Thursday, May 15, 2008


To be honest, I'm no longer sure whether this is tautology, circular argument, or just plain stupidity, because my brain is somewhat addled by it....

Chris Matthews interviewed two talk radio hosts regarding the statements Bush made in Israel yesterday, in which he claimed that anyone who opposed him was the same as those who tried to appease Hitler in the years before 1939. The right-winger, the odious bigmouth Kevin James, spent five minutes trying to BS his way out of having to answer a question regarding Neville Chamberlain to which he quite obviously didn't know the answer-- he didn't know what Chamberlain did, even though he was the one who brought up the issue of Chamberlain and appeasement as a talking point. I mean, seriously, this was embarassing-- brainless repetition and just randomly yelling over everyone else without making any sort of actual sense.

Matthews finally gave up and said "your problem, Kevin, is that you don't know anything." SHortly afterwards, Matthews added "I've gotta go to someone who knows SOME history.... this is PATHETIC." Oh... and later "He's as bad as the White House press secretary who doesn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was!" And "You're wrong. You don't understand what appeasement is, don't use the word."

I'm no great fan of Matthews-- he threw Bush et al way too many softballs before November of 2006 for me to trust him entirely-- but he won a merit badge in this inteview.

James also told the other guest to watch The Path to 9/11..... I wonder if he is aware that that movie is a lump of propaganda that bears precious little resemblance to documented reality?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Olbermann Goes Medieval on Bush

Ok, really, I've been good. I have been a political junkie for years but I have managed to go months without a political post. Until now.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who has done so much to drag from the murky depths the lies and sad truths of the Bush administration, seems to have really had it with Bush now... over golf.

You see, Bush claims that he gave golf up in some sort of show of solidarity with the people he sent off to Iraq and their families. That's trite enough to begin with. The problem is, however, that Bush also lied about it, as well as lying about the other usual things like Iraqi WMDs and so on, in a recent interview with Politico that seems to have lit Keith's fuse.

Here's the link, watch for yourself.

Link to

Incidentally, mucho props to Crooksandliars for what they do-- they preserve in video all the stuff Bush, Cheney, Delay, and everyone else has said in recent years, so you can reference it-- it really helps keep things from falling down the corporate media's memory hole.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are you there, God? It's me, Lurker...

I just wanted to know.... why did you put so many nimrods and twits on this planet?

Exhibit A-- Doug Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and head of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, one of the chief architects of the Iraq debacle.

Here he is, getting thoroughly dismantled and spindled by Jon Stewart while trying to sputter excuses and ass-covering explanations for the Bush Administration.....

Link with video.

I look at this sort of stuff with a historian's eye-- personally, I think that thirty or forty or fifty years down the road, people will be writing books about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in much the same way they write books about Voltaire or Mark Twain now. Humor makes things stick-- and you know what? The right wing might have the Heritage Foundation and all those other think tanks slaving away to write their own version of history, but we progressives have all the comedians. ;)

Incidentally-- John McCain's campaigning in western Washington State today, and one of the events on the slate is a fundraising dinner for which people will pay $33,100 per plate to attend. That says a lot about where the financial base for his election is coming from-- how many people can drop a figure comparable to MY ANNUAL SALARY on ONE MEAL??? That's the Republican Party for ya-- the only thing they want from anyone but the rich is their votes. Compare that to the millions of people who donated less than $200 each to Obama, and you get a picture of what people actually want in a candidate this year.

Incidentally-- I got a sunburn today. I'm burned as red as Stalin's undershorts (tightie reddies?).

Anyone want to go see a battleship?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thirty Rules

Well, maybe more like guidelines.... or perhaps pearls of wisdom (lumps of grit encased in wads of secreted calcium?)

Just some rules of thumb that I've come up with over the last couple years... I've found they apply to a lot of different things.

Rule of Utility: Determine what the purpose of a thing should be before you create it. Do you actually need a thing, and if so, what do you need it to do? Is it supposed to remove gasoline fumes from a house, support a 50-ton load, or convey what April sunshine feels like on your skin?

Rule of Checkability: Get all the information you can about a subject before you begin making decisions.

Rule of Objectivity: Identify the performance standards or other criteria by which a thing will be judged. Remember to check to see if there are any new rules.

Rule of Separation: Separate the objective from the mechanism, and the mechanism from the policy. Rules are means, not ends.

Rule of Representation: Right from the start, explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. Having to explain things to others can help make it more clear to yourself.

Rule of Substance: There's no point being good at something if you look like a fool, and there's no point in looking good but being useless.

Rule of Infallibility: Remember that however smart or skilled you are, you can still make mistakes.

Rule of Casualty: If a thing does not work, identify the point at which starting over would be easier than trying to make an unsuccessful thing work. Do not reinforce failure. Do not polish turds. Accept and write off losses if necessary—there is no sense pouring more time and money down a bottomless hole.

Rule of Repeatability: Remember that your design or results will have to be implemented or repeated by others.

Rule of Clarity: Clarity is often better than genius—if it is sufficiently clear, anyone can understand it, but you have to be a genius in order to understand genius.

Rule of Genius: Despite Rule 8, just because you do not know what a genius is talking about does not mean that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Rule of Modularity: Use simple parts connected by clean interfaces.

Rule of Composition: Design things to be connected to other things, and to work as part of a whole.

Rule of Versatility: Remember that a thing may not be used for the purpose for which it was originally designed, and may serve several different purposes at once.

Rule of Simplicity: Design for simplicity; add complexity only where you must.

Rule of Redundancy: Things may break, fail, or be stolen, so always have backup capacity.

Rule of Parsimony: Use a large, complex, or expensive thing only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do.

Rule of Transparency: Design for visibility to make inspection and trouble-shooting easier.

Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child of transparency and simplicity, while redundancy is a favorite uncle.

Rule of Alternatives: Always remember the alternatives that are available to you, and keep track of them as they change over time.

Rule of Least Surprise: In designing or writing something for someone else to build or implement, always do the least surprising thing.

Rule of Listening: It's always possible for anyone to know something that you do not.

Rule of Repair: When you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible.

Rule of Economy: Brain time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time.

Rule of Specification: Use standardized, off-the-shelf components when you can.

Rule of Optimization: Do prototypes and bench tests before finalizing or polishing. Get it working before you optimize it.

Rule of Extensibility: Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think.

Rule of Lifespan: Remember that things may require maintenance and upgrades. Try to remember which things they are.

Rule of Upkeep: Always consider the maintenance and upgrade costs when you're estimating something.
Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for "one true way," including these rules.

Friday, May 2, 2008


It's 25 years on since the Falklands War, which took place in the spring of 1982. The government of Argentina, headed by the US-backed military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded the Falkland Islands in a wag-the-dog attempt to distract public attention from Argentina's economic collapse and internal troubles such as the Dirty War.

At the time of the invasion, the islands were home to about 2,500 Britons and had been sovereign (albeit intermittently contested) British territory since the 1700s, but which Argentina has maintained a claim to since the 1830s, referring to the islands as Las Malvinas. The island's chief exports were mutton and wool.

In a sneak attack, Argentine troops landed in on the islands on April 2, 1982, disarming the tiny Royal Marine detachment (after machine-gunning and burning the Marines' barracks under the mistaken impression that the British troops were inside) and establishing a 12,000-man garrison.

To the surprise of many in the international community, not least the Argentines themselves, the United Kingdom did not accept the Argentine occupation of the islands as a fait accompli. Despite the islands' being 8,000 miles away from Britain and the economically strapped condition of the UK, popular support ran strongly in favor of retaking the Falklands and Downing Street began mobilizing most of the atrophied Royal Navy for an expedition to retake the islands.

After some skirmishing at sea, British troops landed at San Carlos Water on East Falkland on May 21; over the next three weeks of fierce fighting, the British marched and fought their way east towards the islands' capitol town of Port Stanley. The Argentine garrison, who had been essentially abandoned to their fate by Galtieri's government, surrendered on 14 June. Galtieri's military government was thrown out the following year.

British warships headed south.

British troops marching across East Falkland. This is probably the most iconic photo of the war.

The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sinking after being torpedoed.

War memorial in Buenos Aires.

HMS Sheffield burning

42 Commando memorial, East Falkland

British ships under air attack, San Carlos Water, May 24

A total of 907 men were killed on both sides; 649 Argentines and 258 from the UK (including three islanders), with 1,845 wounded.

So here's a drink to everyone on both sides who fought or only sat and waited in this strange little war at the bottom of the world..... in memory of anyone who was at Port Stanley, South Georgia, Teal Inlet, Goose Green, San Carlos Water, Mount Kent, Top Malo House, Port Pleasant, Fitzroy, Wireless Ridge, Two Sisters, Grytviken, South Georgia, Mount Longdon, Mount Harriet, Mount Tumbledown, the South Sandwich Islands, and on all the ships at sea.