mr. zilla goes to town

Monday, April 24, 2006

decisions, decisions

You might want to go read George Packer's excellent article in the New Yorker that gives you the nuts and bolts of why the US has failed to get to grips with stabilizing Iraq, despite having people on the ground with the skills and passion to do so.

You could also listen to this week's ABC Background Briefing documenting the decay of democratic accountability in Australia's vital quarantine regulations in favour of adherence to WTO and FTA free-trade strictures.

That, or skip straight to listening to a few apologetic speeches by George Bush that just happen to have come from the brains and pencils of seven year olds. I love the one about lowering the prices of kids in orphanages. (But not in a creepy way.)

Whatever you want out there in the internets, you expect them all to come through the internet pipe the same. It's only repressive regimes that might want to block your access to particular content, or stop you having the full spectrum of choice of whatever search engine you want to use, right?

Not quite. What if your ISP has a financial interest in degrading your access to one site or service in preference to another? This trend is arguably the beginning of the end of the internet. So the thought for the day today is 'net neutrality'.

Monday, April 17, 2006

praise be. so long as 'be' is for bunny

Well I hope you've enjoyed Easter, wherever you're reading around the world. Here in England life hasn't been so rosy lately. There's the bird flu on our borders, the ongoing and ever present threat of terror attacks that make our pants damp even as we play frisbee in the occasional April sunshine, and now this. With the Anglican Communion in dissarray at the country's spiritual borders, the pagan god of Easter - whose body is ritually consumed by the faithful on Sunday morn - has appeared to his followers:
A "monster" rabbit has apparently been rampaging through vegetable patches in a small village in northern England, ripping up leeks, munching turnips and infuriating local gardeners.

In an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the hit animated film "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit," angry horticulturists in Felton, near Newcastle, have now mounted an armed guard to protect their prized cabbages and parsnips.

"They call it the monster. It's very big -- it's nearly the size of a dog," said Joan Smith, whose son Jeff owns one of the plots under attack.

"It's eating everything, all the vegetables," she told Reuters. "They are trying to shoot it. They go along hoping to catch it but I think it's too crafty."

Seriously what right-minded child wouldn't believe in a god like this? Believe in me and not only shall ye partake of my delicious body of chocolate, but I'll see to it that you don't have to eat your vegies either.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

US considering providing nukes to Iran

The other day I said:
I'm afraid that no matter which way we cut it, short of full scale invasion and permanent occupation of Iran, there is no way to physically prevent the eeevil Mullahs from developing their own nuclear weapons arsenal within the next 5-7 years.

Now you all just pay no attention to me - I failed to think as boldly and laterally as the White House is at the moment. Seymour Hersh has the details:

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.

[...] The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

Go read the whole article. While it's possible to construe this news as a deliberate leak, as brinksmanship and sabre-rattling to indicate to the Iranians just how serious the Bush administration is about making them back down, on past form I think it's better to assume that Bush is quite prepared to do exactly what he is preparing to do - attack Iran with nuclear weapons in an attempt to destroy their nuclear weapons programme.

Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

And then, we are in the abyss.

Update: Watch Hersh on CNN discussing the article. The nuance comes across a little more -- that the standard procedure in military planning is to put every option, absolutely everything including nukes on the table up front, and then walk backwards from that, documenting the decision to do so. Except the White House wouldn't:

Hersh: ...And then, of course, nobody in their right mind would want to use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, because it would be, my God, totally chaotic. When the JCS, the joint chiefs, and the planners wanted to walk back that option, what happened is about three or four weeks ago, the White House, people in the White House, in the Oval Office, the vice president's office, said, no, let's keep it in the plan. They refuse to take it out. And what I'm writing here is that if this isn't removed -- and I say this very seriously. I've been around this town for 40 years -- some senior officers are prepared to resign. They're that upset about the fact that this plan is kept in. Again, let me make the point, you're giving a range of options early in the planning. To be sure of getting rid of it, you give that option.

Update II: Tim Dunlop has the scoop on US planning to invade Australia.

Friday, April 07, 2006

this is how the magic happens

Just in case any ravers have the wrong tickets, Pearl Jam forbid the sale of glowsticks at their shows. For Pavarotti, there must be no flowers, not one, anywhere backstage. And especially not in the mandatory golf cart.

INXS require two masseurs, a table-tennis table, and a bottle of beaujolias. Frank Sinatra needed everything edible from lifesavers to chicken soup and dijon mustard and a serious bar list, while Jerry Springer expects neither alcohol nor pork, just pina-colada scented fog juice.

50 Cent's catering order includes a box of "Rough Riders" condoms - try not to think about that too hard - but that's put in it's place by James Brown's requirement for a full 186 inches of stretch.

All this and many more in The Smoking Gun's Backstage Pass archive. Now go procrastinate!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Bush was right"

Bush was right,
Cheney was right,
Condi was right,
You were right,
The right was right!

Watch out Bono, you've got some competition - soon these guys will be travelling the world, standing up for the enfranchised, sponsoring troubled CEOs, and campaigning against the existence of dastardly minimum wage laws, labour standards and environmental protections. Can you imagine how popular the Baghdad leg (and arm and leg and arm and torso and head, if you can find them all) of the album tour will be!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

do androids dream of electric terrorists?

When you're having dreams that Osama Bin Laden is now a nice polite young man with a tidier Ahmadinejad-style beard attending a Cambridge college, and comes to stay in your house and discuss his unrequited affection for Condoleeza Rice, after which you get out and plug in some guitars and jam together in the lounge room, singing "Bin Laden is staying at my house, my house"; when this is followed by a dream that you have to go down to a local Oxford cafe to provide some aid and comfort to Donald Rumsfeld who's upset because the President won't speak to him anymore, except in cabinet meetings, and even then he's snippy; maybe it's time to cut down on the news consumption just a little.

That, or the echinacea.