Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Southpark fights for freedom

I just finished off the last of the barbados rum while watching
southpark. The cartoon that looks so stupid and unprofessional
is one of the few bastions of liberal western thought. Defending
free speech instead of sticking heads in the sand is what the
media should be in the lead doing. Instead it's left to a cut-out
construction paper cartoon to carry the torch and hopefully
help save our freedoms.

Political correctness has most likely killed western civilization.

It starts with veiled threats..."you must respect our religion".
Then in some places, people are killed for making a movie that
'disrespects' islam. Then the slippery slope that the gun nuts
and the abortion nuts are always so worried about takes hold
and soon we'll be forced to write pbuh after the word mohammed.

My feeling after reading the essay below by dan simmons about
the future, was that most people feel that the united states can't lose,
we can half-heartedly wage war and allow the basic ideals of this
country to be changed by immigrants or PC or whatever else swims
down the pike in 5 years leaving behind the ideals and procedures
that had carried us 200 years from the founding fathers.

I can picture us losing very easily. A single-minded simpleton like
bush or reagan wouldn't lose. They'd cry better dead then red, or
better dead than muslim and push the button. That might be bad, but
probably worse for the other guys than for us. On the other hand, a
nuanced-minded dupe like Carter or Kerry could be walked down
the path of conversion and submission very easily. A nuked city a
day for 10 or 12 days with simultaneous calls for submission and
conversion would probably work with them.

The signs on the 1st baptist church would change to some similar sounding
mosque name. (Of course my sober self and you few readers are saying
no way, we'd never convert. But faced with actual death the real answer
would depend on a tipping point that no one can predict. Death for you and
your family or convert. Which would it be? Enough people, the police and
the army choose conversion after a weak president kneels, and next thing
you know...you're barefoot and on your knees too, and not in a good way.)

We thought the cold war was a religious war, better dead than red, etc.
That was really a squabble among methodists, or anglicans. Cake or death?

For a real religious war a little nuclear destruction does not scare the nutjobs
in iran, not a whit. You have to look back to the age of religious wars, and
back before that to the crusades to understand the train of thought.
(Deus Vult anyone?)

Once people think their immortal souls hang in the balance they will do
and say anything. Especially if someone thinks that they can save or
cleanse someone by killing them, or ensure that they or there family will
go to heaven by killing someone else.

[If an 11th century crusader or saracen screaming "god wills it" or allah ahkbar
comes up against a granola fairly from california babbling about rights and
political correctness, granola boy will quickly find himself on the ground fighting
a losing battle to hold his intestines back in or keep his head attached to his
shoulders.]

No more rum for me...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bad and worse options

Mark Steyn has great column reprising the world's history with Iran.

I read that I and I feel despair, since most of the country seems to

suffer from Bush Derangement syndrome, and all problems are seen

to be caused by Bush. Iran and the islamist is a problem from the '70's

that could have been nipped in the bud, but there's not much we can do

now:

Anyone who spends half an hour looking at Iranian foreign policy over the last 27 years sees five things:

  1. contempt for the most basic international conventions;
  2. long-reach extraterritoriality;
  3. effective promotion of radical Pan-Islamism;
  4. a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing (unlike, say, Osama);
  5. an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action.

Yet the Europeans remain in denial. Iran was supposedly the Middle Eastern state they could work with. And the chancellors and foreign ministers jetted in to court the mullahs so assiduously that they’re reluctant to give up on the strategy just because a relatively peripheral figure like the, er, head of state is sounding off about Armageddon.

.....


Once again, we face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Message from the future

A chilling short story/article from science fiction writer Dan Simmons.


Go read it all, it's worth the time.


I stopped. What had he called it? Category Error. Making the problem unsolvable through your inability – or fear – of defining it correctly.

The Time Traveler was smiling at me from the shadows. It was a small, thin, cold smile – holding no humor in it, I was sure -- but still a smile of sorts. It seemed more sad than gloating as my sudden silence stretched on.

“What do you know about Syracuse?” he asked suddenly.

I blinked again. “Syracuse, New York?” I said at last.

He shook his head slowly. “Thucydides’ Syracuse,” he said softly. “Syracuse circa 415 B.C. The Syracuse Athens invaded.”

“It was . . . part of the Peloponnesian War,” I ventured.

He waited for more but I had no more to give. I loved history, but let’s admit it . . . that was ancient history. Still, I felt that I should have been able to tell him,or at least remember, why Syracuse was important in the Peloponnesian War or why they fought there or who fought exactly or who had won or . . . something. I hated feeling like a dull student around this scarred old man.

“The war between Athens and its allies and Sparta and its allies – a war for nothing less than hegemony over the entire known world at that time – began in 431 B.C.,” said the Time Traveler. “After seventeen years of almost constant fighting, with no clear or permanent advantage for either side, Athens – under the leadership of Alcibiades at the time – decided to widen the war by conquering Sicily, the ‘Great Greece’ they called it, an area full of colonies and the key to maritime commerce at the time the way the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is today.”

I hate being lectured to at the best of times, but something about the tone and timber of the Time Traveler’s voice – soft, deep, rasping, perhaps thickened a bit by the whiskey – made this sound more like a story being told around a campfire. Or perhaps a bit like one of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon stories on “Prairie Home Companion.” I settled deeper into my chair and listened.

“Syracuse wasn’t a direct enemy of the Athenians,” continued the Time Traveler, “but it was quarreling with a local Athenian colony and the democracy of Athens used that as an excuse to launch a major expedition against it. It was a big deal – Athens sent 136 triremes, the best fighting ships in the world then – and landed 5,000 soldiers right under the city’s walls.

“The Athenians had enjoyed so much military success in recent years, including their invasion of Melos, that Thucydides wrote – So thoroughly had the present prosperity persuaded the Athenians that nothing could withstand them, and that they could achieve what was possible and what was impracticable alike, with means ample or inadequate it mattered not. The reason for this was their general extraordinary success, which made them confuse their strengths with their hopes.”

“Oh, hell,” I said, “this is going to be a lecture about Iraq, isn’t it? Look . . . I voted for John Kerry last year and . . .”

“Listen to me,” the Time Traveler said softly. It was not a request. There was steel in that soft, rasping voice. “Nicias, the Athenian general who ended up leading the invasion, warned against it in 415 B.C. He said – ‘We must not disguise from ourselves that we go to found a city among strangers and enemies, and that he who undertakes such an enterprise should be prepared to become master of the country the first day he lands, or failing in this to find everything hostile to him’. Nicias, along with the Athenian poet and general Demosthenes, would see their armies destroyed at Syracuse and then they would both be captured and put to death by the Syracusans. Sparta won big in that two-year debacle for Athens. The war went on for seven more years, but Athens never recovered from that overreaching at Syracuse, and in the end . . . Sparta destroyed it. Conquered the Athenian empire and its allies, destroyed Athens’ democracy, ruined the entire balance of power and Greek hegemony over the known world at the time . . . ruined everything. All because of a miscalculation about Syracuse.”

I sighed. I was sick of Iraq. Everyone was sick of Iraq on New Years Eve, 2005, both Bush supporters and Bush haters. It was just an ugly mess. “They just had an election,” I said. “The Iraqi people. They dipped their fingers in purple ink and . . .”

“Yes yes,” interrupted the Time Traveler as if recalling something further back in time, and much less important, than Athens versus Syracuse. “The free elections. Purple fingers. Democracy in the Mid-East. The Palestinians are voting as well. You will see in the coming year what will become of all that.”

The Time Traveler drank some Scotch, closed his eyes for a second, and said, “Sun Tzu writes – The side that knows when to fight and when not to will take the victory. There are roadways not to be traveled, armies not to be attacked, walled cities not to be assaulted.”

“All right, goddammit,” I said irritably. “Your point’s made. So we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq in this . . . what did you call it? This Long War with Islam, this Century War. We’re all beginning to realize that here by the end of 2005.”

The Time Traveler shook his head. “You’ve understood nothing I’ve said. Nothing. Athens failed in Syracuse – and doomed their democracy – not because they fought in the wrong place and at the wrong time, but because they weren’t ruthless enough. They had grown soft since their slaughter of every combat-age man and boy on the island of Melos, the enslavement of every woman and girl there. The democratic Athenians, in regards to Syracuse, thought that once engaged they could win without absolute commitment to winning, claim victory without being as ruthless and merciless as their Spartan and Syracusan enemies. The Athenians, once defeat loomed, turned against their own generals and political leaders – and their official soothsayers. If General Nicias or Demosthenes had survived their captivity and returned home, the people who sent them off with parades and strewn flower petals in their path would have ripped them limb from limb. They blamed their own leaders like a sun-maddened dog ripping and chewing at its own belly.”

I thought about this. I had no idea what the hell he was saying or how it related to the future.

“You came back in time to lecture me about Thucydides?” I said. “Athens? Syracuse? Sun-Tzu? No offense, Mr. Time Traveler, but who gives a damn?”

The Time Traveler rose so quickly that I flinched back in my chair, but he only refilled his Scotch. This time he refilled my glass as well. “You probably should give a damn” he said softly. “ In 2006, you’ll be ripping and tearing at yourselves so fiercely that your nation – the only one on Earth actually fighting against resurgent caliphate Islam in this long struggle over the very future of civilization – will become so preoccupied with criticizing yourselves and trying to gain short-term political advantage, that you’ll all forget that there’s actually a war for your survival going on. Twenty-five years from now, every man or woman in America who wishes to vote will be required to read Thucydides on this matter. And others as well. And there are tests. If you don’t know some history, you don’t vote . . . much less run for office. America’s vacation from knowing history ends very soon now . . . for you, I mean. And for those few others left alive in the world who are allowed to vote.”

“You’re shitting me,” I said.

“I am shitting you not,” said the Time Traveler.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cajun ghost story

I spoke with my father a couple of days ago, we traded howyadoin's
for a while, then got sidetracked talking about the bayou that runs
through Moreauville where my dad's from. How it was just a few
feet deep when he was young, and they dredged a channel sometime
back in the 30's which made it the deep canal it is today, instead of
a low lazy bayou.

My dad also mentioned that that was where his cousin Gene
drowned (who I'd never heard of 'till that moment) . That when
they were boys, on hot summer days they'd climb inside an old
tractor tire and roll down the banks of the bayou, faster and faster
until they hit the berm right at the edge of the water. The
tire would then stop and fall over before diving into the bayou.
They could then jump in the water, staying in the shallow end, for
swimming or bathing.

One day, they were rolling down the bank in the tire, taking turns,
each rolling down the bank at breakneck speeds, then rolling it
up the hill for then next boy.

My father said he heard my grandmother call his name. He
gave up his turn and ran home to see what my grandmother wanted...
she said she didn't call him, which was when someone called down
the bayou that Gene was in the water, and he had drowned. The
tire had gained enough speed that it hopped the berm and splashed
into the channel, and Gene drowned.

My grandmother insisted that she hadn't called my father, she
said it was probably her mother that had called him, but her
mother had died two years before.

If you hear a voice calling, look and maybe go there, it could
save your life.

days of strife, days of wine

What the heck is going on today? Is the moon aligned outside the seventh
house, and my jupiter/mars alignment is out? I gave a presentation to
clients that turned pretty antagonistic, which led to me answering
questions poorly and stumbling through the last half of the presentation.
bleh. I make it back to my office where more strife ensues with
coworkers, double bleh.

I get home and my wife and mother-in-law are fighting. What can I say
to that, just bleh! of course. And I open a bottle of conch y toro merlot,
with the goal of drinking my way to the state of oblivion. (is oblivion
north of nebraska? those middle america states north of I-10
confuse me)

yeah, sure, not the best way to deal with problems, I'm sure Gin and
tonic will stain my teeth less...but it's all I have on hand.