Sunday, December 28, 2008
Check out this great and hilarious presentation about the origin of "Chinese Food" in the United States, including an explanation as to who this "General Tso" guy was, anyway.
The presentation doesn't talk about Cuban-Chinese food - it's not commonly known, but Havana's Chinatown was the world's 2nd largest besides San Francisco's. In a lot of Miami Chinese restaurants, you can get your honey chicken with a side of platanos fritos.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Do you believe that the government has the right to tell people who they can or can't marry?
Prop 8's the one thing that harshes my buzz about finally having a President that talks like a grownup adult (that, and the fact the Three Stooges remain in power here in Florida: I guess running Joe Garcia, a charismaless nerd technocrat, wasn't enough). Proposition Eight is an example of the ugly Karl Rove "old" school of politics the American people categorically rejected: divide the electorate with an issue and hope you end up with the bigger piece. Usually, it nearly always involves smearing a minority group (undocumented workers, homos, Ay-rabs).
This actually affects someone close to me personally, because my Mother has a "civil union" with her boyfriend that gives her hospital and visitation rights and allows them to share insurance.
Incidentally, I fully expect a lot of comments that go "Hey, if you're so tolerant, how come you're not tolerant of my intolerance?" Those just crack me up.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It's a fair bet that half of my High School P.E. class would absolutely say yes.
Alright, now pretend I'm paying you (no joke) $160,000 a year to guard State Department officials - which in practice means opening fire on any Iraqi kid that so much as sneezes in your care. And also, you're from the boonies and don't have a college education.
It's obvious by now that I'm talking about the dumb, mean and incompetent employees of Blackwater. The funny thing is, I'm going to take the Foreign Service exam in a couple months, and I'd much rather be protected by a Blackwater merc than what passes for a Marine (or rather, "Freedom Scout") in the deleusional self-parody America has become. I'll take a mercenary in it for the money over a do-gooder anyday.
I don't blame Blackwater for the murders. While Nuremberg established that it is possible to prosecute a soldier even if they were under orders to kill civilians, so much chaos and carnage happens regularly in Iraq that a show-trial for someone that killed the wrong target is hypocritical and darkly comic.
What does gall me about Blackwater is how they reveals every lie we were taught to swallow when we're growing up: that the way to success is to study hard, be smart, and get good grades. If the current financial crisis is anything to go by, assholes like me that studied hard are going broke, whereas the dumb, mean guys that placed firecrackers up the anus of cats are buying McMansions hand over fist.
It isn't that Blackwater is brutal, it's that they're dumb: how many of them speak Arabic, for instance? This is important because in the modern, asymmetrical school of warfare, tanks and jet fighters and big 'roided out Texans with guns are not as important as intelligence operations. A lot of cracks are made at the expense of someone like James Bond, how he isn't realistic or relevant. Actually, with the importance of asymmetrical warfare strategies, now may be the only time that someone like Bond (a hitman with a brain) is even vaguely relevant.
Iraq is a war for linguistics and social studies, not engineering and metal shop. The failure to predict the ensuing sectarian violence after the fall of Saddam can be traced exclusively to the fact that most pundits just didn't get that there is more than one kind of Muslim, and they're not exactly bursting at the seams with brotherly love for each other. As Bob Woodward remembered in PLAN OF ATTACK, George W. Bush didn't even know - and the folks that did know better were too focused on playing with their Green Army Men and the usual military wargaming than focusing on the basic social facts of the region.
And...not to gloat, but this is something I saw coming. Without a strong central government, Iraq would break down into sectarian violence.
And finally, there's definitely an expiration date on this kind of Blackwater model. I'd say it passed in the fifties, when guerilla warfare came into style worldwide, or even earlier, though you wouldn't hear that from the Pentagon: they're still polishing their shiny new toys like they're going to fight the Wehrmacht and the Japanese Imperial Navy instead of al-Queda.
So maybe nerds get their revenge over the vicious after all.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Lucky Starr is an agent for the Science Council of the Solarian League, accompanied by his sidekick, the 5'2" ironically named Bigman. Some of the gadgets range from the cool (Lucky Starr's identifying science council tattoo is invisible and changes form beneath his skin), influential (the Force-Blade, the inspiration for all the laser-swords in science fiction), to the just-plain weird (Lucky Starr's hopper, a pogo-car as ludicrous as it sounds).