Sunday, December 31, 2006

Squeemishness and outsourcing

We're homeless again, our apartment that we've bought is still
undergoing a makeover, and the owner of the apartment that
we were renting finally noticed we were renting a nice apartment
with no rental agreement, and at half the price they should be
asking just because they are nice. Niceness apparently ended
this week, they dumped a 20 page rental agreement with price
hike and lease on on us, and we decided to take a hike and stay
with friends for a week or two until the floor is done in the new
place.

One result of that is that I can't watch CNN or fox or bbc, because
they only seem to be talking about Saddam, and a video of saddam's
tongue sticking out as he's hanged isn't something our host's little
boys need to see at their age. They can read about him in 10 years
in their history books, as a great leader who sponsored national kite
flying contests, and the imperialist americans removed him from power
because he wouldn't sign our haliburton contracts. Or something equally
muddle-headed. (hopefully they'll still study history, and not just chant
from the koran)

It's ok to be squeemish and not let little boys see death in slow-mo, but
as adults and free people, squeamishness will be our undoing. This is
war, even if we decide we don't want to fight it, there will still be people
who will come here and fight us until we are either dead or converted, or
they are dead and/or dead.

Mark Steyn says this much better today in the Chicago Sun-times:
(go read the whole thing, this is the climax)

Well, we'll see about that. One difference between the Ethiopians in Somalia and the Americans in Iraq is that the former aren't fighting with one hand behind their back just in case some EU ally or humanitarian lobby group or fictitious Associated Press source leaks some "war crime" or other to the media. In fact, the Ethiopians have the advantage of more or less total lack of interest from the Western media. So they're just getting on with it.

And, given the potential for Islamist destabilization of their own country, they were wise to do so. The "international community" has reacted in the usual ways: calls for immediate cease-fires so that an ineffectual U.N. force of peacekeepers can go in and enjoy their customary child sex with the locals while propping up the Islamists. The Ethiopians can't be blamed for not taking the U.N. seriously. To be sure, the alternative to the jihad boys is a bunch of thugs. But that's the reality of much of the map today: a choice between being an outpost of the global jihad, or a patchwork quilt of warlords, or a bit of both with some feeble, half-hearted multilateral force mediating between the two. I don't know whether the Ethiopian intervention will work in the long run, but, if it does, the best hope for squashing the jihad might be to outsource the fight to Third World regimes less squeamish about waging it.

I'm afraid we're looking at one of the worst possible outcomes, limping along
in Iraq, burning up the army while the media chants our demise. At every stage
of the war, we've tried to be nice, targeting palaces with smart bombs instead of
carpetbombing, negotiating with people like Sadr instead of connecting the words
bullet and head, and chatting with the Iranians while their factories turn out IED's
in three shifts.

Nice hasn't worked and we are basically waiting for the Iranians to build a bomb,
or the pakistanis to give a bomb(or bombs) to whichever nutjobs are finally going
to attack us. Being nice and squeamish will probably cost us a few cities, and in the
end cost the other guys a whole lot more. We need to stand up now, roll back
the sadrists and whichever other bad guys choose to stand up in Iraq, roll back
the Iranian nuclear program and the syrian infiltration program, and do it in a non-
squeamish way that doesn't try and deliver a message...but kills the bad guys.

Or outsource the whole thing to someone willing to do what needs to be done.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Traveling man

Kottke.org links to a meme about listing the cities you've visited this
year. Since I did quite a bit of traveling this year I thought I'd give
it a try:

New Orleans, LA*
Baton Rouge, LA
Picayune, MS*
Lafayette, LA*
Anchorage, Alaska*
Liberal, KS
Oklahoma City, OK
Tulsa, OK
Cameron, LA
Los angeles,CA
Long Beach, CA*
Bakersfield,CA
Denver,Co*
Airdrie, Canada
Banff, Canada
Calgary, Canada*
Villahermosa, MX
Coatzacoalcos, MX
Agua Dulce, MX
Mexico City, MX
Edmonton,Ca
Austin, TX
Miami, Fla
Paris
Milan
Venice
Florence
Rome
Seattle
Salt Lake City
Lima, Peru*
Quito, Ecuador*
Bogota,Colombia*
Paipa, Colombia
Chia, Colombia*

That's 11 States and 6 foreign countries. I'm glad to have
seen most of those places, but Liberal, Kansas I could have done
without. I probably spent the most time in Calgary, Quito & Anchorage
apart from Bogota and Houston where we lived this year. My favorite
place was Paris, maybe florence too, but those were on vacation. I can't
picture having enough money to live in Paris without making an hour
long commute by train every day. I think I liked Anchorage the most
for a work destination, I liked the food and the people are uniformly
nice.

I travel a lot, but I'm not good at having fun on expenses, so I'd rather
be at home with my wife and the Tivo.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in Quito

One of my cowworkers had vacation scheduled over christmas so I had
to come over to quito to relieve him, which meant canceling our weekend
trip to visit the inlaws. (oh the pain). Quito isn't a bad tourist city, it's got
the 'mitad del mundo' museum where we saw the effects of the coriolis force
with water swirling counterclockwise on one side of the equator, and
clockwise on the southern side. Then I balanced an egg on the end of a
nail, and shot a blowgun at a cactus. All pretty entertaining stuff for a 12
year olds. These events took place on the actual equator, instead of the pretend
where the mitad del mundo monument sits.

For Christmas, south americans celebrate on christmas eve, with a late dinner, then opening presents at midnight. Since we couldn't eat until 10pm we needed a way to spend a couple
My wife and I took a tour around Quito's churches, and we also went up
to see the statue of the Virgin, which for christmas became part of what must
be the worlds largest nativity scene.




















The statue 2nd from the right is about 90' tall, the
other figures are constructed from christmas lights.
Pretty cool I thought. We opened our presents, and
my wife cunningly wrapped just the remote from
my new tivo that she bought me...whoohoo!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Titanic and class struggles

We stayed up watching Titanic last night on Fox. My wife couldn't sleep
so she watched it to try and fall asleep, I stayed up watching it initially to see
if they'd show breastage on Fox in south america(they did), but since I really can't go to
sleep in mid sinking, I stayed up until 3:30 too to watch Leo float away.
I'm paying for it now though.

I wonder what the locals here think of that movie and the class structure it
shows from England and even America at that time. Class still applies in
the US, on airplanes, getting into good universities, gated communities, etc,
but no upper-class person would ever say that to a lower class person, they'd
probably get punched in the face at best, more likely a 9mm gat would be
pushed down their throat.

Here in colombia it's very different, rich people here seem to assume that the
poor will kowtow down, tug a forelock, say "si jefe", to every stupid comment.
On sundays I'm typically out and about wearing the official gringo uniform of
jeans and white tennis shoes, so I get a lot of faces from 60 year old matrons
who expect not to see that sort of thing outside of their gardeners.

In the office, the titles of "jefe" and "ingeniero" are used as marks of respect,
but also with the downcast head of someone who thinks their job and their family's food
could be taken away on the whim of some asshole boss. There are cleaning women
who will bring in coffee after carrying it up three stories (no elevator) and think
that is their lot in life. They also bring their daughters to work, not to see their job
but to start working in the career that will be theirs for life...cleaning.

No one here seems to tell their children "you can grow up to be president", that
job seems to circulate amongst just a few families with money power and connections.

For all the obvious class structure, the people here are very hard working. If they
haven't graduated from a university they are going at night after working all day.
They don't waste their money on taxi's when they can take a two hour long bus ride.
If I try to get to the office first and leave last, there is always someone there earlier
and someone leaving later. Colombia seems like the US in the early 20th century,
hard working, with a class structure still defined by birth and not credit report. I bet
this will be an even more interesting place in 30 years.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Who Dat!

I stayed up to watch the Saints win last night, and since Colombia
is on eastern standard time I was torn between wanting the Saints
to score more points against Dallas, or taking a knee like they did
so that the game would end and I could go to sleep before midnight.

The game was on ESPN here, but the announcers overdub in Spanish
and they never sound very excited, much the same way announcers
in english call a game of soccer. [The simpson's episode where springfield
has a boring soccer game that ends in a riot showed that best, "he
kicks the ball...then the other guy kicks the ball...then the third guy
kicks the ball, etc"] I tried picking the game up on internet radio, the
announcers on WWL don't make any pretence of partiality and it's pretty
traditional to turn off the idiots on national tv and turn up Jim Henderson
& Archie Manning on WWL. (maybe it's Hokie Gajan now?) Apparently
licensing restrictions prevent internet radio outside the US. Sucky.

The announcers weren't that bad even in spanish. When someone breaks
away for a touchdown they say: "debe a montar su bicicleta" instead of
"he better get on his horse and ride" to catch up. They keep all the city
and personnel names anglicized, but they change all the nicknames to spanish,
so it was the Vaquerros contra los Santos. oh well...

I was born the same year as the Saints in 1967, so every year since
I could remember I thought "this could be the year that we go to
the superbowl". This year it is definitely doable, the team's fate
is in their hands, if they keep winning they can earn a first round bye
in the playoffs. Then we won't have to watch Minnesota crush the saints
in a wildcard game (1986?). Or the have the hated Falcons romp over the
Saints in the first playoff game.

So two more wins and they clinch a first round bye. Two more wins after
that and they are in the superbowl. I hope this happens, but I need to
remember the first rule of the Saints Fight club...Don't bet on the saints
to win the fight club, you'll probably lose your ass.