28 September 2007

Sara The Cat: In Memoriam Two Years On

Sometime between probably two to five AM on the morning of 27th September, 2005, Sara the Cat, beloved sister of Annabelle Lee and loving companion of mine for over twelve years, died from complications related to Feline Diabetes Melitus here in my home and in my arms, after lapsing into a diabetic coma several hours earlier.

She was a wonderful cat, and I do miss her still.

Mind you, many of my memories of her have faded with time. I guess that happens, and there are times I can feel quite guilty for that happening.

I also know that feeling guilty about her memory fading is really rather silly. Still, to repeat myself, it happens.

If I've any comfort in the matter, it's that she died at home, in my arms, and on my bed.

I was, to be honest, a bit drunk and stoned at the time she went, and had been dozing, when the final process of her dying started.

But, I could feel the neuro-electrical impulses shooting through her body, as she went.

I can only hope that she felt no pain and no fear as the process began, ran its course, and completed, with the ending of her life.

I put her body in a pillow-case, put it in my freezer, which was empty, and buried her by the walkway to my place a few days later.

Having lost two cats before, I've found that that's how I best deal with grief and loss.

If I can, I bury them myself, with my own shovel and hands.

Gives me the chance to say Good-Bye to them, and helps me to move on.

That same night, a few hours before Sara went, I had three friends over here, Mykael, Alana and Christina, the last-named of whom had been Amigo's human-mother before I became his, and who gave me custody of him that night.

When checking the article that I originally posted on my Blogger blog to check the date of Sara's demise before posting this, I noticed that I'd not thanked these three for coming over, their friendship, companionship, and, to Christina, for giving me custody of Amigo, who has become the most wonderfully friendly, active, playful and affectionate cat.

Right now, he's sleeping on top of the cat tower in my living room, only a few feet away from where I'm writing this, and he is quite the cat, whether asleep or awake.

For those of you who've never met Amigo, he is the cat depicted in my MySpace avatar, and those who've met him and know him know just how special a cat he really is.

Annabelle Lee, Sara's sister, lives on, at the age of 15, nearly 16, years old, and she is very much the Queen(both in the regal and cat-fanciers' term for a female cat' senses of the word)of the Rilea household.

She's got a bit skinnier in recent weeks, and while some of that could be due to her shedding a few pounds during the summer heat's course, am still taking her into see the vet on 4th October, for a check-up nonetheless.

When dealing with the life and health of an Old Lady Kitty like Annabelle, it never hurts to take a few precautions, I think.

But, however long or short a time she has left in this life, I hope she knows that she is loved here, as does Amigo, and I hope Sara did as well.

Make sure that your loved ones, of whatever species, human, canine, feline, equine, bovine, what have you, know that you love them, too, while they are alive.

It doesn't have to be done with great, sweeping declarations of love, and grand gestures demonstrating it.

Just simple, small, everyday expressions of it, suited to the individual person, dog, cat, or whatever else to whom- or whichever you give your affection and devotion.

Those work out far better in the end far more nicely than grand, but only occasional, words and gestures of love.

Anyhow, here's to absent loved ones and friends everywhere, and to you, Sara, a Good Night.

You earned it, Sweetie.

Be seeing you.

27 September 2007

YouTube Cat Video: "Cat With Manners"

My MySpace friend Cheryl posted this video, sent to her by her MySpace friend Phil, this afternoon.

It's a cat-themed video from YouTube, which originally came from the Discovery Channel, and is about a cat that has been trained to hold and use a fork, a chopstick and a spoon, respectively, by its human.

Just amazing what some animals can accomplish, and especially what sort of nonsense that cats will tolerate from their humans.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Cheryl
Date: Sep 27, 2007 1:07 PM

21 September 2007

LiveVideo Cat Video Link: "Chicks Adopted By Cat"

This video link was originally posted on the Blue Blood Forums yesterday, and is to a LiveVideo.com video clip, by one Trigirl, of a Persian cat that has become the mother of 5 Guinea chicks, 3 Silky Bantam chicks, and two parakeets, and can be found at http://www.livevideo.com/video/trigirl/758C7563318C4F399B917406F01B3E10/chicks-adopted-by-cat.aspx.

For cat lovers, it's the ultimate in unlikely cuteness.

For those of you into animal behaviour of various sorts, it's well worth a look, I think.

Interesting to see the various forms and degrees that motherhood takes.

Be seeing you.

19 September 2007

Two Links From The Unintentional Hilarity Department

From the Unintentional Hilarity Department, come these two links, the first to the uncensored version of the audio tape made by Mr. Michael Riccio, the sports memorabilia dealer who accompanied O.J. Simpson on his little commando raid at the Palace Station hotel-casino in Las Vegas, two weeks to-morrow, and who promptly sold this tape to TMZ.com, at that very same site-http://www.tmz.com/2007/09/17/o-j-audio-uncensored/, and, from the Huffington Post, this clip from to-day's The View, in which new co-host Sherri Shepherd responds to co-host Whoopi Goldberg's question about the Earth being flat, by saying that she doesn't know if it is or isn't.

This statement came shortly after Ms. Shepherd told Ms. Goldberg, and the rest of the panel, that she unreservedly didn't believe in the theory of evolution, but is, alas, not included in the clip on display on the HP.

The link's http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/0...i_n_64864.html.

For my money, Simpson comes off in the audio track as a combination of pissed-off frat boy and small-time gangster, his crew come off like a wannabe combination of characters from Goodfellas and The Shield, and the two sports memorabilia dealers come off as being rather sad types.

As for Ms. Shepherd, well, until a friend sent the link to the HP posting of the View clip, I'd been happily ignorant of her existence, and, ten minutes from now, will return to happily ignoring her and whatever she says or does.

But, I think that these clips only go to show that much of the best comedy really is unintentional, much of the time.

Check them out, and decide for yourselves.

18 September 2007

YouTube Videos: University of Florida Student Tasered By Police At John Kerry Speech

First heard about this incident involving the tasering of Andrew W. Meyer, a University of Florida-Gainesville, student by University of Florida police officers at an on-campus speech given by John Kerry, from a friend of mine who had seen a tv news report about the incident earlier to-day, early this afternoon.

Then, while checking the various friend bulletins at my MySpace account, I found this YouTube video clip from one of my MySpace friends in a bulletin he sent out. Most of the text, including his comment below, but not his MySpace ID, for reasons involving his privacy, are reproduced below.

Am also putting several more YouTube videos covering the incident, directly below this, as well.

For my money, from what I've seen of these videos, Meyer was being a long-winded, over-enthusiastic, minor jack-ass during his questioning of Kerry, and certainly grew progressively more agitated after the University of Florida police officers approached him, and started to take him away.

But, I believe that the speakers' bureau that engaged Kerry and the U of F police officers also grossly over-reacted, especially in first cutting Mr. Meyer's microphone dead, and then in the initial approach and take-down of Mr. Meyer.

The officers' approach, and their man-handling, of Meyer, only further agitated him, and made it far likelier that he would indeed resist being expelled from the auditorium where Kerry was speaking, let alone police detention, and tasering him was the icing on an already rotten cake.

BTW, Kerry, at one point, shortly after the police officers started to take Meyer away, said that he would answer Meyer's questions, though he also followed that remark up with an unfortunate joke about how Mr. Meyer could have sworn him in as President of the United States.

One more thing to note here, and that is the initial burst of cheering that followed Meyer's being hustled away from the microphone stand by the police officers. Have no clue as to the reason for it.

Anyhow, view, review, and decide for yourselves.

Be seeing you.
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------

Date: Sep 18, 2007 9:38 AM

One that makes too much sense...

No Justice
No Peace
Fuck the police!

17 September 2007

BBC News Links: Blackwater Security Expelled From Iraq By Iraqi Government

Hadn't heard about this story over the week-end, and only just read about it a few minutes ago on the BBC's site.

Apparently, several Blackwater Security personnel, who were escorting a convoy of State Department officials in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday, were involved in a fire-fight, during which several bystanders, including an Iraqi policeman, were shot to death, allegedly by the Blackwater guards.

Here are two links, the first to the story about Blackwater's personnel being expelled from Iraq by the Iraqi government at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6998788.stm, and the second about the State Department's pledge to conduct an "open and fair investigation" into the incident at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7000018.stm.

The first story was actually posted about around some six hours after the first, and contains a rather interesting additional story about how figures done by a UK-based survey group may indicate that some 1.2 million Iraqis may have died as a result of this war, rather than the between 60,000 to 100,000 generally agreed upon in Western circles.

Hope these prove to be of some interest out there.

14 September 2007

Joke: Don't Mess With The Scots......

After the downright grim posts here of the past few days, I think we need a joke or two here to lighten things up a little.

So, here's a joke I got from a MySpace friend of mine in a bulletin she sent out this afternoon.

Hope ya like it, and be seeing you.

A man was hiking through the hills in Scotland and stopped for a drink at a mountain stream. An old shepherd , rather tattered and worn, shouted to him:"Dinna take a draught oot o the riffle laddie,'tis poorly wi' the dregs o ma cattle."(Translates to: don't drink the water sir, it's full of cow shit) The man said, "I say old man , I'll have you know I'm an English gentleman, please address me in the proper English language you heathen."The shepherd replied, "I said ....use both hands.You will be able to get more in your mouth."

13 September 2007

My Response To A Blue Blood.com Topic Post About The Striking Down Of D.C,'s Gun Law

Was gonna post this in response to a topic post on a recent US Appelate Court decision striking down Washington D.C.'s gun law that I saw on the boards at Blue Blood.com to-day, in the forums there. But, was informed that my post was much too lengthy to be posted there, without some trimming down.

Well, decided instead to simply post my answer here, and, the next time I posted my answer there, I would simply enclosed the link to my response here.

So, for better or worse, or neither of the two, here's the link to the original Blue Blood topic post, http://www.blueblood.net/boards/showthread.php?t=8718, and the full text of my response below.

Anyhow, Folks. There they are, for better or worse. Hope they prove to be of some interest.

Oh, man, is this a tricky question to address, particularly as down here in the States, it's such an emotionally charged one, and has been for at least thirty years.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution's Bill of Rights states that a well-regulated militia, since it's necessary for the common defence of American soil, property and liberties, means that the rights of the citizenry to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

On the face of it, that would seem to be a pretty straight-forward statement that all American citizens, as either current or at least, potential members of a well-regulated, probably meaning either locally- or state-run units of a much larger state and national militia body, have the right to keep and bear arms as a means of providing for the common defence in the cases of either a civil disturbance or foreign invasion of the United States and its territories.

But, and, no, I don't know the legal history here, so I will leave that in Mr. Jackie's capable hands to explain, this is certainly no longer the generally accepted interpretation of the Second Amendment, both in legal circles and generally speaking.

It certainly hasn't been customarily seen that way for quite a long time now, since, and am guessing here, probably at least the early 20th Century, when the various state militia bodies were formed into what to-day's known as the National Guard and Reserve, which itself, especially within the past twenty-six years, has become more and more an important component of the American defence establishment, rather than as just a set of local defence units acting as a supplement to the Regular Army, Navy and other Armed Services of the United States.

The UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries, have had auxillary militia and volunteer components as part of their defence establishments for much of their histories, and both the concept and word come from the Roman Republic and Empire, which, I believe, first started the idea, though I could be wrong on that score.

Switzerland, whose armed forces are mainly composed of either conscripts doing a one-to-two year term of national military service, a relative handful of military professionals, and a larger force of reservists, who are called up every now and then for military service, works on much the same lines, and Swiss citizenship, and the right to vote in Swiss elections, is conditioned on the individual's willingness and ability to serve in the Swiss armed forces. That's why Swiss women, and I don't know if this is still true to-day, historically couldn't vote, because they weren't permitted to serve in any branch of the Swiss military.

As for gun possession in Switzerland, I don't know if civilian gun ownership is permitted there, outside of reservists' having government-issued weapons stored in their homes in case of civil disturbance or foreign attack, but certainly for military reservists, gun ownership is allowed, though I don't know if there are any conditions as to how the weapons and ammunition in their possession are to be stored and maintained. I imagine there may be some, but I don't know.

Why bring these examples up??? Well, to show that there are and have been different interpretations of militias and the right to bear arms in other parts of the world throughout history, and how they contrast with the current popular American definitions of the terms.

To most Americans currently walking around, a militia brings more to mind the image of a far right wing paramilitary group out running around someplace in the boondocks, looking for those ever-evasive UN black helicopters in the service of the "New World Order", as was at least the popular conception of them in the US in the mid-and-late '90's, especially after the Oklahoma City bombing in April, 1995, than a legally-constituted body of armed local citizens in the service of whatever locality or state where they lived, as would have been the case for the bulk of American history.

Now, those groups, which, ideologically, were generally the descendants of right wing paramilitaries like the Posse Comitatus, that was popular in a good part of the American West and Midwest in the late '70's through mid-80's, and the Minutemen(No, not the boys who gave the British Army a bloody nose at Lexington and Concord back in 1775, even if that organisation named itself after their Revolutionary War predecessors), which was one of the more important, and feared, by both the general public and the American political establishment and Left in the 1960's, and sought, by organising themselves into militias, to both protest the Brady Act, which placed a ban on certain types of self-loading(generally known as automatic or semi-automatic weapons, which is kind of a misnomer)handguns and rifles, back in the late '80's, and, if need be, to both get around that act, and to move against any projected government attempt to seize whatever weapons their members had.

All that said, the militia movement in the US began fading out, after a few years of brouhaha about their existence and beliefs, in the late '90's, and, after 9/11, have been keeping a very low profile for the most part.

Either way, the common definition of the word militia in this country has changed considerably from how the Founding Fathers' generation, and many generations after them, would have understood the term.

As for gun possession, well, back in the early Republican(meaning the American Republic and not the political party, folks)period of US history, the sorts of firearms then available would have been single-shot, flintlock muskets or pistols, or single-shot rifles or shotguns, that used loose gunpowder, wadding and shot for ammunition, and that would have taken probably around a minute or so for a reasonably well-trained user to load, aim and fire. Muskets generally tended to effective at no more than about fifty to a hundred yards, while rifles, such as the famous Kentucky Rifle, could probably go up to about two to four times the distance a musket could.

Now, without getting into a loooonnngg dissertation on firearms technology and its history, which I wouldn't even know that much about anyhow, by the 1870's, there were pistol revolvers, like the famous Colt 1873 "Peacemaker", pump-action rifles and shotguns, like the Winchester '73, where you'd just load in a rifle bullet or shot, pump the lever or handle either below the weapon or below its barrel, aim, pull the trigger, and, Presto!!!, one or more dead sons-of-bitches.

Breech-loading rifles and pistols had also been developed by that time, and those meant that, by being able for a shooter to load and aim a pre-made cartridge or bullet into the gun's breech, which is a Helluva lot closer to him or her than the muzzle, or end, of a muzzle-loading musket, rifle or pistol, would be, one could easily and more safely load in more ammo, and throw off more shots at a given target or targets than ever before.

Then, with other innovations like the magazine-loading bolt-action rifle, the self-loading, or automatic, pistol, the machine-gun and sub-machine gun, the fully-automatic rifle, assault rifle, and greater ammo magazine loading and storage capacities, combined with smaller, more easily managed and operated weapons, whether handguns or long guns, weapons technology just exploded from the 1880's 'til the present day onwards, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

With each of these innovations, came an even greater killing and other destructive capability than had existed before.

Hence, a good deal of the problem with the social effects of having that kind of weaponry around.

Whether school shooters or mass murderers in the US and other parts of the developed world, or child soldiers, private armies and terrorists in other parts of the world, it's now far easier to train, learn, and use even a relatively simple assault weapon like the various makes and models of the AK 47 or M16, for individuals and groups than ever before, and, because of the large number of weapons of various sorts making their way around the globe than ever before, they're also generally easier and cheaper to get than at any time in history prior to the late 19th and 20th Centuries.

This means that it no longer takes as many people, if sufficiently equipped and trained, to potentially devastate a given area of a locality as it might have even, say, 50 years ago.

Mind you, street gangs, militias of various ideological persuasions and the like in the developed world have yet to get their hands on grenade launchers, shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, mortars, and heavier grades of artillery, and Thank God for that, or otherwise, some parts of American inner cities and European suburbs would look like Beirut at the height of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-90.

But, as in Lebanon of the period mentioned above, or in Yugoslavia of the 1990's, some such groups in other parts of the world have and did, with disastrous results for those societies.

Do I think that street gangs, etc, will get their hands on such weapons? Probably not for some time to come, as they aren't manufactured in quite the mass quantities as handguns, shotguns and rifles are.

But, even without those heavier weapons, an individual or a determined group can do an incredible amount of damage with the kinds of modern infantry weapons I've described above.

Thus far, in the US, we've been relatively luckier than many around the world, in that we've not had the kinds of genuinely determined and able political and social armed groups, like, say, the Lebanese Phalangist Party or Hizbollah, that could capably make urban warfare, or just plain classic warfare, on a large enough scale and for a long enough time to really bugger things up here.

Yeah, there have been groups like the Minutemen, the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the Posse Comitatus that have been potential threats.

But, whether because of Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies(sometimes illegal and unConstitutional efforts like the old FBI Cointelpro programme)operations, as in the cases of the Minutemen and Black Panthers, or a combination of similar law enforcement efforts combined with sheer ineptitude on the targeted groups' parts, as in the Weathermen's and SLA's cases, those groups were eventually whittled down to size and quashed.

Instead, urban, suburban and rural discontent and anger has generally manifested itself in the US through riots, one-on-one, or group-on-one assaults, murders and other crimes, and occasional out-breaks of mass murders and school shootings, as well as gang violence.

There are a whole lotta factors that go into that, and I won't discuss 'em in this post, which is Hellaciously long enough already.

Safe to say, though, that a long simmering anger and discontent with much of the ways in which business of all sorts and life is lived in this country, combined with a perceived declining sense of community, too, is a contributing factor in these problems, and, sad to say, there aren't any really nice, simple, easy-to-implement answers to them, waiting to be taken out of the can.

The late science-fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, once wrote that "An armed society is a polite society."

I disagree.

If the only thing holding any society together is armed force, whether through a government monopoly on it, or through millions of individually armed people, then it will eventually fail, because, without some commonly understood customs and manners about how an individual or group should conduct him-,her- or itself in public, without having to resort to force, unarmed or armed, as well as laws and customs that punish the use of force outside of commonly understood boundaries of self-defence and defence of other people's lives, whether by public servants or private citizens, there will eventually arise an individual or a group, or even a set of groups, that will simply call everyone else's bluffs, and have both the willingness and abilities to successfully do that.

No matter how fast and accurately one thinks that he or she can fight and shoot, sooner or later, the likelihood of one running into someone else who's that much faster, more accurate, or just plain sneakier or luckier, than oneself, and losing a fight with that opponent increases over time.

Better by far to have a polite society, armed or unarmed, than to have one, where everyone's armed to the teeth and then some, but that's not only impolite, but actually dangerous to go out into.

Arms alone have never provided security, nor can they. By themselves, they're just objects, with no consciousness whatsoever.

They can hang on a wall, make dandy paperweights, or wound or kill people and animals, and they'll have no problem doing those, because they have no cognitive ability at all.

People with arms, however, can and do wound or kill. Sometimes individually, sometimes in vast quantities of suckers, but they do wound or kill.

Whether the person doing them is a soldier, guerrilla, outraged householder and taxpaying citizen, gang banger, street thug, or angry husband, wife, lover, parent or kid with a grudge, quick temper and a score to settle, the end result comes out pretty much the same, one person making a stupid decision, for reasons of their own, to kill or wound another person.

Stricter gun laws in the absence of legal and other social sanctions against the use of violence won't make much of a difference in how many suckers get killed or wounded, just as stricter law enforcement, and locking everyone up and throwing away the key won't, and hasn't by itself.

Even a more strait-laced, conformist society than the one presently in the US wouldn't make that much of a difference in the absence of legal and customary rules about fire-arms, their possession, and the use of violence in the culture on which most people could generally agree with and effectively live by.

Laws, social rules, manners and practises, as well as other social, legal, political and economic factors, have to come together and be understood as making their own contributions to a culture,as does technology's role, and, as much as possible, some kind of general consensus has to be found to make a generally safer society in the US than at present.

But, that's gonna a long while and a lot of debate and work to accomplish.

As for how the US Supreme Court might rule on this appeal, I have no idea, save a vague opinion that the Roberts' Court might, and I repeat, might, see things in favour of the gun manufacturers and groups like the NRA.

But, then again, it could turn around and surprise the Hell out of us. I don't know.

If you've actually made it this far down, congratulations to you for slogging through this, and my apologies for the lengthy post here. Just had some notions that I had to cough up, like a cat does a hair-ball from time to time.

Be seeing you.

11 September 2007

11th September, 2001

Hooooh, Boy!!!!

This is probably one of the harder essays am gonna write here, and the reason ain't I lost anyone in New York, Washington D.C, or in Pennsylvania that day.

I didn't, so that's out of the way, and I can think of only one person whom I know who nearly did.

No, it's gonna be because some of the notions am gonna advance here ain't gonna be all that popular with some folks.

One of those notions is that the dead of 11th September, 2001, belong to all of us as a nation since we witnessed the collective horror, especially of the World Trade Center towers going down in New York City, on that day.

I respectfully and partially disagree. First and foremost, those dead belong, as they did in life, to their families and close friends, and always will. It is those latter who will always have to live with the shock, loss and burden of having had their loved ones killed on that day.

As for the rest of the nation, as shocking as the horrors in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania were to witness, we were only there by proxy or report, and I think we should remember that in whatever mourning we do on this day, now and in the future.

As for those politicians, pundits, think-tank intellectuals, and academics who seize on the dead and try to make some political, ideological and other sorts of hay while the sun shines off of these dead, all I can say is that they don't deserve to, and never, ever have.

That especially, but not exclusively, goes for this Administration and its supporters, who, ever since 11th September, 2001, have tried, and, especially early on after the attacks, mainly succeeded in those efforts. The fact, though, that their arguments about 11th September and its aftermath cut less and less ice with growing segments of the American public is due, at least in part, to their over-use of rhetoric of all sorts, half-truths and outright lies to sell the Iraq War, and revelations about the Administration's ineptitude in a number of areas, including "homeland" security as the years have passed.

If anything, there's now a growing movement for a new investigation into the events of 11th September, 2001 that's rooted in the idea that it might have been an inside job, perpetrated by the American government, and so on and so forth.

Knew a Trotskyist(who, incidentally, has been dead for about two years now)here(Yes, Virginia, there are, or at least were, Trotskyists in Vegas, and, No, you'll never read about that in the tourist guides), who felt that the attacks were the Bush Administration's equivalent of the Reichstag Fire of '34, an incident that was engineered and staged by the Nazis in order to get and consolidate emergency powers, which they then held onto.

Don't know about the first part of that notion, but the second part of it, so it seems to me, has been at least partially borne out as the years have gone by.

To be honest, I am extremely sceptical about the "inside job" theory, not because I don't believe that there aren't individuals inside our government who, if they felt that pulling off such a stunt was worth it, would do it. Rather, it's that the various explanations for this and related theories generally do tend to come from individuals and groups, whether Left or Right-wing, that have political and social agendas, some of which are pretty nasty, of their own. Also, much of the evidence they assert decisively proves their claims comes in the form of videotapes, and the like, and testimonies from former World Trade Center employees(The most recent one I heard about used the testimony of a former WTC custodian who was apparently in the building with FDNY firefighters on 11th September, 2001), among others.

Well, as I told the person I had the argument about this with a few weeks back, video tapes can be edited, new footage inserted, other footage dropped or pared back, if it doesn't bolster the videographer's or his or her client's arguments, and altered in a number of other ways(Actually, I just said the first option, but you get my drift, I think).

Eyewitness testimonies aren't always reliable, either, which is one of the main reasons why there had be at least some physical evidence tying a person or group to crime in a properly-run criminal trial, because any half-ways decent defence attorney will, if he or she can, find ways of causing the jury to either doubt the witness's testimony or discredit it altogether, because, and especially in an extremely large-scale event like 11th September, there are so many different angles from which these events were viewed by each and every person who saw them, whether up close and extremely personal, or from a great distance removed, that NO one eye-witness can really account for more than what he or she actually experienced that day, at least in court.

As for what he or she might have heard on that day or since, legally speaking, that's considered hearsay evidence, and isn't accepted in the American legal system, and for damned good reason.

Just 'cos you HEARD about someone doing something, saying something, etc, from someone else, who may or may not have been there, doesn't wash, especially if the person or people telling you this has an axe to grind of their own with the person they're talking about.

Might work somewhat out in the ordinary world, where Yours Truly, like everyone else, can often use that kind of "evidence" in making up their minds about a given person and his or her character.

But, the reason it doesn't hold up in court, at least, if the trial's being properly and fairly run, is because of the potential for very real harm to a person's reputation, health and life, if the District Attorney, jury and judge were all to accept someone's little bit of tittle-tattle as Gospel Truth.

People LIE, or at least tell half-truths, quarter-truths, buck-and-a-quarter-truths, or 99 cent truths, to get what they want out of someone, and this happens at all levels of society, and across all portions of the political spectrum.

Very often, these fictions, or half-fictions, will be dressed up in appealing packages, with slick campaigns designed to sell various ideas and notions as THE "truth", even if it ain't necessarily so.

Likewise, just because the source one gets one's notions from might be some Xeroxed pamphlet fresh from Kinko's, an audio tape one got at a seminar someplace, or a so-so designed web-site or blog run by someone whose political and social views might correspond to yours, doesn't necessarily make their "evidence" any more authentic, than if it comes from the "mainstream" media or the US government's media outlets.

That's why a certain amount of healthy scepticism is necessary in looking at any notion, and why one needs to be able to weigh the evidence presented in any given argument on its merits or lack of 'em.

Conspiracy theories are a kind of intellectual junk food or narcotic, in that they give the APPEARANCE of knowing about an issue, and especially an appearance of having "secret", inside knowledge about what's "really" going on in the world, and why, without having to do a lot of the intellectual heavy lifting of actually researching a given matter or set of matters by consulting primary sources, whether government documents, media, "mainstream" or otherwise, and personal accounts, and learning more about the various technical and other aspects of a given event for oneself, and then making one's conclusions from there.

Does that mean that every "conspiracy nut" out there's a complete lying whack-job, with not enough good sense to pour piss out of a boot, as my Dad likes to say???


Personally, I think allowances have to be for at least some aspects of any given conspiracy theory to be either true, or have elements of truth in them.

But, that also DOESN'T mean that every part of a given conspiracy theory, or any other theory, for that matter, is always 100% true, 100% of the time.

Each and every theory has to be judged on the evidence presented by its advocates, just like in scientific theoretical discussion and debate, and judged from there.

As for me, the reason I'm tend to be down on 11th September conspiracy theories is pretty much for the same reason I'm not generally keen on conspiracy theories of any sort-I have grown up hearing all manner of conspiracy theories, whether about UFOs, the Trilateral Commission, the Rockefellers, the Masons, or the Jews(The King Grand-Daddy of all conspiracy theories!!!! Hell, some of you out there may remember hearing about a 11th September conspiracy theory involving the Mossad and it telling every Jewish employee at the World Trade Center not to show for work on that day, that was popular in some parts of the Arab world in the immediate aftermath of those events, and was even believed by Mr. Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's State Poet as a result of that little bit of news being made public. Them Jews is shifty types, don'cha know. Just one more variation on the Jews are planning to take over the world theory that various people and groups have been pushing for a very, very long time now, and I wish they'd stop), and frankly, have generally been neither interested enough in them, and, especially as the years have gone by, and have realised just how much the world's public(and that includes you and me, Folks)needs reasonably accurate information, especially during war-time, from a variety of sources, to avoid being played for saps, whether by governments, guerrillas, partisans or pundits, am furious with those who purvey these theories because they further contribute to the climate of mis-information, dis-information and outright lies that, more than anything else, undermines what a functioning democracy's supposed to be about, and how it's supposed to work.

Now, a lot of the people who believe these theories, or even parts of them, are undoubtedly sincere in their beliefs and in wanting to do something to make a positive change in the way we do business in this country, at home and abroad.

Don't have a problem with those. But, I would also say to them to be wary of anyone, whether official, un-official, "mainstream" or not, who wants you to believe THEIR theories, and ONLY their theories, as Gospel Truth, and, oh, by the way, do ya think ya could cough up 50 bucks or so to keep our operations runnin'??? Thanks.

Whether ideological, political or just plain old fashioned monetary con-games, like Mother used to grift, if someone's promising you and yours something that's probably just too good, or too bad, to be true, it quite probably is.

Check out the notions, and the people, behind them, by all means, as some of them just might be the Real Deal.

But, don't be surprised to learn much of the time that they ain't, and please don't ever think that you CAN'T be conned, because that kind of arrogance only sets you up to be conned, just in a new and slightly different way, that's all.

Have been conned in the past, and there are no guarantees that I mightn't be conned at some time in the future again. All I can do, and all I can ask you to do, is to keep an open, but fairly sceptical mind, about the various notions that come down the pike. No guarantees that you won't be conned anyways at some point in time, but, it just might help you and yours from getting conned into losing money, or, far worse, your freedoms and lives.

As for guarantees, well, if you want one, please buy a toaster or some such object, as much of the rest of livin' just doesn't come with guarantees. Sorry, but, at least, that's how I see how much of the world works.

Anyway, final unpopular notion here, and that's that, whether true believer or disenchanted conspiracy believer, the idea that our foreign policies and actions in the Arab and Muslim worlds had absolutely nothing to do with the 11th September attacks is complete bunkum.

Like it or not, our various policies and actions, whether the often unconditional support our government, much of our media, and public have given to the Israeli government and its policies and actions over the decades, and especially since the Six Day War forty years ago this year, our attempts to manipulate political outcomes in Lebanon and Iran to our advantage, and especially for all that lovely oil and other goodies they got,our support for authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other parts of the Arab and Muslim worlds, as well as our support for those lovely Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan(especially, with Pakistan's help, the most fundamentalist of the various groups), and our subsequent neglect of Afghanistan and its people, especially after the Soviet withdrawal from there in 1988, since the late '40's in those parts of the world have amounted to a pretty massive case of our asking for it, and how.

And, well, we got it on 11th September, and how, but good.

Does that mean that Ward Churchill, former history prof of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who wrote a couple of years back that the workers in the WTC were "little Eichmanns" was right????

No. That was Churchill being an asinine fool indulging himself, as so many people do, in grand-standing rhetoric.

But, that doesn't excuse the policy decisions and actions taken by politicians and officials, both civilian and military, in the US, Britain and other parts of the world regarding the Arab and Muslim worlds since at least the Second World War's end, nor should it.

These decisions, whether individually or collectively, have added up to a lot of dead, injured or displaced Arabs and Muslims over the years, and the parties I've already mentioned, and the publics in those countries that are parties to this that have free elections,have played their sad roles in this, because they voted those suckers into power, and, in some cases, kept them there.

This doesn't excuse the elites in the Arab and Muslim worlds, many of whom, like the Saudis and Pakistanis, have played cynical games using fundamentalist religion at home to keep their masses nice, stupid and quiet, while getting money, money, money and lotsa lovely technological toys from the West and other parts of the world for themselves, their families, friends and associates.

Then, there are the Islamic fundamentalists themselves, who like to present a particularly gruesomely cynical form of political theatre in which Western, Arab and Muslim soldiers, ordinary guerrillas, and civilians strut, caper and dance to the hellish music of an AK-47 or a suicide bomb chest pack, while bleating like a flock of demented sheep about the "Jews", "Crusaders", the "jihad" and the "Islamic Caliphate" that some of them hope to re-establish over much of Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Spain, and all the glorious martyrs who will have helped make it possible.

They may be true believers in their cause, but sincerity only goes so far, and certainly doesn't excuse the waste of time, talent, resources, and especially human lives in the service of a putrid cause, whose main figurehead is a Poor Little Yemeni Rich Boy from Saudi Arabia, whose real motto ought to be, "God Is Great, But I Am Greater!!!".

Yup, sure you are, Bin Laden, just like your direct opposite, the current occupant of the White House is.

A couple of Great, Big... Twats, that is.

More ego than brains or horse sense, and not a lot to choose between the two of you, as far as I'm concerned.

If there is a Devil, I hope he puts the both of you and your respective followers to work cleaning the filthiest, most heavily-clogged toilet facilities in Hell for all eternity and then some.

That would be a VERY small price for the both of you and your minions to pay for all the death and misery you and your lot have caused over the years.

All abuse aside, if there's one illusion that we Americans still hold onto, it's the idea that before 11th September, our government and governing and business classes were Innocent Lambie-Pies who weren't doing anything in the Arab and Muslim worlds to piss many of the folks there, good, bad or indifferent, off at us, and that these attacks, like the World Trade Center attack of '93, the attack on the USS Cole in '98 or the Embassy bombings in '99, weren't responses to their policies and actions in those parts of the world.

They were, and, if we truly want to honour the dead, injured and dis-placed of 11th September and afterwards, we'd best consistently take a good, hard look at the people, elected and unelected, who make our foreign policy decisions, and pressure them hard and consistently enough to ensure that their decisions don't end up killing a lot more people than have already died, whether American, other Western, Israeli, Arab or Muslim.

That way, maybe, just MAYBE, we and the other parties to this conflict can finally begin to actually start dealing with and healing from the various wounds we've inflicted on each other over the decades.

If not, get ready for more of the same and worse, and please don't say you weren't warned or didn't see it coming this time 'round.

Finally, I extend my sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and injured on 11th September, 2001, and ask those of you out there to please, if the individuals or families of the victims want you to share in their grief and mourning, please respectfully do so, and, if not, please also respectfully give them their privacy to mourn their losses in peace.

Here Endeth The Lesson.

Be seeing you.

08 September 2007

Why Tom and Rupert Murdoch Can Go Get Bloody Well Stuffed

Posted this just a minute or two ago on my MySpace blog. Don't know if this violates the terms of service I've with MySpace and its management, and whether or not this will result in my account there being deleted or not. But, it's how I felt, and still feel, at the time and right now.

Am reproducing this here, so that this message, however paltry, small and meaningless it might be, doesn't just get sent down the cyber-Memory Hole.

Be seeing you.

Why Tom and Rupert Murdoch Can Go Get Bloody Well Stuffed
Category: MySpace

One more brief item here, and that's, while I was going through my in-box here, checking for messages from M.O. that were no longer available because of her being gone from MySpace, and I opened one of them up, with the standard MySpace message that she'd either been a spammer or had somehow violated the terms of her contract with MySpace.

Well, I don't know about the latter, but as for the former, as I suspect what happened with Jason Quiggle and Linda, is that someone didn't like what they had to say either poetically, politically, or otherwise, got all upset and went Wee, wee, weeing, all the way to MySpace's management to have their accounts removed.

It's just a guess on my part, but, if that's what happened, or if there's some other form of political or other censorship going on here, then all I can say to Tom, and the "good folks" at MySpace, NewsCorp, and especially to Mr. Rupert Murdoch, is to get bloody well stuffed and right quick-like, while you're at it.

If this results in my contract terms with MySpace being violated and my account here terminated, so be it.

I said what I meant, and I meant what I said, period.

Go get jolly well stuffed, and then some, "mates".

As for those MySpace friends of mine who might be interested in continuing some sort of post-MySpace on-line dialogue with me, I can be reached at either bakuninmeow@hotmail.com, or at my other blog at http://afistfulofteeth.blogspot.com/.

If this account isn't deleted, so much the better.

All the same, that doesn't change how I feel, and certainly NOT what I've said here.

M.O., Jason Quiggle and Linda weren't, in my experiences of them here, spammers in any sense of the word, and I deeply resent the overt slur on their good names, even by association.

Considering that I have to fend off spammers who want to be a MySpace "friend" of mine on a daily basis, I think I know a spammer when I jolly well see one, and spammers they weren't.

Hence, my anger and my invitation, reiterated here once again, for MySpace's management team, as well as that of NewsCorp's, and especially for Mr. Rupert Murdoch, to go and get jolly well stuffed, preferably by a rabid kangaroo with the clap or some other other social malady, in as quick and expeditious a manner as possible.

If the kangaroo will have the lot of you, that is.

As for my MySpace friends and blog readers, Thank You, and Be Seeing You, either here or elsewhere on-line, as the circumstances allow.

Take care.

Op-Ed Rant: On-and Off-Line Friendship and Community

OK, people. Best way to start this is to begin at the beginning, which for me, means this morning, when I found that one of my top eight MySpace friends, a certain Mille Omnisciente, had disappeared, not only from my top Eight, but from my Friends list altogether.

Checked and re-checked, even went to some other friends' profiles, and posted a quick entry in my MySpace blog("Odds My Bodkins"), but not a trace of her was to be found.

Yes, even did a MySpace search for her, and, zip, zero, zilch, except for two mentions on two separate profiles.

Every comment she ever left there and on my profile-gone, as if they had never existed to start.

This isn't the first MySpace friend I've had disappear on me like this; two others, Jason Quiggle and Linda vanished, or actually, had their profiles deleted within the past two months there. How and why I don't know, but, gone they are, period. Just like that.

With M.O's disappearance, though, this has really struck me hard, because she was an friend and acquaintance with the old Cafe Roma poetry set days, and because I generally found her poetry, her views and she herself to be enchanting. It's also because of the sudden and almost total disappearance of her from MySpace, with no message of good-bye or anything else. Just Voof!!!! Gone, and not even in a puff of smoke.

But, I also know that, in many respects, we weren't close at all on MySpace or off-line either. I wasn't on her preferred friends list, and we certainly never met nor hung out together off-line, either.

Why???? Well, am guessing here, but I would say that the facts that she was married, with an eight-year-old son, and a busy career as a para-legal at a law office specialising in disability advocacy issues, plus the fact that we weren't, with the exception of a very, very brief period of time back in late '91, early '92, all that terribly close to begin with.

We were never, as far as I can remember, at odds, but we, like so many members of that set, drifted apart over time, because we had separate interests, lives and life paths to follow.

I may not have liked it, and I can miss that sense of community, but it happens, and there were plenty of times back when it was in operation, where I felt alienated from it, for various reasons. That also happens.

That's why it was so good to meet up with her, and a fair number of other old Cafe Roma and Copioh friends and acquaintances here on MySpace again over the past nearly four years I've been on here, and, to tell you the truth, she definitely inspired the burst I've had in the past two months in the amount and variety of blogs I've done there and here.

That said, was thinking about this earlier this afternoon, and realised that, whether she's here or not, I have to continue blogging and the like for ME-no one else. Sounds self-indulgent, and perhaps it is. But, part of being an adult is realising that self-expression, in its various forms, ultimately has to be by, for and about what a given person thinks and feels is important to them. If other people "get it", and like it, and it even leads to some sort of career, great.

If they don't, well, it can hurt and disappoint, but, in the end, other people's approbation or denigration also matters so much, particularly if one isn't engaged in a money-making enterprise, as this one most certainly isn't.

Opinions are indeed like arseholes, in that everyone has them. Some people's opinions , family's close friends, even acquaintances and strangers for whom one may have a high regard or respect, may matter more than others, but, in the end, while a derogatory opinion or being ignored by someone whose opinion one values highly can and does hurt and disappoint badly, their opinions are just that, opinions, not knife blades nor bullets, and if one can survive those, one can survive bad opinions or being ignored.

I will miss Mille Omnisciente's presence on MySpace, just as I do Jason Quiggle's and Linda's, and, if there are any mutual friends of ours out there, who would care to pass the following e-mail address and blog URL along, I'd appreciate it; they are, respectively, bakuninmeow@hotmail.com and http://afistfulofteeth.blogspot.com/.

If you can, great. But, to be honest, even though there's a part of me that would like to, I shan't be holding my breath in anticipation of hearing from them anytime soon.

Why??? Because, they have their own lives and connections to live and follow, and, when all's said and done, whatever past or present connections we've had, I am just an on-line acquaintance. Whatever blow that realisation makes to my ego, that is a fact.

I can get quite lonely here in my little cave with my cats at times, and there are times that I can and do wish for something more, and I certainly hope for it. At the same time, as the past few years have gone along, I find that less and less, I care to venture from my neighbourhood.

Say what you like about it, but this is so. And yes, I do go through cycles like these, have often done so in the past, and will probably do so again in the future. That is the way I function, or malfunction, if you prefer.

There will be times when I can get out of the house on a quite regular basis and go out and see and hear all manner of sights and sounds, and then there are others where I don't care to, not at all.

To be honest, money does play a significant role in this, in that, not having a car, I have to calculate how much I'm going to spend on bus fare, plus getting something to drink or eat while I'm out, cigarette costs are another factor, and Goodness Knows what else as well.

Also, there is the amount of time to be spent walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, then being in transit from the bus stop to the stop nearest my eventual destination, and so on, and it does add up, Folks.

Now, mind you, this just ain't my situation, and there are folks who are tonnes worse off than I am. But, I hope you can see my point here.

The cause, person or event had better be important enough for me to want to go and support, see or hear for me to take the time, money and trouble to go out and do just that.

Otherwise, why bother????

When I was younger, it was both geographically and financially easier for me to go to the Cafes Roma and Copioh, because I lived in the University District, or, when I lived down-town, could catch the various buses to that area far more easily than I can to-day, and, since I generally tended to stick to either the house blends of coffee or just plain Coke, I could make my drinks last much longer over the course of an evening than I would have been able to in a bar, or a more expensive cafe-style setting.

Even down-town, I could generally walk home from a First Friday, drunk as a lord, under my own steam. Have done so, since moving out to Vegas' North-East, but it's not something I want to make a habit of, anymore than I can help.

Also, the fact that I've been in drunken punch-ups on various occasions at First Fridays has rather put me off of generally going to them, though I should say that the last First Friday I attended, back in March of this year, went very well indeed. One, I came after the events were over, and two, I stuck to a Coca-Cola diet the entire night and morning I was at the Art Bar.

But, for the most part, I now tend to stay away from a lot of the arts and cultural gatherings here in town. Mind you, even when I go, a lot of the time, it is in the hope of seeing familiar faces that I've not seen in a while and catching up with them about how they've been doing, rather than seeing the latest and greatest local, national and international art works.

Shallow??? Perhaps. But, that is why I go, when I do go to such events. Of course, I also enjoy meeting new folks as well, and, perhaps, if we click enough, maybe some sort of artistic or other form of collaboration or friendship might work out.

But, it generally doesn't, and as much as it might disappoint me, that is the way it's generally worked out for me in my life.

It's also one of the reasons, plus my experiences from my involvements with Las Vegas and Reno area arts and left political groups, like the late Las Vegas Indy Media project, why I tend to be often very sceptical about the whole idealised notion of "community" that some folks on the Left and Right have.

God knows, for a very long time in my life, I wanted, and can still want, this idealised community, in which everyone's on the same page, believes the same things, lives in the same manner, and so on.

But, as I grow older and more conservative, or at least more sceptical, I find that some of the notions of community I've seen in some environmentalist Left articles I've viewed over the Spring and Summer of this year, particularly those that posit what the world might be like in the absence of oil, don't particularly appeal to me any more than the kind of "rugged individualist" pro-capitalist rhetoric I've grown up seeing and hearing.

In the end, it all sounds like a jolly place for would-be Little Hitlers, only dressed in tye-dye shirts and other "alternative" clothing, just as libertarian capitalist Utopias, or racist ones, or even the kind of bollocksed-up society we currently have, are, or would be, paradises for Little Hitlers on the make, whether in expensive or cheap suits, working-class clothes, or Nazi-Skin garb or Brown Shirts, just like Mother used to make.

Just about all of these would-be Utopias, whether Left, Centrist, Right, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever else, tend to overlook a basic fact of human nature, and that is that people are often self-centred, silly, irrationally contrary and complicated beasties, just as they often are kind, generous, decent and caring ones.

These aspects are all parts of what it is to BE human, and the idea that everyone in the whole world can be made to look, dress, think and live alike, like so many car parts or I-Pods, is extremely silly and doomed to failure in the long run.

There are aspects of living on which most people can agree, albeit from very different world-views and with qualifications, and, on issues like ensuring that our atmosphere, air, water, land and other aspects of our environment don't become so fucked up that it becomes impossible for our species, or any others, to live here, I think there can be at least some agreement on the basic issues and courses of action to take.

But, that doesn't mean that there ever can be COMPLETE unnaminity of premises and practises on everyone's parts, on this, or any other issue, and that's fine by me.

Just so long as there's enough of a common consensus on the parts of the vast majority of people living on the planet that our atmosphere, air, water, land, etc, aren't so badly polluted, all in the name of making money, national development, socialist construction, whatever, that it becomes impossible for people to make a simple, sustainable and satisfactory living for themselves and their loved ones.

It means having conditions of living where people don't feel, or are, degraded or alienated, from who and what they are, and what they make or provide, just to put bread, rice, chapatli, or other foods on the table at day's end, and that means taking into account the fact that one can't eat scenery, no matter how lovely it is.

Hunting and gathering, agriculture, and animal husbandry are all, or at least can be, hard, tough, uncertain ways to make a living. So, it shouldn't come as any surprise that many people in small towns and villages will often jump at the chance when some oil company rep, mining company exec, what have you, comes in, flashing dollars, yen, rupiah, what have you, in front of their faces, telling them, "You can have better schools, roads, more money in your pockets, etc, if only you'll sign here on the dotted line."

Hell, if you're not making very much or anything that will keep you and yours going, I can see where some folks in situations like those will jump at the chance to get enough scratch to get going, and get gone, if that's what they want.

That doesn't mean I agree with them, as I think they're selling themselves, theirs and their birth-rights out, for a mess of God-Damned pottage. But, I'm an American and Nevadan city-boy, as are most Nevadans, by the way, and only barely understand the realities of rural and small-town life from a great remove.

But, then again, most environmentalists, whether conservative, moderate or radical in orientation, are city and suburban-bred folks, and, unless they either come from a rural background, have family who does, or have lived and worked with rural and small town folks in various parts of the world at one point or another in their lives, and I don't think that their understanding of the living and working conditions in rural and small town areas is all that great, either.

Yes, yes, you can read all you like about eco-systems, how people in various parts of the world interact with them and each other, political economy, social economy, and other aspects of how humans, animals, plants, and other portions of the world's eco-systems.

But, without some sort of field experience, that knowledge is incomplete, just as field experience without some sort of intellectual context, like reading, talking with others and researching the various aspects and issues involved, is incomplete, because, while the experience is there, if not further developed, it can be a very provincial, particularistic, kind of experience that doesn't take larger issues into account, nor wants to.

It means, as much as one possibly can, trying to find a balance between the two types of experience, and then translating one's understanding of them into the sort of actions that will benefit the eco-systems and the people living in them in the best, fairest possible manner.

There are groups and individuals out there who are doing that, or are at least trying to, some more successfully than others, I'm sure, though I don't know, because I don't keep up with every aspect of the environmental movement world-wide.

Some of these groups' premises I might probably agree with, and others not. That's par for the course, just as it is for economic and social justice issues, political issues, etc.

I'm not going to agree with everyone out there, and they're not with me, and that's fine.

As long as we're not trying to intimidate, bully, prevent each other from making an honest living for ourselves and our loved ones, hurt or kill each other, that's fine.

It really does take all kinds to make a world, even if we don't like what they have to say, or the manner in which they say it.

But, the minute that one balls up a fist, picks up a rock, knife, gun, or some other weapon in a cause that's not in immediate self-defence, or defence of others, that's the second, minute, hour and day that one loses both the argument and the right to have that set of arguments respected, period.

Killing someone, wounding them, enslaving them, or driving them off of their land, for whatever reason, is indefensible, especially when it's done in the name of concepts like racial or ethnic purity, religious beliefs, what have you.

Very often, those concepts are either masks or are hand in hand with the idea of who gets and who don't, and, at its core, that is what many such struggles are really about, whether it's some nasty little elite and its servants trying to hold onto land, solid gold goodies, or some privileged social, political and economic status, or those who have been dispossessed of their economic, social, and political rights trying to get them back, or to get them, if they've never had them before.

There are better, but much harder and time-consuming ways, like various forms of negotiation and diplomacy, to get what one wants. But, the advantage of jaw-jawing over war-waring, to use a quote from that war-loving, old arch-imperialist Sir Winston Churchill, is that, as long, hard and slowly as the processes of negotiation and diplomacy might be, they are far better and far less wasteful of time, talent, resources and, most importantly, lives, than is either war or other "lesser" forms of armed conflict.

An all-or-nothing approach to any aspect of life, and especially those aspects of life that involve mass numbers of people's, animals', and plants' lives in the balance, is foolish, and, in the end, doomed to only partial success at best, simply because the levels of expectations raised on the various sides of a given violent conflict exceed the abilities of the winners to fulfill them after the conflict ends.

David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the latter half of the First World War, promised a "Land Fit For Heroes", with plenty of new housing stock and the like, to both British troops and civilians towards that war's end. But, due to the post-war economic slump, the British government wasn't able to carry that promise out, nor would it be able to until well after the Second World War.

That's one example of how war-time rhetoric and expectations don't always translate well, if they translate at all, into reality, and it's something that every revolutionary or would-be revolutionary should keep in mind. Grand expectations may help motivate soldiers and civilians to fight and work that much harder to achieve final victory. But, if you can't even try to keep the promises you've made, better not to have ever made them at all, rather than disappoint those who've sacrificed so much for whatever cause you espouse, and risk disillusionment and any consequences that come from that afterwards.

Now, as for how this works in my particular situation here in Las Vegas, it's like this; one of the many pieces of advice that my therapist has given me over the years is not to have any expectations of how a given social or other situation will turn out.

I can tell you that it's far easier said than done, and, quite often, because I've often been disappointed by such situations in my life, and, am sure that I've often disappointed others in turn, I can be very cynical about whether anything good will come out of participating in a given group or event, or not.

That said, I also understand that that attitude is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what to do, one might ask????

Well, what I figure I can do, is to approach each and every situation and person as they come, accept them or not, for who and what they are, and go from there, or leave it and them well enough alone, if I don't care for them.

It also means that I have to be choosier than I might have been in the past, because of the time, trouble and relative expense on my part, and not just go out because I don't want to be alone, am horny, bored, or whatever other mood I might be in at any given point in time.

It means that I will undoubtedly be lonely much of the time. But, I have the cats, my connections on-line, some good friends here with whom I can speak on the phone, even if I don't get to see them very often, my blogs here and on MySpace, my family and close friends, who, although separated from them by time and distance, are there to be contacted, and, yes, myself.

That doesn't mean I'm not aware of the fact that these individuals and social connections can and will change and decline with the passing of the years. People, animals and plants grow old and die, social and other circumstances change, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better, and what I can do is best adapt, and, whenever possible, try to create the best possible means for a kind of life that I want and will enjoy.

That said, I also know there are no guarantees of success in any such endeavours I might make.

If one wants a guarantee, buy a toaster, please. Social interactions don't come with money-back guarantees, nor can they.

In the end, I will miss Mille Omnisciente's presence, as I do Jason Quiggle's and Linda's, but that doesn't mean that I don't, and won't prize the friends I have on MySpace, and elsewhere, any the less, nor does it mean that I will stop posting the various kinds of blog entries I have there,and here.

I'll do that only if and when I want to, or if MySpace, for whatever reasons its management team might have, decides to delete my account here.

That's another good reason why I have my other blog here, at which, in one way or another, I can always be reached, should you ever want to.

As for the trio of former MySpace friends I mentioned all throughout this essay, if I should ever see them again, on- or off-line, I will be more than happy to greet them and find out how they've been and are doing. That is what friends, whether in cyber-space or in the real world, do.

Be seeing you.

07 September 2007

TheRealRudy.org Video: Rudolph Giuliani And The Events Of 11th September, 2001

From TheRealRudy.org, comes this video, which shows ex-New York City Mayor and Republican Presidential candidate, Rudolph Giuliani, in a far from flattering light in regards to his role in the events surrounding both the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

In particular, the video concentrates on how and why New York City's emergency command post was located on the 23rd floor of the WTC South Tower, in spite of opposition from fire fighters, police officers and other disaster management and law enforcement professionals.

This video, and the others like it to be found on TheRealRudy.org, are partisan in nature, and should be taken as such.

However, and I admit to a tremendous amount of ignorance, much of it willful on my part, about the 1993 and 2001 WTC attacks, it seems to me rather odd, to say the least, that New York City's emergency command centre should have been located on the 23rd floor of a building that was both a prominent target for terrorists in the past, and that was, by virtue of its location inside that portion of the World Trade Center complex, vulnerable to disruption, hard to evacuate adequately, and could prove to be a death-trap for workers and rescuers alike.

The fact that it wasn't so on 11th September, 2001, can only be seen, I think, as a tribute to the efforts of both rescuers and evacuees alike, and not to any particular foresight on the Giuliani Administration's part.

There are, perhaps, even better reasons not to vote for Mr. Giuliani in the primary elections next year. But, given the fact that Mr. Giuliani has chosen to make his performance on 11th September, 2001, and in the days, weeks and months afterwards, a key component of his presidential campaign, this bit of information, even if from an anti-Giuliani partisan source, should give one some pause before voting for him.

As for myself, I have no intention of voting for Giuliani, nor for any of the other Republican presidential candidates, either in the 2008 primary or general elections, period.

None of them, nor their party, represents the sort of American society I want to see and be a part of, therefore none of them shall get my vote, for whatever that's worth.

Be seeing you.

Story: "The Big Push", Part Two

22nd February, 2008, 6:54 PM: Darkness had fallen over the trench belonging to the Windsorian Army’s Third Company nearly two hours before, and while Corporal Alun Graves’, a brunet, eagle-eyed, Action Man, Action Soldier, who was one of the last surviving veterans of the war’s opening days, eyes had long since adjusted to the gloom, as he walked down the line of soldiers standing at attention, waiting for 7:00 PM, and the signal to go over the trench’s top toward the enemy lines, there were one or two times where he had to hesitate while moving on the wooden duckboards that covered the trench’s dirt floor.

Graves was performing a last-minute inspection of the soldiers’ equipment webbing and weapons, a job, he thought, that would normally be the Platoon Sergeant’s, except that, with so many additions to the company, and the Windsorian Army’s ranks as a whole, in preparation for what was supposed to be the last “Big Push” of this war, and victory, he and the other corporals and lance-corporals were having to do much of the tasks that would normally have been the Company and Platoon Sergeants’ lots, since the former were swamped with the tasks of keeping so many new, and, in many cases, either trained but un-battle experienced, half-trained and in-experienced, or completely un-trained and inexperienced men organised and functioning even somewhat in the manner that a proper fighting company should be.

Hence, his checking the men’s equipment and weaponry to make sure that they were in working order, or, that they at least had equipment and weapons.

“Merrill (first name of Merrill Hassenfeld, who was in charge at Hasbro Toys when GI Joe was created in 1963-64, and regarded by most action figures as the primary “Creator”, or god-figure by them)”, Graves mentally blasphemed, as he walked down the line, stopping for no more than a minute to inspect every man’s equipment and weapons, before moving on, “what a lot of Odds and Sods, we’ve got here.”

While most of the men standing at attention in the three long lines of thirty men each, one ranked in front of the other, and crowding the trench so badly that there was barely room for Graves to walk in front of them, would probably have taken exception to his description of them, they would have agreed with him that they were a mixed lot indeed.

Every available Army occupation from clerk-typists for the General Staff, to cooks, cooks’ assistants, latrine diggers, mechanics, and even military policemen, was represented in the trench, as well as almost every civilian occupation found within the Kingdom of Windsor itself-everything from minor nobles, respectable businessmen, lay clergy, and stock brokers, to factory workers, shop assistants, rubbish collectors, rag-and-bone men, tramps, and even prisoners, along with their warders, from the city and Royal prisons.

Every racial and ethnic group possible, from Europeans and Africans, to Asians of various ethnicities, Latin and Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and many others, were found in those lines, as were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, and, of course, members of the majority faith, the Church of the Creators, which was both liturgically and organizationally much like Christianity, only with the names of the various Creators substituted for those of God, the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

Of the latter, most belonged to the Official Church of Windsor, which had the King as its titular head, though there were also those present who belonged to the several Dissenting sects as well.

The ranks were also greatly varied in age and physical condition, ranging from Action Men, GI Joes, Dragon Models’, and many other sorts of figures, who, except for being customised to fit their individual and social roles, would have been considered C-10 or C-9, or practically fresh out of the box by action figure collectors, to those who were only C-4 or even C-3, or bad to poor shape, and good only for parts.
Then, there were, and this is what Graves found most disturbing as he made his way down the line, those figures who were only “Confies”, or newly psychologically matured, and even a few “Weebs”, who hadn’t even reached that stage yet.

“What the Levine (surname of Don Levine, GI Joe’s designer and akin to Jesus Christ in the Church of the Creators’ theology) are THEY doing here?” he wondered as he checked another soldier’s weapon, “They should be in school, or playin’ tiddelywinks, or somethin’ like that, not out here. They don’t have sense enough to tell a C.B (general figure slang for a Cherry Bomb firework) from a Green Gutter (also general military figure slang for a class of mortar fragmentation shell, usually green-coloured). Be absolutely useless out here. They MUST be getting’ desperate, if they puttin’ Weebs into the line.”

Graves finished checking the soldier’s weapon and handed it back to him without saying a word, then passed on to the next one, a Power Team figure dressed in a rumpled Soldiers Of The World Korean War Canadian Sergeant’s uniform that had seen far better days.

While he checked the webbing and equipment (the former was original to the outfit, with the pouches and such being moulded on, and inoperable) of his newest charge, Graves heard one such Weeb, a Dragon Kenneth, whisper to his friend, a blond GI Joe Classic Collection “blockhead”(so-called by action figure collectors and figures alike because of their square-shaped heads), “Oi, Georgie!!! You scared??? ‘Cos, I sure am!”
Georgie’s response was direct and immediate, “No, of course not. Only girls and sissies’d be scared.”
Graves said nothing as he finished checking his charge’s SOTW Lee-Enfield Mark Two rifle, and handed it back to him, then walked over to the Kenneth weeb, dressed in a mix of British military garb from various toy manufacturers, blue corduroy Ken doll pants, and a pair of knock-off GI Joe style short boots with a split running down the rear middle of the left boot, who was staring at him rather nervously as he approached, afraid that the big, tough soldier in front of him would laugh at him for being scared.

Instead, as Graves inspected the stripling’s equipment and weapon (a SOTW Colt .45 1911 automatic pistol), he told the youngster, “ Nowt wrong with bein’ scared, lad. It’s normal to be scared before a big push like this. Just don’t let it get in your way, and you’ll be fine.”

Graves knew that wasn’t entirely true, as sometimes, some people simply couldn’t push their fears of being wounded or dying out of the way during a battle, much less guarantee that the youth would be all right at battle’s end. No one could make that guarantee, really, and Graves knew it. Still, the boy needed bucking up, and it was sometimes better to feed a little white lie or two to someone who would otherwise be panicking and upsetting the unit’s morale, than to bluntly tell him otherwise, and make him not only useless to the unit and himself, but positively dangerous to both as well.

Graves gave the now considerably more relaxed weeb an avuncular smile, and a quick pat on the left shoulder, as he finished his inspection and got ready to move to the youngster’s friend. “The boy smiled back, and Graves said in his warmest tones, “There’s a good lad.”

His tone to Georgie, on the other hand, was a bit colder, and his words even harsher, as he checked the latter are gear and weapon, “Y’know, Lad. If you had any brains at all, you would be scared.”

Stung by Grave’s remark, Georgie asked, in a very un-amused tone of voice, “Yeah??? Well, how about you? Are you scared?”

Graves, who was now busy inspecting the equipment of the next soldier over, said, “Yeah. But, I don’t let it control me. I control it. That’s the difference, mate. Now, no talking in ranks.”

Suitably chastised, much to his friend’s amusement, Georgie said not another word.

Graves, after finishing his latest inspection, brought his left wrist, upon which was a watch with a glow-in-the-dark dial activated by pushing a button on its right side, saw the time, 6:56 PM, illuminated on the watch-dial’s face, and thought, “Bloody Hell, one minute to kick-off”, meaning the intense artillery, or “hurricane”, bombardment of the enemy’s positions, due to start in a minute’s time, “Better finish up fast before the Sarn’t and the Brass Hats get here.”

So, with two men left standing in the first rank of the assembly, Graves decided to dispense with checking each piece of equipment and webbing, settling for just a quick, cursory glance at them, and an equally fast visual inspection of the men’s weapons as well.

He hated having to use a short-cut like this, but, under the circumstances, there wasn’t anything else Graves’s felt he could do.

So, after giving the new, truncated inspection to the remaining duo of soldiers in the first rank, he shoved his way in between the crowded ranks of the first and second lines, grunting as he did so, and thinking that it would be a very unlikely possibility to get all of these men up and out of the trench when the time came, as crowded together as they all were.

Still, Graves managed to make his way up the line, all the while noting the presence of mixed items of various manufacturers, British Army, other armies’ and civilian clothing and equipment, and the array of weapons ranging from Dragon, 21st Century and Hasbro copies of the SA-80, the British Army’s current standard field weapon, to miniature Lee-Enfield SMLE bolt-action rifles, Martini-Henry lever-action rifles, Brown Bess muskets, various sorts of shotguns, hunting rifles and pistols, and even various kinds of pikes, halberds, axes, swords, daggers and knives, carried or worn by their various owners.

At the very head of the second rank, he even came across a golf club held by a vintage GI Joe Adventure Team Adventurer, who was dressed in, of all conceivable clothes, a navy-blue, pin-striped, three-piece suit, complete with watch fob and a black bowler perched atop his head.

This posh customer looked more at home in the offices of an accountant’s or a stock brokerage house, than in a trench, four minutes away from a massive infantry assault upon enemy positions, and Graves didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at such an absurd sight.

But, there the fellow was, and Graves kept his composure, though he couldn’t resist adding a humourous jab at the curious sight in front of him, “Evenin’, Squire??? And, where are we off to this evenin’, then???”

Nonplussed, the squire-turned-soldier briskly said, “The same destination as you, my dear fellow.”

Graves wasn’t sure whether or not to be amused or give Mr. Posh a good strafing for what would, in ordinary circumstances, be considered his rather un-military form of addressing a superior.

He decided on the former, instead. “Right. Now, is that golf club all you have on you? The enemy won’t be throwing golf balls at us, you know.”

Mr. Posh replied, “ Oh, no. The golf club, I brought from home, but they also issued me a pistol at the depot, when I reported there,” indicating a black pistol holster and belt around his waist.

Graves asked, “Mind if I have a look at your weapon, sir???”

The gent responded, “Oh, no. Not at all,” and pulled out from the holster, a Soldiers Of The World replica 1851 Colt Navy revolver, for the corporal to see.

Graves whistled and said, “That’s a bit of gun, all right. Ever fired one before???”

The gent merely said, “No, I haven’t. But, I imagine I shall pick up the general idea as I go along”, in an airily confident, throwaway, tone.

Graves thought, “If you don’t get yourself bloody well killed first, you might,” but merely said, “I see.”
At that point, Graves gave into the curiosity provoked by the gent’s appearance and rather blasé attitude, and asked him, “So, what’d ya do back in Civvy Street, Guv’nor??”

Without missing a beat, the “Guv’nor” stated, as though he were at a business luncheon, instead of in a trench and about to go over its top, “Ah, well, I’m a chartered accountant, with the firm of Shropshire, Derby, Leicester, and Davidoff. Perhaps, you’ve heard of us?”

Graves shook his head, “Sorry, no I haven’t.”

The gent replied in a rather crest-fallen tone, “Pity. Well, I suppose you wouldn’t have out here, would you?”

Graves matter-of-factly said, “No, I reckon not,” then looked down at his watch again. The hands on the illuminated dial said 6:56 and 30 seconds. Practically no time left to inspect any more soldiers and get back to his appointed place in time before the Company and Platoon Sergeants’ arrival, and, more importantly, his Battalion and Company officers’.

So, just before turning to head over to his designated spot just one step ahead of the first rank on its left-hand side, he said to the accountant –turned-squaddie, “Well, good luck to you out there.”
The accountant cheerily replied, “And likewise to you, erm….”

“Graves, Corporal Graves.”

“Nujoma, Samuel Coleridge Taylor Nujoma, at your service.”

Then, Graves turned around and headed to his spot, where, upon reaching it, he looked over to his right, and saw his mate, a fellow corporal and GI Joe eagle-eye Man Of Action named Jeff Baker, who was dressed in a 21st Century Toys Vietnam US Army Platoon Leader fatigues outfit, with a GI Joe green American helmet on his head, and armed with a GI Joe copy of an M-1 Garand rifle, looking at him with something of a half-repressed snicker at the little scene he’d witnessed on his face.

Graves returned a wan version of Baker’s snicker, then turned his head facing straight towards the trench’s front wall, as he, and the rest of the company, heard the Company and Platoon Sergeant’s approaching foot-steps.

The time was 6:56 PM, with 15 seconds to go before the bombardment commenced.

05 September 2007

Washington Post Story Link: Luciano Pavarotti Dead At Age 71

According to a Washington Post breaking news story, with an earlier AP story attached, tenor Luciano Pavarotti is dead at age 71.

The article can be found here at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/05/AR2007090501382.html?referrer=email.

Would like to extend my condolences to any of Mr. Pavarotti's fans out there who may read this at some time or another in the next 24 hours.

Yours, D.

HeadInjuryTheatre.com Link:"Archie Meets The Punisher"

Yes, that's right. Am enclosing a link to a review, from the "HeadInjuryTheater". com web-site, of the 1994 Marvel Comics opus, "Archie Meets The Punisher".

Honest. No fucking lie, there actually WAS a Marvel Comics Special Edition with this title and theme, and I laughed myself just about hoarse all the way through the review of the damned thing.

I mean, really, Archie Andrews, the All-American Schmuck, meeting the Punisher, everyone's favourite Italian-American, ex-Special Forces, skull-emblazoned jumpsuit wearing, vigilante killing machine, who ends up in Riverdale, because..... nope. Ain't gonna do it. You're just gonna have to go to the site and see what I mean, and just TRY and keep from laughing your head. You ain't gonna be able to do it.

The link's here at http://www.headinjurytheater.com/article49.htm.

Check it out, enjoy and be seeing you.

Story: "The Big Push", Part One

Had this action figure story idea in my head for about a week now, in various forms, and so, decided to put in down in bytes this morning. It's from the same general body of stories as "In Cannibalism We Trust", and shares roughly the same general setting as that one.

However, am hoping that this, unlike "In Cannibalism We Trust", which is well on its way to looking like being a multi-part "epic" of sorts, will be only a two-parter, at most.

However, who knows, especially when you've someone as generally long-winded as I am, writing the story.

Enjoy and be seeing you.

Once upon a time, and all that, there were, in the eastern lands of Dystopia, two small kingdoms in the northern central part of them, known as Battenberg and Windsor, respectively.

These nations had been founded and settled by cousin dynasties from Centralia and Pacifica that had failed to find places where they could establish themselves in their own fiefdoms, when the bigger states were starting out. But, in eastern Terra Nova, as Dystopia was then known, they found just the spots they wanted, and so, in the fall of 2000, they set out for their new homes, along with their retainers, servants and so-called "commoners", and, within a few months, established the kingdom of Battenberg-Windsor, in which members of both families shared power.

This arrangement worked well enough for about the first two years or so, even though the Battenbergs mainly spoke German and the Windsors English, and thought of themselves as Germans and Englishmen, respectively.

But, an inter-family quarrel over seating arrangements at the Foundation Day banquet, and specifically who was to be seated at the head of the Royal Table, provoked an on-going crisis throughout the fall of 2003 and the winter of 2004, with all the usual charges, counter-charges, denunciations, and, finally, threats of secession, by one side or the other, brought all that to an end.

In March 2004, the crisis climaxed, when the Windsors more or less told the Battenbergs to bugger off, and announced that the Kingdom of Windsor was going it alone.
The Battenbergs would have none of that, and so, declared war on their seceding cousins.
The Windsors did likewise, and so the Battenberg-Windsor War of 2004-2008 was on.

Both sides, confident of a quick victory over the other, and predicting that the war would be over by Easter, marched on each other's capitals, and only cities, only to collide in the field on half-a-dozen occasions, and be thrown back to their own territories every time.

To prevent the possibility of a surprise attack that would sweep all before one side or the other, both the Battenbergers and Windsors began digging trenches and other fortifications in and around the likeliest invasion route, Battenberg Mountain, a large, mole-hill-like protrusion, with a surrounding grassy field, that had traditionally marked the border between the Battenberg and Windsor lands.

Over the weeks and months that followed, these fortifications were extended and deepened by both sides, and, before too much longer, the kind of massive, sweeping overland attack that both sides had feared became impossible.

But, that also meant a swift end to the war was also out of the picture.

In order to end the war and achieve victory, both sides realised that they'd have to shatter their opponent's trenches with massed artillery fire and infantry assaults, and so, they tried, day after day, week after week, month after month, and, finally, year after weary year.

The results were, generally speaking, on the greatly under whelming side, with a few inches or feet gained by one side or the other, after one offensive or another, and just as quickly re-taken in the offensive after that, with nothing much gained except for a few dead and wounded on both sides every time.

At times, the numbers of dead and wounded were high enough, that both sides would essentially cease fighting for a few weeks or months, while the dead were revived, and had to undergo the whole process of action figure-doll infancy, childhood and adolescence again, before they could be sent out into the trenches, and the wounded could receive new body parts, so they could also be sent out again.

The only exceptions made to that policy regarding the wounded were those with exceptionally loose bodies, that would have, at best, made any movement of individuals and groups exceedingly slow and tenuous at best (not generally a desirable thing in combat, where speed is regarded as being essential), and those for whom no replacement limbs or appendages could be found or made. They, along with those figures whose minds had been so damaged by the obscenities they had heard, seen and experienced in combat, were shunted off into "rest homes", far away from the eyes of the general public, whose sensibilities were judged to be far too delicate and easily upset by the sight of limbless, raving wounded, which would have, so it was feared, also undermined its support for the war effort.

But, they, along with women, children, the newly-deboxed, fledgling and nearly-mature figures, and a very few farmers and factory workers, whose labour was deemed essential to the war effort, were the only ones who weren't drawn into, in one way or another, into the war.

Everyone else went, though some, especially members of the Royal Families, the nobility, and those commoners with connections of one sort or another, were able to wangle positions with the General Staff, or some sort of quartermaster or similar non-combatant post in the battle area's rear.
As for those who weren't connected or lucky, it was the trenches, dug-outs, blockhouses, machine-gun and artillery emplacements of the front for them, and where they would remain, in all sorts of weather, artillery and machine-gun fire, infantry assaults and counter-assaults, snipers' duels and disease, for up to two weeks at a time, until replaced by another unit, which would then endure the same, if not worse, conditions.

For those Other Ranks who were temporarily out of the lines, their experiences were of re-fitting equipment, re-training, and preparing themselves to go back to the line, with only a few hours in the evenings to be able to go to some little canteen on base to have a drink, or, for those types who were a bit more on the religious side, a reading room where they could study their faiths' religious texts, or to the base chapel.

Otherwise, it was drill, work and sleep, day in and day out.

The officers were luckier, in that, every few months, they could go to either Windsor or Battenbergstadt, see their families and friends, and take in a few music-hall shows, plays or something like them, and, for three days at a time, somewhat enjoy themselves and forget the war, or, at least try to.

Not that one really could forget the war, as whether from the radio and television, billboards, signs, newspapers, magazines and books, cinema screens, the legitimate stage or music-hall boards, and even walking in the streets and parks, where speakers would hold rallies and exhort their listeners to buy more war bonds, eat less, economise more on everything, and, above all, to keep supporting the war, no matter what, the war was everywhere.

It could be seen, heard and felt in the constant and growing shortages of anything and everything that one could care to name, and in the growth of black markets on both sides that could and did get one anything and everything, provided one could pay the prices they demanded.

It could be seen in the generally shabby clothes in people's backs, the grubby appearances of city buildings and rural farmhouses, heard in the rumblings of often empty bellies, and felt and tasted in the rough, abrasive textures of war-time substitutes for everything from clothing materials to food. It could even be smelt in the often greasy, oppressive odours generated by boiled cabbage and food substitutes, unwashed bodies, because of lack of rubbing alcohol with which to cleanse them, unbrushed and unflossed teeth, because of no materials with which to make tooth powders and pastes, or dental floss, and in uncollected garbage that piled up in the back streets of Windsor and Battenbergstadt, because most of the rubbish collectors had gone away to the war, and the few remaining prioritised for operating in both cities' upper- and middle-class districts.

This sorry state wasn't entirely due to the war between the two kingdoms, as the general social, political and economic collapse that had taken place in Dystopia since Pacifica broke away from Centralia in 2002, had resulted in all manner of conflicts that had greatly inhibited agriculture, industry and trade throughout the region ever since. But, it certainly was responsible for most of the sufferings of Battenberger and Windsorian soldiers and civilians alike.

And, every six months or so, so it seemed to most of them, the Royal Family, nobility, generals, politicians and press on both sides, kept repeating that this latest offensive, or the "Big Push", as the Windsorian elites liked to call it, was indeed going to be the final one.

Of course, it never was, and, over time, it became a running national joke that the only "Big Pushing" going on was the various rubbings of crotches inside the palaces and manor homes of the Royal Family and nobility. There were similar jokes in Battenberg as well, though if any music-hall comedian, stage performer, or newspaper columnist in either country had said them aloud in public, or written them in a general publication, he or she would have been imprisoned for dis-respecting the Royal Family and Nation and obscenity, then sent to a front-line punishment unit to be quickly sent over a trench parapet and killed or wounded, preferably fatally, as rapidly as could be, the perversities of the enemy, who sometimes wouldn't co-operate with the intended scheme, notwithstanding.

It's at this point, in February of 2008, nearly 4 years into the war, and at the beginning of another Windsorian "Big Push", that our story truly begins.