Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Difficult, intractable, tortu(r)ous.

Holy Shit!

The most disturbing paragraph I’ve read this week is as follows:

The first treatment for ischemic priapism is “therapeutic aspiration.” The urologist sticks a needle into the side of the penis and draws blood directly from the cavernosa. The same needle is sometimes used to inject saline solution into the penis, which can help flush out the remaining blood. Aspiration and irrigation work around 25 percent to 30 percent of the time. Doctors can also inject drugs that constrict the arteries and cut off penile blood flow. Injections are given every few minutes for about an hour.

So it looks like your “minor complications” from Viagra and the like include blindness and sharp steel. The male wang is a delicate thing; I think I’ll take my chances with nature. If the issue ever, erm, fails to arise, that is.

Posted by Johno on 05/31/05 at 08:56 PM
Holy Shit!Permalink

Unfinished Business

Crazy Foreigners

We never should have stopped at Yorktown. We never should have given those poxy damned smelly and toothless gits their own nation, their own empire, their own sovereignty. We had the men, we had the ships, we had the momentum. Washington should have pressed on until London, York, Newcastle were all firmly in American hands. That way, we would never know the shame of the country that made us great doing something as shameful as this. Decay is an ugly thing, whether it’s a tooth or the collective tastes of a sovereign people.

Wonderwall? If Wonderwall why not something truly vile like Robson & Jerome or 2-4-6-8 Motorway? The only thing worse than a bad job is a bad job done half-assed.

ht: Michele

Posted by Johno on 05/31/05 at 04:55 PM
Crazy ForeignersPermalink

Why make a soundtrack when it’s the same old stuff anyway?

Music Wonkery

Something’s been on my mind lately and, lacking any other material to post, might as well throw it out to both our readers:

What is the most over-used music in film? 

I’m thinking specifics here, not the every-time-something-happens-in-Australia-cue-the-didgeridoo type of observation, or the swelling-string-section-in-each-cloying-love-scene type.

For my money, it would have to be everything from The Nutcracker, with second place split between James Brown’s Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and I Got You.

Posted by GeekLethal on 05/31/05 at 02:39 PM
Music WonkeryPermalink

They Call Me… Deep Throat

Holy Shit!

The man who they call Deep Throat has reportedly come forward.

W. Mark Felt, 91, who was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s, kept the secret even from his family until 2002, when he confided to a friend that he had been Post reporter Bob Woodward’s source, the magazine said.

“I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat,” he told lawyer John D. O’Connor, the author of the Vanity Fair article, the magazine said in a news release.

Wow. Even so, I still prefer to think of Deep Throat as two cute blondes with weed cookies.

Posted by Johno on 05/31/05 at 02:17 PM
Holy Shit!Permalink

The Geek In Me Is Crying

Just So You Know

What a frustrating weekend! I lost [an insignificant but irritating amount of money] to an 11 year old playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Really! (Poker discussion to follow… nonfans may skip ahead to the part where I watch Star Wars]. I play a very tight game and seem to have a good head for odds and a good sense for strength at the table. I was able to outlast all the adults in this way, only to come into heads-up mode against the 11 year old son of a friend of mine. Aided by his dad only in that he kept reminding the kid not to show his cards, the kid’s strategy amounted to “play every hand, raise every turn.” Literally. The kid went in on every hand, no matter how weak, and bet up on every… single… opportunity. This is a terrible strategy to live by because it depends 100% on luck, but it does have the advantage of being potentially disruptive to everyone else’s game. The kid’s automatic raises amounted to a constant gut-check, driving players either to fold or overbid marginal hands, and his lack of strategy meant that everyone’s attempts to control momentum went for naught. And because the kid got lucky on every… single… river card, he just kept on winning.  it came down to me and him.

Me: pocket 5s. Him: 2-8 offsuit, the second worst starting hand in the game. I go in small before the flop. The flop gives me another 5 and some garbage; a 3 and a 6. At this point I go all in, knowing that trying to play mindgames against the ATM sitting across from me would be silly. He calls, leaving himself with only 10 chips or so. I win this, I’m thisclose to winning it all. The spawn is trash talking about all the toys he’s going to buy. The turn is an 8. I let out a breath. Junk.

And the kid drew a 4 on the river to give him the damn gutshot straight starting from one of the weakest hands in Texas Hold ‘Em. I lost to the Dorchester Kid.

Then, on Monday, the power went out four times during Revenge of the Sith. They finally gave me my money back, but I figure they should have kicked in a few extra bucks for skipping over the fight scenes and making sure to restart the show in time to show me all the “I love youuuu!!!!” parts uninterrupted.

So… how’s it end?

Posted by Johno on 05/31/05 at 09:38 AM
Just So You KnowPermalink

Friday, May 27, 2005

Burn, baby.  Burn.


Mrs. Buckethead and I are leaving for the wilds of central Delaware this weekend.  In fact, I’m heading home as soon as I finish this post.  The reason?  We are going to a mini-burn.  You may have heard of the big burn out at Blackrock, NV every August.  Well, this is a similar but much smaller twice a year event with a tiny, tiny fraction of the attendees.

About 600 or so people will gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Motorcycle Club ranch, and have themselves a very nice time, in beautiful weather, with lots of booze and other intoxicants.  Mrs. B and I will be able to partake for the first time in two years, as my mom is on the road from Ohio as we speak.  She, my aunt and cousin will be taking care of Sir John-the-not-quite-ready-for-that-sort-of-entertainment for the long weekend. 

For the first time since the little nipper was born, the wifey and I will be free to have a good time without worrying about the boy choking, falling, buring or otherwise injuring himself.  For the weekend at least, “Free at last, free at last!” Unless you have kids, you have no idea how good it feels to be rid of them, if only for a little while.  Much as I love my son, and love spending time with my son; Daddy needs a couple days to go away, be irresponsible, and get well and truly pickled.

I do not plan to be asleep or sober for the next 72 hours.

See you Tuesday.

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 03:28 PM

And yet we’ve managed to come this far…. How?!?

Darwin Award Contender

It has long been an article of faith with me that no matter where you go in the United States, you can find trailer trash there. Before I moved to New England, I perhaps thought that it was a mix of dour upright fishermen who say “ayuh,” big time lawyers, and witty, urbane literate types who sit in Edwardian chairs discussing Updike over snifters.

Boy was I wrong. My downstairs neighbors in the first apartment I lived in when I moved to Massachusetts (for the second time) nearly burned the house down the week before we moved in; one of them “fell asleep” on the couch with a lit bowl of reefer. Our next door neighbors never conversed wittily about Updike, or even King. Their nightly 3 AM conversation went something like this:

Him: F*****CK YEEEW!
Her: I’ll F*KING KILL YOU YOU **** ******* *** ********* *** ****BAG!!
Him: F*ck this, I’m leaving.
Her: Fine! You can’t get by without me, you lazy **** ******* *** ********* *** ****STAIN!!!
Him: Oh yeah? F********CK YEEEW!
Her: F********CK Y*******U! I HATE YOU! I F***ING HATE YOU YOU **** ******* *** ********* *** ****!

The summers were even better, because they’d do this in the parking lot so everyone could hear, and since school was out they had no problem keeping the kid up past her customary 4AM bedtime.

The most dismaying part is that I left Ohio precisely because I wanted to get the hell away from people like this. Still more dismaying is that proof accrues daily that people are the same everywhere. Whether it’s small potatoes like kids making lightsabers from flourescent bulbs and burning gasoline or world-historical statements of human fallibility like the various genocides that still continue, there’s no getting away from the idiots.

More surprising yet is how people everywhere really are the same deep down. Some might see this as proof that some day all humankind will clasp hands and sing together in perfect harmony in a spirit of love. We at the Ministry tend to see this as proof that we’re all screwed. Example: read the following and see if you can tell where the incident described took place. Answer below the fold.

A fatally injured man pulled a crossbow arrow out of his torso and taunted the man who shot him, saying: “Is that all you’ve f… got?”

Soon afterwards, Anton Nauer collapsed and within hours he was dead from being shot by Dean Pender in a late-night confrontation at Pender’s ----------------- home.

Hayden Keith McDougall, 19, unemployed, and Jared James Little, 20, a -------, of ----------, deny the charge.

. . . . . . .

During the previous evening there had been a series of incidents, including a window being smashed at the home of Pender’s former girlfriend, leading to the trio allegedly arming themselves with num-chukkas and a knife.

“The allegation is that Nauer proceeded onto the property, bearing a set of num-chukkas, and there was an altercation with Pender, who obtained a crossbow and fired a fatal shot at Nauer,” Beaton said.

“Nauer died in hospital some hours later and the allegation is that McDougall and Little went with Nauer and were armed when they went on to the property.”

Pender’s sister, Sarah Pender, told the court she arrived home shortly before the fatal shot. They were outside moving cars so they could close the gates on the property when “a ------- guy”, who she now knows was Nauer, arrived with McDougall and Little.

“They said, `Do you know where Dean Pender is? Get him here’. They said he’d smashed Natasha’s window,” she said.

“By then (Dean Pender’s friend) Shaun Lawrence had come down the driveway and was carrying a pole of some kind. He said, `What’s wrong, what have you got against my boys?’

“Shaun’s younger brother hopped out of the car and started walking over. The ------- guy said ‘Get on your knees or I’ll slit your throat.’ Shaun started getting angry because of what the guy said to his younger brother.

“The guy pulled out num-chukkas and started swinging them around and started getting really aggressive. By this time Dean was down the driveway and they all saw him and started yelling, ‘You’re going to f… pay.’

“They started running towards Dean and the guy was swinging the num-chukkas. I got pushed to the ground by the ------- guy with (McDougall) right behind me.

“They were yelling ‘You’re going to f… pay, Pender. We’re going to get you.’ (Nauer) said `We’re going to f… kill you.’ McDougall had a knife in his hand. It was like a hunting knife.

“I was freaking out. It all happened so fast – they were running towards Dean and I got pushed to the ground. I was getting off the ground when it happened. Dean said ‘Get back or I’ll f… shoot. Get back. Get back.’ That’s the only time I heard him yelling.

“Then the ------- guy was pulling out the crossbow (arrow from his torso). As he was pulling it out, he said ‘Is that all you’ve f… got?’ He handed it to Shaun then he and the two [other] guys (McDougall and Little) started taking off up the driveway.”

Posted by Johno on 05/27/05 at 03:21 PM
Darwin Award ContenderPermalink

EU Constitution in dire straits

Crazy Foreigners

Tom Wolfe once said that Fascism is forever descending on the United States, but that somehow it always lands on Europe.  It seems that President Chirac will proceed with Euro-integration and the EU constitution regardless of how the French people vote.  The EU Constitution looks like a very bad thing to me, and it seems that a majority of voters in France and the Netherlands will be agreeing with me.  Since the rejection of the constitution by any of the member states will sink it, this is bad news for the Brusselcrats.  However, they are urging the administrations in France and the Netherlands to run the referendums again and again until the masses get the right answer.  Too bad they don’t have the option of recalling the people and electing a new people.

Perhaps the Euro project is heading for the ash heap of history.  But if the Euro constitution is put in place over the will of the actual people of Europe, the end result will not be good for them, or for us.

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 02:58 PM
Crazy ForeignersPermalink

Why red is red and blue is blue

Partisan Politics

Via Kausfiles, we find this really, really interesting bit of political analysis that I don’t have time to discuss right now. 

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 02:53 PM
Partisan PoliticsPermalink

Disrespect for authority as survival strategy


The report of the civil engineers examining the World Trade Center attack came to the conclusion that thousands of lives were spared that might have been lost because people ignored the recommendations of emergency services and fled the building in a self-organizing and effective non-panic..

We know that US borders are porous, that major targets are largely undefended, and that the multicolor threat alert scheme known affectionately as “the rainbow of doom” is a national joke. Anybody who has been paying attention probably suspects that if we rely on orders from above to protect us, we’ll be in terrible shape. But in a networked era, we have increasing opportunities to help ourselves. This is the real source of homeland security: not authoritarian schemes of surveillance and punishment, but multichannel networks of advice, information, and mutual aid.

This gets into what I (and of course many others) have been saying for some time - that an informed public (and an armed public, but that’s not the point here) is the first and best line of defense against terrorist attacks.  Note well that every major success in the WoT on our soil was won by ordinary citizens, not government agencies or law enforcement.  (The shoe bomber, the wackjob at LAX, flight 93, the DC snipers.) In the case of the DC snipers, those assholes were nabbed despite the best efforts of Sheriff Moosehead and his assholes to conceal the very information that, once leaked, led to their arrest within hours.

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 02:41 PM

Bird Flu Pandemic, bloggie style

The Miracle of Science

An interesting exercise in simulataneous fiction and public health awareness.

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 02:39 PM
The Miracle of SciencePermalink

What slippery slope?

Crazy Foreigners

British doctors writing in the British Medical Journal are calling for a complete ban on all long kitchen knives, saying that half of all stab wounds are caused by those deadly kitchen implements. 

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

Good to know that they got everyone involved in the process.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

And if there aren’t any knives handy, they’ll grab something else.

The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.

What?  There’s a link between the existence of swimming pools and drowning deaths.  Violent assaults usually happen at home. 

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime. “The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime.  We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect.”

Practical?  Are they going to register the hundreds of millions of already extant knives?

Nutjobs.  First they came for the guns…

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 01:47 PM
Crazy ForeignersPermalink

Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy, Dead

Crazy Foreigners

Shamia Rezayee, a veejay on a newly resurgent Afghani TV network, is dead. Why? They think it’s because of her job.

two months ago her bosses were forced to dismiss Ms Rezayee, 24, under pressure from conservative mullahs who were disgusted by the “unIslamic values” of her music show.

This week she paid for her unconventional choices with her life: she was shot dead in her home by an unknown assailant.

Police said that they believed the killing was linked to her former job as a “veejay” — video journalist — on Hop, which was broadcast by Tolo TV, one of a number of private stations set up since the fall of the Taleban.

I just finished Asne Seirstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul, in which the European journalist author lived with the family of a bookseller in Afghanistan for a few months. Although the book is eye-opening for other reasons in that it is a doorway into a culture and civilization that the Americans never see intimate details of, it is positively eye-popping for its descriptions of how women are treated. In the words of Jeffrey Lebowski, “he treats objects like women, maaan!” The bookseller’s first wife, tossed over for his second wife, is reduced even further to cipher status within his household, newly subordinate to the illiterate and bubbleheaded hottie from the sticks. The bookseller’s youngest daughter, an intelligent girl who learned English while in exile in Pakistan tries to find some way to teach English in a nearby school while still seeing to the every bodily need of all nineteen people in her household. She is the last one to bed at night and the first one up in the morning, and she had better make sure breakfast is waiting when everyone else stirs. Her hopes fade when she is married off- to a nice enough man, to be sure, but no married woman is going to go teach English. It’s makin’ babies time. Throughout the book, women are treated as chattel, as ciphers, as halfway to slaves - and this in the house of a literate, urbane and worldly patriarch with modern inclinations. Though the book is ostensibly about the bookseller and his travails, and about half the book is in fact spent discussing his troubles with the Taliban, his business, and his aspirations, Seirstad clearly finds more compelling material in the lives of the women around her. And this is probably as it should be as the book ends up pitting the struggles of one man to rescue his country from the dark ages against his struggles to maintain the dark ages in his own home.

As Hamid Karzai said on September 10, 2001 when hearing of the death of Northern Alliance leader (and last hope against the Taliban) Ahmed Shah Massoud, “what an unlucky country.” (If there is a prize for bitter historical irony of the century, we have probably found our winner.) I recently finished Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 as well, and the political picture of the country that emerges is one of an ancient and noble set of tribes crippled by internecine rivalries, Islamism, greed, and the distorting effects of international meddling. The CIA and Pakistani secret service took turns acting as unwitting catspaws for each other with the effect that by the time the Taliban came roaring across the plains they were driving nice new white Toyota extended-cab pickups courtesy of Langley, VA and invading areas denuded of worth and reduced to chaos courtesy of equal parts Moscow, Langley, and Islamabad. Although Coll’s history is necessarily myopic, focusing as it does on the arc of the CIA’s involvement in the country, I learned a lot in the process about the texture of Afghanistan’s geography and ethnography and that part of Asia in general. Did you know that the name “Hindu Kush mountains” means “Hindu Killer?” Together with Sierstad’s book, the picture that emerges is of a set of borders without a country; a people with a history but no common future; and a region with boundless initiative and an eye for the main chance but no constructive ideas.

A nation that has come to rely heavily on violence as a means of resolving disputes and still can’t agree whether women showing their faces in public is a hanging crime or simply unseemly has a long way to go before it can get anywhere. What is especially puzzling is why this must be the case for a civilization so old, so rich, and so centrally located on ancient trade routes.

[wik] On another note, I am working on a piece on the intersection of political violence and popular music that I hope to have up sometime soon.

[also wik] This serious and utterly unsnarky post has also been books #11 and #12 in The Fifty Book Challenge.

Posted by Johno on 05/27/05 at 01:36 PM
Crazy ForeignersPermalink

Womyns and fairies fighting for truth, justice and the American way.


Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (a fantastic book I can’t recommend highly enough), has an op-ed in the LA Times about the dispute surrounding the role of women and gays in ground combat.  If you’d asked me to guess how Boot came down on this issue, I’d have probably guessed he was against, but here he makes a strong argument for the integration of women and gays into frontline Army and Marine units.

But today, 212,000 women (15% of the active-duty force) play an integral role in the military. Keeping them out of combat is impossible, whatever the law says, because in a place like Iraq everyone is on the front lines. Thirty-five female soldiers have died in Iraq and almost 300 have been wounded.

Even as women have taken on roles once reserved for men, the disastrous consequences predicted by naysayers have not come to pass. In 2000, the late Col. David Hackworth wrote: “What the British longbow did to the French army at Crecy in 1346, the failed military policy on gender integration has done to the U.S. armed forces at the end of the 20th century: near total destruction.” Yet in the last five years, “near total destruction” has been the fate not of the U.S. armed forces but the Taliban and Baathists they have battled.

... I also don’t see why we are still barring all gays and lesbians from serving openly. Between 1994 and 2003, according to the Government Accountability Office, the military discharged 9,488 homosexuals, including 322 with badly needed knowledge of such languages as Arabic, Farsi and Korean. In other words, the fight against gay rights is hurting the fight against our real enemies. That’s a compelling reason to change the law, even for those of us who used to be supporters of the gay ban.

I have in the past, like Boot, supported the ban on gays in the military.  Like him, I was persuaded by the arguments of those opposing the ban that the mere presence of gay soldiers or marines would undermine morale and unit cohesion.

There certainly isn’t any historical basis for banning gays from serving, and serving well.  All the way back to the Sacred Band of Thebes, gays have often had a prominent role in combat.  Our culture has had a long history of discrimination, if not revulsion, aimed at homosexuals; and it would not have made sense to sacrifice the fighting efficiency of the vast majority of straight soldiers to allow a relative few gays to serve.  However, attitudes have continued to change, and I think that that argument no longer holds water, especially given the increasingly difficult task of maintaining recruiting levels, and attracting needed skills into the armed forces.  We should eliminate all restrictions on gays serving in the military, and if necessary (though I think it won’t be) implement the kinds fo policies that were used to integrate blacks back in the fifties.

Women are now in combat pretty much across the board.  They are fighter pilots in the Navy and Air Force, and serve on warships in combat duty.  They serve in support and combat service support roles in both the Marines and the Army, and the nature of the conflict in Iraq - largely absent of any traditional battle lines - means that they are on the front line no matter what DoD classification they have.  That’s all well and good.  Boot’s argument however, is that since they’re already in combat, there’s no point in making any sort of distinction at all.  That’s doesn’t necessarily follow, though I admit that pulling women out of support units would be an enormous headache. 

I don’t think that women who volunteer for the armed services are necessarily lacking in the “fighting spirit” or “killer instinct” that male soldiers supposedly possess.  A lot of evidence points to the fact that the majority of men in the armed forces are not natural born killers, and attempts to make them such are not very successful.  Some sort of 80-20 rule seems to be operating - a large percentage of enemy deaths are likely caused by a relatively small number of American fighters.  There is no inherent reason that women can’t be in either group, and it is clear that both are needed for a successful military.  (We might imagine that relatively fewer women will be in the natural killer category, but self selection would allow lots of them to end up in the military.)

My only real remaining problem with women in combat is the physical requirements, which are currently (to my understanding) significantly lower than for men.  Raise those standards, at least for women wanting to serve in the Airborne or other elite units, and I’m cool with the whole project.  I don’t think the young straight men in the Army and Marines will have a problem with that, as long as they know their new comrades are going to be able to pull their own weight.

Really, we should do this not just because it fits in with our whole free-wheeling, I’m okay - you’re okay American idiom.  Just think about the salt and lemon juice rubbed into a paper cut feeling it would induce in an already pissed off jihadi to be captured by a squad composed largely of women and gays.  That’ll stick a spoke in their wheel.

Posted by Buckethead on 05/27/05 at 01:19 PM

*Hirsuteness of palms reported in less than 3% of users

The Miracle of Science

The FDA is investigating whether Viagra can make you blind. Mothers everywhere say: “I told you so!”

Posted by Johno on 05/27/05 at 12:46 PM
The Miracle of SciencePermalink
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