The Idiom

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kid VArious Is All Over This!

Meat ice cream!

The "alternative ice cream" offered to animals instead of their usual fare has been a big hit with large cats, apes and wolves, Zurich Zoo said in a statement. "The ice cream should at least offer the animals a temporary way to cool down," it said.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hopefully, Hizbullah Miscalculated

As Private Gomer would say: Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
BEIRUT, Lebanon - A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react with an all-out offensive after the capture of two soldiers, the first acknowledgment by the group that it had miscalculated the consequences of the raid two weeks ago.
That's so unfair. They're fighting back!

Kid Various has been wanting to comment on this situation for two weeks now, but what really is there to say that hasn't been said?

The Kid's power's of strategic prognostication are being put to the test. In the first few days, where the world reacted with horror (horror we tell you!) that the Israelis were not only going after Hizbullah directly, but doing things like bombing the Beirut airport and bridges conecting Lebanon with the outside world. Although puzzling to the average guy who thinks that the Beirut airport is totally disconnected from Hizbullah and good only for getting a Cinnabon on the way to that meeting in Istanbul, it was quite obvious (to The Kid at least) that Israel was "prepping the battlefield."

In short, The Kid went out on a limb and made specific predictions to friends and family that the operation would look something like this:

  1. Israel would cut off all possible routes of supply and rearmament to Hizbullah. This means destroying the capacity of Syria to resupply via air (thus the airport), sea or land (destruction of roads and bridges.) More importantly, in addition to preventing resupply, the Israeli bombing of transportation infrastructure is meant to cut off Hizbullah's avenues of escape.
  2. Israel would continue to pound Hizbullah positions and degrade their defenses on the ground, as well as look to destroy as many rocket/missile installations as possible and attempt to kill as many Hizbullah commanders as possible to disorient and fragment the enemy.
  3. But, as the goal of Israel is to destroy Hizbullah as an effective force (which cannot be done from the air) this week, we would see Israeli forces roll into Lebanon like a tsunami. The goal of this invasion would not be to occupy Lebanon (for the Israelis, been there/done that) but rather to root out and destroy every bunker, every rocket and kill or capture as many Hizbullah enemy as possible. Almost as quickly, Israeli forces would roll out once they had accomplished that mission.
Obviously, most of the Hizbullah fighters will escape. Israel cannot prevent that without a massive killing operation. But because of the destruction of the roads and bridges, that means that all the Hizbullah fighters will have to make their way on foot, over the hills into Syria or into the north of Lebanon where the Israelis will not follow. But because they have no way to transport anything other than what they can carry, that means all of their strategic infrastructure will be lost.

All of the missiles, all of the rockets, all of the ammuniton supply, all of the fuel, all of the vehicles, all of the installations, bunkers, radar arrays...everything. It's all gone.

Hizbullah's great advantage, as is the advantage of all terrorist organizations, is mobility. Once they accquired technology, once they accquired infrastructure, they became vulnerable.

When the fighters return, likely leaderless and disorganized, they'll basically be a bunch of kooks running around with AK-47's. Which is a threat the Israelis can live with.

More importantly, the degradation of Hizbullah provides a unique opportunity, if they are smart enough to grab it, for the government of Lebanon. Previously, Lebanon was unable/unwilling to take control of the south and force Hizbullah to disarm, fearing a civil war (threatened by Hizbullah.) But if the Lebanese are willing to work with the Israelis, they can exert sovereign control over their entire country, facing down a weakened Hizbullah before they can be rearmed by Syria and Iran.

One hopes for this outcome. But predictions are always tricky, especially about the future. Although we have seen limited ground incursions into Lebanon by Israel, we have yet to see a build-up of the 2 to 3 divisions that would be necessary for a full scale ground invasion. Israel has claimed that it has no intention of mounting a full invasion of Lebanon. Let's hope that this is strategic misdirection. As Ralph Peters points out, in order to rout Hizbullah and destroy their infrastructure, the Israelis must commit to war on the ground. Anything else, is a Hizbullah victory.

We can't afford a Hizbullah victory.

Which is why the Israelis must crush and humilate them.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is making the rounds of talk shows and think tanks noting that the U.S. is involved in WWIII. Israel, the U.S., Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Hizbullah, Hamas - they're not involved in discrete conflicts or disagreements. It's all interconnected. It's a global ideological struggle bewteen the forces of Liberty and the forces of Islamism. One wonders why it took Newt 5 years to figure this out. It was painfully apparent to Kid Various on September 11, 2001.

Moreso, The Kid is more in favor of understanding the conflict as WWIV, as described in required reading by Norman Podhoretz, for anyone who wants a clearheaded insight into exactly what we have gotten ourselves into. READ IT!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Uh, Hello? Pot? This Is The Kettle...

Oh man, what's the Russian word for chutzpah?
Russia sharply criticized Israel over its onslaught against Lebanon, now in its ninth day, sparked when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Israel's actions have gone "far beyond the boundaries of an anti-terrorist operation" and repeating calls for an immediate cease-fire.
We at The Idiom have but one word for Ivan...


Ship Deborah Poritz To Texas

Apparently, since the old switcheroo is only allowed if you have a (D) next to your name, Tom DeLay's name will be on the ballot in the 22nd district in Texas. A Texas court ruled that if you don't submit a replacement candidate by the time prescribed by the law, you can't change the name on the ballot at the last minute just because it's politically disadvantageous to your party. But it looks now as if DeLay may actually stay and fight.

As part of their plan to take control of the House from Republicans, Democrats have targeted Mr. DeLay's seat in a strongly Republican district in the suburbs of Houston.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Texas Democratic Party's lawsuit to prevent Republicans from substituting another candidate for Mr. DeLay, who in March won 62 percent of the 22nd District's vote in the Republican primary.

That decision is being appealed, but the dispute may not be resolved in time to allow Republicans to mount a strong campaign on behalf of another candidate, prompting speculation that Mr. DeLay may choose instead to make an all-out fight for what would be his 12th term in Congress.
Apparently the judges in TX don't give a f**k about a "meaningful choice" for the voters of the 22nd, but rather have more desire to actually apply the law. Not like here in New Jersey...

Lautenberg unexpectedly returned to politics in 2002, when the other New Jersey senator, Democrat Robert Torricelli, withdrew his candidacy for reelection, because of corruption charges. It was rumored, however, that Lautenberg was the second choice to run, the first choice being former Senator Bill Bradley, who turned it down.

The New Jersey Republican Party challenged the replacement of Torricelli's name on the ballot with Lautenberg's, arguing that it came too late according to state election laws. The ballot name change was upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Lautenberg won the election, thus becoming one of very few people in recent times to return to the Senate after leaving it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Monkeys Are Typing

Odd. The Washington Post has an amazingly lucid editorial this morning.

The middle course between allowing Israel to take the fight to Hamas and Hezbollah and pressuring it to accept Tehran's terms is that suggested by Britain and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan: an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. It's worth noting that such a force already exists -- and has failed miserably in its nearly three decades of existence. Success would require Western troops and a very different mandate: in particular, authority to prevent launchings of missiles and raids against Israel from Lebanon, and to enforce Security Council Resolution 1559, which ordered the disarmament of Hezbollah. An international diplomatic initiative that allows Hezbollah to preserve and eventually restock its military wing would be worse than none at all.

But as Mr. Scriblerus noted, if you have enough monkeys typing for a long enough period, eventually one of them will write Hamlet.

Well How Do You Think We Got So Rich

And in the American tradition of hard nosed capitalism, the U.S. embassy in Lebanon is making American citizens pay for their evacuation...

Nucho added that all evacuees have signed promissory notes pledging to pay the U.S. back for safe passage to Cyprus, plus interest. Once in Cyprus, she said the government would not pay for hotel fees nor a return flight to the U.S.

Man, we're all sorts of generous. One wonders if maybe we could squeeze the evacuees for a little extra, you know, to finance embassy operations next year?

Monday, July 17, 2006

How The Diplodocus Lost It's Trunk

This just in...

Paleoneurological evidence against a proboscis in the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus

Apparently, it didn't have the nerve.

We Should Just Put The Candidate's Names On Scratchcards

There is something both profoundly brilliant and profoundly disturbing about this idea.

To anyone who ever said, “I wouldn’t vote for that bum for a million bucks,” Arizona may be calling your bluff.
A proposal to award $1 million in every general election to one lucky resident, chosen by lottery, simply for voting — no matter for whom — has qualified for the November ballot.

...If the general election in 2004 is a guide, when more than 2 million people voted, the 1-in-2-million odds of winning the election lottery would be far better than the Powerball jackpot (currently about 1 in 146,107,962) but not nearly as great as dying from a lightning strike (1 in 55,928).

Kid Various is not really of the bent that more voter participation equals a better outcome. What schemes like this and motor voter do are draw more uninformed and uninterested people into the voting pool. This has the effect of dumbing down the political discourse (which the media so greatly laments while abetting it every step of the way) as candidates have to compete for the attention of more and more of those who are less inclined to give it.

The Kid would be more interested if, in fact, something like this were used in the primary elections, where the hard edges of each party's lunatic fringe could be softened by an expansion of the voter pool. Soft R's and soft D's are much less likely to vote in primaries than their more partisan cousins. Offering a lottery win that would draw in more registered party members during primaries (not random people) would seem, off hand, to be a good idea.

But The Kid has been known to be wrong.

You Heard It Here First

The Arab capacity for ignoring reality is truly monumental. But even this heroic ability cannot stand up to the weight of real world experience. It's just too bad that this congenital disability has prevented the sunni Arab community in Iraq from making decisions based on the central fact that should have been apparent for the past 3 years. That being, that the people most in need of a continued U.S. presence in Iraq are... the sunni Arab community!

As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces.

And remember, you heard it here first.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Well, Where Would YOU Rather Be...?

In Gaza or an Israeli jail?
In a new example of just how bizarre things have become, Palestinian teenagers are trying to get caught by Israeli soldiers so that they can go to prison.

"Ofer was like paradise. You could go to the toilet whenever you wanted, and we had a good time playing football and table tennis in the big courtyard. I started reading good books in there," he said, his hair short and gelled, and a hint of future stubble ringing his thin face. With a shy glance at his father, he added, "And I could stay up as late as I wanted."

Mohammed was pleased to get a seven-month sentence. He was crestfallen when his father, Qasim, paid a $250 bond to get him released early. "I was disappointed. My classmate who was sitting next to me went to jail two days before me and he's still there," he said jealously, suffering his father's glare. "In prison, there's digital television. You can watch everything. Out here, there's nothing."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vote for the Tax or Johnnie C. Is Gonna Break Your Kneecaps!

Who would have thought we'd see Democratic Legislators fighting a Democratic Governor in order to NOT raise taxes? We guess they learned their lesson from 1989. In any case, it's been a long time comin'. As referenced in this essay, The Mob That Whacked New Jersey:

But today Jersey is a cautionary example of how to cripple a thriving state. Increasingly muscular public-sector unions have won billions in outlandish benefits and wages from compliant officeholders. A powerful public education cartel has driven school spending skyward, making Jersey among the nation’s biggest education spenders, even as student achievement lags. Inept, often corrupt, politicians have squandered yet more billions wrung from suburban taxpayers, supposedly to uplift the poor in the state’s troubled cities, which have nevertheless continued to crumble despite the record spending. To fund this extravagance, the state has relentlessly raised taxes on both residents and businesses, while localities have jacked up property taxes furiously. Jersey’s cost advantage over its free-spending neighbors has vanished: it is now among the nation’s most heavily taxed places. And despite the extra levies, new governor Jon Corzine faces a $4.5 billion deficit and a stagnant economy during a national boom.

The Kid has to say though, that although we kept taxes down, we were no better standing up to the unions. We paid off the NJEA handsomely for their support in 1991. And the police unions? What, they can retire with a half pension after 20 minutes on the force, right? 20 minutes and out!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Corzine Furloughed

Come to think of it, they could send the whole Legislature home too!

(2006-07-04) — New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine inadvertently sent himself home today, along with the Democrat-dominated legislature, when he ordered non-essential elements of the government shut down during a budget impasse.

It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp...

Fo Shizzle...

Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, wants the Internal Revenue Service to chase after pimps and sex traffickers with the same fervor it stalked gangster Al Capone for tax evasion.

Grassley, R-Iowa, would hit pimps with fines and lengthy prison sentences for failing to file employment forms and withhold taxes for the women and girls under their command.

Yo, ya hona, dat girl was an independent contracta!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nothing of Importance Happened Today

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them with another, and assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station that the laws of nature and natures God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind demands that they declare the causes which impel them to that separation.

We hold these truths to be self evident:

That all men are created equal,

That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights,

And that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

And that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

And that when any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute new government, laying its foundations upon such principals and organizing its powers as such seems to them to best effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, would dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. And all experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and appoint new guardians for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies. And such is now the circumstances which constrain them to alter their former systems of government.

The history of the present king of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated abuses and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny in these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted before a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish their right of representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved the representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, where-by the Legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond the seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with the power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns and utterly destroyed the lives of our people.

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun in circumstances of cruelty and perfidity hardly paralleled in the most barbarous of ages and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and bretheren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress in the most humble of terms. Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act that may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British bretheren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their Legislature to establish an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must therefore, acquiesce in the necessity that denounces our separation, to hold them, as we hold all mankind; enemies in war, in peace friends.

We therefore, the representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in general congress assembled and appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are of right and ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce and do all other acts and things which independent states may, of right, do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

On this date, 230 years ago, the reigning monarch of Great Britain, George III, noted in his diary:

Nothing of importance happened today...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Just Sayin'

When the GOP was in control of the New Jersey State House for about a decade there in the 1990's: No shut down of state government due to budget impasses.

Not like when the Dems are in charge.

How do you have a budget impasse when your party controls both the Governor's office AND the Legislature?!

To quote Will Rogers, "I don't belong to an organized political party... I am a Democrat."

Pet Peeve

Something that's always bothered Kid Various is the way that the movie Jurassic Park portrayed Tyrannosaurus as somehow visually impaired. Remember this scene in the movie where Sam Neill and the kid are confronted with the Tyrannosaur less than a foot away from them?

The trick was to remain absolutely still, because the Tyrannosaurus's vision was dependent on movement.

Uh huh. Those people are lunch.

First of all, that animal had an incredible sense of smell. It could probably smell a fresh carcass two miles away. It knows you're there Sam...

But even so, what's with the whole vision based on movement thing? Tyrannosaurus had excellent vision (in addition to its other senses.) Because it's eyes sat forward on its skull, rather than to the side, it had binocular vision and a 3D depth of field.

Take a look at these models from the above web site:

Allosaurus Fragilis. Top predator of the Jurassic. A therapod, like Tyrannosaurus, but from the Carnosaur line. Note how the eyes are set substatially on the side of the head like a horse. Also the tall lacrimal bones make it difficult for each eye to look over the snout.

Tyrannosaurus Rex. Top predator of the Cretaceous. Therapod, but a Coelurusaur. See how the eyes are oriented forward? That's 3D vision right there baby.

So, you know, this is just one of the Kid's pet peeves. That and the spitting Dilophosaur. WTF?

Going with the Man of Steel Theme

Conservatives seem to have their tights in a wad over, of all things, Bryan Singer's new Superman movie.

Kid Various has heard Sean Hannity railing about how in the new film, Superman fights for "truth, justice...and all that stuff." OK. That's pretty lame. It's lame on two levels:

  1. It's lame because in today's environment, we can't even bring ourselves to say "the American Way of Life" unless it's delivered in an ironic context. Back in the 50's, immediately post WWII, there was no lack of moral clarity. The American Way of Life - meaning capitalism, social mobility and individual liberty, was just assumed to be the great triumph of humankind. Sadly, no more. But we're not going to get around that any time soon.
  2. It's lame also because it's such an integral part of the characterization. Like all good myths, each incarnation of the character brings something new to the mythos. "Faster than a speeding bullet?" NOT from the comics, but rather the Max Fleischer cartoons from the 40's. Like "Truth, Justice and the American Way" is from the Adventures of Superman with George Reeves. Corrupting that is like making James Bond say "I'll have a frozen margarita... no salt." It just doesn't pay proper respect to the mythos.

Kid Various also has heard conservative talk show hosts complaining that Superman has gone all metrosexual and sensitive. One host was talking about the "Sissy-fication" of Superman - which the Kid parsed as the "Sisyphication of Superman." Which caused him to wonder - "what's this guy talking about? Superman is an optimistic hero, not a nihilistic one like, say, The Punisher (I SAID PUT IT IN THE HAPPY BOX!!!) He certainly believes in progress and an ultimate good, his actions are never understood to be largely futile..."

Kid Various is bringing way too much brain power to this argument.

In any case, Instapundit today linked to a good post on TCS Daily about the parallels between Superman and the United States of America that points out that Kal-El, much as he would like to, cannot put down the burden of being Superman any more than the U.S. can disavow its own power.
Superman has learned this lesson before. Remember Superman II? Superman relinquishes his power in order to be with Lois Lane -- yet, by the movie's end, he has to reclaim his power in order to defend her and the rest of the planet from super villains whom no one else can stop. He cannot simply declare victory and repair to his Fortress of Solitude. He must forsake happiness to execute those duties that only he can perform. And it is that sacrifice that makes him a hero.
And so as we stand on the brink of the 230th anniversary of the event which ushered in a new way to be human, it behooves us to take some time to ponder just why we fight for truth, justice and the American Way.

Fighting a Never Ending Battle for Truth, Justice and the AMERICAN WAY!

After over a month of flying around the remnants of Krypton...