Left of Reality
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
What's going on
Yesterday I attended my final Thai lesson. I think I'll sign up for some more lessons, but first I really need to force myself to practice what I've already learned. This coincides quite well with my financial situation as it happens that this month (for reasons not worth getting into) I'll receieve less money from TASC than normal. So I'll use this month to review everything I've learned up till now, try to speak Thai to the people around me, and maybe next month start up again.
There's also the question of Tulane. I really find myself uenthusiastic about a phD at this time, but I suppose it will be good for me. I should look into what has to happen to get those classes rolling.
It's hot again in Bangkok. We had about a week of temperatures in the low 80s, which I suppose constitutes Winter here, and now it's back to the upper 80's, maybe low 90s. I've been told it will cool off again and there will actually be some long-sleeve weather, but I'll believe that when it happens.
I'm really making progress on the front end now, but still have so much left to do. It'll be good when it's complete though.
I missed everyone at Thanksgiving; it's the holidays when one really stops to reflect on what is missing in one's life and, for me, it's certainly my family and friends. But things are generally positive here these days. I'll probably go out some with my classmates from school, which opens up a new social circle, which is good. Oddly enough the Russian girl that was in the class is a gaming geek like me, so we are able to talk about EQII and World of Warcraft. Kind of an odd discovery to find a fairly attractive young women that has some of the same vices that I do.
The other guy in the class, who is Canadian, doesn't share that addiction with us but is still good to talk to about political stuff. He's in his early 20s and so still has an almost naive take on politics and government. Not that he's wearing rose colored glasses, but he still has his ideals. I think I lost most of mine some years ago.
Time for lunch.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
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Thursday, November 24, 2005
Excellent (though lengthy) article about intelligence and the Bush White House. Apparently Cheney, Rummy, et al weren't happy with CIA reports that Iraq and Al Quaeda had nothing to do with each other, so they set up a top secret intelligence analysis team to act as an alternative to the CIA.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I know I've been quiet lately... I've been working quite diligently on this program while at work, studying Thai at night, and just not making any time to write.
Thai lessons are going well enough; my teacher is this gorgeous actress that has some serious attitude. I had a big crush on her for a while until I learned 1) she has a boyfriend and 2) she fairly routinely gets possessed by ghosts and gods. I'm not making that up... apparently it happens quite often, though the last time was about 3 years past. Speaking in tongues, body possession, the whole thing. Of course, she is so gorgeous I could probably over look that. I'd be like Bill Murry with Ripley in Ghost Busters... "Excuse me, Zool, but I'd like to speak with my girlfriend."
The lessons themselves are pretty good. My teacher is tough, so we really have to study and sweat during class. Her methods can be very frustrating at times and isn't always effective, but it's better than having a cream puff for a teacher. We only have two more lessons... one tonight and then finally on Monday.
Work is progressing... as I said, I spend most of my time on this program. I won't go into the details, but progress is being made. Still alot of work to be done, but I'm definately out of the "learning" mode now. I'm doing my best to complete the work ASAP, but there's so much still to be done I have a hard time estimating when it will be complete. Of course, once version 1 is out there's still alot of work to be done... version 2 will have to include some code streamlining, bug fixes, and data output.
My love life is dead, unfortunately. I still think about Jah, but have resisted the temptation to call her and/or attempt to make up. There's a girl that works at the hair place next door that I could and may go out with; we've been out once, and it was fun, but she's not as smart as Jah and so I hesitate. I've about decided to give it another try... we'll see.
A quick political note... I find myself torn. I don't think the US should pull out of Iraq, which puts me at odds with most of the political left. I don't think the US should have ever gone in, and said so repeatedly back in 2002 and 2003, unlike the Democrat leadership that pretty much falled in lockstep to the drumbeat of war. But at the same time the Bushies, who support staying in Iraq, as I do, also still support the decision to go to war, which I do not. Also, I so dislike Bush and his policies that I find myself rooting for advocates of positions that I don't even agree with - like the anti-war activists and the free-trade opponents.
I wish McCain, Leiberman, and the other moderates would follow Sharon's lead, break away and form a new moderate party. How freakin' sweet would that be?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Countering the "same intelligence" argument
Here's a couple of links to check out if you want to understand the facts behind Bush's claims that Congress saw the same intelligence as the White House and that two separate committees have exonerated the administration from claims that they misused the the available intelligence.
A lengthy and thorough Media Matters artical is here.
A shorter piece from the Washington Post is here.
Bush said something like... "Democratic congressman saw the same intelligence we did back in 2003 when they voted for the war. They were speaking the truth then, now they are speaking politics." In my opinion, democrats were speaking politics then and are still doing so now. Then there was overwhelming popular support for invading Iraq due to the memory of 9/11 still being fresh and Bush's constant rhetoric tying Iraq and Al Qaeda together. I believe many Dems (and mod Republicans, for that matter) supported the war and simply because they felt it would be political suicide to oppose it. Now, with support for the war plummetting, those same politicians find it politically expedient to oppose the war.
But the actions of those congressmen do not excuse the Bush administration for their actions... namely, cherry-picking intelligence to justify a rush to war against an adversary whose ties to 9/11 are questionable at best, and most likely non-existant. Bush used the 9/11 crisis to push through a new foreign policy that he and his neo-cons could never have pushed through on their own. Using a crisis to enact reform is not a crime; but misleading congress and the country is.
One final point. Bush et all are now (and have in thepast) produced quotes by Clinton and Gore where they agree Saddam was acquiring WMD's and therefor posed a threat to the US and the World. OK, fine. They saw some intelligence that lead them to believe that. What they fail to point out, and what should be obvious, is that after seeing that intelligence the Clinton team did not choose to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. Clinton's policy was one of isolation and containment; weapon inspectors, sanctions, enforcing no-fly zones, periodically throwing some missles their way. Now, if we assume that Clinton and Bush saw similar intelligence (which seems plausible), then the difference in their responses to that intelligence means just one thing: Clinton did not think that the evidence of wrongdoing was persuasive enough to warrant a full invasion and occupation, while Bush did. A mere difference of opinion? NO. It is a difference of judgement, of priorities, of comprehension of global affairs, of leadership.
Certainly the Bush 41/Clinton policy of containment had its problems (starving of citizens, corruption in the UN Oil-for-Food, an indefinate military operation), but we now know it also had its successes (detering Iraqi aggression and eliminating their WMD programs). Arguing the merits of that program is a related but tangential debate. The fact is that, having access to the same intelligence, Clinton did not see Iraq as so great a threat to warrant invasion.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Headline! Bushies defend war!
So I come into work this morning and see one of the top headlines on Google is about an interview that the current National Security Advisor gave to Tim Russert on Meet the Press. The headline on ABC news is "Bush Didn't Mislead on War, Adviser Says."
Is this news? Worthy of appearing in 1,229 (the number of related links from the Google News front page) separate stories? No, of course not. It's spin, pure and simple. When did spin become news? Blame the 24 hour news networks, blame Fox news and the conservative echo chamber, blame Tricky Dick and Slick Willie and all the politicians that have lied to us over the years... heck I don't know. Blame everyone and no one. The key seems to be in being discriminate enough to see through the spin to what the real story is. In this case, the real story is that the Bushies have launched their counter offensive. Tired of getting beat up by Dems and moderate Republicans, they are finally swinging back.
This could be bad, bad news for the Dems and the country as the Bush team hits hard and dirty... we saw it when they accused McCain of having a black child, when they accused Kerry of cowardice in Vietnam. And their stuff sticks to those that want to believe. The believers will take any story their leadership tells them, regardless of how far fetched, any rational that can explain how Conservatives are good, Liberals are bad, and America is God's country... correction, Jesus' country. Jews and Muslims, you can sleep in the basement... just don't get too vocal about celebrating your holidays wanting a seat at our dinner table. If you absolutely, positively must celebrate some important religious event, be a dear and make sure your holiday falls somewhere in December so it's convenient for the rest of us as well. Thanks.