2/08/2003

Silent Running, Space Program Division announces the launch of Satellite Yourish. See I thought my post was about how sad the anti-war protesters had become, now so desperate that they were stripping off in the hope of attracting attention. However Meryl saw through the subtlety that I am famous for and uncovered my scurrilous plan to link her to these naked no-hopers and there-by imply… er something bad. Going off like a half-cocked Xena, the Virginia Amazon let fly… Screw that, Murray. I'm a liberal. Use another label for them. I am a hawk on Israel and terrorism, and pro-union, pro-choice, for progressive taxation, affirmative action, and many other liberal causes. So fuck off with painting me with that broad brush of yours. Those are the loony lefties. Get over trying to attach them to sane people like me. Meryl Yourish Well… gosh.
Ok now they're just desperate for attention. Women Bare All In Peace Protest I despise these so-called "anti-war" protesters for abusing the freedoms that were so hard won for them but not by them and for denying others the same freedom. Their actions support tyranny and despotism, time to redefine the meaning of the word liberal. I vote for asshole.

2/07/2003

NEXT THING, WE'LL BE PUBLISHING OUR LAUNDRY LISTS Here are the latest KEYHOLE electronic intercepts of a Windows Messenger exchange. Make sure Rumsfeld gets them. Murray says: Ok how many Frenchmen will willingly throw themselves on the flames to save the Eiffel Tower if it was fire bombed? Bruce Hill says: None? Murray says: Actuatually the correct answer is, I dont know either, we'd had best test it to make sure. Murray says: this is great http://littletinylies.blogspot.com/2003_02_02_littletinylies_archive.html#90284487 Bruce Hill says: DamnBlogger - it keeps wiping out my hyperlinks! Murray says: others have mentioned as much, tell Brad to demand a refund Murray says: it'll ensure we dont get the blood presure up form dealing with it Bruce Hill says: Makes me look like a durned fool! Like I can't put in a simple hyperlink or something, like some dadburned West Virginian, daggnabit! Bruce Hill says: And consarn it, as well! Murray says: go ahead, post that. Murray says: I want to see what happens Murray says: I get your computer right? Bruce Hill says: Kiss my grits! Murray says: dont count on it
CHICKEN RUN TO NEW ZEALAND? Want to stop the world so you can get off? Fancy a nice safe bolt-hole to flee to? Apparently an opportunistic immigration services company is taking advantage of the current unpleasantness to drum up some business for my dear old patria.

But whatever happens, you have two fundamental choices: play it as you have with one passport allowing you and your family to only live in the United States or the U.K. that might become unsafe, or have the choice to live in another English-speaking rule of law nation with many of your values without giving up your current passport. For those of you who do not speak fluent English you, too, can become permanent residents. Of all of the English-speaking countries in the world, New Zealand is the one country that meets all of your requirements: Safety Safe haven for your assets English speaking Rule of law with common values

Oh, and did we mention that you'll need a million dollars? Yeah, that's right - to get permanent residency under the "Invstor" category, you need to invest a million NZ dollars in the country. Given real estate prices in most of the US and UK, that wouldn't be much of a problem for some people. Remember that thanks to the appalling exchange rate, that's only $US 550,000. Well, why the hell not flee to New Zealand? It's as safe as anywhere else, which means of course that it's as UNsafe too. I'm reminded of thestory of a wealthy Frenchman who realised in the late 1930s that Bad Shit was coming, so he decided to make a new life for himself and his family as far away from the coming war as possible, somewhere so isolated and tranquil and inconsequential that conflict would never touch it. And he found it too, and moved his family there safe in the knowledge that the tides of war could never lap against the shores of his out-of-the-way island hideaway. It was Tarawa Atoll. It's all reminiscent of the story of Wilmer McLean, who through an unfortunate quirk of fate, had the American Civil War start in his back yard, and end in his front parlour, despite his best attempts to avoid the entire proceedings.
PSY-OPS BOYS KEEPING THE ENEMY BUSY If this bit of gossip from Baghdad is correct, it looks like we managed to hack the Iraqi phone system. Cool!

A couple of days ago it was rumored that all top officials had their phone numbers changed, well who cares it’s not like I call Saddam every night to chat, but today a friend explained why. Around six days ago the phone lines of the Iraqi air defense units were “attacked”. When you picked up the phone in some of the command units you didn’t get a dial tone but a male voice speaking in broken Arabic. What it said is close to what the infamous email said, don’t use chemical or biological weapons, don’t offer resistance, and don’t obey commands to attack civilian areas and so on. This went on for a couple of hours. Now everyone has new numbers. I have no idea how that is at all possible. I do know that for some rural areas we use microwave signals for phone connections but they can’t be so stupid as to use it for military purposes. Way to go uncle Sam. This is going to make one hell of a James Bond movie.

I don't know who Raed is, or even if he actually is blogging from Baghdad, but if he is genuine, then I hope for his sake he's being real careful in using the Internet. Maybe after the liberation we can find out who he really is.
A NOTE OF SOBRIETY While I'm sure we're all enjoying pouring buckets of steaming rhetorical faeces over the French, the North Korean Communist Party, the Baathists (Iraqi and Syrian wings) and the alleged "leadership" of the US Democratic Party, may I point out that we haven't actually won this war yet, and things may yet go hideously pear-shaped. Remember, there are two sides in a war, and sometimes the opposition plays dirty by doing something unexpected and unwelcome. We may have the best game-plan known to man, but that doesn't mean Saddam is going to cooperate with it. He did last time, and I still can't work out why. Chances of a repeat performance? Slim to nil. Look, I have no idea how crazy he is, or what sort of warped view of reality he's getting thanks to his coterie of sycophantic yes-men, so it's hard to make an accurate guess of Saddam's intentions. But if you knew you had around three or four weeks to live, and you had an army, links to terrorist networks, and the tacit support of the less rational parts of the Western Left, wouldn't you decide to roll the dice rather than sit around waiting for the 101st Airborne to drop by the palace and fire several thousand warning shots through your noggin? In short, I'm wondering if Saddam might just say "Screw this" and do something nutso just to shake up the board a bit, maybe move the pieces around, see if they can come down in a more beneficial alignment. A chem warhead at Tel Aviv maybe. Perhaps some sort of half-assed invasion of Saudi territory, like he did at Kaffji last time. A threatened mega-attack on a major western city (it doesn't have to be real, just a threat would be enough). Something along the lines of: "People of the Western nations. I have no quarrel with you, only your insane leaders, thirsty to plunder my poor nation's only wealth - oil. I have been driven to desperate measures by your refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, your lack of respect for indigenous people's rights, Thatcher's poll tax, the re-organisation of the Greater London Council, and the death of Joe Strummer in what was no doubt a CIA/MOSSAD hit. I loved "Rock the Casbah! Anyway, there's a nuke in Washington, and I'll detonate it sometime in the indeterminate but not terribly distant future unless you promise not to attack my poor, suffering nation, lift the evil sanctions, and make Islam the established religion of the EU. Oh, and Abu Hamza is to be Archbishop of Canterbury, and Arabic is to be compulsory in all Spanish schools. Have a nice day!" Look, I have absolute confidence in the US military. The technological superiority of our weaponry is unquestioned, as is the military's ability to adapt and improvise in the face of unexpected challenges. But while we're getting ready to unleash something terrible on Saddam, what's to say he's going to follow our script? Remember - there are an awful lot of soft targets in the West, and some powerfully angry people on the extremist fringes of the Muslim community. We may find this war is by no means confined to the desert, and the timetable may not be entirely set by us either. No armed conflict runs according to plan, and I have a feeling we shouldn't be complacent. Before we start speculating on how many District Officers we'll need to administer Iraq, and run up orders for new drapes for the US Viceroy's palace, perhaps we ought to concentrate on winning the war. Even if my fears don't come true, this war will be a serious business. People are going to die. Young men who might have lived a long life, full of years and children and achievement - cut down before their prime. It doesn't matter if it's them or us. No nation should enter into a war lightly, or without thinking of the consequences. I well remember at the start of Gulf War I, seeing George Bush delivering his address to the nation that night, and getting a sense of the awful loneliness and crushing responsibility such a decision brings with it. I don't believe any elected leader makes a decision like this without thinking VERY long and hard about the alternatives. And even if the decision is to go to war, I doubt it is reached with any enthusiasm. It is always the least worst alternative for democracies. I think of what is to come, the funerals, the volleys fired over the graves, the flags being carefully folded and handed to the young widows...and yeah, I wince. I also feel for the Iraqi widows and orphans. It may be that their husbands and fathers simply don't surrender quickly enough, or that some gung-ho officer decides to get all staunch, and orders resistance, getting everyone in the unit killed to no good purpose. I don't want to sound like the Borg or anything, but in this case I think I'm correct in asserting that resistance is futile. There'll be mistakes, there will be "blue-on-blue" incidents, and bombs and missiles may strike the wrong targets. It's a war. These things happen. Many French civilians died during D-Day. It wasn't deliberate, but they were still just as dead. All we can do is keep faith with the dead by making sure that this victory actually results in a proper liberation. I hope the occupation lasts 10 or 15 years, and that we help Iraqis build a functioning democracy, and that this serves as a spur to the rest of the Arab world to democratise and free themselves. Any shady deal to return the place to the control of some uniformed President-for-Life named "Sy Kottik" just because he can help keep the price of crude just below $20 a barrel just won't be acceptable. If we can't look the people of Iraq in the eye once this is over and say "We did this to defend ourselves, but in so doing we have made you free", then we did it wrong

2/06/2003

Hold off those troop movements
The Belgians wants an urgent EU Meeting on Iraq. Did you hear that? An URGENT meeting.
"A common approach is to be preferred in a dossier in which Europe can make the difference," Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said in a statement. "It is desirable that the European Union takes an initiative in its own name" to resolve the crisis without going to war, he added.
Its a pipe dream to cling to the notion that 'Europe can make a difference' at this point, particularly when that difference involves sitting on their hands. Now, its pretty evident that the German position is due in large part to Schroeder's re-election spasms run amok, and there is ample cause to believe the French have more than altruistic, humanitarian motivations, but what is up with the Belgians? What is their interest here? It isn't as if they will once again be the doormat upon which Germany wipes its feet in another round of Froggie mit der handsup. I'm still agog that most of the Warsaw pact is supporting the US in this against parts of NATO. Cool.
Chirac fesses up
Statement by Chirac today, yanking a wavering De Villepin's leash -
"We refuse to think that war is inevitable"
Well, at least the first four words are accurate.
CHRIST ON BIKE!!!! Is North Korea really so tired on NOT being a smoking hole in the ground? These fuckers are threatening to nuke us. Where the hell are Penn and Sarandon now????
NOW SELLING AT THE SILENT RUNNING SHOP My personal tribute to the crew of the Columbia. I’d get one myself but I’m a poor student, maybe someone with a credit card and a habit of doing his shopping online will get me a mug… especially since his birthday is a month AFTER mine. Mentioning no names here. For those of you with end user concerns the money will go towards my applied computer graphics text books for next term. I also need to turn over another $12.46 before those miserable bast… I mean wonderful people at Cafepress will cut me a cheque. The image is on your left and the shop link is on your right.
Some news from IBA radio: Rashid abu Shark, who is the head of the Palestinian preventative security forces, says that PA will put more forces into preventing the shooting of missiles from its territory into Israel. He says such shootings are damaging to the Palestinians' interests. Abu Allah, who is the chair of the PA parliament, says that PA has to come up with a political initiative aimed at resolving the Conflict, without waiting for the war in Iraq. He also calls for deeds, rather than words, from the PA leadership, when it comes to preventing Palestinian violence, and for reforms, and for admitting mistakes, etc. Two Sharon's advisors are on their way to Jordan. They were invited by Jordan's foreign minister, but the visit is said to have been postponed until after the elections in Israel. Israel's FM Netanyahu and his Egyptian counterpart had a phone conversation. This report was very short, and then I did not hear all of it:-) Now, is it just me, or are our cousins getting nervous?
I DON'T WISH TO APPEAR PARANOID OR ANYTHING... ...but would I be completely insane if I suggested that some sort of anti-Jewish animus might lie behind this suggestion that the upcoming unpleasantries with Iraq are some sort of "Jewish War"? The Australian Jewish News is reporting about 40 of these stickers have been plastered outside Lewis' Continental Kitchen in Bondi, and Pita Pan in Rose Bay, Sydney, both kosher food outlets. They're apparently the work of White Pride Coalition Australia. Gosh times must have changed when you can't figure out if an item of anti-semitic propaganda comes from the Reds, the Greens or the Browns. Actually there is one thing I agree with them about. They have a slogan on their website that reads: "We Judge The Character Of A Man By The Enemies He Keeps." Works for me, wankers.

2/05/2003

WAR IS NOT INEVITABLE… unless you’re on THIS planet Kofi. Iraq has made the case for taking them out as well as Colin has. Lets talk anthrax shall we? About one test tube full threw the western world into panic, do we remember this people? Even down here at the bottom of the world there was no shortage of suspicious packages, no talcum powder delivery was safe and more than one complete dickhead still thought sending an envelope of white powder to someone they didn't like was actually "really funny". This sort of humour apparently didn’t hit the funny bones of the judges that heard the cases back to back with the clever dicks who thought saying “I have a bomb” on an airplane would go over well. Iraq has admitted to producing 8,500 litres of anthrax, although other estimates put it closer to 25,000 litres. That’s enough to turn Paris and Berlin into ghost towns. I hope I have not been too subtle. See I only had to look at one point. Lets roll. We’ll see how good that human shield is looking when they stand down wind of the “milk powder” factory after its said hello to a couple of LGB's.
DON"T LOOK SO SUPRISED I've been calling them wankers for years.
Happy Birthday To NZ 163 years ago today The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands formally creating the nation of New Zealand. The object of the treaty was to ensure and protect the rights of all people of New Zealand as equals be they native people or settlers. The result was The New Zealand Land Wars, a quarter century of civil war… bugger as we say. Before anyone wants to jump in tell me all about “Maori Wars” or “invasion” or any other crap like that, it might pay to keep in mind that I actually know more about the period than most people to the point where I have lectured on the subject. So keep your half arsed opinions to yourself or I’ll give you the mother of all fiskings that will leave you gasping for air. To celebrate our multicultural heritage, Ngapui, the host tribe of the Waitangi celebrations has elected to ban all Pakeha (white) media from the area. They have side-peddled a bit and now say they meant to say all “non-Maori” media. Yes, that sounds so much better. These are the people that banned future PM Helen Clark from speaking a few years ago on the grounds that she was a woman and women don’t actually have speaking rights… hmm. Helen responded by being elected PM and banning the Navy from participating. Which was rather sad because the Navy had always played a big part in the observance, my father taking charge of the flag ceremony on a number of occasions. Could be time for Ngapui to wise up and remember what a good little earner Waitangi Day has always been for them before they jumped on the victim wagon, turned the place into a venue for every protest under the sun and made the place just plain unpleasant to be in. Either that or we move the official observance to another location, I hear Vermont is nice. Personally I think we have a lot more work to do, far from the treaty making us equal it’s given rights to one part of our population that the rest don’t have based on race. That’s called racism according to my dictionary. BTW, I’m part Maori as well, I’m just calling it like I see it. Screw the extra money I could get because of who my great grandmother was, I'd rather earn it.

2/04/2003

Tim Blair
Naked women, bowling shoes, Soylent Green, and a song. What more could you ask for in a post?
Don't cry for me, Yugoslavia
The Yugoslavian parliment just voted itself out of existence.. Buh-bye. Hmm. Seems the Montenegrans wanted to break away earlier, but the EUnuchs made them 'compromise', in a deal that nobody was really happy with. The Euroweenies seem to be on a streak with insisting on 'deals' that no one likes.
Well, now what
Thats the basis for the upcoming discussion about the future of the Space Program. Some random thoughts on the subject. Isabella didn't load Chris into the three little boats to sail off to the edge of the world hoping he'd come back with a really spiffy map. It also wasn't so he could bring back notes to allow the production of an obscure academic study about the shape of spider webs spun on a pitching and rolling boat. It was about gold and silver, silk and spices. And it was about land. It was a gamble, and it was about return on an investment. There have been tremendous tangential returns on our investment to date, in the realms of technology. And unlike the rumored riches of the 13th and 14th century, we know for a fact that riches exist outside of our self contained biosphere. Raw materials, energy resources, and vast wide open spaces for all sorts of human activities we currently enjoy as end products, but deplore in manufacture. Many voices rail against leaving creative enterprise in the hands of state controlled operations, with good reason. If we have the faith in our free enterprise system, and the surety of rewards for our efforts, is it not time to take off the training wheels? To open it up for the drive and determination of those wonderful scoundrels driven by the thought of making a buck, backed by the hopeful, willing to freely invest, for the privilege of getting a share of that buck? If you had a chance to get in on the early days of the Dutch East India Company, with the benefit of hindsight, would you put in a buy order, or not? Get your ass to Mars, especially if it isn't on a Government, Public Subsidy dime.
Some Greenie grovelling EPA bastards better be looking for a place to hide, and the NASA boneheads that didn't follow up on this better join them
If this article pointed out by Glenn is even close to being accurate. It indicates that the flaking insulation, like the chunk that fell off and hit the orbiter on lift-off, is a new formulation. A formulation designed to be CFC-free. Seems there's the possibility that the 'no possibility of damage because its like a styrofoam cooler being tossed out of the back of a pickup truck' analogy isn't quite true at velocities approaching MACH 2, velocities that generate the energy potential to cause damage to the ceramic tiles. So the take on this might fall into the conspiracy theory bin, but it would be a conspiracy of pompous idiocy and beauracratic myopia. If this is a contributing factor to this tragedy, the sorrow will be turning to absolute anger very, very quickly. Its one thing to face the ragged edge of the envelope and be swatted by the great unknown - its quite another to have seven lives wasted as a result of some misguided junk science concerns about reducing the size of a naturally fluctuating ozone hole at the South Pole for not much better reason than to lower the odds of a bunch of penguins getting skin cancer. If true, then it will be chalked up as a 'group fuck-up' and any corrective measures will either be absorbed by the beast and ignored, or a couple of poor clueless idiots will be roasted as scape goats - neither of which will truly address the systemic problem. To think that this happened as an extreme consequence of Greenie PC junk science mumbo jumbo is truly enraging. Stupid, stupid, bastards.
...SO I TURNED TO NEVILLE CHAMBERLIN AND SAID "LOOK HERE YOUNG MAN..." Alastair Cooke needs to be cryogenically frozen and thawed out every ten years or so so he can take a look around and tell us the score. For a guy who must be at least 173 years old, he's still as sharp as a tack. This link send in by David Bisman

But after the Rhineland the maverick Churchill decided there was no collectivity in collective security and started a highly unpopular campaign for rearmament by Britain, warning against the general belief that Hitler had already built an enormous mechanised army and superior air force. But he's not used them, he's not used them - people protested. Still for two years before the outbreak of the Second War you could read the debates in the House of Commons and now shiver at the famous Labour men - Major Attlee was one of them - who voted against rearmament and still went on pointing to the League of Nations as the saviour. Now, this memory of mine may be totally irrelevant to the present crisis. It haunts me. I have to say I have written elsewhere with much conviction that most historical analogies are false because, however strikingly similar a new situation may be to an old one, there's usually one element that is different and it turns out to be the crucial one. It may well be so here. All I know is that all the voices of the 30s are echoing through 2003.

If I could think half as clearly and write a quarter as well as this venerable gentleman, I'd be happy. Institutional memory ladies and gentlemen - this is why we shouldn't be in such a rush to fire older workers and replace them with cheaper youngsters. Age and experience are great teachers. Are we willing to listen and learn from those who have seen all this before? Read the whole thing. Please.
HITCHENS FOLLOWS "SILENT RUNNING'S" LEAD, CALLS ON MANDELA TO TAKE HIS PILLS Christopher Hitchens, who would no doubt be mortified to be praised by a crazed right-wing warmongering Zionist like me, just can't help getting things right these days. Hell, if other lefties like Julie Burchill and Salman Rushdie continue to defect to the West we might wind up with a Left that has something rational to say! I'm sorry, I...I don't know what came over me there....

It's a strong field in which to compete, but the contest for the most stupid remarks about the impending confrontation with Saddam Hussein has apparently been won by Nelson Mandela. Not content with describing this confrontation as a "holocaust" and attributing every administration motive to the greed for oil, the first president of liberated South Africa said that contempt had been shown for the United Nations because Kofi Annan was black, and that such things never used to happen when U.N. general secretaries were white. (This is the second time in six months that Mandela has said this and the second time that Kofi Annan has had no comment on the suggestion.)

Chris goes on to tear the UN a new bunghole, and manages to insult almost ever single Secretary-General of that less-than-august body since it's formation. Rock on with your bad self Chris! Until you start banging on about how socialism is the way of the future, then it's back in the box you goddamn commie bastard. Just so we all understand each other, mmkay?
RAISE THE BLACK FLAG If you're in the military, you don't get to choose which orders to obey. No army can function if soldiers exercise their own judgement about the wisdom of the chain of command. There is one exception though, at least in theory. A blatantly illegal order, known as a "black flag" order, can and indeed must be disobeyed. Being ordered to fire at a house is okay. Being ordered to shoot people exiting the house is okay. Being ordered to shoot the people exiting the house despite being able to see that they are unarmed women and children....gets a little more complicated.

Israel's military intelligence is reported to be deeply divided over the dismissal of a junior officer who last month refused on moral grounds to target a Palestinian building. According to reports in the Ma'ariv newspaper, an intelligence officer identified only as "Lieutenant A" was disciplined and transferred from his prestigious unit after he deliberately withheld information that he believed could lead to the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. Ma'ariv reports that the lieutenant's action is widely supported within his own unit, the secretive Unit 8200 surveillance group based north of Tel Aviv. It quoted one of the soldier's colleagues: "We cannot accept the dismissal. Many stand behind Lieutenant A. He is an excellent officer who is very committed to his mission, but here there was a real case of a patently illegal law. From the time of boot camp, soldiers are taught to protest patently illegal orders - and that's exactly what he did."

This whole issue raises thorny questions, but I'm going out on a limb and suggesting the Lieutenant did the right thing. Mainly because his unit is clearly standing behind him, which they wouldn't be doing if this was simply a case of wimping out under pressure. I know something about those guys, and no one can accuse them of being softies. If one of their officers says there was a problem, chances are, it was a major one. What are the facts?

The controversy began a month ago after the twin Palestinian suicide bombings that killed 23 civilians in Tel Aviv. After the attack, Unit 8200 received an order from "the political leadership" to identify suitable targets for reprisal attacks in the West Bank and Gaza. One of these targets, says Ha'aretz, was an office in Nablus of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO. Lieutenant A objected that he was asked to find out when people would be in the building, rather than for information about the movements of known individuals. He believed the operation was likely to result in the loss of innocent lives. Having told his superiors that he believed the operation was blatantly illegal, he then withheld necessary information until it was too late and the operation was cancelled. When it was discovered that he had done so, he was disciplined and transferred to an administrative post.

Okay, so this all happened as a result of orders from the political leadership. We all know what can happen when things come down from on high like that. Ideas that start out as suggestions become orders by the time they get up to the boys at the sharp end, and unforseen hi-jinks can ensue. The crux of the matter seems to be that the officer was asked, not about specific wanted individuals, but rather about "people". And that's a line he wasn't willing to cross, and frankly neither am I. Now I bow to no-one in my red-fanged, bloodthirsty desire to destroy the enemies of civilisation, and I think I've proved my credentials in this regard. But there are red lines we dare not cross in this conflict, and targeting amorphous, unidentified "people" rather than clearly identified guilty individuals is one of them, and so I think Lt A did the right thing in refusing to carry out that order. One of the things I said when I was a champion of the Israeli Peace camp, and working assiduouly to talk up the Olso peace process, was that if Israel ever lost the moral high ground, and descended to the enemy's level of indiscriminate murder, then no amount of military might would save her. Men fight, ultimately, because they believe in their cause. Any cause which has no moral basis is ultimately doomed. That's why I support the war on Iraq so strongly - because it's ultimate effect is going to be the liberation of a nation from a monstrous tyranny, and the start of a process of political reform which is going to sweep through the Arab world and make life indescribably wealthier, freeer and more meaningful for millions of people. That this coincides neatly with my national interest in defending myself against Islamofascism, and my ethno-religious interest in not being killed for being a Jew is just one of those satifying little intersections of expediency and morality the British were so fond of in the 19th century. Mind you, if you're going to refuse an order, you'd better be prepared to accept some consequences. Even if you're right, having an order successfully questioned does little to enhance discipline, and raises the odds of the chain of command's next order being examined more closely by those further down the line next time, and you really can't run an Army like that. Soldiers are there to defend democracy, not practice it. And morality on a battlfield can be a very slippery thing. I was reading a biography of the Australian CinC during WWII, General Blamey today, and in it there's an account of what happened to Soldier X. Now Soldier X was one of these irregular warfare, behind the lines, improvised munitions, working closely with the native friendlies chappies that are so useful during a war, but who you tend not to want to sit next to at the bar, if you know what I mean. The type who tends to have their nose stuck in a book, but if you look closely, you'll see he's actually immersed in something like "Practical Wireless For The Criminally Insane". In 1945, after the Aussies invaded southern Borneo, Soldier X was lurking up-country with a group of local Dyaks, ambushing Jap stragglers pouring back along the jungle trails to their supply sources. He was the only white guy in the group, who were people only recently persuaded to stop being headhunters. If indeed they ever have. Well, things started going badly for the group, the Japs seemed to know their every move, and it was pretty obvious they were being betrayed. Suspicion fell on a particularly sneaky local villager, and there was one of those informal jungle tribunals that had less to do with Old Bailey proceedure, wigs and "If it pleases the court, the prosecution would like to introduce Exhibit A" than it did with the application a rusty bush knife and a demand to know who your Jap contact was and if you don't spill you guts RIGHT FUCKING NOW then you won't get a swift death. No one connected with the unit ever told investigators anything about what actually happened, except that the suspect met a swift death and the Japs lost their ability to predict the unit's ambush sites. The local Allied Commander got wind of this, and decided the Soldier X was guilty of murder, as he hadn't sent the suspect back though seventy miles of Jap-infested jungle for a fair trial back in Sydney lasting weeks and involving languid KCs arguing in flawless Latin about questions of national jurisdiction in wartime and rules of proof as applied to the customs of the Dyak people of Borneo. The guys unit commander did a complete end run around the entire Allied chain of command by going straight to Blamey and filling him in. Within 48 hours, Soldier X was on a plane to Darwin, where his records were mysteriously lost and that, as they say, was that. Funny thing, morality, especially when bullets are flying about the place.
AUSTRALIA ASKS - ARE THE AMERICANS TOO SOFT ON SADDAM? Come on you Yankee pussies, catch up!

Australia is the country most in favour of military action against Iraq, an international poll of 39 countries has found. The Gallup International survey, released today, found 68 per cent of Australians backed military action against Iraq, with 56 per cent in favour only if the United Nations supported it. [ ... ] In Australia, levels of support for war outstripped even the US, where the poll showed 67 per cent supported military action.

2/03/2003

Reflections
Back into the office again today. Not a lot of discussion about the events of Saturday, as most folks are deeply focused on the potential of upcoming events. Not that they don't care, or have already 'moved on', just that most of the people I work around are aviators of one variety or another. We can identify and empathize with the extended NASA family, as we've all been through the trauma of losing friends to sudden, horrific circumstances. Most of the discussions today were matter of fact, fairly blunt analysis of the available information. Noticed that in the discussions with non-aviators involved, there was an almost shocked reaction to the clinical detachment that the flyers assumed while discussing the event. Someone noted hearing of existing probability studies predicting a catastrophic failure rate of one per 50 shuttle missions, and that at two accidents for 113 attempts, it appeared that assumption was basically correct. In a conversation with a B-52 pilot, he related the story of some friends of his that perished when their B-52 slammed into the side of a hill on a low level training sortie. He described it in the same detached calmness mentioned earlier, relating his certainty his friends knew no pain, that the impact occurred more quickly than pain receptors would be able to relay the impulses to the brain, before it no longer existed. To gain an idea of what occurred in the final seconds of Columbia, recall the WWII footage of the B-24 Liberator losing a wing, and beginning to roll downward. The wing splits, and immediately the aircraft begins to roll and tumble out of the sky. Imagine playing that scene at perhaps 100 times speed through a VCR, and you'd approximate the roll and yaw rates induced by a major structural failure of a vehicle traveling at Mach 18. The induced lateral G-Forces inside the vehicle would be nearly instantaneous, and at a force at least in the double if not triple digit range. In simple terms, worse than driving along at 75mph and suddenly hitting a brick wall with no warning. Instantaneously unconscious. "Oh, what a horrible way to die", "those poor astronauts". Yes. Condolences to those left behind, but not pity for the astronauts. Admiration and respect, most assuredly, but not pity. They were living their dream to the fullest potential at the time of their demise. Their passage was quick, with little or no time for fear, pain, or suffering. If any of the crew knew there was a problem, it was most likely Husband and McCool, and it is quite probable they did not comprehend what was happening before the end came. There isn't any such thing as a 'pleasant' way to die, because no matter how 'pleasant', one still ends up dead. Some exits are better than others, a sentiment Acidman captures quite well. Sorrow for their passage, but just a hint of 'lucky bastards' envy. The same feeling was present hearing of the passage of a friend of mine in Saudi. He was pulling one of the never-ending crew rotations 'containing Saddam'. Stepping out of the chow tent, along with his crewmates, on their way to a pre-mission briefing, he had a massive coronary, and was 'dead before he hit the ground'. Hard to explain the feeling without sounding suicidal, but, envy. To be taken while doing the mission. And the astronauts were taken while 'doing the mission'. The phrases 'put it behind us' and 'move on' are being bandied about quite a bit, as they usually are with a tragic event. One of the higher respects that we could pay to the seven taken is not to 'move on', but to move ahead. Part of the anguish of Saturday morning is in no small part due to the frustration that in the 30 years since we stopped going to the moon, we've basically been diddling around in the back yard doing 'make work'. We've been flailing about without a true goal, as Rand Simberg details in his article in NRO today. If something does come of this, aside from the band-aid lesson learned about this specific accident, it will be that it serves as a wake-up call for getting serious about Space. Otherwise, all those who went before, their sacrifice will be diminished, their accomplishments rendered mere oddities in the footnotes of history. A woman came into the studio Saturday, an commented that perhaps G-d was letting us know we were reaching too far, or too high, something to that effect. My observation to her was that if G-d's intervention was to be ascribed, it might be better interpreted as an 'attitude check' more than anything else. As it well may turn out to be. Many will step forward and wave the banner of the 'Memory of the Astronauts™' to prop up whatever point they're pushing, be it to ground, upgrade, ditch, re-engineer, or replace the shuttles; to privatize, governmentize, increase or scale back the NASA behemoth; or to continue, expand, or curtail the ISS. But Simberg is essentially correct. All of that is just so much noise; doing what we've been doing with the Shuttle and ISS is just piddling around and playing at space; maybe this will be the call to either crap or get off the pot. Think you can guess how I'd vote, considering I've closed articles with one of my favorite movie lines - "Get your ass to Mars!"
WIDE, WIDE WORLD OF DELUSION Ladies and Gentlemen, under the fairness doctrine (snigger) we present a reasoned argument on why the American will get themselves smashed into hamburger patties before the gate of Baghdad by the mighty Republican Guard. Be warned, America, the hour of your Doom is at hand. Or something...

world reaction to an invasion may lead to calamity. Unstable dictatorships throughout the Arab world may be overthrown.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Some "experts" claim the US military is far more powerful than during the 1991 Gulf war. In reality, few improvements have been made, mostly more sealift, while serious organizational problems remain.

Yes, apparently Sgt Bilko has been pilfering supplies. He's been doing that since, oh, round about the time Sargon I sent his ground-pounders off to deal with the Egyptian threat and discovered halfway through the march that the bronze spearheads had all been replaced with imitation rubber ones. Yeah, we're still working on that. Anything else?

JDAMs will prove ineffective against any targets if the Iraqis purchased simple GPS jammers on the world market, which are nothing more than UHF transmitters like those used by small television stations.

I'm fairly sure in assering that JDAMs can;t actually be "jammed" by UHF transmitters, and assuming that was indeed the case, then a BUFF strike on the area the transmission was coming from would probably end it's broadcast day without even timwe for the national anthem, if you get my drift.

Just getting a powerful force to Baghdad is a major challenge. The first step is to seize oil fields and key bridges to Baghdad before the Iraqis blow them up. Burning oil wells were a major problem after fleeing Iraqis set them afire in Kuwait. Downed bridges would cause major delays since the US Army lacks fully amphibious vehicles to cross water, and building a major pontoon bridge takes a week.

Oh my God! Look Major - up ahead? It's...it's...it's the Euphrates River! What do we do? We never expected that. A river? Well that's it, we're stuffed. Okay guys, turn it around, back to K-City, we'll have to re-think the whole plane. Boy, those Intel boys screwed the pooch on this one...

The US military would like to begin the war by dropping a few thousand bombs during an "air campaign" the first few weeks. However, that negates all surprise and allows international outrage to build as the USA explains why it must destroy Iraq in order to save it.

Ah, the famous "quote" from the battle of Ben Tre. Which came from Peter Arnett. Later canned for making shit up. And which cannot be conformed, as absolutely no-one has been able to identify the US Army officer Arnett allegedly heard use the phrase. Be that as it may, the missile attacks will be against military targets, idiot. Why would the US send expensive Tomohawks into civillian buildings? It doesn't make sense.

A second factor is dealing with Iraqi surprises in the form of commando attacks anywhere in the region.

It's called terrorism, numbnuts.

The last time a foreign army sought to capture Baghdad was during World War I when British forces moved up the Tigris from the Persian Gulf to expel the Ottoman Turks who controlled most of present-day Iraq. Expecting the tribes to help fight the Ottomans, or at least remain neutral, the British instead found themselves under attack by several tribes that remained loyal to the Turks. Tens of thousands of British soldiers died, many from disease, before Baghdad finally fell in 1917.

Bands of fierce desert buddo will sweep out from behind the sand dunes, with a blue-eyed leader in a white robe shouting "No prisoners! No prisoners!". They will tale Aqaba, from the land (causing no end of surprise to the King of Jordan, no doubt) and using their trusty Lee Enfields they will prove a formidable foe against any military force of the 19th or early 20th century. Agaianst one Air Force forward Air Controller with a laser pointer though, I dunno.

Press reports indicate these same tribes remain loyal to Hussein, and he is shipping them thousands of rifles to fight foreign invaders. These tribes are unlikely to challenge American tanks, but the gaggle of support troops along the 400-mile main supply route will be fair game. A rapid charge to Baghdad implies protecting flanks will be ignored. This means American Division and Corps support troops with limited combat training, many of them women, will be exposed to ambushes, road mines, and banditry. Thousands of scattered Iraqi soldiers will also pose a threat in addition to Islamic rebels who have fought the Iraqi government for decades. Since US Army rear-echelon volunteers never expected to face danger, their performance in a deadly, chaotic war zone is questionable.

Rifles. Hussein is shipping these tribals rifles. To fight the US Army circa 2003? What kind of idiot brings a knife to a gunfight?

The fourth problem is the possibility that chemical weapons may be used. American troops have chemical protective suits, but they can only be worn a few hours.

Which is all the time required to turn Iraq into a gigantic, glowing crater. You use WMDs, you die. It's that simple.

The fifth problem is how the nearby "axis of evil" will react. If Iran feels threatened by an American victory, it can quickly close the Persian Gulf and sever American supply lines. Its forces can flow across the border into Kuwait and cut off American forces fighting in Baghdad. We are told this is unlikely, which is what we were told about the chance Chinese troops would intervene in Korea and cross the Yalu in 1950. If the Iranians simply mass troops along the border, will American units continue northward and hope for the best? At the very least, US troops must expect thousands of radical Islamic guerillas and suicide bombers to cross the border and search for targets of opportunity, even if Baghdad quickly falls.

The Iranians won't so much as twitch, as they have this little problem with an impending democratic revolution. Any hint of fighting the US, and the kids (who will be first to get drafted), will rise up and overthrow the government. Heck, the kids LOVE the United States!

The final problem is there is no easy way to capture a heavily defended Baghdad. The Iraqi Army may be second rate, but not third rate, and cannot run home this time. They stood and fought powerful Iranian forces for years during the 1980s. Some have suggested the latest night vision equipment will give Americans the edge. It will be a minor edge since offensive operations are difficult coordinate at night, and the Iraqis have older night vision devices too. Most likely, fires will rage constantly, lighting the battlefield at all hours.

The light from our spears will glint in the sunlight, blinding the aggressors. Our heavily-armoured triremes will sweep the Persian gulf, and our archers will fire so many arrows that they will blot out the sun! Bwahahaha! Baghdad the Noble shall never be taken! With our blood and our spirrit, O Saddam, we shall...oh, shit, the war's over. Oh well.

Some have suggested that Baghdad can be surrounded and starved into submission. That is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the Iraqis have spent months stockpiling food, water, and ammo in Baghdad. Second, friendly Arab governments will become more unstable each day this war continues, and the USA will look defeated if it sits outside the city for months. Third, leaving troops in the desert for months after a campaign will prove logistically difficult and demoralizing. However, the big disaster will occur when Hussein expels two million women and children from besieged Baghdad for humanitarian reasons. The US military will have trouble supporting its own troops, yet failing to feed and house two million homeless women and children shown on worldwide television will be a public relations disaster.

The war aint gonna take that long. No way Jose.

The historical similarities between a 2003 "Battle of Baghdad" and the 1942 "Battle of Stalingrad" are alarming. The German 6th Army which advanced to Stalingrad was the same size of today's American force, and also attacked over 400 miles inland with powerful air support. They were far better equipped, trained, experienced, and motivated than hastily assembled Russian conscripts (see the movie "Enemy at the Gates") Even though Stalin was a brutal dictator, untrained peasants stood and fought against overwhelming odds.

The truly horrifying thing is, I think this may actually be what many Arabs genuinely believe. Whoever write this drivel has absolutely no conception of the quantum leap in military technology made by the United States in recent years. There isn't going to be any "Battle of Baghdad". There won't be any "lines" to infiltrate. Most Iraqi troops won't even see the US soldier who kills them with a laser pointer and a radio. It's a whole new centruy, and the Iraqis are almost ready to fight WWI. It's goingto be one of the most pitiful performances you've ever seen. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.

2/02/2003

Race is on
To see how long this story (aka 'smoking gun, directions to') goes ignored. I'm guessing until at least Wednesday. Alternately, if it does start to get picked up, it will be discounted because of the locale of the 'singing bird' centerpiece, and his current protectors. Whats the big deal? One of Saddam's bodyguards spilling the beans on the Iraqi three card monty. Sounds like he's laying out the who, what, when, where, and how. (via Instapundit)
BAD TIMING (Insert your own Tim Curry voice) In just another example of the intellectual prowess of the left, the so-called “anti-war” movement chose yesterday to attempt to storm the United States Embassy in Wellington. In what could not be described as the slickest move they ever made, a group numbering between 150 and 250, depending on how sympathetic the reporter, made for the Embassy armed with the usual “no blood for oil” placards and a “stated intention of entering the embassy to search for weapons of mass destruction”. It’s amazing what drugs will make you think is a good idea at the time. These creatures are scum, a rabble of dropouts, no hopers and never will be's. The police could have rounded them up via the use of a giant electro magnet that would have secured them all by the multitude of facial piercings I saw. What else did I observe, you ask? Well I didn’t see 250 or even 150. I got around 70 and once the police had arrested 23 of them, the guts had gone out of them. They really are scraping the bottom of the maggot tin these days, couldn’t even get the one required woman with a pram and baby, “think of the children” combo. You’ll find there are a hell of a lot more people leaving flowers and messages of condolence just as they did on Sept 12. These creatures are not anti-war, they are certainly not pacifists and are definitely NOT the sharpest products of the New Zealand educational system. If they were anti-war as they claim, they would have taken the time to swing by the Australian Embassy and the British High Commission, both within easy walking distance of the US Embassy. However, rent-a-rabble can only count to two, and Protest = US Embassy. What they are is anti-American pure and simple. If the US decided to give out $100 notes they would protest that (after collecting their share of course). Naturally they are clucking police brutality. Which cracks me up because if the cops, who were not even geared up, had not dragged their sorry collective asses off the fence they were trying to breach, I doubt they would have found the Marine guard so gentle. Hey, its your country on that side of the wire, go ahead, plug em. General feelings of sympathy for these knuckle-heads hit zero a while back. They could all have benefited from some time in the infantry because one of the first things they teach you is, when you get to the bottom of the hole, stop digging! Oxymoron for the 21st century, "protest organisers". Tim you’re on again… BAD TIMING!
ANOTHER DEFECTION FROM THE LEFT! Julie Burchill has dashed past the minefield, avoided the searchlights, vaulted the wall under a hail of mchinegun fire and arrived safely in the Western Sector and freedom. And she's done it in the Al-Guardian no less! She joins Chris Hitchens and Salman Rushdie in the MI6 safe house for Leftists With Brains. We predict an increased number of such defections from the Idiotarian Bloc as tensions between the two philosophical systems increase.

We may be saddled with Bush and Blair, but you've got Prince Charles (a big friend of the Islamic world, probably because of its large number of feudal kingdoms and hardline attitude to uppity women), the Catholic church (taking a brief break from buggering babies to condemn any western attack as "morally unacceptable") and posturing pansies such as Sean Penn, Sheryl Crow and Damon Albarn. Oh, and we've also got Condoleezza Rice, the coolest, cleverest, most powerful black woman since Cleopatra, and you've got the Mothers' Union, with their risible prayer for Iraq's people, a prime piece of prissy, pacifist twaddle that even Hallmark "Forever Friends" would reject as not intellectually or aesthetically rigorous enough.

Welcome to the West Ms Burchill, you'll find we're not as bad as we're painted. Even Bush isn't such a bad chap once you get to know him. You did the right thing.
MARGO MAKES HER MOVE! Here is a public service announcement. Citizens are advised to be on the lookout for an escaped lunatic. Margo Kingston broke out of a secure unit at the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week, and is believed to be roaming the streets with a demented look in her eyes, muttering darkly about anti-gravity devices. She is extremely dangerous, and should not be approached under any circumstances. Fairfax employees with tranquiliser-dart guns are conducting extensive sweeps of the Sydney metropolitan area. Please cooperate with them, so this poor woman can be recaptured and receive the medical attention she so desperately needs. Thank you. That is all. Margo has seen fit to publish this...this...well I'm not sure what to call it exactly. Crap springs to mind. It's by some looney (and I use the term advisedly m'ud) called Malcolm Street, who adds helpfully, "I am not a crank".

The indisputable fact is that both the US and the UK are putting serious money into anti-gravity research with military aerospace applications. The only question is how far it is from operational status. There is informed speculation that it is already used in the American B2 bomber. I believe that access to this potentially revolutionary and obviously highly secret technology, perhaps via the JSF/F35 fighter program, could be behind the otherwise (in my view) inexplicable level of support given Bush over Iraq by Howard and Blair.

The prosecution rests m'lud. No further questions.