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Location: New Brunswick, Canada

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Monday, May 31, 2004

You're Chile!

You're really skinny, and kind of bumpy in frame, but you're not as
rough a person as you used to be.  You like long, long, long walks on the beach and
avoiding having your rights violated, just like anybody else does.  You're even
willing to stand up to those with more power and influence than you, trying to bring them
to justice.  Fight the man!

the Country Quiz at the href="">Blue Pyramid

Y'know... I'm a little disappointed I didn't get Canada, but, well, it's actually a really good fit.

And elsewhere on the interweb, I found this movie of kung-fu bunnies. It disturbed me, so I figured I'd share my fear with others.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 11:06 p.m.


Friday, May 28, 2004

Day Jobs for Superheroes?

Thanks to Scribblingwoman for link.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 11:48 p.m.


Found a new on-line quiz; made me laugh quite a bit. Of course, it's mainly for British guys, but I just chose "North Yorkshire" as my county and pretended.

How gay are you?


You are nearly the perfect modern man, however you can still improve your life (and your chances with girls) by learning from gay men.

I guess I'm going to have to learn to better appreciate all things gay and homoerotic. Would watching pro wrestling count?

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 6:19 a.m.


Monday, May 24, 2004

Suddenly, I Feel Quite Ill

So, I was browsing my usual sites and discussions when, lo and behold, someone posted a link on a message board as part of an argument he was making. Given who the poster in question is, most times I would have simply ignored it.

However, the title of the link, "Osamadam," intrigued me.

Actually, intrigued doesn't quite do it. Neither does frightened. Perhaps frightrigued would be the best way of describing it.

I followed the link, and found this:

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 6:48 p.m.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

More Super-News

Superman had Gorilla Grodd as a villain, so animal supervillains certainly aren't without precedent. Thus, I find myself wondering whose nemesis Electro-Boa will turn out to be? There's no question, though, that the snake's a villain. Wiping out the power for an entire nation is classic supervillain territory, after all.

More common, however, are the animals who somehow figure into a superhero's origin story. Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider (at least in the comic book version, as opposed to the genetically engineered spider in the movie), and Batman had an epiphanic moment when he was confronted with a cave full of bats. Therefore, I predict in a few years we'll have the Fabulous Gator-Boy after he single-handedly fended off an alligator with a single punch.

Finally, I'm not sure whether this weapon was intended for a villain or simply an anti-hero, but either way it's a nasty-looking thing that definitely better belongs in comic books rather than real life. Although I wouldn't want to be anywhere near the thing (unless it were, say, in a display case or something), I've gotta admit it looks pretty damn cool.

I'll bet there was a lot of arguing between the Australian customs guys over who got to pose with the thing for the media.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:06 p.m.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Poetry is Un-American

An old story, but one that only recently came to my attention.

According to some high schools, reading slam poetry is helping terrorists win. That is, if the poetry expresses views that you don't agree with.

Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics.

The "Slam Team" was a group of teenage poets who asked Nevins to serve as faculty adviser to their club. The teens, mostly shy youngsters, were taught to read their poetry aloud and before audiences. Rio Rancho High School gave the Slam Team access to the school's closed-circuit television once a week and the poets thrived.

In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.

The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.

Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.

To be fair, contrary to the article, there actually was some obscenity in the poem in question. In fact, it uses the word "damn" exactly twice:

Bush said no child would be left behind
And yet kids from inner-city schools
Work on Central Avenue
Jingling cans that read
Please sir, may I have some more?
They hand out diplomas like toilet paper
And lower school standards
Underpaid, unrespected teachers
Are afraid of losing their jobs
Funded by the standardised tests
That shows our competency
When I'm in detox.
This is the Land of the Free ...
Where the statute of limitations for rape is only five damn years!
And immigrants can't run for President.
Where Muslims are hunted because
Some suicidal men decided they didn't like
Our arrogant bid for modern imperialism.
This is the Land of the Free ...
You drive by a car whose
Bumper screams
God bless America!
Well, you can scratch out the B
And make it Godless
Because God left this country a long time ago.
The founding fathers made this nation
On a dream and now
Freedom of Speech
Lets Nazis burn crosses, but
Calls police to
Gay pride parades.
We somehow
Can afford war with Iraq
But we can't afford to pay the teachers
Who educate the young who hold the guns
Against the "Axis of Evil"
Land of the Free ...
This is the land
If you're politically assertive
They call you a traitor and
Damn you to ostracism.
Say good-bye to Johnny Walker Lindh
And his family.
Bye Bye.
American Pie.
So maybe
My ideas about this nation
Don't resolve around perfection
But at least I know
Education is more important
Than money.
Land of the Free . . .
If this was utopia
We'd have to see each other naked
Before we got married
But instead, we see each other naked all the time
Because the government has my social security number
And the name of my dog!
And then we make babies,
But don't worry, they won't be left behind
And they grow up saying
God bless America!
But they don't know who Bush is
Because they never learned the Presidents.
And they will ride the ship Amistad
To our dreamland shores
Bearing the same shackles as us.
I'm here to say that
Generation X
Is pissed and we are taking over,
Ripping down the American illusion of perfection
We are the future generation
I have my qualifications
I know it looks like Angel Soft paper,
But don't worry
It's a diploma
Do I look qualified?
You can take our toilet paper,
But you can't take our Revolution.


So, remind me how this whole "freedom of speech" thing that America's so proud of works, again?

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:00 p.m.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

If Only It Were True...

Twenty years ago, Andy Kaufman died. Prior to his death, he promised that if his illness were just a hoax, and his death were faked, he would return twenty years later to set the record straight.

According to some press reports, he's done just this. Alas. I wish it were so. Still, I can't help but think he would have been quite pleased with this hoax in his honour.

Ah, well. At least we still have Andy Kaufman's blog.

In other news, I'm now the proud owner of the domain name (No, nothing's up there yet. Still, it's mine.) I've just finished a deal with a web designer (presently living in Japan) to design my site, and I've begun the hunt to find an artist to commission to design the company logo. Slowly, but surely, my business idea is becoming a reality.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 4:25 p.m.


Monday, May 17, 2004

Supercar Rivalry

Crimefighting has reached an all-new plateau in Italy, as police have received a brand-new supercar.

But, can it compete with Gaddafi's rocket-car? A classic clash of good vs. evil!

Now, Gaddafi, there's a great super-villain. It's like he's right out of a James Bond movie.

He even has an all-female entourage of bodyguards. How cool is that? I bet his secret base is underwater.

I think I'm going to make it a habit of actively hunting down superheroes-in-the-news stories for my blog. Yeah... from here on in, it's policy. It'll give me something to track in the news media that's less depressing than my usual fare, at least.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:04 p.m.


Ye Olde Oil-For-Food Programme

Those who have been paying attention will note that it has recently come to light that the oil-for-food program that Iraq was operating under from 1996 until the start of the war suffered from some corruption. Some have gone so far as to say that this makes the previous U.S. Administration (and, to be fair, its allies) no longer culpable for the massive poverty and death that occurred in Iraq during that time. Those who say this reach such a conclusion by pointing out that the corruption was diverting money from its intended purpose (to keep the Iraqi people fed), to providing Saddam with better-furnished palaces, as well as to pay off foreign officials in hopes of getting the sanctions lifted.

Of course, such a conclusion cannot help but boggle the mind, since it makes absolutely no sense.

The sanctions against Iraq began in 1990. The oil-for-food program was implemented in 1996, in the hopes that the program would alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. So, before any corruption was even a possibility, tremendous damage had already been done.

Even if the program had worked perfectly, it still wouldn't have helped much. Iraq's problems weren't just with food... They also rested on its inability to maintain its infrastructure. Sure, the Iraqis could get some (basic) medicine under the program, but they still couldn't get any money with which to train doctors, nor could they hire technicians (or purchase the proper equipment) to provide their population with clean water. Things began looking up in 1999, when the program was revised somewhat, but by then the damage had already been done.

Furthermore, From what I've seen, the corruption amounts to about 10% of the revenues from the program. It can't, by itself, account for the incredible economic troubles Iraq suffered under the sanctions. A criminal drop in the bucket, true, but a drop nevertheless.

Plus, the UN Security Council was responsible for overseeing any contracts in the oil-for-food program, anyway... And, last time I checked, the US was part of that council. Even if the corruption in the program proves true, and were to somehow account for all the huge amounts of poverty Iraq suffered under, some responsibility would still remain with the US.

I'll admit, the recent corruption helps alleviate some responsibility on the part of the governments that helped put the sanctions into place. What it won't do is completely divert responsibility for what occurred. Any claims to the contrary just don't hold up.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:17 p.m.


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Um... Ah... Er...

I keep telling myself to stop making blog entries that consist mostly, if not entirely, of links to strange places found elsewhere in the web. It's kind of like cheating on your blog, really.

But sometimes, I can't help myself.

I've just found what has to be, without a doubt, the strangest web site I've ever seen. It's entirely work-safe. It's also entirely wrong.

You have to go there. It's something everyone needs to see at least once, but there's no way that it's going to last. It couldn't possibly.

I also have no idea how many hours it operates each day. Hopefully you'll get there in time.

My world gets a little bit more surreal with each passing day.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 12:23 p.m.


Friday, May 14, 2004

The World is Once Again Safe... For Now

As an almost-but-not-quite follow-up to my Batman and Robin post of last month, I hereby present to you the evil Frogman of Germany.

I hope this becomes a trend. The world needs more superheroes and supervillains.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 2:40 p.m.


Members of the Bush Administration

A daring expose courtesy of Jaakko of

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:02 a.m.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Same Management, New Design

Toyed around with format and colours for a while. Plus I put up my "Rats" pic. I figured it was only appropriate.

Thoughts? Observations? Gratuitous abuse? That's what the comments link is for.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:24 p.m.


Illustrations! Hooray!

I've gotten the first batch of illustrations for my RPG projects scanned and paid for. Contracts all signed, too. Nathan, the artist, was kind enough to actually provide me with more than I paid for, in fact, despite the fact that I was getting it all dirt-cheap as it is (about half the rate of the industry standard, in fact). Of course, he seems pleased merely with the prospect of having his art published for the first time, and initially offered to do some illustrations for free. I wouldn't have any of that, of course. People should be paid for their work, and were I in a financial position to pay him the full industry standard, I would do so without hesitation.

Alas, though, I'm not just the little guy, at this point... I'm the non-existent guy, desperately trying to achieve a sub-radar place in the industry.

Still, the art selection for the books isn't complete yet. Must keep searching, and possibly hire Nathan to do some more.

I'm still waiting for (and looking very forward to seeing) the cover works I commissioned from my other artist. Seems she's moved to Sussex recently, which complicates matters, but only slightly.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:58 a.m.


Saturday, May 08, 2004


A strange hybrid of sheep and piranha.

Because it has bearing to the present controversy (sad that torture is actually a controversy -- should be cut-and-dry, in my mind): the Milgram Experiment.

The soldiers and civillian contractors involved should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, yes, but the problem won't be solved until administration heads roll. Cure the illness, not just its symptoms.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:49 a.m.


Political Humour and Science Fiction

I bet you didn't know that the laws of physics have changed thanks to the war in Iraq, making time travel possible, did you?

Also, some photoshop wonders, courtesy of Valandil at

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 9:19 a.m.


Friday, May 07, 2004

It's Always Better with Ninjas (tm)

Over at one of my favourite summer haunts (RPGnet's message boards, where I get to argue with Americans about the world), somebody made a claim that ninjas always make a book better... and, you know, I think he's right. It struck me as a worthwhile exercise to go over my personal library and imagine how much better my books would be if they were altered to include ninjas, in a similar vein to all the other book-renaming games I've seen in various blogs:

Ninja Crash by J.G. Ballard -- a hallucinatory novel in which the world of the ninja provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a "martial arts" scientist is turned "nightmare angel of the dojo," experiments with erotic atrocities among assassination victims, each more sinister than the last.

The Adventures of Ninja Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- everyone's favourite detective solves a myriad of baffling crimes using an uncanny combination of reasoning, intuition, and heretofore unrevealed martial arts supremacy.

Memoirs of a Ninja by Arthur Golden -- In this book, we enter a world where secrecy is paramount; where a girl's skill at assassination is auctioned to the highest bidder, and where women are trained to slay the most poweful men.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Ninja by Tom Stoppard -- Two minor characters in Shakespeare's play manage to evade Hamlet's ploy to have them beheaded by using their super ninja powers, and then return to exact revenge against that whiney twit.

A Ninja's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams -- Ford Prefect has always claimed to be from Guildford. His friend Arthur Dent is extremely surprised when Ford reveals that he's actually a ninja from Japan. Arthur is even more surprised to learn that the Earth is about to be destroyed by a Vogon constructor fleet, to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Ford teaches Arthur his secret ultimate technique, and they then join forces to defeat the Vogons once and for all. Somehow, Earth is destroyed anyway.

Watership Ninja by Richard Adams -- A group of Bunny Ninjas (how cool is that?) must fight for their survival against a nearby fascist Efrafa burrow, a myriad of predators, and cruelly indifferent humans using only the secret martial arts techniques of the legendary El-ahrairah, "Ninja with a Thousand Enemies."

The Gate to Ninja Country by Sheri S. Tepper -- Actually, this story already has ninja in it, so I can leave it alone.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:30 a.m.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Give Us This Day Our Daily Linkage

(The Web Surfer's Prayer)

The Shining in thirty seconds with an all-bunny cast.

A virtual replica of the most addictive substance known to humankind.

And the world's first jet-powered beer cooler. At least, I hope it's the world's first.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 8:55 p.m.


Well, That's That, I Guess

Mouse passed away all on her own sometime in the last few hours. There was still no evidence that she was eating, which leads me to believe that she might have been as young as I'd feared. Of course, another good possibility is that her wound, which was serious, was infected. I did what I could to disinfect it, but cat's claws are known to be terrible bacteria carriers, and can do a number on a human's immune system. A mouse immune system, belonging to such a tiny creature, is likely not as strong as a human's. Of course, that's just a guess, but it's a sensible one (to me, at least).

Regardless, though, for whatever reason mouse is dead, which makes me sad... And it makes me regret not having put her out of her misery earlier.

*sigh* I'm sorry Scarface. If it helps any, I had the best of intentions.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 4:03 a.m.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A Word on Mouse-Rescues

Before I go on with my tale of woe and sorrow, I should point out something. I don't recommend any of my readers do what I've done and rescue a wounded wild mouse. There's this thing out there called the hantavirus, which can be picked up by humans from certain species of mice. It has an incubation period of anywhere from 5 to 35 days, it carries symptoms that are easily mistaken for the flu, and it's fatal about 38% of the time in Canada.

Its most prolific carrier is the deer mouse, followed by the white-footed mouse and then the cotton rat. It's rare, but it's nasty.

The mouse I have is not a deer mouse. It is, in fact, a house mouse, which is not known to carry this illness. You can tell the difference between the two species by a few tell-tale signs: deer mice almost never live in urban areas; they have much larger eyes than house mice; and they have bicoloured tails.

I'm a skilled enough rodent-fancier to tell the difference; it's quite obvious to me. Not all people are able to do so. If you lack this skill, be on the safe side and don't try what I'm trying.

Anyway, back to day two of the house mouse rescue.

Last night before I went to sleep I gave her a bath and disinfected her wound. She made it through the night, but she's not doing as well as I'd hoped. She's not quite as bad as she was at her worst last night, but she's having trouble walking in a straight line, jumping, moving fast, or doing any of the stuff mice generally do. She's also having trouble maintaining her body heat (I'm guessing because of the blood loss). Besides some water I fed her from an eye-dropper, I haven't seen any signs of her eating or drinking.

Her lack of hunger could be explained by one of two reasons. The hopeful reason is that she's still too scared and pained to feel safe enough to eat. This is hopeful because mice get over that fear eventually, once they get hungry enough.

However, I fear there may be another reason. Keep in mind that this mouse is very tiny. Her body barely stretches across the diameter of a toonie. This probably means she's quite young.

Domesticated fancy mice are the same kind of mouse as the house mouse, or mus musculus linnaeus. At about ten days old, they are able to start eating solid foods, however they're not fully weaned until about three weeks. If this particular mouse were of the domesticated variety, I'd peg her at about fifteen days. Of course, I'm more of a rat-guy than a mouse-guy, so that is at best a rough guess, and I have no idea if it's possible for a mouse to be weaned entirely onto solid foods early. I fear that this mouse still requires mother's milk to survive.

Of course, the matter is complicated by the fact that domesticated fancy mice tend to be significantly larger than their wild counterparts, owing to generations upon generations of good diet and breeding, so it's very difficult for me to guess at her age using my knowledge of domesticated mouse sizes. She could be an adult, if not fully grown (there's no way she's fully grown).

I'm at a loss, really. She's better, but marginally so, and not nearly as well-off as she was last night when she was jumping around like popcorn. I have this nagging suspicion that I should put her out of her misery right now, but I'm going to give it some more time. She might just be having trouble adjusting to her surroundings, owing to the trauma surrounding her transition. That's what I'm hoping. If so, she should turn around in another day.

The problem is that if I'm wrong, I'm just prolonging her suffering, which will make me feel like the biggest jackass in the world. We'll see.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 5:55 p.m.


Okay, I admit it...

I'm a sucker. A grade-A, bonafide, 100% sap. A total soft touch. Etc, etc.

I just can't help it. Those who know me will note that I can hold a grudge with the best of them. There are people out there who pissed me off over a decade ago to whom I still won't give the time of day. I'm petty, too, as anyone who's ever heard the blizzard-doorstep incident can attest (but the less said about that, the better...)

Despite all this, when I see a living creature in pain, I just can't help myself. I need to do something to help, no matter how stupid, meaningless, or even counter-productive it is... Especially if it's the underdog, the little guy, who's doing the suffering. Just the kinda guy I am.

So, I was over at a friend's place briefly this evening. It's a standard university-student room-mate set-up, with way too many people under the same roof (you know the type of place). It's also the home of three cats, each of whom seem to be unique mixtures of stupid and mean (well, Ozzie's total stupidity makes him somewhat endearing, I'll admit).

Tonight, I discovered that it was also the home to some mice. While I was there, a very young mouse came hobbling into the room, slipping out of a cat's grasp by squeezing underneath the door. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was in poor shape -- the little thing was having trouble walking straight, and wasn't running nearly as quickly as it should have been able to. At first, when I saw it trying to hobble its way to a hiding place beneath the desk, I thought it had lost a limb.

When I caught it (not too difficult, considering the state it was in), I discovered that the mouse retained all its limbs. At first I was confused at what was wrong with it, then I brought it up to the light. The poor thing (a she, it turns out) was missing half of the left side of her face.

It looked like she got a good chunk clawed off of her -- I'm pretty sure she's blind in one eye now. When I caught her, she was in the process of going into shock. I was torn... Put her out of her misery (also killing what most people would consider destructive wild vermin), or let her go? She retained all her limbs and her jaw seemed intact (she feebly attempted to bite my finger at first, but she lacked the strength to cause even so much as a pinch), so I was about 65% confident that, given a chance to heal, she'd be able to live a productive life. Well, productive for a mouse -- I mean, no Nobel Prize for Literature or anything, but she could feed herself and probably even breed.

So, I asked my friend what he wanted done with her. He told me to let her go. So, I was one my way outside to do just that, when she managed to use the last of her strength to leap out of my hand. She fell a good four feet onto the hardwood floor.

At that point, for a second I thought she was actually dead, since she couldn't seem to move. Only the fact that she was breathing faintly told me otherwise. By that point, any doubt I had that she was in shock was dispelled. There was no way she could have survived the night, I knew -- she would have, at best, managed to find some dark place to die a lingering death. Letting her go would have been cruel; I just couldn't do that.

Here's where the sucker part comes in -- I couldn't bring myself to kill the near-baby mouse, either.

I got a piece of tupperware, poked some holes in the top, and took her home. Once here, I put her in one of my spare rat cages, gave her some food, water, and an old odd sock that was lying in my sock drawer (long bereft of its companion) to serve as bedding and warmth. I also held her in my hands for the first hour or so after her arrival, since she was so terribly cold and I knew I needed to keep her warm.

At first, I was still doubtful that she'd make it through the night; she was obviously unimpressed at the fact that I was holding her, but she lacked the strength to so much as try to squirm her way off my upturned palm. Every once in a while, she'd dazedly try to clean her whiskers as if she didn't realize what she was doing, and pawing at the missing part of her face in the process -- I'd cringe every time she pulled at the piece of dangling fur/flesh hanging off of her nose -- but that was the most activity I could get out of her.

However, the last time I checked on her, she was back to a mouse's standard level of spritely, bouncing energy. If I reach into the cage, she'll zip around to stay out of my grasp. She's still not eating, and I don't know if she's drinking the water, and there's still danger of infection, so she's not out of the woods yet, but her energy level is a good sign nevertheless. If/when she heals, I'll drive her out to the woods and let her go. She'll never win any beauty pagaents, but she should have a full life, I think.

Of course, that's a couple weeks away, at least. In the meantime, I'm not sure what to name her. I'm thinking "Scarface," but it's neither feminine nor literate. I'll have to ponder that for a while.

I'll keep my faithful readers updated on this particular consequence of my suckerage (?!?) as things develop. Stay tuned.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 5:07 a.m.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Socio-Political Statement?

...or just really funky art?

I don't know why, but that strikes me as one of the coolest things I've ever seen. (Hmm... Maybe I need to get out more...)

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 8:11 p.m.


Monday, May 03, 2004

Some Political Humour

To lighten my blog's mood a bit...

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 6:45 p.m.


Why Act So Surprised?

I really want to do a blog post on role-playing games, its history, what my flagship book is going to be about, etc., but unfortunately I keep getting distracted by world events. Sometimes it sucks to have both an opinion and an IQ over 80.

So, recently photos were released of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and humiliated in Abu Gharib -- notorious for being Saddam's own house of torture. Little time was wasted before spokespersons on behalf of the US military and government came out to decry this treatment as deplorable and against Coalition policy. These are all isolated incidents, they assure the world.

Funny, that doesn't really fly with me.

Never mind the repugnance of keeping Abu Gharib in operation rather than bulldozing the ugly place to the ground or, at the very least, closing its doors forever (Alcatraz, anyone?). Never mind all the other "isolated incidents" that have taken place outside the prison walls, performed by both US and UK soldiers.

No, the problem is that for those with more than a 5-minute memory, this torture isn't all that surprising. Look at the US track record in Vietnam. Or Central/South America. Or, hell, let's look at something in even more recent memory, when the US voted against the UN's efforts to strengthen the 1987 convention outlawing torture:

Washington has found itself on the same side as Cuba, Libya, and Syria, among other states, in trying to block a proposal before the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva designed to give more teeth to the Convention Against Torture.

That was just two years ago. Of course, the US claimed to have its reasons to oppose such measures:

The new protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which is due to come to a vote today, would establish national and international inspectorates to ensure that prisoners are not being tortured, through visits to places of detention.

Washington has opposed the idea since it was first raised 10 years ago, arguing that the fourth amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting "unreasonable searches and seizures" meant it could not allow foreign prison inspectors to go where they pleased. "As a matter of principle, unrestricted authority granted to a visiting mechanism is incompatible with the need for checks and balances" argues Steve Solomon, head of the US delegation.

Let's call that what it is: Bullshit.

Nevertheless, that bullshit set the stage for what we have today. It also lends a little bit (okay, more than a little bit) of doubt into the idea that this torture might be not-entirely-isolated-incidents. But then, don't take my word for it: take Amnesty International's:

Amnesty International has received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by Coalition Forces during the past year. Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrest and detention. Many have told Amnesty International that they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated by the authorities.

Or, we can look at military policy. As Fred Reed noted on FredonEverything:

Now, the soldiers who did it apparently were enlisted. What may we deduce from this?

Enlisted men do not undertake systematic complicated degradation and torture of prisoners without the knowledge and approval of their officers. The officers knew. Officers to what level? Officers are college graduates and understand the political implications of such things. A lieutenant is too junior to risk it and in any event couldn’t hide it from the captain. Prisons—I’ve been in a bunch of them—are intimate places. People know what goes on.

Karpinski, covering her behind (as well she might: this is war-crimes stuff and she could take the fall) says why she had no idea and who would have thought it and anyway the intelligence people were behind it. Sure. I believe she didn’t know. Stalin didn’t know what was going on either. Naw. In this business we’re all virgins.

Exactly. If the folks in charge in the present case can claim they didn't know anything about what was going on, couldn't Saddam make that same claim? In both cases, the idea is, like the pretense for US opposition to the UN's stand on torture (Torture, for crying out loud -- you can't get much more black and white than that), utter bullshit.

One must keep in mind that, chances are, for every incident that's exposed, nine more go by without anyone noticing. Billmon of Billmon's Whiskey Bar (a frequent haunt of mine) pointed out some interesting/sickening statements by Sy Hersh to Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: As far as you know, no one was killed at Abu Ghraib, is that what you're saying?
HERSH: No, that's not true. There were people killed, yes, but not by the soldiers, not by the reservists. There were people killed -- I can tell you specifically about one case. One of the horrible photos is a man packed in ice. You want to hear it? I'll tell it to you.

They killed him -- either civilians, the private guards, or the CIA or the military killed him during an interrogation. They were worried about it. They packed him in ice. They killed him in evening. They packed him in ice for 24 hours, put him in a body bag, and eventually at a certain time -- don't forget, now, the prison has a lot of other Army units about it, and they didn't want to be seen with a dead body.

So they packed him in ice until it was the appropriate time. They put him on a trolley, like a hospital gurney, and they put a fake IV into him, and they walked out as if he was getting an IV. Walked him out, got him in an ambulance, drove him off, dumped the body somewhere.

That literally happened. That's one of the things I know about I haven't written about, but I'm telling you, that's where you're at. There was bloodshed on the other side of the...

BLITZER: We heard from Dan Senor earlier in this program, suggesting he said he didn't know of anyone who died at Abu Ghraib prison.

HERSH: I have some photographs I'll be glad to share with him anytime he wants to know.

Likewise, George Paine of Warblogging notes that, according to the Post

One national security official consulted by the Post stated his belief that "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job. I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA."

Not enough? How about mounting evidence that this torture was performed at the behest of the administration, as a matter of policy:

"Karpinski says the abuse took place in Abu Ghurayb's Block 1A, which had been taken over and turned into a windowless prison-within-a-prison by military-intelligence officers. They called the shots there, not the usual military-police guards. "So far I haven't heard of any investigation of the military-intelligence people," she says.

There's no way I'm buying that these were isolated incidents. Not a chance. Once again, bullshit, I say. Disgusted? Sure. Horrified? I'll allow that. But surprised? I don't think any of us have a right to be surprised.

Meet the new boss. Marginally better at hiding human rights violations than the old boss.

Meanwhile, Closer to Home,

Bush and Cheney speak with the 9/11 commission. They do so together, without any oath, behind closed doors. No recordings are allowed outside of one set of notes. And you know what? They get to keep them.

I read various references of two members of the 9/11 commission (Lee Hamilton and Bob Kerrey) walking out of the meeting with Bush and Cheney early. Hamilton walked out to meet with our Prime Minister, while Kerrey met with Senator Pete Dominici. Unfortunately, the only source (so far) that I can find for this is Matt Drudge of Drudgereport; otherwise, this event has occurred completely beneath the media's radar. So, it may not have happened. If it did happen, though... Could it be that they walked out after having realized the futility of attempting to work on a commission that's been too hamstrung to perform its job properly?

I have to wonder, really, what's the point?

You know, once upon a time I wasn't cynical in the least. When I try to tell people that most don't believe me anymore.

Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 6:29 p.m.


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