Hrm… are we “losing” Thailand?

To bring up the old Cold War phrasing…

Why would Thailand suddenly jump ship arms-wise and sign a huge Sukhoi deal?
There’s only one thing that makes any sense to me, and that is that with Thailand recently sitting unreservedly in the pro-China camp of ASEAN, that they want to obtain weapons systems that allow for interoperability with their northern neighbor.

But that’s probably a bit of a stretch. Anybody got any good ideas?

To boldly go where no busted-up fuel tank has gone before…

SpaceX launch postponed until next year until they figure out why there’s a problem with the tank.

Which is a pity: I was looking forward to seeing a private company throwing stuff into orbit with a rocket that costs about the same as three Tomahawks — and is re-usable.

Father and Son enjoy Christmas Season

and celebrate their constitutionally-protected right to beat the ever-loving crap out of robbers with a cheese knife and a snow shovel.

Commenting on the condition of the former gun-toting home invader, father says “Oh yeah, I messed him up.”

State of the Russ Report, Dec. 2005

(for interested family, etc.)
Generally speaking, 2005 whipped our butts financially (took us from almost debt-free to oh-dear-Lord), but we are otherwise doing great.

  1. We’re well, and haven’t quite gotten a bun into the oven yet. Working on it.
  2. Christmas is coming up, obviously, and we’re stoked about getting to DC for a few days.
  3. Still holding more debt than we’d like, especially after watching our budget get sideswiped by the roof-repair/foundation-repair/cars-got-vandalized madness this summer. It’s still at manageable levels and should go off the board entirely by May or so providing we don’t let ourselves get casual about it.
  4. About two-thirds of the way finished with the classroom portion of my teachers’ certification, which hopefully will result in me jumping ship from Bank of America by summertime.
  5. We need to get a half-dozen windows for the house, and then, (crosses fingers), the big must-be-done house repairs/upgrades will be finished.
  6. Yard/landscaping is almost finished, with the addition of a Red Maple and Pecan, and having transplanted three Crepe Myrtles from various “bad places” to right along the front sidewalk. All told, if “the Creepies” survive our brain-surgery-with-chainsaw, the front yard should have quite a bit of shade all through the morning and the early portion of the afternoon. The soaker hoses will also help the back yard quite a bit. Once the bad part of winter is past (which may mean late January here), all we’ll have remaining to put in are:
    • 6 blueberry bushes (for under the back eaves where the AC unit drips)
    • 10 blackberry bushes (for NE side of inside fence corner)
    • 6 new grapevines for back fence (to duke it out with trumpetvines)
    • Bunny’s roses
  7. I theoretically am supposed to pass my Silver Glove exam this year (sobs). Barre work has helped loosen up my hips for it, but let’s just say that I’m having a sordid affair with Despair…
  8. We continue to create our own little cult by having folks move into houses on the street as they come open, thus creating something very much like actually knowing your neighbors… because we do, unlike the usual “Um, hi…” and even more common “Who the hell are you?”
  9. Unmitigated Geekery Projects in pipeline:
    • Hand armor for the salle (Should protect from injury without diluting pain from getting hit. Spendy, I may have to hit people up for it like we did the boxing gloves, depending on how much leather and artificial felt it takes.)
    • Resew quilted leg armor.
    • Assist Csaba with article publication
    • Make Csaba a suit of lamellar
    • Construct leather-scale armor
    • Conduct destructive testing as described earlier
    • Begin working on semi-definitive medmilhist timeline (including all of Europe, unlike this piece of shit, which claims to represent all of Europe, “Europe” apparently being defined as the 1988 EU member states…)
    • Haft up remaining unhafted weapons
    • General leatherwork (vest, mocs, bags, etcetera)

That’s about it for now… The Bunny has her own version, of course, and things will get really interesting once the Lemur and Cupcake show up, but that may still be a while.

EU takes hard look at Hamas’ poll numbers, grows a pair.

Amazingly enough, now that Hamas is whipping up on Fatah in the Palestinian elections, the EU has stated that aid to Palestine will be cut if the former wins next month’s elections.

Rather amazing.

Ray Nagin told businesses “come back to the Big Easy…”

… and “let the good times roll…”

This was, I think, Thursday, when I saw him on CNN during my lunch hour.

What he should have said was, “although the city is a flooded wasteland with a hundred thousand ruined houses, where even the surviving part of town still hasn’t vaguely achieved normalcy, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come back, even though you won’t have any customers, because I really liked being mayor of an actual city, and I’d like to be re-elected with your tax money.”

Pathetic.

It’s official: Colombian rebels are a bunch of pussies.

Sorry for the language. But when FARC plus the NLA get together five hundred guys, and they still can’t take over a village during the course of a six-hour battle… at which the Army shows up and chases their sorry butts into the jungle…

Well, you have to feel sorry for the five officers killed, and for the villagers who were apparently abducted. But it’s not like this is China, where “village” is semantically equal to “medium-sized city with a hundred thousand inhabitants.”… One would have expected these guys to be much more competent than they were, since they’re supposedly, you know, rebels, rather than a bunch of pathetic thugs who are attacking soft spots because anybody competent will rack them and stack them like they come in six-packs.

It’s beginning to sound a lot like… communism…

From the “sometimes a banana is just a banana” department… apparently somebody in Szombathely thought a Christmas display star looked just a wee bit too much like the Soviet model… prompting the cops to have to come out and do a “hrm… corners rounded or pointy, number of rays, shade of red, presence or lack of hammers and sickles in shop….”

So, Bush gave a speech…

And he basically said: “we’re winning” and “I’m on it.”

But seriously, this speech, theoretically one taking responsibility for the war, and attempting to inject hope, etcetera, etcetera, is a cactus-spined poison pill aimed right down the Democrats’ throat.

If anybody needed a demonstration that the Bush/Rove mind-control lasers are working well, how’s this play by play action?

B/R- Bush will remain strangely silent about Democratic war criticism
Dems- Democrats will paste him with the “quagmire” approach and the false-intel charge
B/R- Bush then comes out and says “The intel was a goof, but don’t despair, we’re still kicking butt.”

Results: The anti-war Dems now look like school-yard pansies an image they spent their own money to achieve.

Ouch. Just ouch. This is the kind of rug-pulling rope-a-dope that Clinton used to play while he danced circles around ol’ Hapless Hastert.

Boeing whups up on Airbus

Great big sale to Qantas.

The article is almost obsequious to the journalistic principal of “write for balance,” but here’s the reason I like Boeing:

1. Sure, Airbus has a point, that the hub system is going to stay in place. But that’s because the hubs are great big cities where people still want to go, and because politically, the other airports aren’t going to change much. DFW to Chicago will always be a big-time route, because lots of Chicagoans like to visit Dallas, and vice versa.

2. Boeing has whupped on so badly on Airbus, because while Airbus, in typical Euro fashion, has focused on airport structure and political planning, aka, the centralised game, Boeing actually paid attention to its customers. Their customers are the airlines, not the government-run/overseen airports. And the airlines know that point-to-point travel is what’s going to make them a profit. Why is it going to make them a profit? Because if I have to go from Little Rock to Manhattan, KS, why the HELL would I want to drive there via Dallas or Cincinnati? Price being price, most people want to actually go where they’re going.

Kudos to Boeing for figuring that out.

The Ukrainian Counterpunch

Ouch. Just ouch.
Ukraine’s response to Moscow deciding to fuck them over in the dead of winter by cutting off gas supplies (the linked article misstates the issue: it’s not just a rate hike, it’s “eat this rate hike, immediately, or we freeze your poor to death.”) by threatening to give the US a radar base in Sevastopol, as well as completely dicking over an important segment of the nuclear arsenal that is Moscow’s remaining military clout worth talking about. (And word on the street is that a lot of their domestic nuke arsenal is poorly-maintained to begin with, though that may have changed now that the Kremlin is flush with gas money).

Letting NATO come into Sevastopol has got to be the Russians’ worst geopolitical nightmare, as it effectively seals them out of the Black Sea for eternity and would give us a point-blank view on everything happening within Post-Soviet airspace.

No question about it: this week, the gloves have finally come off.

European Space Agency has new Ion Engine.

Preliminary tests undersay using plasma as an ion accelerators. It makes sense every time I read it, only later do I realize I’ve once again failed to comprehend.

These new jobs would be the same size as a standard ion engine, but more powerful all around, leading to much more manuverable craft. Death Star Squadrons not available for comment.

In other news, Al-Jazeera steps on its own dick…

Exiled politicial Al-Rubaei is reported to have said “Clerics, especially those in the Shiite seminary, go to your mosques and don’t work in politics. Keep politics for politicians and stop conspiring against the resistance.”

Yes, Virginia, that did indeed go over like a lead balloon: all hell did break loose, as anti-Al-Jazeera protestors hit the streets by the thousands.

Way to keep your audience, guys! That’s how I’d go about appealing to my demographic….

Jonathon Freedland puts his foot in it for all to see.

In this morning’s Guardian, Freedland chastises the West for infecting the Islamic world with anti-semitism.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over?
Jonathon, have you lost your mind, or are you really that ignorant?

Mr. Freedland starts off by saying that he generally tries to ignore what anti-semitic incidents and statements in the Umma in order to allow him to remain blissfully ignorant about the world:

Such has been my standard operating procedure, constantly trying to
see if there’s a way to contextualise these incidents, to see them in
proportion. My motivation was not complicated: I prefer my Jewish identity to be
positive, rather than defined by a perennial defence against
anti-semitism.

And, to a point, there are legitimate grounds for such. When some folks complain about “rich Jews” running everything, a legit part of that is because, like every other ethnic bloc and power group, there are Jews who are a) filthy rich and b) making no bones about running as much as they can. George Soros is one of them, for better and for worse. I went to school at his private university, and have overheard him on numerous occasions. He’s an okay guy prone to solipsism with a bad case of the ’68er disease of seizing upon the simplest and least practical solution to any given problem. His taste in ties sucks, or did when I was around, and he’s got enough money and clout to rub me out or turn my life into a living hell if he chose to do so. Admitting any or all of that doesn’t make me an anti-Semite.

Saying that I hate every Jew because they’re all “apes and pigs” as does Basmallah, Queen of Enlightenment (rtfa), would, though, and it would be just as ridiculous as those who blame the Palestinians for all of Israel’s problems, without admitting that there are times when the Israelis do their best to make enemies and piss people off.

But Mr. Freedland was forced to come rushing back to reality, when Ahmedinejad unfurled his new Seven-Point Pogrom speech the other day… well, mostly back to reality.

“Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces,” said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Although we don’t accept this claim…”

Suddenly, the usual apologetics won’t work. No one can say Iran’s president was really complaining about Israel or Zionism, rather than Jews. No one can say he was talking about the west’s colonial crimes. He was peddling, instead, one of the defining tropes of the racist hard right: Holocaust denial. It is a stance that seeks to deny Jews their history, their suffering, almost their very being. Like denying that African-Americans were ever slaves, it is a move made by those who wish only harm.

No kidding, Sparky? And what’s this about “almost” their very being? Ahmedinejad wants to turn the entire world into dar-al Islam, Extreme Shia Remix, buddy, and he’s willing to murder every Jew and Christian, and a whole hell of a lot of Muslims in order to achieve that vision (try being a Sunni in Iran nowadays. G’wan, go for it. Better yet, try being an Iranian Ghuzz or Kurd and Sunni).

Let’s read some more:

Well, now I’m done with the charitable explanations. A man who refuses to
believe the historic truth is capable of anything.

Better take a line from your own script, Jonathon buddy, because it applies to you, too, just as plenty of 20th century Jews were more than willing to disbelieve how bad it would be, because that was intellectually more comfortable, than to get their hands on some axes and guns so that they could take the Nazi bastards with them. Yeah, that’s right: part of the tragedy of the Warsaw ghetto fight is just how damned rare it was.

But now that Mr. Freedland’s bubble of “they can’t possibly mean that” has been mostly punctured, how does this man react? By coming up with a way of explaining the whole thing away as just another sickness of the Western world, and partially excusing the whole thing in a fog of solipsism: remember the title… “The sickness bequeathed by the west to the Muslim world?” That’s right, bucko… Jonathon’s way of making this all make sense is to blame the West, first and foremost, and to demote people in the Umma to the insensate playthings of western ideologies, manipulated and therefore free from the guilt and responsibility of normal human beings who choose to be assholes.

We can deny it no longer: the virus of anti-semitism has infected the Muslim
world. And virus it is, for Jew-hatred on this scale, as Christian Europe can
testify, is a kind of sickness. This is one of the grossest legacies bequeathed
by the west: that Muslims have taken to heart a form of anti-semitism alien to
their own lands, borrowing a language and iconography that was made in
Christendom. Blood libels and the Protocols were dreamed up in Norwich, Mainz or
Moscow – yet now they breathe anew in Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus.

As usual, the smaller point attempts to obscure the huge, flaming one that ought to be obvious to anybody with his forebrain in gear. Blood libels and the Protocols were the inventions of some assholes who happened to be Christians, yes, and the nastier parts of the Muslim world have taken that football, run with it, and are now doing the “AK-47 monkey dance” with it in the endzone. But they’re not doing it because the West has suddenly opening up tinfoil-hat brainwashing offices in Cairo and Tehran.

I know this will come as a news flash to Mr. Freedland, but there have been plenty of muslim assholes throughout history. Half the Jewish history of Iberia involves a vociferous and bitter debate between those who say that faking a conversion to Islam under force dooms you into goyim-hood, and those who toe Ibn Maimonides’ line and suggest that pretending to convert in order to avoid being beheaded is really one of those kinda-sorta excusable kind of things. Any Jew alive in 12th-century Iberia would alternately laugh and weep (but would definitely kvetch) when presented with this bit of politically-correct bullshit:

This represents a menace to Jews, of course, but also a tragedy for Muslims.
Theirs is a tradition that historically valued learning, and when an ignoramus
like Ahmadinejad denies the overwhelming weight of historical evidence he makes
a mockery of that tradition. In a period Jews still look back on as a golden
age, Muslims were the people of scholarship, of science, of tolerance and
coexistence – a contrast with the Crusader barbarians.

Dude, where’d you learn your history — from reading Ivanhoe? Mr. Freedland goes on to congratulate some Muslims for being real people who are not assholes (assuming that, unlike CAIR here, their words are worth the paper they’re written on… see a previous post, “Merry Christmas, Kaffir” for a splendid example of money being where mouth is), and for saying the obvious bit about holocaust denial needing to go away. No problems, there — the holocaust denial movement is full of shit (although, as an aside, the German government’s habit of coming down on every revisionist like a ton of bricks is rather counterproductive… but that’s what happens when you live in a place that thinks “free speech = bad”).

But denying and excusing the phenomenon only adds strength to the assholes who are creating the phenomenon. Islam writ large has never been at peace with Christianity or Judaism, and the definition of “tolerance” enforced by the Ottoman Sultans is a very, very different definition than that used by late-20th and early-21st-century postmodern intellectuals.

Mr. Freedland, wake up and smell the baba ganoush. (Mmmm, baba ganoush….is it lunchtime yet?) If you truly want “Never Again” to mean anything, then the way to achieve that is not by rearranging the world to fit your bizarre little politically-correct, postmodern/postcolonial romanticized history, but to look at the world as it actually is, so that you can find out who your friends are, and who they’re not. It’s likely that you’ve got a lot of friends in the Umma: but it’s equally likely that you’ve got potential buds in that same West you’ve been so happily accusing of culture-cide.

And may I recommend a conversation or five with the wonderful people at Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership?

Deer Season…

I love deer season. Don’t you? It’s that time when you let the gals do their scrapbooking, and head up into the mountains with your howitzer to bag an 8-point buck….

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