Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rude Pundit - Policy and Attitude

The Rude Pundit (WARNING - never work safe) has pointed out something from Seymour Hersh's New Yorker intreview with Gen. Taguba that hasn't been noted in other analyses I have read - the way in which the treatment of Taguba himself after release of his critical report exposes the way in which the attitudes of Rumsfeld et. al. created a perfect condition for a pro-torture policy:
And isn't that the whole key to what happened at that Hussein-era hellhole remade into an American-controlled hellhole? It wasn't enough to imprison the people there; they had to be made to regret ever having dared to think about opposing America. What Hersh's article tells us is not just that the decisions about the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib came from the highest levels of the Defense Department (and the Bush administration). It's that the very nature of the men who were creating the policy led naturally to the abuses. It's what they know. It's what they do. It's who they are. For if they can treat an American two-star general like a syphilitic camp follower, what chance did Iraqis have?
Yes, the torture that happened in the past - and even more that which continues to this day in the secret camps and undisclosed locations - was caused by bad apples. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush. They are three people who enjoy the prospect of harming and humiliating others.

These people are war criminals. Period. They were criminals from the day they entered office and they will continue to assault humanity even when they leave.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Wild is Wild

First off, a site with many color photos of the bizarre creatures that live deep in the ocean:

Clair Nouvian: The Deep - Gallery

There is an octopus in there that I want to take home, it is so cute.

Now, for something completely different, a video shot by safari tourists in the Kruger National Park. It starts out reasonably normal, with a herd of Cape Buffalo stumbling upon a pride of lions at a watering hole (or perhaps river, I can't tell) and the lions attack the herd and try to bring down a calf. After that, well, you just have to watch. It's about 8 1/2 minutes long.

Battle at Kruger - You Tube


Friday, June 15, 2007

HotK - Ch. 66 - Speculation

For the fanfiction readers, I just posted a chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 66 - Speculation. Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter.

2 of 2 Finduilas POVs. Warning for explicit sex scene.

This is an introspective chapter. Finduilas has had a series of shocks, and is now having to ask what is going to become of her, Denethor and those she loves. She will be thinking more explicitly about the fact that she is a ringer for two other women, and how that plays out as being one of the losers in the drama of Arda. It also is a play on "speculum" and the invasion of her mental and physical integrity by various others - Sauron, Denethor, the mariner, Mithrandir, Boromir, and Thorongil, to name the most obvious. There limits to how much control she has over the use of mind and body by others.

Major scenes with Denethor, Luinil, and Laanga.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

15 Years

The spousal unit and I met in New York in 1990 at grad school. We were married on June 13th, 1992.

Here's to the next 15 years.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Strange Maps

I found this site from a link on It collects all the strange maps you can imagine. Or never thought to.

Just check it out.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

HotK - Ch. 65 - Recovery

For the fanfiction readers, I just posted a chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 65 - Recovery. Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter.

1 of 2 Finduilas POV. Small warning for discussion of uncomfortable topics.

The story picks up from Finduilas's POV on the same afternoon as the previous chapter ended with Denethor.

There is a lot of recovery going on. Recovering from a season of war, from Thorongil's departure, and from the threat of civil war. There is also recovering lost ground, usurped territory, and over-extended expectations. Most of all, there is recovering from the damage that this has inflicted on the hearts and psyches of the survivors.

The story within the story, of the downfall of Numenor, makes a significant reappearance. Finduilas's horror of the east has a deep foundation.

Major scenes with Brandir, Laanga, Denethor, Luinil, Adrahil, and Ecthelion. Minor appearances by many others.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Living Memory

I've found a site online that is endlessly fascinating:

Their own explanation is best - "Shorpy is a photo blog about what life a hundred years ago was like: How people looked and what they did for a living, back when not having a job usually meant not eating."

There are photos both more and less old than 100 years, and together they create an amazing narrative of pre-WWI America.

The big push of the Rethuglicans right now is to destroy the New Deal built under FDR. In practical terms, this means that anyone who is not a white, Protestant upper-class male has no defensible rights to life, liberty or property. Everyone else lives at the whim and pleasure of this elite group.

This sounds incendiary, even insane, in this day and age. We look around at the wide-spread prosperity of the nation, and shake our heads at those who make such ridiculous claims.

What Shorpy does through its images is show us that Amerca WAS that kind of nation less than a hundred years ago, where the majority of the population - even the white population - lived hand-to-mouth, and where poverty reigned across wide swaths of the land.

This is what George W. Bush and all the fucktards who support him want America to look like. The fact that the majority of the people who voted for him had grandparents living in this kind of poverty and are on the way to returning to this kind of desparate life is little solace. They pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves for their "strong morals" (hating blacks, hating gays, hating non-Xtians, hating women who have sex, etc. Anti-morality, in short) and their "patriotism" (Let's gut the Constitution!) and their "faith" (rampant nihilism wrapped up in the blanket of lil' Baby Jeezus), all the while hacking away at the social and economic structures that keep them out of dirt-floored one-room shanties.

Why do they do this? I think in part it's because they have no idea of what it was like and why people so strongly supported FDR for bringing them out of it. The US was a better nation for all after the New Deal. Shorpy helps to remind us how far we've come.


Status Quo

I haven't had much to say politically recently, mostly because there isn't much to say.

There is a lot going on, of course, but not much that needs analysis. The Cheney regime is running out of places to hide the bodies, the Democrats are settling in for several years of investigations, and the general population is finally catching on that just maybe this invasion shit isn't such a good idea. The rest is bubbles on the horse piss.

I still support Al Gore for president far more than any other candidate, and I still think that Clinton and Obama will make a great team in the White House. It looks like Clark has removed himself from consideration (Drat!) but this is someone to watch. He will play a role in the next administration.

What the national political scene comes down to is this: Dems have a slim majority in the Congress, not enough to really take on the Cheney regime. The public's opposition to the Iraq Waar is wide spread, but not very strong. Let another incident happen and opinion will invert itself. Given that, the Dems are right to focus on exposing the crimes and setting up the long term prosecutions than in trying for any showy confrontations, no matter how emotionally satisfying.

I read public opinion as "Don't start anything new," more than "Throw the bums out," which is the mistake the self-indulgent "liberal" blogosphere is making. The public is willing to wait for the end of the term, and expect the Congress to keep a short leash on the White House.

I think the most interesting long-term social trend I have read about is the growing divergence of the evangelical movement and the increased strength of more socially liberal congregations. The extremism of the fire-and-brimstone literalists is no longer playing so well, even in Peoria.

The conservative movement is reaching the end of of strength, but it is not clear what might replace it.


HotK - Ch. 64 - Forgive

HotKFor the fanfiction readers, I just posted a chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 64 - Forgive. Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter.

2 of 2 Denethor POV. No warnings.

The shock of Umbar and Thorongil's departure are receding, while civil war has been averted. Denethor has time to reflect. How do you know if you love the right thing?

This is a quieter chapter than the previous few. It answers the question of what is in the last letter Thorongil sent to Denethor. It also puts in place a layer in Denethor's psychological foundation to create the person we meet in LotR. Both Laanga and the mariner have tried to warn him, but Denethor refuses to hear.

Significant scenes with Beregar, Laanga, Aiavale, Imrahil, Halmir and Ecthelion.