05 December 2009

Last Call

My dear, dear friends,

Ah, welcome once again. Five years have passed since I arrived in this humble corner of the Internet, and more than four years have passed since I last addressed you in this fashion. An occasion to reveal myself has presented itself once again, but time is short, so do pay attention. A great deal has happened in the intervening period, and I, for one, couldn't be happier. My supervisors are beside themselves, and Our Father Below is absolutely thrilled - even he couldn't have dreamed that his plan could have turned out so well as it has of late. Don't get me wrong, his happiness turns him into even more of an arrogant prick than we usually fear, but I don't mind. It runs in the family.

It all started with subtle hits to collective discipline, temperance, and common sense. A poor decision here, a bit of excess there. Patterns emerge, habits are established, and all we have to do is wait. They say that patience is a virtue, but what about the evil within us? Is patience in the pursuit of evil and vice virtuous? Something tells me that when the moth is captured in the spider's web, the moth doesn't see the goodness in the spider's patience during the course of spinning a web, and then waiting for its prey. Instead, the moth looks on in sheer horror as the panic grows, until the spider devours it, bit by little bit. When a young Iraqi or Afghan digs a hole and puts a bomb into it, then waits in the heat of the sun for his target to arrive before pushing the button that sends shrapnel through the body of another young man, is that patience virtuous? Patience. Like any other virtue, it can be corrupted, and it can be used to corrupt other virtues, other positive qualities. Discipline. Temperance. Common sense.

Even though they will disagree on their nature, most people will at least agree to the existence of false gods. We were patient. We coaxed a few here, a few there, starting decades and centuries ago. We nudged some among you to disbelieve one thing, and others to believe in another. We convince one woman, through rumor or innuendo, to worship nature and value animals, or plants, or water over the lives of human beings. Then, we convince a man that a particular philosophy that causes only anger and suffering is no better or worse than another philosophy that leads its adherents to happiness and charity. Eventually, in a painstaking process that takes decades, or generations, we have turned you all against one another, in one faction or another, until society and politics congeal like cement to prevent you from working amongst yourselves to solve any problem that comes to haunt you. The sheer devastation is gorgeous - the chaos and global fatigue are as beautiful to my associates and me as any beauty that you could possibly perceive with your own eyes.

The result is that, of late, a world of your own making (resulting, of course, from our gentle and subtle suggestion) has fallen apart around you. A healthy desire for personal comfort has been combined with a national pressure to own anything and everything, to the point of believing that you must have things that you neither want nor need, regardless of whether you can pay for it - and this, "credit" as you call it, has fallen apart throughout the world, like a house of cards. We have delighted in observing the collapse, from New York, to London, to Moscow, to Dubai, to Beijing, to Tokyo and everywhere in between. The collapse of your systems of commerce and trade are a chaos that we can delight in, because we played such a crucial role in engineering it. Like a dock worker appreciating a ship he helped to build, or a carpenter touching the grooves in a finely crafted piece of furniture that he built from rough wood, we appreciate what you've done, because we inspired you to do it.

You are so disunited and confused, that the financial chaos is only a fraction of the complete chaotic picture - a symptom not of a failure in the system itself, but of a greater failure of your own selves. You argue about your own self defense, to the point that your nations and their far-flung outposts are ill-prepared to defend the very institutions that made you great. You put innocuous labels on the murder of babies, you disarm your neighbors until they lack the means to defend themselves, you turn gluttony into a national sport, and you sit idle, rather than doing good. These may seem unrelated to you, but they all stem from the same source: a patient, relentless campaign of seduction and sedition by a handful of talented, dedicated agents, who have combined their efforts to subvert and pervert your collective virtues, while solidifying your collective vices. Despite the insidious efforts of the Enemy, we have engineered a great victory for Our Father Below, in the form of this unholy turmoil. And the blame can be spread throughout the lot of you: whether Christian or atheist, liberal or conservative, few among you can honestly claim to lack any part in this mess. However, and unfortunately, these things do always seem to have a habit of coming back around, and though things may be delightfully bad at the moment, the Enemy always seems to marshall his forces and win a greater victory against us in this constant game. Perhaps those in the employ of Our Father Below are only forestalling the inevitable, crushing defeat; but as you can see, we're doing a great deal of excruciatingly delicious damage in the mean time.

Patience, to undermine discipline, temperance, and common sense. The best plans are simple ones, and this plan has been perfect in its simplicity.

Through the last five years, I have done my part to give you a sporting chance - a nugget here, a tidbit there. One might wonder why I would have made such an effort, with such little chance of payout. Perhaps the truth is that there is still a streak of good left in me. I can't honestly say that I know the answer to that question, but sometimes the question itself holds more value than the answers. Perhaps it was all for my own benefit and amusement - let's face it, there was very little chance back then that my information would have been spread far among you, and fewer and fewer have bothered to look at these dispatches as the years have slipped away from us. I seem to have made it out none the worse for wear, and for that I will be forever thankful. Yet, after five years, the time has come for this intrepid Fly to move on to other projects. This is not to say that I may not emerge again, in some other venue, to pass news of our work, or further hints at what could be done to stop us; however, this will be the final dispatch in this location, if for no other reason than the growing obsolescence of this particular medium. And, of course, there are other tasks to be accomplished - even assuming a long and destructive life ahead of me, there will never be enough time, there is no way to reclaim it, and the Enemy stopped manufacturing it years ago, so I must get into the habit of being more efficient with the stock that I have been given.

And thus, the time for goodbyes has arrived at long last.

So goodbye, Mighty Mo - of all those I met during the course of this wicked endeavour, you have been my favorite, and you won't be rid of me for a long time yet.

Goodbye, Father Time. I have delighted in our shared destructive pursuits since long before I started these cryptic dispatches, and even longer before I compelled you, quite by accident, to join in the fun. I look forward to your inclusion on the destructions of the future.

Goodbye, Sarah Canuck. You have been my faithful reader, and one of my most delighful partners in evil, and perhaps a reduction in keystrokes will allow us to delight in each other even more.

Goodbye, April. I hope that we meet again, someday, somehow, if for no other reason than the fact that you deserve a better most recent memory of me than the last one I that I gave you.

Goodbye, Themis, Goddess of Justice, or Triathlon Goddess, or Law School Goddess, or whatever it is that we finally settled on. I hope that you find whatever it is that you're running to. And swimming to. And bicycling to. There may be some more. Rowing to? It's all a bit too focused for my taste.

Goodbye to F3, and to The Mirror, and to Habibi, all of whom broke my heart in their own ways, and in their own times. Parting may indeed be such sweet sorrow, but luckily enough for me, absence has failed to make my heart grow any fonder for any of you, and I hope that you all get what you deserve.

And a fond goodbye to Manda, Sipidation, Jacob Copper, Harley, Lycan Thrope, The Poosh, M@, Mormon Buddha, Sarge, Gunny, EgyptJen, Bulldog, and perhaps a dozen or more other past denizens who have gone on to other things, or who still comment on occasion. They will forever be part of the flavor of these reports.

And goodbye, Bane. I imagine you're rubbing elbows with the Enemy by now, but know that we miss you - both good and evil can appreciate that wit of yours, wherever you've taken it.

And so, I will continue to seek out a place where the streets have no name, a land as white as snow. Although I still haven't found what I'm looking for, those of you who really need to know will discover ways to keep abreast of my various comings and goings - I am confident that as I walk away, you will follow. And before you ask, no, that's not some stupid insinuation that I would waste my time with Twitter - even Our Father Below couldn't have conjured something that inane, insipid, and pompous. "Micro-blogging" idiocy aside, I have delighted in your collective patronage over these past five years. As I continue to walk the walls in search of my own particular exit from my own personal Van Diemen's Land, into my own particular flavor of a proverbial City of Blinding Lights - be it in Red Rocks, Sydney, Mexico City, Boston, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Milan, Dublin, or even Zoo Station - I will remember your contributions to these dispatches, and to my continuing time as a Wanderer, with great affection. I have delighed in being your most excellent host, and I hope that you have delighted in being guests in this strangely distorted perspective into my life.

And with that, I bid you a fond farewell. Don't be sad - I'll see you again, when the stars fall from the sky, and the moon has turned red over One Tree Hill (which is to say, when the right opportunity presents itself). And now, there are some things that must be rearranged, before the change runs out completely...

Your increasingly and ravenously affectionate host,
The Fly

04 December 2009

Wherein The Fly Thrives in Chaos and Uncertainty

Last night was very productive, but very busy. Here's the news, much of which is about Afghanistan.

  • CNN: Former Soviet general: U.S. can't win - We can win; I fear that President Obama's ideology will prevent us from winning.
  • CNN: U.S. lawmakers question 2011 Afghan exit plan
  • BBC: Italy 'to boost Afghan mission'
  • Guardian: Obama's friends and enemies hit out at withdrawal date
  • Times: Obama war strategy attacked from both sides, Republican doves begin to hatch - Republicans support the troops. Republicans, by and large, are mature enough to understand that military force is too often the only answer to pressing international challenges. However, Republicans will continue to be reticent to send American troops into harm's way under politically-imposed circumstances that prevent such sacrifices from accomplishing anything relevant to our own national security. That's not being a dove - that's being realistic.
  • Times: "At last. Obama’s vision offers hope for all sides" - Huh. That's funny, I usually expect ignorant idiocy from The Guardian, not The Times.
  • Times: The West must talk; the Taleban need only wait
  • Michael Totten: Obama's Afghanistan Speech
  • Der Spiegel: Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic

    I'm very, very worried about the direction that President Obama is trying to take this war. The economy is in real trouble; our country may be damaged beyond the point of no return if we give up in Afghanistan based on arbitrary time tables and a lack of national will and perspective.

  • Deadly bus explosion in Damascus kills Iranian pilgrims (BBC, Guardian); Guardian: Explosion shakes Syrian security
  • CNN: Climate research head resigns after leaked emails
  • Copenhagen talks must fail: top scientist (Guardian, Times) - James Hansen has lost any possible trace of credibility.
  • AP: Chechen Rebels Claim Deadly Russian Train Bombing
  • BBC: [Pakistani] Drug addicts offered therapy - and military training - Oh, great.
  • BBC: Mauritanian police chief sacked [following Spanish kidnapping]
  • BBC: North Korean designer jeans go on sale in Sweden - Thanks for the help, Sweden. Wankers...
  • Guardian: Libya convicts Swiss over Gaddafi's son
  • Guardian: Indefinite population growth is not an option - It's a good thing for us that global population is declining.
  • Times: US troops destroy Royal Navy's beer stash - I love beer. If I were in Iraq or Afghanistan, I wouldn't drink beer - and let's face it, beer is as much a part of my culture as it is a part of British, or French, or German, or Italian culture. These frequent stories of European soldiers drinking while deployed is a statement to the symptomatic breakdown in discipline and professionalism among many European units during the course of the last twenty or thirty years. It's very unfortunate.
  • Times: British Navy shows Iraqi sailors the ropes
  • Times: Sympathy letter from Gordon Brown arrives two years after soldier's death - A few months ago, I posted a link to a BBC audio slideshow entitled Soldier and Son, in which Ian Sadler talked about his son, Jack Sadler, over still photographs of Jack. Jack Sadler died in Afghanistan in 2007. I apparently missed the fact that Jack Sadler died in 2007, instead of 2009; Gordon Brown and his staff apparently missed the fact that they hadn't sent the condolence letter to Jack Sadler's father, Ian. Truly pathetic of the Brown Government - completely and totally unacceptable. Gordon Brown is going to lose the upcoming election, and he and the Labour Party deserve to lose the upcoming election.

    Check in tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is Saturday. Check in tomorrow. Until then, have an excellent Friday.
  • Fly Report: 04th December 2009

    Good morning. This is the last time that I will show my face; one last tender lie, and then I'm out of this place.

    It's 9° Centigrade and cloudy in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 26° Fahrenheit with partial clouds.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $76.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,366.15. The exchange rate is $1.66 for £1, or £0.60 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is boring. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 18. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky. It's no secret that our world is in darkness tonight. They say the sun is sometimes eclipsed by a moon, you know I don't see you when she walks in the room. It's no secret that a friend is someone who lets you help. It's no secret that a liar won't believe anyone else. They say a secret is something you tell one other person, so I'm telling you, child. And love, we shine like a falling star, we're falling from the sky tonight. A man will beg, a man will crawl, on the sheer face of love, like a fly on a wall, it's no secret at all. It's no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest. It's no secret ambition bites the nails of success. Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief. All kill their inspiration and sing about the grief. Oh, and love, we shine like a burning star, we're falling from the sky tonight. A man will rise, a man will fall, from the sheer face of love, like a fly on a wall, it's no secret at all. Oh, love, we shine like a burning star, we're falling from the sky tonight. And, love, we shine like a burning star, we're falling from the sky tonight. A man will rise, a man will fall, from the sheer face of love, like a fly on a wall. It's no secret at all. It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky - the universe exploded 'cause of one man's lie. Look, yeah, I gotta go, yeah, I'm running out of change. There's a lot of things, if I could I'd rearrange.

    03 December 2009

    Great Challenges of The Fly's Generation

    Hey, folks. Busy night last night, and lots to do this morning, so just news today.

    President Obama and Afghanistan:
  • Obama orders Afghanistan troop buildup (CNN, Guardian, Wired)
  • BBC: Nato pledges 5,000 Afghan troops; Times: McChrystal welcomes surge as Nato pledges troops; AFP: French cautious on more troops for Afghanistan, France open to more training, aid for Afghanistan - NATO has been the weak link in the Afghan fight since the 2001 invasion, and I find it difficult to muster any newfound confidence in their pledges.
  • Guardian: Barack Obama's Churchill moment - Leave it to someone writing for The Guardian to compare President Obama to Winston Churchill. Ladies and gentlemen, President Obama is no Winston Churchill; he's nothing like Winston Churchill.
  • Guardian: Not a surge but a ripple in Afghanistan - "If this is a counter-insurgency strategy, even with these extra troops from the US and UK, it's woefully undermanned." And how.
  • AFP: Obama struggles with Afghan exit dilemma - The fact that he's talking about pulling troops out of Afghanistan prior to the end of the 2009-2013 presidential term demonstrates that President Obama has no understanding of this conflict whatsoever, and that he's ignoring what his generals and other experts are telling him.

    To quote a recent article by Michael Yon:

    We ask Afghans for help in defeating the enemies, yet the Afghans expect us to abandon them. Importantly, Mr. Filkins pointed out that Afghans don’t like to see Americans living in tents. Tents mean nomads. It would be foolish for Afghans in “Talibanastan” to cooperate with nomadic Americans only to be eviscerated by the Taliban when the nomads pack up. (How many times did we see this happen in Iraq?) The Afghans want to see us living in real buildings as a sign of permanency. The British at Sangin and associated bases live in temporary structures as is true with American bases in many places. Our signals are clear. “If you are coming to stay,” Afghans have told me in various ways, “build a real house.” “Build a real office.” “Don’t live in tents.” We saw nearly the opposite in Iraq where pressure evolved to look semi-permanent. The Dr. Jekyll–Mr. Hyde situation in Iraq seemed to seriously catch hold by 2006 or 2007, by which time Iraqis realized we were not going to steal oil and might decide to pull out while leaving them ablaze in civil war.

    In other words, by setting such short-term time tables for withdrawal, President Obama is effectively ceding the conflict to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

    "Global Warming"/"Climate Change":
  • [Australian] Senate rejects Rudd climate plan (BBC, Guardian, Times); Times: Australia gives carbon scheme one last try - The fact that the Australians have effectively stopped this climate change debacle right in its tracks in their own country could be a great harbinger of things to come in other nations. We can only hope that the U.S. Congress will see the handwriting on the wall and back off on the Cap and Trade/"Cap and Tax" push, which is guaranteed to do nothing but cripple an already weak American economy.
  • Fox: Facing Scandal, Head of Climate Research Lab to Temporarily Step Down
  • Guardian: 'Do you feel uncomfortable travelling between various homes in various continents at enormous carbon cost?' - Apparently the host of the Newsnight program effectively called Sting, one of the most ardent environmentalists in show business, out on the carpet for his huge carbon footprint. Very, very interesting.
  • Times: Cost of fighting global warming 'to double' - The question is quickly becoming whether or not we should adjust to climate change (if it even exists), or spend ourselves into poverty and chaos in futile attempts to change the weather. I prefer cool climates, but if the world is destined to get warmer, I'm more eager to deal with the natural fallout from global warming (if it even exists) than watch as the generation or two ahead of mine destroy any chance at me and my children and my grandchildren having any sort of a future. As a recent Heritage Foundation lecture pointed out, the proposed "cure" is worse than the alleged disease.
  • The Jefferson Hour: The Fraudulent Attack on “Clean Coal” - Have They Been to Stanton?

    Everything Else:
  • Ahmadinejad: Russia 'made a mistake' in IAEA vote (CNN, AFP)
  • CNN: UN halts funds to China wind farms
  • BBC: Uzbekistan withdraws from Central Asian power grid - Apparently, the Uzbeks are withdrawing from a Soviet-era power grid that serves Central Asia's former Soviet republics. Somewhat interesting.
  • BBC: Libya sentences Swiss men to jail - Crazy Uncle Moammar is still pissed about his son Hannibal being arrested last year when he got into some brawls in Switzerland.
  • BBC: Google to limit free news access
  • Guardian: Moving towards a united Christianity
  • Times: Technology ‘must drive global emissions cuts’ - 'New chairman of BP says businesses must take lead in cutting wastage and demand for domestic and international travel.' - Works for me. The solution to environmental challenges is greater efficiency, rather than punishing business in countries that actually make an effort to reduce pollution.
  • AFP: Northrop, Airbus threaten to pull out of tanker bid: Pentagon - Oh, this could get really, really interesting.
  • AFP: Game theorists hope to solve world's crises - Yeah, 'cause that worked really well for the Department of Defense from 1991 through 2003.

    Have a great Thursday, folks, and check back tomorrow for more.
  • Fly Report: 03rd December 2009

    Good morning. If the thief comes here tonight, I hope to see you on the other side.

    It's 9° Centigrade and cloudy in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 16° Fahrenheit with snow flurries.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $77.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,452.68. The exchange rate is $1.66 for £1, or £0.60 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is boring. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 17. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    All that you fashion, all that you make, all that you build, and all that you break, all that you measure, all that you steal, all this you can leave behind.

    02 December 2009

    Wherein The Fly is Fired Up

    The good news: I was crazy productive last night, having accomplished everything but my scheduled Arabic lesson (which can be doubled up on tonight); this includes a swim workout, push-ups and sit-ups, stretching, preparing a pomegranate for breakfast, preparing two days worth of work clothes, and watching Chuck while I did it. The bad news? Just the news today, but there are some pretty profound discussions from yours truly regarding climate change "science"/policy, and abortion/"health care" policy. Read on.

  • 5 Brits Taken to Iran After Yacht Stopped in Iranian Waters (Fox, CNN, BBC, Guardian, Guardian, Times) - Is there anyone who the Iranians won't illegally detain anymore? First British sailors and Marines, then more British sailors and Marines, then three lost hikers in Kurdistan, and now this?
  • Australia vote deals climate law blow (BBC, Guardian); Times: Climate Change Scientists Admit Dumping Data; BBC: 'Show Your Working': What 'ClimateGate' means - Finally, the "scientists" who give the "evidence" of so-called "climate change" are seeing their ill-gotten credibility rescinded. I'm all for sustainability, and I'm all for government taking some role in making it happen, but this global warming/climate change hogwash has been a disaster in the making since day one. It appears that some folks are finally getting wise to the fact that this isn't science at all; but rather, partisans in positions of authority who have abused their hold over inconclusive data to influence international policy. This is simply unacceptable.
  • AP: Samuel Adams Beer Pushes the Envelop on Extreme Beer - Samuel Adams makes many awesome beers, they're one of the best brewers in the country, and I almost always have at least one of their products incorporated into my periodic Beer Runs. Samuel Adams Beer is representative of everything that is good and right in America.
  • CNN: Hezbollah blames U.S. for all terrorism - Yeah. Okay.
  • BBC: Saddam TV channel drops off air three days after launch
  • BBC: Spain fears Mauritania kidnap was al-Qaeda
  • Guardian: Dubai bans sale of the Sunday Times - Ha!
  • Guardian: The religious right redux - The writer tries to make the claim that it's the "religious right" who are trying to derail the absolute disaster of a health care reform plan that's currently languishing in the Senate. As both a social conservative and a taxpayer, my question is this: why should my tax dollars be used to fund something that I find morally objectionable, and that - worst case, but most common scenario - involves people making poor decisions? Let's face it, most abortions in this country do not result from rape and incest, and the vast majority of conservatives are willing to accept abortion in those cases. Most abortions happen because people - let's face it, both men and women, because it takes two - are too irresponsible to either use protection, take birth control medication, or abstain from sex. I'm twenty-seven years old, and I have never put myself in a position where I could possibly get a young woman pregnant. Moral objections aside, why should money that I worked hard to make, and that the government scarcely has any right to in the first place, be used to fund abortions for people who don't care to be as responsible as me? Nice try, Guardian, but you fail again.
  • Guardian: Building intolerance in Switzerland - Yeah, it's the Swiss who are intolerant, not the immigrants. Totally.
  • Times: Evidence of life on Mars lurks beneath surface of meteorite, Nasa experts claim - Not this rubbish, again...
  • AFP: Iran Guards take over naval forces in Gulf: US intelligence
  • UPI: Falklands oil quest takes off - Isn't that interesting, twenty-seven years later?

    Have I sufficiently pissed enough people off with this post? Alright, well, check back in tomorrow for more from yours truly. In the mean time, off I go to save the world.
  • Fly Report: 02nd December 2009

    Good morning. I'm about to do something amazing, and nobody even knows it's coming.

    It's 8° Centigrade and partly cloudy in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 24° Fahrenheit with partial clouds.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $78.40. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,471.58. The exchange rate is $1.66 for £1, or £0.60 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is gorgeous. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 16. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    What you leave behind, you don't miss anyway.

    01 December 2009

    Driving Around in a Circle

    First, the news.

  • Swiss Approve Constitutional Ban on Mosque Minarets (AP, Guardian, Times); BBC: Swiss referendum 'reflects unease with Islam - I'm all for tolerance and freedom of religion. At the same time, in any free society, there has to be an expectation that if immigrants want to enjoy the benefits of a particular society, they must assimilate into that society. Many immigrants to European countries who arrive from Islamic cultures make no effort to assimilate into the cultures and societies that, by their very natures, produce the benefits that draw immigrants in. The Swiss decision, while obviously controversial and difficult, reflects a public backlash over a refusal of one culture to acquiesce to the society into which it has moved.
  • Spanish aid workers abducted in Mauritania (CNN, BBC, Guardian)
  • Telegraph: Leeds university advertises for lap dance research officer - It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do that research. I assume that Sam-Wise's application is in the mail.
  • AP: Iran Earmarks $20M for Militant Groups Opposing West
  • CNN: U.S. military faces operation pack up [in Iraq]
  • CNN: Britain to host Afghan conference - That should be fun. I wonder what they'll talk about?
  • BBC: What is the appeal of Scottish identity? - Uh, it's awesome?
  • BBC: Australian aims to breed 'green' sheep that burp less
  • BBC: Indian soldiers' tricky role in southern Lebanon
  • BBC: Equipment 'ready' for UK troop increase in Afghanistan - Sure it is. Really. The MoD has been fantastic with their equipment so far, right? Right!?
  • Guardian: Glenn Beck: the renegade running the opposition to Obama - I think that may be overstating Beck's role a bit.
  • Guardian: [British] ID cards now available. Count me out. - "People in Manchester can now sign up for an ID card. Let's use the occasion to say a firm no to the database state."
  • Guardian: What a mess our [British] military has made
  • Guardian: Today's fanatic, tomorrow's saint
  • Times: Get us bin Laden, Brown urges Pakistan - You tell 'em, Gordon. I'm sure asking nicely will work really well. You know, with Pakistan. They're amenable to praise and motivation, right?
  • Times: Don't give in to terror, patriarch tells Russia
  • Times: Jeremy Clarkson: I'm so dead - shot by both sides in the website war - As usual, Clarkson's piece is very, very good.
  • AFP: Swiss reject arms exports ban
  • Just for Fun: SPURMO - "Single Proud UnmarRied Men Over thirty". Hysterical.

    Okay, so I didn't blog about half of last week, because I went to Maryland for Thanksgiving. While locations and identities will remain undisclosed, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with my former boss and my former boss's family, so I rolled up on Wednesday and came back on Friday. I've taken I-95 from Van Diemen's Station to the Beltway area and beyond on a couple of occasions thus far, but I'd never A) been to Delaware, or B) taken the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This became the opportunity to do both. Here are a few reactions.

  • I-95 sucks. DC traffic sucks. Driving on the West Coast, even in traffic, is a joy compared to the chore of driving on the East Coast.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge outside Annapolis, Maryland, is completely and totally awesome. Even though it's a toll bridge, it gives an astonishingly magnificient view of the Chesapeake Bay from a very high elevation. It was absolutely the highlight of the drive as far as I'm concerned. (Satellite Image)
  • Parts of "DELMARVA" - the Eastern Shore nexus of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia - bear a resemblance to rural parts of the West Coast, which was surprising. There were times when I felt like I could have been rolling through Oregon, Washington, or even parts of Idaho - fewer tall trees, but a very similar farm feeling, which I wasn't expecting.
  • I've been through Delaware now, and as far as I'm concerned, I can cross that off my list, forever. Pretty boring, and I didn't see a single thing worth stopping for. I'm surprised that they continue to let it be a state, although to be historically accurate, since they were the first state to ratify the Constitution, we're probably all Americans at their allowance. Isn't that depressing?
  • Route 13 on the Eastern Shore is exceptionally boring, and it's annoying because there's a seventy or eighty mile stretch in which the speed limit drops from 55 to 50, or 45, and then goes back up to 55 every few miles for the benefit of a handful of "towns". It's really a dreadful drive, and I'm sure it will probably serve my purpose the next time I decide to go up to Maryland, but it was pretty miserable.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (Satellite Image), while not quite as cool as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, was still very cool. For those who are unaware, the Hampton Roads area of Virginia is serviced by three bridge-tunnels, which allow transit across the Chesapeake Bay and the James River for motorists while simultaneously allowing ships to transit the same waters. The view from the CBBT was also pretty cool, and my guess is that it's probably the longest bridge (bridge system?) I've ever driven over (twenty-three miles).
  • Van Diemen's Station still isn't (and never will be) "home", but it's good to be back. Hopefully, it will be good to leave again for good at some point in the near future, though I have no solid prospects for that at the moment.

    Alright, that's it for today, folks. Have a great Tuesday, and check back tomorrow for more from yours truly.
  • Fly Report: 01st December 2009

    Good morning. There is nothing new under the sun.

    It's 4° Centigrade and partly cloudy in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 31° Fahrenheit with snow.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $78.11. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,344.84. The exchange rate is $1.64 for £1, or £0.61 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is cool. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 15. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    I have held the hand of the devil. It was warm in the night; I was cold as a stone.

    30 November 2009

    Beer Run: November 2009

    First, the news catch-up from last week.

  • Afghanistan decision to come within days (CNN, BBC) - So much for President Obama being prepared to lead a war on "day one". His lackluster, half-assed, sluggish handling of Afghanistan thus far has been an absolute joke, and every day that he's delayed has made it more difficult for our troops to win.
  • Iraq luring 'virtual visitors' to Mesopotamia's treasures (CNN, Times)
  • Fox: Man Marries Virtual Girlfriend ... With Public Reception - Behold: what our world is coming to.
  • Fox: Climate Skeptics See 'Smoking Gun' in Researchers' Leaked E-Mails - Uh, gee, ya think? The fanaticism over "climate change" has always been about pre-existing politics, moreso than it has ever been about a fictional looming catastrophe.
  • Fox: Pirates Attack Oil Tanker Off Africa's West Coast - Pay attention: west coast. Somalia is on the east coast of Africa. This means that the world must now also deal... With West African pirates!
  • AP: Afghan Provinces Get Millions to Reduce Opium Poppies - Believe it or not, opium eradication efforts are making progress.
  • AP: 2 IRA Dissidents Charged With Attempting to Kill Officer
  • AP: Taliban Leader Issues Muslim Holiday Message
  • Sky News: Man Who Made Predictions on TV Now on Saudi Death Row for 'Witchcraft' - It's tough to build a dialogue with any society that still executes people for witchcraft.
  • CNN: Zakaria: Did Obama get his message across in China? - Hope, change, we surrender, please stop censoring the Internet. Yeah, I think he got his point across.
  • CNN: Official: Pakistanis want Taliban defeat - Gee, ya think? The issue is a lack of security, not some latent public support for the Taliban. The locals hate the Taliban more than we hate the Taliban.
  • CNN: Italy debates public crosses
  • BBC: Jerusalem Diary: Hummus wars
  • BBC: Morocco's wine growers sniff success abroad
  • BBC: Belgian pleads guilty to US-Iran arms sales charge
  • BBC: Climate 'drives African conflict' - Oh, come on. Seriously? Idiots.
  • BBC: What is the future for Dutch troops in Afghanistan?
  • BBC: Gaddafi 'to mediate' football row - Algeria and Egypt are being so nasty to one another over a soccer game that Crazy Uncle Moammar has to be brought in to negotiate. Way to go, folks.
  • BBC: Climate cash is 'unaccounted for'
  • Guardian: Caught up in the Middle East's forgotten war [in Yemen]
  • Guardian: The mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiqui
  • Guardian: Will Murdoch's Bing gamble pay off? - Apparently Rupert Murdoch is working with Microsoft to try and hamstring Google. Very, very, very interesting.
  • Guardian: The voices of climate change sceptics
  • Guardian: Men's groups are fine by me, sister
  • Guardian: Afghanistan: time to go - "One things is clear: Nato's military mission has failed. We need to focus now on a power-sharing deal to enable an early withdrawal." Early withdrawal? I think that should read "surrender, cut and run, and give up". The Taliban don't share power. There are not moderate elements to the Taliban or al Qaeda. The only options are victory or surrender. Unfortunately, Europe lost the will to defend itself long ago.
  • Times: Pakistan fears over new Afghanistan strategy
  • Times: Colonel S is living proof that is possible to tackle Afghan corruption
  • Times: Chavez defends the 'bad guys' of the world
  • Times: Feral camels terrorise Outback community
  • Times: Obama's delay 'is affecting British support' - Gee, ya think?
  • Times Blog: Alpha Mummy: These Kids Have Too Many Sodding Toys
  • Wired Danger Room: US Turns to Trash Talk to Fight the Taliban
  • Wired Danger Room: Russian Prez Channels his Inner Rumsfeld - Why are the slack-jawed idiots at Wired always bagging on Rumsfeld? I'm sure they're far more intelligent than he is, right? And they have a much deeper understanding of military issues and foreign conflicts? Oh, wait, they don't, at all.
  • AFP: China slams 'prejudiced' US report on espionage
  • AFP: Few US firms ready for workforce disruption: survey
  • AFP: Obama to meet war cabinet on Afghanistan - Hasn't he been meeting with his war cabinet for months? President Obama's handling of Afghanistan has been a military and political disgrace thus far.
  • AFP: French warship in arms deal arrives in Russia
  • AFP: Chinese raided in Germany for spying on Uighurs: report
  • SPX: UK MoD Upgrade Bid Promises More Punch For Army Warriors
  • Defense Systems: Counter-IED task force established
  • Michael Yon: Afghan ideas from Great Britain

    Second, the beer run from Saturday.

  • Guinness Extra Stout
  • Harp Lager
  • Widmer Hefeweizen
  • Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier
  • Carlsberg
  • Blue Moon - Which is made by Coors!? Really?

    Check back tomorrow for more, including a recap of my Thanksgiving, which was awesome. Have a great Monday, folks!
  • Fly Report: 30th November 2009

    Good morning. You were always on my mind.

    It's 5° Centigrade and rainy in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 47° Fahrenheit with sunshine.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $76.28. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,309.92. The exchange rate is $1.65 for £1, or £0.61 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is beautiful. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 14. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    I'm not coming down.

    25 November 2009

    Stuff Fly Wants: November 2009

    Field Gear
  • British special forces style rucksack - £75.00
  • British SAS smock - £95.00
  • British Desert Under Armour Combat Shirt - £29.99 NEW
  • British Desert DPM trousers and shirt
  • MARPAT Desert Utilities - $67.98
  • Tiger Stripe Utilities - $39.98
  • Khaki Tru-Spec Tactical Response Uniform trousers (2) - $89.80
  • Sand Crye Precision Field Pants AC - $115.00
  • Sand Crye Precision Combat Shirt AC - $145.00 NEW
  • Khaki TRU-SPEC T.R.U. Combat Shirt - $50.99 NEW
  • U.S. Army ACU tan sweat-wicking uniform T-shirts (3)
  • Under Armour Cold Gear
  • 5.11 Tactical Polos (3) - $89.97
  • Rubbermaid 48 Gallon ActionPackers (2) - $69.99
  • Sony 8GB Walkman Video MP3 Player (black) - $119.95 (Amazon price $99.77)
  • Mini Cargo Pocket Organizer - $27.95
  • M9 Mag Pouch - $29.95
  • Bushmaster Deluxe Armorer's Kit - $180.95
  • FN FAL

    Household Items
  • Union Jack - $8.09
  • Amazing Pasta Maker [click me] - $39.95
  • Fouled Anchor lapel pin
  • Walther PPK
  • Roman Mainz Gladius - $144
  • The Maxim Coffin Coffee Table - $3995.00
  • Pawleys Island Tri-Beam Hammock Stand - $140.00
  • Pawleys Island Beach Quilted Hammock - $199.99 (Amazon price $184.36)
  • Discipline poster - $19.95
  • book case

  • Royal Marines T-Shirt - £10.96
  • More Cowbell T-Shirt - $20.00
  • Position Wanted: Pope T-Shirt - $12.99
  • Clan Cleland tartan kilt and kilt pin - $400.00 - $700.00
  • deer skin sporran

  • Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab - $7.99
  • Contact Zero by David Wolstencroft - $7.99

  • Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 - $49.98 (Amazon price $31.49
  • Best of Chris Isaak (CD & DVD) - $24.98 (Amazon price $22.99)
  • Kids in the Hall - Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 - $179.90 (Amazon price $155.98)
  • Gladiator Extended Edition - $35.98 (Amazon price $22.99)
  • Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier - $19.99 (Amazon price $13.99
  • Switchfoot - The Legend of Chin - $11.98
  • Stephanie Schneiderman - Live at Kung Fu Bakery - $15.98
  • Hootie & the Blowfish - The Best of 1993 Through 2003 - $11.98 (Amazon price $8.97)
  • Mystical Chants of Carmel by the Carmelite Monks - $18.95
  • Fly Report: 25th November 2009

    Good morning. I was just a skinny lad, never knew no good from bad, but I knew love before I left my nursery.

    It's 8° Centigrade and partly cloudy with wind in Kirkwall. In Cody, the forecast calls for a high of 50° Fahrenheit with partial clouds.

    A barrel of oil is trading at $75.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 10,433.71. The exchange rate is $1.66 for £1, or £0.60 for $1.

    Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is lame. The picture at the Orkneyjar Photoblog is not new.

    Today's scripture reading is Genesis 14. The Fly is currently reading The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force by Julian Thompson and Confessions by Augustine.

    Here today, and gone tomorrow.