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Monday, October 20, 2014

OLD DOGS

"This old dog can learn new tricks.  I just got better things to do."

The older I get, the better I understand the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." I used to think this referred to some weakness of the mind or obstinance, which I rejected as foolish and even cruel.
I've come to understand That saying differently. The older you get, the less patience, time, and energy you have with new things. You've seen decades of new things and are beginning to tire of their novelty. You only have so much time, and most of it is taken up with the rest of your life. And you have less energy to spend on something new. 
In addition, the older you get, the more experience you have. Starting to learn a new operating system at 20 seems like just a matter of picking up some new tricks, but at 50 you realize just how long its going to take and how annoying its going to be after the previous 5 times through that process. And sometimes it feels like this old Far Side cartoon, where you've filled your mind up with 50+ years of stuff like old phone numbers, how to call information on a rotary phone, and the name of that character on Adam-12. 
So its not so much you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Its that the old dog has been through this once too often and has better things to do.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE FAILURE OF THE LEFT

Just wanted to pass on this article that makes a good point:
The Obama administration - and indeed the left in general - is great at creating new faux crises and threads during peaceful and stable times, but lousy with dealing with actual crises and threats when danger looms.
James Longfield writes at American Thinker:
It is often observed that liberalism is steeped in feelings and emotion.  It is guided by what others think and feel at the expense of dealing with reality.  Perception reigns supreme, and liberals are good at it.

Greg Gutfeld made a salient observation the other day.  He pointed out that liberalism thrives in times in which there are no crises.  In times such as those, liberalism raises lightweight issues and gives them gravitas.  School lunch programs, child obesity, the size of soda drinks, gay rights, free contraception, are their rallying “causes celeb”.

However, when crisis presents itself, we reap the consequences of liberalism in governmental leadership.  More frequent now are the vapid responses to crisis led by the conveniently appointed, those “politically correctly” installed into position of power.  The responses tend to be inept and politically expedient.  Imagery, polls and elections are the focus rather than the required action and solution.  Is seems to be contrary to their DNA to depart from the warm and fuzzy to the tactful, strategic and necessary.

Keynesian economics is owned by the liberals partly because the solution to economic woes is easy, print money. No budgetary trimming or tough decisions here. Does anyone think that the late Secret Service head was installed for her ability, or was it for her gender? Was Susan Rice anointed for her special talents regarding national security or her allegiance to the talking points? Was the head of the CDC installed for his quick thinking and responsive resolve?  All seem to crumble under the weight of responsibility.
Its worth reading the whole thing, but it comes down to an academic, detached understanding of reality I've noted many times in the past.  The left is led by people who are lousy at dealing with real life, but have a head full of offenses and horrors that the rest of the world consider unworthy of serious concern.
This makes them interesting theoreticians, but unequal to the task of any governance or wielding any degree of power.  There are people on the left who aren't in this idiot box, but they aren't the ones in charge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THOSE NONEXISTENT WMD

"Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military."

So sue me, I'm going to keep hammering this because I keep hearing and reading the same idiot talking points.
In the news recently?  Soldiers suffering from aftereffects of Iraq war.  And what were those aftereffects?  I'll let C.J. Chivers at the New York Times explain:
It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”
In fact this happened several times over the years, soldiers encountering those WMD that didn't exist, the ones Saddam Hussein never had and the inspectors couldn't find.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The stockpiles that Iraq didn't have, those WMD that we were told smugly and repeatedly were lied about... kept being found.  The fact is, Iraq did have WMD, was working toward a nuclear weapons program, and did possess stockpiles of banned weapons.
When some was found and reported on, the response was as painfully predictable as it was often ignorant: "those are old and decayed, they aren't usable," or "that's a lie, they got it wrong, its fake."  When countries in the coalition said "hey we found chemical warheads buried" the talking points spun into motion.  When tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger was discovered, the left ignored and buried the story - after all, Joe Wilson said it didn't happen.  He asked the Niger government and they pinky swore they never sold any to Iraq.
But if these weapons were so degraded and old, why is the State Department now - ten years later - worried that IS will find and use them?  Its almost as if they aren't so old and decayed, as if they were being produced and hidden, as the Bush administration and every intelligence operation on the planet said was happening.
And the stories kept coming out over the years.  UK Experts to help Iraq destroy chemical weaponsIS uncovers stockpiles of WMD.  Way back in 2006, then-Senator Santorum pointed out the discovery of five hundred chemical warhead shells which was ignored by most of the press.  Sarin Gas Shells found by the dozen, as reported by Charles Deulfer.  Exposure to mustard gas was reported, vaguely, in the media as far back as 2004, but they tried really hard to avoid saying so.
Now the left is crying "no, this isn't the same, these are different WMD!"  They point out that these are quite old, that they are not from a WMD program in Iraq after 1991's cease fire.
Except the argument was never Iraq has new WMD, just that he has them and they are banned.  That he is not supposed to have any WMD, which is any amount more than 1.  He had these hidden away all over the place, stockpiled, for later use.
And that's not even getting into the WMD that Syria is using on its own people that came from Iraq.  The bottom line is that the left's parrot squawking about "Bush lied!" is utterly, demonstrably, and hilariously false, and always was.
And I'll keep pointing this out until the lies about it stop.
*UPDATE: Eric asks a good question in the comments; why did President Bush and his administration not bring these to light and why did they keep saying there weren't any WMD in Iraq?
One reason certainly is the same thing the CIA Duelfer report noted (and everyone ignored): they found WMD, but not the vigorous, active manufacturing they expected, and not in the quantity they were lead to believe.
But another possibility is this, courtesy Eli Lake at the Daily Beast:
Starting in 2004, some members of the George W. Bush administration and Republican lawmakers began to find evidence of discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. But when the information was brought up with the White House, senior adviser Karl Rove told them to “let these sleeping dogs lie.”
Karl Rove seems to me to be one of those non-ideologue politicians, a guy who is driven not by principle or policy ideas, but power.  Rove wants Republicans to be in charge of government, and everything he did and says is to that end, no matter what those Republicans end up being like.  For him its an "us vs them" thing, not truth vs lies or good vs evil.
So Rove saw revealing the WMD in Iraq as a negative, something that would not help Republicans beat Democrats.  He seems to have believed that bringing this back up would simply remind people of the controversy.  This idea was deeply flawed, and obviously so, but that was his position.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PRODUCTS OF YOUR IMAGINATION

"They're playing the most phenomenal game ever created!"

One of the things that concerns me as a gamer - the real thing, not the "I play video games dude" kind - is that role playing games are on the decline as a hobby.  People are playing video games that label themselves "RPG" instead of the ones that require pen and paper and other people around.
Don't get me wrong, I like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: the Old Republic and so on.  They are fun and can connect you with other players.  And they are (nearly) always available, so you can play without waiting for other people.
But they aren't the same as getting your dice out and sitting down with friends to play a game.  And some think that RPG manufacturers need to advertise more.  Which brings us to this, a display of the old ads that TSR ran for their products. I'm not convinced they were very effective.
First this ugly paste job:
It doesn't get much more cheap and clumsy.  I kind of get what they are trying to say here, but it just doesn't work.  And why is the knight riding bitch and smoking a cigar?
Then there's this hideous thing.  I guess they were going for some kind of Peter Max op art thing but its just horrible looking:
I remember seeing that ad and the art always struck me as just being terrible looking.  They should have sprung for some David Trampier art instead of having someone's 9 year old sketch it.  The next ads are better, if a bit confusing:

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