February 21, 2007

I Would Have Preferred The Article Describing Our Quiz Bowl League Championship

Last weekend, we went back to the hometown to visit the in-laws. My hometown weekly has a Peek At The Past section where they recap stories from one, five, ten, 25, and 50 years ago that week. It so happens that 25 years ago was my senior year in high school, and between track season and various academic stuff, I got my name in the paper something like eighteen weeks in a row. Being the vain bastard that I am, I was looking for a mention of myself in Peek At The Past.

After half a year of no joy, they finally did one. However, of all the mentions I can recall, this is the one I am least proud of (it's only in the print edition):

Feb. 19, 1982

ALMA - Allegan High School's quiz bowl team took it on the chin from last year's champions Feb. 6, in first-round action of the 1982 Alma College High School Quiz Bowl.

Defending Class A-B champ Okemos tallied a score of 210 to Allegan's 80, though coach Cheryl Kaechele reported that the match was far closer than the score indicates.

Competing for Allegan Saturday were Eric Babcock, Chris Carter, David LaGatutta and Ellen Manning.
I know the publisher has a sense of humor (from personal experience; she was also my senior year Creative Writing teacher), so I prefer to interpret that as our own little in-joke.

But then again, I'm a vain SOB.

I'm sorry - I forgot to mention that the publisher was, at the time, the coach of our quiz bowl team.

Posted by Chris at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: The Essential parking_god

May 31, 2006

A Peek Inside My Mind, Part IX

I remember to thank my father and other family members for their service...

...but forget that my father's birthday was Sunday.

Bad son! No inheritance!

Posted by Chris at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
Category: The Essential parking_god

April 23, 2006

And I Came Up With Two More Good Ideas While Writing This Entry

I've got about a dozen projects in some 'pause' state right now, which is a polite way of saying I'm not a very good closer. For instance, it took me almost three years to write my Iron Chef parody episode, and my magnum opus is still in work - and only about half-done - twenty-two years after I first thought of the central concept. I don't have any excuses, really. Between work, family, and school, I'm a busy guy, but who isn't these days?

And that's why I'm profoundly embarrassed to see this example of what a seriously motivated person can accomplish with basically no resources:

Following the communist takeover [Czech photographer Miroslav] Tichż spent some eight years in prison camps and jails for no particular reason other than he was Ďdifferentí and was considered subversive. Upon his release in the early 70ís, Tichż wandered his small town in rags, pursuing his obsession as an artist with the female form by photographing in the streets, shops and parks with cameras he made from tin cans, childrens spectacle lenses and other junk he found on the street. He would return home each day to make prints on equally primitive equipment, making only one print from the negatives he selected.

Here's the camera he constructed (click for larger image):

The camera built by Miroslav Tichy.  Click for larger picture.

Sure, one man's "seriously motivated" is another man's "obsessed." But when I've got everything I need at my fingertips and a head full of ideas available to me, and I take 22 years (and counting) to write a space opera buffa (the sparking event of which is now historically near-impossible), it forces me to reflect on my own inability to accomplish much of anything beyond the basics of trying to raise a family and putting in a respectable day's work.

And you all know how much I hate self-examination.

[H/T Boing Boing]
Posted by Chris at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)
Category: The Essential parking_god

March 01, 2005

All My Life I Knew I Was Different

So my referrer log shows someone who found me by googling for "indiana farm bureau daylight savings time." Just out of curiosity, I ran the same google to see where I was on that list. Turns out my original rant against the Farm Bureau's obstructionism of Indiana adopting modern time is #1 on that particular search. Not too far down the page is the misc.transport.road FAQ. Just out of curiosity (again), I started reading it.

Half an hour and twelve related links later, I came to a realization. I. Am. A. Roadgeek. From Adrian Leskiw's highway photo galleries of (among others) Northern Michigan (where I used to vacation), St. Louis (where I used to live), and the the UK (where I went on business once, about which more later), thence to Chris' British Road Directory and his listing of Britain's worst intersections, thence to, well, let's just say I had no idea roads and highways interested me so much.

Right, then. When I was in the UK on business in September of 2003, the hotel I stayed at was in Swindon but the office I worked in was in Chippenham (about a half-hour drive via the M4 and the A350). Since I had never driven on the left side of the road before, and I knew English roads are narrow anyway, I was a little nervous about the task, so I decided to practice the evening I got into town. I started out on country roads, and everything was fine except that I kept drifting to the left, at one point hitting a few small branches on a bush that was way too close to the road. But you know what P.J. O'Rourke says: "Nothing parties like a rental."

Anyway, emboldened by my success so far, I decided to try to drive into downtown Swindon. Somewhere around the third or fourth roundabout, I exited a little fast and a lot left and clipped the curb (sorry, 'kerb'). Immediately I felt the left front go flat - and by 'flat' I mean 'shredded' - and I had to find a place to stop. Unfortunately, there really wasn't one. I was on a narrow two-lane street with tight curbs and no parking, so the best I could do was roll forward about a hundred yards until I was just short of a pedestrian crossing where the road was a little wider - and by 'a little' I mean 'maybe a foot'. I was more irritated than worried - the weather was good, traffic was light, and I had at least an hour of daylight left, and it was only a flat tire, right?

I dug the jack and the tire iron out of the back of the car and (after a moment's panic where I couldn't find the proper dongle for the anti-theft lug nuts) loosened the nuts on the offending wheel. I looked for the proper hardpoint on the underside to mount the jack against, and realized that there wasn't one. Well, the hardpoint was there, all right; right behind the wheel like you'd expect, but its shape was orthogonal to the top of the jack - it was like trying to balance the car on a pencil point. After a puzzled search of the owner's manual, I discovered why. The jack was a half-scissors model with a semi-circular flange on the top designed to engage the hardpoint, like this:

What the jack SHOULD have looked like

Instead, the flange had been bent back upon itself:

What the jack actually DID look like

The net effect was that every time I would get the car a few inches off the bottom of its springs, the jack would pop out. This was annoying the first time.

It was aggravating the second time.

By the fifteenth time, I had stopped counting. Nothing I did seemed to help, and by this time I noticed that the light was beginning to fade. Finally, after about a million more tries, I got the car up far enough that I could take the wheel off.

Verrrrrrry carefully.

Trying to ignore the grinding metal noises from the vicinity of the jack.

I tucked the old wheel on its side under the front of the car in case the jack popped out again while I was putting the spare on (otherwise the whole hub would drop hard into the gutter and I'd REALLY be screwed), and - with the same level of caution required by mating porcupines - mounted the spare. The jack popped out about the time I got the third lugnut on. It took me five more tries to get the jack to stay up long enough to get the dead wheel out from under the front and hand-tighten the nuts on the spare.

The drive back to the hotel was uneventful, if you don't count the stretch of dual carrigeway where I kept right instead of left, forcing somebody to pass me on the left (with the appropriate hand gesture).

So during today's trek around the roadgeek web, I encountered what Swindon is apparently most famous for: a magic roundabout, which, had I encountered it during my orientation drive, would have made me soil myself as my brain turned to Cream-of-Wheat and ran out my ears. I mean, look at this thing!

The Magic Roundabout

Here's another view:

The Magic Roundabout

Digital Norseman has a few pictures of it in action. I can't even figure out how it works!

The moral of the story: don't drive through Swindon.

Update: Man, I wish I'd read this before I went over to the UK. I may even have been able to deal with the Magic Roundabout:

The Magic Roundabout demystified

Posted by Chris at 05:02 PM | Comments (1)
Category: The Essential parking_god

March 16, 2004

Analyzing My Mind, Part I

A comment in my PETA post noted "I've only read 4 stories on your site so I can't quite analyze your mind yet . . .." I live to serve, so this should get you off to a good start:

  • I've called myself an 'interventionist libertarian' in the past, but I'm coming to the conclusion that my political beliefs are more in line with South Park Republicans than strict Libertarianism.
  • I am a willing lackey (enthusiastic, even) of the Imperialist-Capitalist-Running-Pig-Dog-Military-Industrial-Complex.
  • I think the greatest threat to Western Civilization is militant Islam, and I think it wants the West converted, subjugated, or dead.
  • I think the second-greatest threat is a tie between militant Leftism and militant Christianity.
  • I think the Palestinian conflict is 10% the fault of Israel and 90% the fault of the Palestinans and their paymasters (which includes the U.N.).
  • I am a fan of disc golf, the Detroit Red Wings, Michigan football, and Michigan State hockey (there's a logical explanation, but I'm trying to keep this brief), and I think baseball and most basketball are wastes of TV time that would be better spent covering any of the aforementioned.
  • If you see a nick of 'parking_god' (perhaps without the underscore) anywhere on the Net, it's probably me. I got the nickname from my cousin on the Saturday before Christmas 1987, when I found a parking space twenty feet from the door of Twelve Oaks Mall in suburban Detroit: "You are the parking god!"
  • Once in a great while, I come up with an idea that I think is good enough for The Onion, and I feel awed by people who can do it consistently, like iowahawk, Frank J., and a host of others who are far more prolific and far more funnierer.
  • I occasionally double-repeat the last syllableseses of wordseses on purpose, for reasons I can't explain.

Posted by Chris at 05:15 PM | Comments (4)
Category: The Essential parking_god

March 07, 2004

Nice Work If You Can Get It

I think I've found my dream job. Watching old sporting events and cracking on them, kind of like a "Mystery Science Stadium 3000" thing. Unfortunately, somebody is already doing it. On ESPN Classic's "Cheap Seats", comedians Randy and Jason Sklar make fun of old sports footage; for example, one of college football's all-time classic games, 1982 Cal-Stanford (Joe Starkey's call of The Play is one of the best of all time - right up there with Bob Ufer's 1979 U-M - Indiana call [short] [medium] [full 3:00 version (currently broken)]).

So I missed out on a cushy ESPN gig. That's OK - I'll just make my own (.mpg file, 3.6 MB).

Posted by Chris at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Elsewhere On The Site...

February 20, 2004

Missed Him By That Much...

I had an exam in my networking class Monday night, so I went to campus a couple of hours early for some last minute studying. I got to the student union bare moments after the end of a lecture by International Socialist Solidarity Movement co-founder Adam Shapiro. Dammit dammit dammit! I pay my dues to the VRWC precisely so I can have advance notice of things like this! At the very least, I could have taken notes for a vigorous fisking later; with a little more lead time, I would have been able to ask embarrasing questions like:

  • Why are you still perpetuating the fraud that the IDF massacred innocent bystanders in the Jenin refugee camp when in fact there was no such massacre?
  • Do you still support the Palestinians' right to resist through "legitimate armed struggle?" How exactly do you define "legitimate armed struggle?"
  • Do you condemn Palestinian suicide bombing? Do you deny that New Jersey ISM chapter leader Charlotte Kates said "Why is there something particularly horrible about 'suicide bombing' - except for the extreme dedication conveyed in the resistance fighter's willingness to use his or her own body to fight?"
  • Why do you not endorse the Roadmap? What do you think would happen to Israeli Jews under a one-state Palestine?
  • Don't you think your energies in the occupied territories would be better spent keeping the Palestinians from perpetuating their culture of hatred than in overtly suborning yourselves to terrorist groups?
And that's just off the top of my head.

Posted by Chris at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Local Stuff

February 11, 2004

Degrees Of Ugly

When you take a chick back to her place because you were looking through beer goggles, and you wake up the next morning, look at her, and think, "Damn, she's ugly!", there are three categories she can fall into.

First, there's garden-variety "Coyote Ugly," (no, not that), where you wake up with your arm around her and gnaw your arm off so you can escape without waking her up.

Second, there's "Double Coyote Ugly," where you gnaw your other arm off after you escape because you know she'll be looking for a one-armed man.

Finally, there's "Strap On An Explosive Vest And Blow Yourself Up So You Don't Have To Marry Her Ugly:"

The family of the latest Palestinian suicide bomber have expressed shock at his involvement in the attack because he was due to be married next week.

. . .

His father expressed surprise at the family home near Bethlehem shortly before reports arrived that an Israeli demolition squad was on its way. "I was expecting to marry him, not to bury him. This is just not my son. I just couldn't believe it."

(Hat tip: Allah. The BBC story is almost two weeks old - how did I miss it?)

Posted by Chris at 08:25 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Splodeydope watch

February 04, 2004

Some Stuff Holds Up Better Than Others

I usually listen to audiobooks when I'm driving by myself because local radio is pretty lame (although there will always be a space on my presets for Bob & Tom). Right now, I've got Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man in one car, and Robin Cook's Shock in the other. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything Crichton writes is better than anything Cook writes.

For instance, The Terminal Man holds up very well, despite being written in 1972. With only a few minor tweaks (mostly involving doctors smoking (!) inside the hospital (!!) anywhere they want (!!!), references to homosexuality as a 'disorder,' and obsolete computer stuff), it could have been published now. Reader George Wilson does an excellent job keeping things moving along and performs the voices acceptably. My biggest quibble with this novel is a bit of a 'longshot premise' - the idea that a man paranoid about computers taking over the world would allow a computer to be implanted in his brain. I'll just file it under 'Suspension Of Disbelief - Major' and drive on.

OTOH, pretty much everything about Shock bugs me (and not just me; read the reviews on Borders!). The main female characters, allegedly graduate students, speak and act like teenagers. The dialog is stiff, the pacing is glacial, and the other characters are stereotypes. C. J. Critt's reading is just awful - slow, bad on dialog and worse on voices (which is strange, because I like her work on other stuff like Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series). I especially don't like the scenes where the characters use computers - it seems like Cook interviewed a hacker for fifteen minutes and then just used buzzwords to fill in the other stuff he needed to do. As an aside, that's one of my entertainment pet peeves: Impressive Sounding Tech Jargon I Know Is Wrong. '24' is about the worst offender here - from the dialog, you'd think everybody at CTU is a sysadmin. But I digress.

Bottom line here: when I finish both these audiobooks, I'm getting two more Crichtons. I doubt I'll get anything else by Cook for a long time.

Posted by Chris at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 30, 2004

Battle Palace Intrigue

[Full Disclosure: this is my day job.]

Field Artillery has long been known as the King Of Battle. But there are rumblings that the King may be dethroned, at least in the U.S. Army.

From Inside The Pentagon, Army Eyes 'Joint Fire Control Teams' To 'Enable' Lighter Ground Troops (I'm not sure why 'Enable' was in scare quotes):

One capability being eyed for cuts is artillery. Given the changing missions the Army is being called upon to perform in the post-Cold War era, Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has told a number of Pentagon officials his service could cut 40 artillery battalions across the active and reserve components, sources tell ITP.

But Maj. Gen. William Webster -- the 3rd Infantry Division commander tasked with reorganizing his forces as a vanguard for Army structural transformation -- says he is hanging onto all his artillery battalions, at least for now.
There's a surprise. The Pentagon brass tries to tell the operational guys what they need to do the job they just did.
Webster this month has begun implementing a plan to divide his division into five brigades rather than the current three (ITP, Jan. 22, p1). But the commanding general says eliminating even a single artillery battalion could jeopardize readiness for near-term operations. Rather, Webster has opted to reduce the number of guns within each of his artillery battalions, he tells ITP.

Each of the 3rd IDís three brigades currently have a cannon battalion of 24 guns. Under the new configuration, the division will field just 16 guns in each of four brigades, says Webster, whose headquarters is at Ft. Stewart, GA. His fifth brigade, centered around aviation, will have no artillery.
Not counting the divisional artillery (and I don't think it changes under Webster's plan; they allude to that later), that reduces the total number of tubes in the division from 72 to 64. That doesn't seem so bad. What the article proposes is the idea of 'joint' fire support controllers who are capable of directing air, naval gunfire, mortars, tube artillery, rockets, and missiles (currently, it's a stovepipe situation, with each service controlling their own fire support systems). I think in general it's a pretty good idea; coincidentally, AFATDS is quite capable of tasking all those systems.

The Air Force isn't too keen on the idea, though:

"Iím not sure that weíre solving a problem," responds Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, who, as a two-star, served with Webster at the Coalition Force Land Component Command headquarters at Camp Doha, Kuwait, during major combat in Iraq last spring. "In my recollection, we had an abundance of close air support" in Iraq.

In fact, Leaf said in a Jan. 23 phone interview, coalition ground force chief Army Lt. Gen. David McKiernan requested shortly after the warís onset that planes shift from the close air support mission to air interdiction. That meant attritting enemy ground forces from the air much deeper, before they came into close contact with friendly land troops.
He's half right, but the reason for the shift was beause the artillery was pounding the dogshit out of the close targets -- they didn't need nearly as much CAS as they originally thought, so they wanted to save air support for long-range interdiction.
The joint community continues to seek ways to minimize close battle, when avoidable, Leaf said. In the right context, effective tools exist to hit enemy forces from a distance, he said.

. . .

Many in the Army believe Air Force officials sometimes exaggerate the ability of longer-range weapons to achieve objectives that, in the end, require close-up solutions.

"We have to realize that fighting, though, canít always be solved with a JDAM," said one officer, referring to the Air Force and Navyís Joint Direct Attack Munition. "There are things that guys have to roll up their sleeves and [do, like] crawl in a hole and see if itís Saddam. Or you have to go into basements or go into buildings. You canít always stand off and say, 'Kill íem.' And we saw that during Iraq."

"It is clearly preferable to engage an enemy at a distance when you have a choice," Leaf responded. "Long-range precision weapons are an important part of that capability. When the close fight is necessary, precision becomes especially valuable to the land commander. It would be wrong to overstate or understate that contribution."
Fair enough; one of the longstanding criticisms of artillery is that it is inherently non-precision, especially in a close fight. However, that's being addressed with new GPS-guided rocket and cannon rounds. Another effect will be a smaller number of rounds required to achive desired effects, which will result in a shorter logistical train.
Another lingering Army concern has been to avoid the appearance of relying on another service, like the Air Force, for combat effectiveness, some observers say.

In December 2001, Army Lt. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck -- then the two-star commander of the 10th Mountain Division -- left behind his air support operations squadron when he deployed forces to Afghanistan, according to ground and air sources. When 10th Mountain forces ran into a tougher-than-anticipated al Qaeda enemy in Operation Anaconda three months later, Air Force officials -- left out of Hagenbeckís planning -- pieced together single-man ETAC teams and, with the Navy and Marine Corps, assigned aircraft at the 11th hour to rescue and support ground troops in trouble (ITP, Oct. 3, 2002, p1; and Nov. 21, 2002, p1).

Later, when Hagenbeck complained about lagging Air Force support in a military journal, air officials privately were outraged. But Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper sought to bridge the growing fissures, and initiated an effort with then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki to review the Anaconda experience.
. . .
The Army left its heavy artillery at home when it deployed to Afghanistan in 2001, but brought it to last yearís major combat operations to topple Saddam Husseinís regime in Iraq. Some ground force leaders say artillery proved useful in Iraq, but others say it was unnecessary against such a weak foe.
Sooooo... had Hagenbeck brought his artillery to Afghanistan, would there have been a need for an 11th hour rescue? I don't think so. Also, who exactly is saying that we didn't need artillery in Iraq since they were such a 'weak foe?' We already SAW what happened when we didn't bring artillery to a fight against a 'weak foe' (*cough*ANACONDA*cough*)! And that's ignoring the possibility of fighting a stronger foe in the future! Iran, North Korea, Syria? Yeesh -- bring every tube you got, then call UD and order more!
Once in place, howitzers have a slow rate of fire compared to other weapon systems on the modern battlefield, some critics say. Many military experts believe tanks and aircraft are more responsive and decisive than artillery against a challenging adversary.
No, no, and no:
  • Rate of fire: the M109A6 can fire four rounds per minute for three minutes (then one round per minute thereafter, based on barrel temperature). With 24 (or even 16) tubes per battalion, that's a lot of steel on target. Compare that to a strike aircraft -- once it dumps its basic load, it's back to base for more. How many 155mm rounds can you get on target in that time? Tanks? Yeah, they can get off two or three good shots per minute as long as their ammo holds out, but tanks have other problems...
  • Responsiveness: ...a tank can only hit what it can see. A cannon can hit a target 20 miles away, shift fire, and hit another target 20 miles from the first, all in a matter of minutes. An airplane can do that, but it has other problems...
  • Effectiveness against a challenging adversary: We have become spoiled in battle - our aircraft have not faced a significant threat since Vietnam. We have 0wnZ0r3d the skies everywhere we've fought, losing only some helicopters and a handful of fixed-wing aircraft to enemy fire (and none at all to enemy aircraft!). How much less effective would a strike aircraft be if the crew actually had to be worried about enemy fire? How many fewer F-14s, F-15s, and F/A-18s would be available for strike missions if the enemy could put serious pressure on their bases or carriers?
I wish I could quote the After Action Reports I've seen, but trust me when I tell you that the Field Artillery was a Stone Cold Bad-ass Mutha True Playa in Iraq. With a little bit of streamlining, it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Chris at 03:15 PM | Comments (6)
Category: The Day Job

January 29, 2004

Blair 4, BBC 0

Not that we're gloating over it or anything. Margaret Wente in today's Toronto Globe and Mail:

Tony Blair's long public nightmare is over. The chairman of the BBC is toast, and Andrew Gilligan's career is dead. The BBC board of governors is huddled in emergency sessions to deal with Lord Hutton's finding that its editorial system is fundamentally flawed.
I wouldn't be so sure about Gilligan's career being dead, though, just because he's probably about to "resign" from the BBC:
Friends of the reporter today suggested he was on the verge of quitting the BBC following Lord Hutton's excoriating report, which concluded that his story on the government's Iraq dossier was "unfounded".

The BBC journalist is understood to have accepted that his career on the Today programme, which broadcast the fateful 6.07am report , is over.
I imagine Al-Quds Al-Arabi will offer him a job.

Naturally, al-Guardian is complaining about it, and predicts Bad Things for Blair:

The venerable WF Deedes says the PM will find it hard to escape the "weight of his past". Like Harold Macmillan, who survived the 1963 Denning report but soon suffered a bout of ill-health that led to his replacement, Mr Blair may leave Downing Street sooner rather than later.
I'm sure we haven't heard the end of this. At least, I hope not.

Update: Gilligan shipwrecked!

Posted by Chris at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Media Stupidity

January 21, 2004

A Y2.1K Problem

Precision Blogging has an interesting entry today about commenting your code. I tried to add a comment of my own, but his comments server was down. My comment would have been, more or less, this:

Real programmers don't comment. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.

Seriously, though... back in 1988 I was writing some code for a time/date display where we were only allowed two digits for the year (still in the era before anybody cared about Y2K). We didn't care about the first two digits anyway, until I found out that although 2000 would be a leap year, 2100 would NOT be, which would throw all the day-of-month and day-of-week calculations off. So I added a comment something like this:

/* Under the Rule of 100, the year 2100 is not a leap year. Under the Rule of 400, the year 2000 is. This code is written to work in the latter case and fail in the former. If this aircraft is still flying in the year 2100, I will personally return from the dead to fix the code. */

The Government reviewer was amused; my boss, somewhat less so.

Posted by Chris at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: The Day Job

January 14, 2004

The Fundamental Misunderstanding

In a post I made about a month after September 11th, I said:

There's an angle on the terrorist attacks that I don't think I've heard anywhere: if the terrorists' goal was to get the US to end its support for Israel, what they should have done is kept on doing what they were doing--attack American interests overseas. Eventually, we may have tired of being nickel-and-dimed over something most people see--or at least saw--as irrelevant (I mean, how many people knew who Osama bin Laden or the Taliban were before September 11?), and just rolled over and said 'The hell with it. Israel, you're on your own.' Instead, by taking the fight to our homeland, the terrorists have made exactly the same mistake the Japanese did in 1941. And we all know how that one ended.

Yesterday I got a comment on this two-year-old post from the quaintly-named 'Death Jihadi,' who said:

I know I am replying to an old post, but I think your optimism regarding the War On Terrorism is a little naive. There is a difference between fighting a nation state like Japan (which can always surrender), and an international, nationLESS band of people like Al Qaida.
A distinction without much of a difference. Al-Qaida was only able to plan September 11 because it had Afghanistan as a (then) stable base of operations where they could plan without interference, and Fraudi Arabia as a steady source of funds. Note that they haven't been able to do much beyond the odd nightclub or truck bomb since they got our attention.
I think the whole point of the Iraq war was to demonstrate American power (like the Death Star destroying Alderon in STAR WARS -- I'm sorry to say that America is the Empire in this new story, the Americans are the bad guys.) Maybe Mohammad Atta (the author of September 11 -- and destined to be remembered as an historic figure and military mastermind in the future) thought that he was like Luke Skywalker, destroying the Star Destroyer. I mean, Luke must have killed many people when he blew up that thing. Isn't he a terrorist?
I won't even argue the first point - I think that was indeed one of the many reasons. Note that Libya 'suddenly' gave up all aspirations to acquire WMD. Coincidence? Sure.

Are we the Empire? Gee, I don't know - why don't you ask the American subjects living in the states of West Germany, Honshu, Kyushu, and Hokkaido? Whoops - we forgot to annex them! And the Star Wars saga as a metaphor for the Wahhabists' crusade? Riiiiight. If the jihadis take over, do you think the Committee For The Promotion Of Virtue And The Prevention Of Vice will even let you watch those movies? Not a chance. It's a bad metaphor, anyway - Luke didn't go to Coruscant and off three thousand Imperial civilians.

I don't mean to sound too arcane, but my point is: there is a war on, and in a war, it all comes down to strategy.
There's nothing arcane about it; it's fairly straightforward, although amateurs discuss strategy while professionals discuss logistics.
America has the technology but has lost its nerve (it is not willing to sacrafice huge casualities.) Al Qaida, on the other hand, are both creative and totally willing to give their lives for the cause they believe in (death to the Empire). So, who do you think will win this kind of confrontation?
This is the fundamental misunderstanding the splodeydopes have about America, and it is the fatal flaw that will ultimately spell the end of Wahhabist Islam. America, throughout its history, has never failed to respond fully to any mortal threat. 1776, 1812, 1861, 1941. We did what we needed to do, cost be damned. And that brings us back to my original point: by taking this battle to our homeland, the splodeydopes have drawn our attention to the mortal threat they pose to us. No, we're not going to pop a nuke on Al-Qaida HQ and declare victory, but we will not stop until the threat is gone, one death cultist at a time.
And are Americans willing to give up their future so that Israeli's can realise their Zionist dreams?
Oh, silly me, I forgot - it's all about the Joooooooooos!

Posted by Chris at 11:22 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Splodeydope watch

January 02, 2004

Well, At Least I Won't Need To Spend A Lot Of Time Editing The Video For Highlights

OK, now I'm a believer. USC is all that, and a six-pack, and a bag of chips. You know when your team tanks in a big game, and you think, "Well, they just didn't play like they could?" Generally, there's a reason for that, and it involves the other team. USC owned both sides of the line of scrimmage like nobody I've seen against Michigan since the '02 Citrus Bowl. And the weird thing is that I don't even feel all that bad about it. Sure, it always sucks to be me when Michigan loses, but this game was different. USC was like a finely tuned Ferrari on both sides of the ball, and just watching them operate almost overcame my disappointment at Michigan's performance. I'll have more detailed comments later; that is, if I can bring myself to look at the recording again. For now, I'll just give quick reactions to what I thought would be the keys to the game:

  • I never saw eight in the box except in 3d- or 4th-and-short situations. USC played nickel or base defense the whole game.
  • Michigan did use the pass to set up the run--actually, I'm being a bit charitable when I say that. What I really mean is "they didn't totally abandon the run once Navarre entered 'chuck and duck' mode." Didn't help.
  • I think if USC only had one Michigan game film to study (actually, I'm sure they had the Oregon game film as well; I remember reading that in one of the LA papers somewhere), I'd say it was the OSU game, where they saw how you could work against the pass defense.
  • Both Michigan lines were big and slow, at least in relative terms. Michigan has been trying to improve their team athleticism for years, and they're a lot faster than they used to be. Problem is, so is everybody else.
  • Jackson was a non-factor. I don't think he had any tackles at all. LeSueur and Curry took turns getting lit up like Christmas trees, and the one time poor little Leon Hall tried press coverage against Mike Williams, Williams dumped him on his ass.

Posted by Chris at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Michigan Football

October 30, 2002

I Have Grown Timid In My Old Age

When I was growing up, I never had stage fright. Didn't even know what it was, really. I was the Stage Manager in my senior class production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. If you're not familiar with the play, understand that the Stage Manager is not only a speaking part, it's probably the one with the most lines. Opening and closing monologues to each act, countless asides to the audience, that kind of thing. Perfect for a know-it-all smartass like me. It's also when I started dating flower_goddess, but that's a story for another time.

A couple of months later was our annual Band Follies, and I was everywhere. Wind Ensemble, Stage Band, jazz quintet (Tigerland Dixiecats, for you fellow Allegan High grads), skits, in-between-acts; seven or eight appearances in all and I would have done more if they'd let me. Even eight years later, on Jeopardy!, I never had any problem with what one of the contestant handlers referred to as "how you handle the lights, the cameras, and the pressure." As an aside, you know you've gotten over an unpleasant event in your life when you forget its anniversary. More on that tomorrow. Or maybe next week. But I digress.

So now our company has reorganized again (is it common practice to have your org chart on a whiteboard?), and the new Guy In Charge of our operations, who of course isn't based where we are, is making the Grand Tour to find out exactly what the people who work for him do. There's about 1100 of us here; half work for him and half work for some other high-ranking suit. I think. There's really no way to tell anymore. At any rate, he's speechifying us later this morning, and I was one of the people picked to actually attend his presentation (as opposed to watching it over closed-circuit, like most of the rest of us). I'm expected to ask a question, which of course will be broadcast over said CCTV, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to say and I'm scared to death about it. I know better than to ask the questions I really want to ask, Career Limiting Moves such as "What makes you think you'll work out any better than the guy you replaced?" or "Do the accountants whose terminal fsck-up caused our stock price to go from 70 to 18 in four months still work for the company?, but beyond that, I don't really have anything.

And that bothers me. I don't know why - relatively speaking, there isn't any more at stake today than there was that night I stood up in the L.E. White Junior High cafetorium and kicked things off by belting out "Tonight's play takes place in Grovers Corners, New Hampshire." If I'd munged up Our Town, it would have been a looooong time before I lived it down. It's like I'm afraid to take risks anymore, which wasn't a problem twenty years ago (although in at least one case, maybe I should have been afraid) or even twelve years ago. More on that tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

Posted by Chris at 09:38 AM | Comments (1)
Category: The Day Job

May 14, 2001

So Long, Douglas. Save Me A Seat At Milliway's.

By now, you've no doubt heard of the untimely death of Douglas Adams last Friday of a heart attack. [ Slashdot | BBC | New York Times ] I wanted to headline this The Lights Went Out In His Eyes For Absolutely The Very Last Time Ever, but DNA's own website beat me to it. My second choice, Hopefully He's Just Spending A Year Dead For Tax Reasons? Saw three different posts in the Slashdot thread mentioning it. He lives on, after a fashion, with the BBC now managing The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

My sense of humor was shaped by HHGG, Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, and M*A*S*H (in roughly equal parts). I first encountered HHGG when I was in high school, in the summer of 1981 on WMUK, Western Michigan University's NPR station. I think the first episode I heard was Episode 3 (the gang lands on Magrithea). Fortunately, my brother had taped the first two episodes so I could catch up. I was hooked. I taped all the subsequent episodes, then the first two again when the series was rebroadcast. I listened to the tapes many many times over the years until they were so worn as to be almost unlistenable. One of my all-time favorite Christmas presents was a copy of The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, if for no other reason than it allowed me to decipher all the lines I couldn't properly hear from the tapes. Much later, I bootlegged a friend's copy of the show, available as a six-tape set from The Mind's Eye (whose web site I can't find right now). The interesting thing there is that each episode has about thirty seconds of material that wasn't on my version, which is strange when you consider that my NPR version didn't have commercials either and thus no reason to chop stuff out to make room.

One of the things that was supposed to come along Real Soon Now was a Hitchhiker's movie, and the reason it was taking so long was that Adams had creative control and wanted to make sure it was done properly. Now, I fear, the movie will get made anyway. I predict Marvin will be portrayed as a wisecracking ferret with a heart of gold (ahem) and voiced by Billy Crystal.

And to top it all off, we had to have our 15-year-old cat put to sleep yesterday. This is shaping up to be an absolutely superb week.

Posted by Chris at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 29, 2001

I'm A Genius! And I Insist On Making Sure Everybody Else Knows It!

2001.03.29 I'm A Genius! And I Insist On Making Sure Everybody Else Knows It!

This one came to my attention courtesy of Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator: William Christopher Holley's Genius web site is simultaneously a chest-thumping "Look At Me--I'm A Genius!" brag piece and a "Why Won't Anyone Hire Me?" whine/rant.

My take? It reminds me of the quote behind the dysfunction poster at despair.com--"The Only Consistent Feature of All of your Dissatisfying Relationships is You." It also reminds me of something else. Back in my elementary school days (basically, the Nixon and Ford Administrations), it was a well-known fact that I was the smartest kid in my class. Every year. Nobody else was close. A couple of kids thought they were, but they weren't. Now before you write me off as a Holley clone, here's my point: despite the fact that I spent those years in the company of the same sixty kids, and by the end of kindergarten all but the dimmest knew the score, I spent a lot of time and energy making damn sure that everybody around me knew I was the smartest kid in the class. Yet somehow I was always surprised when anybody called me 'arrogant.' I wasn't arrogant--I was just smarter than they were. Sure, it's a cliche, but it fit. It took me many many years before I realized exactly they thought that way (I'd previously attributed it to jealousy; I mean, the problem couldn't have been with me, could it?), and what did it was seeing myself at age 10 in the person of one of my son's friends. Let's call him Hal. Whenever any kid said anything incorrect, Hal corrected him. Whenever a question was asked, Hal was the first one to answer. If by chance another kid answered first, Hal gave a 'better' answer and then proceeded to explain why his answer was better. And on and on and on until I was ready to, ah, hell, I don't know what but it wouldn't have been very nice. My realization that I was seeing myself at that age was a whack on the side of the head unlike any I've experienced before or since. So to my classmates, I belatedly say, "I get it, and I'm sorry." So let's not be too hard on W. C. Holley; I just hope he gets a similar whack while he can still do something about it.

Posted by Chris at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness