Friday, March 31, 2006


Blackwater USA, a company that has been providing private security forces in Iraq announced that they could provide a brigade sized unit any where in the world. They were available for security and peacekeeping rather than combat roles. One suggested use for a force such as this was Darfur, where the African Union troops are dismally ineffectual and no one else is willing to step up and send troops to the regions.

The Strategy Page pointed out that the UN and NGOs already use private security forces, often recruited locally and of varying quality. This would suggest that a larger scale application of the principle may be acceptable. One main drawback is that many of the nations that regularly hire out military forces to the UN for peacekeeping make a significant profit on the deal and will likely object to the competition.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Get Over It Award

I think I might start giving "Get Over It" Awards to the annoying and self-righteous among us who love nothing more than to gripe and complain because someone does something they don't like.

During the NASCAR race at Bristol on Sunday, Fox sports was listening live to a conversation between a crew chief and a driver who had just wrecked. In the conversation the crew chief referred to the car as a "piece of shit." A technical term obiviously. While many have access to the radio traffic, it is not scripted and is live and real. Perhaps Fox could have recorded the traffic and played it back, but they did not know what he was going to say. The glory of live events.

So, of course, not realizing that this was a live conversation between two people, one of whom was trying to calm the other down, who did not realize they were broadcasting on television, the Family Policy Network has filed a complaint with the FCC. These are apparently people with nothing else to do but look for things to be self-righteous about and to complain about.

They should GET OVER IT.

That and pull their heads out of their asses before the halitosis is permanent.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Opening Day

It is less than a week till Opening Day. Baseball season is here which means all is right with the world.

And to top it off, my Atlanta Braves beat the scum sucking Yankees 6-5 today.

National Guard

Bush, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocon nitwits have been using the National Guard and Reserve components of the military at levels not seen since World War II. This should not surprise anyone because Clinton used the Guard and Reserve at levels not seen since Vietnam at least and it was obvious to anyone watching the drawdown in the military under Clinton that large scale use of the Guard would be essential in any large scale military endeavor because there simply were not enough bodies in the active duty components of the military to cover.

For more information on the use of the Guard and its potential ramifications see Bill Moyer's Now. It makes for some interesting reading.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Poets as the umpires of democracy

Thomas Hampson performed here last evening as a part of a tour sponsored by the Library of Congress celebrating American music. He is truly amazing. He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, "the true umpires of a democracy are its poets not its politicians." He went on to say that to truly understand someone you need to read them poems and listen to their songs because that is how a culture is truly represented. These are the stories of a people.

What a really wonderful notion.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Recalled Body Parts?

A story on describes a company in New Jersey that was illegally collecting tissue from corpses and selling it use in transplants. Primarily bone, skin and tendons, there illegal materials had been used in thousands of surgeries around the country. This is a disgusting event and I hope they throw the perpatrators into a serious prison for a very long time.

The story says that some of the material is being recalled. It was unclear to me if that recall would include the already transplanted materials. Could you imagine getting a recall notice on a skin graft. It is bad enough when your car is recalled, but your body. That is really disturbing.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Nochnoi Dozor

I went and saw the Russian film Nochnoi Dozor (or Night Watch in English) this past weekend. I saw trailers for this film two years ago and am not sure what delayed its release but was very happy to find it within 100 miles of me. It is a very good film though not quite what I was expecting. I thought that would more closely resemble Underworld than it did with forces of supernatural warriors (vampires and werewolves) conducting secret war which is what the trailer suggested. While there was a secret war between supernatural forces, it was far more complex than these films usually are.

It was at its core a philosophical debate between the notions of what it means to be good and what it means to be evil (though the terms light and dark are more commonly used in the film and are more accurate to what is being depicted). Is one light or good because ones claims to be or because one acts in a particular way? The question is not yet answered as there are two more films coming. (I have heard that the third will be shot in English and I hope that this does not mean that Hollywood will give short shrift to the plot and abandon the philosophical nature of the debate in order to include more special effects and Eurotrash raves as the Matrix films ended up doing)

The other interesting and not yet fully developed theme is on the nature of sin. Is mere intent a sin? Can sins be redeemed? Can sinners be redeemed? What happens when good people sin? The movie ends by asking these questions. I can only hope that Dnevnoy Dozor (Night Watch 2) will take a good shot at providing some sort of answer.

Anyone reading this should go and watch this film if at all possible.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wacked out teachers?

As I was leaving for work this morning there was a story on MSNBC about Debra Lafave, a Florida teacher accused of having sex with a 14 year old student. There was an interview with her attorney who said that if the judge rejected the proposed plea agreement, he would use an insanity defense in court. This was not a made-up defense he argued, because she had been evaluated by six shrinks all of whom had found her mentally ill and three declared she was legally insane and had been for years.

If this was the case, the question that everyone should be asking is, "WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WAS SHE TEACHING IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL?"

I know the standards for teachers are a big issue. There seems to be a big emphasis in Education schools on commitments to social justice and understanding for minority populations. But shouldn't they first weed out the whack jobs.

Crazy people should not be teachers. Let them be lawyers, no one will ever notice.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I watched some of the Oscar's last evening. Other than rather boring, they were not very interesting. The Oscars go through phases of what types of films they want to honor. This year, it was obscure arty films that almost no one watched. It is interesting that none of the films nominated for best picture outgrossed Saw II at the box office, though on the screen would also be accurate.

These are all small niche films that only appeal to a somewhat limited audience. The fact that there were no high grossing films nominated may explain the overall decline in box office that the film industry is facing.

In another year, a film such as King Kong not only could have been nominated it might very well have won. It is certainly comparable to such winners as Titanic or Gladiator or even that atrociously bad film Dances with Wolves.

Hopefully in 2006, both the films released and the films honored will be better. Though looking at the drek that has been released so far this year, it can only go up.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Napping Justice

According to the Washington Post Ruth Bader Ginsberg used the time for oral arguments on the legality of three Congressional districts in Texas for a nice little afternoon nap. Possibily the most productive thing she has done while on the bench.