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Thursday, June 29, 2006

When Trolls Get Locked Out

Trolls Don't Take It Well When Locked Out of Message Boards...

Israeli Smack-Down

Israel keeps up pressure on (pounds crap out of) Gaza

Palestinian officials held; settler's body found

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Striking from the air, land and the sea, Israeli forces Thursday fired on Gaza in the midst of intensified clashes with Palestinian militants (terrorist scum) who have been holding an Israeli soldier captive for four days, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israel's navy pounded northern Gaza, firing from the eastern Mediterranean Sea, while Israeli aircraft hit targets in the north and the south. IDF tanks joined in the barrage.

The strikes came as Israeli security forces overnight arrested 64 Palestinians in the West Bank, suspected of being involved in terrorist (note, not militant) activities, the Israeli army said.

Palestinian sources said those arrested included dozens of lawmakers (thugs) from the ruling Palestinian party Hamas (like Israel said: terrorists).

Those arrested were not taken into custody as a bargaining chip for Cpl. Gilad Shalit's release, the army said. (Too bad; its a good idea).

The raids came amid word that a body found early Thursday near Ramallah was that of Eliyahu Yitzhak Asheri, 18, a West Bank settler seized by Palestinian militants (terrorists) hours after Shalit was kidnapped early Sunday, Israeli security sources. (Hmmm, where's Amnesty International when you need 'em?)

The body has been transferred to the Pathological Institute in Israel where a formal identification will be made, the security sources said.

On Wednesday, the Popular Resistance Committees (terrorists) displayed the identity card of the Jewish settler the group said it kidnapped Sunday, and said the captive would be "butchered" (I mentioned they were terrorists, right?) unless Israel stopped its incursion into Gaza. (Right, stop coming into Gaza when we kill Israelis or we will kill Israelis)

The discovery of the body was the latest in a series of events that began early Sunday, when Palestinian militants (terrorists! Hello? t-e-r-r-o-r-i-s-t-s!) tunneled into Israel and attacked a military post near Israel's border with Egypt and Gaza, kidnapping Shalit and killing two other soldiers.

Israeli troops immediately entered southern Gaza in the hours after the attack in an attempt to find the soldier and destroy the tunnel. After destroying the tunnel, the soldiers moved out and massed along the edge of Gaza.

The troops moved back into Gaza early Wednesday, and the operation continued Thursday with Israeli aircraft hitting targets in Khan Yunis in the south and in Gaza City to the north.

Israeli intelligence indicates Shalit is being held in the Khan Yunis refugee (terrorist) camp.

IDF distributed fliers in Beit Hanoun, Khan Yunis and the Sajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, warning that the Israeli army is operating in the area for an unknown period of time in order to bring Shalit home. (The flier said, "Give us back our guy, you jihadist smacktards, or we're gonna break more shit!)

Israeli tanks could be seen firing into the area as dusk fell. An Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis targeted what the Israeli military said was a storehouse for Qassam (translation: Goat Banger) rockets. (Hey! No fair. Those were civilian rockets!)

Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters Wednesday that he had approved new operations in northern Gaza in an effort to stop the firing of the homemade (made of construction paper, Elmer's Glue and macaroni) rockets into Israel.

The latest rocket attack happened early Thursday, when a Goat Banger landed in Sderot, Israel, causing no injuries, the Israeli military reported.

Cabinet members arrested

Hours before the 64 arrests in the West Bank, Israeli troops rounded up four members of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority Cabinet (terrorists) and four other lawmakers (terrorists).

Hamas' militant (terrorist) wing (as opposed to their non-militant wing?) is one of three Palestinian groups (terrorists) that claimed responsibility for the soldier's kidnapping.

The four Cabinet members (terrorists) arrested were Labor (terrorism) Minister Mohammad al-Barghouti, Minister of Jerusalem (Main Target) Affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh, Minister of Local Governments (Enforcers) Issa al Jaabari and Religious Affairs (Jihad) Minister Naif al Rajoub, the sources said.

Finance (Extortion) Minister Omar Abdul Razek was being questioned by soldiers, the sources said.

Like the 64 other Palestinians (terrorists) arrested in the West Bank raids, Israel said the ministers (chief terrorists) are suspected of being involved in terrorist (not militant?) activities and were not taken into custody as a bargaining chip for the soldier's release.

However, chief Palestinian negotiator (liar) Saeb Erakat denied that claim and denounced Israel's "mass arrest" of the Palestinian officials (terrorists with a badge) .

"I think it's the wrong move," Erakat said in a CNN phone interview from Jericho. "First, Razek owes me 50 dinars. Second, we're all terrorists, so why pick on these 64? Wait a minute...Let me start again."

"I think that Israeli attempts to bargain through bombardment of power stations and bridges and arrests of parliamentarians and ministers is just adding to the complexities." ("I think that Israeli attempts to punish us for being terrorist dickheads by waging war on us makes it very difficult for us to wage war on them.")

The Israeli military has targeted the Palestinian (terrorist) infrastructure in its attacks over the past 48 hours.

Israeli warplanes have knocked out bridges connecting northern and southern Gaza and destroyed a power station in an effort to prevent militants (terrorists) from moving the captured soldier outside southern Gaza, according to the IDF.

On Monday, three Palestinian militant (terrorist) groups -- the military wing (there's that wing-thing again) of Hamas (terrorists), the Popular Resistance Committees (bureaucratic terrorists), and the previously unknown Army of Islam (terr-c'mon, I have to say it?) -- claimed responsibility for Shalit's kidnapping. They issued a statement saying they would exchange information about the soldier if Israel freed all Palestinian women (female terrorists) and youths (immature terrorists) under 18 who are in Israeli jails.

The Israeli government quickly rejected that offer and other calls to release Shalit as part of a prisoner exchange.

Israeli intelligence officials said the militants (terrorists) had hatched the plan for the kidnapping and proposed prisoner swap.

Palestinian militant (terrorist) leaders vowed that Israel's incursion into Gaza would succeed only "over our dead bodies."

The Israeli army later responded, "HOhhhkay! Comin' right up!"

Pressure on Syria

Wednesday evening, Israeli jets buzzed the home of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (big-ass terrorist) in Ladekye (translation: "evil lair"), outside Damascus (terrorist central). Israeli television reported that the president (uh, yeah, 'president') was at home at the time.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres complained that Syria (The Wal-Mart of terrorism) allowed the exiled Hamas political leader (head terrorist) Khalid Meshaal -- operating out of Damascus (terrorist central) -- to order the kidnapping of the Israeli corporal. The flyover was seen as an attempt to bring pressure on al-Assad to rein in Meshaal. ("Knock it off, or you may be next!")

Syrian state television called the Israeli flyover "an unacceptable, hostile and provocative act." Syria said its anti-aircraft batteries fired on the Israeli warplanes and chased them away. (Israeli pilots laughed all the way home)

Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, told CNN's "The Situation Room" that the flight was "mostly theatrical." "I loved Cats, by the way. Why did it close?" Moustapha asked a flustered Wolf Blitzer. He also denied any Syrian role in the current standoff.

"Syria is not involved whatsoever in what's happening there," he said, referring to Gaza. "The only reason that the violence is taking place there is the continuous occupation by the Israelis and the daily killing of Palestinians (terrorists)."

"If the Israelies would just leave the Palestians in peace, then all this violence would end," the ambassador told Blitzer. "Except, of course, for the killing of Jews, but that goes without saying."



Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Self-Regard and Selfishness

It is in the nature of human beings to be self-regarding, which is perhaps best. For the vast majority of people, if not everyone, knowing yourself and what is best for you is pretty obvious a conclusion. It is not selfishness, mind you, but consideration of oneself and your own interests. Selfishness would be the consideration of yourself without regard to anyone else or their interests.

Of course, one can be selfish without realizing it. You can be so obsessed with your own thoughts, or feelings or desires that you do not even think of anything else. You are not consciously disregarding others in your thinking; it just doesn’t enter your mind.

I got a reminder of this just recently when I found out someone I knew had been dealing with the terminal illness of a close relative. Suddenly issues I had been “dealing with” seemed, well, no, WERE, pretty petty in comparison.

The relative has passed away.

I will send my condolences and make sure to deliver a slap upside my own head to make sure what I wrote above sinks in.

Ready! Aim!

I must admit that I have not followed all the ins and outs of the "Kosola" controversy with all its twists, turns and dark portents.

However, the idea that the Democratic Leadership (or at least Hillary) might be finally gunning for Kos, who has been sniping at them, gives me a warm tingling feeling in my nether regions.

Okay, maybe that's overstating it, but this is a gunfight I'd love to watch from the top of the Saloon, my boots up on the railing and a bowl of popcorn on my belly.

Frankly, I want to root for both equally in that I hope the carnage is bloody awful. May both aim true and empty their revolvers before its over.

If I had to pick a favorite, I'd pick the DNC/Hillary by default, as I would like nothing better than watch Kos take a serious tumble.

Do I feel bad that the weight of the Democratic machine and Hillary's dirty trick squad would be used against another little guy, an individual citizen, even if its Kos?

Naw.

Screw 'em.

** Update : Looks like there may be others looking to join the fracas...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dealing with Anti-Social People?

Okay, I took some time to think more on the issue, and realized I was not getting to the point I wanted. To get to the point, allow me a little side-track.

Graffiti in New York City has been always been a problem, although its heyday has since come and gone. Hailed by art by some, derided as blight by others, I certainly agree with the latter. Covering bridges, buildings and subway cars, at one point the “art” seemed to grow like a fungus and spread all across the city. The spread of grafitti seemed a metaphor for the general spread of crime and disorder in many urban areas, not New York alone.















Image from http://www.seenworld.com/


And, okay, a lot of it was art, no quotes, in the sense that some of it actually had some artistic merit and required some skill. In terms of quality, a good portion of it could be considered art, and it was a strange feeling to be both repulsed by the act of vandalism, but also admiring of the skill and/or talent involved. While still destructive, there at the same time was at least something creative in it; something marginally redeemable about it if tried hard enough to look.













Google Images

Over time, various factors saw the decline in the prevalence in grafitti. One, law enforcement targeting the vandalism itself, and other contributing lawlessness . Prevention also helped; the MTA no longer leaves rail cars unguarded overnight to be easy prey for vandals as they once did, for example.

Another factor was the adoption of paint-resistant materials. Used extensively on new subway cars, these new materials make it very hard for paint to stick to the cars in the first place, and made later removal much easier. The result has been that the era of fully adorned fleets of multi-colored subway cars is over.





Image from http://www.seenworld.com/

However, what replaced it was far more insidious and ugly. Now denied the ability to easily paint a car extensively, and having whatever they "created" easily and quickly removed, the social misfits adopted another method.

Enter scratchitti.

If the vandals were denied their paint cans and even there markers for their “artwork”, they would use screwdrivers, files and sandpaper to make their mark. Now, instead of letters or pictures of dripping paint on a subway, you were treated to hasty and erratic gouges in glass and metal having no real merit except to announce, “Dickhead X was here.”

(This expenditure of millions of dollars to make the subways grafitti proof, is a great example of the problem with instituting technological solutions for social problems. )

Whereas you could at least TRY and make the case that the graffiti of an earlier area was some sort of attempt for the poor and disenfranchised to exercise artistic and social expression, scratchitti is none of that. It is graffiti boiled to its core essence, which is selfish destruction. There is nothing redeemable at all about it, no matter how you try to twist your perception to find it.

For that reason scratchitti riles me like plain old graffiti does not. While both are vandalism, scratchitti angers me far more, and the reason why has something to do with the fact that there is nothing in it. Nothing. It is a void; a completely vacant act of hatred. Its the mark of the something else, something darker.

I guess that is why my last past was off the mark. I thought the beef was with anti-social behavior, but it goes deeper than that. I realize now I am talking about nihilism.

*More later*

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dealing With Difficult People

While I was growing up, I lived with a relative who became extremely difficult to deal with over time. Living with them through the years became a daily battle of wills, either in direct confrontations or in desperate attempts to ignore them. It used to seem that the main issue was that this person was extremely self-centered, and I, and the other members of the household, were in comparison, not. Later, I would come to realize that the issue was a lot more serious than that. I came to realize the person was not wholly rational. This made dealing with them that much more exasperating because how does one deal with irrationality when one cannot escape it? The only way to deal with it is to ignore it, which only works for a time, or to escape or avoid it entirely if one can.

To say it was a difficult time (made much more so because it stretched over years) would be an understatement. I grew to hate this person and let's just say we never really reconciled.

The experience left some scars in many ways, but I guess, just like a lot of things, it had its upside as well. The upside was that it gave me...

Huh, now what was the upside again? I was thinking that it gave me some ability and skill with dealing with difficult people, but that's not quite right. I have no special powers when it comes to people who are annoying or taxing or, let’s just say it, jerks or loons. What I do have is a pretty low tolerance for them, actually.

I suppose one thing I did gain was a certain amount of patience in dealing with them, but not a kind or insightful or forgiving patience. Rather, it was more like a staid, calculating patience that would allow me to either ignore them and move on, or bide my time before taking them on at the best opportunity. The “ignore and move on” part comes from knowing that in many instances, dealing with such people is a waste of time and energy. The calculating patience comes in when you are forced to deal with them and then need to form a strategy.

Why I am even thinking along these lines now is due to rediscovering what an asylum an internet message board can be. Split between the obviously unbalanced and those just looking to cause trouble, it makes one wonder how long such open boards will remain. It is sort of like having a public park nowadays. While some people are responsible and respectful, there are those who trash the places either out of malice or indifference.

Like every technology, there are pluses and minuses, and many times they are flip sides of the same coin. The connectivity of the internet is a great example. What a marvelous thing that allows people from all around the world from all walks of life and many nations to connect and interact so easily. Really a splendid marvel.

Then again, it does put cretins in easy contact with you as well, does it not?

I mean, the internet and all the attendant technologies really help you broaden the breadth of humanity with whom you can come in contact with, no doubt. And you will find that there are great many good people out there, no matter where they hail from.

Unfortunately, in addition to discovering the universality of decency and intelligence and community, you will also become acquainted with the selfish, fanatical and enthusiastically dim.

After a hiatus, I attempted to engage in some discussion on a blog whose author I have a great respect for, both as a person and for her writing. Unfortunately, one of the first posts I read when coming back to her was one regarding Trolls. This was a warning sign.

Not being an internet neophyte, I know what Trolls are, and have come head-to-head with them myself. I have even dueled with them, and although have come out on top, it has been an exhausting and ultimately futile exercise. Part of the reason I had stayed away from message threads was because of their corrosive presence on the content of the blog itself. I have over time, however, apparently forgotten what a blight they are.

It's like this. If you are a normal, rational and decent person, you are not going to want to listen to a Neo-Nazi, Black Israelite, Marxist, 9/11 conspiracist or Larouche supporter harangue and spew on the street corner. You would not want to waste your time listening what you know is obvious drivel and hate-filled invective to boot. If one of them offers you their "literature", you are not going to take it, let alone read it, either.

Being on an open comment thread, however, no matter how rational and non-extremist it may be, is like subscribing to their newsletters. Engaging with them on the thread is like taking their call. Even just entering the thread to look around is like choosing to walk down the street where you know the crazies have their rickety soapboxes set up.

Do not get me wrong. There are plenty of smart, fair people out there who even when disagreeing strenuously, can keep things at a civil level. Even anger and biting comments can surface, and rational people can keep it at least polite.

What I am talking about are the nuts and the fanatics and the ones who are just, let's face it, dicks for pleasure. The dicks are the worse, because while the nuts are unnerving and the fanatics are exhausting, the dicks are infuriating. You can tell one because their comments are directly phrased and pointed in order to elicit an angry response, not to prove any point or even take a particular position. Its all flash, no fire.

None of these jokers would have any power if others would just ignore them, but that becomes like herding cats; sometimes like herding angry, rabid cats. There will always be those who think they can win the argument, or does not know what they are getting into, or who is simply another Troll in a different form. In the end, the Trolls will feed off each other if no one else bites and they will still manage to splatter everyone else with the gore while they try to engage in decent conversation.

I guess why I am ruminating on all this is trying to come up with strategies or general guidelines for dealing with what is not worth dealing with, and how to best sort out the two as quickly as possible. Not just in terms of message boards (there is always the delete button), but in more general terms. More on this later, perhaps.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yes I DO Question Their Patriotism - Episode II

Please read here for background.

"MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Seven people were in custody Friday after FBI agents and police carried out raids against an alleged terrorist plot that may have included the Sears Tower in Chicago and Miami's FBI offices as possible targets, law enforcement sources said....

...Federal sources said five of the seven men were Americans..."

Okay, these gents are innocent until proven guilty, but let me make a general blanket statement.

If you are an American planning to bomb our buildings, you are not a patriot.

Update: Michelle Malkin has more on the Miami case and more conclusive examples of unpatriotic behavior.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yes, I DO Question Their Patriotism

Part of what I am doing here is to dismantle the suppositions and pre-conceived notions that have been erected in our public square of debate as untouchable. There are some memes and supposedly inviolate concepts which are used to try and stifle that debate. It’s a cheap way of trying to prove your point by curtailing the argument from the get go. Thomas Sowell discussed this tactic in “The Vision of the Annointed”.

One of these is the idea of that you cannot question someone’s patriotism. To do so is a scurrilous and slimy, and it is supposedly akin to Red-Baiting and McCarthyism. The idea is that questioning someone’s patriotism is a cheap-shot and a method of intimidation. The meme is that no matter what someone’s point of view, they are all patriots and simply disagree with policies or issues. Of course, this is something that only applies to Democrats and Liberals, as we will see, but more on that later. For now, let’s define our terms, and then point out that is very much possible to question someone’s patriotism, and to prove that they are unpatriotic.

We need to define our terms, because much of what happens today is the warping or muddling or terms in order to suit anyone’s viewpoint. The attempt to confuse or twist the very meaning of words is insidious in itself, but it part of a larger evil. It is Orwell’s “1984” come to life in all of its ugly absurdity. We’ll deal with that in another post.

Let’s take the definition of “Patriotism” first. Source: Merriam-Webster Online

pa·tri·ot·ism
Pronunciation: 'pA-trE-&-"ti-z&m, chiefly British 'pa-Function: noun: love for or devotion to one's country

Love for or devotion to one’s country. Okay, so, to say that someone is NOT patriotic, is to say that they do NOT love their country. Let’s look at “Patriot”:

pa·tri·ot
Pronunciation: 'pA-trE-&t, -"├Ąt, chiefly British 'pa-trE-&tFunction: nounEtymology: Middle French patriote compatriot, from Late Latin patriota, from Greek patriOtEs, from patria lineage, from patr-, patEr father: one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.

A Patriot is one who loves his or her country, and SUPPORTS ITS AUTHORITY AND INTERESTS.

Okay, so, based on this, we can say that someone who is not a patriot would be one who does not love their country, and does not support its interests. Remember, Merriam-Webster and the English language says it, not me. Got an issue with the definitions? Complain to them, either the company or the Brits.

Just for clarification, let us just take a look at “Love”:

love
Function: verbInflected Form(s): loved; lov·ingtransitive senses1 : to hold dear : CHERISH2 a : to feel a lover's passion, devotion, or tenderness for b (1) : CARESS (2) : to fondle amorously (3) : to copulate with3 : to like or desire actively : take pleasure in 4 : to thrive in

To love one’s country, you would hold it dear, cherish it. (Interesting #4, as well, to THRIVE in it). I'll ignore the copulate part.

So, someone who is a NOT a patriot would be someone who does not hold their country dear, or who does not like it with any sort of intensity. Thus, if we were to find people who fit this description, would we not find someone who was unpatriotic, and thus could legitimately question their patriotism? Yes, logic says we would. Now, can we find anyone like that?

Enter Natalie Manes, of the Dixie Chicks fame.

Now Natalie got some heat two years ago for some comments she made about her President while overseas at a concert. The appropriateness of that comment in that situation can be debated, and it has been. I had my thoughts about Manes’ patriotism back then, but I am willing to at least concede it is a matter of debate. The following is not. This is Manes speaking recently to the London Telegraph:

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Now, that statement speaks all for itself, really. It would be hard to write a more conclusive statement about Manes’ patriotism, or lack thereof, than this, and she is the one who made it. Knowing, however, that there are the dense and ideologically driven out there which will resist even this bald statement for what it is, so let me reprint it, replacing “patriot” and “patriotism” with the Merriam-Webster definitions we discussed above:

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for love or devotion for one's country," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be someone who loves and supports their country? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about devotion to their country."

I mean, case closed, right? If someone were to come up to you and declare the above, and then denied that they were not patriotic, would you not think them either hypocritical or insane? The conclusion: Natalie Manes is a person who is not a patriot. She says it in her own words. Period.

Okay, having demolished this idea that you can’t question someone’s patriotism, we will periodically return to this to explore other people’s statements, and using logic and these definitions, establish whether are not they can be called unpatriotic. It’s a long list so it will take some time. If your disagree with my conclusion here so far, then, well, you are flat wrong. Reread it. Tell me how I am off base. That should be amusing since I am not, but go ahead.

Why I am Here

To take part in the struggle. There is a war being waged in the real world, and there is another one taking part in the public square, of which Cyberspace had become a great part. We are engaged, as a civilization, in a deadly struggle, and its prosecution is being hampered by twisted thinking and deliberate disinformation. It is fueled by a virulent ideology and by childish self-interest which is rampant, persistent and utterly without moral compass.

The title of the blog comes from a co-worker of mine, a term he used when discussing the shameless drivel which is currently peddled and revered by supposed intellectuals, learned men and those of the “reality-based community”. As soon as I heard it, I laughed and the promptly informed him I would steal it, and I did. It quite succinctly sums up weak structure modern intellectual and political thought is built on, but also evokes the twisted maze in which it resides.

Here is the deal. You and I are being lied to by people with their own agenda, or informed by people who in reality are not well-informed. I do not claim to have all, or even most of the answers, nor do I believe that I am incapable of being mistaken. I leave that to the rabid ideologues. I DO know that I am surrounded by a miasma of, and there is no delicate way to put it, bullshit. It is layered thick, it is layered high, and plowing through it is a nasty, exhausting business. However, though countering it is a monumental task, everyone with a wit of intelligence, a modicum of self-respect and at least some reverence for honest debate has a responsibility to try and refute it.

This is my attempt to do just that.