Saturday, March 29, 2003

Geocities is a free server that will host your website. The only problem is that it's very ad heavy. Vist a Geocities site and you have to put up with some annoying pop-ups.

After the above warning, I'd like you to turn your attention to this Geocities website. It's a site that lists all of the sniper weapons that are used by the larger militaries in the world, as well as having some data on their performance.

That's the kewl part. The part that sucks is that the site has a few little inaccuracies. Case in point is the entry for the Russian Dragonuv. The site lists the maximum effective range as being 1300 meters (a mile is 1600 meters). This is absurd. 800 meters is more like it, and that's only on a good day.

Not that I blame the author of the site. The Russians are strapped for cash and desperate to sell anything that's not nailed down. In an attempt to increase the marketability of their crappy post-Communist arms they never list the maximum effective range. Instead they only tell prospective buyers how far the bullet will travel.

Lucky thing they don't have any "truth in advertising" laws over there.

A few days ago I noticed this post over at Asymmetrical Info. Ms. McArdel links to a post on Ted Barlow's blog where some Canadian is upset. Seems that the US gov is considering punishing Canada for it's very vocal anti-war stance. The Canadian is counter-threatening with a boycott of American goods.

Ms. McArdel points out that the amount of goods that Canada sells to the US is about 23% of it's entire GDP, while the amount of money our companies get from Canada is about 1.5% of our GDP.

I can just see most of you rolling your eyes and saying "Yeah, so what, James?" Well, I'll just tell ya'!

In the Comments section of the post is a little buried nugget of wisdom. I'd like to share the following from Dan.

"Canadians firmly believe they have a great country, Americans believe they have a great country.

Yes, but the problem is that Canadians also believe that America is a shitty country. Whereas Americans, to be honest, don't think about Canada much at all.

This is about encouraging other countries to use their brains. Canada is utterly dependent on the United States, economically and militarily. The United States, on the other hand, is not particularly dependent on Canada. Therefore it behooves the Canadian government to not make it its mission in life to endlessly insult and berate the United States.

What's changed over the last year and a half, it seems to me, is that Americans have lost their tolerance for being the designated verbal punching bags of every second- and third-rate nation in the world."

Dan is an insightful guy. That's pretty much the way that I feel about it, and I'd have to say that I'm not alone in this.

So far as Canada is concerned, I simply don't understand what came over them. They sent some troops to Afghanistan last year, and their highly trained and supurbly led sniper teams performed so well that the American government wanted to show their appreciation by awarding a few of them the Bronze Star. But any plan to pin a medal on a hero was scrapped because the Canadians decided to investigate the snipers for "war crimes". And what was the crime? Being jubilant when they killed the enemy. Last time I checked that's their job, don'tcha know.

I just saw a commercial for a new television show on The Sci Fi Channel. The program is called "Fear Factor", and it seems to be a "reality" show that puts normal people in situations designed to scare them. The commercial showed a group of young adults in a mobile home, freaking out when a guy in a Yeti costume slapped himself up against the window and roared.

I've mentioned before that what scares me doesn't scare most other people. But, on the other hand, what most people find terrifying I barely even notice. It occurs to me that, if the producers had picked me to travel out into the woods with a group of young adults I felt responsible for, things would have worked out really badly for the guy in the furry suit.

But at least I could honestly say that I was the only man to ever bag a Sasquatch

Prof. Reynolds has found an interesting article to link to. It's about the explosion of hate crimes in France. Anti-Semetic attacks take the lion's share of the violence, increasing more than 4 times from last year.

The money shot is this line...

"The committee said increased anti-Semitic attacks came against a backdrop of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, and added that many attackers came from rough neighborhoods on the outskirts of France's cities.

In the last two years, France has suffered a wave of violence against Jewish schools, temples and cemeteries that coincided with new fighting in the Middle East."

Looks like it was a mistake to leave all those unassimilated immigrants unassimilated. Nothing like a little culturalization to get things off on the right foot. ("Culturalization"? Is that a real word?)

Let me say that I'm not Jewish myself, nor do I find anything about the Jewish religion or culture that strikes me as being more admirable than many other cultures. But attacking innocent people because of the house of worship they frequent? That's just plain wrong, and it needs to be addressed. So far I haven't seen any sort of crackdown on this behavior, and many of the incidents that involve personal injury result in no arrests at all.

The incomparable Megan McArdel has yet another fine post at Asymmetrical Information. This one is about the music industry's reaction to file sharing.

I first became aware of the whole file sharing thing way, way back when Napster was huge (anyone remember them?). As I understoot it, Napster just provided a way for people to share the music they had legally purchased with, say, everyone in the whole freakin' world. At the time I thought that it probably kept to the letter of the law, but it was of such a scale that it had really gotten out of hand.

Another thing I noticed was that the people who used Napster and sites like it would be against any sort of restriction on the service. They'd beat their chests and get all upset and talk about freedom and censorship and all sorts of things that simply didn't apply. It's not censorship if the recording labels want you to actually shell out $15 USD for the CD if they own the copyright.

But the recording industry's response to this threat is idiotic. As Ms. McArdel has pointed out, they want to make it illegal for people to install firewalls on their computers so they can check your files and make sure your not being a bad boy. Now, finally, we're talking about something that's probably un-Constitutional. Y'know, Amendment IV? I'm no lawyer, but it would seem to me that the record labels would need a court order to search my computer files as long as I kept the comp in my house.

'Course, I could be wrong about this. If any lawyers read this and disagree then please don't hesitate to set me straight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

In response to this post, one of my readers has left a comment that I'd like to share. I hope he doesn't mind.

I grew up in Germany in the sixties where they taught us about the Holocaust and where I visited the ovens of Dachau. We were taught that this was so there would not be another Holocaust and to stomp out Anti-semitism. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to have learned the lessons. It is still ok to kill Jews, as long as you call them Israelis, or Zionists. Antisemitism has not been eliminated it has simply changed party affiliation. Your most violent jew haters used to be from the right, now they are from the left, but their propaganda remains the same. One of the biggest jew haters now sits in a bunker in Bagdad. Here is the leader of a national socialist one party state (i.e. Nazi) that has made war on his neighbors and his own people for thirty years, and his biggest supporter in Europe is the supposedly anti-nazi leftist peace movement. Wolf Bierman, a german poet of usually left wing philosophy got it right, when he referred to the peace movement in Europe as National Pacifists.


According to this article on the Yahoo! news server, top dawg at the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, admits that many people in the world are upset at the UN's performance over Iraq.

This means different things to different people. To people in the US, the failure of the UN to disarm Saddam has forced us to take steps for our own safety. To people in many other countries, the failure of the UN to leash in the Americans is deeply troubling.

Any way you look at it the UN should be scraped off the shovel into the dust bin of history.

Via the incomparable Megan McArdel comes this fascinating article on the history of frozen dinners.

The author talks about domestic chores and the work load on women. Bein' a crusty ol' bachelor of 39 years, I thought I'd comment on the difference that men and women seem to bring to the domestic chore table.

I've never been one of those people who agree with gender roles when it comes to work. If a dish needs to be washed it hardly cares who gets around to scrubbing it clean. Same for yardwork. A woman can sling a lawn mower around as well as anyone.

On the other hand, I see a big difference in what men and women think is necessary. Women, it would appear, believe that adornment is something that just has to be done! It doesn't matter how tidy or clean or comfortable a home is, if it doesn't look nice then some women just can't relax. For example, I was once living in a rented apartment for about 6 months. I hung bedsheets on the windows so I wouldn't have to spend good money on curtains (those things are really expensive!). A female friend of mine objected, asking me "What will the neighbors think?"

This question was non-sensical to me. Why should I care what people I had never seen before and wouldn't see again in a few months think? They'd do better to consider what I thought of them.

Anyway, that's just my observations on the matter. It's certainly not true of all women, and my attitude is certainly not true of all men.

There's a article at that reports on how the US Navy is using dolphins to clear mines. The animals are highly trained, and they safely find the weapons so their human friends can destroy them.

There's been rumors about this program for thirty years or so. It's become so big that they can't hide it anymore. This is fine and dandy, but USAF blogger DavidMSC has photographic evidence that things are getting out of hand.

DavidMSC has a post that needs to be read right now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The LA Times has run this story (sorry, registration is required to see the article). It relates the sad tale of an elderly French immigrant who found anti-French slogans spray painted on her front door. She says that "It was a very nasty experience."

I'm certain it was, and the local police and the FBI are investigating, just like they should. But it's interesting that the LA Times is spinning this story as if it was a violent hate crime. It certainly reassures me that, here in the US, such acts are so rare as to make the front page of one of the major media outlets. I'd be even more reassured if they caught the jerks with the spray paint.

Even though it's difficult and often unfair to compare how different countries handle law enforcement, I can't help but notice the different way that we handle anti-French graffiti here in the good ol' US of A when one considers how the French handle real violence against a minority in their own country.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Good Shit is a blog with plenty of pictures of nekkid wimmen, but they also have links to many really kewl sites with all sorts of info. Case in point, a UK site that details the History of Crime and Punishment. Keep in mind that we're talking about law enforcement and not the Russian novel.

(Link via Good Shit. Warning! Don't click on the link to GS if you're at work!)

Sunday, March 23, 2003

No one can ever say that I revel in casualties in war (except for Saddam and his boys, or the guys who run the torture-and-rape factories). We've lost people in Iraq. They died serving their country and, ultimately, protecting all of us. I owe them.

Some of the coverage has turned decidedly odd. Case in point, this story from the AP wire that appeared on the Yahoo! news server. It is supposed to be about two very bloody battles that have been fought in Iraq, and you really have to dig to get the details. But, finally, if you read it carefully you get this little nugget.

"In the end, the Americans triumphed, knocking out eight tanks, some anti-aircraft batteries, some artillery and infantry, Abizaid said. But victory came at a cost: as many as nine dead, and an undisclosed number of wounded."

9 of our guys dead. We killed, what, 8 tanks and some "artillery and infantry"? What do they mean by that? How many infantry? What were the odds here? It looks like the author of the article wants everyone to think that we've been handed our backside on a silver platter. Another nugget....

"U.S. military leaders insisted that they would not slow the drive to Baghdad."

Well, why the heck should it? How many thousands of troops do we have in the theater now? If anything I'm sure this will motivate them to get the job done even quicker.

Another example of bizarre poltically-motivated reporting is this story from Reuters. The reporter focuses on the dead our forces leave behind. The Iraqi soldiers are heroes, living in caves and eating raw meat to try and strike a blow against the Americans. When civilians take to the roads and flee "Machinegun and artillery fire echoed behind them." Punk kids who don't like either Americans or Brits have shoved pics of a benign Saddam down their pants. That brings an image to my mind that I wish I could forget.

I'm not the only one who thinks that journalistic integrity is hard to find. It would appear that James Lileks has his own take on the subject.

For years I've been hearing about a Japanese stand-up comic that turned his hand to writing, directing and starring in ultra-violent gangster flicks. The guy's name is Beat Takeshi, and I finally got around to getting some of his films on DVD. I'm not really sure it was worth my time.

The movie he's most famous for is probably Violent Cop. It shows a Japanese policeman who's very effective, but also incredibly brutal. This film shocked Japanese audiences by portraying their "crime free society" (heh heh) as riddled with drug dealers, crime organizations and assassins. The most radical departure from the perceived reality was the way the tide of lawlessness was kept at bay by the violent tactics of the beloved police, and the way the police administrators would turn a blind eye to the illegal use of force as long as it got results.

It's worth renting the film if you're interested in seeing the way that the Japanese view the role of law enforcement in their culture, and the way they view violence. But it gets really strange when the title character runs afoul of a paid assassin. Those in the film with weak personalities die easily when shot or stabbed, while the cop and assassin just kinda suck it up and keep on going even when they've been blasted with a shotgun at close range. Really weird.

Takeshi's best film is probably Fireworks. He plays a police detective who's wife is terminally ill, but he's been kicked off the force and is without funds. So he robs a bank to get the cash he needs to take her on one last tour of Japan before the end. Along the way some Yakuza try and track him down to get a share of the loot.

I can see how Takeshi earned his rep after watching this one. It's told in a strange flashback style that takes some getting used to, but is certainly interesting (well, it's interesting the first time you see it. It would be annoying if they started using it all the time). The acting is first rate, with most of the actors never changing their expression yet you never have a problem realizing what they're feeling. Other than that, I'd have to say that it's very slow and I had a problem finding any sympathy for the characters. Worth a look if you've heard about Takeshi, or if you're a film student who's studying acting methods.

Takeshi's only English language film is Brother, and it's only mostly in English. Good ol' beat plays a Yakuza made man who has to run for America when his boss loses a gang war. When he arrives he finds his brother struggling to survive as a lowlife street punk who runs drugs with three buddies. Beat quickly forges a drug empire by killing all rivals and demanding unswerving loyalty from his cronies. It works like a charm until he gets big enough to attract the attention of the Mafia.

I had a hard time finding something good to say about this rambling and disjointed film. The best that I could say is that it provides American audiences with a rare glimpse of Yakuza culture. Still, there are better films that do a better job that aren't quite as boring.

It would seem that Mike at Feces Flinging Monkey has a few choice things to say about the Iraqis who abuse their prisoners.

"These people act as if they will not be answering to our military tribunals within the month. They act as if they don't care what happens to them, or to their country, or to the people who are under their care. What are they going to do next, spill poison out on the streets and dance around in it?

It's like dealing with a pack of violent, retarded children."

Go on over and read the whole thing. It's posts like these that make me wish that Mike posted more.

I forgot to mention it before. Jack Burton has assembled a great collection of links. They're to all the maps you need to make sense of the war. If you want to know how close to Baghdad our troops are then stop on by and click away.

I was wondering if I could ask for some help from you guys.

I just tried to send an Email to Prof. Reynolds at , but the message was bounced back. The explanation that the machine gave me was that I was blacklisted.

Hmmm. I don't remember sending anything to Prof. Reynolds for a few months, except to suggest that he take a look at some posts over at Natalie Solent, Anna Bunny or Jack Burton's blog. I know that it's annoying to have someone bug you sometimes, but I didn't think that one Email every two weeks would be all that much of a burden considering the good Professor's traffic.

Maybe I could get one of you to Email him and ask him if it's a mistake? If it's not then I suppose I'll just have to refrain from trying to bug him from now on.

Update Just received an Email from Prof. Reynolds. It would appear that a few of my shorter Emails are being delivered while those of a longer length are being bounced. Curious. Since I have me account through Yahoo!, I wonder if this has anything to do with the Email upgrade they performed on Friday night. Oh, well.

What is it with the Euros and their hatred? Why do they hate the people of the Jewish faith? It always seemed to me that their embracing Islamic refugees and immigrants was a Machiavellian pact of some kind (The enemy of your enemy is your friend.)

Well, I dunno why. I have noticed that the anti-Semetics are trying to link their own flavor of bile with Anti-Americanism. Over the past two years I've seen many accusations that the American media/military/banking system/school system/political system is dominated and run by shadowy Jewish cabals. Most people note that these accusations come from both Middle Eastern as well as European sources and just dismiss them as more ravings from the sullen Islamic population. I'm not so sure.

I was just reading Prof. Reynold's blog and I noticed that he linked to this article. The article relates the sad tale of two Jewish youths who were savagely attacked, one due to the yarmulke that he wore. The people who were doing the attacking were "anti-war protesters".

I know what most people are going to do. They're going to note that a number of these unassimilated Islamic immigrants are always to be found at the protests, and just write this off as another bunch of Palestinian trailer trash doin' the voodoo they do best. But I'm not so sure.

A few days ago, blog goddess Natalie Solent posted a few thoughts on the pro-European Union crowd. She noted that their popularity is largely based on knee jerk anti-Americanism. This is much like the crowds that flooded the streets after 9/11 in the Palestinian territories to celebrate.

So am I saying that the pro-EU crowd are a bunch of Palestinains? No, not at all. But I am saying that they all hate America, and a really violent bunch of them also hate Jews. Makes me wonder when the pro-EU movement starts to agitate for militant Islamic causes.