When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

June 30, 2004

Fer Yer Entertainment

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ok, I don't really spend my time looking for this conspiracy pornography stuff, but once I noted it, a lot of surprising word choices started leaping off the page. Or, rather, they were surprising to me - although may not be a shock to the intelligent, well-read viewer.

So, the one that struck me more recently was this bit from Beautiful Atrocities, in which reviews from the Passion O' Da Christ, and Celsius 488 are compared. (Courtesy Jimmy Taranato)

The one that struck me was this:

Geoff Pevre, Toronto Star:

F9/11: A plea for America's deliverance ... it may not be an argument one agrees with, and it may be unbalanced and propagandistic, but it is both convincingly argued and sincerely motivated.

Passion: A work of fundamentalist pornography.

Now, in and of itself, this ain't much of much, but if we indulge ourselves and pretend that the sets of quotes about F9/11 and da Passion are essentially parallel and represent similar thoughts (or at least thinking along similar lines), and that each set of quotes from each reviewer represents, on average, diametrically opposed views, then we end up with interesting back-of-the-napkin musings.

Without belaboring the point, what I found fascinating is how this tracks with my recent post mentioning Jonah Goldberg's article making the comparison between pornography and conspiracy theory.

Now, granted, if you look for a relationship between two things hard enough, you can often create it. What I think I may be running into is a problem associated with language. In this case, we are mooking around for a term to describe things that, for whatever reason seem to violate community standards for one group or another, and thus earns the ire of that community. In these cases, the offended community seems to certainly wish that the thing itself had never been produced, and wouldn't mind seeing it disappear altogether due to its self-evident trashiness and obscene nature. The folks who like this however, both tend to get defensive and try to repackage the item in question in a bit to make it noble again.

I'm sure there's an SAT adjective that I'm probing around the edges of, but I just can't recall what it is.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:09 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

June 29, 2004

South Korean Censorship

Bravo Romeo Delta

To bring you all up to speed, the Korean government has been aggressively working to prevent internet users in Korea from seeing footage of the beheading of Korean contractor, Kim Seon Il. The following is the text of a letter written by Kevin Kim, of Big Hominid's Hairy Chasms. Kevin is a fine Korea blogger with a wide variety of interests, but I thought his open letter was well worth posting and very much worth reading. For those of you who taking blogging as even mildly relevant in informing your worldview, I would encourage you to read the letter and respond how you see fit.

Fellow blogger,

I am sending this message to the bloggers on my blogroll (and a few
other folks) in the hopes that some of you will print this, or at
least find it interesting enough for comment. I'm not usually the
type to distribute such messages, but I felt this was important enough
to risk disturbing you.

As some of you may already know, a wing of the South Korean
government, the Ministry of Information and Culture (MIC), is
currently clamping down on a variety of blogging service providers and
other websites. The government is attempting to control access to
video of the recent Kim Sun-il beheading, ostensibly because the video
will have a destabilizing influence. (I haven't seen the video.)

Many Western expat bloggers in Korea are in an uproar; others, myself
included, are largely unsurprised: South Korea has not come far out
of the shadow of its military dictatorship past. My own response to
this censorship is not so much anger as amusement, because the
situation represents an intellectual challenge as well as a chance to
fight for freedom of expression. Perhaps even to fight for freedom,

South Korea is a rapidly evolving country, but in many ways it remains
the Hermit Kingdom. Like a turtle retreating into its shell, the
people are on occasion unable to deal with the harsh realities of the
world around them. This country is, for example, in massive denial
about the atrocities perpetrated in North Korea, and, as with many
Americans, is in denial about the realities of Islamic terrorism,
whose roots extend chronologically backward far beyond the lifetime of
the Bush Administration. This cultural tendency toward denial (and
overreaction) at least partially explains the Korean government's move
to censor so many sites.

The fact that the current administration, led by President Noh
Mu-hyon, is supposedly "liberal"-leaning makes this censorship more
ironic. It also fuels propagandistic conservative arguments that
liberals are, at heart, closet totalitarians. I find this to be a
specious caricature of the liberal position (I consider myself neither
liberal nor conservative), but to the extent that Koreans are
concerned about what image they project to the world, it is legitimate
for them to worry over whether they are currently playing into
stereotype: South Korea is going to be associated with other
violators of human rights, such as China.

Of the many hypocrisies associated with the decision to censor, the
central one is that no strong governmental measures were taken to
suppress the distribution of the previous beheading videos (Nick Berg
et al.). This, too, fuels the suspicion that Koreans are selfish or,
to use their own proverbial image, "a frog in a well"-- radically
blinkered in perspective, collectively unable to empathize with the
sufferings of non-Koreans, but overly sensitive to their own

I am writing this letter not primarily to criticize all Koreans (I'm
ethnically half-Korean, and an American citizen), nor to express a
generalized condemnation of Korean culture. As is true anywhere else,
this culture has its merits and demerits, and overall, I'm enjoying my
time here. No, my purpose is more specific: to cause the South
Korean government as much embarrassment as possible, and perhaps to
motivate Korean citizens to engage in some much-needed introspection.

To this end, I need the blogosphere's help, and this letter needs wide
distribution (you may receive other letters from different bloggers,
so be prepared!). I hope you'll see fit to publish this letter on
your site, and/or to distribute it to concerned parties: censorship
in a supposedly democratic society simply cannot stand. The best and
quickest way to persuade the South Korean government to back down from
its current position is to make it lose face in the eyes of the world.
This can only happen through a determined (and civilized!) campaign
to expose the government's hypocrisy and to cause Korean citizens to
rethink their own narrow-mindedness.

We can debate all we want about "root causes" with regard to Islamic
terrorism, Muslim rage, and all the rest, but for me, it's much more
constructive to proceed empirically and with an eye to the future.
Like it or not, what we see today is that Korea is inextricably linked
with Iraq issues, and with issues of Islamic fundamentalism. Koreans,
however, may need some persuading that this is in fact the case-- that
we all need to stand together as allies against a common enemy.

If you are interested in giving the South Korean Ministry of
Information and Culture a piece of your mind (or if you're a reporter
who would like to contact them for further information), please email
the MIC at:


Thank you,

Kevin Kim
(Blogspot is currently blocked in Korea, along with other providers;
please go to Unipeak.com and type my URL into the search window to
view my blog.)

PS: To send me an email, please type "hairy chasms" in the subject
line to avoid being trashed by my custom-made spam filter.

PPS: Much better blogs than mine have been covering this issue,
offering news updates and heartfelt commentary. To start you off,


Here as well, Unipeak is the way to go if you're in Korea and unable
to view the above blogs. People in the States should, in theory, have
no problems accessing these sites, which all continue to be updated.

PPPS: This email is being cc'ed to the South Korean Ministry of
Information and Culture. Please note that other bloggers are writing
about the Korean government's creation of a task force that will
presumably fight internet terror. I and others have an idea that this
task force will serve a different purpose. If this is what South
Korea's new "aligning with the PRC" is all about, then there's reason
to worry for the future.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 01:27 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

Another Hostage Killed in Iraq

Bravo Romeo Delta

New reports that a captured US Private Keith Matthew Maupin
has been executed. Reports suggest that Al Jazeera showed a picture of him being shot.

Other reports also suggest that bad guys holding Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun will behead him if prisoners aren't freed.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:55 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

New Mike Moore-Food Link Discovered

Bravo Romeo Delta

While Jeff of Protein Wisdom has done much groundbreaking research on the fact that Michael Moore likes to eat, we've been looking at an other approach when we're not trying to compare Michael Moore to Ron Jeremy.

This is a completely new and unforeseen link between Mike Moore's latest film (Celsius 488) and boutique ice cream. Now, not only have we established the temperature at which paper burns (Fahrenheit 451), the temperature at which a high-pitched whine evolves into a fully-formed Reifenstahl-fest (Fahrenheit 9/11), but the temperature at which commonsense deepfreezes into a rock-hard nugget of consumerist silliness (Fahrenheit 16).

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:37 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Conspiracy Porn

Bravo Romeo Delta

Recently emboldened by Doc Jawa's recently specious and silly post regarding my motives behind conflating pornography and conspiracy theory, I note this article by Jonah Goldberg looking at Mike Moore's recent film, Fahrenheit 9/11 as a form of pornography. (Courtesy Vodka Pundit)

And since someone else on the internet found it, it must be true.

At any rate, here's a relevant Goldberg snippet on this worth quoting:

"Moore grabs at your base passions to power through his narrative. Which brings me back where I started. The one genre that has mastered the stringing together of unrelated or barely related scenes and facts without much care for the coherence of the narrative solely for the purpose of a visceral response in the audience is, in fact, pornography and Moore is the master of the masturbatory craft.

Based on this, it would seem that one could make the analogy then that pornography is to intimacy as conspiracy theory is to understanding.

Moving a bit further forward with this idea, we do get to the point that the folks who have been most adamant about ignoring the paradigm shift associated with an Out of Context Problem.

All said and done, this is the reason that I've, by and large, ceased most debate on the Iraq issue - speaking to those who signed on to the F9/11 school of thought is like trying to talk about romance and long-term commitment to a 17 year old boy with an issue of Playboy.

So, in other words, I still have a lot to say, but am trying merely to get up a large enough head of steam to put up with trying to wind my way through the muck surrounding the whole debate.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:14 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 25, 2004

Porn for the True Believer

Bravo Romeo Delta

Many of you may be familiar with the moonbat farm that is the Democratic Underground comments forum, or the wingnut ranch that is the comments section at the Free Republic. These two fora, while the most well-known of the lunatic ranches, are by no means the entire gamut of utterly bizarre nonsense, hysterical hyperbole, and specious asshattedness [Ed: believe you me, that last link is pretty asshatted, indeed].

Like all internet phenomena, this first pass glance at why something works the way it does. The internet is a fantastically good tool for something the Polic Sci wonks call "interest aggregation." Essentially, the argument is that weirdoes find it really easy to meet other weirdoes and think bizarre things together.

And like much else on the internet, a more complex and subtle argument is also possible.

Ok, first you have to note that pornography is the killer app for the internet. One can argue, in fact, that guys hankering for pictures of nipples has been one of the most robust engines for the development of communications technology.

Now, Daniel Pipes makes the argument that conspiracy theories and pornography exhibit many similarities, except, of course, for the whole nipple thing:

...a quite literal form of pornography (though political rather than sexual). The two genres became popular about the same time, in the 1740s. Both are backstairs literatures that often have to be semi-clandestinely distributed, then read with the shades drawn. Elders seek to protect youth from their depredations. Scholars studying them try to discuss them without propagating their contents: [with] asterisks and dashes in the first case and short extracts in the second. Recreational conspiracism titillates sophisticates much as does recreational sex.

Now, if we're willing to take the assertion that there are similarities between pornography and conspiracy theories, and the notion that prurient interests are an engine behind the explosive growth of the impact of the internet, then we end up with conspiracy theories not being a byproduct but rather a cause of the pervasive spread of the internet.

Now, where (possibly horribly inaccurate) interesting parallels may exist is how these things tie together in the Arab world. For starters, there is an assertion running about that part of the reason that terrorism is so pervasive in the Arab world is tied to the generic sexual repression found over yonder. I'm not really sure I buy this link in particular, for a couple reasons - one is that I don't see nuns or Buddhist monks running around blowing up nightclubs (even though nuns don't get none). On the other hand, though, there ain't a whole lot of denying that the Arab world is not on the same page as the west vis a vis bumping uglies.

That said, however, there is also a deep fascination with conspiracy theories in the Middle East.

So, just on a whim, we might say that perhaps pornography in and of itself is not the big engine for internet growth, but rather, rather the whole notion of secret sort-of-suppressed material is the key thing on the internet. On the plus side, it means that in truly totalitarian societies, the internet is going to make it really difficult to maintain the kind of thought discipline we see in historical totalitarian regimes. This is somewhat evident in the blogging revolution of Iran and China (and a lesser extent in pre-war Iraq).

So, what's the underlying scoop - is that based on the relationship of the internet and both pornography and conspiracy theories, it can be argued that both types of entertainment both provide similar benefits to their target audiences. On the one hand, the porn-watching guy gets the eyecandy necessary to a utopian sexual experience that doesn't involve actually having to date anyone or put forth significant emotional effort. For the conspiracist, the conspiracy theory allows the true believer to indulge themselves in the conceptual framework of a utopian dream world without any of the troublesome baggage of logic or hard work.

It would then follow that both are essentially entertainment for those who are either unwilling or unable to go forth and do something as difficult as actually affecting their world to meet their own desires, and who choose to take this as a short cut.

And for those of you who have run out of saltpeter for your food, just think - this makes Mike Moore a porno film director.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:47 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» My Pet Jawa Retaliates with: The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging
» mypetjawa v. 2.0 (beta) Retaliates with: The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging: 3-D

Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

Bravo Romeo Delta

The Mighty Vanderleun links to this post about the Lessons O' The Beheadin's.

(3)It's all about body count. The terrorists have shifted strategy from a quantitative body count (911; Madrid) to a qualitative body count (symbolic victims such as an American Jewish journalist, an American Jewish businessman, an American mechanic aiding the Saudi Arabian military, and a South Korean on the eve of his country sending more troops to the region).

(4)They will likely raise the bar of barbarity to get publicity and continue to shock with the same impact. So far the victims have been males in their 30s and 40s. Will they choose a woman -- or a child? Or a group?

(5)Beheadings are not unusual in that part of the world as punishment -- but they are swift. Yet the terrorists' victims suffer a terrifying, humiliating prelude, then a slow, excruciating death akin to the slaughter of screaming animals. There is a large degree of sadism in this that goes way beyond politics. The goal is to make non-fundamentalist societies feel impotent -- to terrify beyond anything witnessed since Adolph Hitler's time.

(6)The beheadings are political tools aimed to accentuate tensions within the societies or cultures at which they are aimed, much as the Madrid bombings were timed to impact the elections. The South Korean's murder is just the latest blatant example. The goal is to have companies and countries yield to the fears of workers, investors, or their citizens and to flee the area.

(10)If there is any religious significance, it's in the use of the sword. But snatching someone off the streets, videotaping a terrified victim sweating or pleading for his life, setting a deadline with outrageous demands, then butchering him (or her) like a cow is cheap, not as hard to pull off as a 911 -- and gets tons of international media and Internet publicity. It's shockingly cost-effective for them.

So, let's take a look at this in the broader warfighting, strategic context.

Ok, getting back to basics, warfare is the application of organized violence for political ends. This, in the canon of things strategic, could probably be considered coercion or compellance.

But what does it mean?

Well, if one notes the shift from 9/11 to this week, we've gone from macroterrorist attacks in the US, to terror attacks in Tunisia, Turkey, Bali, and elsewhere, to videotaped beheadings of contractors. There are two sets of reasons (and they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive) for this shift.

The first idea is that the bad guys are getting increasingly limited in their ability to carry out terror attacks. We see a shift from large-scale, complex attacks to gun-point kidnappings and beheadings. This could reflect a strain on organizational capability and resources. This in turn, could reflect an absolute drop in capabilities (because folks are getting round up, shot, and are otherwise running for their lives). This could also be symptomatic of an Al Qaeda that is husbanding its resources for a major attack in future, and simply cannot be bothered to spare critical capabilities for minor attacks.

The other idea is that the bad guys have decided that sheer numbers alone don't have the political impact that they seek from killing folks. It's kind of difficult to behead 3,000 people on videotape, so there is an inclination to do a few specialty performances targeted at very specific political pressure points.

If we take a step back, economics and strategy both speak of the same basic idea when they talk about the point of diminishing returns on one hand, and the culminating point of success, on the other. A reasonable way to consider the effectiveness of butchering people might be this. The sum total effectiveness (what we'll call the butchering function) is a sum of two other functions. The first function is based solely on body count, while the second is based on what we could think of as the mean brutality factor. The 'effectiveness' of a given terrorist attack is measured by maximizing the butcher factor - i.e. high body counts and/or very graphic murders.

This analysis doesn't, in and of itself, give any specific indication of whether or not there is an active shift to quality over quantity of kills. However, it does suggest that they may (in their own internal calculus) be able to maximize the effectiveness of their political violence by killing a spectacularly large number of people in a hideously gruesome fashion.

In most sorts of strategic calculus, one encounters a factor that limits the efficacy of such an approach - merciless bloodletting for the sake of bloodletting puts people off and radically reduces soft power. One of the salient features of 9/11 was that it gave a reasonable demonstration that Al Qaeda do not feel themselves bound by any such strategic limitations. In other words, unlike any prior group, they do not accept the idea that there is a point after which a sufficiently large value of the butchering function is reached that further increases become politically counterproductive. Or, more accurately, the value at which they see a sufficiently high value of the butchery function as being counterproductive is much (perhaps several orders of magnitude) greater than any other terrorist group encountered to date.

So, the question then becomes one of whether or not this basic assertion is true. If one recalls Iraq prior to the Madrid bombings, Spanish soldiers were killed, but Spain maintained its presence. With Madrid, the terrorist folk obtained measurable empirical verification that racking up a larger body count did what a small body count could not - result in the withdrawal of Spanish troops. However, we also note that an increase in American and Iraqi body count doesn't seem to be generating much political traction either.

Conversely, with the beheading of Kim Seon Il, we see a case in which a much more graphic murder did not have the intended political effect. Moreover, the beheadings of neither Nick Berg, Paul Johnson, nor Daniel Pearl resulted in a major shift in American policy.

So, we might draw the conclusion that the shift to brutality is not driven so much as a pure calculation of effectiveness, but rather might be symptomatic of something else altogether. This being said, however, doesn't mean increasing brutality to maximize the value of the butchery function doesn't play a intended legitimate role. If we stipulate the notion that this is a bid to make use of smaller, secondary resources that would be unable to generate headlines on their own, then the logic holds true. Beyond that, if we note that any given 5 or 6 jihadis would become so much Marine target practice in Iraq, while decapitation of contractors gets guaranteed airtime, then the shift might simply reflect the idea that the flypaper strategy is overshooting its viability.

So, ultimately, we cannot determine whether or not the move to murder of hostages, in and of itself, indicates a fundamental change in terrorist strategy, or is simply a new way for them to use the odd bits and bobs of their resources not occupied elsewhere.

Now, the other part of it is this - how does this shift play with the American public. From my perspective, there is a palpable decrease in the marginal utility of each beheading. This would mean that they might have to do something like deep fat frying a hostage alive on tape to gain the same measure of shock. However, the lack of perceptible shift in American views with the jump from executions to beheadings may mean that the jump in brutality necessary to achieve any kind of shift might be a very large jump indeed.

Conversely, we can see from the effect of 9/11 versus any of the attacks during the '90s, that a large enough jump in body count can elicit a strong reaction. Whether or not the reaction seen was the one the jihadis wanted or not is a different issue.

But, in both cases, anecdotal evidence would tend to suggest that both the body count and the brutality functions are not linear. I don't know whether or not they could be considered logarithmic or polynomial functions, but the main point is that they are not linear, and suggest that marginal gains diminish over time.

In other words, we are perfectly capable of becoming jaded to the terrorist violence.

Since the bad guys have had mixed success in obtaining political leverage with increased brutality, they probably won't choose that alone as their main axis of attack in future. Very brutal attacks do seem to be quite effective in generating media coverage, which is a first cousin to political effectiveness.

These folks have, however, have had pretty good results with good numbers - but haven't generated enough data points to have a good feel for the mechanics of how that works.

What I would personally guess, is that they may try to optimize both to maximize the butchery function while avoiding the diminishing returns of overly high body counts and excessively brutal murders. Scenarios that might fall under this approach could include things like spraying blister agents over crowds of July 4th picnickers or the like, rather than doing something like an airborne anthrax drop.

At the end of it all, this is all merely speculation, but make no mistake, the move to decapitation could very well represent a fundamental shift in strategy used by the jihadi.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:23 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 24, 2004

Kim Sun Il Video

Bravo Romeo Delta

of the Kim Sun Il beheading can be found at Ogrish.

Standard disclaimers apply - grisly and whatnot.

One thing I do find interesting is that the video of the murder of the Italian hostage was witheld because it was too 'gruesome'. I don't really know if its a matter of changing sensibilities or whatnot, but one also might note that the Danny Pearl video was never released broadly, either.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 05:39 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)
» My Pet Jawa Retaliates with: Kim Sun-il Beheading Video Released
» MartiniPundit Retaliates with: If You Need More Data

June 22, 2004

South Korean Beheaded

Bravo Romeo Delta

Reports, which as yet have not been independently verified, on Al Jazeera indicate that Korean hostage, Kim Sun-il has been beheaded.

This is despite recent reports that the deadline for his murder had been extended.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:18 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Celsius 488

Bravo Romeo Delta

I don't normally like to gratuitously link to Slate or to Lileks, since they're not things that generally need more exposure for them to get their word out.

In this case, I will make an exception. Lileks links to Hitchens' critique furious stomping of Mike Moore's latest installment in his Leni Reifenstahl legacy film series, Fahrenheit 9/11. The title of which, incidentally, has the author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, really pissed off.

Just in case you get it in your head that Hitchens is some sort of right-wing hack, take a look at his dyslogy of Reagan.

One excerpt that did catch my eye was this one:

The same "let's have it both ways" opportunism infects his treatment of another very serious subject, namely domestic counterterrorist policy. From being accused of overlooking too many warnings—not exactly an original point—the administration is now lavishly taunted for issuing too many. (Would there not have been "fear" if the harbingers of 9/11 had been taken seriously?) We are shown some American civilians who have had absurd encounters with idiotic "security" staff. (Have you ever met anyone who can't tell such a story?) Then we are immediately shown underfunded police departments that don't have the means or the manpower to do any stop-and-search: a power suddenly demanded by Moore on their behalf that we know by definition would at least lead to some ridiculous interrogations. Finally, Moore complains that there isn't enough intrusion and confiscation at airports and says that it is appalling that every air traveler is not forcibly relieved of all matches and lighters.

This was interesting as it ties back to the question of "Out of Context Problems."

Scott of Demosophia writes in the comments here about whether or not such problems are inevitable or not. I am very much of a similar mind to Rumsfeld on this issue (check out the link, it also points to some good stuff on the theory of ignorance):

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.

This set of unknown unknowns do, in my terminology, contain the entire set of Out of Context Problems. Now, the reasonable question is one of whether or not can reasonably anticipate any such problems. This question is fundamentally one of strategy.

A really good resource on this is Edward Luttwak's book, On Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace. IN this book, he writes about the Clauswitz's culminating point and the paradoxical logic it entails.

More concretely, if one continues to pursue a given successful mode of attack indefinitely, it reaches a point of diminishing returns and ultimately becomes hazardous as an opponent develops countermeasures. But implicit in this notion and the paradoxical logic associated with it is that it necessarily implies the existence of unforeseeable modes of attack - the opposites of culminating points. These are, in large part, what B.H. Liddell Hart spoke of when he wrote about the indirect approach (and two fundamentals) in his book on strategy:

  1. Direct attacks against an enemy firmly in position almost never work and should never be attempted
  2. To defeat the enemy one must first upset his equilibrium, which is not accomplished by the main attack, but must be done before the main attack can succeed.

Specifically, he wrote:

In strategy the longest way round is often the shortest way there; a direct approach to the object exhausts the attacker and hardens the resistance by compression, whereas an indirect approach loosens the defender's hold by upsetting his balance.
The profoundest truth of war is that the issue of battle is usually decided in the minds of the opposing commanders, not in the bodies of their men.

If, on the one hand, we take the idea of the culminating point, and on the other, the indirect approach, we see that the objective of a commander is to create unknown unknowns for his opponent. If they are spectacularly good at it, then they might be able to create an Out of Context Problem for their opponents. Granted, in warfare, Out of Context Problems are the exception rather than the rule, but that alone should not mean that we ought to forswear attempting to spring such treats upon our opponents or that we should be utterly flabbergasted when they do the same to us.

To wit, this business with assigning blame for 9/11 is discussed here by CVE, and is essentially one of the two points to Moore's latest polemic. But both the commission and the film still stridently deny the existence of the fundamental point - as long as humans have human opponents in matters of war, they will be blindsided. And sometimes being blindsided is completely, totally, unalterably unavoidable.

This isn't to say that dereliction of duty gets a pass in my book, but rather that being taken by surprise is a fundamental, endemic part of warfare. We got snookered on 9/11. Will we get hit again? Yes. Is it avoidable? No. But what will be different is that this time countermeasures are thinkable. Will they be sufficient? No. Could they ever be sufficient? As long as folks like Moore go around with such great support and acclaim for their senseless blame-slinging, then the west in general, and the US in particular lack the intestinal fortitude to actually carry out the steps necessary to counter the threat.

But is this that bad? Well, in a really, really long view, no. Going back above to the bit about paradoxical logic and the culminating point of success, we can safely assume that we will continue to be hit until our countermeasures become sufficiently robust to counter that entire tactical mode. The big difference that 9/11 made, is that now we are aware that we are competing on this particular front.

Or, by way of tired analogy, December 7th, 1941 didn't spell the last naval defeat of the US in the Pacific by a long shot, but it notified the US that they were indeed in a naval war in the Pacific. And at the end of the day, the Japanese High Command was presented with an Out of Context Problem of their own: atomic weapons.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 05:25 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)


Bravo Romeo Delta

Just when you thought it was safe to crawl out of the fallout shelter...


First and foremeost, one who has been on my radar for some time, but only now will feel the heat of an uncontrolled fission reaction. Why? Because they are Poisioning Pigeons.

Elsewhere, we got Patton O'Opinion8. Definintely time to go bounce some rubble in those precincts. Among other things you might note on his site is a good link on apologetics and the war against those who would rather see you dead and bleeding.

Elsewhere in the fine tradition of mixing nuclear warfighting with alcohol, Martini Pundit has been given to consider us a full-blown 'potable' booze. And as you all know, the only real distinction between alchololic beverages is the one between methanol and ethanol. So, we're pretty glad to find we don't cause blindness. Among other things, the slinger of Hemingway-breakfast-drinks has a post on piracy that's worth peeking at.

Carry on.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:36 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

June 21, 2004

Spaceship 1 - Update 5

Bravo Romeo Delta

I think White Knight is on approach.

White Knight is cleared to land.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:18 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Spaceship 1 - Update 4

Bravo Romeo Delta

Video is all jammed up so updates are hard to come by.

Ship has landed intact - seems to be a successful flight!

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:17 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Spaceship 1 - Update 3

Bravo Romeo Delta

I think bits of the ship will be landing shortly. Currently its nine miles south of the airstrip.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:59 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Spaceship 1 - Update 2

Bravo Romeo Delta

An event occured whilst I was away from the video. Evidently the critter seems to be airborn, but I'm not sure if they've had stage separation and the itsy rocket pod has been launched as yet.

Pod has made 300,000 feet, I think.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:55 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Spaceship 1

Bravo Romeo Delta

Heads Up: Spaceship 1 webcast from the Mojave this morning. A link to the webcast can be found in this article.

Additionally, Boing Boing is supposed to be doing a live blog of the event.

I'll keep all y'all posted as I am able.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:23 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 18, 2004

A Picture... A Thousand Words?

Bravo Romeo Delta

A picture... has variable worth depending on its distribution via media channels.

At any rate, you've all seen (or can find) the Berg decapitation video with its hallmark blood-curdling scream as his windpipe is cut.

To bring together two more bits of evidence showing that the religion of submission to Allah the merciful and magnificent is truly a religion of peace, understanding and tolerance.

Doc Rusty of My Pet Jawa has a post linking to pix of the now headless Johnson and his head.

Steve Green o' Vodka Pundit has, bar none, the most galling video I've seen in a while.

Now, just a quick context check for all y'all here. Al Qaeda's mission statement considers any person who pays any form of tax to the American government to be an eligible target for jihad. That means much of my readership, their parents, siblings, co-workers, and so on.

The only reason that we're not generally likely to receive much of the treatment of the folks in the video is that that is the kind of behavior they people in that part of the world reserve for those who aren't already beyond hope and might be cured of the errors of their ways.

Think about the implication here kids - a lot of these ratbags think that the treatments given in the second video are too good for the likes of you and me.

I still wonder if this won't continue to exert a pressure on the American psyche such as the one we saw in things like the Plains Indian Wars or the Pacific Theater in World War II. In those cases, there was never a formal, vocal declaration that no quarter was to be extended to those who will do you harm, but a general acknowledgment that, over time, it wasn't worth it to spend a lot of time and effort going out of your way to avoid killing those folks.

I thought that the Berg video was the turning point (and it may have been) but sooner or later we'll be looking back and discover that decapitation has jumped the shark or that the strategy has hit the culminating point of success and I think we'll reach it before November.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:53 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (5)

More on the Paradigm Shift

Bravo Romeo Delta

Sorry that I'm still relatively free of Big Important Thoughts, but this did grab my attention.

"In the mid-1990s, Mohammed was based in the Philippines and was a key figure in the so-called ‘‘Bojinka’’ plot to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific. The plot fell apart when the Philippine authorities discovered the bomb-making equipment in January 1995.

Mohammed told his U.S. interrogators that in 1996 he pitched several ideas to bin Laden to attack the United States, including a ‘‘scaled-up’’ version of the Sept. 11 attacks, the report says.

The U.S.-based part involved suicide hijackers, 10 planes and targets on both coasts. The second part was a revived and modified version of the Bojinka plot, the report says.

‘‘Operatives would hijack U.S. commercial planes flying Pacific routes from Southeast Asia and explode them in midair instead of crashing them into particular targets,’’ the report says. ‘‘An alternate scenario,’’ according to Mohammed’s account as told in the report, ‘‘involved flying planes into U.S. targets in Japan, Singapore or Korea.’’

In a previous post, I wrote about the War on Terror being an Out of Context Problem. Amongst other things, I noted:

"People seem to forget that a plot to hijack 10 trans-Pacific airliners and crash them into the ocean (which would yield ~4,000 dead) was foiled in the late 1990's. No one apparently remembers that an Algerian plot to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower was also stopped some years ago.

But the point is that the folks who are busy pillorying anything with in arms reach, the fundamental point is that the problem was literally unforseeable. If one looks at the evidence of the world prior to 9/11, and successfully projected forward from the data available in 1996, then we would be in a world in which Afghanistan was invaded appropos of nothing in 1997, and scissors were banned on aircraft starting shortly after Clinton's reelection.

Given the flak over Iraq, do you think that either one of those would have been possible without creating a perfect storm of criticism?

* "... presents an Out-of-Context Problem ... something so wildly out of [one's] experience that countermeasures are unthinkable." (Link)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 08:32 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

Dao: Fair and Balanced Bias

Bravo Romeo Delta

General Jackassery.

Ok, the NYT writes this story, which starts with:

"WASHINGTON, June 15 - In a direct challenge to federal limits on political advocacy, the National Rifle Association plans to begin broadcasting a daily radio program on Thursday to provide news and pro-gun commentary to 400,000 listeners."

This is a challenge, but Moore's Farenheit 9/11 isn't?

I call bullshit.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:33 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 17, 2004

Teletubbies Must Die

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ok, for starter's we're going to just blow right past Godwin's Law [ed: You might also want to read down a bit about Quirk's Exception and Case's Family of Corollaries as well], as no stupendously silly and venomously vitriolic post can maintain its self-respect with out at least some reference to genocidal totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Moreover, the post title makes a very oblique reference to a classically bad movie, so in order to avoid skirting the Godwin issue, I decided to jump right on in.


Now, with that out of the way, if you haven't had an opportunity to start flinging hot lead at Teletubbies, let me present a few offerings (with a surprise bonus section below).

First, this version gets points for being the most photo realistic of the teletubbie shooters. Also note that this one features the cowhide tophat the green one wore, as well as a shootable sun.

The next one limits you to shooting at LaLa, but on the other hand, you get an automatic weapon as well as an additional degree of difficulty as the Teletubby seems to be flinging something at you. A big step towards the Duke Nuke 'Em experience that Teletubbie whacking will become some day.

But, as with all talks about terrorism and the like, we really have to get down to root causes and nip the problem in the bud. And that root cause would be the unholy offspring of mass marketing and doting parents. So, we have to dig down to the core and excise this cultural cancer. To wit: Barney must die.

Sung to the Barney song:

I hate you,
You hate me,
Let's hang Barney from a tree -
A shot rings out! A body hits the floor!
No more purple dinosaur

For whatever reason, the "Barney Must Die" genre tends to be much more driven by song, but hey, grievous bodily harm to children's television characters is pretty much a matter of different flavors of the same discourse.

But being the crack researcher I am, (We surf the internet so you don't have to™), I found, what I believe may be the best (if not only) crossover piece in existence. Yes, I have managed to find something that allows us to finally bring together the "Teletubbies Must Die" and "Barney Must Die" factions. Many folks, like those over at the CIA, said (in a fashion reminiscent of the assertion that Al Qaeda and Hussein would never pal up), said these two factions would never see eye-to-eye. But I have found a true uniter that permits both factions to work together in harmony for a common set of goals.

So I present this: I must applaud both the John Woo-esque death theatrics, as well as the general sentiment of "Who said that violence won't make the world a better place?" Fire away!

Note: I really am not that whatever, but this is a very oblique way of saying 'I'm kind of swamped right now, so thoughtful blogging will be quite light for a bit'

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:46 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

June 16, 2004

Peace Kills: Sweet & Sour Mix

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ok, for the sweet, the Arch-Curmudgeon Satrist, P.J. O'Rourke has released another book, entitled, appropriately enough, Peace Kills (cliquez vous ici por une excerpt and a good explanation of why Murrican 4-N policy is what it is). It looks to be a sort-of cross-breed between Give War A Chance and Eat the Rich.

Musical Interlude: Peace Sells ... But Who's Buying ?.

And now for the sour: Why peacekeeping is one of the most murderously counterproductive and meaninglessly destructive things one can do in a conflict:

First, check out this Foreign Affairs article by Edward Luttwak. Excerpts:

"Today cease-fires and armistices are imposed on lesser powers by multilateral agreement -- not to avoid great-power competition but for essentially disinterested and indeed frivolous motives, such as television audiences' revulsion at harrowing scenes of war. But this, perversely, can systematically prevent the transformation of war into peace. The Dayton accords are typical of the genre: they have condemned Bosnia to remain divided into three rival armed camps, with combat suspended momentarily but a state of hostility prolonged indefinitely. Since no side is threatened by defeat and loss, none has a sufficient incentive to negotiate a lasting settlement; because no path to peace is even visible, the dominant priority is to prepare for future war rather than to reconstruct devastated economies and ravaged societies. Uninterrupted war would certainly have caused further suffering and led to an unjust outcome from one perspective or another, but it would also have led to a more stable situation that would have let the postwar era truly begin. Peace takes hold only when war is truly over."

And before anyone gets their panties in a wad, a letter was written in response to the original article. Luttwak's response to this critique can be found here.

Then, just for giggles, look at his response to a wooly-headed peacenik sort who appears to be very much an advocate of the same kind of strategic thinking behind Kerry's defense voting during the mid-eighties.

So, why don't y'all think about that before anyone gets all up in arms about sending peacekeepers to Sudan or asking for UN involvement to quell the violence in Iraq.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:21 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» Evil pundit of doom! Retaliates with: Alternative peacekeeping

New Stylish Threads

Bravo Romeo Delta

For the New Wars of the New Century...

Both the Army and Air Force are mucking about with new snazzy working clothes for our brave soldiers and airmen when they go out to cursh and oppress the brown people of the world for the Joooos and Big Oiiiil.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:06 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

June 15, 2004

What's With California Socialists

Bravo Romeo Delta

Citizen Smash covered a recent anti-war demonstration in LA recently, and one question immediately popped to mind.

What's the deal with the fact that the female headlining speakers at the recent march in LA and a march two months ago in San Diego both have double consonants in both their first and last names?

To wit: LA - Gillian Russom
As well as: San Diego - Rebecca Anshell.

Now, I do note that Governor Schwarzenegger has a double consonant as well and is Republican. On the other hand, he has no double consonants in his first name.

I wonder if this isn't a genetically-linked phenomenon. Sort of a nature+nurture deal. Men with double consonants drift right, while women with double consonants drift left. People with double consonants in both first and last names get extra weird.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 08:01 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

See How Decent I Am?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Over at Ace O' Spades, a video of some muj getting the express pass to the hereafter is posted. Among the comments were some people who seemed to be doing the happy dance over this poor fool getting shot. I expressed my distaste for some silly SOB getting himself shot, although the commenter Patton I think summed it up best:

Good use of firepower; it's a shame he had to die but it beat all the alternatives; full stop.

But, fortunately, I did find something to do the happy dance about. While meandering by the excellent Dr. Weevil, I came to find that the execrable (and pompously named) Hesiod Theogeny of Counterspin Central, has, for whatever personal reasons.

See how decent I am - I don't think its appropriate to do the happy dance when people I disagree with actually get killed. If they just leave the bully pulpit, then I'm all for it.

I'd also like to point out how humble I am for pointing out how decent I am.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:19 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (3)

Is This One For The Irony Files?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Y'all remember the BBC guy, Frank Gardner, who got hisself shot full of bullets in Saudi, and pleaded for help by repeating, in fluent Arabic, "I'm Muslim, help me. I'm Muslim." The guy is just out of a coma and is about to undergo surgery.

Well, he's also the guy who managed the ever-popular turn of phrase in a previous report : "how the Pentagon was fighting its so-called 'war on terror'".

(Courtesy Man Sized Target - the link has been blogspotted so look for the 6/9 entry "Dance With Who Brung Ya")

Couple of things that go into the calculation that bear mentioning:

First, actually read the BBC article. Don't throw out the baby with the BBC.

Second, Gardner, 42, is married and has two young daughters.

All in all, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:47 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

F-14 v. Paraglider

Bravo Romeo Delta

A person with with substantial flying experience with both the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and a paraglider puts the two in a head-to-head test.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:19 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)
» Silent Running Retaliates with: If it moves, we'll ride it

June 14, 2004

Ya Ever Notice... (#2)

Bravo Romeo Delta

How people are self-proclaimed experts and willing to second-guess the experts on all things political and military, but don't do the same for their hairdressers and plumbers?

I'm just sayin...

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:45 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)


Bravo Romeo Delta

American Choice-cut Grain Fed Rant.

100% Pure Quality. Also, oddly enough, a similar measure of quantity.

(Or, a really good explanation of why Godwin's Law exists.)

(Courtesy Triticale)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:37 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 09, 2004

An Oral History

Charlie Victor Echo

Those of you who pay attention to these things may have noticed a slight decrease in my participation here. Partly that's due to my having a hard time thinking of things to say lately, but mostly its due to my participation in the World War II Oral History Project.

That involves a lot of driving around and collecting interviews as well as attending memorials and veteran's events...all of which are doing a nice job keeping me away from a PC for extended periods of time.

That said, its been a fascinating experience so far, and I'm hoping to post some of the stories and interviews I collect, or at least links to them once we get them on the web.

Speaking of which, if any of our readers know of World War II veterans in the Chicago area who might be interested in telling thier story, drop me an email at charlievictorecho@yahoo.com with some contact information and I'll try to get them included.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 09:55 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)
» Simon World Retaliates with: Enemablog


Bravo Romeo Delta

Since there's so darned much posting on Reagan, I felt that I wouldn't be trendy and mindless unless I added another 1/50th of a buck to the mix.

Here's my gig in twenty seconds or less. I view Reagan in the same way as (many) Democrats would look upon FDR. Or, in another formulation, I view FDR in the same light that (many) Democrats view Reagan.

Without rehashing the entire litany of memorials, thoughts, slander, opinions and other jabberflabbing blowhardedness about this, let me cut to the chase.

Some good, some bad, but however you parse what they did, it was all certainly large enough to become a feature of the American landscape, even if the addition wasn't uniformly loved by all.

In particular, there are some folks who are quite willing to concede that Reagan (even if he didn't win the Cold War single-handedly) sure gave it a proper shove towards the rubbish bin of history. That said, many of these folks have indicated that they didn't like many of his policies at the time, and feel no better about them a couple of decades down the pike. Moreover, they can't seem to put down their portfolio of dissatisfaction long enough to take note of the presidency as a whole.

For my part, I applaud FDR for his foresight on the Second World War (even if he didn't win it single-handedly) which ended earlier and cleaner than it would have had we had more isolationist presidential leadership.

The one bitch I have about FDR, above and beyond any other, is his Four Freedoms. Just to review, the Four Freedoms are (taken out of order):

  1. The freedom of speech and expression;
  2. The freedom of every person to worship God in his own way;
  3. The freedom from fear;
  4. The freedom from want.

Ok, I don't think there's a whole lot of room to disagree on the first and second freedoms - at least from anyone who wants to keep any bits of the Bill of Rights at all.

The third one, Freedom from Fear, actually reads as "... which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-- anywhere in the world."

Ok, first of all, Hobbes, and just about any other maniacal dictator in the world should cause y'all to give pause and think about what I call, the Butter Knife Problem. In other words, a world so peaceful and calm that I could conquer the planet with a stupid butter knife. A world such as the one implied in this 'Freedom from Fear' is so completely against anything that the last 20 or 30 millennia of human history would lead us to expect, that it is much a barren, hallucinatory utopia as anything conceived by jerkwads from Marx to Kim Jong Il. Moreover, this sort of thinking has, in my opinion, been a seed behind much of the anti-militarism eventually seen decades later on the left, particularly when one considers the double standard imposed by elements of the Left where the standards applied to oneself are axiomatically more rigorous than those used to judge others.

Secondly, this "Freedom from Fear" leads to all manner of bad thinking on domestic gun control issues (which I do promise I'll write about soon). But more on that on another day.

The thing that really sticks in my craw, however, is the 'Freedom from Want' - this is borne out of and is father to all manner of really sloppy, ineffectual wrong-headedness about economics. Moreover, this fundamentally establishes an equivalency between Freedom and how much wallet-padding you have at any moment. There is a direct relationship between the amount of freedom that one has and the amount of money that one can acquire - but to reverse this equation or imply that freedom and wealth are interchangeable is sloppy thinking of the worst degree. If you ever find yourself getting irritated at anti-globalization protestors, you can give a tip of the hat to FDR.

And finally, in all his eloquence about these Four Freedoms, I really wish he had taken a moment to just give a nod to regular old Freedom - Liberty.

So, you may ask, "What, Mr. BRD.Cranky@FDR, is your point?"

Simple - I still regard Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a singular beacon of the US Presidency during the last century. I don't agree with all of his policies, I was less than impressed with some of his management of the war, and I don't like how he dealt with the Russians. I don't like his New Deal policies, and rue the creation of the pay-as-you-go Social Security System.

But, all said and done, he was a Leader during some of the darkest times this nation has ever faced. Moreover, I cannot, simply cannot, imagine anyone else filling his shoes during those fateful years as well as he did, and all else aside, I have true respect for him as both a man and leader.

Similarly, whatever you may or may not think about Reagan, there's no reason to be one-dimensionally in favor or against him. I don't expect all y'all to like the guy or his policies, but give him due where it's earned. Running this ship of state through rocky shoals is no easy task for mortal man, and precious few have run the ship with such grace. These navigators are mortal, and as such are subject to error, but rather than sitting down with a shopping list of woe and ire, take a deep breath, step back, and ask if they managed to keep us off the rocks in very stormy seas, indeed.

Can we ask more?

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:21 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)
» Electronic Countermeasures Retaliates with: Does anyone else remember the Cold War?

June 08, 2004

Big Month O' Big Science

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, while folks have been innundated with a vast array of goings on about the world, as luck would have it, June 2004 (plus/minus a couple of weeks) are reasonably big news in all things scientific.

For starters, our two intrepid (literally) Mars Rovers are about to take the big leap in different ways. The Spirit Rover is expected to reach the base of the Columbia Hills within a couple of weeks. The Opportunity Rover should be rolling into Endurance Crater sometime in the next few days. (Courtesy Martian Soil) For that matter, not only have the rovers blown past their original 90-day mission, but now there is also some talk about wintering over and reactivating the rovers next spring and keeping them around until next winter. (Courtesy Eternal Golden Braid)

Elsewhere about Mars, the Mars Odyessy Orbiter completed its 10,000th orbit of the red planet on May 22nd.

On June 11th, The Cassini-Huygens probe will encounter its first Saturnian moon, Phoebe. On June 30th the probe will be crossing the plane of Saturn's rings, slipping between the F and G rings as a prelude to a July 1st orbital insertion. (Courtesy Vodka Guy)

Elsewhere, we should start seeing forward motion on man's return to space with the release of the Aldridge Report on June 14th.

Closer to home, June 2004 will see the launch of the Aura satellite to study the Earth's atmospheric chemistry. Additonally, the Genesis probe, which spent almost three years collecting particles of the solar wind headed home on May 1st, and should arrive here on September 8th.

Similarly in a bevy of projects in place and on the drawing board to find other planets that can harbor life, the Spitzer Infrared space telescope has discovered organic molecules in the protoplanetary nebulae. Along related lines, the June 8th transit of Venus across the face of the sun (the last one was in 1882) provided a nice naked-eye example of the technique that the Kepler Telescope (scheduled for launch in October 2007) will use to search for planets. It also appears that the Hubble Space Telescope may get a new lease on life through robotic repairs.

Additionally, as mentioned in an earlier post, the first quantum encryption system has gone online. This being good.

Well, that's it for this round of science wrap-ups, so keep yer eyes peeled.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:47 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)
» Dean's World Retaliates with: Space Roundup

On Reagan

Charlie Victor Echo

This is the second time I've tried to write this one. The Net ate the first one, so I'm trying again. Maybe it’s a Net reaction to a Democrat saying nice things about a Republican?

By sheer coincidence, I was talking to a college freshman about the presidency of Ronald Reagan a couple of weeks ago. She, an aspiring young Democrat, was asking what the big deal was about Reagan. After all, she reminded me, Reagan was responsible for the huge deficit, a useless invasion of Grenada, and the corruption of Iran-Contra.

Besides, she added (and I could tell that this was the important), he's a Republican!!

I kind of stared at her for a while until I remembered that she's only 19, so she was only 3 or 4 when Reagan left office. More importantly, it also meant she had no meaningful recollections of the Cold War.

I tried to explain the degree to which the Cold War weighed on the minds of everyone who lived through it. From The Day After, to Twilight 2000, and even Mad Max we were confronted with images and stories of nuclear holocaust. Even the ones that didn't end in nuclear war like Red Storm Rising or Team Yankee still accepted the inevitability of war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, with only the courage of certain leaders averting the exchange of nuclear weapons.

Even away from fiction, a certain feeling of doom hung over us. I've always thought that the material excesses of the '80s were a reflection (maybe only subconsciously) of thinking among the young business types that there wasn't going to be a long term so you needed to get as much as you could get right now.

World War III was coming...it was going to kill us all...and there was nothing we could do about it.

And Ronald Reagan somehow won the Cold War and saved us all.

I'm well aware that, factually speaking, he didn't precisely. That the Soviet structure had been teetering for a while due to the corruption and inefficiencies inherent to their system. That, rather than being soulless expansionists we demonized, the post-Stalin and post-Khrushchev Soviet leadership were much more concerned with trying to maintain their own positions rather than dreaming of conquering the world. And that ultimately, the shambles they'd made of their economy made that maintenance impossible.

What Reagan did, though, was give that teetering wreck the push that knocked it over. Between Star Wars and the MX forcing the Soviets to make expenditures on strategic weapons they really couldn't afford to supporting the Muhajadin in Afghanistan to bleed their conventional forces. No one can tell if the Soviet Union would still have fallen, or if it would have anyway when that would have happened, but to an extent, it doesn't matter.

From an emotional standpoint, Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, and that's why he'll be remembered as one of our great presidents...at least by those of old enough to actually remember him.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 06:44 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (3)

June 07, 2004

The Last Minutes of the John Young

Bravo Romeo Delta

The last minutes of the USS John Young DD-973.

Elsewhere, the first quantum encryption setup gets a go.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:26 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 04, 2004


Bravo Romeo Delta

First, a number of blogs have put myself (meaning my blog, not me personally) on their blogrolls. Which is good not only because I'm linked, but also because it hurts if you, your actual self, have to sit on the roll.

First, Sasha Castel-el-el, who, among other things links to this map which tells you what you call whatever you call it where.

Next, the Mighty D-Rod (not to be confused with the mighty D-Cup) of Totally Whack-ed, who hath done covered some ground in reminding us of things such as the fact that the Chinese really have a hard-on for killing Chinese.

Then there's this other blog with something vampire or another. I can't remember what exactly, they linked me too. So if you're them, holler hither, lest I lapse, and fail to something.

Ok, Links?! Here is: [click below]

Protein Wisdom links to something about the creeping safety Nazis and why little children should be decapitated. Or something. I don't know, I didn't read it - I just linked it.

Darthvob of the Imperial Senate has something like the Leftist's Nicenean Mycenean Nicinin Creed. In which he both links to the post and quotes the entire thing, leaving me in an absolute quandry about the whole crediting thing. And stuff.

Roger el Simon and Michael el Totten both decide to pet blog. I mean not pet their blogs, or makes pets of blogs, but physically placing a blog upon their pets. Now the pets are waterblogged. Suspect activity after Totten had recently interviewed Simon. And both bloggers backed Bush's hegemonical designs on the Iraqsters. See? Neocon sneakiness afoot, I tell you.

But I did find out that in a relatively shorty race between a greyhound and horse, the greyhound can beat the pants off a horse. Perhaps the fact that the horse was wearing pants in the first case might have been the problem. Also, does anyone know how to get either a greyhound large enough to ride or a jockey small enough to fit atop a standard-issue greyhound?

For those of you following the centipede (and after the centipenis, why not?) Yo Big Ho updates (and links to a thing with a picture of what one o' them creepy sons of bitches looks like).

The blog got high billing (out of two) on Google for this search "Garrison Keeler" "writer's block". I think Garrison Keeler would be rolling in his grave if he knew he was associated with this blog. Assuming he were dead and all.

A big shout out to my Spanish-speaking readers, who evidently got to see what the Bunker looks like in Spanish.

I also discover that, much to my surprise, I am not Bravo Romeo Delta, but rather, Bouncy Raw Delicious. Who knew?


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator
From Go-Quiz.com
(Courtesy Lawren K. Boozejockey)

And finally, this story about taxis is worth the read. If you read nothing else on these links, that's your own damned fault, but read this. (Courtesy Azygos)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:06 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

June 03, 2004


Bravo Romeo Delta

If you all haven't been reading Big Hominid's Hairy Chasms, I would recommend it for your regular read list. He puts out a lot of really good stuff I never get around to linking, but always get around to reading.

In this case, we have musings on the centipenis.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:31 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)
» Who Tends the Fires Retaliates with: We gotcher "News" - raght chere baby!

June 02, 2004

Stop Slavery Stupidity - Fight Back Smart

Bravo Romeo Delta

As you may know, former Denver Bronco and current Denver Post columnist, Reggie Rivers, has penned a most loathsome bit of crap in which he argues that serving in the military is equivalent to chattel slavery. On the Friday before Memorial Day, no less.

This was found and led to a debate between the writer and this blogger. Additionally, other people, in this three case active and former service folk, have weighed in.

All in all there has been a pretty loud outcry for both the content of the article as well as the decision to post it on Memorial Day weekend. So people have been writing letters to the author. Which is all well and good, but...

editors like seeing letters. Remember the old line that 'there's no such thing as bad publicity'.

What hurts these newspaper sorts worse than a kick in the jimmies is a kick in the wallet. As Gerard van der Leun eloquently points out, the best course is to write to the advertisers. A few hundred letters and the newspaper could lose a major account over a no-account piece of garbage.

So go on over to the Denver Post website and take a look at who advertises there. Even better yet, if you can manage to get hold of a hard copy from a newsstand - or even have one mailed to you, go through and look at who advertises in the print edition. The print advertising is where the real money is for these folks and many of the folks who advertise in print don't advertise in the online edition and vice versa.

Or, if you're still bound and determined to write to paper itself, just note "'Letters to the Editor' are why God made the "cc:" field."

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:41 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Iraqi Insurgency

Bravo Romeo Delta

In an earlier post this Jeremy Brendan fellow left comments relating to the Iraqi insurgency, which I wanted to respond to at length, simply because I thought there were points worth making.

What you're saying about Iraq is all purely conjecture. How can you assume that the success of the resistance will only depend on foreign support? You can't equate Vietnam with Iraq. They're being fought for different reasons on different terrain, with religion in the mix, not just Communism vs. Capitalism like Vietnam was.

I think this misses the fundamental point that no insurgency (at least that I am aware of) has been successful without outside support, either material or moral. As far as that goes, external support is necessary but not a sufficient condition for success.

How can you assume that the success of the resistance will only depend on foreign support? You can't equate Vietnam with Iraq. They're being fought for different reasons on different terrain, with religion in the mix, not just Communism vs. Capitalism like Vietnam was.

I think this misses the fundamental point that no insurgency (at least that I am aware of) has been successful without outside support, either material or moral. As far as that goes, external support is necessary but not a sufficient condition for success. As far as describing the ideological argument at stake in Vietnam as being fundamentally different than a struggle including religion, I'll skin that cat another day.

The Iraqi insurgency can be understood if you look back on the American Revolution. As much as you wanted your freedom from England, you didn't want to be occupied by France or any other nation.

This slides directly into my point - the American Revolution would have failed without French support. We were a proxy battle in the ongoing fight between Britain and France.

That is why Iraqis are fighting back versus the American occupiers. Many are not against America per se; they're just not willing to let their country be dictated to by Western powers who have promised to institute a system of gov't that is foreign to their culture.

Wow. This slides from idealistic tripe, into foolishness and then into racism. I'm going to let all the unsupported (by either fact or reason) statements slide, just to point out two things - how far does one expect this 'foreign to their culture' thing slide? Aside from the rise of democracy in Latin America and Asia which both give lie to the basic premise, and aside from the fact that if a culture cannot adopt something foreign to itself, then it can never advance or change, I really don't like the basic idea of trying to assert that since they're brown they just can't manage the enlightenment all white people are entitled to.

The closest thing to a democracy in that region is Iran. They elect representatives but have a religious branch of gov't that watches their legislation and makes sure that they're not going against their religious edicts.

But I thought that democracy was foreign to their culture. Never mind, when it gets to cases, this statement is as true as it is useless. I would argue that Turkey is, by far and away, more democratic in Iran, and since Iraq borders both on Turkey and Iran, I would consider both to be in the region. But calling Iran a democracy because they vote is like calling Stalinist Russia a democracy because they voted to. (Or Syria, or Egypt, etc.) One might also note that Israel is a democratic country. Of course that would run counter to the thesis that everything done by or involving Israel is fundamentally bad.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:07 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

June 01, 2004

Quick Context Redux

Bravo Romeo Delta

In addition to the links tracking back to my post on my problem on context, this guy redresses the same issue in much clearer terms.

One of the things that I think folks should think about on the pro-/anti-war argumentation is that honestly, even if we had foiled the 9/11 plot, I don't think we should have gone into Iraq, let alone Afghanistan. Take a second to think about that counterfactual.

On 9/10/01 the threat posed by either of those two states would have been roughly similar to the threat posed by those nations on 9/12/01. But yes, Virginia, our view of the world changed. Not in the trivial and obvious body bag sense, but an actual paradigmatic shift.

There was little new intelligence produced during the Bush administration, nor was the policy of regime change in Iraq or the legal framework invented since 2000, but rather a history of conflict at varying levels dating, at a minimum, back to 1991.

The Iraq War generated much louder opposition than the Afghan War, despite the fact that in every legal and historical particular the causus belli for the complete occupation of Afghanistan was fundamentally weaker than it was in Iraq. This fact leads me to think that people who were in opposition to the Iraq War, but not the Afghan War simply have not shifted their world views to the same extent as those who have supported the Iraq War.

Now, the question becomes one of whether or not the shift in world views is valid. And that's a question to tackle for another day.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:06 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Trigger Happy

Bravo Romeo Delta

or something. Yeah - that was right, Blathering about Columbine was supposed to reveal just how darned murderous and trigger-happy we unwashed are.

There's no way that America could have lower per capita crime rates than more enlightened places like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Finland, or Denmark. Completely impossible for enlightened Canada and Australia to have significantly higher incidences of rape. Similarly, with the income equality that must surely exist in this land of corporate welfare and Bush's tax cuts, it is inconcievable that a place with the birlliant leadership of Spain could outstrip Americans for robbery. Or that residents of Iceland and Switzerland, let alone Australia, are more prone to burglary.

Now before you get all clever and assume that I'm inadvertantly proving Moore's thesis, go back and check the amount of actual fire arms deaths. As I seem to recall, Moore was arguing that it wasn't the ownership of firearms per se that was the problem, but the use of those firearms.

Sadly, it would seem that not only is America not the sea of crime that it is seen as from overseas observers, it isn't the land of rampant shootings either.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:53 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

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