Monday, October 29, 2007



In short, and to sum it up: Bad coupla weeks for sports fans in Denver and Nebraska.

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

I did get to spend most of the World Series (what little of it there was) deep in the heart of Red Sox Nation (Rhode Island). Those people are more than a little terrifying. But, I'm a closet Sox fan (since I hate the Yankees, it comes naturally to root for the Sox), so it was all good.

P.S.: They close the bars in Rhode Island at 1:00 a.m. What kind of pussified state closes bars at 1:00 a.m.?

P.P.S.: You know you're doing well when you go to a bar for only the second time, and the bartender looks at you and your group and says "Oh shit, they're back."





Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Angry Midget is MIA

The three people who read this blog regularly have probably noticed that it's been pretty devoid of novel material for the last couple of months, particularly from the namesake of the blog: Ryan.

Since all three of you who read the blog know that I recently started my PhD program, I don't have to explain to you why I don't have any free time to post my thoughts here. But, that's going to change.

We're coming up on three years of fatanstic crap on this site, and I'm not about to throw in the towel because I'm spending 5 hours a day on statistics homework. No sir. I promise to be better, and you can stop sending me garbage email about my whereabouts or that I am throwing in the towel. You wish.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Want a free Radiohead CD? Sure you do.

So I guess I was out of the loop on this one until yesterday, but Radiohead just released their new album (called In Rainbows) on the internet, and if you want, it's free. Just go HERE and sign up, and then you have to 'purchase' it, but you can put in zeroes and it'll work. And it's not a glitch.

Man, it must be nice to have that kind of money, to be able to do something like this and not even flinch.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

That 'L' stands for 'Lose'

This article pretty much sums up my feelings about the Chicago Cubs right now.

So, now there's just football (my Broncos are lucky they're not 0-4) and hockey (the Avalanche's goaltending is too inconsistent for them to make a serious run at the Cup). Which means I'll be on Xbox Live a LOT in the next six months. Here's a screenshot I took from a Halo 3 game last night:

Yes, that red corpse about 50 feet off the ground was me.

Not only does Halo 3 allow you to watch video of all of the games you've played, from any vantage point, but you can take screenshots and upload them directly to Bungie's website from your Xbox 360.

Here's me running over some noob:

Here's one more, with apologies to NIN in advance. However, it makes for great desktop wallpaper!

I said I was gonna drop a teabag on you, and I'm a man of my word.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Zoning Laws: Serious Business

"Y'all have put me under. ... I'm out of here."

This is why the 'CNN TV' service is worthless. Do they have footage of this event? Of course not. Oh well. I guess I'll just watch the Budd Dwyer video again.

And on another note, yes, I know, my Cubs suck. Not exactly a news flash.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Contracting and the War

I want to make two separate, yet related, points in this post. So bear with me.

1. The Rise of Government/Private Contracting

It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that, during the Bush Administration, the government has increased private contracting by 85%, a massive number. The same official government statistics indicate that the Bush Administration has increased private, noncompetitive contracts by 115%. And we're absolutely not just talking about the war, here. We're talking about the systematic turnover of government duties to private contractors. In short, what was once done by government employees is now being done by private contractors.

Why? Very simple: Republican Reverse Robin Hood---the Republicans are taking from the poor and middle class (by way of imbalanced income and capital gains tax systems), and giving to the rich, which is to say, the people who own these private contractors. Consider, for a moment, the important implication every time the government issues a private contract: that contractor is going to make a profit. Which means the contractor can do the job for less than it bid. If the contractor can do the job for less, why can't the government do the job for less? Reagan (whom I'm not a big fan of) at least gave lip service to making the government run more efficiently. Bush II appears to have abandoned any attempt to make the government more efficient, and has decided instead to outsource as much government as he possibly can.

Once again, why? Because neo-cons, who essentially run this administration (I'm looking at you, Cheney), hate the very concept of taxation, and aren't that big a fan of government, either. The neo-con god Grover Nordquist famously said that he wants to shrink the federal government down to the size where he can drown it in a bathtub. Private contracting is a two-fer: you can simultaneously shrink the government and give back those tax dollars to the rich business owners who donate to your campaign.

2. The Myth of a Clean War

Bling's post, and Blackwater's general troubles, inspired this post, and certainly motivated my rant against government contractors. However, I don't mean to criticize Blackwater's performance in Iraq, and I won't join in any piling-on in criticizing Blackwater for potentially killing civilians. Let me explain why, starting with a parallel example.

At this very moment, the military is prosecuting Marine Staff Sargent Frank Wuterich for murder based on the shooting of several Iraqis in the immediate aftermath of a roadside ambush on Wuterich's squad. The military initially charged every member of Sgt. Wuterich's squad with murder, but has dismissed those charges one by one, until now only Sgt. Wuterich (who was in command of the squad) is still facing charges.

To briefly summarize the events which led to these charges (a full explanation can be found here): Wuterich's squad was driving down the road when a roadside bomb took out one Humvee, killing one member of Wuterich's squad and injuring others. The squad observed a group of Iraqis nearby in a car, and it is common for the people who detonate these bombs to do so from a nearby car. So, the squad ordered the Iraqis out of the car. Upon exiting the car, the Iraqis started running away, so the squad opened fire and killed them. Immediately thereafter, the squad came under fire from a nearby cluster of houses. The squad identified the house where the fire appeared to be coming from, surrounded the house, and rolled several grenades inside, killing the occupants. The squad then came under fire from another nearby house, and stormed the house, killing those occupants. Here's the problem: the Iraqis in the car were found to be unarmed, without a detonator, and thus were merely innocent bystanders. The first house that the squad attacked was inhabited mostly by women and children, with no arms anywhere in the house. Ditto the second house. So, at the end of the day, the squad killed a number of innocent civilians, which is indisputably a tragedy.

Now, let me tell you why the prosecution of any of these Marines is a total farce. And, since I've never seen combat, let me use the words of someone who saw a whole lot of combat: "You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it...." Gen. William Sherman. And Sherman's words are as true today as they were in 1864. In every war ever fought, there have been civilian casualties. That's simply part of the bargain. In World War II, generally considered by Americans as a good and just war, Allied bombers firebombed Dresden, Germany, resulting in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. Let's just say it plainly: in war, civilians die. Always have, always will.

The problem is, the Administration doesn't want to, and in some ways can't afford to, admit that to the American people. The Administration needs us to believe that this is a "clean" war, where we are killing only insurgents and winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. We all know that, in reality, this is total bullshit. But we must also recognize that this cannot be done, even in theory. The history of war proves otherwise. Indeed, the history of war suggests that military commanders are no more than passingly concerned with civilian casualties, so long as a strategic goal is met. The atom bombs dropped on Japan are convincing proof of this.

As Americans, we need to understand that every time our military flexes its muscles, the inevitable result is civilian casualties. Understanding this, we must always ask ourselves: is it worth it? It can be argued, and I would be willing to argue, that the civilian casualties in World War II, which probably topped ten million when counted world wide (Russian alone suffered several million), were worth it, given what was at stake. I think it is equally clear that, in Iraq, they are not worth it. Others may disagree, but we all need to understand that the debate cannot based on the theory that war can be conducted cleanly. If we believe in what we are doing in Iraq, we should be willing to tolerate civilian casualties. If civilian casualties bother us, and the government's treatment of Sgt. Wuterich and Blackwater suggest that the government is indeed bothered, we should take that as a sign that perhaps we no longer believe the hype. And when we recognize that, we must recognize that it is time to withdraw.


THIS reminds me of a joke I heard once:

'What were the redneck's last words?
'Watch this!''

I'm not sure if any of you saw highlights of Erik Prince's testimony to Congress yesterday, but he didn't make a very compelling case. The fact of the matter is, if Bush and Rumsfeld had listened to General Shinseki, there wouldn't be a need for these overpriced mercenaries.