26 January 2005

It's a round story on our square page

[source, source]

I want you to try to imagine how the major media might cover the following story.

A Muslim family of four, known for boldly proselytizing the Islamic faith in the shadow of where the World Trade Center stood before Sept. 11, 2001, is bound, gagged and murdered execution-style, throats slit, jewelry left behind.

I don’t know about you, but I can almost envision the Page 1 New York Times coverage of this apparent “hate crime.” I can almost hear the hand-wringing pundits fretting about this undeserved, unwarranted backlash against innocent Muslims. I am almost certain a week after such an attack there would be calls for new sensitivity in the way Muslims are portrayed in newscasts and entertainment programming. You can be certain the self-appointed Muslim-American and Arab-American spokesmen would be getting maximum face time brining international attention to America’s intolerance toward Islam.

Tragically, an attack like this actually took place last week in Jersey City, N.J. – though it wasn’t a Muslim family, it was a family of Egyptian Coptic Christians who fled persecution in their homeland for the safety and security and freedom of the USA.

Is this bias or fright on the part of Old Media? Or being willing to pay any price tomorrow for peace today?

Posted by orbital at 9:30 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Oh Canada!


There’s little to say about the tragedy of Canada’s response to the tsunami tragedy that hasn’t already been said. A lot of excuses have been bandied about for why Canadian soldiers weren’t sent, when Australia, Taiwan, Israel, and other countries despatched forces early, and the American military launched its largest operation in the area since Vietnam to try to save lives.

In the end, though, the answer’s pretty simple: 600 tonnes.

That’s the amount of airlift required to move the DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team). Since Canada only has the 4 CC-150 Polaris (modified Airbuses) for strategic airlift, with a cargo capacity of 13 tonnes each, rapid deployment of DART anywhere outside the effective ferry range of our 30-odd additional short-range Herc transports (ie, off this continent) was a mathematical impossibility, without civilian airlift… and civilian airlift is in pretty short supply at the moment.


Unfortunately, as was commented on at the time, that mentality makes it now effectively impossible to deploy in natural disaster scenarios, as well. DART, an Eggleton “first-in” project, has atrophied to the point where it proved undeployable even to Haiti during the hurricanes last year. If all this makes you wonder how effective the CF might be if that earthquake had been off of Vancouver Island, instead of Aceh, well, you probably should wonder. It’s certainly not encouraging. Hopefully the Americans will have an aircraft carrier free then, too.

How did the nation that took Juno beach come to this pass?

Posted by orbital at 9:19 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL


O green striped rod
so warm in my hand,
ringed by gold,
and black capped,
screwed on or off.
Plunge you, i do,
into your azure bath
of darkest liquor,
wherefor to quench
your thirsty tip.
Then lovingly i wipe
clean the leaky dew
from your gleaming
golden head.
May i hold you to
my parting lips
as i ponder
a newer note?
My pelikan, my love,
what pleasure you bring!
i will stroke you lightly
and only across
the cleanest,
whitest sheets.


What can I say, I’m one of those pen freaks you hear muttered tales of.

Posted by orbital at 7:24 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

That was then, this is now


While I was trying to find out whether BBC reporter and presenter Jeremy Paxman had explicitly endorsed the idea that HIV is a manufactured virus (see previous post) — apparently he did not — I came across a new 2002 edition of his book, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemical & Biological Warfare, with a newly written final chapter; and the final chapter said something which, in the context of the way the BBC has covered the Iraq war, is almost as startling.

Most of that final chapter is a strong argument trying to convince the reader that Saddam Hussein kept his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons after the first Gulf War, and that, at the time of the writing and publication of the new edition in 2001 and 2002, Saddam had an active program of producing chemical and biological weapons. Indeed, the new chapter is one of the most powerfully persuasive pieces of writing in favor of the idea of taking action against Saddam Hussein that I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t know better, I might have guessed that Tony Blair or Christopher Hitchens had written it.

Doesn’t exactly sound like the BBC’s point of view these days, does it?

I find quite plausible the author’s theory that back then tales of chemical warfare could be used to bash the USA, but later there were better ways to do such bashing that would be contra-indicated by pointing out what people thought about the Ba’ath and WMD before the invasion.

Posted by orbital at 7:21 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

I won't be foiled by those pesky kids


Third graders at a mostly black, mostly poor school in Rockford, Illinois aced the state reading tests, coming in second behind a school for gifted students, a few years after their school adopted scripted, teacher-directed instruction in phonics in the early grades. But fifth graders, who’d been taught under the “balanced literacy” method, were reading poorly, so the principal expanded the direct instruction program to all grades. The district relieved the principal of her instructional duties and ordered a return to “balanced literacy,” reports the Rockford Register Star.

The original instructional system was the same one in use at another school which has high reading scores. Therefore, obviously it should be use at all schools regardless of the actual results at those schools.

Posted by orbital at 7:14 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL