January 2009

[Editor’s Note: Your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican here again. Some complaints about some of the military forces the U.S. works with have made their rounds around the Blogosphere recently, so the Angry Men thought it was time to ask their resident expert about those allied forces who stand out from the pack by their sheer badassness. And, so, courtesy of Angry Military Man, we present those who eat terrorists for breakfast (sometimes literally, though of course they get a little touchy when we mention that, so we refrained) -ANM]

South Korean Marine Corps
(ROKMC) ROK Marines make the top of the list not just for being one of the most disciplined, professional, and well trained forces on the planet they also happen to be the scariest mother-fuckers on the planet, not for any special skill, simply because if there was a military version of FEAR Factor they would be the winners every episode. These guys eat agony for a snack and sleep on beds of shattered psyches. So anyone feeling frosty?

Links of note:

The British Corps of Royal Marines
(Royal Marines) are a true special force and thus often humiliate us American Marines on a regular basis (like having a 9 month long boot camp that essentially makes a concentration camp look like a health spa). With oodles of funding and some amazing training they are truly an all around package of top notch quality bundled with professionalism and discipline. I sometimes wonder who is ‘tougher’ Royal Marines or SAS forces (who are better trained but receive more gov’t favor). None of this of course is intended to deride the British regular army. Those crazy Brits, so damn well trained and motivated, yet so poorly equipped.

Links of note:

Columbian Spec Ops and Riverine Forces
that routinely combat the drug lords and random commie militias/guerrillas are some of the bravest most skillful practitioners of their craft that I have ever seen. Think of them as a cross between SEALs meet the partisans of ‘Force 10 from Navarone’ aka kinda ‘Dirty Dozenish’. They’re not the stereotypical image of a clean cut in-step marching soldiers, but does it matter?

Links of note:

Federal Republic of Germany
The Germans have both conscript force of people serving their mandatory service time and a very small group of volunteer professional career military soldiers. The latter force is fucking frightening, seriously they are hard core killing machines, with really amazing equipment. Germany has long been renowned for the quality of the soldiers that their culture can produce (highly disciplined, highly efficient, highly motivated, highly trained, and highly courageous) and though somewhat diluted, those traits still shine through in the Bundeswehr today.

Links of note:

Greece (The Hellenic Republic)
The Hellenic Army likewise runs a mix of conscripts and volunteers. My first impression of them was that they are friggin pack mules. I swear to god I have never seen any army carry so much goddamned weight on every soldier. Their packs must weigh well over 200 pounds!. They are excellent workers, well trained, well motivated, well equipped and not afraid to fight. They also can’t wait to set Turkey afire, and if that time ever comes, they most certainly will be able to.

Links of note:

The Swiss Confederation
The Swiss are friggin scary, invade them and its like Red Dawn except with Delta Force instead of Sheen and Swazy. That’s all I got to say about them.

Links of note:

Kingdom of Saudia Arabia
The Saudis were interesting. Not exactly a true Western powerhouse military, they were very proficient and probably the best equipped military in the world (seriously when they buy American equipment they buy the FULL model with all the bells and whistles the manufacturer designed but the USA couldn’t afford). The Saudi military seems to be able to literally accomplish anything by throwing money at the task as other militaries would use fighting spirit, training, or discipline.

Links of note:

Kuwait has a tiny but very modern military. They are very motivated and disciplined, and make superb allies.

Links of note:

Iraq: Saddam Hussein Edition
The old Iraqi military was a disaster. Essentially it was a medieval society structure with the trappings of 1950’s and 60’s Soviet military technology. In other words a joke. Sergeants job was to beat soldiers into obedience, officers were all social and political appointments, the foot soldiers were all conscripts. Essentially the worst of everything.

Links of note:

Republic of Iraq (current)
The new Iraqi infantry is quite different. Essentially only light infantry, designed to deal with internal security. Their training and motivation however are first class, and in fact during joint patrols at night, when you cant see who is who, one really can not tell who is Iraqi and who was American, their stance and posture was literally that up to snuff. Though some complaints made it to the media, they are far from cowards. It is in fact quite amazing how brave they are.

Links of note:

Federative Republic of Brazil
Brazil is surprisingly modern military in terms of culture, structure, training, discipline, and professionalism (if not always in equipment. They operate a quite effective and quality corps of officers and NCOs stemming from a very large proportion of professional volunteers as compared to conscripts.

Links of note:

[Editor’s Note: It’s your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican here. I feel sometimes that I spend more time editing other people’s email missives than writing my own rants these days, but the life of an Angry Man is filled with peril. Normally, the it’s Angry Midwesterner’s job to rant about how gay marriage will bring about the destruction of western society. Evidently Angry Immigrant’s been studying up on this belief on the sly, especially now that it involves his personal sworn enemies: Canadians. Without further ado, I give you Angry Immigrant. -ANM]

It might not be a torrent, but the first trickles are coming. The first symptom of the far right-wing nightmare of state-sanctioned unrestrained relationships landed recently, with hints of the next one already forming.

Step 1) Polygamy
Canadian polygamists cite gay marriage law as legalizing their freedom to choose who to “marry” as well. They don’t seem to be doing a very good job of it. They won’t get support until they stop being thought of as ‘fundies’ and start getting some support from the polyamory community. The problem being that the polyamory community doesn’t really care about formal relationship events like getting married. They’re solely focused on getting laid.

Step 2) Child-marriages
From a number of different places (my guess is from sleazy teachers and their unions), we may start to see a discourse on the difference between pedophilia and ebophilia. (One means a sleazy bastard who gets kicks from handling kids and the other means anyone attracted to post-pubescent teens — usually still sleazy [unless 1/2 + 7, etc] .) Legal cover for this might come as a result of poorly-handled prosecutions of 15-17 year olds being 15-17 year olds with each other (naked picture of girlfriend on cell phone == kiddie porn?), or from interfering hippies who want to emancipate children from the constraints of responsible oversight.

I’ve begun to see this vocabulary clarification start in various places, but actually relaxing the law requires a politician who’s willing to be called a pedo, and who wants to survive a “think of the children” campaign against him. This will be slow, slow work to tear down. Not because they have a remaining philosophical defense of why it shouldn’t be an allowable marriage, but because they won’t be able to find enough politicians to agree with them for a few decades.

While this won’t help the bastards in NAMBLA score with 8 year olds, it might push the threshold down to 13-14 again. Keep in mind that at this age if you fight in a war, murder civilians, be classified as a “child soldier”, be captured, and the person who jailed you would be the war criminal… But some idiots can’t tell the difference between children and adults when their libido lights up.

Step 3) Pet marriages
I haven’t seem anyone take a serious stab at this (just the loonies who also want to marry their plants, their shovel, etc). It’s just the scary item at the end of this list that you hold up, point to, and say “This is what San Francisco wants” in order to get the whole Midwest to vote against something. A useful wedge, and eventually more accepted than it is now, but still a one-way ticket to the sanitarium.

Angry Immigrant’s Predictions
Step 1 could be sped up depending on how gay marriages are legally handled (along with benefits transfers, power of attorney, hospital visitations, etc). The polyamory folks could help with demanding free ability to choose whomever they want to be ‘in charge’ of their needs independently of their “marriages”.
Step 2 may be aided by the continual sophistication of children and the growing acceptance of perversion, but that will be political suicide for a long time to come.
Step 3 will happen once dogs and cats get to vote…

[Author’s Note:] Sarcasm doesn’t travel the Internet clearly. As such, take the preceding with a large grain of salt. -AI ]

Now, I don’t normally think of President Colonel Muammar Qaddafi as a thinker and a statesmen, but his recent NY editorial piece may well prove me wrong. The leader of Libya, a recent former state sponsor of terror, has thrown his hat in with a plan for peace in the Middle East. Unlike the mainstream plan of the punditocracy — a two-state solution based on Oslo, Colonel Qaddafi has offered an out-of-the-box solution, “Isratine.”

His rationale for this solution goes like this: the two state solution cannot work. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples deserve a homeland. However, Israel will never accept a two-state solution since it renders the state of Israel militarily indefensible, a country less than ten miles wide at it’s narrowest. And a two-state solution necessitates leaving tons of Palestinians either homeless or stuck in refugee camps — if they had a home in the West Bank or Gaza to return to, they would have already.

His solution is a single state, a home for both. Refugees can return to their homeland (or at least have their claims adjudicated by a impartial court for compensation) and both peoples in Isratine can live in peace. The Colonel looks to the Arab citizens of Israel as a model for this one-state solution.

Unfortunately, this involves a substantial compromise on both parts — deeper than any compromise over borders or land swaps can be. This compromise involves the complete abandonment of the concept of a Jewish or a Muslim state in Israel/Palestine. Isratine must be religiously and nationally neutral for the scheme to work. The Zionism that drove the early years of Israel, the nationalism that drove the PLO and the religious zealotry that drove Hamas must all be destroyed.

Sadly, I believe the Colonel’s proposal, while most sensible for the long-term economic growth of the holy land, is a solution better suited to angels than men. Both sides are still far to entrenched in their own manifest destiny to share a single country. For now, good fences may be the only thing that can make good neighbors.

So it was a bit over a year ago that one of our number waxed downright poetic over the OLPC—One Laptop Per Child—project.

Fast forward to now and we hear that OLPC is “smart sizing”, aka laying off staff, or whatever they want to tell themselves. The project appears to be in a death spiral, though of course who knows for sure. This nice post characterizes why but I’ll summarize it: The XO Laptop wasn’t something anyone actually wanted to use. Well anyone except tech geeks who like to play with tech toys. An example of the sort of person I’m talking about might be the very smug relative one meets at holidays who brags about running three different versions of Linux on their computer… and doesn’t mention the fact that he’s a UNIX sysad in real life. (This is definitely a “man” thing, though I’m sure there are a few female practitioners of the art, too.)

It was an example of an ivory tower proof of concept idea mixed with marketing hype that got too big for its britches. Having been involved in such things in the past (alas), I can attest that academics are good at coming up with ideas and prototypes and a small but non-trivial number are very good at the marketing pitch—OLPC is an MIT Media Lab spin-off project, after all—but implementation and product development really isn’t one of our skill sets. Furthermore, the tech world goes all Fox Mulder over this kind of thing, which basically tells them what they want to hear about how wonderful tech is (thus validating their own personal choices), complete with pictures of happy smiling brown kids holding a nicely colored gadget. What kind of cynical bastard wants to rain on that parade?

As the link above points out, one of the ironies of the OLPC project is that is spurred the development of the netbook, which is all the rage these days. So it might well be the case that the OLPC project does end up bringing laptops to the masses, and thus its purposes served, just not the way that the project organizers intended. Of course, as the link also points out, making smartphones more accessible in the Third World would have probably been more useful, as that would have reinforced an existing market development. Cell phones have really altered things, often for the better, in countries such as India—or for poor people in the USA as it happens—because they provide continuity of phone number, quick access to important information like commodity prices, etc. But One Cell Phone Per Villager just doesn’t have the same ring. Of course I hear clean water and a way to make a living—among other things—are pretty good things, too.

No, the sad and sorry truth of it is that we academics (like everyone else) tend to look in the mirror for priorities….

It’s a tough world out there — murderous jihadists, a Russian premier who fancies himself the next Tsar, recession throughout the developed world and the latest Kanye West album. Tough stuff. John McCain must’ve breathed a sigh of relief when he lost the election — Barack Obama certainly has his work cut out for him. But like him or not, he’s still about to become the POTUS, and so we all decided to wish him good luck.

Angry New Mexican
You’ve done well so far to pick a moderate cabinet that looks like Bill Clinton’s third term. With a substantial majority in both the House and the Senate, it would be really easy for you to turn into Bush’s third term — rule by the majority of the majority, shutting out the other guys. But that’s not the vision of America you laid out on the campaign trail. Walk that talk. Make us proud.

Angry Immigrant
You’re entering into the the hardest job in the world with the highest presidential expectations in a generation. There are troubles foreign and domestic created by both parties, and exacerbated by their partisan feuding. It’s not your task to heal all of those wounds, but you have that opportunity. Good Luck, Mr. President.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Congratulations, Mr. President, on showing the world what a vibrant society America remains! An immigrant’s son, whose father—as you so eloquently said—would have been thrown out of many places in his youth now takes the highest office in the land! May you lead wisely and well, and remind us that it is We, the People, who will save or lose the nation. Hold true to the principle of subsidiarity: have the government do nothing that the private market can do well and have the Federal government do nothing that the states can do well. Do that, find those places where government must act, and hold it accountable and you will truly fulfill the promise of Hope and Change. Best of luck, and God bless you and God bless America!

[Editor’s Note: Every so often somebody writes something so interesting on our super-secret internal email list that we feel obliged to share it. This time it was a rant on the return of bed bugs of all things. Since Angry Military Man is too busy to post this himself, the duty has fallen to your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican. I’ve also included a few select comments by other Angry Men which tickled my funny bone. Enjoy, muchachos!]

Angry Military Man
Bedbugs are real, they are very thin (thinner than a sheet of paper) tiny as bags (width of a full grown adult is about the size of pen dot) that hide away in tiny crevices (like between pages in books), cracks (in the floor/ceiling/wall/electrical wiring) and especially fabric (bedding, box springs, rigs, chairs, etc).

They go several days to weeks between feedings, and each feeding launches them to the next stage of growth (about 7 levels) at which they then begin to breed profusely. The eggs they lay take between 3 days to 3 weeks to hatch. They can go without feeding for over a full year before starving to death, and 4-6 months without oxygen.

They are immune to most all commercial pesticides in use (even Borax). Effectively, only direct contact enzyme killers that eat away the protein exoskeleton, and silica based powders that slice and dice em work. The trouble with all other poisons etc that are residual contact killers is that bedbugs can sense and avoid them… very very well. Roach bombs and fumigation don’t have particles small enough to reach into the cracks where they hide, so only very special nerve gas agents actually work to kill them if you tent a building. The military learned to deal with them in the third world countries by temperature control. Cover a building and raise the internal temperature to above 130 degrees for 12 hours will kill them, as does below freezing (the ENTIRE building) for 6-9 days.

Their one Achilles heel so to speak was DDT. They couldn’t sense it, and even the remotest traces of it killed the fuckers dead in minutes. This is why people think that bedbugs are a myth. For nearly 4 decades America sprayed every damn thing with DDT, which soaks into wood and has the ability to residual kill bedbugs for 30-40 years. So with every building essentially a chemical death trap for the critters, they essentially disappeared. However they existed elsewhere in the third world etc. Once the US banned the use of DDT back in the 70’s the defense against them declined.

Fast forward to modern day, and you get travelers from overseas, who get hitchhikers in their luggage and either bring them home, or bring them to a USA hotel. Being that cleanliness has nothing to do with the bedbugs (it neither draws nor kills nor deters them and in fact apparently encourages the spread of them as they scatter and spread when smelling cleaning agents) almost every single major 4 and 5 star hotel checked by the health departments in NYC, LA, Boston, and SF has tested positive for bedbug infestation in at least some portions of the hotel.

Cities are getting them faster as the article mentions due to used furniture and clothing, but they spread in other ways (physical contact on the streets from person to person in the dense subways). Building to building, and through electrical wiring and plumbing. as well as through used books (they LOVE hiding in between pages). They have also been cropping up in new books (that go through warehouses housing old books) and mattresses (through the delivery vehicles carting off used mattresses next to new ones).

Thankfully they are nothing more than a nuisance unless one is highly allergic. But they are near impossible to get rid off, and truly do take over one’s life.

For those not in the ‘know’ my Brooklyn apartment building got them and though we never got rid of them, I managed to control them in my place so that I went months without a sighting or bite, and when I finally moved I managed to rid myself of them so that they did not follow me. This is very rare and in bedbug support groups I am known as one of the ‘survivor’ stories.

Angry Immigrant
I like nature and all, but I like DDT, too. We need some non-“Silent Spring” hippies to study its actual effects. This is something all non-hippies can get together on. The rich stop being infested with bed-bugs (though the irony of that kind of egalitarian problem amuses me) and the poor stop dying of malaria by the hundreds of millions. DDT – it’s what kept America great for a thousand generations, until the stupid Empire killed it off…

Angry Midwesterner
Well there was one real complaint about DDT, it was killing bald eagles. Bald eagles may be pathetic as hunters, but they sure do look awesome next to the flag. America. Fuck Yeah!

Angry Military Man
I imagine if bedbugs keep spreading as fast as they are, in no time at all we will be repealing DDT laws.

Believe me living in NYC I ran into plenty of hippies/liberals who got the nasty things. A few months of living that life is enough to make even the most hardened leftist shout, “Fuck the bald eagle eggs and spray the strongest shit you got”.

I know — I tried to coax my chemist buddy into making me DDT in her lab, and at one point actually started work on making homemade chlorine gas to ‘fumigate’ my apartment. Luckily common sense over-rode my desire to kill all the biting fuckers and I realized how bad an idea it was. I mean I actually liked most of my neighbors and all.

We here at the 12 Angry Men Blog like to take time off from being angry to celebrate and lionize men whose actions are especially manly. In honor of brave, talented men in the right place at the right time who see the truth, make the right decision, and take the right action, we present our highest awards this day to:


“Sully” Sullenberger, as you may have seen all over the news today, skillfully ditched a flaming Airbus A320 carrying 150+ souls into the Hudson River after the engines were destroyed by a large number of birds upon takeoff.

Cpt. Sullenberger succeeded in the best emergency water landing in 45 years, and all 155 souls aboard survived a situation where the typical result is the opposite. Before leaving the plane (that was already waist-deep with bone-numbingly cold water), he made two full sweeps through the whole plane to make sure everyone got out.

For that we award Cpt. the very first 12 Angry Man Blog Official Hero Award:

We recognize, of course, that these pale in comparison to the set that Cpt. Sullenberger already carries with him, but these are perhaps are easier to display around the household.

So, faithful readers, bear in mind that the bar is set high. In order to get your own displayable set, you must first prove that yours are as shiny and round as Cpt. Sullenberger’s.

And be warned those of you males who fail to be men and display a lack of manly virtue in your actions, you may receive the other end of the scale.
I'm truly disturbed/amused that they sell earrings, necklaces, and
keychains featuring their product

Given the whole Black President-Elect thing, it’s an interesting time for the SCOTUS to decide to revist the Voting Rights Act of 1965, you know, the one designed to keep people (read: Southerners) from suppressing the black vote. But in the rather mundane sounding Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey, the men (and woman) in black robes may well do just that.

The fast version is that notoriously historically racist states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) plus a number of counties and municipalities scattered throughout the country must get the Department of Justice to pre-approve (“get preclearance”) any change to the voting scheme they would like to make. The rationale here is that one election designed to disenfranchise people is one too many and historically racist areas ought not to be allowed that chance.

Enter good old Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One, which has had a clean record on race issues. Given that record, they feel that they should be allowed an exception to the Voting Rights Act. There is in fact a provision in the law to allow government units that clean up to remove the preclearance requirement. The problem is that it doesn’t apply to things like utility districts, which is what the last court to hear the case said.

At least one justice on the SCOTUS disagrees, hence the case is up for broader consideration. In my mind there are about four possible legal outcomes, barring any unforseen technicality which results in the case being thrown out. Here are what they are and how I think the different justices will fall.

#1 Uphold the law as it stands

This is the “Defer to Congress” outcome. Congress wrote the law specifically leaving things like utility districts without the preclearance exception. This was intentional and while it may be bizarre and arbitrary there is nothing unconstitutional about it. Out of the current sitting justices, I expect Ginsburg and probably Stevens to back this approach, though I could see either of them compromising to option #2 if it meant a unanimous or near-unanimous opinion or it allows a united opposition to options #3 or #4.

#2 Widen the clean-record exemption to include things like utility districts

This is what I’ll call the “Minimalist” outcome. Right the obvious injustice, leave everything else stand. Ostensibly this should have Chief Justice Roberts’ name written all over it, but given his terrible record of bringing the court to consensus he may well opt for #3 out of frustration. Expect Kennedy and Souter to be pushing hard for this option.

#3 Apply a tougher standard to discrimination voting restrictions

This is the “We Ain’t Racist No More” option. Though Congress keeps on extending the preclearance requirement — most recently in 2006 — some justices may be persuaded that the whole preclearance for the whole south thing is getting a bit ridiculous and the requirement ought to be much more carefully curtailed. This is an option that I don’t think any justice will start favoring this option, except perhaps Alito, but if Kennedy and Roberts are feeling mean, may be where the court ends up.

#4 Strike the whole law down

This the “Hate the Darkies” outcome. According to this option, racism is sufficiently past tense that the entire preclearance requirement is now disproportionately burdensome and the entire requirement should go away. The fact that Congress came to the opposite conclusion in 2006 is irrelevant. Or perhaps the law violates a state’s right to abuse its voters or something like that. Expect Thomas, self-hating black man that he appears to be, to strongly advocate for this position. Scalia will also likely start here too, but I could see him moving to #3 or even #2 depending on his mood.

What do you think? Have I utterly misrepresented your favorite justice? Or are you just pissed that I called you a racist for favoring #4? Do let me know and feel free to be angry.

I’ve been thinking as of late about a head of government who, having risen to power on an immense cult of personality and the back of a supine and adoring media, has been the focus of media attention as of late.

No, I’m not talking about Barack Obama (though you can allegedly send him your baby to kiss according to a parody site). The man I’m talking about has approval ratings in excess of 70%

The man I’m talking about is Vladimir Putin. A man who is so adored that hot Russian pop stars write songs like this:

If this translation site is to be believed, the song has lyrics like this:

My boyfriend is in trouble once again:
Got in a fight, got drunk on something nasty
I’ve had enough and I chased him away
And now I want a man like Putin.

Now, I have no problems with pop stars writing totally inane songs, I mean, I can even tolerate numa numa, but this is a little much. And with this latest kerfuffle over natural gas in the Ukraine, I find myself more and more worried about Russia’s increasingly erratic behavior. Not that the Ukraine is in great shape — the fighting between Orange Revolution partners Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

The lack of, well, European Union unity in dealing with Russia is worrisome. One one hand you have the Poles who lead a bunch of Eastern European nations who are terrified of a resurgent Russia. While more likely to measure their words, there is no love lost between the United Kingdom and Russia these days, you know, after the 2006 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko who has living in the UK at the time. Germany and Italy, on the other hand, lead the appeasement camp. Silvio Berlusconi‘s love of Russia’s crony capitalism isn’t that surprising — the man would love to become Italy’s own Putin if it were possible. Angela Merkel’s timidity is a bit more surprising, but given that’s she’s in a Grand Coalition with her SPD opponents, she’s got her hands tied. As for France, well, Sarkozy is Sarkozy. Who knows exactly what Europe’s most mercurial leader will be up to?

Back to our first rock star, Barack… this is a tough world he’s stepping into and Putin seriously pulled the wool over Bush’s eyes. Let’s hope our green president-elect learns from history. If the most powerful voice that can be raised against Putin is Gordon Brown’s, then we may well be moving into a world where the paranoid Poles were right all along.

Anyone reading the praises and paeans for Obama’s cabinet selections might have noticed that it has veered into credentialism. When the praise is for where someone went to school, as opposed to what they’ve done, you are in trouble.

So, let’s take a look at which of the Bush cabinet officials have Ivy League degrees.

  • Elaine Chao – Harvard (MBA)
  • Samuel Bodman III – Cornell
  • Donald Rumsfeld – Princeton
  • Alberto Gonzales – Harvard (law)
  • Michael Chertoff – Harvard
  • Henry Paulson – Dartmouth and Harvard (MBA)
  • George Bush – Yale and Harvard (MBA)

Doesn’t seem to have worked out so well, has it?

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