Sunday, November 30, 2003

England - winner

Yes, it's difficult to contain my enthusiasm for the Pommes winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup, but I'll manage. It did turn out to be a good final game, almost very good, but it had everything to do with the hype surrounding the game than the actual play itself. This article, I think, captured the pre-game festivities just about right. World sporting events just help to show everything that is right with the world - in my humble opinion. From the previously-mentioned article, check out the joking that will go on between the Brits, the Aussies, and the New Zealanders:

Ordinary Australians are more likely to joke about the English not taking a bath; your average Pom about the Australian finding culture only in the bottom of yoghurt cartons. Both will joke about New Zealanders being over-enamoured of sheep: hence the notion that the "Cormo Express" be re-named the "Love Boat" and sent to Auckland.
We got at least one great headline (coming soon) out of it, though.

Johhny Wilkinson was superb, per usual, for England. He kicked the winning goal with just one minute remaining in overtime.

Now, let's get to detracting. Rugby is far too slow for my taste, even though I had some Brit sitting across the table from me (at Summers) explaining to his significant other how much faster and continuous - continous? - Rugby was than American football. Now, I'm not going to sit here and defend the American football as a continuous game, but to call Rugby continuous because it has slightly fewer stops than American football is like calling Afghanistan a nice place for a visit because it's slightly less violent than Iraq.

Let's set up another joke - it's worth it. During the runup to the final, the Aussie press was all over England for playing a predictable, sleepy game - and the criticism wasn't all undeserved. With that, there is also a general knock that the version of Rugby played in the Rugby World Cup relies too much on the not-overly-exciting 'goal' - like a field goal in American football. The 'try', worth five points instead of three, is akin to the touchdown in American football, and like the touchdown, it is much more exciting than a 'goal'. When you add the automaticity and long range of a goal-kicker like Johnny Wilkinson to the mix, you get more and more predictability, more stops in play, etc. Here's the joke from an Aussie:

I was sitting in my favourite local pub last weekend, watching the England v France semi-final. There was a group of England supporters at the bar, and they had a mascot with them. A dachshund done up in a little red-and-white vest. Don't ask me how they talked the doorman into letting them bring it in, but they managed it somehow.

Well, not long into the match, France gave away a penalty and, true to form, Johnny Wilkinson nalied it through the uprights for 3 points. The dog started yapping and rolling about, much to the delight of the English, and the amazement of everyone else.

A little later, Johnny made one of his famous field goals, putting the English further ahead. The dog went mad! It did three back-flips on the bar, and then ran up and down high-fiving all the punters. Most of us were agape by this stage at the dog's athletic ability and intelligence, so I went over and said to his owner, "That dog really is amazing. I've never seen anything like it, but I have to know... What does he do when England score a try?"

The Englishman gave a shrug, and with a totally straight face said:

"I don't know. I've only had him for three years."


Saturday, November 29, 2003

Holy sh*t

This article in the Washington Post has everything. Man. We're way beyond statistics here. This is the kind of stuff that awakens people to the horrors of war, and brings down chickenhawk sitting presidents.

Quote #1, from an ER physician at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad:

"The injuries are horrific," he said. "They are beyond anything that you see in a textbook, and they are the worst that I have ever seen."
Back home, in San Antonio, the doc only saw car crash and gunshot victims. Kinda gives you the sense that when he says 'horrific', he really means horrific.

Quote #2, from injured soldier Matthew VanBuren, focus of the article:
"My buddy Frosh, he was fresh out of basic," VanBuren said. "He got to the unit about a week ago, from Des Moines." He started to cry.

"I was teaching him my job so that if I got hurt, he could take over for me," he said, the tears sneaking out from the corners of his bright blue eyes.
For those of you who love your country, and think this war on Iraq (and other defenseless, poor countries inhabited mostly by brown, Muslim peoples) is a pretty good thing, then I and the Deparment of Defense urge you to sign up to serve your country right away. You have five branches of service to choose from, so don't be shy. Make us proud! [Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard]

Wait! I'm not even saying you have to change your life around - ever heard the term weekend warrior? Huh? Huuuhhh? Sounds pretty good, right? That's because it is pretty good! Just one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer! Check out the reserve links below. Remember, there is no commitment until you sign on the dotted line. [Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Coat Guard Reserve, Marine Forces Reserve, Naval Reserve]

Oh, Look! Just in time for the the end of my post. At least six more Spanish soldiers have just been reported killed in Iraq - that means there's room for six more of you to prove once and for all that you all really do believe all that nonsense you've been talking for the past couple of years! Hurry, don't delay! The never-ending war on terror is not going to end until we kill or capture all of the terrorists - the ones that exist now, and the ones that are coming of age now, and the ones that we are creating, and the ones who are still in their mommy's wombs. Maybe we could get rid of them all in one fell swoop - 'mow them all down', so to speak - as Trent Lott says. Hey, sounds like a good plan to me. I know that wouldn't create more terrorists! I am positive that all this talk about a draft is just phony baloney because I know a thing or two about the hard core patriots we have in this country, and I know for sure that we have more than enough strong fighters who would like nothing more than to go a round or two with an IED or an RPG.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Snap back to reality

I was boppin' around downtown the other day and saw something that gave me one of those 'perspective moments'. There was a father-daughter duo walking amongst other family members along one of DC's comfortably-wide walking streets. As they were coming towards me, I glanced at the little girl and quickly realized that she was reaching up, with her right hand, at an extremely high angle - as if someone had just yelled STICK 'EM UP! - but only one of her hands got the message. So, my brain, doing a 'Do what now?', told me to look a little harder, and what I noticed next was that the father was an amputee, and he had an Ace bandage-type wrap around the stub of his left arm at what seemed to be just below his left elbow. The little girl was window-shopping, as was daddy, but her right hand was grasping and grasping for something to hold onto - her little fingers just couldn't find anything to latch onto, and just kept slipping off the Ace-bandaged end of dad's arm. The end of dad's arm seemed to be perfectly rounded, and tightly wrapped so that seemingly nothing could grab it - accidentally or otherwise.

Now, I don't know if this guy was an Iraq war vet, but I felt certain that he was - for several reasons. DC is home to Walter Reed Medical Center, where most/all of our returning vets go for artificial limbs and rehab. It seems if he was not an Iraq vet, that is, a recent amputee, he probably would have had an artificial limb installed by now. Something about the guy just said 'military' too, though, I really don't remember if he had a buzz cut, military mementos, etc. And regardless of whether this father was one of the many amputees of the War on Iraq - be it Ali or one of our own - it's a bit of a wake-up call.

It's just too immense for me to try and comprehend all at once. You have the incredible innocence of the little girl, the incredible bravery of the father, and the ├╝ber-vileness of this Administration that is lurking far off in the background. And I think the Dark Side is a good analogy because the power of the Dark Side can corrput basically-good people, just as this Administration has.

p.s. On a lighter note, a little plug for an indie flick I just saw at Visions. To Be and To Have - some French-fried flick with subtitles - I knew I'd like it based on those grounds alone, but it was good - muy good. These days I dig on anything that reminds me of innocence in the world - the schoolchildren in this flick do just that, in spades.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Idealogically confuzed...

It seems those zany Libertarians are at it again - getting that rambunctious southern bobblehead Neal Boortz to speak at their 2004 National Convention. From my days in Hotlanta, I remember that dude spewing over the airwaves. Sometimes I wasn't sure who I was listening to - Rush or Boortz.

Justin Raimondo has a good article on about Boortz' and his rendezvous with destiny.

P.S. I gotta throw in a plug for my homeboy James Bovard who I caught on CSPAN's Booknotes a few weeks ago. This dude is MUH-NEE!$!$! His new book Terrorism and Tyranny sounds like it's probably a great read based on what he said during his Book TV interview. Dude has a super-cool demeanor - hates bad politicians, regardless of their party affiliation - and just generally seems to bring sanity to the table. I lose listeners quickly when I diatribe, but this dude seems like he can cross the left/right threshold and really get his message across. Yeah, dial it up!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Class Dis-missed!

Apparently, Bremer is looking to degrade the education level of Iraqi schoolchildren until U.S. schoolchildren can compete. What else could be the reason for the firing of 28,000 schoolteachers in Iraq? Yes, that says 28,000.

American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration officials have told United Press International.
Now, I'm sure that this punishment for those teachers being evil Baathists is fully deserved, because after all, I'm sure those teachers had each made a personal decision to be Baathist. Think about it, they could have chosen to be Baathist voluntarily, and lived, or they could have chosen to be raped, tortured, and murdered. Life is full of decisions - some easier than others.

This guy Bremer sure is bold - I'll give him that much. But how could we blame him? After the rousing success of that let's-create-a-150,000-homegrown-terrorists-problem-by-dismantling-the-Iraqi-army move, I'm surprised he hasn't done more! There are many powerful statements in this new article, but just one more for now.
"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to try and equate the Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson. "You have to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding and running the country or you're going to turn Iraq over to those who can't."

Friday, November 21, 2003

US hawk admits Iraq war 'illegal'

Al Jazeera has gotten plenty of bad press back here in the US, but their articles don't seem any more tilted to me than any U.S.-based paper is for the U.S. point of view - especially the truly right-wing papers like The Washington Times, the New York Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Well, just my opinion. I report, you decide.

Anyhoo, Al Jazeera has a story that's been making the rounds in a lot of the international fishwraps. It seems whenever Americans go out of country they seem to forget that there's this thing that Al Gore invented that helps information get places quickly.

"I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing," said Perle in London in comments published by the British media on Thursday. "International law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone."
Let's see if this gets any press in the WaPost or on Meet the Press.

State Department Worker Dead

Not sure where I first found this article, maybe BuzzFlash or, but it's so odd to me that only Fox reported it. It's been a week or two and I still haven't found any other local or nationals reporting on this yet.

Just bizarre...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Beautiful Game? No. 'Try' the Brutal Game

On Saturday morning at 4 am DC time (8 pm Sydney time) Australia will square off against England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup in what is sure to be an exhilarating game. Soccer, we know, is the most popular sport in the world, but the various rugby-like games provide us with true warrior-heros (Rugby League, Rugby Union, Australian Rules). More...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Space Shuttle crash indirectly caused by rush to war with Iraq

This one is fairly obvious to me - why not anyone else? Guess I'm just gifted. Anyways, walk back to just-before-war time - take a look - what do you see? You see a hard-charging Bush-led Administration, in conjunction with Neo-con idealogues, the people at Fox, think tanks, churches, the Pentagon, and others ramming a war down our throats. We're told that America, as the first true hyperpower in the history of the world, has a moral obligation - in fact - a duty to exert ourselves if for no other reason than to say don't tread on me, Goshdarnit! A massive buildup of nearly 100,000 U.S. soldiers is sitting on the Iraq-Kuwaiti border, poised to attack. The war drums are banging louder every day. U.S. public opinion is starting to sway in favor of war. Several long months of hype and lies and rhetoric and twisted truths and half-truths are finally paying off. We're almost ready. We're tired of WMD - we're fearful - we're exhausted emotionally - get rid of the WMD - whatever the cost - right or wrong - international law and reason be damned. We're strong - we're right - we're the best - we're Americans - brown people be damned.

Ok, you get the picture. Now, what is the absolute worst thing (within reason) that could happen to the United States as we try to convince the world that we really are as powerful as we claim to be - that we really can crush Saddaam and his vaunted Republican Guard with nary a stern look, that we are the saviours of the Earth? Well, it could be a lot of things I suppose, but almost none could have been more dramatic than what unfolded for us. The Space Shuttle with 6 of our finest, and an Israeli, is helpless in space. There's little to no chance that we can get a new shuttle up there in time to save them from suffocating due to lack of oxygen supply. HORROR!

When the word comes down from NASA, Cheney says no way, we'll take our chances. The spy people keep calling - but Mr. Vice President, they plead, all they want is some pictures. It won't take long - maybe a day or two, three tops, and it could be important. Cheney doesn't budge, not because he's a sadomasochist (debatable), but because he's a shrewd politician. He knows if this little 'pictures thing' goes anywhere, it goes everywhere. He risks losing years worth of work, and months worth of public speaking. Besides, they might make it back. And if they don't, well, this war is important to the future of the free world. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Something like that.

Can you imagine, if during this incredibly blusterous run-up to the war, if the United States of America, saviour of the free world, dropped this little nuggest at the next UN meeting...Negroponte: <gulp>...ummm....we have a situation. we, uh, ummmm.....our space shuttle sustained some damage during liftoff and we risk breakup if it is not repaired before re-entry. We don't have any shuttles that can do the job in time. Could someone, like, help us out, or something? AND WE'RE STILL THE BEST AND WE STILL DON'T NEED THE HELP OF THE UN OR ANYBODY ELSE, NOT ON IRAQ OR ANYTHING BECAUSE THE UN IS IRRELEVANT, but maybe just this one time we could use a little help, please, pretty please, with sugar on top?

First, there came evidence that NASA did, in fact, try to get satellite images of the Shuttle - but they kept getting denied. Why?