Through Thick and Thin
Well, fighting has broken out in large areas of Iraq as the Maliki government takes on the Mahdi Army. Bush has it covered though, yes, this massive increase in violence shows that the surge is working! In fact, he said that this violence is a “positive moment!” Let me see if I understand this: Violence goes down = surge is working. Violence goes up = surge is working. I have been under a lot of stress lately and I’m real tired, maybe that’s why this doesn’t make any sense to me. Possibly a gentle reader can explain to me why no matter what horrible thing happens in Iraq, things are always improving according to the Bush administration? What’s even more alarming, is that the media does along with this, as well as huge numbers of Americans.
It sure seems to me we are now in a situation reminiscent of Vietnam. We are supporting a corrupt, unpopular, undemocratic government and under the impression that with enough firepower and money we can turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. Ain’t going to happen, the Mahdi army is vastly more popular than Maliki could ever dream to be, and attacking him is going to make things worse, not better. This is about politics by the way, this article does a good job of explaining the current situation in Iraq. It’s all pretty depressing.
Moving right along, in science news, a voice recording from 1860 has been discovered. This predates the previous known oldest recording by 17 years. It’s a French lady singing a song, likely it will be available on the Internet at some point. It’s also cool because it brings to mind the holy grail of historical voice recordings. There is a remote possibility that the voice of Abraham Lincoln may be preserved in some forgotten archive somewhere. In fact it’s gotten even more likely, since this recently recovered recording was recorded with the same method used to record Lincoln’s voice. Yes, an inventor may have visited Lincoln and recorded his voice if historical anecdote can be believed. Wouldn’t that be wild?
I used to be a big Lincoln fan. I’m not so much anymore. He may be America’s greatest example of the proverbial “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” He was certainly a fair and honourable man, there seems little doubt of that. However, more than anyone, he was the genesis of the federal government being an entity with a life of its own that not only runs the country, but claims the “divine right” to do so and crush anyone opposed. “Homeland Security” traces its roots to the Lincoln administration, and ultimately it’s not a pretty picture. And we must remember that Lincoln bears a great deal of responsibility for a war that killed and maimed more than a million Americans. In any event, I’ll make a stand-alone post about this some day and people can pillory me for my take on Lincoln.
APOD published this cool colour picture of Mercury. Not much else to say, except that what is visible is pretty hot and bright. Mercury always faces the Sun the same way the Moon always keeps the same side facing Earth. So one side of Mercury is over 400C degrees while the dark side is as cold as -170C. Both are well outside the range of human comfort, so we won’t be seeing any Mercury colonies in the near future. Some day there might be scientific outposts, and it’s a good place to monitor the Sun from, so who knows.
There was a flurry of concern when it was announced that the Mars rovers might be mothballed because of budget cuts. Fortunately it was an accounting error or some such and the decision was quickly reversed. I mean, a big chunk of change was spent getting them there, they are still producing invaluable scientific data about Mars, and it costs trivial amounts of money to keep them going. It would be nuts to shut them down to save af ew pennies. Here is an image of Martian clouds drifting by taken recently by Opportunity. Mars doesn’t have clouds very often, and not much is known about them.
In local news there are running protests and anti-protests at the Marine Corps recruiting centre. They are small actions, a dozen people or so usually. Nobody really pays it much mind, and I’ve long ago gotten over being upset about it. I still think they’d be better off picketing a gas station, but Bush’s refusal to institute a draft to fight the war has given peace protesters few targets. It’s a clever strategy on the Bush administrations part, but spin and politics has always been their forte. Who cares if avoiding a daft means we are hiring tens of thousands of mercenaries at fabulous cost and wearing out our army with serial deployments in Iraq, the peaceniks are foiled and there is little chance of effective domestic resistence to the war. That’s what matters, right?
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of smoke rising from the Green Zone in Baghdad is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is an historically important image. Credit: Copyright © 2006- 2008 Alalam Inc. And as far as attacks on the Green Zone go…I forecast a 90% chance of further flurries of rockets and mortar shells.)