Shtupping some strange…

A compilation of today’s Landsmanisms from the comments below…

"Next thing you know, this guy or some other anti-American commie pinko

Taliban sympathizer will be telling us that Cheney was drunk, or maybe
was shtupping some strange when in Texas."

"Absinthe?  Didn’t that make the fart go Honda?"

"Molly saw a crane?  Give her a red badge!  (dontcha love a  literary reference?!)"  (Frank wanders away muttering about courage, sort of a Mutter Courage, actually).

"Great post, Frank.  Seriously."  (Frank wanders away mumbling aw shux.)

Degas, Sickert, Toulouse-Lautrec

If you were going to be in Washington DC for the Freedom 2 Connect conference, and you arrived a day or so early, might you not want to check out the exhibit at The Phillips Collection?  On the right you see a picture of Frank and Beth after a day of travel.  They look like they would enjoy an art show.  Oh boy.  But maybe later.  After another glass or two of absinthe. 

Interop Fantasy Bubble…


I saw the news last week, oh boy… the RSS army wants to fight some wars.
There were some standing there,
But I didn’t really care…
I only paused to stare…
But having read the book…
It didn’t turn me on.

Now here’s some news:  Syndication is free.  Syndication is easy.  Interoperability in a semantic context is neither.  Interop doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to do with RSS unless you want it too.  Bloggers are largely representative of the consumer market in the vanity publishing industry.  Most of us aren’t worth a bucket of warm piss, content wise.  That’s why we deserve RSS.  Because it sucks, it’s free, and the cockroaches whose dreams are informed by the 17th century tulip industry have emerged from the rocks overturned by their fascist war in southwest asia to proclaim that a new market bubble is rising, like swamp gas in the ruined wetlands where your city has sited its sewage disposal plant.

One doesn’t want to sound too negative.  There’s important work going on. In real life there are semantic web technologies under development to support cross-community bioinformatic data integration and professional collaboration.  In the blogosphere we have Ookles.  In the real world we have ongoing efforts to secure XML for RDF applications in the financial services industry.  In the blogosphere we have Kaboodlers.

Disclosure and apologia:  I have no clue what Ookles is or what Kaboodle does.  Some of my best friends work with companies that are trying to rip off the Google karma phonologically.  I particularly want to apologize to Scott and Betsy and anybody else who might take personally this little rant regarding RSS and a bucket of warm piss.  Syndication is cool.  RSS is an adequate syndication tool for free content with no security requirements, especially if the content really doesn’t have to get from here to there.  Harvard University’s Berkman Center enjoys a "special" place in the tulip fields of the RSS world.  In the real world, MIT, ERCIM, and Keio are doing special work too.

Bush and Torture

by John F. Sullivan, former CIA polygraphy
interrogator in Vietnam.

During Mr. Bush’s press conference on January
19, one of the correspondents asked the president to clarify his position on
torture. “Americans don’t torture,” summed up his response. I don’t know if Mr.
Bush was suggesting that Americans didn’t torture in the past, weren’t currently
engaging in acts of torture, or wouldn’t engage in such acts in the future, but
I do know that during my five years in the U.S. Army and 31 years as a polygraph
examiner/interrogator with the CIA, I became aware that Americans did

Torture and prisoner abuse have been a part of every war in which
America has engaged, at least in my lifetime, but was never a sanctioned policy.
Torture has been to the U.S. Government, and police agencies which use it,
analogous to what sexual misconduct on the part of Catholic priests has been to
the Catholic Church: publicly denied, privately acknowledged, and occasionally
tacitly approved. That changed with 9/11.

Vice President Cheney’s
suggestion that in response to 9/11 we may have to go to the “dark side” of
intelligence in our fight against terrorism, the administration’s declaring al
Qaeda and other terrorists as enemy combatants, not POWs, in order to deny them
protection under the Geneva Convention, and the Department of Justice’s
memorandum of August 2024, which redefined torture, made it clear that “the
gloves were off” and that in the pursuit of terrorists, “anything goes.” Torture
went from being a “dirty little secret” to a condoned policy.

Of the
aforementioned, the most insidious was the Department of Justice’s August 2024
memorandum which defined a coercive technique as torture, “…only when it induced
pain equivalent to what a person experiencing death or organ failure might
suffer.” This is an obscenity.

How does one determine when an individual
being “coerced” has reached the point of being tortured – by the decibel level
of the victim’s screams? I assume the person making that decision is the
interrogator. If so, what training has he or she had in making such assessments?
I would hope that no doctor would ever participate in such an exercise and
contend that any doctor, who would, not only violates his Hippocratic Oath but
is also right down there with the infamous Dr. Mengele.

In analyzing Mr.
Bush’s “Americans don’t torture,” statement, I conclude that he based his
statement on the DOJ’s definition of torture and that those pictured in the Abu
Ghraib photos didn’t meet his criteria for torture. I would like to think that
Mr. Bush does not share Rush Limbaugh’s view that what happened at Abu Ghraib
was nothing more than a fraternity prank, but am concerned that many Americans
might agree with Limbaugh.

My first reaction to those pictures was rage –
rage at the sheer sadism depicted; rage at the stupidity of those who allowed
the torture, rage at the lack of cultural awareness, and lastly, rage over the
fact that those pictures were going to cost American GIs their lives.

Abu Ghraib pictures make a great recruiting poster for al Qaeda, and I posit
that more Muslims were recruited for the Jihad as a result of those pictures
than GIs were saved as a result of information coming from torture

It seems logical to me that an al Qaeda/terrorist fighting in
Iraq, who saw those pictures, might be more motivated as well as more inclined
to fight harder so as not to get captured. Do the battle cries “Remember the
Alamo,” “Remember the Maine,” or “Remember 9/11” ring any bells? How about
“Remember Abu Ghraib?”

What are the implications of those pictures for
any American GIs who might get captured? Can anyone imagine the reaction in
America if similar pictures of American GIs were coming out of Iraq? Were that
the case, I don’t think our military would have to worry about recruitment
shortfalls for as long as the war on terror is waged.

Senator McCain, in
commenting on his ordeal in North Vietnam and in referring to his torturers,
noted that one of the things that sustained him and his fellow POWs was their
belief that, “We are better than this.” The Abu Ghraib photos seem to indicate
that we are not better than we were back then.

The above essay was posted by Elaine at Blog Sisters.  Jeneane brought it to my attention by cross posting it at Allied.  It’s subject matter that requires broad discussion, and I hope it will continue to be cross posted widely.

First crane flew by today…

Along about sunset I took Molly for a walk across the field, which has a little bit of a roll to it.  The rolling terrain and the long shadows cast by the windbreak make for a real pretty walking out.  Near the house, heading north, all is in shade, but a few hundred yards ahead the sun lights up the field with a dusky yellow light that gladdens you just to look at it.

The dog always starts out with a leaping gait, bounding high all four feet off the ground, springing ahead like deer bouncing away.  Then she settles into a gallop and circles back around me before heading out at a more business-like trot, soaking up the local sniffage.  She’ll pause at the brush pile for the scent of bunnies.  She’ll spring off into the weeds at the rustle of a field mouse.  Today, when she settled down, she enjoyed walking on the crusted snow.

I lumbered along, breaking through with every step, looking for the easier passage on the shallow side of the drifts.  Molly has a lighter step and she’s learned to walk out across the surface without breaking the crust and dropping shoulder deep into the snow.

We walked out into the light of the setting sun and saw a couple of car loads of bunny hunters calling it a day up by the public hunting ground.  I doubt they had much luck.  They’ve scared all the bunnies down to our place.   Maybe they were out attorney hunting, or looking for crows

I heard the washboard scrawking sound of a Sandhill Crane from the west.  It took me a minute to locate him.  There were a couple of small flocks of Canada geese up there too.  The crane flew west to east just south of us, calling over and over, his call echoing off the lake.  He dropped out of sight behind the trees east of the barn, on a long glide path toward his nest somewhere out in the marsh.  It was twenty degrees or so, but with the light breeze it felt more like zero.  Since the crane had turned me around towards home, we headed back.  Coming out of the field around the end of the windbreak, Molly paused to be leashed.  I snapped the lead on her and we ran up the yard into the house where we made our report regarding the first crane of 2024. 

This just in from Ghana…

My mother says that my first real word, after the “dada-baba-mama”
pleasantries, was “perfection.” Someone nearby said it, and I grabbed
onto a guiding principle. It might as well have been “methamphetamine,”
for all the promise of lasting contentment that it held. For those of
us crippled by ideals, love is most possible when it’s already
circumscribed by departure, or safely past.

Dervala Hanley, whose Frappr map says she lives on the equator in the sea south of Ghana

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