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Whoo, Sunday, Sunday, van drivin' fun day. I got no friggin idea why, but I think I have some kind of creativity overrun and if I don't tell the entire world about my boring day I'll burst a vein.

I went to church after waking up this morning, early service as usual. The youth sit up front, so I got a spot front row center and proceeded to chill. I sang one song and mouthed the rest. The pastor was going on about something, but regretfully I cannot remember what. Maybe it was the fact that Cory kept passing me notes on impossible paintball marker upgrades. Attempting to diagram how to bottomline a PT Enforcer without a bottomline kit kind of distracted me, I guess. In Sunday school we talked about the war and the end times, argued the semantics of the term "war" vs. "conflict", and expressed our general proudness of America's ability to kick ass. I love living in the South. There aren't nearly as many peace-loving hippie types as there are in, say, France.

After Sunday school, Alston, Jason, Cory (bearded jerk) and I stood in the parking lot of the church attempting to decide what to do until Andrew, the youth director drove up in his Taurus. Man, this is a bunch of boring crap. Are you still reading this? Dang. Anyway, he said his parents were coming in and he was going home to clean up. Having no idea of what other than that to do, we followed. Everyone except Cory, that is. He was acting like a bearded jerk to his parents and was grounded. Heh. I love it.

I stood around and looked busy while the others cleaned Andrew's house. I talked to the neighbor kid, ate some Cheez-Its, and generally tried to stay out of the way. Then we sat around and I threw a mini Nerf football up and down whilst lounging on the floor until Andrew had to leave for a basketball game. Leave for a basketball game? I thought his parents were coming in! I expressed this verbally only to find that he was lying to get us to clean up his house.

Lemme see, went home, went to sleep, woke up, showered, sat down at the computer. Here's where you come in. I'm writing this because I'm waiting for a steak to be grilled to perfection for my consumption. It's better than playing spider solitaire to pass the time. Better for me, anyway.

Today is my birthday. 4 other people, and one cat, that I know personally share my birthday so a happy one to us all. I went to Australia Zoo, alas no Steve for he was out shooting the show, and walked around the 60 acres of wildlife. I liked how the zoo was designed more to keep the public out of the animals territory than it was to keep the animals in. I got to pet a Gray Kangaroo, a Koala, and a Python. I took several pictures of my spouse and our daughter. Our daughter climbed into one of the many carved crocodiles' mouth and pretended she was getting eaten while I took her photo. My spouse got a picture taken with the python and one with a very affectionate Red Kangaroo who seemed very keen on having his chest scratched. I had my picture taken in Steve's Crocodile Hunter Jeep. We saw a good part of the zoo on our won as it was very early and not many tourists had come yet. We left right after the first crocodile feeding demonstration were we saw three crocodiles "tail whip" for their food. Our daughter got a 6 foot plush American cornsnake, my spouse got a squeaky East Asian Otter toy and a hat pin for the Akubra, and I got a new hat. Later we went home and had Lasagna and cheesecake. It was the best birthday I have ever had.

You thought I was trying to be haughty by not saying anything when I first saw you. In reality I merely didn't know what to say, so I said nothing, trying not to mess up yet again.

Somehow my usual strategy of staying silent backfired. You made me laugh, with your exaggerated accent and funny metallic-dotted grin. You reminded me of a best friend's older brother, somewhat protective, experienced in life, snaring my attention despite myself. I wanted to make you laugh.

You took me out in the mule after I refused to play chicken on the trails, scaring me by nearly crashing into trees and occasionally getting stuck. While we waited for the engine to cool because it overheated again and we were stuck in mud, you asked me to tell you something about me. I told you I didn't know where to start- how interesting could the life of a sheltered bookworm be to you, someone who has crammed so much experience into so little time? But I stared at the moon as you lit another cigarette and told you about one of my more shaming experiences, namely a high ropes course I tried to navigate before a group of peers. (I'd wanted to disappear from fright and shame.) I said I hated always being known as "the smart one" (even though I knew I brought it on myself by usually having the right answer in classes and thinking as deeply as I could). You said people will learn to look past that in time and see what's on the inside. But it doesn't really matter because you're pretty already.

That was the first time anyone ever called me pretty. I don't know whether I should believe you or not. Having heard that I "needed to lose weight" or "work on my figure" for years and years- it's hard to break that noose that people have tied around my neck and my heart for so long. But you- you called me pretty. And beautiful. I remember that every time people's words cut me. Someone out there thinks I am pretty.

Thank you for that.

Je t'aime and te amo. (you know who you are.)

"Yes...questions."
-Nexus 6 Roy Batty, Blade Runner


This goes in a daylog because I recognize that much of it is a personal opinion that I'm just steamed about; it's not in response to anything, and I suspect I'm only going to get more ticked off as time goes on.

I'm really disheartened, although not surprised, at the terrible coverage of the war in Iraq that I, as an American, am receiving. I'm also becoming more and more coldly furious with what is becoming apparent (to me) is the completely self-absorbed and manipulative sabotage of the conduct of this campaign by the Administration - the same people who were so all-fired bent to have it in the first place. I'm not going to debate the rights or wrong of the war here; even if that is left aside, the damage which apparently has been done to the U.S. military's efforts in Iraq by Rumsfeld, and President Bush, is inexcusable.

Here's a quick rant I posted to the comments section of a really good war blog - The Agonist, at http://www.agonist.org. The gent writing it is making a herculean effort to simply provide timely and accurate information centralization. Sure, he slips occasionally, but always admits it when it happens.

The U.S. media is doing a terrible job of providing oversight for the American citizenry. There are a couple of reasons for this, IMHO. One, they have no clue how to cover a military conflict; they are obsessed with the technology and drunk on the dataflow, but have no plan or structure with which to prioritize, organize and flesh out the information they're receiving. There are some fairly telling bits coming through from their own embedded reporters - this should mean that if they're making it through the embed screen, they're fair game to ask the folks at the top of the pyramid back home. However, they're going almost completely unnoticed by the U.S. media. You wonder what the heck their news producers have been doing in the months leading up to this conflict other than spending money on badly-streaming videophones and rendering even-more-flashy templates for their coverage banners and technowarporn 'informational' weapons guides.

Some of the nastier ones I'd love to ask Rumsfeld and Abizaid (don't get me wrong, I like Abizaid, and I personally think he and his crew have been shafted by the administration):

1) What the heck were a unit of Marine LAVs doing bumbling around in the desert with so little screening or escort that they could be surprised and engaged by a 'brigade-sized' Iraqi unit? The LAV (the amphibious armored personnel carrier shown burnt out on CNN and others) is a pathetically thin-skinned vehicle. The only thing it's really of use for is crossing light water and having medium weapons (.50, 40mm) in a gunner's cupola. Medium to heavy MG goes through that thing the long way, and RPGs are (as we've seen) lethal. So how were they out there alone?

2) The reporter talking about the Apache strike on the Republican Guard seemed 'downbeat' and talked about the vicious AAA. My question: What are direct-fire slow-mover helos like Apaches doing engaging a dug-in armored enemy? The purpose of an attack helicopter is mobility, and it should be used to locate, pursue, herd, flank, and kill in the open. These things are horribly vulnerable to even smallarms in the right conditions (see Afghanistan!). Why wasn't this target prepared with airstrikes using JDAM, or even carpet bombs? Where were the Arty folks? We hear there was 'some ATACMS' and that there were airstrikes...but the Apaches got there first. Why?

3) Marines seem to be genuinely surprised that the Iraqis aren't surrendering. This bespeaks of a horrible misleading load of bull coming from their intel people at the near end, and the administration/CIA at the other. There was a point, early on, where Rumsfeld and cronies were telling General Tommy R. Franks (several months ago) that his request for a TOTAL force size of 250K was 'way out of line.' Ari Fleischer actually said that Franks wasn't invited to the next strategy meeting because "the president doesn't have time to listen to what the president doesn't want to hear." We hear Rumsfeld and crew have been turning down requests for additional combat power in theater, and perhaps even advancing schedules with the 'decapitation strike' to the point that the 4ID couldn't even make it onto dirt. Given the trouble we seem to be having with even the forces we have now, how can Mr. Rumsfeld and company explain their earlier intransigence, and more importantly, the apparent massive lag in introducing what appear to be needed reinforcements?

Thank you. My apologies. We now return you to your regularly scheduled daylog.

War on Iraq: Looks like the US and UK are winning the propaganda war - we're making the Iraqi soldiers look bad by killing our own troops more efficiently than they are:

--Two helicopters have crashed into each other, killing both crews, seven people in total (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2879105.stm)

--Another helicopter has crashed in Kuwait, killing twelve (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2871077.stm)

--An American soldier grenaded his own men, killing one and injuring twelve (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2877087.stm)

--A Patriot missile (you know, those super smart ones) shot down an RAF jet, killing two (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2878565.stm)

--And Coalition troops fired on an ITN news crew - one confirmed dead, two missing (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2878777.stm)

--Meanwhile, PM Tony Blair says "war going to plan"... (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2879105.stm)

I don't want anyone to die, I really don't. I don't think it's funny, or clever, or high jinks, that these accidents (some not accidental) happened. But Christ, this "war" is getting surreal. Sky News spent 2 hours the other day showing the same footage of Iraqis firing into the river Tigris, and couldn't make up their mind if Iraq had claimed some Coalition pilots had ejected into the river, or if it had actually happened, or if it definitely hadn't happened. Fox News said yesterday that a "huge" chemical weapons factory had been found, according to "unidentified Pentagon sources". Then it was a factory of some kind, that they were trying to determine what it was used for, with their sources saying it's important not to jump to conclusions...

There has also been widespread condemnation for Iraq showing captured soldiers on television: Blair said "Parading people in that way is contrary to the Geneva Convention", US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also said this was breaking the Geneva Conventions concerning prisoners of war, and George W. Bush said "Duhhhhh, I can pick my own ass! Look!" No, he actually said, and I quote, "I expect them to be treated, the POWs I expect to be treated humanely. And -- just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely." (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030323-1.html)

That'd be the same Geneva Convention that can't help those in Guantanamo Bay, would it? The ones who have been held for over a year without charge, access to their families, or lawyers? Last October, three elderly Afghan farmers, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, were sent home - sorry, we thought you were terrorists, we kept you locked away with a bag over your head and two 15 minute exercise breaks per week, for a year, but hey, you can't be too careful, right? Sign this form. Don't read it, just sign it. You want to get out of here, right? (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2648547.stm - the "sign this form" bit is purely speculation and rabble rousing on my part, but I'd be surprised if I was very far off the mark)

To clarify: I have nothing against US or UK troops. They signed up to defend their countries, but they are not asked, before they're sent anywhere, if they think it's okay - they have to do their job, whether they like it or not. They did not start this war, and they will gain nothing from it, apart from maybe a nice military funeral after their hamburgered remains are flown home in a plastic bag. I just want them all to come home, safely. That's not going to happen. They're already being killed, a lot of them by their own side - friendly fire. Friendly fucking fire. Calling it by a nice name doesn't make those 23 people any less dead. Bush and Blair, sitting in their leather chairs in their comfy offices, wearing expensive suits, don't get to see the bodies, smell the blood, the shit, the death. They get PowerPoint charts, figures, projections, they get to watch it on the TV news like we do, the sanitised, low-salt, sugar free version. I'm not really going anywhere with this, I'm just angrily spouting off. But while I have your attention (if I do), go to www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,894708,00.html and read about the interesting way the media was bullied into toeing the official line in the last Gulf War, and the way it looks like they're being stage managed all over again.

Don't get your news from the TV. It's bullshit.


I'd just like to thank the tireless people at the White House website (www.whitehouse.gov) who transcribe all of Bush's garbled ramblings, word for word, without fixing his more amusing sentence make word usements.

Tek-talk and other jargon bashing activities have never really been a mainstay of my online life.  I even went to the effort of enquiring how well technical issues are received. 

Given the love of E2 shown by it's users I would have thought the announcement of an ASP site plug-in being developed that gives a site soft links much like E2 but across domains sites even servers without much hassle would be good.

Forget stoicism and other BS for a moment; (XP stoicism we have no choice in so lets move on), why is it that if you post something too advanced for someone to fully understand you get flamed and insulted by softlinks that then spoil a perfectly good node?  OK so...

  • freedom of speech -YES
  • freedom of thought - YES
  • freedom of stupidity?
  • freedom of insulting time and resource wasting?

It's one thing to /msg someone and say "Huh?" & "what?" no one thinks you foolish when you do that.  But no not today instead we get a stacking list of Troll links from (one user I'd guess) someone who didn't understand the concept of websites, HTML, ASP or the like and so flamed it in a uniquely E2 way and thought himself (or herself) funny - twat!

So it's "uncool" to moan about E2 events.  Fine I can live with being uncool, but I can not suffer in silence while reprobates (who don't understand enough to know why they even get out of bed each day yet somehow manage to turn on a PC) of monolithic stupidity ruin what is possibly the best use of the World Wide Web yet.

I love E2 and perhaps I did just remove my right to feel superior by moaning but I don't need to feel it to know that I have been and always shall be better than the moronic fools who spoil this great site.

Last night saw the coming and going of the 75th Academy Awards. The only thing that is worth commentating on is Michael Moore's speech after winning for the best documentary, Bowling for Columbine.

After winning the award, Moore begins ranting about how he and his fellow documentary makers film a world of reality and exist in that same world. He would never support a fictitious president who was voted in during a fictitious election, who is fighting a war for fictitious reasons and blah blah blah blah. Interestingly enough, he received cheers for the fictitious president remark but then began to hang himself with boos when he started trashing the war effort.

Personally, I am all for questioning authority and voicing opposition to things that you don't agree with. However, I feel that when engaged in a war, everyone must show support for those who are risking life and limb. Never for a minute must those people risking their lives think that we are unappreciative of the sacrifice they are making. Burn flags and effigies as much as you want before or after the war, but don't cause dissent when the very success and lives of the soldiers depends on unity. Sure, the soldiers would have been better off if the war would have never started, but it's too late for that.

Another thing that really torques me is when celebrities feel qualified to be political spokespeople. I respect Michae Moore a little more on this level because of his record as a documentary film maker, but I think he had ill timing. If you want more about celebrities and politics, check out my low rep celebrities and congress node. (Shameless self plug).

The last comment I have is that I wish people would stop bringing up the election results. All of this garbage about Florida is making me puke for two reasons. Reason one, it could have gone either way; since it couldn't be a tie, someone had to win so deal with it. Reason two, there are 49 other states in the union and the fact that the race was this close says that Al Gore wasn't really a much superior candidate.


I realize that many may read this as a pro-Bush wu and that I'm all war war war or I'm a hawk or something. In reality, I don't care who's president and war sucks.

Today's Headlines

US News

Mother Saw Captured Son On Iraqi Television
Anecita Hudson of Albuquerque, New Mexico said that she saw her son, Army specialist Joseph Hudson, interviewed in the video of Iraqi POWs which aired on television in Iraq and was later picked up by a Filipino television station that she subscribes to. Specialist Hudson, who was stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas, was one of more than a dozen prisoners of war captured by Iraq over the weekend. "He's been captured. They interviewed my son live from Iraq. From my point of view, he looked so scared," said Hudson. US military officials did not immediately release identities of any of the soldiers, who were captured or killed in an ambush near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.

Major Gay Rights Case To Appear Before Supreme Court
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear a significant gay rights case which may make laws banning sodomy unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the right to privacy. The case stems from the events of the night of September 17, 1998, in which Harris County, Texas sheriff's officers entered an apartment in Houston looking for what a neighbor had told them was a man with a gun "going crazy." Instead, they found the tenant, John Lawrence, having sex with another man, Tyron Garner. While the caller was charged with filing a false report, both Garner and Lawrence were charged with violating Texas law against "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." The case has been repeatedly appealed and will now appear before the highest court in the land.

Bush Acknowledges War May Be Longer Than Expected
In an impromptu press conference held as President Bush returned from a retreat at Camp David yesterday, the President alluded to a potentially long and bloody battle, saying the war with Iraq is in its "opening phases" and that American forces are at "the beginning of a tough fight." Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar told CNN that initial intelligence reports revealed that Saddam Hussein was injured in the war's opening bombardment of an Iraqi leadership compound on Thursday. "There were initial intelligence reports from various sources that he was carried from his building where he was on a stretcher, apparently injured," Lugar said. "What condition he's in, what his mood is, very hard to tell, because we frankly don't know."

International News

Iraq Fights Back
After success in holding out Basra against the coalition forces, Iraqi forces mounted an offensive against US and British forces from the town of Nasiriya in southern Iraq, which had been surrounded by coalition forces. The offensive, which involved the use of fake surrenders and ambushes, resulted in the death of nine Marines and the capturing of a dozen more. The coalition forces responded to this offensive by undertaking a large bombing campaign against several major cities in Iraq, most notably Baghdad, which suffered the largest bombing since the major offensive last Friday night.

Saddam Hussein Appears On Iraqi Television
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, dressed in full military regalia, appeared on state television on Monday, hailing the Iraqi military on the fifth day of a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow him. "We made a lot of sacrifices to avert war," Saddam said, who then went on to praise the "valiant" contribution of the Iraqi military in resisting a US and British war against Iraq that began on Thursday. Reuters correspondents in Baghdad said they were confident that the man appearing on live television was Saddam, although the Iraqi leader has a handful of lookalikes who sometimes stand in for him.

Pakistan Angered By Murder Of Kashmiri Leader
Pakistan has strongly condemned the "cold blooded murder" of Abdul Majeed Dar, a leader of Pakistani interests in occupied Kashmir. The government of Pakistan urged India to quickly bring to justice the perpetrators of this "heinous" crime, as well as a call to end all "brutalities" in the occupied territory. A spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry told reporters that this is the latest "cowardly act" in a series of attacks which exemplifies the "state-sponsored terrorism" unleashed by India in the Kashmir region. India had no initial comment on the call to arms, but did acknowledge the murder of Dar.

Business

Tokyo Stocks Rally, Other Asian Markets Missed
While the Japanese stock market rallied this morning over hopes of a quick end to the war, the other Asian stock markets were mixed in the belief that the war with Iraq may last longer than previously expected. "What is changing is the perception that the war will be short and sharp. I think markets are now adjusting to the prospects of a more protracted engagement," said Spencer White, Asia Pacific equities strategist at Merrill Lynch. This change in perspective is occuring due to stronger-than-expected resistance in the ground war in Iraq, where several peripheral towns have resulted in major battles with coalition forces.

Nigeria Declares War On Oilfield Militants
Nigeria's army chief has temporarily relocated to the Niger Delta to direct a growing military campaign against ethnic militants whose clashes have led to losses of 29% of Nigeria's oil output, military officials said on Monday. Industry officials said the move, while intended to quell persistent unrest around the oilfields, was likely to further inflame the situation if soldiers launch reprisal attacks over the killing of a dozen colleagues by militants in the past week. The situation revolves around unrest between a handful of villages in the region. Both Texaco and Shell have oil fields in the region of unrest.

France Telecom Raises Money By Selling Rights
France Telecom, battling heavy debts and major corporate losses, unveiled a plan to sell 15 billion euros worth of rights. The price of the shares was set at 14.50 euros, which is 28% lower than France Telecom's closing price. The share dilution initially caused a sharp lowering of France Telecom stocks, but was being looked at as a sure sign of determination by the company to bolster their finances. The French government has subscribed to about 9 billion euros worth of the issue, which falls in line with the government's 56% ownership in the company.

Science & Technology

Apple Postpones Developer's Conference; May Announce OS X 10.3
Apple Computer has announced that they are moving their WorldWide Developers Conference, originally scheduled for mid-May at San Jose's Convention Center, to mid-June and a new location: San Francisco's Moscone Centre. The reason for this is the expected public announcement of Panther -- Apple's code name for Mac OS X 10.3. The new location affords much greater accessibility and presence for the mainstream press, which is leading into the speculation that 10.3 may be as major a release as 10.2 (Jaguar) was. The rumor mill is also stating that Panther may support IBM's 64-bit PowerPC 970 chip and that the first public demo will occur here.

Websites Gear Up For Weekday War Coverage Traffic
Websites delivering content related to coverage of the war in Iraq are pumping up for the upcoming week, in which workers with internet access will likely be utilizing the internet coverage of the war in the absence of other means. "We've created a system here that's very flexible and allows us to respond to spikes in traffic," said washingtonpost.com spokesman Don Marshall. Other sites have "emergency" versions of their pages, or have switched to using a content management system that generates static-only versions of many of their war coverage pages, enabling the pages to be served much more quickly.

Microsoft To Aid In Secure Software Course
Microsoft has teamed up with the University of Leeds to develop the first undergraduate course in the United Kingdom that focuses on the skills necessary to develop secure code. The course is slated to begin next January. Students will be required to write secure code to perform simple tasks which can be linked together for larger-scale secure tasks. Microsoft UK Chief Security Officer Stuart Okin said: "We are working with the University of Leeds because until now Computer Science graduates in this country were not obtaining adequate theoretical or practical experience. For instance, the module will educate students about buffer over-runs and how to avoid the pitfalls such as those exposed in the recent Slammer virus outbreak."

Health

Eastern Europe Facing AIDS Epidemic
A new study on AIDS in the countries of the former Soviet block indicates that the region is on the verge of being devastated by enormous spikes of new cases of HIV/AIDS. The report, prepared by France's Institute of Health Monitoring appears in the British medical journal The Lancet and states that attitudes in the area are to blame and must be changed. "Rates of HIV in Central Europe remain low at present, but behaviors that promote HIV transmission are present in all countries. Improved measures to prevent further HIV spread are urgently needed," the report says. "In view of the current levels of HIV prevalence, Eastern Europe will soon be confronted with a major AIDS epidemic."

Diagnostic Test Discovered For Mystery Ailment
Doctors in Hong Kong have developed a simple diagnostic test for the virus responsible for the global outbreak of the so-called "super pneumonia" known as SARS. The test, validated on eight patients so far, was made possible after scientists were able to grow the virus in a laboratory using tissue from a victim of the disease. This breakthrough will enable researchers to precisely identify the pathogen as well as quickly assess potential treatments for the condition. The disease has now affected almost 400 people in 14 countries and has been responsible for a total of 17 deaths.

Sports

Butler Is 2003's NCAA Cinderella
12th seeded Butler University continued their run in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, knocking off Rick Pitino's 4th seeded Louisville 79-71 on their way to the Sweet 16. Darnell Archey led the way, scoring 26 points while making 8 out of 9 attempted three point shots. "I was in the zone. I felt like Michael Jordan in '92 against the Blazers," Archey said. "My teammates just kept getting the ball to me with wide-open looks." Butler is set to face #1 seed Oklahoma this Friday in Albany, New York.

Ill Tiger Woods Wins Bay Hill Invitational
Tiger Woods, suffering from food poisoning after eating pasta he said he'd cooked for himself at home on Saturday night, won the Bay Hill Invitational PGA golf tournament, becoming the first golfer since Gene Sarazen 73 years ago to win the same tournament four consecutive times. "I thought about going to the hospital, but the problem is it's so easy to check in, but getting out is the hard part," said Woods after a closing 4 under par 68, which more than doubled his lead en route to a 19-under 269 total. "As dehydrated as I was from throwing up and the other thing, I wanted to get on an IV drip, get my fluid levels up in case today was hot and humid, but I didn't know if they were going to let me go, so I didn't do that."

Entertainment

Chicago Dominates Oscars, Politics Do Not
Chicago took home six Academy Awards at the 75th annual ceremony last night, including best picture, but politics were largely absent from the ceremonies. Among the winners: Adrien Brody was named Best Actor for The Pianist, Nicole Kidman won Best Actress for The Hours, Chris Cooper won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Adaptation, Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Chicago, Spirited Away was named the Best Animated Film, and Roman Polanski was named the Best Director for The Pianist. The lone political moment occurred when Michael Moore, who won Best Documentary for Bowling For Columbine made a speech attacking George W. Bush's war policies, which was greeted with a mix of cheers and catcalls from the audience.

Networks Face Major Choices On Iraq, Other Programming
As the war with Iraq advances into its second week, the major television networks must now make crucial decisions about whether or not to continue to focus on war programming or switch to more traditional network fare. With the wide availability of other sources of war information, such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, is it necessary for the broadcast networks to replace all programming with war programming? ABC, for now, is continuing to focus on war broadcasting, while CBS plans to make sure that the NCAA tournament games are show. NBC, on the other hand, has largely returned to their typical programming schedule.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

At last, spring has come to Iowa.

I woke up this morning to some truly amazing weather, and thus decided to take a walk as the sun rose. And as the first rays began to peek over the horizon, feeling warm on my skin, I began to feel that inner glow that only the first real shot of spring can give.

It is a wonderful, beautiful, majestic day, and I think I will spend the rest of my coffee break outside.


Lent Diary, Day 20

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

The temptation to eat and drink is often intense during the day.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the porch reading and watching clouds drift by when suddenly I had an incredibly deep hunger pang. It was probably the strongest sense of hunger I've had since starting my discipline.

I closed my eyes for a bit, said a quick prayer, and thought of other things, and slowly it subsided.

But in that moment, I was sorely tempted.

After a long hiatus from noding, and a suggestion from a friend that this is an excellent point in life to start a journal, I am returning.

A year ago, I moved into an intentional community in New York City and got the job of my dreams - largely running a top-of-the-line thrift shop run by the commune. At first this appealed to my deep-seated desire for simplicity. I didn't have to go out of my way to acquire the most important things in my life - good coffee, an excellent job, good weed, good food and good company. There is no commute to work. My landlord and my employer are one in the same, so I only have one asshole to deal with. There is no commute to work. Other people shop for my necessities, cook my food and clean the common areas of my house.

But about a month ago it started getting very, very complicated. I slept with (but didn't have sex with) my boss' girlfriend. This is not quite as risky as it seems, in an environment where polyamory is a norm. But since it's not the basis for their relationship, it's not nearly as harmless as it might seem either.

The fact that I'm a fag, and moreover haven't had a sexual relationship with anyone but strangers in seven years, doesn't seem to make anyone less uncomfortable, let alone the boyfriend and his friends (who together have absolute authority with regards to my job and home), since it's clear to anyone that there is a sexual attraction.

The boyfriend has made it clear that he won't ask her not to do anything she wants to do, but that if he can't handle it he will leave her. His friends (the ones with absolute economic control of my life) take much more strident and moral positions on the issue. She is genuinely in love with him and therefore perpetually unsure and/or scared of what she wants to do. Complicating matters even further, the father of her child (who is my best friend, somewhat in love me but much more so with her, and to a large degree set the whole thing up) is consumed by jealousy at times. He's also unsure and/or scared of what he wants.

My reaction so far fits in with my desire for simplicity. I've pretty much sat back and let other people move at their own paces. Nevertheless, there is of course the perception that my actions are meddlesome. We do things that ordinarily are only done by people in a romantic relationship, and yet we adamantly maintain that we don't have one. She does not want to stop doing them, and she does not want to lose her boyfriend. I really don't want either of those things to happen either. Recording these events and feelings in a daylog will hopefully at least have the effect of helping me organize my own thoughts. Potentially I might even get feedback from the E2 community, although I'm not counting on it.

Now that I'm back into noding, I also don't want to make a complete turnaround from being an encyclopedic noder to a day noder - I never did understand people who were obsessed and don't want to become one of them.

So it turns out my boss lied to me about when our fellowship program ends. He said originally six months after Labor Day 2004. Now he’s saying that Labor Day 2004 is the day the money runs out, and money for our last group of fellows runs out March 31, 2004. This is the second time I’ve been misled about the future of my job -- I can’t help but suspect that things will end March 31, 2004 and not on Labor Day. Giving me a year instead of nearly two to find a new job. When he broke the news to me in January, he said that if we don’t find new funding by December 2003, I had his blessing to being sending out resumes. Considering this economy, it seems now that I should give myself a bit of a head start.

And of course, he still gives me the same old song and dance: “Not to worry, new funders are going to be flooding in this summer. Just you wait.”

Ah yes, new funders. Right after he so deftly botched things with our old financial backer. Sorry if I don’t jump up and down with excitement.

Today I begin work on the very last design project -- a newspaper advertisement for our May conference. To say I’m completely demoralized would be putting it mildly. It’s difficult to get up the enthusiasm to work on something that seems so futile. After it’s done, all I have do is deploy the new website (which is mostly complete), and my work is completely finished. I can’t begin to imagine what I’m going to do all day long at that point. Probably look for work.


So the war rages on, and as I suspected, it’s not going as easily as the government and the press would have led us to believe. Two days into the campaign, you would have thought from the media coverage that victory was inevitable. Now billion dollar Apache attack helicopters are getting shot down by RPG’s and small arms fire, and Saddam is parading American POWs on television.

I read a transcript of the tape, where the Iraqi interrogators asked one of the soldiers what he was doing in Iraq. Dazed, the man responded: “I fix broke stuff.”

It really upset me when I read that. The bad grammar, the simple and concise definition of what he does in the Army. This poor guy -- a mechanic really -- is in the custody of the Iraqis, probably being tortured just because he’s an American soldier. I’m not sure this is what he saw for his future when he first enlisted.

My mom says that now that the war’s on and there are POWs that I should stop protesting and quiet my dissent. I disagree -- now is the time to yell and scream. This war is completely unjust, and the American soldiers are just as much the victims of it as the Iraqis. People enter the military to find a better life for themselves and to theoretically defend their country, not to invade other nations under false pretenses.

My philosophy of management -- whether you’re an office worker or the President of the United States -- is that you should never expect a subordinate to do something that you yourself are not willing to do. This does not necessarily include expecting someone to do something you’re not capable of doing -- theoretically, if you were capable of doing it, you could also be willing to do it. Leaders lead by leading. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true. It’s important for a leader to set an example -- he or she loses all credibility if they can’t demonstrate that they would also be willing to be in the trenches with the troops.

George W. Bush was not willing to go to Vietnam to fight in the infantry. He chose instead to serve in the Air National Guard, an entire year of his service completely unaccounted for. Who knows what would have happened had Bush been alive during World War II -- how he would have dealt with forces that truly threatened American security? We won’t ever know the answer to that. But I think it’s safe to say that Iraq is analogous to Vietnam, not Nazi Germany -- the Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a theoretical threat just as the communist Vietcong represented a theoretical threat. If Bush was unwilling to fight in Vietnam, he should never have felt that he had the right to command U.S. troops into a similar situation.

How people are unable to draw the same conclusions about Bush’s credibility as they did about Clinton’s is beyond me. Both men evaded service in Vietnam -- neither was really qualified to command the armed forces into battle.

Of course, this fact was lost on Bush himself during the Republican primary campaign. He managed to somehow swindle the conservative Southern voters into thinking that he was pro-veteran while John McCain, a real war hero and former POW, was not. I can’t help but think that this entire situation would have been handled differently if McCain were in charge.

Don’t get me wrong; although I disagree with the war, I want us to win it. We don’t have any other option. But watching the Iraqi resistance -- which is quite different from the welcome the administration assured us our troops would get -- makes me worry about the costs. They’re not going to just roll over and give up -- this is possibly the fiercest fighting American troops have been engaged in since Vietnam. It’s certainly overshadowed both the first Gulf War and the Somalia campaign.

This is definitely a strange and conflicted position to be in. Disagreeing with the war, but hoping it’s successful. I’m not sure our President with his simplistic policies and black and white worldview could even understand it. His advisors are another matter altogether. Richard Perle, anyone?

Thoughts on British TV coverage of the war so far

It always amazes me that many intelligent people devote a large amount of their time to watching the news on TV. Even when it isn't obsessed with sport and celebrity gossip, sensationalism and violent crime, or reporting the minutiae of some political squabble that will have little effect on government policy and less on the nation as a whole, the entire business of TV reporting seems little more than a machine designed to promote despair, boredom and passivity in its viewers.

Whether it is the commercial news, ratings-hungry and scared to report anything that the viewer isn't already aware of, or the more serious broadcasts that are largely comprised of uninformative interviews in which politicians fail to answer questions, and interviewers only ask the questions they know they won't get an answer to, the basic standard is the same. They refuse to cover a story unless they have nice pictures, ignore most foreign stories and domestic stories from outside the metropolitan centres (London for national news, Edinburgh and Glasgow for Scottish broadcasts), and never explain the consequences of any event.

And this always gets worse at times of national importance, when the TV channels feel duty-bound to fill the airwaves with even more contentless broadcasts. You can divide the coverage on terrestrial channels like BBC1, ITV into two categories. Firstly there is the rolling news, in which they make a desperate attempt to pad the airways by showing any of the few photographs and video clips they have and invite a panel of seemingly unprepared people to speculate on the contents. Secondly, there are the regular news broadcasts, in which they attempt to summarise the day's events, limited to the extent that they know what happened, have some kind of video footage, and are able to communicate it with flashy graphics.

So, to take yesterday as an example, we had the BBC attempt to explain how an American missile could shoot down a British plane, concluding in the news anchor explaining that non military personnel couldn't possibly comprehend the complexity of events in southern Iraq; which of course is true when TV news people make no attempt to communicate the complexities. We have footage from Iraq of people searching rivers that the reporters have no idea what it is about. We have half an hour spent discussing a few photos of bombs being loaded onto B-52 bombers, the experts unsure what the bombs are or what they might be used for.

The focus on as-it-happens reporting means that nobody has taken the trouble to consider how any news story should be presented. There is no attempt to present argument or narrative. Experts have factoids shoved in their faces and are required to improvise responses on the spot, and there is no chance to give background or to subsequently improve on muddled first impressions.

And the prime-time bulletins are little better. Television viewers are used to the device in which a newscaster in the studio interviews a reporter two miles away, but even the reporters thousands of miles away, actually in Iraq, appear to have little more knowledge than the folks back home.

For various reasons, news reporters have no idea what is going on in Iraq, particularly in the North. They cannot see things independently, and cannot be certain of the truth of what they are told. Gaps are filled by the speculation of alleged experts, repeatedly asked what they would do in the circumstances, and there are reports from the Middle East, in which reporters censored by either the Iraqi government or the US armed forces try and explain what they saw in the few stage-managed photo-opportunities they were allowed to visit. Instead of facts, we get endless rumour, such as the constant "is that really Saddam in that video?" speculation.

The result is a stream of news that does nothing but promote hopelessness, despair and fatalism. TV excels at this anyway: it allows no control by the viewer over the medium and promotes in its rolling structure an endless flow of tragedy unrelieved by catharsis. To some extent this can be explained as presenting the ideal audience of zombies to advertisers, but the problem is far deeper than that and extends onto channels not funded by advertising.

It is an essential quality of the continual one-to-many medium of TV. If you read a newspaper or web site or book, then for all the possible bias, you are able to explore in more detail the topics that interest you, re-read things you do not understand, check one source against another. Even though the process of constantly refreshing a website has a similar dynamic to sitting staring at the rolling news, you are not so constrained by the lowest-attention-span, lowest-comprehension limits of the TV. Television doesn't distort reality so much as elide it entirely. You would be struggling to find a single fact on the news: maybe they will manage to tell you the name on a body bag.

It is a tragic irony that TV reporters are being killed in Iraq to bring us this little. All their efforts serve no greater end. To watch the television news is to surrender to the force of despair, to be swept along all day by the tantalising promise of facts and never learn anything. If you want anything to happen you need the broadcasts to stop. Turn off your television. I'll meet you in the streets.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away a rag-tag band of rebels are holding out against the imperial might of a vastly superior force that has invaded their impoverished homeworld.

They cannot hope to win an outright victory. They cannot even hope to repel the invaders from their land. But if they hold out long enough, the military adventure will lose popularity at the imperial court, and a more moderate vizier may gain ascendancy in the distant courts of power.

I'm trying to prove logically that Jerry Lewis is somehow responsible for the war in Iraq.

Definitions:

    F: A person is French
    S: A person is Saddam Hussein
    A: A person hates Americans
    B: A person bathes once a week
    W: A person wears berets
    L: A person loves Jerry Lewis
    E: "Exile" Operator. E(x,y) --> (x ^ y)

Premises:

    P1: F-->(A ^ B ^ W ^ L)
    P2: S-->(~F)
    P3: S-->(A ^ B ^ W)
    P4: E(S,F) --> (S ^ F)
    P5: ~F --> ~L

1. F --> (A ^ B ^ W ^ L)     ( Premise P1 )
2. S --> ~ (A ^ B ^ W ^ L)     ( Premise P2 )
3. S --> (~A) v (~B) v (~W) v (~L)     ( 2, DeMorgan's Law )
4. S --> A     ( Premise P3, Simplification )
5. S --> B     ( Premise P3, Simplification )
6. S --> W     ( Premise P3, Simplification )
7. S --> ~L     ( 3-6 )
8. ~L --> ~E(S,F)     ( 7, Premise P4 )

or
1. S --> ~F     ( Given )
2. S --> ~L     ( Premise P5 )
3. E(S,F) --> (S ^ ~L)     ( Contradiction )

Conclusion: ~E(S,F)     ( 7, 8 )

I haven't attempted to write logical proofs in a while, so this is sloppy. Plus, it's all nonsense anyways. But there you have it. A pseudo-proof that because only the French love Jerry Lewis, he's the reason why Saddam Hussein couldn't be exiled to France and thus avert war.

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