Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina has exacted its terrible toll in destruction and death, the count currently standing at 68 dead (already up to 80, according to the BBC) and $9 billion in damage. The area, it appears, will not be completely rebuilt and the people rehabilitated for at least several months and, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more hurricanes are expected to arrive this season: "NOAA expects an additional 11 to 14 tropical storms from August through November, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes," according to a press statement. The rain is beginning to arrive here in the middle of Ohio, more to come.

In other things a-going, I'm getting spam comments. (Stop this, whoever you are.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina is barreling down toward Louisiana as I write, and New Orleans has been nearly completely evacuated as a federal emergency exists for Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as "other parts of the northern Gulf coast states", according to the New York Times. The Louisiana Times-Picayune projects that Katrina "could build to a top-of-the-chart Category 5 storm, with winds of 155 mph or higher," according to "National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield". NHC's projection for Katrina's most likely path is above. According to the Red Cross, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said that "'a storm this big heading directly toward it'" was unprecedented. (Relief efforts can be found at the above link.) Preparing for the worst, I extend my condolences to those whose lives will be affected, and to the survivors my deepest sympathies, by this storm.

"Brothers Grimm" Sucked, Don't See It

Oh, the power of advertising. Seems that previews can make any piece of shit movie look good. This applies wholeheartedly to Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm", which I saw yesterday. My disappointment, to put it delicately, revolves around the confused plot and cookie-cutter characters. Some funny moments, I guess. And then there is the inexplicably weird 'gingerbread' thing. Nevermind. It's ... not worth your time.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Thinly Veiled Censorship Regime?

My first thought was, What's this? We're flagging our fellow bloggers now, letting Blogger determine whether to remove our sites? Ah, only for "objectionable content". Unfortunately, we don't seem to know what that exactly means. It's rather vague. We're told that it's a method for the blogosphere to rid itself of hate, and like most people, I don't hate. It's pointless and stupid, and inherently irrational. That's not the game I'm in.

Unfortunately for me, some of my thoughts (delivered more often than not in a self-described ranting, random manner) may inspire offense to, say, some people. I don't know. It may arise an objection, whatever it could be, from someone. Can't say. I just don't want to see a sort of witchhunt come of this, where no one feels free to exercise freedom of thought and expression and we all start to turn against each other, a community where everyone's a snitch. I don't want that, and I hope most others don't, either. It would be a real shame for a great democratic medium like our blogosphere to become something like that.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sorry for the cynical post (below). It will not happen again.

Anyways, apologies aside, I've been considering a change for the name of this here blog: the Center for Random Rantage. What a stupid title. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything better. Peace.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Blogs and military misadventures are an odd mix. That said, Wired magazine, in its latest issue (August 2005, 13.08) has an article out, entitled "The Blogs of War", that talks about very courageous bloggers on the front-lines of the war in Iraq. (Well, wherever they have access to a computer and have the time.) And, as well, how this whole phenomenon is interacting with the Pentagon and its attempted censorship regime.

In the article, written by John Hockenberry, we hear of "an oddball online Greek chorus narrating the conflict in Iraq," whose "core group" consists "of about 100 regulars and hundreds more loosely organized activists, angry contrarians, jolly testosterone fuckups, self-appointed pundits, and would-be poets" in the milblogosphere that the Iraq war has created. The 'milbloggers', Hockenberry writes, "offer an unprecedented real-time real-life window on war and the people who wage it," and "constitute a rich subculture with a refreshing candor about the war, expressing views ranging from far right to far left." (It's good that it's a full spectrum.) But, though "the Pentagon officially tolerates this free-form online journalism and in-house peanut gallery," some measures are underway to filter out (i.e. censor), say, "casualty information".

"A new policy instituted this spring requires all military bloggers inside Iraq to register with their units," which seems reminiscent of the 'pooling' method by which media units were assigned to combat units during the first Iraq war. From Camp Falcon, stationed "in southern Baghdad", Cpt. Danjel Bout blogs to 365 and a Wakeup, which Hockenberry describes as "one of the most genuine accounts anywhere of what life is like for a soldier in Iraq." While the Pentagon appears ineffectual in its attempts to control the flow of information from soldiers writing from the battlefield, there has been at least one major instance of military censorship.

Just ask Michael Cohen. He was "a major and doctor with the 67th Combat Support Hospital based in Mosul," and his blog - 67cshdocs - "touched a nerve at the Pentagon late last year" when he recounted the medical response to the grisly attack against the mess hall tent there in December. Dr. Cohen was told by "'some people in the chain of command,'" as he tells it, that the details given on his blog "violate Army regulations," to which Cohen expressed shock. The Pentagon has shut it down, and so "Cohen stopped blogging" and is now "in Germany" (presumably at Ramstein AFB). However, you can still access his blog; the Internet Archive crawl has more-or-less all of it there.

Another target was "Army reservist Jason Hartley's popular and notoriously irreverent blog," Just Another Soldier. (Although it's been officially 'shut down', for some reason it's still online - well, another victory for democracy.) Hartley, who wrote on June 27, 2004, of coming across a Shi'a mosque that been blown up (concluding, "The Iraqis are as busy being assholes to each other as they are to us"), blogs no longer. He wrote: "Being a soldier is to live in a world of shit. From the pogues who cook my food and do my laundry to the Apache pilots and the Green Berets who do all the Hollywood stuff, our lives are in a constant state of suck." Meanwhile, the Pentagon's policy is "that blogs should not reveal any casualty information that could upset next of kin or any details that might jeopardize operational security." (Emphasis added) Hartley, though, was defiant, and continued "blogging a few months" after the Pentagon ordered his blog shut down. He was "demoted from sergeant to specialist," and since "returned to civilian life, though he's still in the reserves," with a memoir due to be published in September.

The milblogs that appear to rank highest are CBFTW's My War: Killing Time In Iraq, Sgt. Missick's A Line In The Sand, The Mudville Gazette, 1st Lt. Neil Prakash's Armor Geddon, Blackfive and 2Slick's Forum. I, for one, recommend reading them, and taking stock of the fact that, otherwise, that is if not for soldiers' blogs, the only journalists anywhere near the combat zone would be confined to the Green Zone, embedded at Camp Victory and surrounded by Bremer walls.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This is the continuation to a post on ZMag Blog, in response to a commenter by the alias "the-abyss", whose post can be found here:

... America is the greatest because of the unparalleled level of liberty its people enjoy, and the potential that follows from the responsibility granted by that freedom is enormous. We also should take pride in the absence of established religion in government, the oft-cited 'checks and balances' that prevent a tyranny of the majority, and protections for minorities. Sorry for the civics lesson, but those help define what makes us great; our greatness ought not deny that of others throughout the world, either, and doesn't. It ought offend the most sincerely enamored of the ideal of America such as myself that these assholes in our White House are actively orchestrating the decimation of any hope of global cooperation to root out, say, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. And these patroned leaders wrap themselves in the very flag they tarnish all the while. It's so very sad.

Monday, August 01, 2005

It appears that monarchy reigns supreme: King Fahd of Saudi Arabia has died; the Prince has succeeded him to the throne. Congress is in recess; the President exploited his emergency appointment power to send John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations, until the end of 2006 pending confirmation by the Senate. Emergency! Obstructionist Senators (including turncoat Republican Voinovich) are blocking a radical unilateralist for some reason! (Abuse of power, anyone?) Oh, of course not.