Friday, December 10, 2004

Evil keyboard!
Observe.
Jonah's not convinced
that the Left takes terrorism seriously:
This is more than an academic point: "Sure, 9/11 was a wakeup call," Drum writes, but since we haven't been attacked as badly at home since, there's no reason to conclude that 9/11 was our generation's Pearl Harbor. In other words, if Bush hadn't done as good a job fighting the war on terrorism, Drum might be more convinced that the war on terrorism is worth fighting.

Forgive me for ever thinking liberals couldn't be tough on the war on terror.
Indeed.

Bonus: VDH is invoking Tolkien.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Yes, I used to be a Pantera fan,
back in my head-banging days. I've seen them in concert twice. Dimebag Darrell and I actually interacted at one of them. I was in the front row in the Kansas Coliseum. The band had a keg of beer on the side of the stage and members would occasionally disappear to fill a plastic cup with brew. While the lead singer was going off on some speech, Darrell got a cup, rested it on the end of his guitar neck and held it over the crowd right in front of me. Everyone grabbed for it, but I was much taller, so I got it. He yelled, "Drink it, man!" and I did. Good times, good times.
I can't remember,
David, if you're a fan of Pantera, or their follow-up band, Damageplan. But, today is a sad day for metal fans.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hey, Kill-Bot!
Have you seen this? How about this?

The second one made me laugh because, after serving a year in Afghanistan, he was called up to serve in Iraq. Not wanting to go, he filed for conscientious objector status. Isn't it a bit late to apply for conscientious status after you've already been to a war zone?
The New York Times
has an annoying op-ed today about the U.N's recent report on reforming some of the organization's bureaucracy. Annoying? Yes, because it seems to be willfully blind to what the U.N. really is: A debating society for the world's worst tyrannies.

From the article (my comments in brackets):
Without a robust U.N., there would be no effective international brake on nuclear weapons proliferation...

[Yes, because they've been so effective in North Korea and Iran. Didn't the I.A.E.A. recently say they don't have the authority to inspect anything that Iran doesn't let them inspect? How's that effective?]

...no globally coordinated fight against AIDS...

[This is tragic. However, until the U.N. and the NGO's running the show get serious about preventing the spread of AIDS, not just treating those who already have it, this is going to continue to be a tragedy. Uganada is the new model. Why? Because they've made abstinence part of their message -- if you don't have sex, you won't get AIDS -- and they've seen a stunning drop in infection rates.]

...no worldwide advocate for the development needs of the world's poor and no authoritative body for restoring hope to failed, rogue and occupied states...

[Yes, because U.N. peacekeeping forces and humanitarian missions the world over are seen as paragons of virtue and strength. That's why the peacekeepers are known to stand by and watch atrocities and humanitarians have been involved in food-for-sex scandals.]

...The same United Nations that Washington too readily brushed aside in invading Iraq...

[Funny. I seem to recall both Bush and Powell making the case for the invasion directly to the U.N. I believe Bush exhorted the U.N. to get involved, as they risked being sidelined.]

...now represents a crucial component of any short-term American exit strategy from the deepening Iraqi quagmire.
The NYTimes also says that reforms must be made with regards to the U.N's view of preventive war:
There are times when such extraordinary actions are in fact justified, but only when a clear and convincing case has been made to the Security Council, based on solid evidence and an objective, independent analysis.
Yeah, that's what our national security needs: An obstructionist cacophony of probably corrupt states (e.g. Russia and France) don't get to deliberate on our national security.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I picked up,
read the dust jacket, and then set down What's the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank when I was in Borders a couple of months ago. The book seemed to be a fairly unoriginal examination of hard government hand-out self-interest packaged as meaningful insight. Example: Farmers would benefit from expanded subsidies, and the Democrats are more willing to give it to them. Therefore, farmers who don't vote Demorcat are dumb. Of course, this ignores the 10,000 other reasons why a typical Kansas farmer might not like the Democratic Party.

Anyway, this book seems to be the one that just won't die. I've seen a number of articles on it in recent weeks (almost so many I'm actually think of buying the book just so I can laugh along with the people savaging its thesis), and the ones from the conservative side are all pointing to the same things: The author just doesn't understand that there are other things that people value more than how much money they can squeeze from the government.

OpinionJournal has an illuminating op-ed today talking about the book. Here's how the article describes his view of his hometown:
Things are especially bad in his old hometown of Shawnee, where, during his visits, he no longer sees anyone in the streets. Instead, "heaps of rusting junk and snarling rottweilers" blight the landscape.
Kansas overall?
Mr. Frank paints a grim picture of the state and its towns. Kansas is "pretty much in a free fall," he informs us, and as a result of its economic devastation, it's "a civilization in the early stages of irreversible decay."
First off, Shawnee is in Johnson County, probably the wealthiest county in Kansas. If Frank thinks that Shawnee is an example of urban blight, or, more likely, a ghetto of trailer parks and half-dead feral pack dogs, he needs to visit home more often, or he needs to stop taking the hallucinogens.

Second, the Kansas economy is actually one of the strongest in the country. From the OpinionJournal article:
Mr. Frank's characterization of the Jayhawk State is completely--bizarrely--at odds with the facts. Kansas's economy has actually outpaced the nation's for years.
My guess is that Frank published the book for his coastal friends, who have probably never set foot in the state of Kansas, let alone know a thing about it, and who probably think that Bleeding Kansas is still something of a reality. None of those people would be in a position to challenge the notion that Shawnee was an economic cesspool, or that Kansas is so economically depressed that Kansans will have to make a second living selling pencils on the street corner.

And, from personal experience, I can tell you that coastal people can really be clueless about what the Mid-West is like. When I was at Harvard, a fellow student actually asked me, in all seriousness, if Howard Stern was available in Kansas, as if to say that radio transmittion ended at the Missouri River, or that we didn't yet have those new-fangled ray-dee-oh machines. I think the look of incredulity on my face was effective in hammering home the notion that the covered-wagon days were, in fact, over.
You like me, you really like me!
Or so I gather. Yes, yes, it is an honor to receive the First Annual In Whack Blog-tastic Awards Best Individual Blogger award. And, in my defense, I think I usually say something along the lines of, "I don't know why I continue to read Andrew Sullivan," so, David, my continued Sullivan commentary is more masochism than out-and-out hypocrisy.

It's kind of like that time you ordered the Nerds Blizzard at Dairy Queen many, many moons ago (why do I remember stuff like this). You took one bite, couldn't stand it and ordered something else. I took a bite, said, "Yes, this is really horrible," and proceeded to eat about half of it before Dad pointed out that, if, indeed, it was really that bad, maybe I should throw it away.

I'm glad you gave yourself best post. Quite deserving, though I think your theory may be flawed. I'm still trying to figure out how it is we get some of the random comments we get. Our most frequent commentor is the infamous "Jesse," but I know who he is. Other comments are posted by the less-than-infamous-but-slightly-nefarioius "Anonymous," and I don't know how they got here. Do we have any trackbacks?

I do think that Bart needs some kind of award, though. I mean, he's our token Elton John fan. Other than "Sad Songs" and "Benny and the Jets," I don't know that I can come up with more song titles than that. Something about mad-hatters, I think. I have no idea. Bart has all the lyrics to all of Sir Elton's songs tattooed on his back.

And, as an aside, I'd like to point out how really, really shallow the pool of applicants must be when the Queen is knighting entertainers like Elton John. I don't mean to disparage the man or his music, but there was a time when being dubbed Sir So-and-So meant that you were a loyal and faithful protector of the Crown. Bart might lob a scimitar at me for this reference, but the best example I can think of at this moment is someone like General Montgomery. Yes, he was the British version of George MacClellan with paratroopers, but at least his knighthood made sense. Sir Elton John? Sir Alec Guiness? Sir Anthony Hopkins? Talented men, all, but certainly not exemplars of what knighthood was supposed to be about.
In the spirit of self-serving award ceremonies,
as brought to everyone's attention by Joe, I would like to present the First Annual In Whack Blog-tastic Awards.

This year's award for Best Group Blog goes to In Whack, which is certainly the most important, most thoughtful, most sincere, most eclectic and least read blog ever.

The Best Individual Blogger certification of merit and commerative Bic pen goes to Joe, but only because it wouldn't be fair for me to award it to myself and Bart has not made enough posts to qualify. Besides, Joe wins on entertainment value for repeatedly saying he'd never read Andrew Sullivan again and then posting about something he'd read on Sullivan's blog.

The six-foot golden fence post trophy for Best Post goes to me for this post, wherein I hint that I may make more posts about D&D yet never have, making it the a trap for the billions of D&D fans to visit our blog wondering if I'll ever post some exciting stories and thus ensuring high site traffic. That was the theory, anyway.

Congratulations to all the winners. Party at Elton John's place.
Brilliant, I say. Brilliant.
You're an international organization established on the heels of global war. Your original purpose is noble, and initial expectations are high. Over time, you become bloated by internal corruption and weighted down by kleptocrats and thugs who game your internal workings in order to hijack real issues. Recent world events find you sidelined, and when you do attempt action, you quickly retreat when something actually happens. Corruption scandals abound, and as you try your best to sully any possible, meaningful investigations and reform, you get the answer: Your own international awards ceremony. That'll help keep you out of the ash-bin of history.

From the article:
The United Nations — desperately in need of some positive spin — is considering a ploy to steal some of the Norwegian Nobel thunder by launching its own annual peace prize. It doesn't hurt that the highly politicized Nobel Peace Prize has been bestowed to such unpeaceful types as Yasser Arafat and appeasers like Jimmy Carter. "The United Nations peace prize would be announced each year with the fanfare of a Live Aid-like concert, to be broadcast on a youth channel like MTV," said one source. "In the face of widespread corruption in Iraq's oil-for-food program, weapons proliferation and terrorism, it strikes one as both tone-deaf and feckless of them even to have that on the table."