Thursday, September 18, 2008

Death to Mickey Mouse!

Wipe that smile off your face.

From the Department of Kooky Islamic Clerics:

Sheikh Muhammad Munajid claimed the mouse is "one of Satan's soldiers" and makes everything it touches impure.

But he warned that depictions of the creature in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and Disney's Mickey Mouse, had taught children that it was in fact loveable.


"Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases."

Mr. Munajid also proclaimed that "Goofy is a disgrace to mankind" and demanded that the Little Mermaid wear "decent clothing." However, he asserted that High School Musical was "awesome" and that "Allah's blessings fall upon Zac Efron."

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Okay, what I said the other day? Scratch that. I'm switching to what some like to call a "generalistic" type blog, and what I like to call a "whatever" type blog. I will use it as God intended blogs to be used: open forums for people who don't really know s***, but like to pretend they do know s***.

Yours in generalism,

Monday, September 1, 2008


I have shifted my focus a bit recently from American politics to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the area around them. As such, I will be modifying this blog to suit, and I hope it will continue to be slightly informative, and maybe just a little bit more than slightly informative.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: Game-Changer or Not?

Since I've been hearing oh so much about McCain's Veep pick, Sarah Palin, and some people I know asked me on my take before I knew much more than her new status. Now that I've gotten a fuller look at Mrs. Palin, I can make a judgment on the wisdom of McCain's choice.

I've heard all of the stuff about how this will appeal to Hillary supporters, and it will solidify the Republican base, which it apparently has (Should I be worried that Huckabee's enthusiastic army of evangelicals absolutely love her?). The "appeal to Hillary supporters" I'm not so sure about. Just consider that most of Hillary's hard-core PUMAs (few though they are), and probably most of her less hard-core supporters will probably take a look at Palin's stances on issues and immediately decide Obama is at least not as bad as the alternative. I discussed this in a previous post (see "Party Unity My Ass, My Ass").

Then there are ever so-soft rumblings of corruption and scandal around Mrs. Palin, despite the widely touted dissimilarities to most of the Alaska GOP. For instance, what did she do to earn indicted Senator Ted Stevens's endorsement? Few people have noted that she originally supported the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere", then dumped it like a dog turd when it became politically unpalatable. Is there any truth to allegations that she fired Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner when he refused to fire her former brother-in-law, an Alaska State Trooper? I'm not saying the evidence is definitive one way or another, but is there smoke without a fire?

Then her positions, which cater well to the GOP base, but do fairly little to broaden his appeal. She is pro-life, a major supporter of gun rights, anti-gay marriage (I don't care much about that, but it had to be said), and either an Evangelical or something close enough. She has little to no foreign policy, although she disagrees with the lack of a long-term strategy in Iraq, a lack Senator McCain appears to be just fine with.

One problem I have is that she is really, really not experienced. Before she was Governor of Alaska (her post for the last 18 months), she was the Mayor of Wasilla, AK, a large metropolis counting between 6,575 and 8,471 souls in its citizenry. Before that, she was on the Town Council. At least Obama has been a Senator for 2/3 of his term. At least Obama was an Illinois State Senator before winning the Senate seat. I will be brutally frank: the only thing that would potentially separate Sarah Palin from the Oval Office is the health and well-being of a 72-year-old (Happy 72nd Birthday, Senator McCain!) who has a history of melanoma. There is a very real possibility that John McCain would die before serving even one term. He needn't even die, just become incapable of functioning, for instance, if he had a severe case of dementia, or have some sort of other serious health event, like a stroke or heart attack.

I just don't buy all of this stuff that Palin is so wunderbar for McCain. Certainly it's an interesting pick. But just because it's interesting doesn't make it the right one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Party Unity My Ass, My Ass

I will be taking a little break from politicswatching to do my World Civ homework, but before I do, I'd just like to join the chorus of voices commenting on the supposed rift between Hillary supporters and Barack Obama.

The media has this little narrative by the throat: Many Hillary supporters are disappointed, disillusioned, unhappy with Obama, and perhaps unwilling to vote for him. And the McCainiacs are gleefully encouraging this superficial assessment of Democratic disunity (perhaps to draw attention away from their own problems along that line?), hoping it will flare into real disunity, presumably.

Now, if you had looked at the backgrounds of the broadcasting booths for the various 24-hour news channels, you would have seen lots of these self-proclaimed "PUMAs", which stands, as the title of this post indicates, for "Party Unity, My Ass." This unfortunate acronym has led to far, far too many horrible little abbreviations and such based on things that large cats have, like paws and claws and the like.

The thing is, the PUMAs at the convention were rare cats (aagh! I've succumbed to bad-humor-silliness!). The ones around the broadcast booths were practically the only ones, by all accounts. The PUMAs, of course, are no fools, mediawise. They know that if you make a lot of noise in front of a camera, you will look a lot bigger than you actually are. This sort of tactic is something frequently used by pufferfish, politicians, and (you guessed it!) cats. In all cases, it is deceptive, nothing but a load of hot air.

There's a story going around about when the PUMAs tried to organize a little get-together at a five-star hotel in DC. They sent out a cheery-sounding note that basically said "send in the money and we will give you a ticket to this big gathering of like-minded annoyances." They needed 250 PUMAs to be able to hold it at the five-star hotel. It turned out that they were only able to get 60 to fork over the dough, and had to shift it to a Holiday Inn (definitely not five stars) near Dulles.

It should be well known by now that the media, in general, are usually fairly easy to lead by the nose. Show them what appears to be the reality, and they will probably decide that it must be true. Leak rumors of your VP pick, and they will practically vet him/her for you. Loudly shout about sexism, and the good folks at CNN, MSNBC, Fox Noise, etc. will echo it back to you. Unlike some people, I don't fault them (much) for that. They're human, they screw up.

At any rate, here is my final thought, before I read the stuff for World Civ and go to a pool party, and later, a convention watch party. I once read a story told by a man who had gone to Afghanistan. He told about meeting some Afghani adolescents and young men while he was there. He started discussing things with them, and asked how life was. They complained about all of the problems of the Taliban, all of the onerous burdens placed on their lives by the fundamentalists. Then he asked if they would support an American invasion. Instantly the young men were staunch defenders of the Taliban, saying they would fight the Americans to the death, etc. I think most Hillary supporters are a bit like that- I won't say "all bitch, no action," which was my first impulse, but just a little sore over having lost like they did. Understandable, really. But come November, I doubt most Hillary supporters will mark the box for McCain.

For a more succinct expression of what I just took a very long time to say, click here. The top and bottom ones are what I'm talking about.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh, S***

Bad, bad news from Pakistan. Only a few days after the resignation of Pervez Musharraf, the anti-Musharraf coalition that controls the Pakistani government is falling apart. Fmr. PM Nawaz Sharif has pulled his PML-N party (that stands for Pakistan Muslim League (N), as in Nawaz Sharif) out of the coalition. Given that the PPP, the late Benazir Bhutto's party is secularist, and PML-N is moderately Islamist, I wonder if anyone who paid attention really didn't see this coming. The only thing that brought the two together was their mutual dislike of Musharraf.

Why is this bad, bad news for us? Well, given that the main supply line for Afghanistan runs from Karachi to Afghanistan via Peshawar, we might want to start worrying about unrest in Pakistan. I don't claim to be an expert here, but I read the experts, and I can put two and two together.

It may be starting already. There's news that a shipment of NATO supplies being readied to head north in Karachi has been attacked by gunmen. God in Heaven, I hope this isn't the start of a trend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Am A European-American

DISCLAIMER: This should not, in any way, be considered to be a denigration of African-Americans or any other minorities.

I've got a bit of a problem with our racial atmosphere today, or whatever you want to call it. You see, I am not a minority. I am "white," even though my actual skin tone is closer to a light tan. And I look around and I see celebrations of African-American heritage, Hispanic heritage, Asian-American heritage, Native American heritage. But celebrations of "white" heritage are reserved for the KKK and too-late Confederate sympathizers.

Why can't I be proud of how my ancestors came over on the boat and built up a good life in America? It's obviously because they weren't brought here as slaves.

But if anything, I think that should be a better cause for celebration. My ancestors said, "Okay, let's leave everything we knew, voluntarily, for a place across a big ocean, in which our continued survival may not be certain." What is wrong with being in the majority?

I have to admit, I can't help but feel sometimes as if I'm being discriminated against. In all likelihood, I'm not. In all fairness, "white" people have done some pretty damn bad things in the past. But why should the sons and daughters bear the burdens of the sins that their fathers committed- or didn't commit?

Henceforth, I am no longer white. I am a European-American, and proud of it. Why not?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Little Bit of Africa in Atlanta, Or, You Brought WHAT Home?

This is a rather weird story that took place in my hometown just this morning. Fulton County Animal Control responded to a call about a wildcat in a neighborhood near Georgia Tech. The cat was hard to catch, but when they caught it, no one knew what the heck it was. Here's the cat in the Fulton County Animal Shelter later in the day:

For those of us who aren't experts on African cats, aside from lions and cheetahs and the like, this is a serval. Servals don't normally roam the streets of Atlanta; most live in Africa, especially in subsaharan Africa, on the savannas. No one knows yet how on earth this cat got to the Peach State, but whoever brought this little kitty here will probably face charges.

Here's the story on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Simply Outrageous

I would like to know when "you are my ally" became "I won't question anything you do" under the Bush administration. In this case, the government at the heart of the "war on terror," in Afghanistan, may not be that much better, in certain areas than the Taliban.

Afghanistan has sentenced to death one Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, a journalism student at a university in northern Afghanistan. According to the story, Kambakhsh read an article on an Iranian website taking a differing stance from the wide view on a woman's role in Islamic society, and commented on it, apparently favorably.

By all accounts, you could practically hear the kangaroo inside the court recently as Kambakhsh went in for an appeals hearing. His judge, who had risen to the bench under the Taliban, repeatedly interrupted Mr. Kambakhsh, acting more in the manner of a prosecutor than a judge, and displayed a definite antagonism towards his position. Kambakhsh's defenders had little time to prepare, and the judges throughout the series of trials have all clearly had the same antagonism towards his position.

Then, there's also this, from
Kambakhsh also stands accused of other crimes, such as asking too many questions in class, seeking attention and popularity, being impolite, and swapping dirty jokes over his cellphone.
This is bloody ridiculous. As the defendant's brother put it: “Welcome to the Middle Ages.”

Many clerics have petitioned President Karzai to not not execute Kambakhsh. The issue has also apparently come up in talks between the U.S., the U.K. and Afghanistan.

Why does support for Afghanistan mean "execute all of the 'apostates' or 'heretics' that you like"? Replace them with "regime critics," and it starts seeming a little scary. It seems a bit obvious to me that the "new" Afghan government is just the Taliban in drag (that would be an interesting sight). As the Who put it, "Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Fighter of the Century

I want to take just a moment here to praise what may end up being one of the best fighters currently in development. The Eurofighter Typhoon program began in the 1980s, to counter Soviet jets in a potential shooting war. Even though the threat of Soviet domination is long past, work has continued on the Typhoon, and it now pays off.

According to a BBC article, several Typhoons have just finished testing at Nellis AFB, just outside of Las Vegas, NV.

By all accounts, it is a very, very excellent aircraft, and the descriptions of its awesome capabilities make me wish that some people weren't so against buying major contracts from foreign defense firms. If we truly wanted the best, we would have gotten the Typhoon.

More information on the Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon