Monthly Archives: October 2004

I endorse this movie for President

Rachel and I went to see The Motorcycle Diaries tonight (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can click the picture below for a trailer). I'm very glad it made it all the way up here to our snowy land; it's rare enough to get Mexican movies, let alone films from farther South.

Along with The Good Life (by Helen and Scott Nearing), reading The Motorcycle Diaries is one of those “it changed my life” sort of books (although I admit that I only read it for the first time five years ago). I wasn't sure if the movie would be able to capture both the humor of the journey and also be able to give the insight into the class struggle that Che saw on the trip, but I think it did.

Anyway, I know that's a lame review, but you really should go see it, or better yet, read it (link is to the translation I read, one of many). Consider reading Chasing Che at the same time; I read them at about the same time and it really helped me understand the journey better. Most of all though, I think unless you read the book it's hard to really understand what it is to be American. And if you haven't read the book (or at least seen the movie), that sentence probably doesn't make much sense…

EFF

I'm sick of writing about the US taking the most liberal of Middle Eastern states and turning it into the happiest haven for terrorists since Saudi Arabia blew up the World Trade Center. But this conversation was one that I think is worth reading, purely for it's rare no-BS reality check nature.

In previous entries I've broken down the numbers a bit and explained I think in fairly clear terms why a “draft” or some equivalent is going to be needed in order to sustain current US military loads — stretched thin doesn't begin to describe the problem. About a quarter of the US population supports a draft, but still, I think it's a not-so-unreasonable assumption that bringing back a draft could push the US population to the brink of revolt. John Perry Barlow recently shared a flight to Baghdad with the CEO of a “corporate security” firm (ie. mercenary) and this quote caught my eye:

Moreover, the "Coalition of the Willing" is increasingly less so. Many of our allies will be withdrawing after the elections in January. And even our own troops are becoming mutinous. The only way we will be able to maintain current force levels, already too thin by most accounts, will be through massive recruitment into the Army and Marines and, of course, hiring more rent-a-soldiers.

Massive recruitment isn't going to happen — applications to the US military are down by something like 30%. People don't want to be in the military. Rent-a-soldiers on the other hand are paid five to ten times as much as regular troops, put money into the corporate sponsors, and don't become the PR nightmare than thousands of dead and maimed lower income Americans is turning out to be.

So by having a “mercenary draft”, all the immediate problems get solved, and the right pockets get lined with cash in the process. Of course, the big loser is the American taxpayer, who's got to fund this whole mess. How long will it take?

Finally he pointed out that history provides a gloomy prognosis. "I can't think of a single case where a popular local guerrilla movement failed to defeat a conventional foreign occupying force," he said. "From the American Revolution through Viet Nam, the guerrillas always win. Usually, it takes them a long time and they suffer most of the casualties, but they win."

Well that's wonderful news for those of you who have invested in the defense sector; this war can keep on going as long as you can afford to pay for it. And guess what? There's no good exit strategy — the population is, by something like an 80% majority, leaning toward an Iranian-style theocracy… deeply opposed to the US and highly positive toward terrorists with targets lined up on the continental United States. And let me remind you — Iran may well have nukes soon.

What can you do about it? I've posted my solution here before, and have been laughed out the door, but the idea is starting to pick up some steam:

"Look," he said, "Saddam's been the only bastard mean enough to govern Iraq for any length of time. I'd hold him to a few conditions - no WMD's, no rewards to the families of suicide bombers, right of first refusal on Iraqi oil - then I'd tell him to go back to doing what he knows how to do. I mean, if you want a stable Iraq, he's a lot more likely to produce one than we are."

As he says, you got a better idea?

The above photo is from a friend in Russia. I'd say it pretty well sums up the future if we don't get over war, and get over it soon.

Traumatic

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate doing development work on a live server when construction has been going on five feet over our apartment now for going on two months? Doesn't help that I'm just getting over influenza either (ok, the flu, thanks a lot daycare)… In any case, in a moment of cosmic timing, two years to the day after implementing a hit counter mine just got zero'd because of a test account occupying and then unoccupying my user slot. The counter was at two and a half million hits, but I think my ego is going to be ok without having to manually reset it. Ok, that's not true. RESET.


With an “office” like this, is it any wonder that
I occasionally accidentally lose my own user file?

I want to take this opportunity to again remind people about the backup tool which can give you a text printout of your entire diary. While I do my best to keep your data safe — it's on a nice RAID array — there are no guarantees, and everything you have stored here could vanish overnight. So I strongly encourage people to keep local copies of the writing!

Bored of pacifism yet?

This entry is poorly written and I apologize for that.


I just finished watching The Choice 2004. It took a bit of struggling with the PBS video server (they have a lot of good stuff online), but it's really worth checking out. It gives you a very good insight into how each candidate works, what drives them, and how they've become successful. And even though they've obviously gone to huge efforts to portray Bush in a positive light, they also illustrate in very clear terms why he's a terrible person to have as President (great guy to have as a buddy though).

Now, I understand that there are people who don't like folks like Kerry (or Gore) who are “smart” or make compromises to work with others, or change their mind when facts change, but to me at least, those are characteristics that are important in a world leader. I also believe that wholesale lying and fraud are very very poor traits, even if you believe “the end justifies the means”. But if you have time, consider watching it. It's one of the best — and, like I said, quite positive — portrayals of Bush's life.

The other story I wanted to mention is the “suicide mission” flap in Iraq with US troops refusing to accept a death sentence in the form of an ill-planned and ill-equipped mission (more, more). Basically, soldiers were being ordered to drive fuel convoy trucks without weapons or anyone defending them — going on this mission quite likely would have killed them all. Here's a message from Spc. Amber McClenny:

"Hey, Mom. This is Amber. Real, real big emergency. I need you to contact someone. I mean, raise pure hell. We had broken down trucks. No armored vehicles. Get somebody on this. I need you now, Mom. I need you so bad. Just please, please help me. It's urgent. They are holding us against our will. We are now prisoners."

I'd like to ask a question, and it's a question that Kerry asked as well after Vietnam. To those of you reading this who support Bush and his Iraq War:

"Do you believe in this war enough that you are willing to die for it? Would you volunteer to be one of those already dead? Will you put up your hand and say, 'If 10,000 Americans must die for this war, I will be one of them.'? Will you make that sacrifice? If not, how many of you would volunteer your husband, your father, your brother's life for this war? How about your arms and legs? Is the trade worth it?"

Military families don't think it's a fair trade (more), and at this point the majority believe that Bush's policies on Iraq are wrong. More Americans continuing to die in Iraq is just swinging that opinion farther and farther toward an “America First” anti-war, anti-interventionist stance (more).

Let me ask you another question:

"Would you like to live in a world where you don't have to worry about war on a daily basis? Where you don't have to guess which countries and for what insane reason your President is going to invade next? Where you have to live in fear that terrorists retaliate against your country with a nuclear strike on New York City? Where you don't have to give up your freedom in trade for a security that gets worse daily?"

America is not going to be invaded by Arabs, and Arabs aren't about to nuke NYC for no reason at all. If America simply adopts a “you leave us the hell alone, and we leave you the hell alone” policy, terrorists really couldn't care less what is done from sea to shining sea. It's not as if they're nuking Iceland either. There's nothing of value in America other than its people — it's not like Iraq is going to invade Texas to steal hot dogs and apple pie.

War is a choice.

Do you really think that Amber McClenny wants to die for some rich person's notions about how the world should be? I doubt it. Do you really think some Iraqi sheep farmer wants to die because of some fight rich people are in? I doubt it as well. War has never done anything good for the poor and “middle class” (I hate that term — there is no such thing as a “middle class” — it's just poor people who are at the upper end of poor). War is certainly profitable for the rich, but it doesn't do anyone else a bit of good, and never has, unless you buy the ridiculous notion that one war fixing another war somehow is a good thing — it is still a net loss, even if you see a temporary gain.

But still, poor people keep dying willingly to make their masters rich.

This will never end until the poor people of the world drop their swords and drop their guns and refuse to fight any more. That is the one and only thing that will end it — I assure you, the rich overlords are not willing to die — and maybe the wholesale abuse of the US military by the government will lead to that. Sadly though, I doubt it.

I just don't get it at all.

“Stop murdering each other,” seems like such an easy common-sense piece of advice to follow.

Live dissection

This is from an amazing photo series in the next update, and hopefully with more in my new book as well. It's a very graphic photo, so don't click it if you can't handle that, but it's one of the best photo lessons in male anatomy that I've ever seen — you can literally make out everything.

Note the index finger… Anyway, this is just a few days old, so I'll mention how the healing is going later.