Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Don't believe anything the big tech companies tell you about protecting your privacy.  Yes, I know, both Apple and Samsung now are offering encrypted email.  Great.  Google, especially if you're signed in, is recording every site you visit.  (I doubt they'll care if you visit my site. Nobody much cares who comes and goes.)

Go here.  Download Tor.  Stay (probably) safe from the NSA and whatnot.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meanwhile, Back in Syria...

So we are told that Obama administration personnel are "vetting" rebel groups in Syria to discover which are "moderate" enough to arm and train.  That may be unnecessary.  Lately, it looks like Bashir al-Assad is doing it for them.  Leaving fighting the Islamic State to the US and its "coalition," Assad's air force has been concentrating its efforts on eliminating the regime's other enemies — notably the less radical Islamist groups.  (Incidentally, the only secularists in Syria side with Assad.)

All the USofA can accomplish in Syria and Iraq is stirring the pot, and the best course of action for the USofA is to get the hell out, and let the regional powers — who have the most to lose — sort things out for themselves.

Friday, September 19, 2014

UK still U

The Scots have saved themselves a lot of very major hassles by voting "No" on statehood, and even more hassles for Alex Salmond, who now gets to, sort of, retire.  They really needed their own currency if they were going independent, and eighteen months would not have been enough time to get that organized.  Also, they would have needed to negotiate a relationship with the EU, figure out their new relationship with not-so-Great Britain, etc., etc.  Oh, yeah, and what about NATO?

Salmond is not entirely out of the picture, I suspect.  Those last-minute, craven crumblings by Cameron still are likely to demand some negotiation, and I can't see Salmond just staying out of it.  The Scottish Nationalist Party will need a bit of charismatic leadership, and Salmond fits the bill.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Here We Go Again

Yes, those guys from the Islamic State are truly terrible.  As you may have gleaned from my previous post, I was not terribly impressed by the beheading of those two American journalists — nobody is a war correspondent except by personal choice.  There have been a lot of other beheadings, though.  Every time ISIL overran some Iraqi army position, they sorted out the Shi'a "heretics" and lopped their heads off.  They made pretty convincing attempts at genocide against the Yazidis and the Maronite Christians.  I suppose somebody ought to stop them.

Somehow, though, I don't think the USofA can manage the job.  Yes, I know — we were the ones who broke Iraq, so, supposedly, we bought it.  Maybe it's time, however, to toss the broken pieces in the trash and move on.

Right now, we're arming and training Shite militias that were trying to kill us five years ago.  We're looking for "moderate" Syrian militias to arm and train, although that requires stretching the term "moderate" to include quite a few extremists.  Sadly, we seem pretty inept at the arming and training business, as witnessed by the collapse of the Iraqi army.

Air strikes seem to be the only approach the American public is comfortable with at this stage of the game, and you can't use air strikes without killing a lot of innocents, and radicalizing their friends and relatives.  Let's face it: nobody over there likes us, or really wants our presence.

Politically, though, Obama has to do something, so he will.  But it won't work.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Those Dead Journalists

Disregarding the messiness, beheading strikes me as a rather humane means of execution.  I know it has to be very upsetting to family and friends of the victims, but if I had to choose between beheading and lethal injection in certain states of the USofA, I think the beheading might be far preferable.

What makes a person a journalist?  Both Sotloff and Foley were freelancers, selling their reportage to many different news outlets.  They enjoyed no worker benefits — not life insurance, nor health insurance, nor any formal backup when they got themselves into very serious trouble.  Blame the Islamic State by all means — it is the very definition of terrorism — but also blame the news media, the deprofessionalizing of reportage, and a media culture that encourages young people to toss themselves into extreme danger for a small chance of "success."

The photojournalists and videojournalists are in more peril than the print journalists, albeit more likely to be killed outright on the battlefield than captured and used as propaganda tools.  Reporters of all stripes need much more professional training if they will work in war zones, and the media should accept that responsibility.