25 July 2006

Memo to people who like to put quotations in their email signatures:

The utter idiocy of your quotation will be slightly mitigated if you can manage to spell the name of the person you're quoting correctly.

23 July 2006

sweet.

BBC America is showing some Avengers episodes, with captioning and everything.

The episode they're showing right now even has Christopher Lee. Diana Rigg is going to open up a can* on him later in the show, I believe.


*Explanation for Musli's benefit: a can of whoop-ass.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take advantage of the commercial break to open my own can on the residents of Zozo.

22 July 2006

Terror plans in Texas City?

Texas Rainmaker has some of the details.

Basically, two men, both 21, accidentally blew up their apartment. The explosive they were using is similar to TATP, which is frequently employed in suicide bombings. One man, Matthew Rugo, was killed, and the other was injured. Rugo worked for Will Duett, a company that specializes in cleaning offshore oil rig components.

An article in today's Galveston County Daily News has more details. Curtis Jetton, the injured pyrotechnician, told authorities there were no more explosives in the apartment, but later admitted he'd been lying, and was therefore placed in county jail on state charges of filing a false police report. A controlled explosion was set off in the apartment to detonate the remaining explosives, which the paper describes as composing a "huge cache."

The article also says that Jetton made bail on Friday, and federal authorities promptly took him into custody. Jetton has said that the two belonged to an anti-government group.

The article quotes Jetton's obviously deluded mom extensively ("He was there [living with Rugo] mainly to party"; "Curtis may be smart in some things, but others not so much"; "In his heart, he loved [Rugo] like a brother"; "He has always tried to look and act bigger than he really is. He will say anything socially to get attention"; "Curtis slept on the couch. The apartment was in Matt's name. Matt was the one taking biochemistry in school"), but there is nary a mention of Rugo's parents other than in a comment Jetton's mom makes. This odd absence extends to TV reports on the subject. What's the deal?

This whole situation smells like terror to me.


(Hat tip to Mom Peel, who has never entertained a single delusion regarding her progeny, for bringing these circumstances to my attention.)


Update: Sorry, forgot to link the article, and forgot to clarify that Rugo's parents are mentioned - but only in a quotation from Jetton's mom. Check out the rest of Jetton's mom's comments. They're pretty funny. Also notice that (as Jason highlights on his site) Jetton's affidavit stated that he was part of the explosive-purchasing shopping trips and that he was well aware of the process of making a bomb. The kid's not a dupe, no matter what his mom and the various news reports might try to say.

21 July 2006

Is anyone else

getting really sick of "YouTube"?

20 July 2006

The Only Glenn Greenwald Post I Will Ever Make

So I, like everyone else except Dave in Texas, got an email from Ace about his Glenn Greenwald exposé. To be honest, I really don't give a damn about this latest blog scandal. But, as Michael says, Ace wants a link, Ace gets a link.

Plus, the post was hilarious. It was almost Montyesque.

Anyway, here's my opinion: It's obvious that there is some sockpuppetry going on, and that said sockpuppetry is emanating from Greenwald's IP, as he himself admits. The question is whether Greenwald himself or his partner is behind said sockpuppetry. I think the partner theory is plausible.

But you know what? I don't care.

And that's my last word on the subject.

15 July 2006

So I'm watching Footloose

Is that chick one psycho bitch, or what?

Review (with bonus unrelated segue!): Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Like everyone else, I enjoyed Gregory Maguire's book Wicked very much, and so naturally I picked up Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. It's a retelling of Cinderella, as you might suspect, but written from the perspective of one of her ugly stepsisters. Unfortunately, I read it about a month or two ago and didn't get around to writing a review until now, so I can't remember much about it beyond the fact that I did enjoy it, and would recommend it to anyone who liked Wicked.

On the topic of fairy tale retellings in general, I must say that Robin McKinley is my favorite by far. She has the distinction of having written not one but two retellings of Beauty and the Beast. It's been so long since I read Beauty, her first one, that I barely remember it; but Rose Daughter is such an incredible work that I can't even speak intelligently about it because I'm reduced to babbling. It is a gorgeous book.

The tale of Beauty and the Beast intrigues me, as I see it as the antecedent of countless works ranging from Pride and Prejudice to the "to reform a rake" model of Regency-era romance fiction (meaning works set during the Regency, not actually authored at that time), and as the archetype of the destructive pattern that too many women follow.

We all know the appeal of the "bad boy," from the merely rude (Mr. Darcy) to the adulterous (Mr. Rochester) to the downright criminal (Professor Snape), and we've seen it play out in real life as well. I've come to believe that the reason women are drawn to these types of men is that there is a deep primeval archetype, exemplified by the tale of Beauty and the Beast, that women are trying to act out. Quite simply, the idea is that a man can be transformed by the love of a woman, or in some cases, his love for her. The Beast's physical transformation is the symbol of his inner transformation from a selfish prince to a loving husband - the symbol of the civilizing effect a woman has on a man.

The transformation is fairly mild in Pride and Prejudice, and merely a matter of Mr. Darcy reforming his manners; but he says, referring to his pride and ill temper, "Such I was from eight to eight and twenty, and such I still would be if not for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth" (that's from memory, so it may be a bit off). We are then to believe that it never occurred to Mr. Darcy to not be such a jerk until Elizabeth reproved him, and that her reproof was "so skillfully applied" that he immediately began to mend his ways.

I admit to loving Pride and Prejudice, and considering it to set the bar for all romantic fiction. It's a Meeting of the Minds, a comedy of manners with incisive social commentary (a lot of which we modern readers miss), and it appeals to the Beauty and the Beast archetype that lurks unspoken at the bottom of every woman's heart.

There's just one problem. This archetype never plays out in real life. And yet, women think it will, or, perhaps, want to believe it will so strongly that they ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Ladies, jerks are jerks. You can give them all the rebukes you want, couched jokingly or kindly. Won't change a thing. And I can't remember who said it, but someone who is nice to you but a jerk to the waiter is not a nice person.

One thing I've learned from trying to make tough decisions is that once you couch the decision as a question, phrased in the most succinct terms possible, you can find your answer easily. If, when discussing the choice with someone else, you find yourself having to go into detail to explain why your situation isn't the way it sounds, then that should be a clue that perhaps your situation is exactly as it sounds. It's not that you don't know what you should do; it's that you are having trouble gathering the courage to do it.

(I may or may not have been addressing myself for part of this post...)

Review - The Dark is Rising sequence

As y'all have no doubt gathered by now, I do enjoy reading children's books despite my advanced age, and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence is no exception. I have loved these books since I first read them a good 10-15 years ago.

I won't discuss the plot much because I don't want to spoil any of the major revelations (some would be on the order of telling you exactly who the Half-Blood Prince is and what he did), but essentially, the five books (Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree) feature five children who, sometimes separately and sometimes together in various combinations, perform various quests for Things of Power to aid the Light against the forces of the Dark.

I enjoy books that are about the battle between good and evil, perhaps because I (weakly) prefer to think of the battle as being external, rather than an internal battle I must fight each day. It's easier to fight Orcs than it is to fight their greed and hubris when you find it within yourself.

That's part of why I like this particular sequence. But another reason is that I love how Susan Cooper ties together so many myths and legends. She draws from the Matter of Britain, the Maboginion, and countless local legends from Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, and a corner of Snowdonia in Wales, near Cader Idris. The books are so rich in depth that every year or so, I run across a reference to a legend or a myth or even just an old wives' tale that suddenly casts new light on them. For instance, I was looking for something on snopes, and somehow ended up reading about Christmas-related traditions and myths, several of which are referenced in the second book of the sequence. One was that if a red-haired person is the first visitor to your home on Christmas morning, it's a bad omen. I don't think it's any coincidence that the Black Rider, who is redheaded, is the first visitor to Will Stanton's home on Christmas morning.

I wish someone who knows the source material, perhaps a classics professor, would go through and explain all the references. I will admit that it is sort of fun to have new light shed on the books every so often, and I won't be surprised if I'm still learning more about them when I'm forty; but I wonder how much more I'm missing.

Also, I have to go see Cader Idris for myself someday.

10 July 2006

Ace shares the link-love

I'm not sure if I should be proud of making the main page for this. Nevertheless, I am quite proud that I managed to write something that earned a content warning from Ace, of all people. And for geekiness, too. That's right, folks - the man who thinks "I'm casting Bigby's Grasping Hand" is sex-talk thinks I've got serious geek cred.

This is a day that will long shine bright in my ledger of blog-triumphs.

Except, not really.

08 July 2006

Ohhh-kay...

Subject: Why be female instead of woman its like being a subject instead of a citizen?

Dear Mrs Peel,
I think therefore I am - oh no - I think therefore I think - I think I am "AM?" To be or not to be I would rather be - becaused to be - is to be ... me! Why be Ham, forever ambient.
I am Am ... I am-munition me ... "303?"- amagazin?... a cartridge to be triggered and fired, expended at some target to realise someone elses will. Is - that? - what I amount to, to be ammulated as an "am" a minnateure calibrated and consumated, exspelled with a bulletin. Am I someone elses amenitty.... me without my amendment-ality. We are subjected - to - by our own landguage. I would like to know who made this intravenous inflection possyble dispossessing us our senitence, our human essentiality - who put us inside this vernimous? pernicious penitentiary?
Sincerely Stephen Round Just an Englishman!
Ok, I know I used this quotation already, but it's even more applicable here:
What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
How come I never get any good trolls? And what the hell kind of hate mail is this? I didn't even get called a four-letter word.

I just saw my first

Snakes on a Plane trailer.

Man, I cannot wait to see that movie.

04 July 2006

STS-121 is in the air!

Congratulations to the crew of Discovery on their successful launch, NASA's first launch on the Fourth of July.

And HUGE congratulations to Mike Fossum '80, former member of the Corps of Cadets and the first Aggie in space!



(On a personal note, I'm always amazed that people are able to cheer at takeoff...I can't relax at all until main engine cutoff and external tank separation, and can't relax completely until landing.)

(By the way, there are good opportunities to see both Discovery and the ISS over the next few days. Check out NASA's Sighting Information page to see when they'll be visible in your area.)

Happy Fourth of July!

On this, the 230th birthday of our nation, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them to another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they list the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We're so used to those words that we can't conceive of how unthinkable they were back in 1776. Nor do we often consider the fact that signing this Declaration was an act of treason against the crown of England. Many of the signatories suffered loss of property, family, and life during the Revolutionary War. But none of them - not one - renounced his loyalty to America and American ideals.

I honor their sacrifices and clear-eyed courage. May we be worthy of their legacy.

A message for Switzerland:

Fuck you and the claims of neutrality you rode in on.
Switzerland said Monday that Israel has been violating international law in its Gaza offensive by heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare.
First, this statement is wholly false. Are the Swiss so busy preening themselves on their pacifism that they don't know Israel could wipe out every single Palestinian in one night? Don't give me that bullshit. "Heavy destruction" of terrorist camps and infrastructure is not endangering civilians.

I do grant, however, that it might endanger certain people wearing civilian clothing. You know, terrorists.

Second, since when is Hamas a signatory to or at all recognizant of the Geneva conventions? Please.
"A number of actions by the Israeli defense forces in their offensive against the Gaza Strip have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it in international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure," it said. The statement did not name the Geneva Conventions, but it referred to provisions of the 1949 treaty, which is regarded as the cornerstone of international law on the obligations of warring and occupying powers.
These folks really have difficulty differentiating between civilians and terrorists, don't they? Here's a tip: Civilians don't fire rockets.
Switzerland, as the depository of the conventions, has a responsibility to call meetings if it finds general problems with the implementation of the treaty, but it does not have any special powers to interpret the document.
I actually didn't know that Switzerland is supposed to call meetings if the treaty isn't being implemented. Sleeping on the job, are they?
When it launched its first large-scale military action in Gaza since withdrawing from the Strip last summer, Israel's declared purpose was to lean on operatives to release Cpl. Gilad Shalit. In statements since, government officials have said they also mean to disable the Hamas government and stop gunmen from launching rockets at southern Israel.

"They have criticized us even though we are showing restraint," Aviv Shir-On, Israel's ambassador in Bern, told The Associated Press. "We are disappointed that the Swiss government did not issue such statements when Israel's civilian population was constantly under attack from the Gaza Strip."

Shir-On said the criticism was unfair when Israel was supplying people in Gaza with electricity, water, fresh food and necessary medicine even though Hamas was sworn to the Jewish state's destruction.
Damn straight.
Switzerland also called for the "rapid release" of Shalit, but said Israel had an obligation "to respect international humanitarian law in the measures it undertakes to liberate the captured soldier."

It said Israel's destruction last week of the main Gaza electricity power station and its attack on the office of the Palestinian prime minister was unjustified. It also urged Israel to free Hamas legislators, including eight ministers who have been seized.

"The arbitrary arrests of a large number of democratically elected representatives of the people and ministers ... cannot be justified," the statement said.
Sure it can. Watch: Hamas is an organization of terrorists who are doing their very best to murder as many innocent Israelis as possible, as part of Hamas's openly stated goal to destroy Israel.

There you go. It's justified.
Switzerland said it had earmarked an additional 1 million francs ($820,000) to provide medical supplies to civilians in Gaza.
Oooohhh, $820k! Aren't you the generous ones?

So, let me get this straight. Israel endures months and months of attacks on civilian targets from the Palestinians. One of their soldiers is kidnapped, and they employ military action to get him back, striking at only military targets and causing virtually no civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Palestine continues to launch attacks at civilian targets, including (according to them) a biological weapon. And Switzerland wants to denounce Israel?

My dear Swiss Foreign Ministry, allow me to be the first to offer you a hearty American fuck off.

03 July 2006

Gaza conflict: Update

I'm sure most of you are following the events through Haaretz, the JPost, and blogs like Israellycool and Vital Perspective. But for anyone who's missed it, sometime yesterday, the Palestinians issued an ultimatum stating that Israel must release one thousand prisoners, by which they meant one thousand terrorists who were in flagrante delicto, or else "the case would be closed" for Corporal Shalit.

Needless to say, Israel rejected this absurd demand, and informed the Palestinians once again that the entire Gaza offensive would end as soon as Corporal Shalit was released unharmed. The deadline for the ultimatum has recently passed, and the Islamic Army spokesman is now saying that the discussion is closed on Corporal Shalit.

I fear he has already been murdered, much as Eliyahu Asheri was murdered almost as soon as he was captured, while the Palestinian terrorists claimed he was alive. If my fear proves to be founded, then Israel will redouble their efforts, and continue to destroy Hamas's infrastructure, severely hampering their ability to wage terror while - and mark this - inflicting virtually no civilian casualties.

Low Israeli civilian casualties are the result of Palestinian incompetence, whereas low Palestinian civilian casualties are the result of Israel making carefully executed strikes against military targets only. The Palestinians' primary goal is the extermination of Israel. They have stated as much on many occasions. They fire rockets at nonmilitary targets in Israel daily. They kidnap civilians and soldiers, and brutally murder them. They send their women and children into civilian areas wearing belts of explosives. They have claimed to have biological weapons, declared their intention of using them against Israel, and claimed that they fired such a weapon.

Make no mistake: The Palestinians have declared war on Israel.

And what does the world say?

The world tells Israel to exercise restraint.

Even Tony Snow, while affirming Israel's right to fight for the return of their soldier and stating firmly that Hamas must release him, ends his speeches with this maudlin platitude.

Shame on you, Mr. Snow. And shame on you, Mr. Bush. Has Israel done anything other than exercise restraint? And have the Palestinians done anything other than attempt to slaughter Israeli civilians indiscriminately?