatum, it came to light that a key piece of evidence used by the Bush administration to link Iraq to a nuclear weapons program is a forgery. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has asked the FBI to investigate the origin of the forged documents that the Bush administration used to make its case that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction.

(continued in the next post)


(continued from the previous post)

...Thanks to his neoconservative cadre, outside the U.S. Mr. Bush is now a disliked and distrusted politician. Mr. Bush's enemies will exploit parallels to "naked aggression." After many decades of U.S. leadership in building an "international order," Mr. Bush's enemies will hold him accountable for his defiance of this order.

As much as those of us who prefer national sovereignty to world government lament the fact, the many decades of appealing to "world opinion" and enlisting it in behalf of our foreign policies has resulted in considerable authority being poured into that nebulous concept. In setting Mr. Bush in opposition to this American creation, neoconservatives have exposed him to serious charges. Democrats, who intended to use allegations about the 2000 Florida vote to destroy Mr. Bush's presidency as illegitimate, now have more deadly ammunition.

Mr. Rockefeller will not be the only one to ask if the forged nuclear documents are part of a Bush administration campaign to deceive the public. Polls show that 50 percent of Americans believe it was Iraqis who hijacked the airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Towers and Pentagon. Inattention or media incompetence are the likely explanations for this extraordinary misinformation, but some will now blame deception.

...Mr. Bush and his advisers have forgotten that the power of an American president is temporary and relative. The U.S. is supposed to be the world's leader. For the Bush administration to pursue a policy that sets the U.S. government at odds with the world is to invite comparisons with recklessness that we have not seen in international politics since Nikita Khrushchev tried to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Is Saddam Hussein worth this much grief?

This last point--coming from a conservative point of view--is one I'd wondered about myself. Bush's relentless drive toward a war with Iraq was bolstered only by claims of benefits and mendacious warnings against "doing nothing"; costs were acknowledged only, and offhandedly, on the eve of war. But the time comes when the benefits have to be evaluated against the costs of a widespread perception of the US as the aggressor. Bush clearly regards attacking Iraq as worth any economic or diplomatic price, not that he was especially eager to discuss such matters. It's long since time that the real costs of his obsession were recognized by those on the Right.


media update part 2

Interesting...the byline on the article on blogs in this morning's paper was "Staff and wire reports." I seem to have stumbled on the "wire reports" half...check it out. The Star article begins thus:
Like most Americans, Indiana University law professor Jeff Cooper became a news junkie in the wake of Sept. 11. But after a while, learning what others had to say about current affairs wasn't enough.

"I wanted to not only read a lot about what was happening, but I wanted to say something, too" he said.

So Cooper, 38, lanched a personal Web site to air his political views.

Cable news came of age during the first Persian Gulf War. Online commentary -- or blogging, as it is known -- may have found its moment in this second campaign against Saddam Hussein.

It is an unexpected turn of events.

Web logs -- hence the geekish contraction "blogs" -- began as cyberspatial diaries on which writers posted snippets of whatever came to mind or to their attention. Narcissism and tedious anarchy were the order of the day.

skippy the bush kangaroo points to this L.A. Times article by Tim Rutten on warblogging that begins thus:
Cable news came of age during the first Gulf War. Online commentary -- or blogging, as it is known -- may have found its moment in this second campaign against Saddam Hussein.

It is an unexpected turn of events.

Web logs -- hence the geekish contraction "blogs" -- began as cyberspatial diaries on which writers posted snippets of whatever came to mind or to their attention. Narcissism and tedious anarchy were the order of the day.

(continued in the next post)


(continued from the previous post)

skippy goes on to register his own beefs that have nothing to do with quotation marks:
tim rutten, in yesterday's latimes, writes an extensive article about how blogs are covering the war.

extensive, that is, if you think everyone on the left is dead (don't say anything, mr. helpful!)

rutten give effusive column inches (including specific url addresses of the blogs) to sully, prof. reynolds and m-i-c-k-e-y k-a-u-s-e, but the only left-leaning blog he comes up with is josh marshall's talking points memo, and then, very little coverage compared to the other guys.

Interestingly, since both Jeff Cooper and I could be said to run left-leaning blogs, the Indy Star version of this article turned out to be a tad more balanced (it led with local blogger Jeff Cooper).

I note that in neither case did an editor seem to have a problem with the phrase "Narcissism and tedious anarchy were the order of the day."


simian post of the day


Oh dear Lord, this is funny: Monkey Hot or Not!

(via SixDifferentWays)


support the troops, gop-style

From the Gannett News Service: GOP plan trims vets' benefits to fund tax cut
With hundreds of thousands of American troops poised for combat in Iraq, veterans groups are criticizing a budget plan expected on the House floor this week that would slash Veterans Affairs money by $15 billion in the next decade to help make room for President Bush's proposed tax cuts.

"Cutting already underfunded veterans' programs to offset the costs of tax cuts is indefensible and callous," said Edward R. Heath, national commander of the Disabled American Veterans. "It is unconscionable to cut benefits and services for disabled veterans at a time when we have thousands of our service members in harm's way."

The Republican plan, which the House Budget Committee adopted last week on a party-line vote, would chop $467 billion - 1 percent - from mandatory spending programs including the Veterans Affairs Department, Medicare and Medicaid in the next 10 years to offset $1.5 trillion in tax cuts the president proposes in the same period. The proposal also contains major increases in spending for defense programs and homeland security while achieving a balanced federal budget by 2010.

The VA cuts would take place in disability compensation, education benefits, pensions and health care, according to veterans advocacy groups.

'Nuff said.

(via SixDifferentWays)


swank gallery of the day, wartime edition

bomber nose art

RetroCrush also features a gallery of WWII bomber nose art cuties (a few are not SFW).


retro link of the day

RetroCrush lists the coolest toys ever, including some personal favorites of mine:

  • Simon (that addictive blinking-light electronic game)

  • The $6 Million Man action figure--w00t!

  • Magic 8 Ball (I have one on my desk...)

  • Mattel Electronic Football (although I'd give the nod to Baseball, myself...mine still works, too, but needs a new 9-volt battery.)

  • The Atari 2600 (of course)

  • Mego superhero dolls (I used to have the Star Trek series, too...)

  • Nerf footballs (at least these are still around!)

  • Tonka trucks made out of steel, not plastic

  • And of course, the king of the world, G.I. Joe with Kung-fu grip!

...and many more! Sw33t!


coalition update

Administration flacks have been vocal about the so-called "international support" Bush's war enjoys; it seems like all a nation has to do to get added to the "coalition" is have one of its citizen honk their car horn. However, it looks like the Administration is doing all it can to prevent a proposed UN Genreal Assembly emergency session on the war, which might lead to a very different picture of how the US stands internationally.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States has launched a worldwide diplomatic drive to head off the calling of an emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly to condemn the U.S.-led war on Iraq, diplomats said on Friday.

..."The United States is putting pressure on many countries to resist," said General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic.

U.S. diplomats were opposing a special assembly session and -- if that failed -- to vote against a resolution condemning the United States, Kavan told reporters.

...Unlike the Security Council, whose resolutions can be binding under international law, the General Assembly can make only political statements expressing the sense of the international community.

But an assembly resolution critical of the U.S.-led war would nonetheless be highly embarrassing to both Washington and London.

(via Nathan Newman)


gallery of the day

asia argento

Italian hottie Asia Argento (daughter of giallo director Dario Argento, that last movie I saw Ms. Argento in was Michele Soavi's wacky but cool 1988 horror flick The Church, which was scripted by her father).


i stand corrected

It looks like I spoke too soon..."Shock and Awe" has apparently begun.


hello kitty post of the day

hello kitty laptop

Check it out--a fuzzy pink Hello Kitty laptop computer! Kawaii--and best of all, you can build your own!

(with props to Ted Barlow)


speech of the day

Electrolite points to this awesome speech delivered by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish.
We go to liberate not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country," he said.

"We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.

"There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.

"As for the others I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.

"Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there.

"You will see things that no man could pay to see and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.

"You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.

"Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country. Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you."


parody of the day


Hercubush is a scream! It parodies current events using cut-and-pasted clips from an old Hercules movie.


michael kinsley explains it all

Slate's Michael Kinsley deconstructs Bush's doctrine of "preventative war" and expresses a number of my own objections in the process.
George W. Bush defied embarrassment and slew it with a series of Orwellian flourishes. If the United Nations wants to be "relevant," he said, it must do exactly as I say. In other words, in order to be relevant, it must become irrelevant. When that didn't work, he said: I am ignoring the wishes of the Security Council and violating the U.N. Charter in order to enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution. No, no, don't thank me! My pleasure!!

...What is wrong with Bush's case? Sovereign nations do have the right to act in their own self defense, and they will use that right no matter what the U.N. Charter says or how the Security Council votes. Waiting for an enemy to strike first can indeed be suicidal. So?

So first of all, the right Bush is asserting really has no limits because the special circumstances he claims aren't really special. Striking first in order to pre-empt an enemy that has troops massing along your border is one thing. Striking first against a nation that has never even explicitly threatened your sovereign territory, except in response to your own threats, because you believe that this nation may have weapons that could threaten you in five years, is something very different.

Bush's suggestion that the furtive nature of war in this new century somehow changes the equation is also dubious, and it contradicts his assertion that the threat from Iraq is "clear." Even in traditional warfare, striking first has often been considered an advantage. And even before this century, nations rarely counted on receiving an enemy's official notice of intention to attack five years in advance. Bush may be right that the threat from Iraq is real, but he is obviously wrong that it is "clear," or other nations as interested in self-preservation as we are (and almost as self-interested in the preservation of the United States as we are) would see it as we do, which most do not.

Putting all this together, Bush is asserting the right of the United States to attack any country that may be a threat to it in five years. And the right of the United States to evaluate that risk and respond in its sole discretion. And the right of the president to make that decision on behalf of the United States in his sole discretion. In short, the president can start a war against anyone at any time, and no one has the right to stop him. And presumably other nations and future presidents have that same right. All formal constraints on war-making are officially defunct.

One of the things that perplexes me about the support for this doctrine among . Many on the Right may trust Bush with this kind of power, but I think there's a deliberate blindness to the fact that this power does not rest with Bush personally, but the Presidency. By trusting Bush, they're also trusting every subsequent President with the power to wage war more or less on their say-so. The Founders almost certainly trusted George Washington with that power, but they wisely denied it to him--and all subsequent Presidents--in the Constitution.

And at the very least, the notion of launching a preventative war demands the highest level of accountability from the Administration. As I've pointed out repeatedly, I feel many of the Administration's rationales fail to pass the sniff test, while some appear to be flat-out lies. Whatever threat Iraq may have posed, I feel this assertion of personal power by the President is, in the long run, much more disturbing.

(via Hullabaloo)


i'm curious

As I've mentioned, Planet Swank gets many visitors referred to this blog via Web searches. Just out of curiosity: How many of y'all stop to take a look around? Have any of you made Planet Swank a regular read after finding it via a Web search? Please use the comment thread for this post to let me know. You have my gratitude.


supporting the troops

How nice! MegaTokyo writer/artist Fred "Piro" Gallagher has publicly offered to email the comic to any member of the armed forces who can't access it via the Web. A small gesture but a nice one.



I received from the reporter I spoke to regarding the story on Web logs in the local paper a prompt and courteous reply to the email I sent noting my questioning of the quotations attributed to me.
I assure you, if you were misquoted, it was not deliberate. I have that quote in my notes, but perhaps I misheard you or misunderstood you or just had trouble keeping up, as you were speaking quickly. I'm very sorry if I inadvertently misrepresented your remarks. I've never been accused of this before so I can promise you it is not a common problem for me. If you would like us to run some sort of clarification, please let me know what the quote should have said.

I replied indicating that I don't feel a correction serves much purpose, although I appreciate the offer. I said that unless the reporter objected, I'd note the reply here and leave it at that.


a few random war thoughts

First off, I have no criticism that a hastily launched "decapitation" strike against Saddam appears at this time not to have succeeded. Those are the breaks; if it had worked, it may have done much to bring this war to a swifter and less bloody end, and that's certainly a laudable goal.

My concerns are also somewhat mollified that the so-called "shock and awe" bombing campaign appears at least to be on hold. While the US would no doubt have done what it could to spare civilian lives, I don't see how such a massive aerial assault could avoid inflicting an unacceptably high number of civilian deaths.

For the record, I think "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is a monumentally dumb name for this war. If this Administration was honest, it'd be "Operation Regime Change."

It's truly amazing to me how ferverently (CNN: "White House touts international support for military campaign"; WaPo: "United States Puts a Spin On Coalition Numbers") the Administration and its supporters are touting the "international support" this war supposedly has.
The administration asserts that 44 nations are part of the coalition, but officials reach that number by lumping nations providing military units or logistical assistance with an eclectic group of nations -- such as Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Honduras, Rwanda and the Solomon Islands -- that are voicing only political support. The administration further suggests another 10 or so nations support the campaign but do not wish to be publicly identified.

One measure of international support that highlights the contrast between Dubya's so-called "coalition" and his father's is who's going to pick up the tab. Anyway, Bush had ample opportunity to assemble international support for his war prior to launching it, and failed spectacularly.

That WaPo story also had this telling bit about the Administration's dishonesty in selling its war:
Having raised expectations for months of a swift and relatively bloodless victory, the administration's goal yesterday was to lower them. Fleischer reprised Bush's Wednesday night warning of a conflict that might be "longer and more difficult than some predict."

Also for the record, a quick end to this war does not provide retroactive justification that it was right. Nor would subsequent discovery of any weapons of mass destruction, as it's pretty clear that Bush was never interested in what appeared to be an at least initially successful inspection program. Inspections could have either disarmed Iraq peacefully or, had Saddam genuinely balked, provided a justification for attack that not even the French could deny. Sadly, the Administration seemed to regard program's successes as more of an inconvenience than opportunity.

Finally, it's perplexing and saddening to me how many people--such as the writer of this letter in this morning's local paper--confuse the purported threat posed by Iraq with the 9/11 terrorists. Indeed, one of my concerns is that this war is far more likely to inspire terrorism than to prevent it.

I may explore these thoughts in more detail in subsequent posts.


virus alert

Those lonely, obsessed script kiddies have struck again: A new e-mail worm is making the rounds that tries to lure unwary recipients into activating it by promising spy satellite images of Iraq or a satirical animation of George W. Bush.

The worm, dubbed Ganda-A, spreads by sending itself to e-mail addresses on an infected machine and tries to disable anti-virus and other security software and infect certain files on the hard disk, according to Sophos.

Ganda, which does not appear to be spreading and is rated low risk, sends e-mail in English or Swedish. It is signed by "Uncle Roger in Hornsand, Sweden," who complains in a message about being discriminated against in the Swedish school system, Sophos said.

Subject lines include: "Spy pics," "GO USA!!!!," "G.W Bush animation," and others like "Catlover," and "Disgusting propaganda."

Ganda also sends a message in Swedish to e-mail addresses apparently belonging to Swedish journalists, Sophos said.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, a worm circulated that tricked computer users by pretending to contain images of the World Trade Center attack.


media accuracy watch

I held off mentioning this until I gave the Indianapolis Star the courtesy of informing them first, but I was amazed and appalled to read quotations attributed to me in the article just mentioned that I never said. Following is the text of a letter I just emailed to the Star.

March 21, 2003

[The reporter]
The Indianapolis Star
[via email]
cc: [Managing Editor, Ass't Managing Editor, Features]

Dear [Reporter],

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you regarding Web logs for the article that appeared in this morning’s Star. (“Web log provides an outlet for opinions," March 21) It’s always an interesting experience to see one’s name in print.

However, I was shocked and dismayed to read quotes attributed to me consisting of words that I did not say. While the paraphrased statements attributed to me are reasonably accurate, both of the direct quotations are not only far from a verbatim statement from me, but they also don’t even reflect an accurate paraphrase of what I said.

To be specific, the quote "I feel launching an unprovoked attack on the dubious doctrine of self-defense when even supporters of the war admit there is no clear and present danger is just wrong" appears to have been made up of whole cloth. Although our conversation touched on various elements of those sentiments, I never uttered that sentence. Sadly, the quote confuses the doctrine of self-defense, which is hardly dubious, with my real objection, which is an unprovoked attack in the name of self-defense. And while I did say that about half my traffic is generated by search engine hits, and that I have a number of readers who return regularly, I never linked the two. Indeed, I doubt many of the search engine hits ever return once they discover my site does not contain what they’re looking for.

(continued in the next post)


(continued from the previous post)

As I mentioned to you in our conversation, I have a journalistic background myself. I’ve always understood the rule for direct quotations to be a verbatim record of what the speaker said, with no embellishing or paraphrasing allowed. It’s sad indeed to contemplate that those standards have eroded. I regret that my actual words didn’t appear to be quotable enough, but I did offer to be available for a callback.

In this time of war, it’s especially important for the media to be scrupulously accurate in what it reports. But there’s simply no excuse, under any circumstances, for putting quotation marks around words someone didn’t say. Such a careless error is unworthy of a professional journalist. I suggest the reporters of the Indianapolis Star invest in tape recorders if they find themselves unable to convey accurate quotations.


...yadda yadda yadda.

I'm really pretty outraged about this--not that the (mis)quotations are of any great import, but rather at the sheer sloppiness and unprofessionalism of violating what was, back when I was in college, an inviolable tenet of journalism: if it isn't a direct, verbatim quote, you can't put quotation marks around it. Folks from various ends of the political spectrum debate over the media's alleged bias, but I've long held that the media's slap-dash, lackadasical approach is the real problem.


blogs in the news

Planet Swank was mentioned in a story on Indiana residents blogging about the war in today's Indianapolis Star, along with fellow Indianapolis blogger Jeff Cooper. If you're visiting Planet Swank for the first time because of that story, welcome; please feel free to take a look around and leave a comment if you please.

  xThursday, March 20, 2003

spinsanity explains it all

Spinsanity is an excellent source for checking on claims made regarding Iraq that have been revealed to be provably untrue. Topping the list: Iraq and 9/11 are linked.

The Road to Surfdom puts it eloquently: "A just war doesn't need lies to support it. And this is a lie, and anybody who buys into is guilty of the worst sort of self-deception."

(via The Left Coaster)


mentalspace explains it all

Mentalspace reproduces an email that reconstructs, in the form of an imaginary conversation, the ever-shifting series of justifications that were used to advocate this war:
PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?

WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of Security Council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate Security Council resolutions.

PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more Security Council resolutions than Iraq.

WM: It's not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.

PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.

PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.

WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to...

It doesn't stop there, of course...go check it out! And be sure to take two aspirin afterward.

(via The Road to Surfdom)


swank shopping link of the day

martini poster is your one-stop shop for cool vintage accessories for your rumpus room or bachelor pad. From martini mixers to mondo music. RetroHome has a ton of cool stuff!


patriotic link of the day

propaganda poster

Check out this cool article on Micah Ian Wright, the guy who's been Photoshopping old WWII propaganda posters to make satirical comments on the War on Terror.
The entire project started as a lark for Wright, who first saw a propaganda poster created by the National Security Administration. "The NSA poster used a lot of World War 2 imagery and it infuriated me that they were trying to make us think that this ethereal War on Terror was like WW2 again," Wright said. "They wanted to appeal to that anti-Nazi sentiment but without justifying it with their actions.

"So yeah, it started as a lark but grew pretty serious after about the fourth one. It just provided me an outlet for that intense anger I was feeling both about the attacks on NYC and The Pentagon -and- this Administration's weird and counter-intuitive over-reaction to it by declaring war on the Bill of Rights."

(via The Sideshow)


how do you define 'coalition?'

President Bush may have famously declared that he doesn't rely on focus groups, but it seems that somebody's been paying attention to public opinion over at the White House: they studiously refer to the military force against Iraq as a "coalition" effort.
Apparently sensitive to criticism that the United States was acting largely on its own, Fleischer outlined in broad terms the contributions from other nations, saying there were 35 countries committed to what Bush had dubbed the "coalition of the willing." Most of those countries, however, are not providing direct military support for the Iraqi operation.

Their contributions include logistical and intelligence support, specialized chemical and biological response teams, overflight rights and humanitarian aid.

This reference is no doubt intended to assuage Americans who have considstently reported to pollsters that they don't favor the US acting without international support, not to mention invoking the spirit of the powerful--and genuine--coalition Bush the Elder assembled against Iraq the first time 'round. And it's a transparent attempt to mask the diplomatic blundering that the Bush administration engaged in on a truly mammoth scale prior that led, ultimately, to Bush's embarrasing failure to garner even a face-saving majority vote in the UNSC. And it leaves unanswered the question as to how much of this cooperation is bought, and how many billions it'll cost.

But it's also a glaring example of the continuing Administration mendacity on the subject of Iraq. While it's true that the United States is fighting alongside allies like Britain, most of those other names are on the list because of an awfully low bar to qualifiy as a member of the "coalition."
As Charles Dodgson points out, it mere overflight rights are enough to bring Turkey on board despite its previous rebuffs, that means France qualifies as well.

Update: The Road to Surfdom has more along these lines, including this juicy fact: In the first Persian Gulf War, the non-U.S. coalition forces equaled roughly 160,000, or 24 percent, of all forces. Somehow I doubt the proportion is quite the same this time...


anime link of the day

The anime Web 'zine Animaxis has a handy online anime and manga encyclopedia that provides capsule descriptions of a number of titles, lists of various creators's work and links to publishers and studios.


quotes of the day

Untelevised has a series of salient quotes about war. A few excerpts:
“It is well that war is so terrible - we should grow too fond of it.”
- Robert E. Lee, 1862

"I love peace, and I am anxious that we should give the world still another useful lesson, by showing to them other modes of punishing injuries than by war, which is as much a punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer."
- Thomas Jefferson, 1794

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952


animatrix to be released on dvd

w00t! The excellent Animatrix series of short films will be released on DVD in June. Of course, they're still available for download; trailer for the next short is available now. Here's a feature article on the Animatrix from the Calgary Sun.

(via Destroy All Monsters)


spinning platelets

I woke up early this morning to donate platelets at the Indiana Blood Center. They called me yesterday asking me to come in for an urgent need; there's a four-year-old girl with lukemia who's a match with me. Fortunately, I was able to do a "double;" for a little extra time on the machine, they were able to collect twice as many platelets. I passed the time with the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro.

I pray this little girl enjoys a full and speedy recovery and is able to enjoy a happy childhood with her family.

Once again, I urge everyone to donate blood if at all possible. Contact your local Red Cross or other blood collection center in your area. It can truly be a gift of life.

  xWednesday, March 19, 2003

it's begun

Bush at long last has his coveted war.

And even now this Administration can't bring itself to be honest:
Fleischer's brief announcement came at 9:45 p.m., about an hour and 45 minutes after Bush's deadline passed for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to leave the country or face military action.

"The opening stages of the disarmament of the Iraqi regime have begun," said Fleischer.

Just as Bush dishonestly conflated his unprovoked assault on Iraq with terrorism earlier today, Fleischer--despite his own earlier statement confirming that regime change is and always has been this Administration's goal, trots out the rationale he knows is easier to sell the public.

Just as the Administration led us to this war with lies, they begin their war with one.


gallery of the day

aria gi0vanni

A collection of swimsuit pix by noted erotic photographer Suz3 R4nd4ll (pictured: Italian model Aria Gi0vanni--name altered to fox errant Google searches). Mostly SFW, but contains links to adult sites.

Update: I retroactively rendered "Suz3 R4nd4ll" in l33t to avoid superfluous search results.


imf admits it lacks proof

Nathan Newman points to a rather startling revelation by the International Monetary Fund:
WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund sounded more like its critics on Monday when it admitted there is little evidence globalization is helping poor countries.

The IMF, which has often been the target of violent anti-globalization protests, in a new study found economic integration may actually increase the risk of financial crisis in the developing world.

"Theoretical models" show that financial integration can increase economic growth in developing countries, the research found, but in practice it is difficult to prove this link.

"In other words, if financial integration has a positive effect on growth, there is as yet no clear and robust empirical proof that the effect is quantitatively significant," the new report said.

An overview of the study, which was put together by four researchers including the fund's chief economist Kenneth Rogoff, describes the conclusions as "sobering".

The IMF often recommends that poor countries open their economies to foreign investors and free-market policies. But critics say those policies damage vulnerable economies, raising poverty rates and destroying the environment.

Nathan comments:
Understand how serious this admission is-- IMF policies have systematically impoverished poor people globally, all in the name of "helping" them, only to admit that those policies probably not only did little to help them on the basic job of the IMF-- avoiding financial crises-- but may have made things worse.


red alert!

It's hardly news that the color-coded terrorism alert system has just about everybody scratching their heads trying to figure out what it all means. Well, in New Jersey they seem to have what happens if we ever go to the red, the hisghest alert status (bear in mind, this is a state, not a Federal, official talking):
If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Caspersen went further than the brochure. "The government agencies would run at a very low threshold," he said.

"The state police and the emergency management people would take control over the highways.

"You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out. No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm."

(via Eschaton, who sums it up thus: "Martial law")


irony of the day

The Guardian: Justice Bans Media From Free Speech Event
CLEVELAND (AP) - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday where he will receive an award for supporting free speech.

The City Club usually tapes speakers for later broadcast on public television, but Scalia insisted on banning television and radio coverage, the club said. Scalia is being given the organization's Citadel of Free Speech Award.

The same story also had this lovely quote:
"``The Constitution just sets minimums," Scalia said. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."

(via Daily Kos)


image of the day

bombing victim

A sobering reminder of the effect of war on civilians, this famous photo depicts the aftermath of the 1937 Japanese bombing of Shanghai.

(via VikingPhoenix's Photo Picks)


milestone of the day

A few minutes ago, the hit counter passed 20,000. As Dogbert once pointed out, that's a significant number because it's big and round. The 20,000th hit appears to have been the result of a search for Kaiju kazaa download...sorry, no help here.

Still, thanks to everyone for visiting, especially those of you--you know who you are--who keep coming back. You have my gratitude.


tatu update


CNN takes notice of the phenomenon of the Russian faux-lesbian pop duo Tatu by picking up this AP story.
"Soft but flirtatious lesbian erotica direct on a hit video, and furthermore with underage participants — not even Madonna came up with that," music critic Dmitry Shavyrin wrote in the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets.


great moments in preparedness

Federal authorities may not be prepared to defend the nation's capital against crackpots on slow-moving farm vehicles, but we can at least take comfort in the fact that on the eve of war, the Administration's propaganda machine is finely tuned and ready to go.
Just as in a political campaign, the Bush administration wants its version of each day's events to be first and foremost, as it seeks to press preferred story lines.

...The close attention to its war message mirrors the discipline the Bush team brought to his election campaign and to the passage of his domestic political agenda, especially the securing of a $1.35 trillion tax cut from Congress. Such a comprehensive communications strategy for a war, however, is unprecedented in the modern White House.

Once the war starts, the administration plans to fill every information void in the 24-hour worldwide news cycle, leaving little to chance or interpretation.


oh, swell

A standoff between police and a man on a tractor at the Washington D.C. Mall has ended peacefully. While I applaud the restraint of local law enforcement authorites, the fact that this individual could drive a tractor into one of Washington D.C.'s most prominent public landmarks and threaten to detonate a bomb--sparking a panicky evacuation--doesn't do much credit to antiterrorism preparedness.

Update: The editorial board of the Washington Post expressed much the same idea (via just-permalinked DC-area blogger Jason Rylander).

Update 2: Nathan Newman raises an interesting question: "It will be interesting to see if the government brings the full weight of the Patriot Act down on this guy-- by it's definition of terrorism as threat of violence to influence US government policy, this white tobacco farmer is the clearest example, far more than any other US residents currently jailed under the Act."


what the...?

On the eve of Bush's coveted war with Iraq, and he's still inventing new rationales? (CNN story here)
"United States government personnel operating in Iraq may discover information through Iraqi government documents and interviews with detained Iraqi officials that would identify individuals currently in the United States and abroad who are linked to terrorist organizations."

Of course, inventing new justifications didn't stop Bush from trotting out the same, tired, discredited accusations...
The presidential letter said the Constitution gives the president authority to "take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001."

White House spokesman Sean McCormack said the language refers to the administration's belief that there are links ties between al-Qaida and Iraq, and that Bush was not accusing Iraq of being involved in the attacks.

Bush has said he has no proof that Iraq was linked to the 2001 strikes.

And, I might add, scanty evidence of any direct ties between Iraq and al Qaeda--certainly weaker evidence of ties between them than other nations that aren't being threatened with unprovoked attack. While the acknowledgement of any direct proof is welcome, this statement perpetuates--indeed, is intended to perpetuate--a mistaken public perception of linkage between Iraq and 9/11 that the Administration has encouraged rather than refuted.

While the Administration's new-found candor about the costs are welcome, they are--to borrow one of Bush's favorite phrases--too little, too late. I can't help but wonder what effect on the public perception Bush's belated acknowledgement of the inevitable costs of war might have had.


hello kitty post of the day

With props to Ted Barlow, I thought I'd toss in a couple of kawaii Hello Kitty links.

hello kitty

Hello Kitty's Tea Party is a cute little interactive page that lets you pick what kind of tea and cookies you want and what outfit Hello Kitty's teddy will wear, and then produces a kawaii graphic. The resulting page also links to other games as well as recipes for things like lemon cookies and gingerbread.


the dance must go on

It seems that contrary to earlier reports, onset of the war with Iraq will not affect the NCAA tournament schedule.

Which isn't universally good news, it seems, according to this AP report indicating that filling out brackets and discussing the tournament causes US$1.4 billion in lost productivity. The article also informs me that I have an "ilk" (I've always wanted an ilk...):

You and your ilk may be contributing to $1.4 billion in lost worker productivity, according to a good-humored research exercise by Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The company estimated that if each of the 36.6 million American workers with a college degree spent 10 minutes talking about the teams daily — the tournament lasts 15 days — that would amount to $9.3 million per minute, based on an average national wage of $15.38.

None of which is scientific or particularly useful to anyone, save for a chuckle.

I don't want to think about how blogging fares under those calculations...

  xTuesday, March 18, 2003

poems of the day

One of the posters to a comment thread at Daily Kos left this poem, and I thought I'd pass it on.

At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glow'ring sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts.
Then, clumsily bowed with bombs and guns
and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!

Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

As a bonus, here are two more by Sassoon (who, by the way, was English, lest anyone be confused by his Germanic name)

To the Warmongers

I’m back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.
Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.
For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.
But a curse is on my head,
That shall not be unsaid,
And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die.

Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain,
No-one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced cowards with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The Hell where youth and laughter go.


cost of war update

Wow, that was fast. Just days ago, Dick Cheney declined to discuss the cost of war on Meet the Press, part of a long-standing policy of shrugging off questions--declining even to estimate--about how much the war will cost.

That was then. Now that Bush has given the order, though, he's quick to present the bill; about US$90 billion in funding requests are expected shortly, based on as assumption of one month of conflict. The figure does not appear to include costs of rebuilding Iraq, estimated at US$100 billion.

Concerns about the costs of war appear to be threatening Bush's latest bankruptcy policy tax-cut proposals, and I think that's exactly the way to proceed: This war will be paid for, dollor for dollar, by new, verifiable revenue sources. No borrowing, no compensating spending cuts for programs the Republicans want to cut anyway. We can start with Bush Tax Cut Round 1, and if necessary move on with a series of Bush War Taxes. It's time for Bush to put his priorities where his mouth is.


'the arrogant empire'

Yes, Bush is going to get his coveted war--but at what cost? Fareed Zakaria--no liberal dove he--unleashes in a Newsweek cover article a stinging portrayal of the profound disgust much of the world feels toward this Administration's policies and seemingly unshakable habit of undercutting and humiliating even our allies.
[I]n its campaign against Iraq, America is virtually alone. Never will it have waged a war in such isolation. Never have so many of its allies been so firmly opposed to its policies. Never has it provoked so much public opposition, resentment and mistrust. And all this before the first shot has been fired.

...The administration claims that many countries support the United States but do so quietly. That signals an even deeper problem. Countries are furtive in their support for the administration not because they fear Saddam Hussein but because they fear their own people. To support America today in much of the world is politically dangerous.

[T]he administration is wrong if it believes that a successful war will make the world snap out of a deep and widening mistrust and resentment of American foreign policy. A war with Iraq, even if successful, might solve the Iraq problem. It doesn’t solve the America problem. What worries people around the world above all else is living in a world shaped and dominated by one country—the United States. And they have come to be deeply suspicious and fearful of us.

Smug satisfaction that the war in Iraq is the right thing despite the medacity, shifting rationales and outright lies used to justify it is of little value if the rest of the world regards our leaders with fear and loathing. Bush's incompetence and arrogance have done damage it'll take decades to repair and, ironically, created an atmosphere in which terrorism can flourish.

(via Electrolite and CalPundit, among others)


retro link of the day

The Salt Lake Tribune: America celebrates 50 years of TV dinners
Fifty years ago, thanks to a convergence of trains, planes and too many turkeys, the TV dinner made its debut, freezing in time how -- and where -- America serves dinner.

The first "television dinner," as Swanson frozen foods named its invention, arrived in 1953 on a three-compartment aluminum tray.

The largest section was filled with slices of roast turkey -- light and dark meat -- on top of corn bread stuffing and smothered with gravy. The two smaller compartments included potatoes and peas, both topped with pats of creamy butter. (A fourth compartment for dessert was added later.)

The original TV dinner sold for 98 cents, about $6 in today's economy, and could be heated in about 20 minutes in the oven. (No microwaves back then.)

It was even packaged to look like a wood-paneled television set, knobs and all.

(via PopCult Magazine)


jpop gallery of the day


A gallery of promotional stills of Japanese actress Kou Shibasaki (who played Mitsuko in Battle Royale), courtesy of her official site. You can catch video of the lovely Ms. Shibasaki at a promotional appearance on the Mainichi Daily News' Geino Gazette.


that's about right

Ted Barlow has a comment about blogging that resonates with me:
In real life, however, the decision was made months ago. All indications are that we're going to war this week. I've often thought that the world would look exactly the same if we all turned our blogs into Hello Kitty fanpages, but there's no point in pouting about that now.


new to the blogroll

Please welcome The Watch and Vote Quimby.


bush's choice

Josh Marshall also points out that, however critical the Bush administration may be of the vague language of UNSC Resolution 1441, the US ultimately endorsed it.
The Council was willing to sign on to demanding compliance but only if it was in charge of deciding what constituted compliance and non-compliance.

Basically, they were only willing to do it if they got another bite at the apple and got an opportunity to interpret their own words. It wasn't going to be up to DC regime-change scribes to decide what was a 'material breach'. It was going to be up to France, Russia

Maybe that's lame. But that's what they signed on to. If they 'lacked will,' they made it pretty clear up front.

The problem for the United States is that we pretty clearly went on the record validating this other interpretation. Here's what America's UN Representative John Negroponte said at the UN on the day the resolution passed ...

There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.

What he was saying there was that 1441 was not self-enforcing. Its language and what counted as an infraction was to be decided by the Security Council. This was the price we paid for getting for getting the unanimous vote.

...But pretty much immediately they decided that they'd paid far too high a price to get their resolution and tried to wriggle out of it.

...What this means pretty clearly is that we cannot claim that Resolution 1441 gives us any basis for doing what we're about to do.

This analogy is also important to remember with regard to the sunset clause on Bush's tax cuts: It was a concession that, however much Bush may have disliked it, he needed to make in order to secure their passage. He may complain that not subsequently making the cuts permanent--that is, allowing them to expire as they're slated to do--is "raising taxes," but even if that were true (and it isn't), it's a "tax increase" Bush himself signed.


historical cautions

It's no secret that Bush is driven by an obsession to be the anti-Clinton. Talking Points Memo recommends this Slate article illustrating yet another facet of their differences: Each President was confronted with a war that was a tough sell to the international community. One nevertheless managed to get the international community more or less on board. One has failed spectacularly at a task that should have been a slam-dunk.
Unlike Clinton, who acted through an existing alliance, NATO, Bush from the beginning has rejected relying on existing international bodies in favor of waging war through a "coalition of the willing." That approach, however, makes it harder to win over reluctant partners because it puts their elected officials in a less tenable position. Turkish politicians are essentially being asked to defy popular will in order to support the dictates of a more powerful country, the United States. Greek politicians were asked to defy their voters not for the sake of relations with the United States—if that were the case, they'd never have done it—but in support of NATO, an alliance in which Greece has a vote, and therefore power.

...[F]rom Day 1, Bush has said he's going act as he sees fit regardless of how the United Nations votes. By so doing, he not only put Chirac in the same political position as he did the Turkish MPs; worse, he created a constituency for France's view of the world, that American hegemony is the real problem.

History doesn't do controlled experiments. But we do know that George H.W. Bush worked sincerely and energetically to put together an international war coalition and succeeded; Bill Clinton worked sincerely and energetically to put together an international war coalition and succeeded; and George W. Bush worked grudgingly and sporadically to do the same and failed.

In a similar vein, To The Barricades! reminds us of the last time a war was planned by gung-ho civilian advisors with contempt for the opinions of the military.


spirited away oscar chances: doubtful?

As I pointed out back in February, the superb Spirited Away has made history as the anime movie to be nominated for an Academy Award. This article at Pulp Culture applauds the history-making nomination, but isn't sanguine about the film's chances.
"Spirited Away" deserves to be the runaway favorite to win the Oscar. It already has won every other award for animation, including the International Animated Film Society’s Annie Award and the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Award. Film critics at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and a dozen other newspapers named it their No. 1 film of 2002, animated or otherwise.

But film critics and Oscar voters are two different breeds. Oscar voters usually go for movies that are successful at the box office while still appealing to their pretentious yet middlebrow tastes. How else can you explain Best Picture winners like "Dances with Wolves," "Titanic" and "Gladiator"?

...In Oscar terms, "Spirited Away" has two strikes against it.

First, it is anything but pretentious. "Spirited Away" is a simple, "Alice in Wonderland"-like tale of a girl who becomes trapped in a magical world and is forced to take on adult responsibilities to save herself and her parents, who have been turned into pigs by a witch.

Second, and most important, "Spirited Away" isn’t a blockbuster. At its peak, it played in 150 theaters, and it grossed only $5.5 million.

Japanese animation’s popularity in America is growing, but Disney doesn’t quite know what to do with it. Disney was clueless at promoting an earlier Miyazaki film, "Princess Mononoke."

I’ve been critical recently of Disney’s handling of Asian films, but this is Disney’s chance to redeem itself. Disney could rush "Spirited Away" back into theaters with an ad campaign spotlighting the film’s Oscar nomination and other awards.

Over at Destroy All Monsters, I noted that Roger Ebert has picked Lilo and Stitch to take home the prize, predicting that Disney would back its own production rather than the import it's distributing, but that Spirited Away may be enjoying an edge in the "for your consideration" ads in Hollywood publications.


anime/game post of the day

The Honolulu Advertiser takes note of the popularity of anime-themed games for the PS2, including a look at at .hack Infection.
Sony dominates the console wars, with an estimated 55 million units sold worldwide. That's about nine times the number of units sold by Microsoft and Nintendo, respectively.

Why the success? Great software.

In one of the more clever game premises to surface in a long while, .hack (pronounced dot-hack) follows the adventures of teenager Kite, whose friend Orca mysteriously falls into a coma after playing an online role-playing game. In his search for clues, Kite logs in to play The World, and uncovers some disturbing details about the game and its publisher, the CC Corporation.

Much of the game play in .hack is viewed from an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective and takes place inside the fictitious online game, where players travel through huge virtual worlds, meet allied characters, battle against monsters and collect important items strewn across towns and dungeons.

Attractive anime movies are peppered throughout the game to push the narrative forward. And .hack includes a separate DVD with a 45-minute anime cartoon that offers a few clues on how to solve the game's mystery.

(via Destroy All Monsters)


shocker of the day, part 2

Just in case there was any shred of doubt left, Bush made it official last night: It's all about regime change.

And as usual, he justified his desired war with a rehash of the usual hackneyed batch of, ah, dubious assertions.
As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.

The same story revealed that even top Administration officials have trouble keeping their lies stories straight...
In his appearance Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," the vice president argued that "we believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." But Cheney contradicted that assertion moments later, saying it was "only a matter of time before he acquires nuclear weapons." Both assertions were contradicted earlier by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who reported that "there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

And let's not forget that Bush still doesn't want to discuss the war's costs.

Even so, it's distressing to see how effective that technique can be, as the mantra has subtly affected even Bush's critics; for example, David Broder's use today of the term "preemptive" when "preventative" is more apt. For all of Bush's assertion of a "clear" danger, the possibility of Iraq providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorist is a matter of mere speculation.

How encouraging to see that even as he issues his ultimatums, Bush is still incapable of being honest with the American people about his coveted war.


protest of pictures

Wampum has a great idea!
This evening, millions of mothers in Iraq will put their babies like Kezzie to bed, not knowing if they will survive the night.

It may be somewhat of a silent protest, but I urge anyone with a webpage or blog, anyone who is firmly against the terror this Administration is about to unleash upon the children of Iraq, to put up photos of your most beloved children, whether they be your own sons or daughters, your nieces, nephews, grandchildren or those of your close friends.

So here are my girls, as a reminder of the children about to be sacrified on the altar of Bush's war plans.

the girls

The US certainly has a right to defend itself--even defend itself preemptively, and absolutely no one questions that. The problem has been and continues to be Bush's assertion of the right to launch attacks against anyone he personally deems might pose a threat, especially in light of conspicuous downplaying of much more potent threats like Korea. Bush's attempts to produce evidence have been laughed at by nearly everyone who wasn't already convinced.

Iraq poses no threat to the US at all--certainly no threat that isn't much more prominent in other nations, and no threat that requires an invasion in the face of worldwide opposition. Yet we're about to launch an attack against a nation that hasn't attacked us, and without UN approval. I hope the war goes well and quickly and is at least over with soon, but I reamain convinced we're making a terrible mistake.

Y'know, there's at least one Web log that posts some not-safe-for-work pictures and dedicates them to various bloggers. I was wondering this morning if someone ought not to post pictures of Iraqi civilian casualties (not that the US media will likely carry too many...) and dedicate them, one at a time, to the warbloggers who seem so eager to shed Iraqi blood on such flimsy pretext.


deepest sympathy

Our condolences go out to Michael Finley, whose mother has just died. I'm very sorry for your loss. I hope these words are a source of comfort:

For certain is death for the born

And certain is birth for the dead;

Therefore over the inevitable

Thou shouldst not grieve.

Bhagavad Gita (250 BC - 250 AD), Chapter 2


shocker of the day

Hold on to your hats, folks, as you read these startling revelations from Reuters: Computer Virus Writers Mostly Obsessed Males
Male. Obsessed with computers. Lacking a girlfriend. Aged 14 to 34. Capable of sowing chaos worldwide.

That is the profile of the average computer-virus writer, an anti-virus expert said on Tuesday.

..."They have a chronic lack of girlfriends, are usually socially inadequate and are drawn compulsively to write self-replicating codes. It's a form of digital graffiti to them," [antivirus software executive Jan] Hruska said.

In the glass houses department, I scored a prize geek accessory last week as I was preparing to move offices--I was cleaning out a drawer and discovered a trio of pocket protectors left by a previous occupant. Choice!


'liberal media' watch

The so-called "liberal media" strikes again! Yesterday's edition of Wired News noted that overseas news sites are showing an uptick in visitors--many driven by Web logs--in the days leading to the impending war on Iraq as readers seek a...less filtered perspective than that ladled out by news sources Stateside.
"Given how timid most U.S. news organizations have been in challenging the White House position on Iraq, I'm not surprised if Americans are turning to foreign news services for a perspective on the conflict that goes beyond freedom fries," said Deborah Branscom, a Newsweek contributing editor, who keeps a weblog devoted to media issues.

...Jon Dennis, Guardian Unlimited deputy news editor [hyperlink added], said U.S. readers are visiting his site for the range of opinions it publishes, and to engage in vigorous debate. Media outlets in the United States, he said, are not presenting the issues critically.

"As a journalist, I find it quite strange that there's not more criticism of the Bush administration in the American media," he said. "It's as though the whole U.S. is in shock (from Sept. 11). It's hard for (the media) to be dispassionate about it. It seems as though they're not thinking as clearly as they should be."

  xMonday, March 17, 2003

another diplomatic triumph

Chalk up another major diplomatic failure for the Bush Administration: U.S. Giving Up On Turks and Rerouting Ships
After weeks of frustrating delays, the Bush administration has all but given up on persuading Turkey to let U.S. forces use its territory to invade Iraq. Instead, it is now focusing on "discouraging and deterring" the Turkish government from sending troops across the border, a senior U.S. official said today.

Is it just me, or is that last sentence kinda ominous?

Make no mistake about it: Opening up a northern front in Iraq was only a few days ago regarded as a highly desired part of US war plans, which is why the US ships hung around as long as they did, hoping for a change in Turkish policy that never materialized. This can't be dismissed as self-serving Gallic posturing; this is a major diplomatic blunder that's going to have real consequences for the war effort. And Bush couldn't even bribe the Turks into cooperating.

Of course, the Turkish balking illustrates pretty clearly whether they consider Iraq or the Kurds to be a bigger threat...

(via Testify!)


retro gaming link of the day

Great googly moogly! Some genius has whipped up a Flash version of the classic Atari 2600 Adventure game! Yow! c00L!

(via The Power Pill)


what he said

On the eve of war, some people are downright indecently eager for hostilities to commence. I'm too disgusted even to pity them.

On the other hand, The Road to Surfdom precisely sums up how I'm feeling at the moment:
You know, after all the build-up and the endless argument, I actually thought there might be a sense of relief in such a moment, just a vague feeling that, well, at least the discussion is over.

But I'm not relieved. I just feel sick, genuinely sick in my stomach.

...[T]he Bush Administration and the various "hawks" who have supported it, have got their war. May it be the quick, unalloyed success they have promised us.


cracks in the foundation

There's no longer any doubt that Bush is about to achieve his ambition of making war on Iraq. I join with all Americans in hoping that at least the coming war will be short and the loss of life on all sides minimal.

It should be clear to all by now that Bush has had this one aim for some time by now, and that nearly every other priority--Korea, alliances, international goodwill--execpt tax cuts are not only secondary but hardly even considered. He has predicted that a quick and easy war will be followed by a magical blossoming of peace, love and understanding throughout the Middle East, with the United States revered for its uncontested but benevolent military domination. But in this column, author Michael Lind debunks some of the strategic underpinnings behind that, er, vision:
The United States is now more isolated from its major allies and more internally divided over foreign policy than at any time since 1945. The strategy of the Bush administration-and not merely its style-is to blame.

The grand strategy of the Bush administration rests on three axioms: American global hegemony; preventive war; and the so-called “war on terror.” All three axioms are fallacies that inevitably produce counterproductive and misguided policies. What the great French diplomat Talleyrand said of Napoleon’s execution of the Duc d’Enghien applies with equal force to Bush’s grand strategy: “It is worse than a crime; it is a mistake.”

(via Electrolite)


body count

Speaking of loss of life, I continue to be disturbed by the likelihood of civilian casualties, especially in light of the planned attacks on Iraqi cities. I have no doubt the allied forces will do what they can, and that a compliant US media will do their best to divert attention away from the civilian dead, but consider: The Israeli Army is about as well-trained and disciplined as they come, and by now has pounds of hard-won experience in urban warfare, and even they aren't able to avoid wasting the occasional four-year-old girl. As tragic as that situation is, though, I'm willing to grant that the Israelis are acting in self-defense.

As I've mentioned, I have a girl who's almost four. Every time I hear of something like this, I imagine my bright, beautiful child mangled and torn, and my heart breaks. It's no less tragic for an Israeli, a Palestinian, an Iraqi, or a Nepalese to lose a child. Admittedly, if it truly came down to us-versus-them, I'd prefer it be "them," however callous that may be.

But this time, there's no threat. We are not acting in self defense. And so every four year old Iraqi girl killed or maimed is nothing but a bloody sacrifice on the altar of Bush's imperial ambitions. And everyone who supports those ambitions--even by closing their eyes to the lies used to disguise the one policy Bush has had all along--bears some responsibility too. On behalf of the father of that dead girl, whose anguish I can well imagine, I'm going to remember.


more on france

With regard to all the anti-France ire going on of late, Late Night Thoughts points out that the French simply have the perfidy--the scoundrels!--to be acting in their perceived self-interest:
[I]t is not in the best interest of France (or Russia, or Germany for that matter) to become either a permanent client-state of the United States or to lose billions of dollars in possible revenue, or to get its own muslim population in an uproar. Therefore, it is monsieur Chirac's duty to oppose American plans. By this time, it's probably also Monsieur Chirac's great pleasure.


gaiman on france

Neil Gaiman (via Electrolite) has some sage advice on disliking France from the perspective of a nation with much more experience:
I have very mixed feelings about Americans disliking the French. I'm English, after all. We have a special relationship with the French: we are in awe of their sophistication, their cuisine and their wines, we think their women are beautiful, we like them as individuals, we badly want to go and live in their country when we retire, while at the same time we are deeply suspicious of them. It's like having people living next door to you who may be snappier dressers and better cooks, but who, after all, borrowed the lawn mower sometime in the thirteenth century and never gave it back. Anyway, the English dislike the French. We're really good at it. We've been doing it ever since we got up one day and realised that the Norman Conquerors were now, like it or not, Us, and weren't conquering French people any more. We feel, frankly, that if anyone's going to dislike the French, it's going to be us. On the whole we manifest our dislike for them by drinking their wines, buying up their cigarettes, and, despite the fact that all English people can naturally roll their Rs and speak perfect French, declining to do so, and when forced by circumstances to speak French the English do it with an English accent on purpose.

These are tactics we've worked out over the course of hundreds of years, and if carried on long enough, they will bring France to its knees. I'm English. I know these things.

Changing the name french fries to freedom fries, on the other hand, will just make them laugh at you.


just for the record

As before, the UN is ordering its inspectors to pull out of Iraq.

They are not being "kicked out." They never were "kicked out."


going to the dance

March Madness has officially begun. Congratulations to my alma mater, the University of Louisville, whose Conference USA tournament victory and 24-6 record earned them a fouth seed in the NCAA tournament. M4d props to coach Rick Pitino, who's being given due credit for transforming a lackluster U of L hoops program into a respectable contender. Congrats also to cross-state rival UK for picking up a #1 seed. Here's a printable tournament bracket.


slow blogging zone

I have a number of things to catch up on following the move Friday, so I would expect blogging to be light at least until the afternoon and possibly until tomorrow. My apologies.

Update: Obviously, I picked a lousy day to be so busy. Indeed, it's an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day with temperatures around 70! It makes me nostalgic for my college days: I would so be cutting classes on a day like this.


irish post of the day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The background is changed in honor of the occasion (courtesy Mediabuilder).

  xSunday, March 16, 2003

gaming post of the day, part 2

devil may cry

w00t! I just beat Devil May Cry. I'd played last night and finished off the final incarnation of the boss Nelo Angelo. At that point, I discovered that the game is most rude, as it throws three boss fights at the player in a row! The third encounter with the boss Nightmare proved more difficult than I wanted to deal with at one in the morning, so I packed it in. This morning I'd decided to see if I could dust Nightmare while the family was out, and just got on a roll and finished it. I hadn't generally used the game's power-ups, so I had a healthy store of them when taking on the game's final booss--and they proved necessary, all right. Thanks to them, I was able to defeat the final boss in one go-round, and the death blow is one of the coolest things I've seen in a video game--it was worth all the frustration his sub-bosses had dished out. There's some pretty groovy cinematics at the game's end, too.

Having beaten all three of my current PS2 games, I'm now in the market for another.

Update: I picked up Capcom's survival horror predecessor to Devil May Cry, Onimusha Warlords. Sw33t!


gaming post of the day

Here's a cool article in The Seattle Times about the ancient Japanese game Go gaining in popularity.

Go has always fascinated me with its Zen-like mix of simplicity and complexity, but I must admit my skill in the game barely progressed beyond a familiarity with the rules; I simply couldn't find people to play against. I also remember that computer versions of the game were mighty hard to come by back when; I'll have to see if that situation has changed in the last 10 years or so.

Update: Apparently it has; the Intelligent Go Foundation has a lot of information about computer-based Go, including links to various downloadable versions., while not devoted to computer versions, has a lot of sample games that illustrate "brilliant moments." Go enthusiast Michael Reiss has compiled a page boasting a number of computer Go-related links and photos of a 1997 Japanese Go LAN party. c00L!

(via Destroy All Monsters)


sunday lite

By the way, my in-laws are in town visiting the weekend, so my apologies for any delay in posting new mateial/responding to comments/etc. On the up side, my father-in-law and I plan to install a new 40 gig drive in our computer today, so it will be slightly more L33t! (I'm down to about 2 gig of free space on a 19 gig drive, and I've really been churning it, too--downloading stuff, burning it onto CD-ROM (which I'm now out of; must go to store) and deleting it. As I said back in February, I tend to download stuff faster than I can actually use it--I grab stuff while I can, if possible, so I've raced up entire CD-ROMs worth of anime videos, MP3s, abandonware games, game FAQ files, and other assorted cool stuff that I've hardly glanced at/listened to since. So the extra 40 gig will definitely come in handy--not only for downloading more stuff, but so I can enjoy some of the stuff I already have as well.


kaiju post of the day

godzilla pic

A couple of weekends ago, my daughters and I were watching out traditional Saturday Morning Godzilla Movie, and Cecilia got it into her head to write a letter to the Big G. For a three-year-old, that involves scribbling on a piece of paper with a green (of course) crayon, giving a running commentary to me about what the scribbles represent.

I thought that was pretty darn cute, and so I resolved that Godzilla would "write her back." I went on eBay to search for a picture of Godzilla, and ordered a copy of the one shown above. It arrived Friday afternoon, and today we framed it and are going to let Cecilia choose a spot to hang it in her room.

She was very excited, but she told me Godzilla forgot to color it.

haruko nakajima

Oh yeah--I got a pic for myself, too. And I also scored a sw33t pic of veteran kaiju actor Haruo Nakajima being zipped into the Godzilla suit--autographed, yet!


l33t post of the day

l33t fox trot

Reading this morning's Sunday paper, I noticed that the gag in today's Fox Trot strip revolved around L33t-sp34k.

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