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Bush, the Evil Kirk

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

Ron Moore hints at it on the 40th anniversary of Star Trek:

Kirk, for me, embodied an American idea: His mission was to explore the final frontier, not to conquer it. He was moral without moralizing. Week after week, he confronted the specters of intolerance and injustice, and week after week found a way to defeat them without ever becoming them. Jim Kirk may have beat up his share of bad guys, but you could never imagine him torturing them.

A favorite quote: “We’re human beings, with the blood of a million savage years on our hands. But we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers, but we won’t kill today.” Kirk clearly understood humanity’s many flaws, yet never lost faith in our ability to rise above the muck and reach for the stars.


And as I grew into an adult, and my political views took shape, I treasured “Star Trek” as a dream of what my country could one day become — a liberal and tolerant society, unafraid to live by its ideals in a dangerous universe, and secure in the knowledge that its greatness derived from the strength of its ideas rather than the power of its phasers.

Incidentally, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the parallels being established between the Cylon occupation of New Caprica and the US occupation of Iraq in the BSG webisodes are heavy handed, but they’re certainly evident.


Sooner Fans are a Classy Lot

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

I guess if you’re from Oklahoma there really isn’t that much else to live for…

The instant replay official whose failure to overturn a bad call led to a narrow Oregon victory over Oklahoma said Monday he feels like he is under siege after threatening phone calls, including a death threat.


Riese said he has stopped answering the phone, and police are investigating the threatening calls while keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

“They not only threatened me, they threatened my wife and kids,” Riese said.

Austin Bay takes the Blue Pill

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

Austin Bay escaped reality a while ago. Now he’s found himself in some bizarre parody of reality, and he’s trying to escape that, too:

Iraq, albeit slowly and painfully, is getting stronger politically and militarily. Soon it will have more than one mech division. Eventually it will have better tanks to go with its improving troops– and in any border confrontation its tanks and troops will enjoy US air support. Iraq is one reason Iran wants a nuke– to defend itself against a democratic Iraq that won’t put up with the old Middle Eastern game of tit for tat terror, sectarian and ethnic meddling, and autocratic maintenance.

Why yes, Austin. Iraq is slowly and painfully getting stronger politically and militarily, to the degree that its elected political officials are openly discussing the possibility of the managed disintegration of the country. It’s military capabilities have become so advanced that it is less able to fight the insurgency and stave off civil war now than it was a year ago. It is so threatening that, with the assistance of the 130000 troops from the most powerful army in the world, it can’t manage to secure its capitol, and indeed is in the process of building a moat that is supposed to seal the capitol off from the rest of the country. Iraq is so threatening that its prime minister recently had to visit Iran in order to beg for assistance against the insurgency.

The problem that Bay and Reynolds have is that they must paper over two fundamentally irreconcilable positions. On the one hand, they can’t backtrack on support of the Iraq War, the most notable consequence of which has been the strengthening of Iran’s position in the region. On the other hand, they want to hype the Iranian threat beyond all plausibility. So, at the same time that they decry growing Iranian influence in Iraq, and suggest (implausibly) Iranian control of the Iraqi insurgency, they need to somehow argue that the destruction of Hussein’s regime has actually weakened Iran’s position. The one point where I’ll give credit to Bay is in creativity; most wingnutty warhawks are content to argue that “we have an army next door to Iran” which, of course, ignores the fact that the army in question is currently occupied. Bay takes it a step farther; we don’t actually have to do anything, because the Iraqis are going to take care of all of this for us.

And this is what passes for expert commentary on the right side of the blogosphere. Right Blogistan: A mass consensual hallucination.

Yarr, Matey

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

Remember that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Act accordingly, ye scurvy dogs.

Fear the Reaper?

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

From Air Force Link:

The Air Force chief of staff announced “Reaper” has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Air Force is the Department of Defense’s executive agent for designating and naming military aerospace vehicles.

In the case of the Reaper, Gen. T. Michael Moseley made the final decision after an extensive nomination and review process, coordinated with the other services.

“The name Reaper is one of the suggestions that came from our Airmen in the field. It’s fitting as it captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system,” General Moseley said.

The MQ-9 Reaper is the Air Force’s first hunter-killer UAV. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles.

Gus Van Rant supplies the punchline:

For all the armaments the Reaper carries, it needs more cowbell

On Local Media Ownership

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

In an aside to an otherwise excellent post on the FCC, Amanda writes:

Local ownership means, on average, that the audience is getting troubling high amounts of actual news, which is good for democracy and bad for BushCo.

Is this really true? I have my doubts. The report shows that they’re getting more news, but that isn’t necessarily good for democracy, bad for Bush, etc. The conflict regarding ownership of local media isn’t between big national media conglomerates and local folks; it’s between massive corporations that are far away and very rich people who are nearby. Local capital is not, necessarily or even typically, more progressive or committed to democracy or committed to general news accuracy than corporate conglomerates. Local ownership provides diversity only to the extent that we hear news from different rich people.

Although I haven’t followed the Seattle news scene in a while, around 2000 the PI (owned by the Hearst corporation) was a good deal more progressive across the board than the Times (owned by local capital). Maybe this is an exception, but I wouldn’t bet on it; families rich enough to own newspapers (or TV stations) are not, by and large, a progressive lot.

Wanker of the Day

[ 0 ] September 18, 2006 |

University of Oklahoma President David Boren.

Suck it up, Sooners. Better luck at the track.

China in Lebanon

[ 0 ] September 18, 2006 |

You heard it here first….


China will increase its peacekeeping presence in Lebanon to 1,000 troops, Premier Wen Jiabao has confirmed. The move would make China one of the largest contributors to a strengthened UN force designed to keep the peace.

Here are the current troop totals, including pledges:

France – lead role, 2,000 troops
Italy – 2,500-3,000 troops
Bangladesh – two battalions (2,000 troops)
China – 1,000 troops
Malaysia – one battalion
Spain – mechanised battalion
Indonesia – battalion and engineering company
Nepal – one battalion
Denmark – at least two ships
Poland – 500 troops
Belgium – 400 troops
Finland – 250 troops
Germany – maritime/border patrols, no combat troops
Norway – 100 soldiers

We Truly Live in a Wondrous Age

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

So, content at having picked up my copy of World War Z this afternoon, I’m wandering the internet and find this:

Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it’s not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner.

Believe me when I tell you that there is very little in this world that could make me happier than the prospect of a post-apocalyptic nightmare novel written by Cormac McCarthy. I eagerly await the 26th of September.

Sunset Accompanied by Darkness…. Developing

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Via Atrios, Drudge seems somehow surprised that Roger Waters doesn’t care for George Bush. Frankly, I think that The Final Cut was released 25 years too soon…

The Fletcher Memorial Home

take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
and build them a home a little place of their own
the fletcher memorial
home for incurable tyrants and kings
and they can appear to themselves every day
on closed circuit t.v.
to make sure they’re still real
it’s the only connection they feel
“ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig
mr. begin and friend mrs. thatcher and paisley
mr. brezhnev and party
the ghost of mccarthy
the memories of nixon
and now adding colour a group of anonymous latin
american meat packing glitterati”
did they expect us to treat them with any respect
they can polish their medals and sharpen their
smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for a while
boom boom, bang bang, lie down you’re dead
safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
with their favourite toys
they’ll be good girls and boys
in the fletcher memorial home for colonial
wasters of life and limb
is everyone in?
are you having a nice time?
now the final solution can be applied

I think that George Bush might deserve his own stanza. I guess it must be tough to find out that all of your classic rock heroes actually meant the things that they wrote in their songs. Then again, I’m sure that some faction of wingnuttery has convinced itself that John Lennon would have favored the invasion of Iraq…

Sunday Battleship Blogging: SMS Viribus Unitis

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Viribus Unitis was the first Austrian dreadnought, commissioned in December 1912. Viribus Unitis carried 12 12″ guns in four triple superfiring turrets, giving her a 12 gun broadside and 6 gun end on fire. She could make 20 knots, but displaced only 20000 tons. Although reasonably well protected from surface fire, Viribus Unitis had very poor underwater protection and was vulnerable to torpedo attack. Early on in the design process, German engineers recommended that the top two turrets be reduced from three to two guns, and that the weight saving be used to shore up her compartmentation. Unfortunately, this advice was rejected.

Austria-Hungary was reluctant to use Viribus Unitis and her sisters aggressively. The German Navy requested the deployment of the three dreadnoughts in August 1914 to support Goeben. However, because Austria-Hungary hoped to remain at peace with the United Kingdom, and because the Austrians feared that a big naval display would bring Italy into the war, the request was declined. This must be regarded as a poor strategic decision; VU and her sisters would play virtually no role in the war after 1914, and early vigorous employment might have damaged the Royal Navy. Neither Admiral Troubridge’s force of four armored cruisers nor the battlecruisers Indomitable and Inflexible (chasing Goeben at the time) would have stood much chance against the Austrian ships.

The rest of Viribus Unitis’ career was uneventful. In May 1915, she bombarded the Italian port city Ancona. In 1918, she and her three sisters sortied to attack the Otranto Barrage, a set of defenses designed to seal the Adriatic off and trap the Austrian Navy. Szent Istvan, one of VU’s sisters, was struck by two torpedos and sank, leading to the cancellation of the operation. Viribis Unitis returned to port, where she sat while Austria-Hungary disintegrated.

In late October 1918, Croatia and Slovenia severed their connection to the Hapsburg crown. Emperor Karl I, a stand up guy when he wasn’t ordering the gassing of his enemies, turned over the entire Austrian Navy to the state that would (eventually) become Yugoslavia. The Allies, however, refused to recognize this transfer. The Italians in particular were not enthusiastic about the creation of a new, large Slavic state with a large and powerful navy. On October 31st, two Italian frogmen entered Pula harbor and attached a mine to Viribus Unitis’ hull. The two frogmen were captured before the mine exploded, and brought aboard the Croatian battleships. When questioned, they admitted that they had attached a mine, and recommended that the ship be abandoned. Panic and frenzy ensued, with the Croatian sailors understandably irritated at the Italians. The ship was partially abandoned and the mine exploded. 300 sailors who had remained on board for damage control, as well as the admiral of the Croatian Navy, died when the ship capsized.

Most of the wreck of Viribus Unitis remains at the bottom of Pula Harbor. A more detailed description of her loss can be found here.

Trivia: What battleship was capable of launching 22 aircraft?

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Proper and Appropriate

Via Sullivan.

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