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January 2004 Archives

January 31, 2004

Nano-Scaffolding for Spinal Injuries

By Joe Katzman at 04:36
A recent article in Nanodot.org just gave my day a boost. Need to stabilize a recently-damaged area and allow nerve cells to grow back, without doing further damage via surgery etc? Try a bit of nano-scaffolding:
"We have created new materials that because of their chemical structure interact with cells of the central nervous system in ways that may help prevent the formation of the scar that is often linked to paralysis after spinal cord injury," said Professor Samuel Stupp.... "...When the solution is injected into a damaged rodent spinal cord, it turns into a gel-like solid, says Stupp. The scaffold is designed to disintegrate after four to six weeks, hopefully leaving healthy spinal cord behind."
No, this probably won't help Christopher Reeve walk again - but it could keep future patients walking after accidents that would otherwise leave them paralyzed. It may also improve our understanding of more complex "tissue scaffolding" projects that may one day lead to replaceable organs.
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  • Albert Gomez: Nano-scaffolding is something I have made myself familiar with through read more
  • Gary Farber: You could have had a good day sooner. I blogged read more
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T.L. James' Sufi Wisdom: Pieces of Silver

By T.L. James at 03:00
Guest Blog by T.L. James of Mars Blog and Man of Two Worlds. Part of a weekly Winds of Change.NET series. We all find it difficult at times to pay attention to what we know is important and worthwhile - perhaps even most of the time. In his collection “The Commanding Self”, Idries Shah relates a story on this topic, titled (appropriately enough) Attention:
"There once was a Dervish who used to lecture regularly before a group of people, among whom were an old man accompanied by his grandson, a small boy. And, regularly as clockwork, the ancient one used to fall asleep as soon as the Dervish had got into his stride. One day the Dervish had an idea. After the meeting he took the boy aside and said, ‘I’ll give you a silver piece if you jog your grandfather awake every time he falls asleep during my lectures.’ The boy accepted. For three meetings in succession, the old man was nudged every time his eyes closed, and the Dervish was pleased. On the fourth week, however, the grandfather fell fast asleep, just as before. Taking the boy aside after that meeting, the Dervish said, ‘I thought you were going to keep the old man awake for a silver piece?’ " ’That’s right,’ said the boy, ‘but when I told him, he offered me three silver pieces not to do it.’ "
As in any Sufi tale, what at first glance is a joke cleverly conceals a parable. Here, the pieces of silver have specific symbolic meanings. What do you suppose they represent?
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  • T.L. James: Certainly -- there are many layers and interpretations possible. I'm read more
  • Owain Glendwr: Could the grandfather and son be 'humanity' ? The boy read more
  • Samuel Tai: Should we present this in conjunction with the Nasruddin story read more

Even The Model Can't Look That Good

By Joe Katzman at 02:52
Do you ever despair because you or those you love see pictures in magazines, and get upset because it seems impossible to look that good? Take heart. Even the models can't look that good - and if you or your loved ones doubt it, we can easily demonstrate.
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  • FH: That was fascinating. Shows you how a picture is worth read more

What Is Zen?

By Joe Katzman at 02:24
(originally published Nov. 1, 2003)
"Because I say to you - whether there is a creator, or a soul or an afterlife or neither of those things, what is certain in your life is that there will always be birth, and death, and suffering. And what I teach will release you from the fear of those things. Because what I have said I have said, and what I have not said I have not said. And why have I not said anything about those things? Because they are profitless and do not lead to wisdom or to freedom from fear." The Buddha Majjhima Nikaya
Court at Miniluv often shares Zen stories, in very much the same spirit that I share Sufi stories every week. The above quote is taken from a post he wrote on October 7, 2003 to begin to explain: What Is Zen? Court finally returns to the subject with Part 2, explaining Zen's history and the core of "Sid's" teaching: The 4 Noble Truths and The 3 Treasures.
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  • DoaB: What is analysis? read more
  • Matt: The best thing about koans is that they defy analysis; read more
  • DoaB: One day at dusk, Zhuang Zi dreamed he had turned read more

January 29, 2004

Winds of War Today

By Joe Katzman at 18:55
For those of you who are wondering, Winds of War correspondent Dan Darling is sick as a dog right now. Hence the absence of a briefing. Get well soon, Dan! Meanwhile, he drew some interesting conclusions from MEMRI's latest feature back on Tuesday.
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Acts of Kindness

By Armed Liberal at 18:29
So my uncle has cancer. A particularly nasty one, but he somehow caught it early, and so he's on the good side of a nasty probability curve. They're well-off, and live near New York, so he's getting treatment that's at the edge of the state of the art. Once a week he gets chemotherapy now (down from once a day), and once a day radiation therapy. For the last three days, I've driven him in, to give my aunt a break and to get some time with him one-on-one. And I've been introduced to an amazing community, and to the very best of human nature. It turns out that the appointments are at set times, and so he's always there with the same group of people and their caretakers, and they have a kind of a club. He had to introduce me when we came in, and I sat with the other patients and caretakers and listened to them talk, because they do talk a lot. And I'm stunned by something, by the grace and kindness and care that they take with each other. My aunt and uncle have a place in Mexico where they usually go for the winter; they're working to get some of the other snowbirds to bring back a drug which one of the patients - a tow truck driver with lung cancer - needs, and which costs $60/dose here (he needs two a day). It costs $18/dose in Mexico. Several of the people are in pretty bad shape, and everyone hovers around them, tending. One women - swollen from steroids, I'd guess, dopy from painkillers and with some kind of neurological effect which makes it hard for her to move - came in. They're Hispanic, and based on their clothes, not rich. Apparently their car broke down and another couple - just back from an around-the-world sailing trip - loaned them one. Kindness, care, and politeness mask the fear and concern. The Hispanic woman's husband dressed her for the cold this morning, tenderly pulling her coat on as she sat in her wheelchair, arranging her hat on her head, and then kissing her before he rolled her out. I've seen this before, in parents of 'special needs' kids playing baseball. It crushes me a bit that I don't see it every day.
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  • David Blue: Armed Liberal, Long life and good health to you and read more
  • Sam Barnes: Chinaberry_Tree, "It still brings tears to my eyes." Mine, too. read more
  • slimedog: A.L. It crushes me a bit that I don't see read more

Dealing with WMDs

By Joe Katzman at 07:44
So, let me get this straight: * We shouldn't have gone to war to depose Saddam, because we weren't absolutely sure that he was developing weapons of mass destruction. Even if he thought so. Even if we had underestimated his progress before. * We shouldn't go to war with North Korea, because we are quite sure they've developed weapons of mass destruction. Hmmm....
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read the rest! »

  • Sam Barnes: "Why take the chance of the U.S. becoming a police read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Erring on the side of safety and security is, and read more
  • Michael Turner: China_Berry_Tree: "In other words, I'm fine with over- rather than read more

Idiotarian Watch: On Hold

By Joe Katzman at 06:54
A couple of days ago, I wrote about Andy's comments in one of our threads, where he shared his view that it's perfectly legitimate to blow up grandmothers in the streets - and what's more, that they deserve it. Yesterday, I got an email from Andy: he's headed out of town, and asked if I would hold that post until he was back to face that article and any comments directly. The irony of giving this level of fair treatment to a man like Andy is not lost on me. Nevertheless, I'm going to hold the post. Why? Because I'm not going to do this behind his back. No, I'm going to take his own words, and highlight them, and thrust them right between his eyes next Tuesday. From the front, where he can see me.
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  • china shareware: I like this site. read more
  • Armed Liberal: Buckethead - Milestones, by Qutb...more on this thread later. A.L. read more
  • AMac: Another thought, composed offline before reading Andrew J. Lazarus' comment read more

January 28, 2004

BBC: Bias Bounces the Chairman

By Joe Katzman at 19:39
The results of the inquiry into the death of weapons expert David Kelly are out. Oxblog has the scoop, and the news is not good for the BBC. Tony Blair is exonerated, and the Beeb... is not. Chairman Gavyn Davies has finally done the honourable thing and fallen on his sword. Of course there's also a quick set of links from Instapundit, who shares my view that the BBC's political tin ear has finally caught up with it. As it should. Their reporting from Baghdad during the city's fall was every bit as blatantly dishonest as Saddam's infamous Information Minister, and often simply repeated "Comical Ali's" material. Even before that point, things had reached such a state that British sailors turned the BBC off and switched to Sky Cable. Nor is Iraq the only example of blatant BBC bias. This report may or may not convince Calpundit et. al. But will it lead to a real change at the BBC itself? Personally, I doubt it. Forcing the Chairman's resignation is a positive step, but real change won't come until Britian's Parliament begins to seriously discuss repealing the BBC's "TV tax" and forcing the Beeb to compete for subscribers like everybody else.
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  • Sam Barnes: Leland, Yes, but by the same token, wouldn't BBC attacks read more
  • Leland: I agree completely with Kelli (and David Blue). I had read more
  • Solomon: "But will it lead to a real change at the read more

A Twofer!

By Armed Liberal at 04:45
Jim Capozolla, of Rittenhouse Review, has laid down the gauntlet to Wonkette (the new Washington gossip/lifestyle blog from the vast Denton Empire) and her fans over a bit of snark she wrote; he says link to her and be forever banned from links from him. That's a simultaneously chickenshit and stupidly arrogant thing to do. I've certainly had my share of disagreements - some less than pleasant - with folks on the blogverse, and a notion like that would never occur to me.
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  • Sebastian Holsclaw: Rittenhouse pretty clearly does this for pubicity every now and read more
  • Armed Liberal: Ann - Nobody's busting Jim for linking to whoever he read more
  • Ann: Ah... everything old is new again - but with a read more

Nathan's Central Asia "-Stans Summary": 2004-01-28

By Nathan at 04:45
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Central Asia's "-stans" courtesy of Nathan Hamm, whose creds include a stint in Uzbekistan as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Nathan's regular blog is The Argus. TOP TOPICS * Mikheil Saakashvili won Georgia's presidential elections on January 4th in an amazing landslide. The election was nearly free of irregularities. Saakashvili's victory was an incredible landslide. The new President won 96% of the votes and over 80% of the voters turned out at the polls. * After a variety of issues slowed down the proceedings, Afghanistan's constitutional Loya Jirga finally adopted a new constitution. The Council on Foreign Relations has a great Q&A on the constitution and Radio Free Europe takes an in-depth look at the new constitution. * Uzbekistan now has the dubious distinction of being the first former Soviet state to officially receive a failing grade in the State Department's annual review of human rights records of recipients of aid under the Nunn-Lugar disarmament program. Under this program, the President has the right to waive the human rights requirement on national security grounds, and Bush has done so. Still, failing what used to be an annual act of going through the motions sends a strong signal to Uzbekistan. * Economic freedom in Central Asia is worse than in any other region of the world. In the Heritage Foundation survey, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan all came in among the ten worst countries in the world. Other Topics Today Include: US & Russia Square off in the Caucasus; India's 20-Year Plan & Central Asia; UN Criticizes Turkmenistan's Human Rights Record; Uzbekistan Risks Sanctions & Losing US Aid Over Human Rights; The ICG Offers Solutions to Rising Extremism; Uzbekistan's "Princess" Wanted in New Jersey; and, Much More.
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  • Abe: Not to be a PC nazi here, and I'm not read more
  • Alan Kellogg: Most interesting. Don't know about you, but I see bad read more
  • Damien: There was a great documentary on the 'stans on BBC4 read more

A Cold Reception

By Armed Liberal at 04:12
I'm visiting family in NYC, and (did I mention that it's cold?) since they are arch-liberal Democrats and have TV, we're spending the night watching the post-election TV after going out to dinner (did I mention that it's damn cold?). I'm impressed that Dean could mount such a strong comeback...but then he gets up and makes his speech.
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  • Armed Liberal: 'I think Edwards did jest fahn'...reminds me that I have read more
  • praktike: I think Edwards did jest fahn, considering he was in read more
  • someone: AL, I hope you're taking the opportunity to indulge in read more

January 27, 2004

Understanding Evil

By Joe Katzman at 05:33
Just when you think idiotarianism has hit its limit, someone steps up and proves you wrong. First, the good news. In the wake of her remarks that she could imagine herself becoming a suicide bomber, the British Liberal Democratic Party still has enough sense that they've asked MP Jenny Tonge to step down as their spokeswoman for children. (Hat Tip: reader Elaine) Spokeswoman for children. Such times we live in. When even the often-addled Lib Dems understand the problem, you'd think the issue would be pretty cut and dried. Yet my article's humourous jabs at both Ms. Tonge and her party's electoral prospects inspired not one but 2 idiotarian responses. Ross Judson's reply post reads like a conservative's parody of bleeding-heart liberals, full of 'understanding' for the suicide bombers and refusal to judge. Alas, it's no parody. The other respondent, Andy, actually believes that it's perfectly legitimate to blow up grandmothers in the streets - and says so directly. I wish I was making that up. As you can see, I'm not. I'll restrict this post to Ross' views, however, because I believe we may have enough common ground to make discussion useful. It will also enable me to lay the foundations of an important argument, and show the linkages between a distressingly common worldview and the scandalous moral vacuum of a Ms. Tonge. Andy, in contrast, will be saved for tomorrow's Idiotarian Watch. By his own words shall ye know him.
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  • Warren Eckels: The situation in the Occupied Territories is grim. The Palestinians read more
  • R. Ford Mashburn: Tokyo was firebombed because they had decentralized their industries. Japan read more
  • Trent Telenko: This is the book description of Lee Harris' Civilization and read more

Robi's S. Asia Briefing: 2004-01-23

By Robi Sen & Nitin Pai at 05:30
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on South Asia, courtesy of Robi Sen. Hope for Peace? * India and Pakistan stunned much of the world early this month with their surprise peace talks about Kashmir causing The Instapundit to wonder if it is the beginning of trend? * While things do look promising and we all would prefer Pakistan and India to reach a peaceful agreement Sruju seems very skeptical. * If somehow India and Pakistan can create a lasting peace, even with all their differences, Pakistan and India may serve as a example for peace and prosperity in the Middle East. Other Topics Today Include: Pakistan’s Enemy Within; Rogue Scientists; More on the Indian-Israeli-U.S. alliance; Roundup of Islamic terrorism throughout SE Asia
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  • David Blue: A nation ruled by Madam Rouge, or more generally one read more
  • robi: All the nations where men where excessive Rouge of course! read more
  • Joe Katzman: Judging the stories I hear, you could probably make a read more

The Occupation Continues

By Joe Katzman at 04:46
From Citizen Smash:
...President George W. Bush announced the unilateral operation to “liberate” the Red Planet earlier this month, declaring that Martian leader Marvin was secretly developing an Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator in defiance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1541. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech before the UN General Assembly last December, asserted that Marvin intended to use the weapon to destroy Earth because it was “blocking his view of Venus.” To date, no banned weapons have been found on Mars.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: I'm with Krugman: can we just skip to the scene read more

Carnival of the Capitalits: The Echo

By Joe Katzman at 03:48
Yesterday, we hosted this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. As it happens, one entry had URL problems and another got eaten by the Internet in transit to us. So, to make it up to them, here they are: * Hobbs Online: The Jobless Recovery Isn't Jobless Analysis from economists at Bear Stearns finds evidence of a growing economic recovery in the household employment survey. * BusinessPundit: Corporate Social Responsibility The Economist has a great article called "Two Faced Capitalism." It addresses the rise in demands for corporate social responsibility...
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CotC - A Counterpoint

By Armed Liberal at 03:15
Calpundit has a great post up on the issues of income inequality and the root of his (and my) concern about it.
So even if you don't think that economic equality is any concern of the government, you should still be concerned about our ever more squeezed middle class. They are the engine of economic growth, and if we continue to pursue policies that ignore them the entire economy will pay the price. We need to start paying attention before it's too late.

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  • Blixa: I, like Porphy, and flabbergasted by the "policies that ignore read more
  • Porphyrogenitus: There are a number of unproven and in fact false read more
  • steve: Excellent topic and good discussion. Missing, I think, is an read more

Randinho's Latin America Briefing: 2004-01-27

By Beautiful Horizons at 03:10
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul. TOP TOPIC * The Monterrey Summitt: Lots of posturing from the north and the south and very little substance. Some blame it on the media and provide an interesting solution. See inside... Other Topics Include: Unwanted and obnoxious meddling from Hugo Chávez which enables Bolivia to find unity for all the wrong reasons; Brazil looks to become the regional heavyweight; Colombia get recertified by the US and one wonders why; Castro, the churchbuilder?!?; Southern Exposure, the new group blog on Latin America becomes part of a webzine.
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  • Val Prieto: Excellent collection of Latin American news. Thanks. read more

January 26, 2004

Robin's Winds of War: 2004-01-26

By Robin Burk at 05:08
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Robin Burk. These reports are a reflection of private research & opinions only, and are not be construed in any way as official releases or opinions of the U.S. Military Academy. TOP TOPICS * Robin discussed David Kay's interview in the Comments section. * The threat of nuclear proliferation, especially to non-state entities (such as Islamacist terror networks) is serious and growing. Libya's decision to renounce WMD programs has blown the cover off of a black market in nuclear technologies.The head of the IAEA, Mohammed elBaradai, says that illicit trafficking of nuclear-related material and equipment has grown so widespread that it amounts to a Wal-Mart for weapons-seeking countries. * The IAEA has acquiesced to a continued US role in dismantling Libya's programs; key equipment and materials are already being prepared for shipment to the US for safekeeping. A Congressional delegation visted Tripoli by invitation this weekend. * Pakistani president Musharaf admits that nuclear technology was exported from Pakistan, but he denies it was done with government approval. Nuclear scientists and engineers are forbidden to leave Pakistan while the matter is under investigation; demonstrators protested investigation of "the father of the Islamic bomb" Abdul Qadeer Khan. Musharaf pointedly also suggested Europeans also be investigated for their role in nuclear proliferation. Other Topics Today Include: Blair, Straw defend the decision to invade Iraq; Iraqi WMD in Syria?; Iraqi Marines; power struggle in Iran; prisoner swap in ME; Israel & her neighbours; al Qaeda supporter indicted in US; China and France get together; German armed forces restructure.
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read the rest! »

  • murdoc: For a nifty graphic that summarizes the reality of our read more
  • Sparkey: I bought the transcript of the David Kay interview off read more
  • rkb: I hadn't read the details of David Kay's NPR interview read more

We Host Carnival of the Capitalists!

By Joe Katzman at 04:42
Jay Solo's Carnival of the Capitalists has just made its scheduled arrival at Winds of Change. Please prepare for boarding, and ensure that your mental baggage is securely stowed in the overhead compartments.... Carnival entries are listed by blog name in reverse alphabetical order, and are arranged into several categories: * Odds N' Sods * Innovation & Entrepreneurship * The Tech Sector * Marketing * Corporations & Society * Economics & Policy * Economics & Policy: Immigration Note that posts for next week's Carnival should be sent to capitalists -at- elhide.com
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  • Steven Gray: Yesterday upon the stair I met a man who wasn't read more
  • David Foster: Calico Cat's proposition that we are transitioning to a marketing read more

January 25, 2004

Democracy?

By Armed Liberal at 19:41
There's a lot of pressure for us to quickly implement direct democracy over in Iraq. While I'll qualify this by noting that I haven't read the details of the proposals, I'll toss out one quick question, assuming that it means what it sounds like - a direct national vote for a legislative and possibly executive body. One question that's been nagging at me, and I've expected my blogging betters to have raised: We don't have this here in the U.S., as Al Gore's supporters know to their peril. And as creaky and Rube-Goldbergesque as our multitiered republic may be, it seems to have worked pretty well, in defending varied and conflicting interests. Any reason why that would be a bad idea over there? And can anyone point me to the nitty-gritty of what's being proposed - past the Guardian and CNN stories?
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  • Alan Sullivan: Has anyone heard of a bicameral legislature? Hint: the U.S. read more
  • Abu Frank: A.L.: . . . as [the caucuses] are proposed to read more
  • someone: From the "Pollack is hardly omniscient" file: actually, Chalabi supports read more

Is it War Yet?

By Armed Liberal at 19:21
So here's the question for the day: Are we at war? It's important to me, since I'm spending a bunch of time digging into the Democratic field and trying to see if I can support one of them, and if so, who. Today, I had two 'blips' that made me pose this question. A column in the LA Times Opinion section, by one of their military correspondents, and something in our Technorati listing (note the new UI, and that it seems to work consistently now!). Phaedrus (cool pseudonym, BTW) writes:
Truth is, there isn't enough real risk to even be asking the question. Truth is, the Bushies are deliberately exaggerating the risk as a means of manipulating the people. They're psychological terrorists their own damn selves. If right wingers would stop acting like incredibly cowardly wimps, we could get back to trying to act like a democratic nation. I don't have much hope.

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  • Warren Eckels: I would say that we are at war, and that read more
  • Yehudit: "So is this an argument for or against changing Arab read more
  • Yehudit: "Yehudit, I think I agree with your points about population read more

Help From Satan

By Joe Katzman at 03:59
Gotta love this hockey headline in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, Jan. 23: bq. "Satan Helps Sabres Get Past Bruins" As anyone who has seen them play knows, they could use the assistance. (Hat Tip: WSJ Best of the Web)
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  • Joe Katzman: Uh, JM, the player's name is Miroslav Satan, pron. "sha-tan". read more
  • Jesus's messenger: Who the heck would want ANY help from satan, himself?? read more
  • Joe Katzman: Joe, we definitely need more hispanics in the NHL. Me, read more

January 24, 2004

Blogger Animal House: Casting Call

By Joe Katzman at 20:56
UPDATED POST "The Paratrooper of Love" wants your feedback: bq. "I was love watching Animal House (and often quote it) and was thinking about people that remind me of the characters in the movie. I hereby propose a remake of Animal House with Bloggers in the key roles. I leave the casting of characters up to you." He has a list of roles to nominate for, and here's a full cast list plus quotes etc. Send him email (blackfive, over at sbcglobal.net) Following are my nominations, plus a movie follow-up that's sure to make you grin....
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  • SammyGForce: Tim Matheson character takes Mrs Wormer to his frat house read more
  • Nathan: Ahhh, I too love the movie. It's a part of read more
  • Mike: Ramming speeeeed!! ;) read more

I'm Not Quite Sure How To Take This...

By Armed Liberal at 06:42
...but I'm in the den, Middle Guy walked across the hall into his room, and four [girl] cheerleaders just followed him.
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  • inkgrrl: Well, if he's a chip off the old block, he's read more
  • Matt: Dude, that's god telling you that Middle Guy needs "assistance" read more
  • Joe Katzman: Allllright, Middle Guy! Fo'shizzle! read more

How Baseball Helped Children and Saved Lives in Afghanistan

By Joe Katzman at 03:36
Armed Liberal did yeoman's work this week on behalf of Spirit of America, working to recruit and organize volunteers who packed over $50,000 worth of medical supplies, toys, and school supplies for delivery to civilians in Iraq. What you may not know, is that the Spirit of America charity owes its origins to baseball in Afghanistan: bq. "After Special Forces Sergeant Jay Smith and his team built a schoolhouse for the village, his wife Dianna sent him baseball gloves and balls for two boys helping in the troops’ kitchen. The boys were so excited that Smith called and asked her to send more gloves, balls and bats so they could form teams and play real games. Dianna called friends, co-workers and family, raised the money for the gear sent it to Jay." Did it work? Did it ever. Read this article for the rest of the story (incl. pictures) - and consider helping Spirit of America with your involvement and contributions.
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  • Robert Tagorda: Nice post, Joe. We need to let everyone know such read more
  • Samuel: Awesome! I am very touched. read more
  • Darwin: OMG. Cultural Imperialism!! Wait, don't they play baseball in.. Cuba??!? read more

Road Trip!!

By Armed Liberal at 03:26
I'll be in New York from Tuesday to Thursday of next week, then in Washington (hopefully meeting Scott of Demosophia) and Charlottesville until Sunday. I hear rumors that the serve alcohol on the East Coast, and that you, oddly enough, serve pizza without goat cheese and BBQ chicken on it. Drop a note if you know of such a place to be found in my travels.
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  • Inscrutable American: The Brickskeller in Washington, DC is an amazing pub with read more
  • Dave: For beers, try the Peculiar Pub on Bleeker Street. Possibly read more
  • Dave: If you have a few minutes, there's a site called read more

How the American Confederacy Saved the Whales

By Joe Katzman at 03:24
It all revolves around a Confederate ship called the Shenandoah, sent into the Pacific to destroy the Union Whaling Fleet. Teleologic has the details that explain how a slave society ended up saving the whales, a twist of history that you couldn't make up if you tried.
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  • Joel: Gee, thanks for the indirect link. It's driven a good read more

Sufi Wisdom: Rabia's True Love

By Joe Katzman at 02:10

John Gilchrist notes that among the great mystics of Islam was a woman, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, who lived in Basra (located in present-day Iraq) in the first century after the death of Mohammed. She is perhaps best known for her insistence that Allah should be loved purely, not out of fear of wrath or for the prospect of reward. One of her best-known sayings is:

"O Allah! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty!"
(Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.42).

Another story about Rabi'a has her carrying a burning torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked why, she replied:

"I am going to set fire to Paradise and quench the fires of Hell, so that men may worship Allah for his own glory alone."

UPDATE: T.L. James in the Comments section... don't miss it! John Braue also delivers a similar quote from the Jewish Talmud.


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  • Jawahar: It has always been the nature of people to pray read more
  • Lamar Cole: True love can be like a desert flower. Surviving under read more
  • Lamar Cole: Love is a path to the heart that knows its read more

January 23, 2004

Idiotarian Watch: 2004-01-23

By Joe Katzman at 15:18
The Command Post reports that a British MP went on record in a Sky News interview as saying she not only understands suicide bombers, but that she could be one: bq. "I guess if I was in their situation, with my children and grandchildren, and I saw no hope for the future at all, I might just think about it myself,” liberal democrat Jenny Tonge said." Mmm hmmm. Given the Liberal Democrats' perennially dismal poll prospects in the UK, with no hope of improvement any time soon, I suggest NOT spending much time within blast radius distance of Jenny Tonge...
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  • Buckethead: Ross is, I think, mistaken on totalitarianism. Nazism in Germany read more
  • Armed Liberal: Andy - Yes, I'd feel far differently if they attacked read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Just to throw in my two cents, there was great read more

I'm A Liberal, Not An Idiot

By Armed Liberal at 15:14
My favorite whipping journalist - no, sorry, I shouldn't say that, that's really an insult to journalists - Steve '300K' Lopez, of the L.A. Times, is all over a plan by a couple of state college professors to get rid of the deficit by having a couple of rich people write checks and make it go away. [Update: Patterico has exactly the same post. We've never been seen together, you know...] While many of my friends have some of the same fantasies about their credit card bills, and I recall Richard Condon had a great line about it in one of the Prizzi books - the one where he's remade as a Park Avenue WASP and run for President (now there's a candidate I could back!! Which one is the Mafia hit man candidate, that's what I want to know...), it's somewhat more problematic where I live, in reality. 300K says in his January 11 column:
California, after all, is in the middle of the pack in state and local taxation, and we've got personal wealth like nobody's business. The state has 95 of the country's 400 billionaires, and their net worth is $102.9 billion, according to figures sent to me by Bill Wong, chief of staff to Assemblywoman Judy Chu. It'd be chump change for them to loan us the $15 billion, interest-free.

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  • M. Simon: Lower taxed economies grow faster than those with higher taxes. read more
  • Xrlq: FYI, Lopez denies that he makes $300k. read more
  • Jackal: I am not a billionaire, or even a millionaire, but read more

Eyes on Korea: 2004-01-23

By The Marmot's Hole at 11:42
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today's Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Kwangju. TOP TOPICS ALSO ON TAP TODAY: Stamp wars, Internet Wars, and History Wars; 3,000 ROK troops to Kirkuk; North Korea makes "bold" concessions; a look into the Great North Korean famine; USFK to leave Seoul; ROK Foreign Minister resigns, with implications for future US-ROK ties; dumb South Korean TV show ideas (but some decent movie ideas), and much, MUCH MORE.
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  • Joe Katzman: ...Which, alas, is more than we can say for Disco. read more
  • The Commissar: "South Korea agrees on final plan to send troops to read more
  • Evan: If N. Korea didn't have nukes and a massive standing read more

Michael J: An Easier Way?

By Joe Katzman at 05:10
Found this one over at Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus, abrim as usual with arch humour and easy grace. Apparently, this thought came from one of his readers: bq. DEPT. OF I WISH I HAD SAID THAT: "George W. Bush has several black Americans in high-ranking positions, but often they're not considered black, because they are, of course, Republican... Michael Jackson could have saved himself a fortune on cosmetic surgery...." Too true. But then, of course, we would have missed out on the uplifting spectacle of watching him become the first white member of The Nation of Islam.
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January 22, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-01-22

By Dan Darling at 05:54
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * Our own Armed Liberal spent the day at USMC Camp Pendleton, packing medical supplies et. al. for Iraqi civilians. These items will be part of the Marines' coming "velvet glove" strategy in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. In contrast, Lt. Col. Gentile of the 4th Infantry Division discusses "The Risk of Velvet Gloves" because of the cultural and tactical situation there. Do you think he's right? * Joe discusses Bush's State of the Union Address, and how it relates to the evolution of the War on Terror. Porphyrogenitus, meanwhile, sees a lot of significance in the non-military approaches Bush discussed: "...it doesn't involve killing our enemies but rather trying to persuade those who are being deceived by them." * In recent weeks, Pakistan has launched series of crackdowns on both al-Qaeda as well as its domestic affiliates. I have a general round-up of the crackdown here as well as some thoughts as to just who the captured al-Qaeda leader in Karachi might be. Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; al-Qaeda training camps in Saudi Arabia; Russians destroy major armed formations in Chechnya; Basayev rants and raves; Victory Day bombing mastermind identified; FIS wants to negotiate; NPA forms an alliance with MILF; Saif al-Adel launches online terrorist manual; Mullah Krekar ordering suicide bombings over the Internet; al-Qaeda's underground operation in Spain; Turkish al-Qaeda suspects confess training details; and Russia sends an army for beer.
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  • Clark Taylor: Just read the article on the velvet glove. Honestly, it read more
  • Ased Hamze: If anyone knows Persian, this one is overflowing with information. read more

Spirit Of America: After-Action Report

By Armed Liberal at 04:15
Well, I'm tired!! A late night last night, and then up at 4:45am to get on the road to Pendleton. And a great day packing swag for Iraqis. I want to publicly thank Jim Hake of www.spiritofamerica.net for pulling this together, and more, for letting me do this. I can pack medic bags in my sleep now...and I'm looking forward to doing it again. The crowd was far larger than I feared (am I the only one who worries for the first 20 minutes of my own party that no one else will show?), but still smaller than I hoped. I'd guess there were 20 volunteers, matched by an equal number of green-uniformed Marines, who ranged from a petite (really, she was like 5'1", there's no other word) blonde woman to a guy who had to be 6'4". Both the Marines and the volunteers were amazing; energetic, always moving, swarming over the piles of stuff and reducing them to a stack of stuffed school bags and a pile of empty boxes. The Marine commanders, a Top Sgt. and Col. (I'll keep names out of this for now, but may add them in later) were impressive to me - arrogant as I am - because of their obvious intelligence and attention. They missed nothing the whole day. My cohort - the Chaya Venice-lunching crowd - doesn't understand the energy and intelligence that those who run the military have and that they somehow unlock in these kids. Or maybe it was always that way, and we just didn't know. Celebrity sightings included Jim Hake, Lt. Smash (who thinks the frisbees will have the biggest impact), Da Goddess Her Own Self (who has a renewed appreciation for camouflage - and look what she's done to the place over at cat-hating Acidman's!!), and Gerard Van der Leun, who kept me in stitches the whole day. But the accomplishment will show up on Gerard's blog, when he posts the picture he took (I spaced and left the camera home) of the giant pile of kits of medical equipment stretching across the yard toward the containers. Each kit was sadly less complete than what I carry in my car (OK, they have a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff). But in many neighborhoods, they may well be most of the medical gear available to the families and kids who live there. Kids who will now have school supplies (and frisbees!!). And the Marines - the U.S. Marines - will have given it to them. I think stuffing bags and helping that happen is worth spending a day away from billable work to do. And I'm dying to do it again.
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  • inkgrrl: Thank you so much for contributing your time and energy read more
  • Sam Barnes: I was there too--it was a lot of fun. I read more
  • John Wertz: I suspect that the count of THOUSANDS by the press read more

Considering Marriage

By Joe Katzman at 04:11
C. Blake Powers of LaughingWolf.NET writes me to say that his latest post on the origins of marriage and the the issue of same-sex couples will either be a dud, or his most controversial post ever. If the topic interests you then head on over, read "In Consideration of Marriage", then let us know which category you think it falls into.
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  • BC: I don't understand why there should be a difference. If read more
  • Yehudit: The essay you link to conflates Jewish and Christian attitudes read more
  • Yehudit: "a couple of judges in Massachusetts can redefine society to read more

The SkyBox State Meets The Nanny State

By Armed Liberal at 03:41
Not too far from where I live, there is a series of bluffs above the beach and bicycle path that are often used by remote control glider pilots. I've had a couple of close calls with them, but given the nature of the beast - fragile balsa and mylar or foam gliders weighing very little, I thought little of it. But apparently a glider pilot hit the wrong person this week. In today's Daily Breeze:
A few residents, including a city planning commissioner, have asked the Redondo Beach City Council to ban the activity because the planes sometimes go out of control and hit homes, cars and pedestrians in the heavily trafficked area. Lenore Bloss, a planning commissioner, asked the council earlier this month to consider an ordinance outlawing the craft in the city after she was hit in the back of the head by a low-flying plane. Though she wasn't hurt, Bloss was outraged. Not only was there a possibility of real injury, but the pilot didn't apologize.

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  • Joe: It's another case of the few inconsiderate people ruining the read more
  • Colin Howell: My dad builds and flies remote-controlled model gliders himself. He read more
  • Ken: "Third, the notion that the city would ban the activity read more

The 3 Samurai

By Joe Katzman at 02:09
I thought this was good one: bq. The story goes that a powerful Japanese emperor was once looking for a new chief Samurai to head up his imperial bodyguard. After a year-long search only three contenders had come forward who felt they could meet the challenge – a Japanese samurai, a Chinese samurai and a Jewish samurai. [read the rest...]
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  • Independant George: How do you say 'oy' in Japanese? Suddenly, the possibilities read more
  • FH: Great stuff! Thanks Joe. read more

January 21, 2004

2004 State of the Union Address

By Joe Katzman at 04:41
U.S. President George W. Bush has just delivered his 2004 State of the Union address. I must say that this bit disturbed me, and I have other reservations as well - but I'm not an American, so I'll steer clear of domestic issues here. John Cole of Balloon Juice describes his favourite part of the speech, and I agree. It starts like this: bq. "Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized.... [read the rest]" President Bush's well-aimed kick at those who "view terrorism as a crime" was also very strong, but I liked this next paragraph even more - because it laid out the central rationale of the war in a very understandable way. A.L., do speeches like this begin to address your issues?: bq. "As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friends." That seems pretty clear - and Bush's clarity may well be a case of timing. It's important to grasp this point, because as we move on to the midgame of the War on Terror, timing is growing in importance.
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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: A.L., I think you're taking the minority view in why read more
  • Abu Frank: Though on the other hand, 'fessing up might be costly read more
  • Joe Katzman: Sam, it's hugely sobering. If after all those years the read more

American Idols

By Joe Katzman at 02:25
In the aftermath of the Iowa primaries, it's really hard to beat this summary from reader "MJG" on Daniel Drezner's blog:
"American Idol" premiered tonight, showcasing people who believe they can sing. Some move on, but most are rejected mercilessly. Caucuses "premiered" tonight, showcasing people who believe they can be president... Coincidence?

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  • Hei Lun Chan: Does that mean in a few years we're be seeing read more

January 20, 2004

Jan. 21st Event: Want to be on TV??

By Armed Liberal at 19:49
RE: Spirit of America volunteer project loading supplies for Iraqi civilians at USMC Camp Pendleton. TV Opportunity: If you're an insomniac, or live near Oceanside, California, FOX News will be at the meetup place (in the Camp Pendleton parking lot by the main gate) at 6:00am and want to do some live feeds at 6:50, 7:50 at 8:00 and then a final live shot at 8:20am. We'd love to have a dozen or so earlybirds there, so if you can, move your alarms up!! Directions: Here's a link to a PDF map of the area. Page 2 is a map of Southern California. Take the Camp Pendleton Exit on Rt. 5 just N of Oceanside. Volunteers will meet at the main gate parking lot no later than 9:00 a.m. to be escorted to the event. What we'll be packing: $50,000 worth of toys, school supplies, & medical supplies. See full details here. Note that people who can't or shouldn't lift things won't have to. Time Commitment: Volunteers should be prepared to help until 1:00 pm. If possible, we may need them longer. We'll provide lunch. We'll be leaving Casa de Armed Liberal at 5:30am, so I ought to be there around 7:30am or so.
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  • Celeste: If only I weren't on the East Coast. Best of read more

Before I Taunt You A Second Time

By Armed Liberal at 18:17
TG had to drop her bike at the shop this morning, so I took the car to pick her up and bring her home. In the car, we tend to listen to CD's on the changer, but I pulled them to restock with fresh music, so we wound up listening to the radio on the way back. As I've noted in the past, I tend to see the radio as a cultural periscope. What it showed this morning wasn't good for Dean. One of our buttons is KROQ, the local corporate alt-rock station. The morning show is personality-driven, with Kevin and Bean as the two core DJ's, and their sidekicks Ralph and Lisa. And they talked about Dean. Dean's speech last night got some comments around the blogs, but we hadn't seen or heard it. Until they played it on KROQ, with the DJ's laughing and exclaiming in the background. At the end of his speech, Dean cut loose with what was supposed to be a rousing yell, I guess, but his hoarseness and the fervor with which he spoke strangled it into a fairly funny-sounding squawk. And the DJ's played the squawk several times as punctuation, laughing each time. Campaigns can survive a lot of setbacks, but when the candidates are being mocked, it's a Bad Thing.
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  • John Little: That same routine is being repeated on countless radio stations read more
  • FH: As the French say, Tant pis. read more

71% Reporting, Kerry 38%, Dean 18%

By Armed Liberal at 02:40
Well, it appears that we have a primary contest. I've been listening to and reading a lot about the electoral handicapping over the last few weeks, and have to say that I'm befuddled, as are most of the experts, I think. I was right there with Kaus in predicting Kerry's withdrawal, so I don't even get to affably mock him for it. Since I'm pretty convinced that this election is going to be train wreck for my party, I've kind of averted my gaze. But that's not remotely the right thing to do, and I need to dig in and figure out where I stand. Dammit.
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  • Porphyrogenitus: LiberalHawk: I might say that the vote on funding for read more
  • Trent Telenko: Porphyrogenitus, You are underestimating the importance of the war to read more
  • liberalhawk: a quick search on 'john Edwards voting record' shows plenty read more

Bizarro L.A. Times?

By Armed Liberal at 02:08
In the last week, there are been two op-eds that could be construed as being pro-gun. Did someone slip a fake copy onto my driveway?? In today's op-eds, Walk Softly and carry a Big Gun, a commentary by an Alaska resident who asks:
I am puzzled now by the strange way people here are dealing with mountain lions ... which is to say, letting them kill you.
And last week, Diana Wagman went shooting:
Guns are bad. All my life, it's been that simple. At my son's preschool, if a child pointed a banana and said "bang," he was admonished to "use the banana in a happier way."... So what would make someone like me change my mind? I met this gun enthusiast. As research for my new novel, I asked him many questions, all the while voicing my disgust. My character might use a gun, but I never would. "Come to the range," the gun guy said. "I'll teach you to shoot."
Hmmm... Go figure. UPDATE: Suman Palit is adopting the same approach.
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  • Suman Palit: I agree with A.L. that someday, we might see a read more
  • Fred: I have to agree with A.L. and Andrew. I didn't read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: FWIW, gun "rights" are an issue on which the Internet read more

January 19, 2004

MLK Day

By Armed Liberal at 17:23
Today's the day the we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I'm damn glad we do. When we talk about race today, we talk about the scandal at the King/Drew medical center, or about the 19th Century racial politics of Al Sharpton. It's an annoyance to many and should be an embarrassment to some. But in my lifetime, young black solders in uniform were denied accommodations and meals. In my lifetime, black families - who had worked, lived and owned land in communities for two generations, were explicitly denied the right to vote. In my lifetime civil rights workers - whose crime was to seek the same rights for people with black skin - were brutally murdered, with the complicity of the white police who were sworn to protect them. To understand where we really are, and where we are going, it's important to have some sense of where we came from. Rev. King may not have been a perfect man - no one is. But he and his movement are models we should not forget.
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  • Sharps Shooter: Iblis, AL... Perhaps a connection between your views is possible read more
  • Fred: You're not from the South, are you Ken? I'm from read more
  • Ken: "Any honest American over the age of 50 knows that read more

Martin Luther King Day 2004

By Joe Katzman at 16:44
My American friends have reminded me that today is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S.A. Back in July of 2002, Winds of Change.NET ran Rev. King's last speech ("I Have Seen the Promised Land"), including audio and full text, as well as links to audio and full text for his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. At the time we offered these thoughts to our Iranian friends, as a beacon of hope for their own long journey to freedom and dignity in the face of violence and repression. To Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, and all who share Rev. King's dream of freedom, dignity and an end to bigotry, we offer these words again today.
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  • Kaveh: Such offerings, shall never become useless! It is amazing to read more

Carnival of the Capitalists @ Unpersons

By Joe Katzman at 16:42
This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up over at Unpersons, with its usual round up of stories about business, economics and how organizations work. Headings include Business, Society, To innovate or not to innovate..., Economics and Investment, and Politics. Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will be right here at Winds of Change.NET. Submissions should be sent to capitalists 'AT' elhide.com.
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Joe's Iraq Report: 2004-01-19

By Joe Katzman at 07:16
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, our "Winds of War" coverage of the global War on Terror is a separate breifing today. TOP TOPICS * Spirit of America is loading medical & school supplies for Iraqi civilians on Jan. 21st at Camp Pendleton, and Armed Liberal is helping to coordinate the effort. If you're in the area, be there! * Zeyad has an excellent post that discusses the Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq, their history, and the current situation. * I haven't seen much coverage of this, but Iraq may be about to get its own 4-star U.S. Army Command, a level equal to CENTCOM. It sounds technical, but if true it has very big implications for the whole region. * Could the key to al-Awda's defeat in Iraq be... printing new money? It doesn't get much coverage, but Trent Telenko thinks the effect could be huge. Other Topics Today Include: Baghdad blast; Foiled blasts; Anti-helicopter tactics; Body armor on the way; Marines learning Arabic; Sean Penn again; The CERP issue; Alaa's advice; Iraqi government maneuverings; Iraqi booze-runners; Liberal hawks reconsider Iraq; Who has troops there?; Saddam photos; Ba'ath poker; Support the Troops.
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  • Iblis: Disagree with Trent Telenko. Most of the cash we've captured read more
  • FH: That bit about the Middle East Command, or Near East read more

Joe's Winds of War: 2004-01-19

By Joe Katzman at 06:57
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, we also have our in-depth Iraq Report. TOP TOPICS * What indicators would tell us that we were making significant progress in the War on Terror? What kinds of future events would tell us that our success in this war was in serious jeopardy? Our readers step forward to answer 'Praktike's Questions.' * Making the world safe for discrimination against women? Team Stryker has a long article covering "sexual apartheid" in the Islamic world, and asking if the USA is doing enough to eliminate it as part of its efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq et. al. Intsapundit has more about Iraq moving family law toward shari'a. Is U.S. forbearance a necessary concession that avoids forcing these issue too soon and picking a fight the USA cannot win - or a kowtow to multiculturalist political correctness that will leave half of these populations enslaved? You decide. * Armed Liberal takes dead aim at Jeffrey Record's Army War College article criticizing the Iraq war as the wrong move in the War on Terror. The key problem? Mr. Record, he says, fails to acknowledge that 9/11 scale terrorism is a binary agent. Our readers comment. Other Topics Today Include: Democratic showdown in Iran; Container security; American jihadi arrests, cases & tribunals; Free speech zones - feh; Shari'a in the PA; The Fence; Canadian op in Kabul; US, SK agree on Korean base move; NK famine; French headscraves; Murad Kalam's illusions; Islam & the left.
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  • Joe Katzman: Guyjean, If the Iranian government wasn't the #1 supporter of read more
  • Guyjean: RE: Iran reform movement My humble opinion is that the read more

McNabb, Interrupted

By Joe Katzman at 03:10
14-3. Ouch. At the risk of baiting the most rabid fans in sports - oh, who am I kidding here - with the full intention of baiting the most rabid fans in sports, I guess we need to revisit last week's debate about Donovan McNabb. Overrated mediocrity, or not? Should I apologize for what I said last week and acknowledge that Rush was right, chalk it up to that rib injury... or is it more like the Colts' performance today where perhaps the team just had a bad game all around?
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  • e money: does anyone know how many dropped passes that dilfer had read more
  • MQ: If you want to say anything racial about McNabb's success, read more
  • Boo: "On the otherhand McNabb may be despondent but he didn't read more

January 18, 2004

Did Peyton Choke?

By Joe Katzman at 23:20
24-14, and really, it was never that close. So... what do you think: did Peyton Manning choke?
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  • Jayow: I am a huge Peyton Manning fan, but I will read more
  • wah: simple rules of football: Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships. read more
  • Chrees: A good game plan from New England, very well executed, read more

January 17, 2004

That's 9:00 AM at Camp Pendleton, in Oceanside CA

By Armed Liberal at 23:47
I know I keep bringing this up, but it's really 'good news' and so great to post on a Saturday. We'll need you on Wednesday, Jan. 21st... because here's what Jim Hake of www.spiritofamerica.net has managed to get together for the Marines to bring with them to Iraq!! * About $50,000 raised * In kind contributions, price reductions and goods donations of ~$150,000 With that $50,000 or so we've bought: * 15,000 (2 tons) imprinted frisbees * Supplies for 10,000 school supply bags, incl 10,000 each of: - imprinted tote bags - box of 12 pencils - bag of 10 ballpoint pens - pack of 10 colored markers - wirebound notebook * 4 pallets of medical supplies * More med. equipment and supplies for 200 damn nice kits/packages for clinics and doctors * 800 duffel type travel bags for Iraqi police and medical personnel Folks, we'll need enough people to assemble and pack 10,000 supply bags!! Bring a friend...
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  • Armed Liberal: Well, I just talked to Fox News, and they'll be read more
  • Othello: So, uh, if we just show up unannounced they're gonna read more

Breaking The Ice

By Joe Katzman at 17:37
You may have seen this on CNN last night, but it doesn't seem to be on CNN.com. Extreme Peace Missions indeed: bq. “We, the members of Breaking the Ice, the Israeli - Palestinian expedition to Antarctica, having reached the conclusion of a long journey by land and sea from our homes in the Middle East to the southernmost reaches of the earth, now stand atop this unnamed mountain. By reaching its summit we have proven that Palestinians and Israelis can cooperate with one another with mutual respect and trust. Despite the deep differences that exist between us, we have shown that we can carry on a sincere and meaningful dialogue. We join together in rejecting the use of violence in the solution of our problems and hereby declare that our peoples can and deserve to live together in peace and friendship. In expression of these beliefs and desires we hereby name this mountain “The Mountain of Israeli - Palestinian Friendship” This is a story you'll want to read in full, from The Guardian's Flash Presentation to the Breaking the Ice web site, their picture gallery, and even their blog. A big "thank you" to their sponsors for making it all possible. If there's a "bloggers of the month" award, I know who I'm voting for. UPDATE: former "Peace Now" supporter "Tom Paine" of Silent Running has more... I think he's right on all counts.
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Sufi Wisdom: The Evil Eye

By Joe Katzman at 16:54
In "A Perfumed Scorpion: The Way to the Way," Sufi master Idries Shah tells a personal anecdote:
"My wife and I went to Morocco when she was expecting a child. She went to the shop and looked at Kaftans, and very much liked one of them. The price asked was far too high, and so we left the shop, only to be pursued down the street by the proprietor, was was now trying to give it to us for nothing. I asked him why he should give it away like that. 'Don't you understand?' he shouted, 'What kind of people are you? A woman in that condition, when she covets something, puts the evil eye on anyone who doesn't give it to her! I don't want the evil eye!' I said 'That is absolute nonsense, and you know it!' 'I know it is, but what can I do? You see, I believe it!' "

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Cruisin' for Marriage

By Joe Katzman at 16:23
I really liked this story. It seems that Joao Martins, who works for Portuguese state broadcaster RTP, had a longtime girlfriend who wanted Tom Cruise's autograph. He met the star recently, and somehow, the conversation got around to the fact that Joao really wanted to marry Sonia. I'll let the news report pick it up from here...
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Weight Watchers Recipes From Hell

By Joe Katzman at 06:19
Blogs are useful sometimes. Like when my old university friend Cath-Anne uses it to track me down and let me know she's sort of a scriptwriter den mother on the TV series "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate: Atlantis." She even has a sort of blog called The Party Divas: bq. "We are experts in all things girl, and when we don't know who does it best or where you can get it, we know someone who does. Visit the Party Divas to find out what's going on, what's hot and what's just plain fun [in Vancouver]." I believe it. One of her sidebar entires deserves particular mention: bq. "You have to read the captions on these Vintage Weight Watcher recipe cards. You'll laugh. You'll laugh s'more. I promise. Utterly hilarious."
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  • awryly: I have just eaten what Weight Watchers were pleased to read more
  • Courtney: Absolutely hilarious, thanks sharing! read more

January 16, 2004

Terrorism as a Binary Agent

By Armed Liberal at 21:26
Well, I'm almost above water. And I've been reading and rereading Jeffrey Record's article blasting the Bush WoT policies, and I've come to the conclusion that I just can't buy his arguments about Iraq. And yes, I know he's a respected academic in the field, and I'm a pseudonymous blogger. Here's the crux of my disagreement. The critical point he makes is this:
Or to put it another way, unlike terrorist organizations, rogue states, notwithstanding administration declamations to the contrary, are subject to effective deterrence and therefore do not warrant status as potential objects of preventive war and its associated costs and risks. One does not doubt for a moment that al-Qaeda, had it possessed a deliverable nuclear weapon, would have used it on 9/11. But the record for rogue states is clear: none has ever used WMD against an adversary capable of inflicting unacceptable retaliatory damage. Saddam Hussein did use chemical weapons in the 1980s against helpless Kurds and Iranian infantry; however, he refrained from employing such weapons against either U.S. forces or Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, and he apparently abandoned even possession of such weapons sometime later in the decade.48 For its part, North Korea, far better armed with WMD than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, has for decades repeatedly threatened war against South Korea and the United States but has yet to initiate one. How is the inaction of Saddam Hussein and North Korea explained other than by successful deterrence?

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  • Mark Buehner: I also highly reccommend reading Record's words for yourself. First read more
  • Armed Liberal: Well, there is a strong autarkic theme in American politics read more
  • Abu Frank: (further to the above) evidently and rightly deterred which is read more

On Jan. 21st, Spirit of America Needs YOU!

By Armed Liberal at 18:39
I've been working to point people to Jim Hake of www.spiritofamerica.net, who is working - among other things, on putting together some materiel for a Marine division headed back to Iraq to hand out to Iraqi civilians. So far he's gathered mostly school supplies, low-level medical equipment, and some toys. The first $50,000 worth is going to be delivered to Camp Pendleton here in Southern California next Wednesday, January 21st. He needs about 40 volunteers to help unload and assemble this stuff, which the Marines will put into a shipping container and take with them. So if there's a chance that you can spend Wed. at Camp Pendleton, it'd be hugely helpful. Here are the details:
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  • Shiloh Bucher: Will be there! read more
  • Nicki Noble: I would love to help. I will be there with read more
  • Susan: I'd be honored to help. I'll line up a few read more

Ace In the Hole: Photo Gallery

By Armed Liberal at 16:03
We imagined the moment in "Saddam Haiku," but even that wasn't as sweet as the real thing. These photos come from a source who shall remain anonymous. If many of the faces look blurred, it's because we blurred them to protect identities. We also reduced the file sizes to 20-48k for faster downloading. Enjoy! * The Ace in the Hole * The Money Shot * Home Sweet Home * Welcome Home Party * Down and Out in Tikrit Hills (a true classic!) UPDATE: Better versions of these photographs are up now; we found ways to preserve everyone's identity without altering or shrinking the photos as much. Meanwhile, if you want a comprehensive round up of developments in Iraq, visit our Jan. 19th Iraq Report - part of our regular Winds of War briefings.
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  • Nortius Maximus: Gavin, what you just posted looks to be about two read more
  • Gavin: IRAN next! "Every Iraqi citizen was his victim. He stole read more
  • larmes: It's sad ... Human being is the only creature that read more

Praktike's Questions

By Joe Katzman at 09:00
Praktike of American Footprint is a frequent and welcome contributor to our comments section. In one recent comment, he writes: bq. "Personally, I've grown quite tired of arguing over Iraq, the clash of civilization, etc. I don't anyone honestly has any idea what the ramifications will be 10 years out, and given that very smart and informed people still disagree about Vietnam and the Cold War , I doubt there will be much consensus any time soon." (From Who's Liberal? Whose Liberal?) If I could make predictions like that, I'd be in Vegas. The truth is, no-one really knows. But techniques like scenario planning suggest a different approach that might be fruitful - look for indicators. So here are 2 invitations to comment that I'll call 'Praktike's questions': # Name 1-3 specific developments around the world that you would see as indications that significant progress was being made in the War on Terror. They must refer to events or milestones that haven't happened yet. For each, add a sentence or two explaining why it would matter in the big picture.

# Name 1-3 specific developments around the world that you would see as indications the War on Terror was facing serious trouble and not just casual difficulties. They must refer to events or milestones that haven't happened yet. For each, add a sentence or two explaining why it would matter in the big picture. The Comments section is open... UPDATES: * Like me, Tim Oren of Due Diligence is trained in the GBN's scenario framework. I picked out just the indicators, but he created a full War on Terror scenario framework in October 2001. Go to his blog and read about: Rebirth, The Iron Hand, New Crusade, and Universal War. * Belmont Club has some thoughts. * James of "I Don't Know, But..." comes up with a long list of indicators, including one item that appears on both the good and bad indicator lists!
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  • praktike: Alex beat me to it about Musharraf. We've already seen read more
  • Kaveh: "Return of Pakistan to Indian control"? With examples of Pakistanis read more
  • Joe Katzman: Good points, Alex. read more

Iranian Reform Project: 1997-2004?

By Joe Katzman at 06:41
Kaveh thinks the mullahs have won.
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Steven Wrightisms

By Joe Katzman at 05:15
Time to lighten up the atmosphere a bit. This short collection comes from deadpan comedian Steven Wright, a personal favourite of mine:
"Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen." "If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?"

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  • Slartibartfast: More Steven Wright: "I bought some dehydrated water, but I read more
  • Fûz: I saw a subliminal advertising executive the other day. But read more
  • Brad: I heard a good one from Emo Phillips (?) I read more

January 15, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-01-15

By Dan Darling at 16:05
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" and in-depth Iraq Report are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * The Washington Post takes a look at the prime suspects in the assassination attempt on Musharraf and right now it looks like al-Qaeda, JeM, LeT, and LeJ are the primary suspects. Given the byzantine nature of Pakistani internal politics, it should be interesting to see what action, if any, is taken against the latter three organizations. * The US is launching a worldwide manhunt for Midhat Mursi, also known as Abu Khabab. Mursi is reputed to be the top scientist for al-Qaeda's chemical and biological weapons program. * Mansoor Ijaz has an alarming report that the IRGC is sending chemical or biological weapons across the Iraqi border for the purposes of attacking Baghdad as well as planning to launch a massive offensive into western Afghanistan (I assume with the assistance of their proxies there, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ismail Khan). I don't have access to Ijaz's sources, so I have no way of judging the credibility of this information, but his last "big scoop" (that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are likely in Iran and under the protection of the IRGC) was more or less confirmed as well as any new bin Laden report can be by a story in the Financial Times a week or so later. * The Guardian has a fairly good primer up on al-Qaeda's European network that you can read my analysis of here. I would also note that Winds of Change first mentioned most of the revelations contained within the Guardian over a month ago. Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; USA Homeland Security Briefing; Taliban attacks in Afghanistan; Afghan disarmament underway; MILF perfidy in the Philippines; Thai violence linked to al-Qaeda; Malaysia arrests Thai arms depot raiders; Indonesian nabs JI associate; BBC story on the women of JI; Fazul Abdullah Mohammed's undercover career in Kenya; Nabil Sahrawi interview; US anti-terrorist team bound for West Africa; Saudis acknowledge that al-Qaeda's in the National Guard; Israeli-Turkish alliance; France thwarts a chemical weapons attack; and Baghdad Bob returns to the airwaves.
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  • Sergio: Great Chris Caldwell piece on France's Sharia future. read more
  • Dan Darling: I'm sure the Filippino or Arabic versions are much read more
  • Sam Barnes: Amusingly, it appears that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front did read more

Blogger of the Year Award

By Joe Katzman at 06:21
The Week magazine's first annual Opinion Awards were presented the other night in New York -- including, significantly, an award for Blogger of the Year. Winds of Change.NET was one of the 5 finalists for that award, and we're honoured to have been considered in the company of Kausfiles, Gawker, The Volokh Conspiracy, and Joshua Micah Marshall (the winner). Not to mention the company of Thomas Friedman and other 'name' columnists from print media. If you've just arrived and you're wondering what we're all about here, the list of topic archives down in the right-hand column is a good starting point. A February 2003 post may also help you get a quick understanding of our interests and coverage. Nominations like this recognize the hard work and outstanding efforts of our entire team - not to mention the contributions of our readers, who make our comments sections such an asset to this blog. You all deserve to know what your efforts have achieved, and to receive my profound thanks. We'll be kicking the blog up a few more notches in 2004, of course, with new team members, new features, and new design enhancements. As always, we're open to suggestions from our readers... just use the Comments link.
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  • Anand: Congratulations, I'm here because you got mentioned at the awards. read more
  • Alan Sullivan: Congratulations. You guys are #1. read more
  • Mike A: Congratulations to all the contributors and regular kibbutzers (sp?) to read more

Dan's Iraq Briefing: 2004-01-15

By Dan Darling at 05:21
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing and today's Winds of War roundup of the global war on terror is brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * Former Clinton NSC official Ken Pollack takes a look at what happened to Iraq's WMDs in a lengthy Atlantic Magazine article that should serve as required reading for both sides of the debate. * Joe takes a look at the importance of understanding tribes when it comes to dealing with the Iraqi insurgents. In a related post, Art of Peace looks at the tribal dynamics behind the situation in Fallujah. * The troops are still there. So is the (UPDATED) Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. That means American, Australian, British, Canadian and Polish troops... not to mention Iraqi and Afghan children. [updated January 15, 2004] Other Topics Today Include: Rundown of attacks and counterattacks; Ba'ath Poker updates; Saddam a POW; New use for Saddam statues; Syria to return cash; No early elections; Germans noticing progress; More tests on mortar shells; The 'shipped to Syria' issue.
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Pres. Bush's Space Speech

By Joe Katzman at 03:16
Here's the January 14, 2004 "Renewed Spirit of Discovery" speech. I'll start with my take, and keep it short: Wrong goals, wrong economic model, wrong time, wrong priorities. If you're interested in a round-up of other views and deeper explorations, read on...
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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Once NASA is ordered to divert all its resources to read more
  • Wacky Hermit: Personally, I think whatever extra money will be funneled into read more

January 14, 2004

Did the U.S.A. Create Saddam?

By Joe Katzman at 07:22
No, says Darren Kaplan, who calls this claim "demonstrably untrue". He backs that up with a detailed history of the relationship between the U.S. and Saddam over the years. Then the comments section adds a new angle, and the debate continues. If this issue matters to you, Kaplan's post and comments section are a good source.
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  • Joe Katzman: FYI, the commenters aren't referring to Dan's comment... I deleted read more
  • Val: Bah not this stupid troll again, they did the same read more
  • FH: Bah, stupid trolls with no life. read more

All the News Fit for Allah

By Joe Katzman at 04:11
AllahPundit has an informative roundup of world-wide news that's very restrained compared to his usual style. Still, when Allah Is In The House you know you're also going to get stuff like this: bq. "Dances With Wolves" defeating "GoodFellas" for Best Picture in 1990 remains known throughout Dar al-Islam as "the other naqba". Heh. In other smile-producing news, Spring Training begins in only 33 days. FYI, O Divine One, The Crimson Jihad's next run-in with the NY Yankees is in a March 7th exhibition game. Looking forward to resuming our baseball jousts...
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  • Allah: My usual style isn't informative?? Just kidding. Thanks, Joe. read more

Counterinsurgency in Tribal Societies

By Joe Katzman at 03:59
We've covered "Small Wars" before here on Winds of Change.NET, and also noted both the importance of Iraq's tribal structure and Lt. Col. Alan King's successes in dealing with many Iraqi tribes. Tribal societies are always tricky for outsiders, and there are real implications for counterinsurgency wars under these conditions. Fortunately, the Brothers Judd blog has an excellent feature covering counterinsurgency generally, incl. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you want to get a feel for what's happening on the ground, grasp the underlying challenges of counterinsurgency, then broaden your understanding, start right here. Judd leads with Peter Maas' NY Times Magazine article about U.S. Major John Nagl:
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The Stryker Brigade's 'Digital Ghosts'

By Joe Katzman at 03:39
In a nice follow-up to my primer on counterinsurgency in tribal societies, Trent Telenko points me to a Seattle Times series from some embedded reporters (they even have a blog). We especially liked this excerpt, which covers the Stryker Brigade's activcities in Iraq:
"The boys were living hard," said Lt. Col. William Buck James, battalion commander. "It rained about every three days. It was cold and it was muddy. They didn't quit and didn't complain, and kept up constant pressure. One of the sources who came up and started giving us targets, she called us ghosts. She said, 'We never know where you are coming from - you are everywhere and you are nowhere. You come and go as you please.' "In my mind, that was exactly what I wanted to do."
That's a good approach in counterinsurgency situations, and the Seattle Times' articles covering Bravo Company's travails (14th Engineering Battalion) and Capt. Jim Riley's efforts in Ad Dujayl offer more useful portraits of counterinsurgency work. UPDATE: The Seattle Times also has more information about the Stryker Brigade itself, but your best ongoing source is probably the Stryker Brigade News blog.
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January 13, 2004

Banagor's Take on the War

By Joe Katzman at 17:56
Sir Banagor has a fine pair of posts up these days. First, I direct you to "Choosing Sides," which includes this excellent summary: bq. "When people call out the reasons we are fighting the societies which proclaim themselves, on their own and with their own loud voice, to be our enemies, they should not be reprimanded. Just as the Muslim world finds solidarity in their hatred for the West, Jews, and Israel, so too we should be allowed to find our own solidarity with those of us who oppose everything they stand for." Shades of Christopher Hitchens. Banagor adds: bq. "The reason we are fighting this war is not because nineteen hijackers crashed into a burning building and a handful of others cheered, but because the entire Muslim world not only cheered, but then turned around, pointed at "The Jews" and said that it was their fault, denied they ever did it, denied that it ever could be them, screamed that they hated us anyway, danced in the streets, printed up posters about the heroes who did the deed all while denying they ever really did, and then increased their threats to tell us that if they didn't get more capitulations that it would happen yet again." That about sums it up. Then we move on to an interesting and thought-provoking piece called "Words Matter". As Banagor notes:
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  • FH: "What is more is the fact that Palestinian terrorists, operating read more
  • Trent Telenko: Tom, This is Dunnigan's latest on the fate of the read more
  • Trent Telenko: The thought of 100 million Arabs running for Europe via read more

U.S. Army Low on Ammo

By Joe Katzman at 06:56
Trent Telenko emails these days to draw attention to a growing issue for the U.S. Army - a shortage of small arms ammunition. Fortunately, some help is on the way: bq. "Tallman assured me that small-arms-training ammunition is now the No. 1 single line item for procurement dollars for the 2004 budget. “The Army will spend just over $1 billion, ahead of Stryker, upgrades for Apache, Abrams, CH-47, MLRS, procurement of communications systems and procurement of medium and heavy tactical vehicles,” he said." Unfortunately, this is a self-inclicted wound - and the Army's remedies may not be the smartest. As Trent explains:
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  • bc: Steel cases require a coating to keep them from rusting read more
  • Jimmy Wu: Regarding zeroing your rifle after training w/ civilian ammo, According read more
  • flinch: In the case I cited above, I was using: Preban read more

A Couple Of Things (read all the way to the end)...

By Armed Liberal at 03:54
First, apologies, as there is lots of bloggable stuff and little time on my part in which to blog it. Deadlines approach, and they are my mistress for now. The big thing is obviously the widely publicized Army War College article (pdf) by Jeffrey Record, blasting Bush's conduct of the "Global War on Terrorism". I've glanced at it, and while I'm inclined to grant the author significant knowledge and expertise that I lack, there is a disconnect between the world he describes and what I see. I'm going to chew on that and will have something to say apace. Who knows, I could change my mind... Jim Hake is still working hard to come up with swag the 1st Marine Division can give away to civilians in Iraq - reminding them that we want badly to be their friends - you can click here to help, or here to donate cash (as of last week, he'd raised over $30,000 and sourced 2,000 frisbees with 'friendship' on them in English and Arabic). Or, if you live in Orange County or San Diego, email me and we'll be helping him packing and loading early next week.
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  • Pouncer: Is there anyway to commission a well-translated (that is, rhyming read more
  • someone: Wretchard comments on Record's article. Excerpt:There is in addition, the read more

January 12, 2004

Andrew's Winds of War: 2004-01-12

By Andrew Olmsted at 04:26
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com. TOP TOPICS * Up to half of the candidates for Iran's parliamentary elections have been barred from next month's elections, prompting a number of serving ministers to stage a sit-in in protest. President Mohammad Khatami says he will hold talks with the Guardian Council in hopes of reversing the decision. If Khatami fails, it could lead to his resignation; this showdown will have significant effects on the future direction of Iran's politics. (Hat tip: Instapundit). Other Topics Today Include: OIF II kicks off; Iraqis riot for jobs; America claims it has proof of Russian perfidy; and the Dutch may have found a few of Saddam's WMDs.
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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Say what, What? Disposing of something in a convenient way read more
  • What?: "I think it's more likely that they were buried after read more
  • Elnaz: There is a post in our collective weblog(* Free thoughts read more

McNabb: Here Endeth the Controversy?

By Joe Katzman at 01:17
So... anyone out there still want to claim that Philadephia Eagles' Quarterback Donovan McNabb is overrated? Limbaugh? Anyone? I didn't think so.
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  • JimDeep: This thread is quite entertaining now... looking back. McNabb was read more
  • evan: [deleted by A.L.] read more
  • Sorge: Actually, I want to comment on the 4th-and-26 play: Green read more

January 10, 2004

Sufi Wisdom: Losing It

By Joe Katzman at 05:25
As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). I've come to appreciate the Sufis for their poetry, their humour, and their body of wisdom. Every Shabbat, therefore, I share some of that here. The great poet Rumi was a Sufi, as is the popular folk character Nasruddin (also known in some places as Hodja or Nasreddin Hodja):
Young Nasreddin had a leaky ferry-boat, and used it to row people across the river. One day his passenger was a fussy schoolteacher, and on the way across he decided to give Nasreddin a test and see how much he knew. "Tell me, Nasreddin, what are eight sixes?" - "I've no idea" replied Nasreddin. "How do you spell magnificence?" - "I don't" replied Nasreddin. "Didn't you study anything at school?" - "No" replied Nasreddin. "In that case, half your life is lost." Just then a fierce storm blew up, and the boat began to sink. "Tell me, schoolteacher," said Nasreddin. "Did you ever learn to swim?" - "No" replied the schoolteacher. "In that case, your whole life is lost."
Sufi stories generally have multiple meanings, from the practical to the spiritual. What is this one trying to tell us? Use the Comments link. UPDATE: You have got to read T.L. James comments. Brilliant.
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  • Bebson Y. TAKATA: Perdar o ne perdar? January 10, 2004 Sri Idisti: --- read more
  • Patrick Brown: Perhaps worth noting that Nasruddin and the teacher were both read more
  • anon: High taxes keep small business owners from repairing their equipment. read more

Poem: Winter Solstice

By Joe Katzman at 05:22
Kym over at Inspiranote wrote this poem. I like it [permalink]: bq. quiet the snowy night quiet still and sky black like no other brilliant white clouds like no other She moon on silver fire like she is only in december like only she is when it is cold and quiet and still.
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January 9, 2004

This Is About Sex, Isn't It...

By Armed Liberal at 15:27
Over at Michael Totten's, he has a great post (which should be read in conjunction with the Benny Morris interview linked by Roger Simon) about what war is. One of his commenters, Kimmitt, made this comment:
'And some Americans get an awful lot of wood from the idea that we might be living in a time with a total war. I don't even pretend to understand why.'
I commented in response:
Can I propose a corollary to Godwin's Law?? All discussions of geopolitics are ultimately reduced to psychosexual accusations about those who may in any way support war.
I'll suggest that we can call it 'Kimmet's Law,' and note that fruitful discussion about issues of war pretty much ends about at that point. I'd also suggest that Kimmitt and friends may want to make their points about the psychosexual defects of those who believe that force has it's uses to a Tutsi or Bosnian Muslim. I'm sure the Dutch soldiers in Srebenca were concerned that they might appear overly butch as the Serbs came down the road, and that a careful explanation to the Hutu mobs or Serbian patramilitaries that their actions really came from a feeling of sexual inadequancy would have done the job in turning them back.
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  • Tom Holsinger: Here is the URL for a related article in City read more
  • triticale: 'And some Americans get an awful lot of wood from read more
  • Darryl Boyd: Man oh Man. Talk about the heavyweights of the Blogosphere. read more

La Nouvelle Vague

By Armed Liberal at 06:15
Calpundit has two good posts up on liberalism and historic cycles; I want to send you over to take a look at them and think about what he says. His first post is about the fact - and I agree that it's a fact - that elements of 'New Deal liberal' politics and policies are so embedded in our political nature that, like fish and water, we no longer see them. I don't think the left is doing quite as well as he projects (as far as gun laws go, people like me are happier this decade than we've been in a while, and while GWB is expanding the state, the beneficiaries seem more to be large corporations than small business or individuals).
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  • Lou Wheeler: It begs the question, doesn't it? Will the next mass read more
  • Scott: I have something of a problem identifying the left with read more
  • pedro: Islam, people. Islam. That ancient evil will have to be read more

From the NY Times...

By Armed Liberal at 00:53
From today's NY Times, something worrisome and something hopeful. On the worrisome front:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 - The Bush administration on Wednesday reasserted its broad authority to declare American citizens to be enemy combatants, and it suggested that the Supreme Court consider two prominent cases at the same time.
Maybe someone smarter than I can explain to me what wouldn't work with existing laws on treason.
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  • Concerned American: All I'm saying is that unless you would support the read more
  • Unconcerned American: I think what Concerned & Andrew Lazarus are trying to read more
  • Porphyrogenitus: So far the comments seem to have focused on only read more

January 8, 2004

Dan's Iraq Briefing 2004-01-08

By Dan Darling at 16:36
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, we also have our global war on terror roundup. Today's briefings are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * The 82nd Airborne Division has captured 13 in al-Anbar province, while the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment has captured Abu Mohammed, a key facilitator and financier of foreign fighters. Further raids in al-Anbar are said to have led to the capture of 128 suspects. * US forces inside Iraq have uncovered another mass grave containing the remains of 800 Shi'ites killed in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein. * For those of you just joining us, I have an analysis of recent events that have been largely ignored by Western media outlets in Dagestan, Thailand, Nigeria, and Iraq. Other Topics Today Include: An Iraqi interpreter's story; New Years Eve bombing; Capture in Mosul; 2nd Iraqi battalion on the way; Kirkuk tensions; Financial and legal developments; WMDs; Ba'ath poker update; Support the troops; Toy drive.
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Dan's Winds of War: 2004-01-08

By Dan Darling at 16:34
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, we also have our in-depth Iraq Report. Today's briefings are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * Saudi Arabia, friend or foe? This is an issue that I've dealt with in the past here on Winds of Change, but right now I'm taking to task a recent article in Foreign Affairs that, as noted by the Belmont Club, seeks to Kremlinize the issue of Saudi Arabia into traditional Cold War divisions of moderate/hardliner, much the same way that has unfortunately been done in many media outlets on the issue of Iran in regards to the civilian government and the unelected clergy. Michael Scott Doran, the author of the article, is wrong in many interesting ways. * For those of you just joining us, I have an analysis of recent events that have been largely ignored by Western media outlets in Dagestan, Thailand, Nigeria, and Iraq. * Recent investigations by European law enforcement have identified London as al-Qaeda command and control center in Europe. I would note that blogosphere was talking about these Milan transcripts several weeks ago thanks to the efforts of Alphabet City. Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports, USA Homeland Security Briefing; Osama's new video; the UK a terrorist haven; arrested Americans in the Philippines tied to MILF; Ahmed Hussein Abu al-Khir possibly captured; radical Islam in Bangladesh; 150 Saudis petition against education reform; Taiwan targeted by al-Qaeda; Nigerian Taliban; bin Laden's legacy; Taliban bombing in Kandahar; and suing the television.
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  • Stephanie: Comment ca va? read more
  • jayef: Can I sue Charter for their outright refusal to rollout read more

I'm Still Defending Redistribution

By Armed Liberal at 04:41
Instapundit asks the question "What's love got to do with it?"...sorry..."What's so bad about income inequality?" in a TCS column yesterday. He seems to drift a bit as he makes his points, but I'll take that as exploring-out-loud. Here's what he says: If we're all getting richer, why is it bad for the richest to be getting richer faster?
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  • Blixa: Armed Liberal -- I realize this is late and you read more
  • M. Simon: How liberal. Can't get the rich to do with their read more
  • Armed Liberal: Blixa- Well, thanks for agreeing that conversation would be pointless, read more

SPECIAL ANALYSIS: For those of you just joining us ...

By Dan Darling at 03:55
I sincerely hope that readers are enjoying reading these special analyses at least as much as I do writing them. In the interest of getting everyone "caught up" on current events in the War on Terror from December 17, this analysis will deal with some of the under-reported aspects of the conflict over the course of the holiday season. In particular, this analysis will cover recent events in Dagestan, Thailand, Nigeria, and Iraq that have been largely ignored by Western media outlets.
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January 7, 2004

Who's Liberal? Whose Liberal?

By Armed Liberal at 06:31
Oliver Willis, as well as a few commenters are trying to "out" Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten as secret Bush operatives. I'm personally offended to have been left out, and am worried that when GWB is re-elected, my promised 2nd term ambassadorship to Grand Fenwick may not actually come through. Actually, I am fairly pissed about this. First, Jarvis criticizes MoveOn.org and their anti-Bush ad campaign (the one where they silently pulled the Bush=Hitler ad). And then, in the comments, he gets piled on for being 'inadequately liberal'. And that's a pisser. First, and foremost, it once again wraps up the smug 'I know better than you' that the Democratic Party has become associated with - and which lots of people, including me, find amazingly offensive.
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  • Warren Eckels: Trent, There is a national security wing of the Democratic read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: I meant to write, "The weaknesses of Bush's policies will read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Trent and Mellman left out that none of the other read more

Comments on: War In A Time Of Peace

By Armed Liberal at 05:23
OK, finished the book on the flight back from Oakland. Had a long talk with Biggest Guy today - he's going back to UVA Saturday, and signing the 'official' ROTC papers - and somehow it tied too-neatly into my read of Halberstram's book, 'War In A Time Of Peace'. Honest to God, I don't map little personal stories to my blog topics deliberately. I don't think that I'll become a better blogger by channeling Lileks. I'm not sure whether it's just that when I'm thinking about something, I tend to see it everywhere - so it manifests in my personal life - if there is some creepy Truman-show explanation, or if I just have the power to impose my will on reality - in which case I'll be concentrating really hard in the future on my bank account and Uma Thurman...or maybe I ought to reverse that... He and I were talking about Big Stuff to a college sophomore, identity and striving, and I started to explain to him about my view of contingency, of the complexity of human action, and I started to talk about Halberstram (which I'm giving him to show what decision making at the highest levels of the military is like). First, let me echo my earlier comment, and say that this is a great book, and you should read it. After finishing it, I still think so, and in fact even more so.
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  • praktike: Funny, that. Noted also that you garnered 13 trackback links. read more
  • Armed Liberal: Yeah, it's weird to me as well; try and write read more
  • praktike: bueller? bueller? read more

AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing: 2004-01-7

By AfricaPundit at 03:34
Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Africa, courtesy of AfricaPundit. TOP TOPICS
  • Libya surprised a lot of people last month by agreeing to completely dismantle its WMD programs. This development has wide-ranging implications for the war on terror in general, as well as African security.
  • But as Gaddafi moves to improve ties with the Western democracies, his buddy to the south, Robert Mugabe, withdraws his country from the Commonwealth to protest Zimbabwe's continued suspension.
  • As for Charles Taylor, former tormentor of the Liberian people, his continued asylum in Nigeria will soon be debated in the Nigerian parliament. This could be the first step towards bringing Taylor to justice for crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
  • Daudi cites a short piece indicating a stepped-up US anti-terror presence in Kenya.
Other Topics Today Include: Plenty of updates on Libya and Zimbabwe; Liberian update; war and peace in Africa; Nigeria news.
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January 6, 2004

Compassion for Mordor

By Joe Katzman at 17:58
Behold! 2002 Fiskie Award winner Jimmy "the Dhimmi" Carter and his "Compassion for Mordor" initiative in response to the implicit message from Lord of the Rings. The last line says it all.
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  • Kaveh: Carter's "peace" keeping helped the Islamic revolution in Iran and read more
  • Monkeyman: The problem with this satire is that it's point is read more
  • Armed Liberal: Actually, Carter comes off pretty badly in the Halberstram book read more

The Real Spirit of America

By Armed Liberal at 06:40
I've been corresponding with Jim Hake, a local Los Angeles fella, who approached Joe about a plan he had to help the Marines perform the nation-building part of their role in Iraq by providing them with swag - toys and school supplies for children and basic medical supplies for Iraqi physicians. He's pulled it together (brilliantly), and now is ready to accept donations. You can donate cash here , or go here to see what kind of goods are being sought and how to get them to him. Time is of the essence, as he is working with the 1st Marine Division - who were in Baghdad and who are about to redeploy back to Iraq. The first container leaves in two weeks. Many of us are safe at home, affected by the events in Iraq, and passionate in our feelings - one way or the other - about them. Here's a chance to do some concrete good. For myself, I use the 'good dinner' metric in deciding how much to give; what does a good dinner out with Tenacious G cost me? For some, a good dinner out is Carl's, as opposed to Mickey D's. For some it's Ginza Sushi-Ko (a wildly expensive sushi restaurant here in Los Angeles). Obviously, I see this as a Good Thing, and for those of us in favor of the war - even for those opposed, who I am sure want the Iraqis to get a break, and for our troops to be able to do something other than 'killing people and blowing shit up,' as my Ranger friends put it. I love this quote from the Maj. General Jim Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division:
"While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression."
It seems to me that this could be the motto we apply to many of our more militant interactions abroad.
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  • inkgrrl: You say "blowing shit up" like that's a bad thing. read more

January 5, 2004

Winds of War, 2004

By Joe Katzman at 08:01
Winds of War will return this Thursday with in-depth coverage of the global War on Terror. I intend to make this feature even better in the New Year. If any of our readers have suggestions along those lines or wish to point out shortcomings in this feature's current incarnation, use the Comments below to let us know.
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Division in the Kingdom

By Joe Katzman at 07:49
Thomas Nephew of Newsrack has returned to blogging, and his "Al Qaedists at war with top Saudis (some of them, anyway)" is worth your time. He discusses the recent assassination attempts against Saudi officials, and links them to the political struggle underway in Saudi Arabia. Lots of good material. Gary Farber of Amygdala adds depth to Nephew's work with a very detailed post about this internecine struggle: "Know Your Enemy". Amygdala is a very good blog indeed, and if you could help Gary out it would be appreciated.
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  • Gary Farber: You are most kind. Many thanks. read more
  • pixie: http://philostrateuk.blogspot.com/ in case that doesnt work. Any way I love read more
  • pixie: http://philostrateuk.blogspot.com/ in case that doesnt work. Any way I love read more

Protocols of Hate

By Joe Katzman at 07:17
bq. A joke that circulated in various forms during the Second World War imagined a confrontation between a Nazi and a Jew. "The Jews are the cause of all of the problems of the world " says the Nazi. The Jew nods sagely and replies: "Yes, the Jews and the bicycle riders." "Why the bicycle riders?" asks the incredulous Nazi. "Why the Jews?" his interlocutor replies. Why, indeed. Shirley Anne Haber points me to this sobering article in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper about the popularity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Arab and Islamic world: bq. "The theories of The Protocols now represent a mainstream view in the Middle East. There, The Protocols are regularly cited as authority for the proposition that the Jews are a criminal people that must be stopped. Last Ramadan, Egyptian television broadcast a 30-part dramatization of the book. This Ramadan, a Hezbollah television station in Lebanon broadcast a similar series. It presented the creation of Israel as part of a 2,000-year-old Jewish conspiracy to conquer the world through torture and ritual murder. The official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, has regularly written about Jewish world conspiracies and the alleged truth of The Protocols." So long as this sort of thing continues, peace is not difficult - it is impossible. I've written before about the serious problem the Islamic world has with hate. This is just one more example. As Marvin Kurz notes:
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  • Fred: That Star Trek joke is a classic! Keep 'em coming read more
  • furious: Science Fiction and Islamic Culture... Q: Why are there no read more
  • furious: Jews and Bicycles... Three elderly Jewish Gentlemen met as they read more

January 4, 2004

Tattoo Troubles

By Joe Katzman at 09:29
I'm sorry, but this is just too funny. Courtesy of Sky News: bq. An unlucky patient went into surgery bearing the words "I love women" tattooed on his leg but when he came out it read "I love men".
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  • jagcap: Not that there's anything wrong with that... read more
  • Hei Lun Chan: See, your parents were right when they tell you that read more

The Things Democrats Carry

By Armed Liberal at 06:42
A great, if slightly biased article in today's New York Times Magazine about Democrats and foreign policy. The article, called The Things They Carry, by James Traub (echoing Tim O'Brien's great book) is written from the perspective of a friendly critic, but a critic informed by history nonetheless. He explains some of the historic roots of Democratic ambivalence toward the use of force, and talks about the thorny dilemma the party finds itself in today. He talks at length with Dean:
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  • Fred: The foregoing was in response to Andrew Lazarus' contention that read more
  • Fred: I'm a little tired of the bulls**t about Bush's "lies" read more
  • praktike: The Democratic center has collapsed. Centerist Democrats have no candidates read more

January 3, 2004

Good News Saturdays 2004

By Joe Katzman at 23:59
As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. In that spirit, our Saturday posts to this blog have always been "good news". We share wisdom from groups like the Sufis, Hasidim and Zen Masters, highlight the acts of good and decent people, laugh at humourous events, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. The day chosen isn't important - the idea is. Personally, I think bloggers and readers could all use more breaks like this from the (often negative) news of the week. Good News Saturdays began back in 2002, and my Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and non-religious colleagues have all graciously agreed to respect and work within this Winds of Change.NET tradition. So, welcome to Winds of Change.NET... and Shabbat Shalom.
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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Gamar Hatima Tova. It is earlier here, but soon I read more
  • Alice: OK, here's some good news. My dad went into the read more
  • Steve: A bit late but thought you might not have heard read more

2003: The Year in Space

By Joe Katzman at 20:48
Our Space topic archive grew considerably in 2003. Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings offers a fine round-up of the year in space, filled with lots of links: Out With the Old, In With the New. C. Blake Powers spends more time on the state of NASA and the underlying funding models, but 2003: The State Of Space sends a very similar message: bq. "By raising or proving new portions or complete models, the way is paved for doing much more. Models are needed for funding, for realistic and positive regulation, and for identifying new ventures. A door has indeed been opened, and what waits beyond is anyone's guess. All that truly matters is that the door has been opened." Ad Astra.
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Sufi Wisdom: Right Attention

By Joe Katzman at 07:01
As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics who live islam [submission], iman [faith] and ishan [awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"]. Every Saturday, therefore, we spend some time with the Sufis and their 'crazy wisdom'. This week's story is related by Idries Shah in his book "A Perfumed Scorpion":
A would-be seeker asked a Sufi: "How long will it take me to arrive at true understanding?" -- "As soon as you get to the stage where you do not ask how long it will take."

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  • Charlie: Zen story: "Master, if I study with you, how long read more

Help Another Blogger Out...

By Armed Liberal at 05:14

Gary Farber of Amygdala needs a break - no, he really needs a break.

He's so far down that he's looking up to tie his shoes.

Take a look, and if someone can help him out, do it! Here's his PayPal button.

Note that this isn't an endorsement of his blog or positions - I asked people to help Arthur Silber a while back, and I'm about to light up his ridiculous latest like a pinanta...but agree or disagree, Gary is definitely one of the good guys. Let's keep the lights on.

(JK says: Originally posted Dec. 31, 2003 - but see quality blog posts like this one about affairs inside the Saudi kingdom... please help him if you can)


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  • Gary Farber: Ah. Well, I've had dozens of hits from WoC so read more
  • Samuel Tai: Things must be tough out there. I'd help, but I've read more
  • Armed Liberal: Gary, Arthur was the last guy I linked to in read more

January 2, 2004

Hive Minds

By Armed Liberal at 21:29
Den Beste has a discursive (is that a pleonasm?) essay up on 'hive minds' and their relation to the Internet. He points out the role of language in human intelligence, but flatly misses, I think, the key point. The ability to freeze and store knowledge - first in the form of ballads like the Illiad or Ramayana, then in the form of accounting records (Hammurabi's tablets), then in the form of written work is itself a huge part of both collective and individual human intelligence, and has been for millennia.
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Reports from Iraq

By Joe Katzman at 05:50
Braden Files has a preliminary report on conditions in Iraq from Tex DeAtkine, an old PSYOP and Middle East Guru who's been coaxed out of Ft. Bragg. Excellent set of insights, won't be completely comfortable reading for anyone but very much worth reading if you want to understand what's going on. (Hat Tip: Donald Sensing, back from vacation & blogging again). Meanwhile, Amir Taheri talks about the 3 factions that are believed to be behind the attacks in Iraq (Hat Tip: Instapundit). Very detailed, and names names. Quite plausible, too, but as always with intel there are no guarantees. I'm sure we'll get Dan Darling's take on it soon enough.
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  • Anonymous Coward #8: Well, we could support the troops with a *Stop loss* read more
  • -=e=-: "How do you support the troop about to go on read more
  • Mike Reynolds: I agree with Tex on most of it -- but read more

"Mad Max" in Iraq

By Joe Katzman at 01:13
Trent Telenko sends in a nice follow up to his August 5, 2003 "Return of the Gun Trucks" post and his recent bit on armored Hummers and wartime mobilization. According to this AP dispatch from Jim Krane, it looks like the National Guard can innovate, too:
"We believe we're still in combat," said Carpenter, 24, a lanky suntanned man from Jackson, Mich., one of about 600 soldiers in the Army's 181st Transportation Battalion. He and other truckers at this sprawling logistical base north of Baghdad are the lifeline for 130,000 U.S. troops flung across this California-sized country. Despite the attacks, they operate supply lines stretching over 800 miles, hauling food for 475,000 meals per day, as well as a million gallons each of fuel and water. "It's something we're proud of. We're the Road Warriors. We're based on Mad Max," said the 181st's Maj. Robert Curran, 38, of Manchester, Mass. "And we're starting to look the part."
Here's where to find the whole story on Yahoo - if that fails, use the Freep link above instead. UPDATES: * Wince and Nod have more on this subject, thanks to a couple of Jefferson City, Missouri businesses. * They're not alone, either. Working with a growing team of Iraqi engineers, Reservist Capt. Darryl M. Butler of the 1st Armored Division has created a kit that turns Hummers into "Butler Mobiles." * Reader Gigi points out that some Alabama residents are also getting into the act. Note the lack of official approval from the Pentagon. Note the refusal to let that stop the locals. One more example of why the Western Way of War is so effective.
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  • Gigi: Here's another article about using steel plating on Humvees. If read more
  • Angus: PICTURES! WE WANT PICTURES!!! read more
  • Wince and Nod: Joe and Trent, Thanks for the link. You and your read more

January 1, 2004

The News That Fits

By Armed Liberal at 00:51
Patterico has a great compilation of the LA Times' more ... god, I need a word here ... infuriating ... examples of the 'intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline' we got from the Times this year. Me, I've started to read the SJ Mercury News and the Bee online.
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  • Sam Barnes: I like the bridge column, too. read more
  • Samuel Tai: The only parts of the LA Times I read are read more
  • Patterico: Just trying to "gather and report facts" so I can read more
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