Thursday, January 27, 2005

the apprentice? (no spoilers)

I'm watching the apprentice, and I think this version is a lot worse than the first two years.
These people don't look like they've ever worked, much less been a group of
super-successful lawyer-business Trump clones. Yeah, I know the high
school graduates aren't lawyer Trump clones, but they couldn't be business Trump clones either.

I thought that in the first two seasons some of the characters appeared pretty competent, sometimes they just played the game, letting the project leaders do all the work and take the blame. These two groups don't look like they could manage their way out of a paper bag.

best conversation:

girl1:"You can't talk to me that way!
girl2:"*^&$%*(*!!!!..... How 'bout if I talk to you that way?!"

Danny's web site: http://www.kastner.com/
(Leisure suit dude. Who says he's in marketing, but I bet he's a spam king based on the marketing he did in the first episode. Marketing. Right.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hide and Seek or Southpark

I've been sick with a fairly bad cold the past few days, so I've probably watched around 50 hours of TV since Friday. Besides the obvious downsides of watching so much TV, I've also seen the commercial for the movie "Hide and Seek" around 100 times. Not only does that look a piece of crap movie (why deniro why?), it looks like a copy of an episode of Southpark. The one where Stan's Aunt Flo (who visits every month) gives Stan a goldfish that turns out to be a demonic killer from an alternate universe. ("I've got such a good boy" says stan's mother as she buries the fish's latest victim in the backyard)

Hide and seek has some writing appearing on a wall behind a bathtub, which to me looks just like the south park fish blowing on the aquarium wall, then writing spooky messages to Stan.
A quick google gives some secrets from the show.

The spookyfish part of the show has it's roots in The Bad Seed (1956), which is one of Trey Parker's favorite films according to that webpage.

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's gonna end bad

I've had discussions with people about the Iraq war and the war on terror, people with opinions as diverse as: "It's all a conspiracy to steal oil, or build a pipeline, etc" to the" nuke 'em all" crowd. Usually my opinion is greeted with horror when I say thatI think it is going to end bad. Bad being several cities in the USA being nuked closely followed by most of the middle east being nuked. Maybe followed by more nuclear exchanges until we end up as the cast of a mid 80's post-apocalyptic movie.

Jerry Pournelle makes a point today in a discussion of about nation building in Iraq:

The American people are warlike, particularly the Scots-Irish and German populations; but we are also Christian and ashamed of being war-like; so if we go to war, it must be for a Good Cause against an Evil which Provoked Us into War, and thus the Evil must be destroyed By Any Means Necessary. Which is why we could bomb Tokyo and kill over 100,000 with one fire raid, and then send another, but decry the rape of Nanking and the bombing of Rotterdam.
Which nicely describes the knife-edge that we are currently walking in the middleeast. Large numbers of Americans are opposed to this war that they see as completely optional. They might say it's a war that could have waited four years for a democratic president to lob some cruise-missiles at Iraq, or it's a war about oil or empire or the masons.

Of course I disagree. I think that we are in a race against time. Either large parts of the middle east must become more liberal and more democratic, or some country or group will end up nuking several cities in the US. Our country might survive that, but then the other side of that knife-edge will come into play and whoever is president will have little choice but to massively nuke the perceived enemy. [people that say "that can never happen" have no memory of the cold war when that was our stated policy, it is still our policy, it is just not mentioned anymore, which is something that should be fixed] Throughout our history, when it has come down to them or Us, there has been no delay in choosing Us.

Killing thousands of Iraqis and having hundreds of our soldiers killed is cheap (no matter how dear individually) compared to the moral responsibility of killing most of Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia in a fit of nuclear fury.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

War in Iraq, justified or not?

A friend of mine asked in the comments if the war in Iraq is still justified since no WMD's were ever found. From past experience I know that I can never prove to anyone opposed to this war's satisfaction that it was the right thing to do, or the moral thing to do. It's the same as arguing religion. I can try to argue against the negative case though, and here's one attempt:

Some arguments against war, and this war:
- All war is wrong and immoral
- This war is wrong because it is illegal
- This war is wrong because it is the wrong war in the wrong place in the wrong time.


All war is wrong and immoral.
This is the pacifist's argument and is completely viable in a world where there are no violent people or countries. It's a beautiful thing to be a pacifist, as long as you are willing to watch someone kill your family, friends and neighbors and do nothing. Once you are willing to fight, then it is just a question of who, what and when you are willing to fight.

The Iraq war was wrong because it was illegal
This argument says that the only legal wars are when you are attacked, or if the UN authorizes the war. The UN resolutions called for Iraq to positively prove WMD disarmament or face severe consequences. The last resolution asked for by the US that would have asked for war and removal of Saddam was never passed due to opposition by France and Russia. We knew then that France and Russia had economic reasons for keeping Saddam in power, we know now that using money stolen from the Oil for food program, Saddam had bribed the leaders of those nations as well. There was no way that a UN resolution explicitly calling for war would ever have passed the veto of france and russia. Whether the existing resolutions calling for severe consquences were enough to grant legality is something that can be argued over, but never solved.

This war is wrong because it was the wrong war in the wrong place in the wrong time.
This could be called the Kerry argument. Saddam is evil, it would be nice to get rid of him, just we should have waited, or we should have had better or more proof. This is rebutted in the Duelfer report of last fall, which was trumpeted in the press as "no WMD's found", when the
first page of the report summarizes how Saddam's goal was to end sanctions, then reconstitute his WMD programs.

Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.
http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/duelfer.html
Whether or not the WMD's existed, or were taken to Syria, Saddam was the true WMD and had to be removed before sanctions were ended or became ineffective.

From President Bush's speech just before the war:

We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.

The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth.

Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations -- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.




Some links from the run- up to war:


Iraq in material breach of UN Resolutions (8/02)
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/SC7564.doc.htm


http://www.why-war.com/news/2002/12/19/ussaysir.html (Dec 02)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said today that Iraq had violated a United Nations resolution by turning over what he said was a false and incomplete list of its weapons, a finding that he said could lead to "serious consequences."

WMD's moved to Syria
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/01/25/wirq25.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/01/25/ixnewstop.html

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Tsunami warning

I was just watching CNN's Tsunami coverage, they were reporting from the deck of an Indian
Hospital ship, and interviewing some government officials who were preening about 11 ships of the Indian Navy helping Sri Lanka. Maybe I'm over-sensitive to media bias, and the general anti-US slant worldwide and in the news, but they sure seemed to be implying we should have more ships than India over there (we probably do). As if India is projecting it's might around the world, instead of across a narrow straight to ceylon.

I'm sure the next big news story will be how the US didn't set up a Tsunami warning system to provide warnings to the people of the Indian ocean. There will be much gavel banging as people demand to know why they weren't protected, and why the US didn't do it's job as world fireman as well as world policeman. (I guess we'll soon have all the crappy world jobs, world building-code inspector, world garbageman, etc)

In hindsight it would have been cheaper for the US to have set up the whole warning system of sensors and buoys, along with the phone networks to be able to call people and warn them, along with the power grids to power all this. At least then in our role as world electric company we could send someone a bill. [Nigeria: "Honey, didn't we pay that fucking cable bill this month, the US has sent another one?" Dials. "You've reached the US, your call is important to us, please choose one of the following options. You've been attacked press one. Dictator problems press two, natural disaster press three, if you feel you've been unjustly cruise missiled, press four."]

The whole situation is horrifying enough, with so many dead, that you'd think that there wouldn't have been an immediate leap to make political hay out of it, with UN people calling us stingy, and various people sniping at the president. Who are these people? Why are we giving them money? The US should spend the money for a quadruple wide mobile home that the UN can use as a headquarters, to be parked wherever the trouble is greatest in the world.
Good luck to them and good riddance.

Maybe that will be the final warning this Tsunami will give us. The UN is just a layer of Bureacracy that soaks up money, provides little service and much anti-US invective. It is time for the UN to be set free to go somewhere else and do good.