U.S. Army kidnaps Iranian diplomats

The U.S. military in Iraq has kidnapped Iranian diplomats without the knowledge or consent of the Iraqi government, with whome those diplomats were talking.

So the U.S. doesn't respect the Iraqi government (OK, we knew that), doesn't respect international law (a bit of a surprise, the U.S. government usually tries to follow the letter, although they'll do all they can to strong-arm the letter into a form they like), kidnaps an Iranian diplomat who was at a mosque to pray for his mother who had recently died (the U.S. didn't have anything to do with the death, probably).

Are those diplomats going to be returned to the Iranian embassy or are they going into one or another American gulag, there to be tortured?

Looks like George W Bush flexing his muscles there, breaking laws along the way, as is his style, and trying to start a war with Iran all at the same time. Time to buy oil futures right now. $200/barrel, here we come.

Oh, good news. The U.S. government released the diplomats. OK, hold on the oil futures. There might still be a war, or certainly an increase in the temperature of the insurgency as the Iranians let go of some of their frustrations. But no war yet, probably, unless the U.S. starts one in the next few months.

No gifts

This year I have even fewer gifts for people than normal. I rarely give gifts because I don't give mindless gifts. If there isn't anything that I particularly like for someone, then they're not going to get a gift. This year, with baby Timmy keeping sol and I busy, I don't even have a gift for sol because I just haven't been able to find the time to find something good for her.

Fortunately, I'm not bound by any traditions, so I don't mind giving gifts after the occasion, or for no occasion at all :-). So Sol will probably get something, it'll just take a while, and we need to circulate so I can see something good :-).

We'll be treating ourselves to the Neo Spa at The Fort this weekend. We've done that before, we had gift certificates from our best friends at Q Software Research. This time, we're treating ourselves. We had such a great time last time, we want to go there again. The only thing it needs, I think, is a mixed-sex steam room. As it is, we can't chat in the steam room, but everything else is perfect.

But that's not the gift. Maybe we can go to Davao for a four-day weekend :-). THAT would be the gift :-).


Muslim women's veils and Immigration policy

It's suspected that a suspected murderer in Great Britain fled the country while dressed as a muslim woman wearing the muslim full face covering Niqab. And now an order comes down that muslim women must show their faces at airports, so that their identities can be verified.

I'm a great fan of integration and am neutral (sometimes a bit negative because of liberal stupidity) on diversity. Diversity is good, but a lot of other values are more important than diversity, IMO.

On the veil, I've always thought that women should be allowed to use them, but when identity must be verified, then the veil must not be honored mindlessly. In fact, NOTHING should be honored mindlessly. So the veil must be lifted when identification needs to verified. If the woman wearing the veil is particularly conservative, then she may request that a woman perform the identity authentication. Similarly, in European societies, it is stupid immigration policy to give citizenship to people who have no intention of integrating. If they won't integrate, don't let them in. If they come in as guest workers, let them stay guest workers until they fully integrate. If it takes two generations to demonstrate true integration (i.e., wearing the niqab may be a sign of not integrating), then don't give them citizenship. That way, if they riot, you can deport them without the headaches of dealing with their citizenship.

Similarly, with U.S. immigration, actively enforce immigration laws, levy punitive fines on businesses that hire illegals (if there's actual and continuous punishment, they'll actively comply with the law, instead of winking at the law and allowing John Smiths [who are clearly illegals since they speak spanish and not english] to work). A wall may help. I doubt it'll help much though, so it's probably a waste, but active policing and unfriendly treatment of illegals coming across the Southern border will help as long as it's sustained.

Of course it won't matter. The Republican party bleats about illegal immigration, but it helps its big business partners (Meatpacking plants raided, illegal immigrant workers arrested) by ignoring the laws.

The meatpacking plant raids are a good start but that needs to be sustained. Continuous intelligence gathering, continuous raids, continuous arrests, and huge fines to the employing companies to pay for the effort, all of that will lead to fear and hiding in the illegal immigrant community. Jobs will open up for citizens, meat packing plants will raise payrates (Swift is doing it already), there will be an effect on the market as prices rise due to increased cost of production, but the costs of supporting immigrants in the public schools and emergency rooms of America offset the benefits to the economy of cheap labor.

Enforcing the law, but in a reasonable way, is always the way to go as long as the laws are reasonable. Some U.S. laws were clearly passed by morons (that's the liberals and mccain) and craven chickenhawks (that's the republicans).

U.S. immigration laws are stupid in policy in some ways, but they can be made to work if they're enforced, unlike DMCA and various Patriot Act related laws, they're not completely stupid at their core. European immigration laws I don't know enough to write about, but they're probably stupid in policy and possibly the immigration and integration issues can't be fixed until the laws are completely overhauled (the effect of decades of leftist stupidities in Europe).



Hot dog! I want a jet man pack!. I saw a Jetman video on youtube. Had to view it there since the videos on the jet-man.com site are WMV and my current browsers won't load that, and I don't intend to spend any time figuring out how to get that working in Linux.

Oh wait, we can embed youtube videos here.

Oh right, I saw the original jetman video at reuters.com

I wonder when I'll ever be able to afford one of those. He should set up a company and sell kits. Oh, I should just give up. I'll never be allowed to fly one of those :-).

dog philosophy 101

Mofomon has a post on dog philosophy (consisting of quotes from various people

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them. (oh boy is that true!)
-Phil Pastoret

LOTR in Russia

There are incredible pictures of a village in Ukraine, at englishrussia.com.

There must be some photoshopping going on, or some of that high dynamic range imaging which I first learned about when I saw some digg or flickr or reddit post which brought me to a high dynamic range pool of cathedral images at flickr. But no, I think that was another set of images. They were really pushing the envelope and the images didn't seem realistic anymore.

Oh, jen, you'll want to do some flickr searches, e.g., here's one on "high dynamic range cathedral":

high dynamic range cathedral, flickr search

Attention to detail matters

Bush has been putting money into bin-Laden's pocket.

After invading Afghanistan, Bush didn't pay attention to the details. Instead, he cast around for another country to attack. Fortunately, he's a bit stuck in the sand and might not be able to add yet another country to his list before he leaves office.

Just as with Katrina, and with 9/11, Bush wasn't paying attention to the details. In focusing on one big thing, and then another big thing, he lost sight of the opium. Afghanistan has been a source of opium for centuries, and of heroin, for a century. The Taliban had done a good job of keeping opium poppy production down and Afghan opium production was at all-time lows when Bush attacked Afghanistan.

Since Bush wasn't paying attention, opium growing has become the national industry and heroin prices in Europe are a third of what they were a few years ago. Much of that money is going to Taliban and Al Qaeda. If bin-Laden had the funds to pay for a jihadi airline attack on New York and the Pentagon, he now has the funds to buy the airplanes themselves, fill them up with whatever he wants (I'd suggest LSD and cocaine) and dive bomb the White House, finally giving the President all the drugs he's ever wanted but has been repressing his desires so badly that he's needed to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians to forget his pain.

This is what happens when an incompetent is elected to high office. As head of the most powerful government on earth, there is still incalculable mischief that incompetent son-of-a-bitch can do. I hope he doesn't nuke Iran. Wouldn't be surprised if he does though. Or tries, and someone from the military finally shoots his fool head off.

It's not just the Israelis

An American private contractor (i.e., mercenary) fired on Iraqi vehicles and passengers for fun (or for some sort of psychological pleasure)

To their credit, two of his companions reported the incident. On the other hand, there is no case filed, no one is in detention (as far as the report indicates) and no one in the U.S. military command has met with the whistleblowers to determine the facts.

Perhaps with the report, there will finally be some action. This seems to be par for the course for the U.S. military in Iraq. They only investigate when a scandal blows up in the news. Everything else gets buried. Of course, the military is busy with whatever their job might be in Iraq. But allowing the insurgency this ammunition (first by not controlling their men sufficiently, and then letting issues go until they blow up in the news) is incompetent. Haditha, where the initial report was clearly a lie, U.S. military throwing Iraqis off bridges and not caring enough to see if anyone died,kidnapping innocent women and children to force their brothers, husbands and brothers to turn themselves in, pointing guns at old Iraqi women and telling her they will fire, in English, impoverishing a country by blockade, leaving it with terrible infrastructure through bombing through lack of resources to build or fix anything, and then invading it and destroying what's left, and reconstructing so that the electric power situation is now many times worse than when they left, or even, after a few months after they invaded. A few months after invasion, parts of Baghdad still had 4 hours of electricity a day, this is down to 1 hour or less a day, after years of occupation and hundreds of millions spent by U.S. carpetbagger contractors and their mercenaries (sent to protect and support the carpetbaggers, but apparently shooting up Iraqis for fun too).

That last link is a pretty good summary article too (I only link to it because it was one of the first links google brought up).

Given the pattern, by the U.S. military, of ignoring massacres and civilian deaths until it blows up in the media, it is pretty clear that there are multiple civilian deaths and maimings every day inflicted by the U.S. military and the U.S. doesn't care about any of it (that's the U.S. military, the U.S. government, and the U.S. civilian population, none of them care).

I had hoped that the U.S. would merely be able to leave Iraq and go on with their lives, without victory, but without individual dishonor (except for their chickenhawk warleaders whose personal dishonor should be remembered for eternity, at least by Americans so that lessons are learned). With these atrocities coming to light (and the thousands dead from unreported atrocities, however), it's almost time to hope that the U.S. leaves in defeat and national dishonor and that they learn their lesson and stay home for a hundred years (as the germans will stay home for a thousand, or forever).

russian urban art and kublai millan

Kublai Ponce Millan, a friend in Davao has filled The Ponce Suites, his family's hotel with his own art. He's almost run out of space inside the building and is creating concrete sculptures outside the building. He's very prolific, and very talented.

He hasn't yet done anything as big as this whole building facade painting. Although once he learns about it, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it a new special goal.

russian urban art

a friend of mine in Davao has filled The Ponce Suites, his family's hotel with his own art. He's almost run out of space inside the building and is creating concrete sculptures outside the building. He's very prolific, and very talented.

He hasn't yet done anything as big as this whole building facade painting. Although once he learns about it, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it a new special goal.

The art of conversation

At the Economist, there's a good article on the art of conversation

He's still got two years

It's true that you've not slashed the population of Iraq in half, as Leopold and those who immediately followed him did in Congo, but that's small comfort.

Well, he's still got two years. He might still get there.

Killing babies and laughing about it

Israel kills babies and laughs about it

"What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure what I have endured," she says.

"It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on,"

They (...) set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. "Obviously, we told them we couldn't wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn't understand."

Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. "I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital," she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could "certainly" have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.

Recently, two of our pregnant patients here were tear-gassed in their homes ... The women couldn't breathe and went into premature labour. By the time we got there, the babies had been delivered stillborn.

Of course this particular story might be propaganda. But it's a rare woman who'll kill her own son for propaganda. And there are a LOT of other stories like this, where Israeli troops prevent pregnant women from getting to hospitals while they're in labor.

And sure, not all israelis are for this barbarity. But there are enough for it that the government doesn't change and suddenly act civilized. It's sad, I've always loved the idea of Israel. It's too bad that it's turning into South Africa in the bad old days of apartheid.


foiled by foiling morons

I don't understand why someone might want to spend $25 and an hour or two to completely wrap someone else's workstation and gear in tinfoil.

It's a waste of money. Sure, that's not a lot to an american, but it's many day's salary in the third world and this guy is throwing it away just so he can have someone else waste his time taking the foil off and throwing it away.

I don't remember the last prank played on me. It doesn't happen often since I'm just no fun about them. I ignore the prank, ignore the prankster, throw away the props (possibly in the personal space or on the person of the prankster) and move on. I don't get mad, I just ignore everything and coldly handle the situation since i don't want to make them enjoy the situation, and I don't want to waste any emotional (or any other kind of) energy on it either.

It's cold, I know, but I like it that way. It saves time, and (after the first prank or two), embarrassment on the part of the prankster.

One should never generalize.

# Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.


I forgot one

I forgot one more way to achieve victory in Iraq.

Robin Hayes has the solution to the Iraq war: have our soldiers convert all Muslims to Christianity.

Playing into Al Qaeda's hands indeed.

I'm not going to follow all the comments, but one, in particular, slays me:

Please spread far and wide. I'm a big fan of Jesus myself, but I don't think he'd much approve of Flipper trying to enlist him in the Party of Greed's War on Everything.


Victory in Iraq is achievable

Sure, victory in Iraq is achievable.

  • genocide -- probably achieves victory. Leaving more than about 1,000 alive. Probably counter productive though, even if only 1% are dedicated terrorists, that leaves ten enemies alive, and genocide destroys the genocidal army from within, as well as its supporting culture. Decadence and decline are inevitable.

  • nuke-em-all -- achieves victory, but not the fruits of victory. Counter-productive since the oil fields will be inaccessible for a few thousand years.

  • declare victory and leave -- see nuke-em-all, first sentence.

  • garrison Iraq with a million men -- There are only 26 million or so Iraqis and they're leaving Iraq as fast as they can. Ten years or so of sectarian violence, random killings, sort-of-friendly fire accidents (American troops are not friendly with Iraqis, but most of them don't particularly want to kill civilians, although when American lives are on the line, Iraqi lives count for less than Filipino lives), and the occasional massacre, rampage and gang rape and massacre of the raped girl's family are increasing the decrease in population and motivation to leave Iraq. In a few generations, there might be more Americans in Iraq than there would be Iraqis. A few more tens of thousands of dead Americans might be a cheap price (for Bush, anyway) to pay for a 51st state, and one with the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world.

    The Iraqis would become the new palestinians of the middle east, this time, a refugee population created by the U.S.A., that bastion of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But only for Americans.


spoiled children, ingrates and sidekicks

Christmas Spoiled Brats

But what's a sidekick? The karate sidekick? or a close friend who is always at one's side? Or a slave? ("her parents just gave her..., a sidekick").

If she's such an ingrate, why give her $25 in (whatever, I don't know what a Visa gift card formation is, a bunch of Visa gift cards in denominations less than $25 which add up to $25 and are shaped in a V?) at all?

Oh, "basic manners and the concept of accepting gifts graciously". OK. Good manners I agree with. Being fake fails my smell test, but other people are less sensitive to fake.

If this is how they treat americans

How do they treat non-americans?


Good Man

Teenager returns $24,000 in hundred dollar bills. Good man. May you go far, young man.

Work is suffering

I've been absent from work quite a bit lately. One was an annual event I should learn to avoid, but lately there's been a lot of fatigue, cough and colds, and stomach troubles.

I was thinking about them all as being separate problems. I'm starting to think though that they're fatigue related, due to being up with the baby at unnatural hours. It'll get better, but I worry a bit about the toll it all takes on work. But worry is all I can do about it, of course, since timmy will always take priority.

powered by performancing firefox

Images by Michael Poliza


More American troops to be deployed to Iraq

I see that George W Bush is about to send more men to Iraq.

20,000 to 50,000 is probably too little though. There might be ways to succeed in Iraq (most of those ways involve changing definitions of "success"), but sending not enough combat troops isn't it. Combat troops, as Jerry Pournelle is found of saying, are for breaking things and killing people. In Iraq, those combat troops are likely to kill at least as many civilians as actual insurgents or Al Qaeda. I wouldn't be surprised if, in fact, the U.S. military is killing 5 times more civilians than insurgents or terrorists. That's the nature of war, particularly a war where the stronger party's primary purpose is force protection.

What Iraq needs are massive numbers (perhaps half a million) police and constabulary. They need to be on the ground, walking the beat, actually getting to know the civilians and protecting them from insurgents. Unfortunately, that also means that they should not drive around in Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles or hummers, rushing from point A to point B, shooting civilians and cars who won't stop for them and avoiding bombs on the ground. They need to be *on* the ground, talking to people. That means doing actual hearts-and-minds work, and walking where they're vulnerable. It means taking casualties and losing the occasional battle in order to win the war.

This is not, however, a mission that the U.S. (not just the military, but the whole population) is willing to take. Since Bush is probably going to continue with his doctrine of shock, awe, and paying billions to Republican donating private security and services companies (instead of actually providing more than an hour of electricity a day to Iraq), there is probably no chance of success unless he goes ahead and performs the ethnic cleansing himself. No population, no civil war. Leaving anyone alive is counter-productive. They'll out-breed americans and, after breeding, will go off to attack americans wherever they are.

I think that's unfortunate, I certainly don't condone terrorism. On the other hand, I'm not blind to reality, and the reality is, the current American president, American government and industry are making things far worse than they found them. And when they leave, they're not going to rebuild anything, they'll just leave with the blood of hundreds of thousands of civilians on their hands and go off to save someplace else for democracy.

And perhaps the U.S. military and government will learn its lesson and stay home for a generation (until the public forgets and some other republican fundamentalist president goes off to start another war of choice and kill another half-million ragheads).


Don't be Latino,
get white skin,
don't work in meat factories,
don't have children who are american citizens while you're illegal,
be ready to be deported anytime, no one will defend you,
and you're going into a Halliburton facility and right into Dick Cheney's pocket,


Don't go to Durham

Wow, Durham, North Carolina sounds like one place no one should ever go to. Not that it would necessarily be unsafe, nor would it be likely that the visitor would be escorted to the bathroom (and witnessed by a gun-toting thug) or worse, not escorted to the bathroom and left to piss on himself, but rather on moral grounds. In much the same way that visits to the United States should be avoided while George W Bush is president, and for a long while after, until the curtain of fascism he's erected is finally taken down.


And where are the catholics in all this

An Episcopalian bishop was arrested (apparently, very nicely) for blocking a federal building in an anti-war protest.

Good for him. I hope that there are catholic prelates and priests concerned enough about the war (and unconcerned enough about later, and inevitably, being inconvenienced by the TSA to similarly publicly protest the war.

Hmmm, now what website would that be on. Google is my friend.

That's too bad

It's too bad that This article on why impeaching George W Bush is in a magazine that boasts of itself as "Marxist Thought online".

So it looks like the Iraqis will just have to suffer their next hundred thousand or so dead while George W Bush smiles his secret smile. One can hope that the American people might learn enough from another hundred thousand or so raghead deaths (plus a few americans) and impeach their dear leader. But hope is pretty much all there is there. It's not likely that anything will actually happen. Even the democrats are being the spineless bastards they've always been (not just lacking in courage, but lacking even the brains to distinguish between loyalty to the troops who were bamboozled into Iraq and the right thing to do).

Ah well. If there isn't going to be any improvement in the situation, the best I can hope is that the American government and military stay occupied far away from me. I've got a wife and a newborn son. I don't want the American government anywhere near my family. And certainly not an American government led by that bastard son.


yeah well

that's what Israel does. It's just a fact of life.

I wonder what the Israeli viewpoint is though. I don't see a lot. There's one on YnetNews. I saw one or two other articles, but they were as one-sided (on the bedouin side) as the Albawaba article above.

But, yeah, this is what Israel does. Some Israelis have a conscience, most ignore their conscience (just as most americans ignore the effect of US policy on non-americans, because of the benefits of being American, the Israelis look to the benfits of being jews in Israel), a small minority are just a bunch of thieves who actively try to push things like this (maybe because they're racists, but maybe not, they're Zionists, and extreme zionists are like extremist fundamentalist christians and some American presidents, you can't reason with them).

The Israelis too, sow the wind. Possibly, considering their own material good, this is the right thing to do to maximize their own material profit. But it diminishes their moral worth (except for the valiant few Israelis who actually care about doing good for all citizens, including arab Israeli citizens, and the even smaller minority who think Israel should treat the Palestinians as human beings).

That's too bad. I love the idea of Israel, but the Israelis seem bent on diminishing themselves. Ah well.

palm civets in the philippines!

I see that those notorious coffee beans that come out of monkey's butts don't actually come out of monkeys

Actually, the palm civet, which hand picks and eats the coffee beans, is more closely related to a mongoose than a monkey


The palm civet lives in the islands of Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, the Philippines, Vietnam, and some coffee estates in south India.

So, is any Philippine coffee price-enhanced by this endemic animal? And if not, why not? Where is the capitalistic streak in filipinos? Perhaps overshadowed by the catholic or clean-freak streak in the culture? This is a lot of real damn money right here! We need to be passing coffee beans through captive palm civets!!! :-).

Inspiring Tough Love

There's an inspiring article on tough love and buddhism in the Seattle Times. Someone else might have sued their own parents, but this kid seems to have learned the right things. I hope what he learned sticks and that he finds a good way through life for himself, as he re-integrates into his old environment.

I think he has a good chance. Good call by his parents.


food trip

This weekend, despite seeing me only half-alive for half the time, was a great one for food. On Thursday, sol and I went to Banana Leaf at Podium (there's an official website referred to there, but the site is empty) and had two kinds of curry. That was so good, we brought the curry sauce home and had seconds ;-). That night we had nachos (bought at the Nacho Fast at the Podium) and Bravo's tomato and garlic dip. We were going to leave some for the morning, but we got carried away and ate it all (all the nachos, and all the dip).

Then, since we had previously bought sausages from Shopwise Cubao, we had that on Saturday night. Smoked Bavarian, Hungarian, and Pepperoni sausages, fried in oil, and the oil used to fry baby potatos and garlic.

On sunday, the leftover sausages (plus one new one) were chopped up and put in fried rice. That was a whole meal, right there. After that, I don't remember since I was down for the count :-).

Next weekend, if there's basil and coriander (wansoy), I hope we can have Pho :-). Sol is already thinking of having Pad Thai. And more curry from Banana Leaf would be great (it's a bit expensive, but lovely, completely worth the cost).

Christmas got me down

It's important to remember things past, particularly when they get you down year after year.

I have an allergy to some kinds of dust. I'm not allergic to dust on the streets (except aesthetically) or on the outsides of houses and buildings. The dust I'm allergic to is the kind that sits in cupboards and cabinets and musty boxes at home. So it's probably not the dust itself I'm allergic to but some sort of fungi or other molds that live in cabinets and boxes that are only opened once a year.

Every year (except last year) I come down with a 2-3 day allergy attack that keeps me down for the count. It's always early in the season, when family put up the Christmas decorations. I never remember. So I get taken down every year. This year it's a bit more reasonable that I forgot since I haven't had christmas decoration fever for 2 years or so. Sol and I were living in a small apartment and we had no christmas decorations. We moved in recently with my in-laws though, and they have decorations. So I didn't remember that 3 or 4 years ago, and every year before that for decades, I'd get sick when the decorations came out.

Ah, well, maybe next year I'll remember. Although I'm not sure what I could do about it. Maybe figure out when the decorations are coming out and go to Baguio with Sol and Timmy. Or Tagaytay. Or even, one can hope, Davao!


hilarious traffic stop video

I've said it before, I like Americans by default, and right now I can't think of an American whom I have personnally met whom I still dislike (one or two people made things difficult once upon a time, but everyone else was wonderful).

This policewoman, and the driver, both need to get more famous.


Apparently there will be an investigation into a youtube video demonstrating how much of an asshole one particular soldier and his friend (and the rest of the squad they were travelling with) are

This is a good thing. But in an incremental way. The problem is, this sort of arrogance happens a lot. It's not the fault of the soldier, he's ignorant. He doesn't know any better. It's the fault of the system. Any military always protects its own until a scandal hits public consciousness. And even then, the military will still protect its own until it's forced to vomit out the, ahhh, vomitus.

When the U.S. military (and american citizens) begin to act honestly and actually work to see truly what they do in the world, then I'll slowly start to change my mind as to how close to the devil U.S. policy is on (very close, in this Bush administration, a bit farther away in other administrations, but more on that side than the side of the angels).

That's a lot of cultural change to wait for though. Maybe immortality in the body will become available in my lifetime, in which case I'll have a few centuries to see if U.S. policy slowly moves toward the good of the world (instead of being on the side of bad for the world, but good for Americans).

A Soldier's Story

Now THAT's a good soldier's story.

Yes, it is possible for Americans to understand what they're doing and, as a result, do the right thing and maybe even slowly undo the damage they do in Iraq. On the other hand, it needs to be done one man at a time (learning, and understanding). Lectures don't work, only insight will help. And insight can't be mass produced.

As a practical matter though, it probably won't happen. There is too much ingrained cultural arrogance and ignorance there. Even if 5% of the troops could be taught to see the truth, the rest of them would be a dead weight. The U.S. can't win counter-insurgency wars because their priorities are all wrong, and they can't change. For instance, force protection through the application of overwhelming force on the opposition, is a RATIONAL choice. It just loses.

It doesn't help that any military (and the U.S. military in particular) is hidebound and tends toward ultraconservative values. That's a good thing in some wars. But again, in counter-insurgency, it loses. Liberalism is a stupidity in its own right, but ultraconservatives aren't (as a group, or in the majority) capable of seeing a middle way and seeing things as they are since any extremist (left or right, up or down) viewpoint will always prefer to see things as the viewer wishes things.

There is no victory to be won in Iraq, but this one soldier shows a way to an honorable end. One can hope that enough in the U.S. military will learn the right lessons. Even if it does seem unlikely.


your receipt please. that's hilarious.

i'm not going to do any of that, of course (i'm not a U.S. citizen, I don't got no rights). but it's damn funny.

hmmm, now that I think on it, when I was last in Virginia, living with the lovely Victoria and her beatiful family, I liked Trader Joe's more than Costco (no link for you, although you sure are a heck of a lot better than WalMart). I didn't mind paying a bit more, it was just more fun shopping there.

That probably had to do with the fact that I only bought beer at Trader Joe's though, and only bought food at Costco :-).

hahahaha. that article made my day.

Creating hungry children

Some Iraqis (who might have been looting wood, there's only the allegation) are accosted by American soldiers. The Americans then destroy the Iraqi's car by driving over it with their tank.

Even if the Iraqis really were stealing the wood (likely, but not certain), destroying the taxi certainly seems over the top. The Americans were just having fun, I think, enjoying exercising their power. But they didn't understand that in a completely destroyed economy (destroyed by the Americans, fitfully, corruptly and incompetently rebuilt by American carpetbaggers, worsening by the day), that car kept one or two families and a lot of children alive. By destroying it, the Americans absolutely created at least one (and likely, ten) enemies. Some or all of those children are going to go hungry. But of course, americans never hear about this, they can't imaging going hungry because someone destroyed their car on a whim, they don't care. They're not being assholes and bastards on purpose, they're just ignorant, and allowing their government to rape whole countries.

There's another video of British soldiers beating the crap out of some Iraqi boys. It's Lord of the Flies time out there. No one controls what the Americans and British soldiers do anymore. Most of them do the best they can to do good for the Iraqis (maybe), but as a practical matter, they are making things worse. It's a stupidity too that the Americans can't understand that they're making enemies. But that's the problem with having Hollywood on your side. All you see of your side is the good. No one sees the evil their own men do. Or if they do, they give them a pass.

I see that the Iraq Study Group is probably going to recommend a phased withdrawal from Iraq. I don't think that'll help. It's too late. They've made too many enemies. Those enemies are going to follow them home. That's unfortunate, one would have wished better. But this is what George W Bush and Dick Cheney have sown, and the world (not just the Americans) is going to reap.


that's cool too

The New Zealand All blacks performed their Haka in the dressing room rather than on the field before their game with Wales recently.

The organizers had requested that the haka be performed not right before the game, but between the national anthems. Apparently so that the Welsh team singing their national anthem would be a reply to the haka.

"At the end of the day, haka is about spiritual preparation and we do it for ourselves. Traditionally fans can share the experience too and it's sad that they couldn't see it today.

That's pretty cool, standing to principle that way. I don't understand the issues well enough to know whether the All Blacks have a good point there, but they made an unpopular decision which was true to themselves, in a foreign country, where they didn't have much support. That was strong.

So the haka isn't just for entertainment value then. That's alright, it's cool anyway. And a great way to maintain the tradition is to have the Rugby team perform it, whether in or out of the public eye.

If it helps them win games (45-10 against the Welsh), that's a good thing too :-).

They Didn't attack Switzerland

Bill Walker has an article on the differences between Swiss and U.S. foreign policy and civilian population protection and the general assumption of civilian population maturity.

Switzerland has not been in a war of any kind since 1815. It has not been in an official foreign war since 1515. This would be astounding, even miraculous, for any nation. But Switzerland borders Germany . And France . And Italy . And Austria . And Liechtenstein . Now the Prince of Liechtenstein has rarely lashed out in Blitzkrieg in a desperate bid to reign uber alles, but ALL of Switzerland 's other neighbors have devoted a lot of effort to invading other countries.


The features of the Swiss system for keeping the peace are simple. They mind their own business, and they have very strict gun control. By which they mean that every Swiss male must have a gun, except for those who have to carry a mortar or missile launcher. Females are not subject to universal military training, but if you go to a Swiss rifle range, there are always girls blasting away too. After 9-11, the Swiss told passengers to carry their bayonets onto their airliners . . . somewhat different from the US response of panicked victim-disarmament. (You are aware that 99% of US pilots are STILL disarmed?)

On civil defence and defending against biological, chemical, nuclear attack (all of which the U.S. population is wide open to due to the inattention of politicians to the good of ALL the americans

Switzerland has also provided for defense of the lives of its civilian population against nuclear terrorism. Realizing after World War Two that nuclear weapons in the hands of power-mad idiots posed a public health threat, the Swiss started a nationwide shelter-building program in 1960. By 1991, there was enough shelter space in Switzerland to protect everyone in their home or apartment, and also enough at their workplace and school. A Swiss citizen is generally never more than a few minutes from a fallout shelter with an air filter.

The entire Swiss shelter program was accomplished for somewhere on the order of $35 (1990 dollars) per year per capita. The US spends vastly more every year to achieve a military only capable of intervening in Third World nations that don’t have WMDs.


Switzerland does not send troops to intervene in other nations. Switzerland does not spend tens of billions of dollars yearly to fund dictators around the world, nor did Switzerland donate hundreds of billions of dollars to the Warsaw Pact through bank "loans." Switzerland does not send billions of dollars worth of weaponry every year to the warring tribes in the Middle East . Switzerland has no enemies. Yet the Swiss are armed to the teeth and dug into every hill and under every building.

US policy is the evil-parallel-universe inverse of the Swiss. The US intervenes everywhere, spies on everyone, supports every faction in every dispute. We have as many enemies as there are disputatious people in the world. Yet we spend more effort on disarming our own airline pilots and other law-abiding citizens than on providing shelters for our children against nuclear, chemical, or biological attack. We have an expensive conventional army, and quite a few aging offensive nuclear weapons. But no defense for our children.

The U.S. has been stuck defending against nuclear attack from the Soviets. They've they've given up on defending against except by promising total destruction to everyone and their neighbor (an inappropriate state to be in now that the Soviets aren't around anymore, the russians are friends, and anyone who wants to nuke the U.S. will be anonymous (or will be from the middle east, and the U.S. can't nuke that entire region since they need non-radioactive oil).

In contrast, the swiss have as perfect a defence as possible. It's a defence that was perfect two centuries ago, and, with upgrades of weapons, is still perfect. Of course, having the terrain help in the defence and digging into all those mountains helps a lot.


Camiguinaction SEO

My good friends at the best beach resort and dive shop on Camiguin, and perhaps the Philippines need some help with search engine optimization of their website (http://www.camiguinactiongeckos.com). I turned to a friend who does SEO at his day job. My friend Ituloy AngSulong Al Palconit has quoted a reasonable amount, around US$200. I haven't heard from barb or diggi yet, if they're accepting the request. I hope they do it. PHP 10,000 isn't a lot of money for moving up to the first or second page on Google or other search engines.



The post title says, "this is why everyone hates us".

Naah, man. they weren't killing anyone yet. they were just being the bastards they always were.

We don't hate you for that. It's when you kill us that we hate you. When you're being bastards, we just want you to go back home and do it to your own instead of to us.


The best science show on television

Yes, Mythbusters is the best science show on television

It's too bad I can't watch television anymore, because I'm either working too hard or watching the baby. But that is definitely a great show. And a great way to sneak knowledge and scientific viewpoints into the heads of children and not-so-children.

not really

A survey says that the U.S. is unfriendly to visitors.

It may be that. Or it may be that now. I never did experience that though. Of course the long lines at TSA are irritating, but they probably have those in other countries too. And it's not like I have a burning need to prove existence of my right to piss off TSA (I'm not an American, I don't have that right, so I prudently choose prudence).

There is something to be said against visa procedures. And U.S. embassies are notoriously unfriendly places (not hostile, just, suspicious and unwelcoming). But all that unfriendliness is probably justified given that so many want to go to the U.S. and so many are willing to cheat and lie to do it. I think they overreact when they put up all those defences against car bombing, but it's still understandable (though ugly).

I've never had problems with U.S. immigration or customs personnel though. Nor with TSA either. On the other hand, I'm very upfront about everything, I do my homework and don't bring anything prohibited, and I'm always relaxed at U.S. airports. I guess people who are unclear on what they're supposed to bring, or who intend to overstay their visas in the U.S. are more tense.

Of course, there's always the (probably very slight) risk that Immigration, Customs or TSA will hold the foreign traveller. People will worry about that. I tend to be very relaxed about that, if they had held me in the past, they would have let me go and I'd have had something to blog about.

Given the general tone of recent blog entries though, I'd be nervous too about going to the U.S. So I'm not going anytime soon. But, actually, I wouldn't be surprised if a trip to the U.S. now were to be as enjoyable as previous trips have been.

On the other hand, I haven't been to Europe. Maybe things are so much better there that it'd be an eye opener. I've been to Hong Kong, that was busy, businesslike, and efficient. I've been to Macau, that was unpleasant because they are so open about discriminating against Filipinos there. I will never go to Macau again unless someone is paying me incredibly big bucks to go. And even then, I will ALWAYS tell Filipinos that they shouldn't go to Macau.

So, Macau is worse than the U.S.

Israeli settlements on stolen land

Close to half of Israeli settlement land is on private palestinian land, and Israel won't do anything to help the palestinian owners get their land back.

Of course that's par for the course. Governments protect their favored citizens and they will ALWAYS steal anything they can from anyone who is helpless and has no government to protect him. The United States stole Philippine sovereignty from Filipinos, because there was no other government that would stop them at the time. That's what governments do. The United States is stealing huge tracts of Iraq right now to build tens of military bases, almost all of which, no doubt, will become permanent U.S territory, for use as torture chambers just as stolen Guantanamo is now.

Apparently, the international community is not yet strong enough to protect the rights of non-citizens (the palestinians are a people with no country since they're not citizens of israel and they don't have their own country either). Maybe in another hundred years. But maybe not.

In a visit to the Middle East former president Bush asks:
How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?

And elsewhere in the article:

Another hostile audience member, a college student in Abu Dhabi, told Bush that U.S. wars were aimed at opening markets for American companies. He said globalization was contrived for America's benefit at the expense of the rest of the world. Bush was having none of it.

"I think that's weird and it's nuts," Bush said. "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school."

The two quotes are related though, although of course an American wouldn't see the point. As a practical matter, yes, the U.S. does what it does in the world because it wants to protect and increase the incomes of U.S. companies. Free trade doesn't make any headway in the U.S. when big corn interests are concerned, but the U.S. will coerce third world countries to open their markets so that the U.S. can sell all manner of goods and services to those countries. There is nothing inherently wrong with that sort of policy. It's what governments do. The wrong there, the reason why the world looks down on U.S. policy, is that it enforces those policies with force. It bribes foreign governments to get on the bandwagon and pass legislation protecting U.S. interests (lately, primarily information technology and intellectual property rights), it strongarms the weak. It is also very successful at all of this. Mr Bush, THAT'S why everybody wants to go to the United States. It's better to be the oppressor than the oppressed. The oppressor can earn many times what the oppressed can earn and there's less chance of being killed and tortured if one is an American citizen. Sure, it's still possible (taser, taser, taser, taser deaths), but it happens much less often than out here in the real world.

Those people who want to go to the United States? They go because the good life is purchased at the cost of oppressing the rest of the world. A generalized pride in one's sons is a good thing, certainly. But mistakes should be corrected gently, and mistakes (or purposeful evil) that kills people (never mind the dead Iraqi and Afghan civilians Mr Bush, just look at those dead american kids) should be corrected vigorously. If you won't correct your son when he's killing your own citizens, do you wonder why he turned out as he did?


Mumpsimus: Rules for writing

Mumpsimus' rules for writing are hilarious

When specifying particular cities in fiction, do not use cities that have been specified in poems. Poems have so few things left of their own anymore that we should let them have their own cities.

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Reddit Reduced

From reading slashdot, reddit, digg and others (on bloglines, all of those links are sufficiently famous, they don't need the infinitesimal pagerank boost I could give them by linking to them), I see a lot of interesting links all the time. I email some of those to friends, I always forget one or another friend when sending links around. Sometimes I make up for it by sending it separately. Usually I don't though.

I think that i'll post summaries of things found on those aggregators here. So this place will become sort of reddit redux, my own favorite links from reddit, digg, etc. I won't post everything I read. but the ones that resonate. Some will be political (George W Bush, that incompetent, destined for ignominy), but hopefully there won't be as much of that. I may post some youtube videos. Actually, I probably will post quite a lot of those. Some of those are damn funny. Sol and I were laughing so hard when we saw the one on the fainting goats.

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Generation Debt and ViolentAcres

There is an article on ABC News about twenty-somethings drowning in debt. I've been watching that happen in the U.S. for nigh on 20 years now. I was in a similar (but much smaller) trap when I was in the U.S. some years.

I link to that because I saw an amusing pair of posts from Violent Acres on a related subject You can learn a lot from a rich girl, on how even little rich girls can get so sunk in debt they don't know what to do, and how she got herself sunk in debt also and how she got out of debt through drastic measures.

I'm sure there are a lot of amusing posts on that blog. I was highly entertained with the first few posts I read. Entertained enough to add her to my RSS feed. Some things are disturbing, like the post on "Retard Genocide". I guess she has "issues" then. But then I'd have found that out if I'd read more of the blog. And she does seem to make a point of being mean occasionally. Not sure what that's about. Occasional meanness makes for some entertainment. Not that much, but to pull in the hoi-polloi and get someone to buy an ad, I'm sure it helps. And some people enjoy letting out a little cattiness. I'm getting ahead of myself there though. I haven't read enough of the blog to know what she's really about. I doubt if I will, either. I don't need to make sense of her wholeness to enjoy the occasional article since she does write amusing posts. And the meanness and occasional stupidity due to "issues", well, I'm very good at ignoring stupidities as long as they don't involve someone impinging on my personal space.


following the trash

I am pleasantly surprised at a system of trash pickup that is current here in Sta Mesa, Manila. My wife and I recently moved here because it would be easier to take care of Timmy, our newborn son and because living with my in-laws would save money all around and would allow me to share an internet connection with everyone. All good things.

Every day the trash truck comes by. Unlike in the U.S., we don't have large lawns nor can we leave our trash in large, sturdy trash bags on the street since:

  1. most people won't spend the money for those trash bags since the bags are expensive and most people are poor.

  2. dogs, cats and rats will rip through the garbage looking for food.

  3. there are a lot of really poor people who will rip through the garbage looking for food and for recyclables, which they can sell.

I'm certainly not against helping the poor people recycle (in fact, read on, this *is* about helping the poor), but in ripping through the trash (usually in grocery plastic bags) the trash is scattered all over the street and can't be put back into any neat state. So the streets would have trash all over the place.

In any case, I'm pleasantly surprised by the system they have here. Maybe it's an informal system that only works with our trash truck, but it's a great system that could be emulated elsewhere. When the trash truck comes by and blows its great airhorn, a nice lady comes over to our gate and calls for the trash. She's not a garbageman at all, just an enterprising nice lady who recycles. She and her husband follow the trash truck and, when it stops, they knock on nearby doors asking for the garbage. We give them the garbage bags and they throw the garbage in the truck. Since they're nice, my mother-in-law also sets aside recyclables and gives those to the lady already separated from the trash, and pretty clean.

I bet all the houses along our row, and all the houses she visits as the truck moves along slowly all separate their garbage. It's a great way to help an enterprising woman who goes out of her way to be nice to homeowners, and who also provides a great service (without her, we would have to take the garbage out to the truck when it arrives, not a big deal for us since we're pretty close to the corner where the truck hangs out, but possibly a problem for those further down the street, especially the old and infirm who stay at home while their children work in the daytime).

It's an efficient way to recycle, it helps a lovely woman who provides a great service to a lot of people, and it doesn't cost anything. It's totally win-win. Well, maybe not. If we had a much better economy, the woman would be doing something else. But while we are trying to dig ourselves out of the hole our corrupt politicians have created for us, it's a great win-win.

I bet that woman would be a great subject for a short news story. When we throw stuff away this Christmas (we have too much stuff, sol and I regularly give away clothes we don't use anymore), I'm going to give her a lot of that stuff. I've given away enough clothes to my friends Sochie and Jack and their kids :-).


More U.S. hypocrisy

After a massacre of women and children all the U.S. can do is call for restraint. It's not enough that they provide Israel with the weapons to kill civilians. It's not enough that they send billions of dollars to Israel to maintain an economy which grinds down Palestinians (and not just the muslims, Christian Palestinians too). They call for restraint when they invade countries willy-nilly, kill civilians left and right, basically follow the israeli model of acting the bully.

They could send aid to the Palestinians, but they won't do it. Instead, when the Palestinians are killed all they can say is that they should practice restraint. That's not mere hypocrisy, that's abetting what Israel does to arab civilians. Without sending any concrete help, the U.S. is asking those being ground down by the Israeli boot to kiss the earth and make their peace with it since they're going to be down there a long time.

I'm waiting for Israeli society to wake up to their own hypocrisy and inhumanity. Seems like it's going to be a long wait though. Israel *should* survive. I love the idea of Israel. It's what they've done to themselves that I lament. They can still dig themselves out of the hole of fear and hate that they've made for themselves. But, again, it's going to be a long wait for that, particularly with the U.S. giving them all the weapons they need to dishonor themselves even more by using them against civilians, women, children, babies.


Baby is home

Sol gave birth on Nov 2, at 6:04AM or so. Timothy Joseph Quimpo is named the same as my brother, but the name really stems from my paternal grandfather Timoteo, my father Jose and our favorite (and only) maternal uncle, Jose.

I was going to post this on MonotremeTech, my other me :-) because it's sort of technical, my first youtube upload. Changed my mind though. This place needs a respite from recriminations against {elided description here} politics, politicians, and the depravity of U.S. foreign policy.


blogger downtime

Alright, I overstretched myself (but i am not an empire). I take some of that back. Despite it being almost halloween (here I would link to my latest post on monotremetech.blogspot.com, but frankly I'm afraid that the Secret Service will get me and waterboard my ass, so, no, feel free to go there, but don't tell anyone I sent you. I'm talking about the post chronologically closest to this one) I don't actually think that he slavers and lusts for blood (that is, he probably isn't the Anti-Christ, but I'm not giving better than 40-60 on that). More likely he's just an incompetent nincompooping bastard who thought everything would go well and that he'd get out of the Iraq war with, oh, less than a hundred Americans dead (he still doesn't care how many non-Americans he kills) and now he has too much pride to accept that, after 650,000 dead in Iraq alone, the war in Iraq might have been a mistake.

Pride comes before the Fall.

I hope this is the last political post here. I've pretty much decided that my family and I are not going to the U.S. while GW Bush is president, and I wouldn't be surprised if we never go to the U.S. again. Much as I love certain individual Americans, I'm just not going to risk getting cavity searched and then taking a free flight to Afghanistan where the CIA will torture my ass merely for posting my thoughts here. My friends and family in the U.S. can visit me out here in the Free World.

Damn, how did that get out there. All I was going to say was that blogger had some scheduled downtime and I had to wait an hour or two before I could post a link to a hilarious hint. I have *got* to care less about what the Americans are doing to the world.


How many deaths

The question is asked, how many deaths will it take before he knows that too many have died.

First a quibble, possibly there is some sense of horror for the deaths that the United States is inflicting (much of it indirect, to be sure, but quite a lot of direct random civilian death too) on Iraqis, Afghans and those Lebanese (children or otherwise) that George W Bush pushed the Israelis (who might not yet have been ready to unleash random death on civilians, although they would have done it on their own eventually) to kill. But that sense of horror, if it's there, doesn't show (at least in that post, maybe it shows in previous posts).

Instead, the cost is measured only in American deaths. That's par for the course, I suppose. I should not be surprised.

But to the answer. Apparently, to George W Bush, Iraq is like a volkswagen beetle. There's always space for one more. It's not like anyone is going to be able to stop the Americans in their march to a million or two million dead. They're the hyperpower of the world. One can hope (although that dwindles steadily now), that, after all that death and blood, the American people will learn something, perhaps that they should stay home and stop killing the rest of us off, defend their country and not destroy countries all over the world. But I'm not too sanguine on that lately. It's that American can-do attitude. Of *course* you can destroy this or that country. The question is, should you do it? How many dead civilians are you willing to spend? (Not your own, foreigners, rag-heads, towel-heads, gooks, whatever). Perhaps the threshold is 100,000. But perhaps not, they're far beyond that now. Perhaps it's half a million. They're a bit beyond that now in Iraq, but they spent several million Vietnamese and Korean civilian dead to pacify those countries (there's nothing quite so peaceful as the dead), so my guess is, when half the Iraqis are dead, possibly George W Bush will be done. I think that won't stop the terrorism though. As a practical matter, he'll have to kill them all. And then not stop, but leave Saudi Arabia, Iran, the West Bank, Syria, Egypt and, oh, the rest of Northern Africa a dead zone. Then, possibly he might be ready to turn on the Indonesians, Malaysians, Nigerians, Sudanese (man, maybe there's the solution to Darfur, finally), Pakistanis (oh, never mind them, they've got the Bomb, maybe they can be bribed off). And after a billion dead, the Chinese will be an existential threat. There's another billion and a few right there.

It's not that I think the Muslims of the world should be exterminated, but because killing off a fraction of them is not going to help America. Either you kill them all, or you stop killing off their civilians (and, frankly, the US government should pay incredible reparations to the survivors, but the Americans will never do that either, they can do no wrong). Unfortunately, at this point, I don't think George W Bush, or Cheney and his gang know how. They *can't* stop. It would be too humiliating to their party and their ideology to be so wrong, and with so much blood on their hands. They have to go on. The only way they're going to stop is to be kicked out of office. But GW Bush has another two years to continue the killing. Possibly losing his majorities in both the House and the Senate will put a brake on the killing though. If only for that, I pray that the Republicans lose *big*. I normally root for Republicans since they are marginally (very marginally) more conservative and less stupidly leftist as the Democrats. But this year, and perhaps for another decade, they need to be kept away from the rest of the world. We'd rather not die, or be tortured, either by the US government or by countries to which the US will export us to be tortured. No thanks.


On trusting american foreign policy

From a post in The National Review, by Michael Rubin, one of the most powerful and lovely letters I have ever seen. On the other hand, the source is David Frum, so possibly it's not true, or, at any rate, is slanted toward untruth. But the letter itself is lovely, and it reflects on all american policy, not just whoever Frum's enemy at the time was.

Dear Excellency and Friend,

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on this spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we all are born and must die. I have only committed the mistake of believing you.

Sirik Matak, the author was offered the opportunity to leave with the Americans, he stayed in Phnom Penh instead and was shot in the stomach by the Khmer Rouge.

The post is meant to be a lesson for the "Abandon Iraq crowd". I don't see much point in that <rest of this rant deleted for being unworthy of Sirik Matak's memory>


The American Way of War

No, not really. I don't have either the time or the patience to find links, so I'm going to take a lot of quotes from one article out of context, and I'll generalize them.

The article is Korea: forgotten nuclear threats.

Napalm was invented at the end of the second world war. It became a major issue during the Vietnam war, brought to prominence by horrific photos of injured civilians. Yet far more napalm was dropped on Korea and with much more devastating effect, since the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had many more populous cities and urban industrial installations than North Vietnam.

and a bit further down:

“Men all around me were burned. They lay rolling in the snow. Men I knew, marched and fought with begged me to shoot them . . . It was terrible. Where the napalm had burned the skin to a crisp, it would be peeled back from the face, arms, legs . . . like fried potato chips” (2).

That's a quote about friendly fire, napalm being dropped on American troops, here's what they did to the civilians:

“The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they held when the napalm struck - a man about to get on his bicycle, 50 boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears-Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No 3,811,294 for a $2.98 ‘bewitching bed jacket - coral’.” US Secretary of State Dean Acheson wanted censorship authorities notified about this kind of “sensationalised reporting”, so it could be stopped (3).

One of the first orders to burn towns and villages that I found in the archives was in the far southeast of Korea, during heavy fighting along the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950, when US soldiers were bedevilled by thousands of guerrillas in rear areas. On 6 August a US officer requested “to have the following towns obliterated” by the air force: Chongsong, Chinbo and Kusu-dong. B-29 strategic bombers were also called in for tactical bombing. On 16 August five groups of B-29s hit a rectangular area near the front, with many towns and villages, creating an ocean of fire with hundreds of tons of napalm. Another call went out on the 20 August. On 26 August I found in this same source the single entry: “fired 11 villages” (4). Pilots were told to bomb targets that they could see to avoid hitting civilians, but they frequently bombed major population centres by radar, or dumped huge amounts of napalm on secondary targets when the primary one was unavailable.

MacArthur’s orders were “to destroy every means of communication and every installation, and factories and cities and villages. This destruction is to start at the Manchurian border and to progress south.” On 8 November 1950, 79 B-29s dropped 550 tons of incendiaries on Sinuiju, “removing [it] from off the map”. A week later Hoeryong was napalmed “to burn out the place”. By 25 November “a large part of [the] North West area between Yalu River and south to enemy lines is more or less burning”; soon the area would be a “wilderness of scorched earth” (7).

Without even using such “novel weapons” - although napalm was very new - the air war levelled North Korea and killed millions of civilians. North Koreans tell you that for three years they faced a daily threat of being burned with napalm: “You couldn’t escape it,” one told me in 1981. By 1952 just about everything in northern and central Korea had been completely levelled. What was left of the population survived in caves.

This is what the American military does best. In Iraq, the American invasion and occupation is directly and indirectly responsible for around 600,000 deaths.

That's only 600,000 though. I'm wondering when the Americans are going to get moving and kill off another million or two as they did in Vietnam. That's one good thing about modern media though, it keeps the Americans on notice that there's someone watching. So they only massacre piecemeal these days, instead of killing off a million civilians a year.

It's unfortunate that the American civilians don't learn anything. All they care about are the American dead and wounded. All they learn after another war is how to minimize American casualties by increasing enemy and civilian casualties.

I can hope that the international media can keep the Americans from Nuking Iran or North Korea, but given that George Bush is a nut (probably more of a nut now than when he started, frustration does that to nuts), as are most of his neoconservative cronies, although possibly Cheney is just in it for the war-profiteering, more war, more business for Halliburton), I don't bet too much on that. I'm not an American though and can't do anything about this situation. The Americans will have to clean it up for themselves. But since they don't learn, well, I don't have too much hope for that either. Maybe they'll kick out a lot of Republicans this November, but what good will that do? It'll probably just push Bush over the edge, that much closer to nuking someone, anyone.


Kids pray

Kids pray. Great post by Unaa at slibe.com.

And another image I can related to (although timmy isn't doing that yet, I think), is a baby's foot mark on a pregnant woman's belly. That's probably a photoshopped image though, given that the images is marked tonterias.com.


Now *that's* a fine rant

I hardly mean to imply that George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob and mislead us for the benefit of his friends. That idea deserves to be stated outright: George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob and mislead us for the benefit of his friends. What I mean to imply is that his free ride on our backs was made possible by the clever solution Congress found to its conundrum back in 1917: a law that deems guilty of a federal offense anyone who knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail . . . any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States . . . or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat. . . .

and there's more!

Here are those tropes: the president is ignorant; the president is cruel; the president is a zealot; the president is a tool of the corporations; the president hides his agenda from the people; the president's agenda endangers the people; the president is a thief; the president is a madman; the president is a fraternity boy; the president is a warlord; the president is a drunkard; the president is a criminal; the president is protected by his cronies; the president is a smug prevaricator; the president should be removed from office.

and yet again.

True, George W. Bush is an ignorant, cruel, closed-minded, avaricious, sneaky, irresponsible, thieving, brain-damaged frat boy with a drinking problem and a taste for bloodshed, whose numerous crimes have been abetted by the moral corruption of his party cohort and whose contempt for American military lives alone warrants his impeachment

How has it profited the people for their writers to argue that a wealthy, comfortable citizen deserves a wealthy, comfortable retirement when we all know full well that he has earned confinement and conviction and perhaps even a request for that barbaric death penalty he so loudly supports?

alright, that's only halfway through the article. now I want to enjoy the article without having to switch tabs and post more quotes here.
Ashamed to be an american - capitolhillblue.com

I've been reading Capitol Hill Blue for a few days. Saw it on reddit and followed some links. It seems to be strongly anti-Bush. Which is a comfortable thing for me, although I'm surprised that I'm reading Democrats and agreeing with them :-). That's just a phase though, probably. With GW Bush and his gang working so hard to destroy America from within (and, this is the part I care about, killing and burning in the wider world at the same time, where they might hit me and mine by mistake or on purpose), it's possible to agree with people who are misguided on many other issues most of the time :-).

I tend to agree with a lot of the people at LewRockwell.com which tends to the libertarian, I think. That's a bit more comfortable. I'm not a libertarian myself, but I tend to that side more than to the Democrats on the left or the Christian/Evangelist wing of the Republicans (on which side there are just as many nuts *cough*Pat Robertson*cough*Falwell*cough*cough*, as there are freaks on the democratic far-left).

It's not that strange that I think in terms of U.S. political parties. I lived in the U.S. for a bit and am pretty familiar with their politics and politicians. I might be more familiar with U.S. politicians than the majority of american citizens. and all because I read the Washington Post for the Redskins news and the opinion section on world issues :-).

No nukes

I take it back. It's possible, but not likely that the U.S. will nuke Iran. It's almost certain that it won't nuke North Korea either. It's still possible. GW Bush has a bunch of nuts (including, possibly, himself) in his gang, but perhaps sanity is breaking out in the White House. In any case, it's much more likely that if they do intend to nuke (or actually do nuke), it'll leak and the whole gang will be lynched. So, merely out of self preservation, they probably won't nuke.

There'll still be tens of thousands of dead (maybe 90% of them innocent civilians) on the ground if the U.S. decides to go to war, but perhaps that war with Iran can be averted.

I was surfing along on Reddit, when I saw this discussion of why the U.S. is the target of so much worldwide resentment. There are many sub-pages (I think the summaries of those subpages should have more information, I almost didn't click on the header entries to go to the details) and I haven't read it all. So I don't necessarily agree with that. I don't know much about the authors either, so I don't know what kind of spin they're putting on things. Reading it will certainly be educational though, either because it'll point at uncomfortable truths, or because the details will be wrogn, exposing the mistakes in the discussion, or (more likely), it'll be some mix of both, exposing the reader's prejudices as the discussion works as a rorschach, although one tilted toward the truth rather than being purely random.

The list of coups arranged or supported by the U.S. has 35 or so coups listed. I'm aware of some of those, I wasn't aware there were so many. Nor do I know how deeply the U.S. is involved (possibly, on one or another it was just a fellow traveler, supporting friends). I'll need to read up, possibly from some other sources since the krysstal site might not be objective (likely it's not objective, everyone has an agenda, but possibly the data are objective enough, particularly if counter-checked against other sources).

Wow, the List of U.S. military interventions is too long, I lost patience counting them. Again, as above, more reading is required. I wouldn't be surprised though if the U.S. comes out far the worst.

I tend to agree with the base site's prologue though, that *The American people are generally a friendly, kindly and compassionate people. If they knew one tenth of what their governments get up to around the world and in their dealings with foreign governments and people, there would be an enormous outcry.*. On the other hand, those same people, nice as they are individually, are also to blame because they are just so apathetic, enjoying the benefits of their nation's bullying of others and hiding the inconvenient facts from themselves. And in so doing, they think far too well of themselves as if the glory of the Founding Fathers (whose glory was earned with genius, privation and war) was their own glory, when all they do now is bask in the comfort earned from bullying the rest of the world (and, to be fair, from the economic vitality of american workers, their willingness to work harder than any other first-world nation, and the resources of a large landmass, and the resources of those they can bully).

That's really too bad. The U.S. could still be a city on a hill, a beacon and a guide to the world. It's going to be decades though, perhaps generations, before the evils of the last century or so of expansion can be forgotten.


More U.S. prisoner abuse discussion.

I wonder if america will listen. probably not yet. It'll be another decade or so of bullying the world before anything good comes out of Washington. And it's likely that it won't be much good. America won't have learned anything. Or if they do, it'll be the wrong thing. That next time they should just nuke the enemy, or kill 1/10th of the population pour encourager les autres.

although I wouldn't be surprised if they nuke Iran and North Korea before ten years are up. It's the same old-same old. non-citizens don't count for much against a single american life. It's their right to make that choice, when they're attacked. These days though, it's the americans roiling up the world and sowing war.

The above is not a prediction, just an assessment of likelihoods. I hope it doesn't come to pass, but the character of the U.S. government, and the apathy of the american public to the pain they cause outside their country are not improved by wishful thinking.


Inspiring - damn, those spaniards have style

Now, see, *this* is style. FC Barcelona will put the Unicef name on their jerseys AND ANNUALLY CONTRIBUTE more than a million dollars to Unicef, inspiring. Instead of making money on the jerseys (other teams make many millions of dollars a year for the brand name placement), they're PAYING to put UNICEF's name on their jerseys.

That's so far from The hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy they're not even in the same moral universe. Of course there's also bill gates and warren buffet giving so much money to charity, that's also inspiring, except not really since they have all that money and frankly, they're so rich they don't even feel human.

I'd consider immigrating to spain. or other points in Europe. I really like New Zealand, which is why sol and I are actually working and spending and investing real hard-earned money to immigrate there (it's nothing like a sure thing, we are doing what we can though, and we're hoping for the best). The U.S. though, much as I love individual americans, and in fact, generally, the people of the U.S.A., no, the politics and government, and foreign policy of that country are just so far on the evil side of things that I would never immigrate there.

I wish happiness to those who decide to immigrate there, and to those who were born there or have already immigrated. It's not for me though. And again, I wish the U.S. would fall back to its borders and stop threatening the rest of the world. Or if it wanted to do good, it could go to Darfur and do real good, instead of actively creating terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan (and, likely, in the near future, in Iran, looks like George W Bush is spoiling for another fight so that the Republicans can campaign on GWOT and patriotism again, all this while he destroys his own country from the inside).


Atis season, Lanzones Season, and Camiguin Diving and fun

It's Atis season in the Philippines and I'm in hog heaven because of it. It's important to choose good atis (generally, large/fat scales) because the low quality atis aren't fleshy inside and are no fun to eat. I love the fruit. It's very sweet and satisfying when fleshy. It's a bit expensive in Manila, but then that's why salaries are higher here too, to compensate for the high prices and the general misery of city life (not that much of a problem now, since I'm very happily married, we're excited about the baby and I just don't go out. Home is wonderful (as is fast internet.

I just saw a post that said that Atis seeds are toxic (pounded into a paste, they are used to kill head lice). Fortunately I've never been tempted to swallow Atis seeds (not the case with lanzones and santol).

It's also Lanzones season. And it's going to be Lanzones Festival on Camiguin. Sol and I both wish we could go. We can't though, she's into her 8th month of pregnancy now and I don't think they let you on a plane at that late stage. Not that we could afford to go anyway, work is crazy (but great fun), and we couldn't Dive on Camiguin anyway, we miss diving at the unfished reserves on Mantigue Island and off White Island, and sol hasn't been to the great dive site off Sunken Cemetery yet. Maybe in May. When we were taking our advanced open water diver course, we had our night dive at

Tangub bay
That was great fun. I didn't realize that there would be so many lionfish (even mating lionfish!) at Tangub at night, and we saw a lot of shrimp (easy to see at night, their eyes shine, hard to see in the daytime since they're almost transparent), sleeping/non-moving fish, and a very large cuttlefish which, when it got irritated by us shining lights on it, inked up and zoomed away so fast we could hardly see it.

This is from our

pre-wedding dive (the morning of the wedding, my mom thought we were nuts diving in the morning and marrying in the afternoon :-) at Mantigue island.

I miss Camiguin. Before I met sol, I lived in Cagayan de Oro and I'd go to Camiguin every weekend. I'd buy some fruits at the fruit stand and drive up to

Katibawasan Falls
and eat them there.

For our wedding, we had

Friends and Family
with us. Lots of fun at the waterfalls and all around the island, including

White Island where, I think that's Paco snorkeling across my brother-in-law's perfect picture, I think this is where Paco was following the giant purple sea slug which was sliding along the shallow bottom there

All right, this appreciation of the lovely Atis is getting away from me now. time to end it here :-)


clogged head

I've been, too slowly, recovering from the head cold, fever, chest cold, cough that I developed last week. Apart from the main problems, I was also dizzy much of the time. Still am, really. But things are getting better. I'll probably be able to go to work tomorrow (Wed). I'd like to go to work TODAY, but sol suggests resting until all the symptoms are gone. And, much as I'd like to work today, I can't contradict massive common sense. Ah well. Tomorrow.

The thing with a clogged head (haha, clogged sinuses, dizziness and the clogged headedness that all feels like) is that I can't even work remotely. Well, I could, but I doubt if the results would be any good.


St Luke's visa health tests

Sol and I spent five days or so going to the St Luke's diagnostics facility in Ermita. We're applying for immigration to New Zealand (prettier, less stressful than the U.S., among the least corrupt countries on earth, it's going to be a great place to raise a family). As part of that process, we both had to undergo a bunch of tests. I got some extra tests added on, so we had to spend more time there.

St Luke's has the best blood extractors I have ever met :-). Everytime I've had to have blood taken (including when I gave blood for my stepfather's surgery, when the med techs were very, very good) there's been a problem. At St Luke's too, there was a problem. It seems I have thick skin (the needle gets dull as it goes in) and the vein is shy (it moves away from the dull needle). But the med tech was very good. She stuck me in the right, the vein didn't like it, she stuck me on the left arm, and that worked very well. She was done before I knew it.

Overall, the service there is very good. One of my friends didn't like the way the staff told her where to go, but I think she was just being over sensitive. It's a very efficient system. I would get upset too if the system were inefficient, with to-ing and fro-ing in illogical and wasteful movements. But they really do have a very efficient system. Everyone knows exactly what to do, and they do it very well. Everyone is always pleasant too. As well they should be. I'm sure that St Luke's contract with the American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand embassies for providing health screening services is very lucrative. I'm sure they put their best people there.

The system is also designed to be secure. As, again, it should be. Naturally, they don't want the records to be tampered with, or the doctors to be reached and influenced. They've got good safeguards in the system to make such tampering very difficult (nothing is impossible).

I had a hell of a time producing phlegm for the sputum test though. The doctors are very thorough and they added tests which, while someone else might have considered them unnecessary, if viewed objectively, were clearly easy to justify and not merely a matter of padding the bill (every test added to the costs, fortunately, we could cover those costs). I'd had lung damage a few years back, from a motorcycle accident. The doctors saw something suspicious in the lungs and, despite the knowledge of the accident, they ordered extra lung X-rays and the sputum test anyway. This was for detecting tuberculosis. Again, reasonable, and I have no quarrel with the choice. It would have been nice to have been spared, but it was understandable to have had that added on.

But again, I had a hell of a time producing the sample. One has to cough and produce sputum or "plema" from the lungs. And I had no lung problems (it had been perhaps 5 months since I last had a cough). I just couldn't produce anything. On the third day though (three samples are required, on consecutive days), I finally produced a good sample. I'd gotten a cold and a cough, perhaps from the cold airconditioning at St Lukes and at work, but also from being in the rain for a short while after work. So finally I coughed up something that looked like brains and that satisfied the medtechs.

All in all, I'm happy with St Luke's. It's a very good hospital, they have very, very good people there. It's expensive, but for this, and for things like Sol's ovarian cyst removal and upcoming giving birth, it's worthwhile.