"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another bear attack

This time, in Alaska, where a sow grizzly with her cubs attacked seven teenagers in an outdoor survival school.  All were injured, two with nearly life-threatening injuries.

I was going to get more than a bit snotty here, wondering if the "Wilderness Family" series of movies (from the mid seventies) were still  doing their damage by playing down the fact that "These are WILD animals!  What part of "wild" escapes you?".

Jeff Millar (Houston Chronicle movie critic at that time) considered them irresponsible, predicting:

"A family is on vacation in the woods.  Their kids come across some bear cubs, just as cute and adorable as they are shown in these movies. They will want to play with them.

"And somewhere close by will be the mother..."

But, this appears not  to be the case.  From what I've read so far, the teenagers seem to have been well-instructed, responsible, and level-headed.  They were certainly level-headed in the aftermath and very likely that is why they all survived.

This may well be a case of, if you spend enough  time in proximity to these creatures, well guess what?!!!  You're apt to encounter them.

So ...
    When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
    He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
    But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

        ~Rudyard Kipling - "The Female of the Species"


Monday, July 25, 2011

Bimbos of the Death Sun ...

... with apologies to Sharyn McCrumb.  (Updated below)

I hope she will forgive my use of the title of one of her novels, as this post will concern itself with same.  I used it because I think a good title should be a "grabber", and if that one doesn't qualify, then I'm damned if I can figure what would.

My previous post, on the pending demise of Borders Books, was announced by email to various friends and acquaintances, one of whom used "Reply to all" to comment, suggesting that E-books helped to do them in.

This prompted another "Reply to all" from the Goddess Bloggess Foxfier ( Head Noises ) mentioning other ways in which Borders may have brought this down upon themselves and also noting...

E-books probably didn't help, nor the way that I couldn't find a single book I wanted in the nearest big store, but could find a lot of over-priced toys. (What I went in for: Kipling's collected poetry, the Just So Stories, some of Tolkien's essays, a fantasy paperback that wasn't a freaking supernatural romance with a Buffy-bimbo on the cover, some book under $10 for a friend's five year old.) Contrast with the used book store on the way back, where I came out with a stack that I actually needed a bag for. (Although I still haven't found the Kipling or Tolkien.)     (Emphasis mine)

So, from the part that I emphasized, I'm guessing she probably wont  be scouring the book stores in search of ...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

R.I.P. Borders Books

In the spring of 1984, I moved up to Mt. Pleasant, in central Michigan, and lived there for 10 years beore returning to Houston in the fall of 1994.

My favorite places to shop for books up there were the various Borders Books stores, in Saginaw, Lansing and other towns there.  They had started, in Ann Arbor, in the seventies.

I've always liked the stores and their selection, and was delighted to find they had opened stores in Houston when I returned.

So, it was a shock to just now get an email from them announcing "going out of business" sales, beginning Friday, Jul 22, 2011 in their 399 stores prior to total liquidation.  They were just the latest victims of the current economy.

I've always liked them, and feel as if I've lost a personal friend.
That's all I can say.

A Balanced Budget Amendment would ...

... make it "virtually impossible" to gouge more money out of you.

That is a paraphrase (but not by much) of the reaction of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Dem - Maryland) to the parts of the Republican Cut, Cap and Balance plan that would require supermajority votes in Congress to increase taxes.

What he actually said was, "In order to pay our bills, Republicans would require us to pass a Constitutional amendment that would permanently enshrine their partisan budget priorities in law and make it virtually impossible to raise revenue." 

But, tell me honestly, was my paraphrasing of it all that much of an exaggeration?

He is whining because the bill would make it harder  for them to get more money out of you, and of course he says it as if that was a bad thing, because it truly is  to their ilk.

Their approach to an economic problem seems always  to amount to pointing the "revenue" gun at you and demanding, "Hand it over".

If someone proposes actually cutting  something, their reaction is best described by Ace at Ace of Spades HQ ...
   "His mouth is moving and there is sound coming out,
     but it's not a language that any of us understand."


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who do the Democrats fear most?

Best way to get a handle on that is to see who they attack the most. You do not waste your ammunition on someone who doesn't matter.

Sarah Palin's easily the reigning champion there, with the biggest bullseye of all painted on her back, and she just will not fall.  That she's my personal  favorite shouldn't come as a shock to any who know me.  You will underestimate her at your peril. :-)

Michele Bachmann has had to contend with "Are you a flake?" from one of the biggest flakes on the air (other than Chris Matthews), Chris Wallace.

And now that our governor Rick Perry seems very likely to enter the race, the heavy artillery is being zeroed in on him.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fw: How Dry Is It In Texas?

About three weeks ago, one of my best friends forwarded an email to me, which I in turn forwarded by publishing it as a post.

Another good friend forwarded the following email to me, and here I go posting it as well.

That last post resulted in a commenter opening up on me with both barrels, about factual inaccuracies in that email, and I received an education.

This time, I'm gonna use the email as inspiration, and as a skeleton for a much larger and more diverse post.  In other words, I'll probably go all over the map.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Vietnam's most infamous photo ...

... has so much back story that you probably never knew.

Foxfier  has just done what I sometimes do on occasion;  publish a post that is mostly a reference to another post by someone else, because it is almost impossible to build and improve on what that someone else has said.

So, she brings it to your attention.

And, here I am adding yet another link to the chain, because I can't improve on it either.

So, PLEASE, go to her Pictures Lie  post, and find and click on the  "a post on a very famous picture" link.  It ain't pretty, but it sure as Hell is an eye-opener. (Changed link - see update at end.)

If the late Paul Harvey was still reporting, it would be one of his "... and now, you know the rest of the story." pieces.

Give her blog a try; she's very smart, very interesting, and very patient.

How do I know that last part?

In a recent comment exchange, she expressed worry (not too much worry; she keeps things in perspective and has a sense of humor) that she might have annoyed me over a slight political difference.  I reassured her, beginning,
  "Kid, you don't know what annoyance is."

As soon as I had hit the "Post Comment" button, the thought came,
  "Did I just say that to a mother of teen-agers?!!!".

That I'm still breathing is a testament to her patience (or, perhaps to the 2000+ miles separating us :-)

Update - 20:40, 03 Jul 2011 - FYI - Neo-neocon covered much of this ground in Jan 2008 in A mind is a difficult thing to change: (Part 7B: the Vietnam photos revisited)

Addendum - 05 Jul 2011 - Here's a bit more of what Foxfier's post was about.


Using "infamous" in terms of "spin" (The photos becoming ammunition for protest against the war), the two most infamous photos to come out of the Vietnam War were:
 1) The photo of South Vietnam's Chief of National Police General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan summarily executing a captured Viet Cong by shooting him in the head.
 2) The "Napalm Girl" photo of a young girl running naked down the street from a napalm attack on her village.

Neo has dealt with both of those photos in her post.

Foxfier concentrates on the first;...
 (Photo from neo-neocon's post linked above)

... her post mostly referring to the link I mentioned.  Comments on Foxfier's post make essential reading, for reasons that will become clear below.

From Who, what, where, why and when?  (This is the post that Foxfier linked to) ...

...the picture was taken on February 1st, 1968 in Saigon.  This information is significant because the Tet Offensive, a well coordinated countrywide North Vietnamese attack, was launched the day before, on January 31, 1968.
"Nguyễn Văn Lém [the executed man] commanded a Viet Cong death squad, which on that day had murdered South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in their stead, the police officers' families; these sources said that Lém was captured near the site of a ditch holding as many as thirty-four bound and shot bodies of police and their relatives, some of whom were the families of General Nguyễn's deputy and close friend, and six of whom were Nguyễn's godchildren." (Emphasis mine)

A bit confusing because of the common family names (which come first in Asia), the bottom line is that the General was the godfather of six of the murdered children.

So, he's got this bastard, who is NOT in any kind of uniform and is therefore subject to summary execution by the laws of his country.  His city is in chaos and there's no guarantee that he could even find a safe place to hold this guy.  What would you do in his place?

The AP photographer, Eddie Adams, later said... 
“The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths

Adams continued, "This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have..."

Adams was very remorseful about the effect that his photo had on the rest of the General's life (after the fall of Saigon, the General, on his own, managed to get out and made his way to Virginia, where he died in 1998).

That picture contributed to our weariness of the Vietnam War and therefore can be legitimately considered as helping the country to eventually fall.

In the comments to her post, Foxfier opens up on Adams with both barrels...
The General was a better man than I am-- I most assuredly would have held the man that lied about me like that responsible for the results, as well as the massive amount of damage to my home nation.

A little further down from that comment, she reloads and let's loose with what would suffice as a bottom line, but she still has more to say.  Very definitely worth a look.

Update 03 Jun 2012 - Foxfier used to have a blogspot (Google's Blogger.com) address. She had issues with them (she ain't the only one) and finally said "adios", and is now on Wordpress. So, I fixed the links.

Update 04 Jun 2012 - In the 05 Jul 2011 Addendum, I vented (at length) about people not following links. While it may have felt good to get it out of my system, it contributed absolutely nothing to the post, and pretty well obliterated the focus.  After some encouragement from a writer to whose attention I brought this post, I decided to weed that out. While still not all that great, the post is definitely better without the rant. And it only took me eleven months to figure that out. :-)


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