Archive for December 24, 2010

Let’s stay thankful on Christmas Eve

Posted: December 24, 2010 in oddities
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Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that with all the problems we have, we still have a lot to be thankful for:

Could yesteryear’s Great Society have promised nearly all Americans that they would soon have instant information at their fingertips on almost any topic imaginable, from treating migraines to wiring a house to understanding Dante’s Inferno? Surely the kings, corporate magnates, and Wall Street fat-cats of earlier times would have paid fortunes for the knowledge that is now accorded to almost anyone with a computer at home, work, school, or a library, without the need of expensive specialists, scholars, or books.

Today, Americans have cheap GPS navigation systems superior to what jet pilots used 30 years ago. James Bond’s gadgets seem passé compared to the accessories available on today’s iPhones — all made available to us without a government program.

That’s just a start, after a page of examples he concludes with this:

this Christmas we should all at least give ourselves some credit. In the last three decades, the United States — through technological breakthroughs, improved worker productivity, and the importation of globalized production from abroad — has achieved a level of material prosperity for its 300 million citizens unmatched at any time in the history of civilization.

Quite simply, yesterday’s royalty would not make it into today’s middle class.

This BTW was the subject of one of the best articles the web had ever seen a few years ago, if you haven’t read Bill Whittle’s piece from 5 years ago called Sanctuary pt 2 you missed one of the coolest Birthday presents I’ve ever received:

As an exercise in perspective, let’s briefly compare our civilization to another. Let’s compare our supposedly soulless, banal, hum-drum society to the splendors of ancient Egypt.

And let’s tie both hands behind our backs while we do so. Let’s not compare the Great Pyramid to one of our skyscrapers, or airports, or hospitals, or even our shopping malls. Let’s take a moment to compare the Great Pyramid of Cheops with the most common and drab and ordinary structure on the block: The Great Pyramid vs. the 7-11.

Assume that we could transplant a corner 7-11 to the Egyptian desert, with all of the support systems that make it what it is. It is a tiny speck compared to the gleaming white marble sides of the pyramid. It looks small and poorly made. From afar.

Pharaoh comes by barge and litter to inspect the competition, laughing at the mismatch. He and his princes and a retinue of servants approach the plain, unadorned metal doors and step inside.

By the Gods! It is cool inside! As cool as the desert night, here, in the middle of the relentless day! Outside the servants sweat and minor officials fan themselves, but Pharaoh is, for the first time perhaps, comfortable in the middle of the desert sun. He turns to exclaim this wonder to his underlings, and — By the Ghost of Osiris!! The walls! You can see right through them!

Ten seconds into the contest, and already Pharaoh has been rendered mute by miracles.

The full essay is about perspective and continues:

Pharaoh is no longer happy. Like many of that era, he suffers from terrible toothaches. There is so much sand that even the grinding of flour produces bread that erodes the tooth enamel. Pain is a constant companion for him, and like many of his age – like many of every age, before our own – he suffers in silence. That is his life. This, the most powerful man on the planet, suffers just like the poorest. But here, in this bland, ubiquitous convenience store, there is mercy for rich and poor alike. Cold medicine. Medicines to reduce fever. Medicines for toothache, too. And medicine for pain.

In fifteen minutes, this Great Pharaoh will know a few moments free of pain. His children, whom he loves as we love our own – also free of pain.

What would the most powerful man in the world give for such a thing? How much gold? How much land? How many lives?

The pain subsides. And although perhaps not a good or a wise send off for a man with a toothache, the transcendental look of joy on Pharaoh’s face when he first encounters a Coke and a Snickers bar is a sight that his children will never forget. Even after he is long dead, they will always remember him thus, as they ride toward the river on the dark night of the new moon, the little palace glowing in the dark like a beacon visible for fifty miles and more.

Now, on the other hand, the Great Pyramid of Cheops is a massive, beautifully decorated and cunningly designed pile of stones.

Keep all this in mine and remember that 200 years ago, a sea-captain who had the power of life and death over people on his ship, still had to tap his biscuit on the table so the weevils would crawl out before he ate it.

Merry Christmas and let’s be thankful for what we have.

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Apparently the rules about trading with nations that support terror are a bit more flexible than they should be:

While you were busy getting ready for Christmas,U.S. Approved Business With Blacklisted Nations

Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has granted special licenses allowing American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.

Including Iran?

Yes, including Iran.

Not a good idea:

I share Fausta’s opinion on the wisdom of this, over on the left Firedoglake also objects:

Well, I see our foreign policy has really learned it’s lessons…and that lesson is how much of this profit goes to the Caymans?

Alas Attaturk being a person of the left draws the wrong conclusion:

It’s almost as though all that posturing about how evil some state is, is just posturing.

Yeah after all there is no reason to believe that we have anything to worry about with Iran is there?

Among the two most alarming revelations is the already completed sale and delivery, to Venezuela by Russia, of nearly 2,000 advanced, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles capable of hitting aircraft as high as 19,000 feet. Equally and perhaps more alarming is an October agreement between Iran and Venezuela. The agreement establishes a joint ground-to-ground missile base on Venezuelan soil and calls for the sharing of missile technology and the training of technicians and officers. In addition, Venezuela may use the missiles as it chooses for “national needs” and in case of “emergency.” Several types of missiles will be deployed, giving Venezuela the ability to strike targets throughout South and Central America and throughout the U.S.

Well how bad can medium range missiles be in the hands of a guy like Chavez?

Medium-range ground-to-ground missiles based in Venezuela are another matter entirely. Armed only with conventional explosive warheads, there would be little motivation for Venezuela or Iran to use them, as even under Barack Obama, massive retaliation would be at least possible. The equation is swung more in favor of use with biological or chemical warheads. But with nuclear warheads, use becomes even more likely. What is almost certain is that nuclear warheads would allow substantial blackmail capability, giving Iran and Venezuela a free hand not only in South and Central America, but in the Middle East as well. And all that is apparently keeping Iran from producing such warheads is a computer virus.

Well it’s not like Iranians are actually fighting us on the ground or something….oops:

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams have captured a Taliban commander who doubles as an Iranian Qods Force operative and helped ship weapons from Iran into Afghanistan.

The Taliban/Qods Force operative, who was not named, was detained during a Dec. 18 raid in the Zhari district in Kandahar province, the International Security Assistance Force reported in a press release. ISAF and Afghan forces are currently working to secure Zhari and the neighboring districts of Panjwai and Arghandab from the Taliban.

Nah all that axis of evil stuff is just hooey, why look at how peaceful North Korea is?

North Korea threatened Thursday to launch a “sacred” nuclear war against South Korea if it attacks, as Seoul staged military exercises that have raised already high tensions on the peninsula.

The remarks seemed aimed at revving patriotic spirit on the eve of the 19th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il’s appointment as the supreme military commander.

Defense chief Kim Yong Chun said North Korea is “fully prepared to launch a sacred war” — and would use its nuclear capabilities — if attacked and warned the South against intruding even the smallest amount on its territory, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Yup nothing but peaceful folk there, as that noted war mongering extremist (per Morning Joe) Victor Davis Hanson said:

The present strategy in Korea? Who knows? But I think a prosperous South Korea is between the rock of hoping for the relatively nonviolent implosion of the failed state of North Korea in some sort of East German fashion, and the hard place of a communist thugocracy in the bunker lashing out in “we will take you down with us” fashion.

Yup no sign of evil there. After all they oppose the most oppressive homophobic force known to man, the US Military.

May our friends on the left always have the privilege of never finding out just how wrong they are the hard way.

From now on 3 years is 3 years…

Posted: December 24, 2010 in opinion/news
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Bryan Fischer brings up a point concerning DADT repeal that frankly I hadn’t thought of:

Well, all that’s gone now, both for gays and straights willing to tell odious lies about themselves. If a homosexual signs up now, he’s stuck with the whole magilla. Go to your superior officer now and say, hey, I’m a flaming homosexual, I hate the army, let me out of here, the superior officer will say, tough darts, those days are gone. You’re stuck with us now, Nancy-boy.

Well it’s not like the majority of discharges for homosexuality were people trying to get out…were they?

According to the Pentagon, “approximately 85% of discharges for homosexual conduct have been made on the basis of statements by the Service member.”

And even more distressing for our would-be limp-wristed enlistees, the Pentagon adds helpfully that “approximately one quarter of these discharges have occurred in the first four months of a Service member’s service.”

In other words, homosexuals – or people who suddenly discovered latent homosexual tendencies when they could use it to parachute out of the military – signed up for the all-volunteer army, got a few weeks into basic and said, forget this noise. I’m outtahere. All they had to do was admit they were gay – whether they were or not – and they got their walking papers along with an honorable discharge.

I actually didn’t realize that those numbers were so high, nor did I know that the discharge given was “honorable” which opens many doors. I would have thought those figures might be significant to report, but then again that wouldn’t have suited the media’s agenda would it and unlike myself the media was not so neutral in this fight.

How many deployments into a war zone were avoided by a simple declaration? The question now becomes how many people who may now no longer able to get an honorable discharge will have to seek other means to escape a life they don’t want?

Mr. Fischer phraseology may be a bit pejorative but his point is well made; if you are going to join the military make sure you want to be there because the easy out is now gone.

Exit questions: On CPAN today they mentioned that 30% of the military had an issue with repealing DADT; If even half of that 30% doesn’t stay that’s a quarter of a million troops. If you combine that tidbit with the majority of military recruits being from religious rather than the secular culture, what will this do to the country’s recruitment efforts to replace that say 15%? This is no longer a question of theory so we’d better have an answer to this question. I suspect the answer that will be forthcoming will be the draft.

The real question that nobody wants to ask is this: if this does hurt our ability to field a force and fight in the field, is this considered a bug or a feature to those who pushed this policy?