January 2007

Stephen King once said that “people like to read about work. I don’t know why, but they do.”

Helvetica a German film that explores graphic design geekdom is interesting for no real reason. It just is.

Maybe it’s because I’m working on some Flash projects. Or maybe embracing the angular, greyed edges of German modernism underscores the excruciating banality. Lieben meine Monotype Corsiva.

* Link thanks to Judith at Kesher Talk, who did time as a graphics/type geek.

UPDATE – Designer ‘T’ links to a pair of Moscow graphic artists who favor beautiful yet non-angular.

I was doing a search yesterday for realist/graphic artists, and nearly every appealing image I clicked on was produced by an artist from Russia or Spain. What’s going on over there?

The garbage dump gunner takes aim..


..and scores a direct hit on Michel Aoun’s career.


Lebanese bloggers describe Hezbollah’s latest fauxtography..

Okay, this is not really news, but hopefully this will put a dent in the armour of politically correct anthropological revisionism:

Nicholas Wade is a science writer for the New York Times, who used to be as Politically Correct as anyone in that mob on 42nd Street. No longer. Wade has discovered the new anthropology, now informed by a radically improved understanding of the human genome. The new evidence is clearly explained in his recent book, Before the Dawn: Recovering the lost history of our ancestors. It looks at the deep human past — tens to hundreds of thousands of years — combining written records, archeology, anthropology and the human genome. The result is spectacular. If this book is any indication, Politically Correct history is a goner. Rousseau’s Noble Savage is French toast.

Wade presents compelling evidence that humans appear to be genetically predisposed to warfare. Among ancient hunter-gatherers, “incessant warfare” was the norm, just as it is today among the Stone Age tribes of New Guinea and South America. Humans have a long history of cannibalism, so much that we carry genes to guard against the toxic consequences of eating human flesh (similar to Mad Cow prion disease). Modern humans are less aggressive than our ancestors were. The very fact that we can live in mass societies at reasonable peace with each other is an extraordinary advance…

…Anthropologists have become famous by writing that cannibalism was just a slanderous lie invented by the West. It all fit the neo-racist myth of the White Man’s Guilt — as at Duke University. Such people peddle the myths of the peaceful Hopis and Bushmen, the Gandhi-esque Hindus, Buddhists and Sufis, and all the morally superior non-White cultures. (They somehow forget that Gandhi’s independence movement led straight to four million ethnic killings during the Partition of 1948)….

Acknowledging human violence is not the same as excusing it. Just the opposite — precisely because we have the capacity to destroy, we must be taught to act morally. That is the basic view of Western Civilization going back to the Code of Hammurabi. Civilized armed forces like the United States insist on high levels of restraint in their warfighters, even in the face of direct personal danger. But the civilized world is constantly faced with aggressive enemies willing to kill and die for some bizarre cause, from the heavenly glory of the Emperor to some Mullah’s weird obsession with hanging sixteen year old girls who fall in love. Not to mention yet another Marxist scam to create a perfectly egalitarian paradise on earth, as is underway in Venezuela today.

One of the oddities of the Left is its constant sabotage of defensive warfare, even when the facts are as plain as the assault on the Twin Towers on 9/11. Today Europe is going through yet another revisionist version of its own bloody history, trying to deny the undeniable facts of the 20th century. Big German media like Stern and Der Spiegel loudly equate the American overthrow of Saddam Hussein with the war against Hitler. That version of history involves not just one but two Big Lies — One, that Saddam was an innocent victim of American aggression; and Two, that Hitler was, too. It’s too weird for words. Let’s hope they get over it – because if they don’t, they could be setting the stage for yet another imperial adventure…

Or, as LibHawk Epa said, “we must recognize that Cambodia, [Srebrenica] and Rwanda are the signposts of what cannot be changed in the human character. THIS war is alive today, and has never left us, and apparently NEVER will. We will never eliminate this force.”

The Barbarians are always at the gate..

BBC description of “Perky’s” heroic struggle

Seablogger Alan Sullivan describes how we can sometimes be a little too civilized..

As Solomonia says, this this would be the real, big Herzliya Conference, not the one I spoke at..

Richard Landes analyzes the West’s tendency to slouch towards defeatism:

First of all, as a historian of civil society, of the millennium-long struggle in the West to achieve this extraordinary marvel of the modern world, this experiment in human freedom, I want to say: European democratic civilization can fall before the Islamic challenge. Something similar happened before, in the 5th century, when a culturally superior Roman civilization fell to a primitive tribal Germanic culture. And if Europe continues on its current path, that will happen sooner rather than later.

Second, this is going to get worse before it gets better. Starting in October 2000, the most terrible form of apocalyptic movement, active cataclysmic – we are the agents in the vast destruction that precedes our millennial victory – entered the public sphere of world culture and rather than being beaten back, took hold and grew stronger. Once these movements, which in the past have killed 10s of millions, “take,” they are like forest fires. They cannot be stopped, at best they can be channeled. We are in for a long and unpleasant conflict that will demand a great deal from us.

Third, modern media play a critical role in Global Jihad’s success. Not just the use Jihadis make of modern technology to spread their message, but the role our modern MSM play in both disguising and encouraging the phenomenon. And the core of the problem, the ground upon which this dysfunctional relationship between Jihad and MSM first emerged, but also the most dramatic on which it plays out, is the MSM’s treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There has been much discussion of whether or not the MSM has been unfair to Israel, including formal investigations into particularly obnoxious organizations like the BBC, and, by and large the answer is, “well, maybe… but it’s not so bad.” And Israelis, like the protagonist in Richard Farina’s novel, have been down so long it looks like up to them. “It could be worse… it has been worse… it’s getting better.”

But all of this is not nearly good enough. The MSM are the eyes and ears of modern civil societies. Without them we cannot know what is going on outside of our personal sphere, with them we can make our democratic choices in elections, assess foreign policy, intervene humanely in the suffering around the globe. But as any paleontologist will tell you, any creature whose eyes and ears misinform it about the environment, will not long survive. So it is with our civic experiment: especially in this period, where predators grow increasingly bold: a MSM that misinforms us, betrays the very people it is supposed to serve.

Martin Kramer put an interesting spin on the view from the other side:

In a mere ten minutes, then, all I can do is give you a flavor of how Israel and the United States might look to a composite enemy, someone you couldn’t invite because he doesn’t exist. And to get you in the proper mood, I’ll do it in first person. I know it’s hard, but imagine me as some sort of composite of Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, Osama bin Laden, Bashar Asad, Muqtada as-Sadr, and Khalid Mash’al. You’ll admit it’s a good disguise; good enough to get me through the security cordon outside this hall…

..more here..

This is good news, sort of – Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq

First the bad news…

For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The “catch and release” policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go.

We caught them and released them???

Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran’s regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing. The country’s nuclear work was advancing, U.S. allies were resisting robust sanctions against the Tehran government, and Iran was aggravating sectarian violence in Iraq.

“There were no costs for the Iranians,” said one senior administration official. “They are hurting our mission in Iraq, and we were bending over backwards not to fight back.”…

…In Iraq, U.S. troops now have the authority to target any member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, as well as officers of its intelligence services believed to be working with Iraqi militias. The policy does not extend to Iranian civilians or diplomats. Though U.S. forces are not known to have used lethal force against any Iranian to date, Bush administration officials have been urging top military commanders to exercise the authority.

Okay, so we’re finally changing a policy that was stunningly, gobsmackingly stupid. That’s the good news. But why just kill the operatives in Iraq?

…and why the press release?

UPDATE: Of this news, Wretchard at the Belmont Club says:

…in war timing is nearly everything. The difference between a brilliant attack and fiasco might be a few hours and here the counterstroke has been delayed for a year. The real danger to this tentative aggressiveness is that may be too little — and too late. Just as the Sunni insurgency may have been fueled by the decision to abort the First Battle of Fallujah, Iranian aggression has been allowed to grow to the point where confronting it now risks a serious confrontation. As in the case of a man who has let a scratch become a gangrenous infection, the choices are now between bad and worse. But because the Mullahs have been allowed to run rampant for so long the force required to halt them will be high. An administration which spent its political capital mollifying its critics may now find it has none left to stop the nation’s enemies. The patient may refuse the amputation as unnecessary, even as he refused the antibioltics as unnecessary earlier. The sands run out both comically and tragically.

If this cautionary tale is about anything, it should be about the dangers of showing weakness in the face of the enemy. What “catch and release” has been to the Iran and the insurgents is exactly what “cut and run” will be to civilization’s terrorist enemies. Not a path to peace but a route to catastrophe. The realization will come, but it will come too late.


My nephew’s visa crisis has been resolved and he’s on his way to France.

Thanks to everyone for the advice!

Via Fox News:

SHANGHAI — Companies looking to reach China’s consumer market with pig images during Year of the Pig celebrations next month will have to adjust after a national television network adopted a policy to be sensitive to the country’s small Muslim population, according to published reports.

China Central Television said it would ban all verbal and visual pork references from advertisements during Lunar New Year celebrations next month, the Wall Street Journal reported. This week, the network banned a TV ad from Nestle SA featuring a smiling cartoon pig and the message, “Happy new pig year.”

CCTV’s ad department said the regulations are intended to avoid offending Muslims, who consider pigs unclean animals. China’s 20 million Muslims comprise less than 2 percent of the population, the Journal reported.

“China is a multiethnic country,” the network said in a notice. “To show respect for Islam, and upon guidance from higher levels of the government, CCTV will keep any pig images off the screen.”

Did any Muslims ask them to do this?

riots lebanon

Black smoke covers Beirut

The whole time I was in Beirut, Hezbollah was threatening to do something like this. Now, they’ve done it, they’ve abandoned the illusion that they have patience and a respect for democracy. It’s now full-fledged extortion. Nice country you’ve got, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it…

lebanon airport

Walking to the airport

Charles of the Lebanese Political Journal says:

Now, the opposition is proving its authoritarian agenda. Like they did when they began a war this summer without consulting the rest of the country, the opposition is once again forcing Lebanese into a situation they don’t want to be in. However, this time it’s Lebanese against Lebanese.

Blocking off an area for a demonstration is one thing. Blocking movement in an entire country is quite another. Forbidding citizens from doing what they choose, particularly when that thing is their livelihood, is unbearable and cannot be tolerated.

Should a militia have the right to stop Lebanese from going down the streets they choose?

The opposition is tearing apart families, neighborhoods, and the country. They are further cantonizing an already divided country. What’s to keep employers from firing staff members who don’t show up for work? Will this lead to a Lebanon where everyone is hired based on political affiliation? Isn’t this what we’re trying to work against?

The opposition has gone too far. They are leading the country down a path to violence.

Mark from the Ouwet Front has reports and photographs.

Abu Kais From Beirut to the Beltway says:

Hizbullah is calling this an “intifada”. And indeed, their supporters are now stoning anti-Hizbullah residents of Beirut. March 14 MP Walid Eido says that Beirut is “being occupied by the Hizbullah militia…”.

Jeha of Jeha’s Nail says:

… And so, It begins….

…While I am still convinced that this government will not fall, I am increasingly convinced of the futility of this “opposition”, and that nothing will ultimately remain of our country’s true soul, at the very least.

As I had posted before, I still see a silver lining in this cloud; Hezb’s intransigence reveals an underlying weakness, and their escalation shows how little endurance they really have.

Michael Totten says:

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Seniora accuses Hezbollah of intimidation and terrorism. He may be over-reacting a bit with the t-word in this context, but it’s telling because he used to call them a “resistance” movement instead of terrorists. Those days are gone.

More at Naharnet

Wretchard is back, and he’s posting up a counterterrorism storm. Like this on private security contractors bidding to provide services in the Sudan:

Private security contractors with experience in the War on Terror are bidding to provide services in the Sudan to support UN humanitarian missions with extremely robust capabilities. Global Guerrillas notes that “Blackwater USA, the private military company that advertises itself as a ‘a turnkey solution provider for 4th generation warfare’ and … may be making headway in its quest to deploy to the Sudan. Last year, the $600 m a year company formed Greystone Limited in order to put a better marketing spin on its efforts to private the security of UN humanitarian missions — given that this new company can draw on Blackwater for capabilities, it would be able battalion-sized unit and even its own home-brewed aircraft gunship in support of any contract it lands. So far, the effort by Greystone to land a contract to provide security to one of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster zones, hasn’t made any headway.”

Whether or not Blackwater type security companies will ever be used to supplement humanitarian missions, it remains true that the private sector is a repository of field experience in the War on Terror. Not just in providing physical security but also in the provision of services, such as logistics and even intelligence analysis. The role played by nongovernment institutions in fighting against terrorism has gone largely unstudied.

Most counterterrorism efforts that don’t follow the British model (a consistently ineffective mixture of overkill and appeasement) have gone largely unstudied. Until we realize that there are other options that go beyond bombing it or begging it for mercy (what the Iraq Study group calls diplomacy and dialogue), our counterterrorism efforts will be bound to fail.

We also shouldn’t depend on the UN to be enthusiastic about using groups like Greystone to help the people in Darfur or to fight terrorism. The success of these groups in places like Sierra Leone show the world how ineffective, morally bankrupt and prohibitively expensive the UN is in comparison. Mercenaries and the UN are competing for the same business, and frankly, when it comes to morality and reliability, the mercenaries have proven that they’re a better deal.

Also at the Belmont Club – using the enemy’s strengths against them:

Martin Muckian’s key insight, expressed in his article the “Structural Vulnerabilities of Networked Insurgencies” in the Winter 2006-07 issue of Parameters, is that Islamic insurgencies are in many ways the opposite of 20th century insurgencies. In contradistinction to “People’s War”, which relied on the creation of a revolutionary infrastructure and emphasized the painstaking recruitment of cadres, networked insurgencies such as those in Iran are largely built on small cells, such as might be put together by half a dozen people meeting in a room. The glue that holds networked insurgencies together is both their strength and weakness. And the nature of the binding ties explains why information warfare is so important in the current struggle…

* First, attack critical nodes for maximum disruptive effect.

* Second, networked insurgencies do not necessarily have strong political cohesion. Attack the narrative by forcing the insurgency to respond to issues that are outside its scope – this can disrupt or even fracture the movement as each group responds to the issue according to its own ideology.

* Third, attack the sources of support.

* Fourth, attack the information technology infrastructure of the network.

Information warfare can accomplish some things, but this is not primarily an ideological war. Terrorists can’t eat ideology, their goals are mostly opportunistic and political. Even Robert Spencer would have to admit that the Koran doesn’t contain the recipe for mixing Semtex. Terrorists, or asymetric war’s ‘soldiers’, require an extensive support network. These independent cells are usually well hidden, but their financial, political and weapons support systems are usually out in the open and they’re very vulnerable.

Asymetric warfare offers the foot soldiers a fair amount of protection – they’re not uniformed, they use civilian shields, they blend into the population. Instead of aiming for the hard targets, we should attack the terrorist infrastructure at its weakest points – the unprotected middlemen. This includes the politicians, the weapon supply chain, the legal and illegal financial network – any part of the terrorist infrastructure that’s protected only by implausible deniability.

The goal in a war is to destroy the enemy’s infrastructure by the most efficient means possible. Since these terror supporters are part of the terrorist infrastructure, they are enemy combatants and should be treated as such. Since they are relatively unprotected, they can be removed more quickly, and in more massive numbers, than the terrorist foot soldiers.

When their support structure is weakened, the foot soldiers might become easier targets too.

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.