Thursday, May 05, 2005

oh five oh five oh five

(Today's show is brought to you by the numbers Two, Five, Fourteen, Fifteen and 1000.)

This is one of those coincidental dates. You know … oh-five oh-five oh-five. Some people appreciate these congruencies more than others. I remember the excitement during the lunch hour on July Eighth, 1990. It was one of those days. 12:34:56 7/8/90 I know the party hats came out in MY office!

Um, perhaps you had to be a Geek to really appreciate it. Or care.

I haven't shot a pistol for a couple of weeks, and I'm going a little bit around the bend. Perhaps you've noticed that my last few articles have been a little ... atypical. I've enjoyed writing and ranting about a wide variety of subjects, but I do look forward to going to an IPSC match next weekend. In this calendar year there is only ONE month in which the first falls on a Sunday, and this is it ... May, 2005. Because of that, the Albany match (2nd Saturday of every month) and the Tri-County match (3rd Sunday of every month) occur on consecutive days. Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th. I'll be able to break the long boring hiatus with back-to-back IPSC matches and I'll have something different to talk about: competitive pistol shooting. As Mark Knopfler says: "That's why I wrote this song!"

(Photo courtesy: Mustafa Odabasi's "Dire Straits" webpage)

I hear that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Service (ISI) captured the Al Queda operative who has been trying so hard to murder President Pervez Musharraf for the past year: Abu Faraj al-Libbi. The ISI operatives dressed in Burqa's and intercepted Libbi while he was riding as a passenger on a motorbike. Five will get you Ten that Libbi never underestimates 'chicks' again!

Have you seen the eyes on that guy? Dead eyes. He looks like Oedipus after a bad Bodkins malfunction. That's the worst case of the "Thousand-Yard Stare" I've ever seen.

Well, perhaps not.

Free Image Hosting at
(Paula Abdul on "Strange News" story about "American Idol" expose)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Geekish Bloggerbash (etc)

I note that this year's Happening Thing is to host a Bloggerbash.
This is where a bunch of people who run Web Logs (online diaries, like this one, also known as "Blogs") get together to meet&greet. Preferably, this occurs in a PUBlic form where Spirits flow like water.

Being a major wannabe, I announce The First Annual Geekish Blogerbash, to be held the day before Memorial Day at the personal home of Randomly Hittin' Witten. (Note: Randomly doesn't know about this, so for heaven's sake don't tell anybody.)

As near as I can tell, there are approximately three (3) bloggers in the state of Oregon, and I'm the only one who knows where Randomly lives. If you email me, and you pass the 'Sniff Test' (which means I know who you are, you rascal!) I might even tell you where to go.
YMMV. Deal with it.

If I'm right, I'll be the only Blogger there. This means I'll be able to soak up all the Blog-Glory in the entire state, which makes me one-fiftieth (1/50) of the American Blog-Glory holders in America.

That's the good news.
The bad news is: Blogging is not generally considered a worthy avocation for a grown man in Oregon. My entire fan club consists of two charming ladies who sent me the following email:

We heard that you are a Blog! Bullshiters logged on globally.
We understand that you are one of the biggest!
& who said that bigger isn't better!

D* and E*(after a few drinks!)

When I originally quoted their note, D* seemed disappointed that I didn't credit them for their contribution. This is my attempt to pour oil on the blog-groupie waters. What do you want to bet that I get in trouble 'anyway'?

Here's some 'etc', just for fun:

Man wins $340,000 in bottled fly lawsuit

The original link, at, was broken. Apparentlyl they took the article off their web page. Well, that's canada for you. Fortunately, Fark.Com had a link up. Unfortunately, it includes some fairly ribald comments. Well, that's Fark for you.
Here's the deal. Man buys a five gallon bottle of water from Culligan to put in the water cooler at his beauty shop. (?) Notices there's a big ol' fly floating in the water, it puts him off his feed to the point where he can't even WASH in water. Sues, is awarded Big Bucks, Canadian press makes a big stink out of it ... for less than one week before they remove the article from the Net.

The other side of the story is the long-running joke told by Vietnam Veterans:
An American soldier is sent to Vietnam. His first day 'in-country' he goes into the EM Club and buys a beer. Notices there's a fly floating on his beer, and announces to the bartender "Hey! There's a fly in my beer! Yech, unsanitary bar ... I'm outta here!

Next week he goes back to the EM club, orders a beer, finds a fly and says "Hey! There's a fly in my beer! Gimme a new beer!"

After three months in country he comes in out of the field and bee-lines to the EM club. Same deal, he finds a fly in his beer.
He delicately picks the fly out of the beek, flicks the dead fly to the floor, and drinks the beer.

About his six-month anniversary, he's back. Fly in his beer (are we seeing a trend?) Drinks around the fly.

Nine months in country, fly in his beer. drinks the beer.

At the end of his tour, while he's waiting for his plane to The Big PX he buys a beer and finds ... guess what? ... there's a fly in his beer.

The guy picks up his beer mug, admires it from all angles, and exclaims proudly:

Aha! Fresh meat!

Chugs the beer down with much lip-smacking.


Okay. I guess you had to have been there.

Here's some more 'etc': Would-Be Car Burglar Locks Self in Trunk

Guess what. Yup, you guessed it; another Broken Link. Newsday.Com must have relatives in Canada.

Here's the story anyway:
Guy wants to break into a car, jimmys the trunk, starts going through the stuff he finds in the trunk. Crawls right in there. Having appropriated everything of value, he grabs the trunk lid to pull himself out. Loosing his grip, he somehow manages to close the trunk lid and locks himself in. After several hours of trying to open the trunk from the inside (my 1-year-old granddaughter could get herself out of a trunk with a screwdrive!) he starts pounding on the trunk.

The police him out, arrest him, and call the reporters.
Just another Dumb Crook story.

Speaking of which ....

Hillary Clinton is NOT running for president in 2008. In the meantime, republican activists are building a warchest to stop her from not-running. Or, as they say at StopHerNow.COM:
"Rescuing America from the radical ideas of Hillary Clinton"

Want to see something REALLY scarey?


Make my day!

Here is a firsthand account of a pirate attack on two yachts. It took place only 30 miles off the coast of Yemen at 13°28' North 48°07' East on 8 March 5pm local.
March 11, 2o05
Two yachts, Mahdi and Gandalf, sailing off the coast of Yemen. At least 4 pirate boats attack them. Yachtsmen defend themself with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot. Mahdi keeping the pirates' heads down with shotgun barrage; Gandalf rams one of the pirate boats. Mahdi sees the disabled pirate boat crew attempting to board Gandalf, shoots at least 3 of the pirate crew.

Mahdi and Gandalf

Mahdi & Gandalf: one pirate boat, 3 pirates
Pirates: zip, zero, zilch

Life is good, and that's enough Goblin Count for this Geek.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lindsey England

Defense: England Oxygen-Deprived at Birth

Well, I think ...

... it's an appropriate condition for her now.

When asked by judge Col. James Pohl whether England knew right from wrong, Denne said she had a compliant personality and tended to listen to authority figures.

On Monday, England told Pohl that she initially resisted taking part in the abuse at the Baghdad prison, but that she succumbed to peer pressure.

"I had a choice, but I chose to do what my friends wanted me to," she said.

This is not the image of an American Soldier.

This is the image of a monster.

I wonder if she named her child "Grendel"

Lynndie England had made deal for shorter sentence, could face new trial

FORT HOOD, Texas - A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England’s guilty plea to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, saying that he was not convinced that she knew that her actions were wrong at the time.

Col. James Pohl entered a plea of not guilty for England to a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison.

The mistrial for England, a 22-year-old reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photographs from the 2003 abuse scandal, means the case gets kicked back to the military equivalent of a grand-jury proceeding.

The charges that England had agreed to plead guilty to carried up to 11 years in prison. Prosecutors and the defense had reached an agreement that capped the sentence at a lesser punishment, the length of which was not released.

But Pohl's decision invalidates the plea deal.

This suggests that England will stand trial, and if found guilty will NOT be eligible for the reduced sentence for which her lawyer had negotiated.

On the other hand, it provides a defense which might make a difference in the finding in her case. If she is found to have 'diminished capacity', it could at least constitute extenuating circumstances. (Unless the basic training curriculum has changed since I was received at Fort Lewis in 1968, every soldier learns the difference between 'extenuating' and 'mitigating' circumstances. If accepted, either finding may result in a reduced sentence if she is found guilty.)

Also, if anyone in the military is forced to pay attention to the "tends to listen to authority figures" circumstance, that opens the door to prosecuting individuals higher up the chain of command than a staff sgt. (The commanding officer at Abu Graihab, a Bridadier General, was relieved of duty at that post; but she apparently received no further punishement -- other than, of course, that she doesn't have a career anymore.)

It is perhaps most galling that nobody between the on-duty NCO and the commanding officer has been charged with any crime. Dereliction of duty seems the most obvious. If these offenses were committed on a military site, and they were, the unit commander (Lieutenant, Captain or perhaps Major) should have been aware of them and should have either stopped them or reported them. To my personal knowledge, no unit commander has even been identified.

Mind you, I have no sympathy for terrorists. Call them insurgents, call them freedom fighters, call them anything you wish; I don't care what happens to them as long as it's eventually fatal. The world will be better off without them.

The few international agreements on the rules of war are careful to distinguish between soldiers and criminals. "Prisoners of War" are protected by international agreement; criminals are not. Such an agreement is the Geneva Convention. Or, as it is more formally known:

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

In Article 4, this agreement carefully defines legal combatants:

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power >1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:>

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;(c) That of carrying arms openly;>

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

It's difficult to determine the legal status of the prisoners who were abused at Abu Ghraib. We don't know who they were. We don't know whether they were actually "Prisoners of War" as defined above. If they are among the current crop of 'insurgents', they clearly cannot demand respectful treatment under the Geneva Convention because they don't meet the requirements under Article 4. Specifically, the following conditions are not met:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly; style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica;">(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

All of this discussion of Geneva Convention, however, is beside the point.

These prisoners were not being coerced for immediate military purposed, such as to determine where they had hidden kidknapped civilians slated for torture or execution. The argument that they were being psychologically 'softened' for subsequent interrogation is not acceptable.

They were just being abused.

The thing is ... we just don't ACT that way. It's not the official policy of the United States of America, and most Americans are revolted by such callous conduct.

The defendents in this and associated legal cases have presented a variety of justifications. The most common one (and one which has been invalidated by the Nurenberg Trials of 1945) is that "we were following the orders of our superiors".

In fact, Specialist Charles Graner, one of the convicted Abu Ghraib defendents and the father of England's child, testified May 4, 2005, at England's trial:

Graner continues to argue that he and the other Abu Ghraib guards were following orders from higher-ranking interrogators when they abused the detainees.

Sorry, that dog won't hunt.

In his testimony, Graner offers an alternative explanation for the horrible photograph presented earlier in this article:

Graner, who is serving a 10-year sentence for his role in the scandal, said from the stand that one of the central acts of the case — in which England appeared in a photo holding a naked prisoner on a leash — was a legitimate prison procedure.

Graner said he looped the leash around the prisoner’s shoulders as a way to coax him out of a cell, and that it slipped up around his neck. He said he asked England to hold the strap while he took photos that he could show to other guards later to teach them this prisoner-handling technique.

This is, of course, a transparent and pitiful lie.

On January 14, 2005, a jury found Graner guilty of nine out of ten counts stemming from his abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
This suggests that Graner has offered this lie for reasons other than his own defense. (He has none.) I suppose I should give him credit for retaining, against all expectations, some modicum of 'honor' (he has none) in that he is willing to lie in support of his former lover. I'm inclined to assume that Graner is a habitual liar, and since he has been proven to have no honor he lies out of mere habit.

So England is a monster, Graner is a monster and a liar, and the rest of the mob -- although some of them received much less burdensome sentences, being incarcerated for months rather than years -- were merely play bit-parts in this sad cinematography.

Ultimately, I've spent a lot of time researching and writing, and you've spend a lot of time reading, and we're no closer to understanding these warped yahoos than we were ten minutes ago.

I think I've given them more attention than they deserve. I only pursued this thread because of my convictions:
  • These are not American Soldiers; they're American Monsters
  • Any nation or culture will create monster. The rest of the nation or culture will be judged on how it deals with the monsters
  • While it is conceivable that there might be SOME justification for these egrigious actions, none has been believably presented
  • I am shocked. You are shocked. We want to believe that Americans wouldn't treat people this way without a good reason. We haven't been given a good reason.
  • Therefore, we reject these abherent members of our society, accept that there are no "
  • Do-Overs" in real life, and wish them similar treatment in the months and years of confinement which are their best expectation of a reward.