Saturday, March 15, 2003

Wonderful analysis by Sylvain Galineau over at The Chicago Boyz about how France views itself. Everybody knows that they still think that they have an Empire, that they're a big player on the world's stage, that they have insights and understanding that no other country or culture can match. But did you know that they actually think that they never lost WWII?

It's true! Sure, they got their butt handed to them, they were invaded, and most of them gleefully co-operated with Germany. But all that doesn't matter because the French insist that it never happened that way! See, after Germany invaded the real France was de Gaulle and that was that. Not only that, but they actually think that they made a huge contribution to the German defeat. Incredible.

So a good case can be made for some sort of mass, country wide delusion. Like Mr. Galineau I prefer to find simpler explanations.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Thanks to Stephen den Beste for linking to this article about one of Saddam's bunkers.

Go ahead and click on the map of the bunker. Is it just me, or is the place rather over equipped in the bathroom department?

I'm about to say something incredibly unkind.

So I'm doing my daily read of Lileks, and he has a link to some website put up by one of them thar "human shields". There's a pic of the founder right there to the right of the main text.

Seems this young lady wants to go on over to Iraq and be a human shield. Wants to stand up to the big bad US military and show them what for. Wants to give her life for human rights and all that. Wants to travel from the heart of the most free society the world has ever seen and go to a brutal dictatorship in an effort to protect the tyrant who's already used WMD's in an attempt at genocide.

I looked at her pic and thought 'Gee, she's cute! I suppose it's just not blondes, huh?'

Bear with me on this one. I have to give you some background.

So there's this guy named Joseph Menconi, a small time hood that specialized in armed robbery who worked his way into the big time by murdering a French Foreign Legionaire. When in prison he met some organized crime figures. He escaped during a trip to the hospital in 1998 by using a home-made rope ladder, and his new buddies got him a job in the assassination racket. A real sweetheart, this Menconi.

So the cops nab him on December 7th of 2002. You'd think that the French criminal justice system would be pretty careful with him. After all, he's made the big time! No telling what he knows about organized crime families in France. Even if he doesn't want to turn on his buddies, he's still a fairly big fish in a high-profile case. It's time for the high security and the extra precautions.

The French police blew it like it's never been blown before. For one thing they stuck him in a prison at Borgo, Corsica. It just happened to be the same prison he waltzed out of five years ago.

This time he decided that escaping by climbing down rope ladders was out. Three accomplices showed up and threatened the guards with a fake bazooka made out of pipe and black paint. These guards actually believed that, instead of pistols or a shotgun, these criminals were staging a jailbreak with a single anti-tank weapon! (I can't for the life of me understand that one) Menconi managed to get out of his ultra-secure prison cell by sawing through the bars. When his accomplices arrived he eeled out of the hole he had made and they all jumped in a stolen car and ran for it. All of the prison guards and the local cops were so taken by surprise that this gangster, this assassin, this killer-for-hire got away clean. Pathetic.

I just read this article on the Yahoo! news server. Seems that another French underworld figure had been nabbed by the cops. Antonio Ferrara was the perp's name, and this time they stashed him in a prison right outside Paris. Didn't work, though. A commando raid broke him out around 04:30 on March 13. Automatic weapons supressed the guards in the watchtowers while plastic explosives blew open a few walls and the bars of Ferrara's cell. The gang also blew open a gate using a rocket launcher (a real one this time!). When they searched Ferrara's cell after the break they found a cell phone, some explosives and detonators. I suppose the only reason he didn't have his own bazooka was due to the fact that he found it to be too heavy.

It would appear that no one was hurt during the raid. The local cops, as well as the vaunted French anti-terrorist units, were rendered completely ineffective when the gang set a few cars on fire to cover their escape. Everybody got away clean.

What the heck is going on over in France? Boy Scout summer camps over here in America have better security than this!

If I ever get arrested I hope it's in France. The prison food has got to be better, and I could just leave their maximum security prisons if I ever got too bored.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

It's like this. I'm 39 years old and going back to college. Because I don't have any parents to help with the bills I've got to work 50 hours a week or so. At night. (Anyone want to adopt?)

So I get maybe 3 hours of sleep at night, and at my age the caffeine just doesn't have the staying power it used to. Midterm tomorrow. Finals next week. Book reports due, term papers to be written, 800 pages of War and Peace left to be read.

So don't hold it against me if blogging is light the next few days. When I do post it'll probably be along the lones of "Blah blah blah this sucks! Blah blah blah These guys are idiots! Blah blah blah Screw them!

So go on and visit out some of the less sleep deprived and decidedly less grumpy blogs on the ol' blogroll. You can check out Anna or Scott or Swen or the Fusilier for guntalk. David is the nicest guy on the InterNet, and Erica is pretty insightful (though she doesn't post often enough to make the blogroll. Hear that, Erica? I'm trying to encourage you!).

For biting commentary I'd suggest J. Bowen in America or Natalie Solent in the UK.

I'd also like to suggest a buddy of mine, Jack Burton. Former police detective and present computer expert. Smart guy.

So far as the big guys on the blogroll, I figure that they don't need any help from me to drum up readers. In fact, they should be sending some my way!

So the cafeterias at the House have renamed "french fries" into "freedom fries", and for breakfast they're gonna serve "freedom toast".

C'mon, guys! Don't you have anything better to do?

I remember rolling my eyes and snorting when I first heard, 25 years ago, about how the French outlawed the use of any foreign word. You might want to go to a supermarket, but because they were invented and named by the Americans they sure as heck wouldn't be called "supermarkets" in France. Back then I thought it was idiotic, and I haven't changed my mind.

Hey, the Brits are our buds. One of the few Euro countries that still have a military that's worth a crap, and they're willing to watch our back while we clean house. They're the ones who invented french fries. I suppose restaurant owners over here in America started calling the chip a "french fry" because they thought they could charge more for French food. Well, why don't we call them "chips" again? We can call them "fried chips" or something to distinguish them from potato chips.

Anybody with me on this?

Monday, March 10, 2003

Just saw over at DefenseTech where some human shields are calling on the Pope to become "the ultimate human shield".

The Pope announced last year that physical illness and aging is caused by sin. If people just led virtuous lives they would never age or get sick. Sort of like Dorian Grey, I suppose.

Considering the above, I'd have to say that the Pope is probably senile. Think he'll go for it?

Prof. Reynolds has a post about an ethnic group being welcomed in America.

I wish I could help these guys out. Sounds like they've had a really tough time. Well, as long as they obey our laws they'll be safe here. That's better than they've ever had in their lives. Toss in the extras that being in America bring, like being able to eat regular and getting paid for their labor, and they might just find it's a pretty nice place to settle down in.

I'm with Prof. Reynolds when he condemns the reporter who wrote the story. The author of the peice just had to throw in a condemnation of American racism in there. I suppose he's such a dope he never considered that we don't hang people from the lamp posts.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Came across a collection of newspaper articles about North Korea written by some guy named Ron Gluckman.

Never heard of him? Well, I haven't, either. But he isn't half bad, and his stuff is at least interesting. It won't give any insights to the current problems we're having with the Hermit Kingdom, but it will kill an hour.

Yet another study has come out stating that there's a link between violent TV and violent people. Not to put too fine a point on it, they say that aggressive behavior in the media turns kids into violent, wife beating criminals.

Whatever. We've been hearing the same thing since the 60's. I find such studies to be highly suspect. No one in their right mind could seriously claim that TV has become less violent in recent years, but violent crime statistics show a decline.

Do you think that the researchers have a bias? No! Say it ain't so!

One of the authors of the study, L. Rowell Huesmann, states that TV screws up children because it "erodes a natural aversion to violence".

"Natural aversion to violence"? Kids!?!? What planet do these guys come from?

Lileks has an homage to his father up on his site. Click a few of the links and you'll see that his great-grandfather was a Civil War soldier, his grandfather looked every inch the dapper Depression-era gentleman, and his Dad didn't mind goofing around on the back porch (probably didn't go out on the front porch to get his picture taken 'cause he didn't want the neighbors to see him in that get-up).

Every so often Mr. Lileks will mention that he's worried about terrorism, and nightmares will pass through his mind. He'll imagine what it would be like to flee his city in the winter during a biological attack, say. But he never mentions that he has any guns around to protect the family. After seeing the pic of his Dad I figure he'll just borrow a few from his father if it comes down to it.