May 31, 2004

Not Rance...

I am not Rance, although that would explain why I never have any time to post here. I was not aware of his blog; I enjoyed reading it and thank Maximum Leader for drawing it to my attention.


May 30, 2004

On Homer...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been a little caught up in thinking about the Trojan War. Why? Well, there has been lots of hubub around the movie and it got your Maximum Leader to thinking that he ought to re-read "The Illiad." (NB: Your Maximum Leader has not yet seen the film.)

Your Maximum Leader must make a confession. He last read "The Illiad" in high school. He did read excerpts and passages in college. But the first (and so far only) time he read the whole epic was in high school. It has always been on his list of books to re-read. But he never made time.

He is making time now. And let him tell you some of his thoughts.

Achilles isn't as much of a whiner as your Maximum Leader remembered. When he first read the poem he was convinced that the only two worthwhile characters in the work were Hector and Odysseus. And while he still thinks that Hector and Odysseus are the two most noble characters. Achilles is getting a makeover in his mind. Achilles is a bit sulky. But he is being wronged all the time by Aggamemnon. Who wouldn't be a little sulky if you were the bravest warrior on your side (leading the most ferocious fighters on your side, the Myrimidons) and you were always being shortchanged on booty and prizes? Your Maximum Leader might get a little sulky even. Achilles is a proud man who's ego is being constantly bruised by a lesser man - who happens to be the King.

Menalaus is coming off as much more of a wussy than your Maximum Leader recalled. He seems to be a weak-willed pawn in Aggamemnon's game. He doesn't seem terribly wronged by the fact that it was his wife that was stolen away by Paris.

Paris still strikes your Maximum Leader as a pansy-assed wussy who can start a war, but is too much of a pretty-boy coward to fight.

Hector and Odysseus are still great.

Aggamemnon is a greedy, self-serving tyrant who is really starting to annoy your Maximum Leader.

And one more thought... Your Maximum Leader is reading two copies of "The Illiad" more or less simultaneously. One is a rendering as epic poem, the other a rendering in prose. Wow! What a difference it makes. While your Maximum Leader reads the prose version much faster, the respects the poetic rendering a lot. It makes you really respect the talents of the translator. Your Maxmimum Leader is sure the poetry is so much harder to get right than the prose. It is an impressive accomplishment.

Carry on.

When you are feeling down about Iraq...

Its good to know that there are sites like this and this that give you a greater perspective (from somebody on the ground in IRAQ)about the good things that the United States is doing there.

Back to the Trenches

May 29, 2004


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just reading about how there all sorts of hullabalou in LA about the author of the Rance Blog.

Your Maximum Leader guesses that Rance is none other than our own Minister of Propaganda!

Carry on.

May 28, 2004

... a little too ironic

A guy named Kim with a last name pronounced "Twat".


Isn't it Ironic...

That a GUY named KIM is making fun of names in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

or am I the only one getting a chuckle out of this...?

back to the trenches

Eric Idle Tune

Everyone here is a Python fan. Here is Eric Idle's newest little tune. I don't think the Maximum Leader will like it as much as the Kissenger song (or the lunberjack song - he seems to have an odd affinity for that ditty and frequently sings it while violating Deuteronomy's instructions by donning traditional Scottish garb).

I think that the Memorial Fits... here is why

The difference I think is the perception of the viewer. I think that comparing the WW2 Memorial with the Vietnam & Korean memorials is comparing apples & oranges.

The Vietnam and Korean memorials are viewed in a "war is bad", "anti-war", and a "no war is a good war" light. We "lost" the Vietnam War and most people feel like it was unnecessary. The Korean War is our "forgotten war" and one that was never brought to conclusion. Both these memorials capture that sentiment and do so beautifully.

Enter the WW2 memorial.
This was a "good" war that had to be fought. The war was fought all over the globe and there was DEFINATELY a winner. It was costly in military, material, and civilian terms but there was no way to avoid it and it had to have been fought.
How do you capture all of aspects of WW2 in one memorial? I would argue that you can't.
Do you spend the effort on memorializing the dead? The holocaust? The civilian casualties? The triumph of good over evil?

Not an easy task but most of the things I just mentioned are covered under other memorials.

I think that in the end, the monument pays tribute to the fallen, but just as importantly, validates and celebrates the victory all of the world's survivors.

Back to the trenches....

WWII Memorial

I'll reserve judgement until I see it for myself, but from what I hear the overall response is less than stellar.

Here's an editorial from the post that pretty much typifies reactions to the WWII memorial. I'm torn on the subject. While it does look good in pictures, the most common criticism I hear is that it doesn't connect with the visitor. The Vietnam memorial, and the Korean War Memorial are both very powerful for the visitor.

WWII represents the most important struggle in moddern times, and the seeming eternal theme of the modern world. The struggle against tyranny and opression. Yes, comming out of the Great Depression, the world was cynical, and things were not as black and white as they may seem in retrospect. But it's hard to argue agains the evil that faced the world.

Comfort Women
The Bataan Death March
"The Final Solution"

and on and on

these represent evil pure and simple.

Yes, there was ambiguity, and attrocities were committed by the allies. Dresden for example. But that's the nature of Total War. You can't equate the Rooseveldt administration with the Nazi's, or Imperial Japan.

But the task that generation faced, the sacrifices they made, and the success they achieved demand something special. An overblown, yet patriotic unfocused memorial just seems almost like an insult. I suppose a significant memorial is long overdue, and better this than nothing. Still, I wish they'd have gotten it right.

Memorial Day

"For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history."

-- President Ronald Reagan,

on the 40th anniversary of D-Day at Pointe du Hoc, France, June 6, 1984

Good editorial here on the "Greatest Generation" and the good fight they fought.


Yup... the big guy's right, I'm a huge Tolkien fan. Currently watching the theatrical version of Return of the King again. I'll probably post another review either here or at Scary Spasms, where I posted a review after the films came out.

I'll second agreement with Mr. Du Toit's rant on LotR. The blonde princess was way hotter. I'm not a big Liv Tyler fan. I look at her, and I see her dad. Although I like Aerosmith, Stephen Tyler is just freaky looking.

Du Toit on Lord of the Rings

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a big Lord of the Rings fan. He has read the books. He has seen the movies. He loves it. (Although, perhaps not as much as the AirMarshal.) That said, your Maximum Leader also has sense of humour. He was over on Kim Du Toit's site (looking for more skin and gun pics) and found Kim's rant on "The Return of the King."

Your Maximum Leader admits. He laughed a little bit reading it. And your Maximum Leader agrees with Kim on one point. If he was Aragorn, he would have gone after lusty blonde princess...

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader's hockey team could snag the best prospect out there. Really, it could happen.

But then again, the world could end tomorrow...

Carry on.

May 27, 2004


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to congratulate Kilgore.

Your Maximum Leader will take a raincheck on the Glenfiddich on the rocks.

Carry on.


My wife and I have Verizon cell phones, largely because her father has been a Verizon employee. In general, I have been less than pleased with service... until I compare what we get with what friends with other providers get. I think my anticipated standards for how good cell phones should be are higher than industry standards. Based on comparison with friends on Sprint, AT&T and NexTel, Verizon is either as good or better than what they get. Fine.

But one thing consistantly pisses me off. I have an LG-4400 phone, which I like quite a bit. But the software on the phone has some serious bugs related to voicemail. So I'm on my office phone, when my wife calls me on cell. I can't answer, so I note that she's left me a voice mail, and wait until I finish business on the office phone. Then I try to call voice mail from the cell phone. It keeps kicking me out of my voice mail menu to tell me that one new voice mail has arrived. Duh. I'm trying to check the damn voice mail, but I freaking can't because the freaking service keeps interupting my call to my mail box.

I know it's just a software bug, but it pisses me off.

Update from your Maximum Leader: Your Maximum Leader uses Cingular and likes it...

Annika's answers

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would like to note that now the lovely Annika has taken the quiz that was posted here earlier in the week. Wanna know how she answered the questions? Read annika's responses.

Carry on.

More Kim Possible...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader seconds the AirMarshal's Kim Possible post. He has, on more than one occasion, found himself watching Kim Possible late at night while channel surfing. And the Villainettes were fast asleep.

Carry on.

Commencement Speech.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is on a roll with all these single link blog entries. (Is it really just a feeble attempt to break the 1000 post barrier by July?) Anyho... Your Maximum Leader would pay good money to have someone (and by that he means a real "someone" - like an elected official, or famous writer) give this speech at a college commencement.

Carry on.

A New North Korean Export from the Gweilo?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader loves modest proposals. They are always a fun read. So in that vein your Maximum Leader commends to you the lastes from Conrad. The Gweilo Diaries: A New North Korean Export (or, Poontang from Pyongyang) Enjoy.

Carry on.

Gore's speech

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was going to comment on the Gore speech of yesterday. But instead, your Maximum Leader refers you to Skippy. (His post of May 26th. The one with the photo of Gore doing his best Howard Dean impression.) Skippy is, as usual, brilliant!

Carry on.

Gore / Moore

So Al Gore gave a speech yesterday blasting Bush. Ok, fine. Despite the fact that I agree with a lot of what Gore said, I still think he's a Schmuck. Want to know something, Al? The biggest reason you aren't President is that you were too freaking stupid to campaign in your "Home State", or to enlist Bill's help to win Arkansas. When Fred Thomas is working his ass off to win Tennessee for Bush, and you don't even bother to show up, you don't deserve to win the election.

As my daughter might say "Gore - Moore... it's a rhyming word!"

Michael Moore won the Palm D'Or at Cannes. Oooh big surprise. As the Americans are getting booed off the court at Roland Garros by an extremely anti-American crowd, Moore winning a film award at Cannes is about as shocking as a Republican wearing a tie.

For the record, I despise Michael Moore. I don't find him entertaining in the least. He furthers his blatant political agenda with half truths and inuendos and when he's called to account for distortions, he reverts to the "Hey, it's not the news, it's only entertainment" defense. (I call this the "Rush Limbaugh" defense.)

So NPR did a special on Moore on Tuesday I believe during the afternoon rush hour. Not sure if it's the right link I found, but it's still appropriate. Anyway, the film critic reporting from Cannes described Michael Moore as some sort of hero to the French. God, if they think the best we have to offer is Jerry Lewis and Michael More? ugh.

In any event, The film critic (possibly Ken Turan) stated that Moore is viewed as a hero in europe, as the only American to "tell it like it is", and speak the truth. This bothered the critic (good for him) who called Moore to task on his skewed, political view of the world, and his distortion of facts. The critic cited Bowling for Columbine as a film he didn't like, that he felt was inappropriately labeled a documentary, and was more properly labeled propaganda.

Anyway, the critic closed out his report by describing an exchange between a French reporter and Michael Moore. I tried to google for the transcript but couldn't find it. In essence, Moore railed against the "ban" on his film in the US. The reporter asked him if he thought the film would ever be seen in the US. More paused and said "of course it will" quietly. The French seemed to think that it was a governmental ban, and not a corporate decision to not distribute a hot potato.

Oh well.

PS. There is one Michael Moore film I really love. Canadian Bacon. In no way is it a great film, it's a great late night cable comedy. I good $0.99 rental. A fun and stupid little movie. Much like Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I remember seeing "Killer Klowns" on cable one weekend, when MaxLeader came down to Blacksburg to see a football game. Watched it on cable after the game.

Kim Possible

Any of the parents out there watch this? My daugter loves it. Gotta say, I enjoy Kim Possible too.


May 26, 2004

Ouch! That must have stung...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read this Reuter's piece: Researcher Dies After Accidental Ebola Jab, and remembered why he didn't go into medicine.

Well... The real reason was that he doesn't like helping people enough to do it full time, or even part time. He prefers being Maximum Leader.

Carry on.

Sweet Seasons Farm Pics

If the Maximum Leader will be so kind as to insert the pics I sent him, here are some pictures from my land.

Pic 66670006: A view of the lower pasture. You can see the divisions; this three acre field is divided into ten smaller paddocks by wire.

Pic 66670007: A close up view of Bonnie and her boys. Bonnie is tipping the scales at 520 pounds these days - she'll be ready to breed when she makes it to 700 - about three months from now. Bonnie is the brown and white Ayrshire in the foreground. A Holstein steer is standing slightly behind her - he is black with white markings. The angus cross is in the far background - he is all black.

Pic 66670025: Sunrise at Sweet Seasons Farm. This is how I start my day. My father and I built the barn you see out of a torn-down house. In the foreground is another of our scrap creations: the chicken tractor. If you look closely, you can see a couple of guineas sitting on top of the tractor.

Update from your Maximum Leader: Pics uploaded to site and links active. Sorry it took a while. Your Maximum Leader is spending more time away from a computer lately.

Biblical Quotations

I have never understood why the Maximum Leader is so obsessed with Deuteronomy.

Update from your Maximum Leader: Because it is filled with such great laws that's why. Really! Try Deuteronomy 22:5. "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God." Or Deut 22:10. "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together." Or Deut 23:17. "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel." And the ever popular Deut 27:21. "Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen."

To that your Maximum Leader says, "Amen."

Title Banner and Rotating Tag lines.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was doing a quick morning review of his blogroll (which as he has mentioned before acts as an easy to use favourites list) and chanced upon this quick note from Misha at the Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller. He added a reference to a Bible verse in his title banner.

This struck your Maximum Leader as a fun thing. Taking Bible verses and adding them to your title bar, or in the case of this site, the Rotating Tag line area. So, your Maximum Leader has decided to add a new rotating tag line to his list. It is Deuteronomy 23:1. Hope you like it.

Carry on.

Linky Stuff

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been reading up on many of the blogs on the ole sidebar and found some interesting stuff.

First off, allow your Maximum Leader to thank Bill for adding us to his sidebar. Your Maximum Leader knows that Bill certainly meant nothing by not adding us to the list sooner. And as Bill says himself, when the MWO comes he doesn't want to be on your Maximum Leader's list. Bill, all is forgiven. You aren't on the bad list. You are definately on the good list. It was probably some weird Blogger/Blogspot problem anyway...

Which brings your Maximum Leader to his second item.

That rascally Dr. Rusty Shackleford. Thinks he can write in the "voice" of Seinfeld and get us to laugh. Ha! Using Blogger but posting to non-blogspot site! As if your Maximum Leader is trying deception... As if... Yeah... As if... Well... Okay... There might be a little deception. But on the scale of deceptions with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident being really deceptive and taking the 5th in front of a Senate select committee investigation as not too deceptive this can't be all that bad. Hey Rusty... At least people could still read this site after Blogger screwed up all the "www" links! Maybe FTP'ing to a different host wasn't all that dumb afterall. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

But fixing the ole blogroll was a pain. Touche.

At least there are still a few of us hanging on to Blogger... It makes Google's takeover of Blogger a greater value proposition to Sergey and Larry.

Carry on.

May 25, 2004

The Little Things That Make Farming a Pleasure

I enjoy my farming chores 99% of the time. Sure, there are days when I am not so happy - like when an irresponsible neighbor's dog kills my setting guinea and cracks all of ther eggs. Or when a lightning strike blows out my $65 electric fencer. But those types of frustrations vanish when you have a perfect day like yesterday.

In school we had an excellent day of reviews for the Standards of Learning test. After classes, i went to watch some of my children play soccer. The girls won their game and seemed excited that I had come to cheer for them. The boys game was very interesting. Our team is just incredible. Their ball-handling skills are amazing and they won their 17th game in a row with a score of 10-1. That one goal was scored when all the starters were on the bench and is only the third goal surrendered all season. I think the key to our dominance in the Valley League is that Harrisonburg is a mecca for immigrants. Our African and Hispanic players play like they were born with a soccer ball in their placentas. American kids take up the sport later and, in general, more haphazardly.

I stopped at my parents on the way home from work for dinner and arrived to find my wee daughter following Grandpa around the house on his watering rounds. Dad comes from a rather nondemonstrative German family, so it has been fun to watch my daughter wrap him around her little finger. She can even get him to do goofy dances with her.

I joined Dad and Emilie and took a tour of the new Smallholder Senior plantings. He had also (oh joy!) found a new source of organic compost - horse manure mixed with acidifying sawdust that will be a perfect mulch for my blueberries.

My wife arrived and we had a family dinner, my little sweetie of a daughter holding hands with grandpa and I during grace. Mom had made a delicious new recipe - chicken with mushroom sauce. My daughter cracked everybody up as she diligently devoured abig ear of Dad's corn, hoilding onto the corn pins with her little 19 month-old hands.

It was dark when I got home, so I immediately went out to the pasture to check on the calves. They had demonstrated their frustration with the delayed attention by knocking over a couple of their watering bins. While I filled the bins, my Heifer Bonnie came up and laid the bottom of her jaw propreitarily on my chest, snorting foul cow breath into my face as she demanded attention. The other boys crowded around, pushing against my legs - the really demanding twin sucking on my shirttail and butting the keys in my pocket. Even one of the angus crosses came up to let me scratch his chin. The other, of course, was aloof, but wanted to stand next to me even if he wasn't going to allow me to touch him.

It's amazing how all eight animals have their own unique personalities. Bonnie is probably the most affectionate since she is basically a pet. The Holsteins are the next in terms of temperment; breeders have been selecting for temperment for years - an easily excited or fearful cow is bad news in the milking parlor. Angus are wilder, beefier cattle that are selected for easy calving, uniform growth, and quick gain on grain - none of which are particulalry appropriate for my operation since I don't calve them, am not selling to a feedlot that demands uniform size, and don't feed grain. They are certainly much wilder than the Holsteins even though they have been treated exactly the same way.

As I stood there, surrounded by Bonnie and my boys, I looked out over the dark fields and saw an amazing display of phosperesence. These were not the fireflies of my youth.

When I was a kid we used to chase fireflies in the evening. As I got older, there were fewer and fewer fireflies around - their larvae are vulnerable to herbicides and pesticides that are now applied to suburban lawns. The firefly population in the suburbs has plummeted in recent years as yuppies have escalated the turf wars.

The childhood fireflies I remember had long, slow, lazy light displays. The tail end might glow for three or four seconds and even small kids could approach and grab them. I have this type of firefly - they show up at dusk and do their little mating dance for an hour or so. But the ones I saw last night do their dance later. And instead of long glows, they emit flashbulb bursts - looking at the hills surrounding the farm, it was like being in a stadium with all the cameras taking pictures at once. Cool, cool, cool. My own private, natural fireworks show.

Heh. I may be poor, but I am rich in ways you city folks can't even imagine.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader likes reading Bill Keezer's site. He is a very thoughtful guy. Your Maximum Leader thanks him for the compliment in this post. (NB to Bill: You like us, but not enough to link to us your Maximum Leader sees. If your Maximum Leader was one to use those little "emoticon" thingies in his blog, please know he would have put one here. Nonsymmetric linkage so to speak?) Your Maximum Leader and his Minister's are pretty catholic in what topics we will cover. Your Maximum Leader commends the AirMarshal for starting the booze posts. He should do a weekly alcohol review...

Carry on.

My take on the Blogger's Quiz

1. which political party do you typically agree with? Neither, really.

2. which political party do you typically vote for? Probably 60/40 in favor of the Dems.

3. list the last five presidents that you voted for? Too Young, Bush,Bush,Clinton,Gore

4. which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Republicans pre-2000. Neither now.

5. which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? Prior to Y2K, Gop Fiscal, Dem Social. Now not really sure.

6. do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? Keep them in with clear cut objectives. Try again for international help.

7. who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? Saudi Arabia, Taliban

8. do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in iraq? Some Circumstantial evidence, probably. If any were there, Blix and the UN gave Saddam enough time to dispose of them, or "donate" them.

9. yes or no, should the u.s. legalize marijuana? Yes.

10. do you think the republicans stole the last presidental election? Not sure, but there was GOP misconduct. And probably Dem misconduct as well.

11. do you think bill clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with monica lewinski? Although I thought the entire investigation was a travesty and a Witch Hunt, once Bill perjured himself, then yes, he should have been held accountable for that. Ultimately he has noone to blame but himself.

12. do you think hillary clinton would make a good president? No.

13. name a current democrat who would make a great president: Lieberman maybe. Edwards maybe. ugh

14. name a current republican who would make a great president: McCain

15. do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? Yes, up to a point.

16. what religion are you? Agnostic

17. have you read the Bible all the way through? Most of it. Skimmed a lot of the more boring books.

18. what's your favorite book? Shogun by Clavell, and the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.

19. who is your favorite band? Zeppelin probably.

20. who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election? Kerry, mainly a to vote against Bush.

21. what website did you see this on first? This one.

Another Quiz.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw this on Kim Du Toit's site and decided to give it a go.

Do you have the guts to take the honest bloggers-only quiz? Your Maximum Leader always has the guts to take a pansy quiz.

1. With which political party do you typically agree? Republican

2. For which political party do you typically vote? Republican (but your Maximum Leader has voted for a number of Democrats)

3. Name the last five people for whom you voted for president? George H.W. Bush (88 & 92), Bob Dole (96), George W. Bush (00).

4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Republican

5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? Republican

6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? Keep them in and transfer more power to new Iraqi government.

7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? Osama Bin Laden and other wicked Islamofacists. Most Arab nations are somewhat culpable for allowing a climate to exist where terror can flourish.

8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in iraq? Not in large quantities. But we will find more evidence of their presence. Like the sarin filled artillery shells from last week.

9. Yes or no, should the u.s. legalize marijuana? Yes.

10. Do you think the republicans stole the last presidental election? No.

11. Do you think bill clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with monica lewinski? Are you asking if Clinton should have lost his job for an affair? No. He should have lost his job for lying under oath in a criminal investigation.

12. Do you think hillary clinton would make a good president? No

13. Name a current democrat who would make a great president:
I can't think of one who would make a great president. But your Maximum Leader believes Joe Lieberman is tolerable.

14. Name a current republican who would make a great president: Again, that call to greatness is a problem. Your Maximum Leader still likes geeky Steve Forbes on the economy. Also liked Phil Gramm of Texas.

15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? Your Maximum Leader believes that abortions should be illegal with very few exceptions.

16. What religion are you? Not really any. Your Maximum Leader was raised Roman Catholic. But his religious views are now closer to Orthodox Judiasm.

17. Have you read the Bible all the way through? Not all the way through. There might be some books of the Old Testament he hasn't read. Ruth? Judit? Can't recall.

18. What's your favorite book? Too many to name. But since it is a pointed question... Right now your Maximum Leader would have to say Shogun by James Clavell. He has read that book about 10 times in the past ten years.

19. Who is your favorite band? Favorite performer? Cowboy Junkies and Elvis respectively.

20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election? Bush. But mainly voting against Kerry. Which is how most of your Maximum Leader's votes have gone recently. Lesser of evils and all.

21. On what website did you first see this? Kim Du Toit

That done... Your Maximum Leader bids you,

Carry on.

Article on Eichman

It bugs me when people compare western leaders to Hitler. There really is no comparison. If you agree with Bush's policies or not, he's a democratically elected leader, who is ostensibly trying to achieve the security of his nation, fighting terrorism.

Want to read about someone REALLY evil, read this. It's an article on Adolf Eichmann from the Crime Library. It's good to read for two reasons. First, something like the holocaust, and the human capability for atrocities, should never be forgotten. Second, it gives us an example of true evil in the world.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would like to thank Andi over at Overboard for her kind link to this site. Your Maximum Leader has gladly reciprocated.

You all (my minions) really ought to go and read Andi's stuff. She provides an interesting counter-balance to the Poet Laureate's life-in-Korea posts. Andi is a Buddhist Swordsman who your Maximum Leader is convinced could take Lucy Lui in a Tarantino-esque sword fight.

And note to Kilgore... She likes your blog too man. Get thee to Korea! End your "drought."

Carry on.

Note to those of you who might check out these things... This post is #666 from the start of this blog. Humm.. Coincidence that the DEVIL'S number is associated with a kick-ass Buddhist chick? Your Maximum Leader thinks not...

Bush Speech

I can't stand to listen to Bush butcher words, and mutilate the English language, so I usually read transcripts of his speeches afterwards. Last night was no different for me.

I didn't really get anything out of the speech. To borrow a phrase from Bush Sr, it was a "stay the course" speech. Not enough specifics on what's gonna happen. Competant address. Major Policy speech? no freaking way. And, please, go on TV from the White house, and address the nation, like Ronnie used to. Talk to us, the citizens. Stop letting us listen in on speeches given to military audiences.

I noted that last weekend, General Abazaid commented that the troops they had weren't sufficient to accomplish the mission, if not in terms of the number of troops, then in terms of the lack of MI, MP, and non combatant troops relating to (for lack of a better word) PR kinda stuff. And Bush says in his speech

"Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.

This has required extended duty for the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment -- 20,000 men and women who were scheduled to leave Iraq in April. Our nation appreciates their hard work and sacrifice, and they can know that they will be heading home soon.

General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill the mission. If they need more troops, I will send them.

Hmmm. We'll see.

I also noted that Bush used the word "Occupation" repeatedly. I had thought that we weren't occupying, but "liberating". This represents a shift in rhetoric.


Perhaps the reason that MaxLeader doesn't see seasonal shifts in drinking preferences is because he keeps his house at a balmy 64 degrees farenheit year round.

Update from your Maximum Leader: Untrue.. Your Maximum Leader keeps the Villainschloss around 64 degrees farenheit during the fall-winter-spring months. It stays a balmy 75 during the summer. Why? Because your Maximum Leader is of scottish ancestry and "thrifty."

You need to wake up and smell the coffee...

I am celebrating two anniversaries in the next month. My daughter will be 2 years old on June 17th. Who'd of thought we'd make it to this milestone!

I probably would not have made it though if it wasn't for this other anniversary I will be celebrating on the 10th of June.

That my friends, is two years to the day that I bought my Krups Orchestro Automatic Espresso Maker

I had a regular espresso maker for a couple of years, the kind that cost about $70 and you think you are a serious coffee drinker when you buy it. I used that thing faithfully every day for years until, a week before my daughter was born, I saw the Orchestro for sale in the Base Exchange. Somebody had put it on layaway and decided not to get it. It was a one time buy for the store so they discounted it bigtime and put it on the shelf with other return merchandise for sale at bargain prices.

Now this machine normaly is in the $600-$900 dollar range, but I was able to get mine for $299.

Now, you guys might be thinking "300Bucks is a lot to pay for a freakin' coffee machine".

But to that I say, Hell, if this one broke on me, I would replace it in a HEARTBEAT with the same, or a more expensive model! I no longer buy coffee at any Starbucks (or starbucks like coffee chain) becuase my home brew is as good or better.

Espresso/Cappaccino machines are really one of those things that, the more you spend, the better the results. Most inexpensive (read under $300) use steam to brew the coffe. More expensive machines use pressure to force the water through the grinds. Steam scalds the coffee and affects the taste.

Now of course, the water and brand of coffee are important too but I will save that for another post.

I will conclude with 2 things.

1)If you are a coffee/espresso/cappaccino drinker, do yourself a favor and get one of these things... I can make myself my own cappaccino in about 1 minute 30 seconds YIKES. (did i mention that my coffee intake has quadroupled in the last two years?)

2) A Cappaccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk foam

Back to the trenches....

Bush Speech

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just watched the President's speech to the Army War College on C-Span. Not a bad performance. He delivered the text well. But the speech wasn't terribly inspiring. Your Maximum Leader would have liked to hear more about how the security situation will be improved. He realizes that the President said that security will become more and more of an Iraqi issue. But that will take time. Overall this is a good first step in explaining the war, and its current state. But this can't be the only step. The President should be making these types of speeches every few weeks, and getting more detailed with each.

Carry on.

May 24, 2004

Civilization and Barbarism

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hasn't posted to a Derb column in such a long time. He couldn't resist linking to this one today. Your Maximum Leader wishes he had more time to write out essays like Derb's.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wanted to comment briefly on India. This comment was prompted by the close of this post from the Minister of Propaganda.

(Before commenting, your Maximum Leader would like to thank the Minister of Propaganda for the great link to biographical information on the new Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.)

Your Maximum Leader will first admit that he doesn't follow Indian politics as closely as he should. But he can say that he has never been a great fan of the Congress Party. Why? They've always seemed a little too socialist for your Maximum Leader's taste. Indeed, it was the BJP (the party just ousted by the Congress-led coalition) that really produced an economic environment that has allowed India to flourish economically.

It came as a surprise to your Maximum Leader to learn that now-PM Singh was instrumental in tearing down some of the socialistic state monopolies (or laws that thwarted an open economy) during the last time Congress led India. Indeed, it seems as though Singh was able to lay some of the groundwork that the BJP used to get India's economy to take off.

As the good Minister of Propaganda points out, the Communists are in the Congress-led governing coalition. (Should this surprise anyone? Sonia Ghandi is afterall a born Italian. And can any left-of-center Italian form a government in any nation without including communists?) What will the presence of the Communists mean for India? Your Maximum Leader thinks it will not mean too much. Congress will have its hands full keeping the Indian economy going, and living up to its electoral promises. If anything the Communists will push Congress into doing more to keep its electoral promises.

The Congress-led coalition won, it seems in large part, because of their appeal to the poor of India. You see, under the BJP's "India Shining" programme the cities of India grew in wealth and affluence. Educated Indians are earning more, and spending more. But much of that new-found wealth has not yet found its way into improving the lives of the myriad poor in India. Congress has promised rual electrification, better sewage, improved education, and other government programmes to improve the condition of the poor.

It will be a great challenge to keep the burgeoning Indian middle-class growing and prospering, while supporting the massive taxation that will be required to acheive goals like rual electrification. It does seem as though if there is a man in India up to the task (who wasn't in the BJP) it is the new Prime Minister, Mr. Singh.

In another vein, isn't India just fascinating? In so many ways it is what so many nations could be. It is a hugely successful pluralistic democracy. And they are likely in a position that could be somewhat congruent to the US at the turn of the last century. Their cities (well, many of their cities) are hubs of the international economy. They have a strong manufacturing base. And their agriculture continues to improve. But outside the cities there is still a rual India that hasn't seen the implementation of many the benefits of modern society.

Take rual electrification for example. From what your Maximum Leader reads, there are huge swaths of India that are not (or minimally) electrified. Does anyone recollect when rual electrification became a reality in the US? Can anyone say the TVA? Mrs. Villain was a little surprised to learn that many rual areas were not electrified until the 1950s. US cities were modern, electrified, and cutting edge early in the last century. But our rural areas were not. India strikes your Maximum Leader as being similar.

Well, your Maximum Leader wishes Mr. Singh luck. He can only hope that India continues to be a democracy that works in Asia.

Carry on.

The Good Dr. and Ayn Rand.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just reviewing the good Dr. Burgess-Jackson's site and found this particularly interesting.

It is particularly interesting because it touches on one of the points your Maximum Leader was trying to get at in his recent ranting about blogging and such. The good Dr. Burgess-Jackson points out that Ayn Rand is not well liked in the philosophical community for a number reasons. Your Maximum Leader will direct your attention to numbers two and five on the Doctor's list. She wrote for a mass audience and is read by a mass audience. "Serious intellectuals" can't be popular; and popular intellectuals can't be serious. It is the most grevious mindset that holds the American academic.

And as a small postscript, a loyal minion wrote me and asked why your Maximum Leader disliked Dr. Vallicella so much. Truth is, your Maximum Leader doesn't dislike Dr. Vallicella at all. Indeed, he often finds himself reading the exchange between the Poet Laureate and Dr. V. He is obviously an intelligent man who is deserving of consideration. What set off your Maximum Leader was the manifestation of this academic mindset that upsets him so.

Carry on.

Vices of the FM

Everybody seems to make fun of American beer... at least most of the places that I have lived and visited in Europe.

My usual retort to these folks is that in General, Americans work a lot harder than most people and our climate is "warm" so we appreciate a nice crisp clean beer more than our European brethren. Especially after a day of working in the Yard or playing sports.

Dare I mention Ice House or Genuine Draft? Not too expensive and is good with American food.

In England, I LOVED the real ales. These are beers that are still fermenting and need to be at a certain temperature (mid 50s to low 60s). This is where everyone gets the idea that the English/Europeans like "warm" beer. Its not really warm, but is usually kept at celler temperature. If the beer is colder, like how we like American beer, the flavors are masked. Sadly, the new generation of British drinkers prefer nitro-keg beers (like in American bars). The beer is pasteurized and thus, not fermenting. The most popular beer in the UK when I left was an Import... Stella Artois.

The cool thing about Beer in the UK is that you get a pint, by law, which is a handy amount to get your beer in.

In Holland/Netherlands/Belgium, I think where Stella is from, they like their beers to come in small glasses that are 1/2 foam and 1/2 beer. They have a spatula-paddle thingy that the bartender scrapes the suds off when it starts to overflow from pouring it. Their philosophy is that in a small glass, your drink your beer when it is fresh and not let it sit in the glass for a long time (like with the English pint).

Germany has a lot of neat beers to. As with food, they have a lot of seasonal beers. During lent, they brew strong beers to help with your fasting... liquid bread. But they have Pils, Weizen, Bock, Hefe, Christmas beers and others. I like the dark ones myself but I always try to order something I have not had before.

Mixed drinks and Spirits.
I wish I liked Scotch more than I do. It is a cool drink to be seen drinking. I buy my dad various bottles of obscure Malts when I come to visit (in 3 weeks!). I got him a bottle of 50 year old scotch last time.... and boy was it smooth (and expensive). I liked one called Bennaiche. I think that is how it is spelled, but is is pronounced Ben-a-hee.

I like out of fashion old drinks too. A side car is one Brandy, Triple sec and Lemon.

I like wine a lot too. Which is fortunate because I live in Germany's largest wine growing region. Unfortunately, its white wine :( but I am learning to appreciate its nuances.

I have been smoking way more cigars than I should. And for my money, brandy is the drink to have with them. I am not too snobby about the brand of Brandy. My cigar of choice, however, has lately been the Partagas Series D no 4.
I chee wa wa!
A nice strong 30 minute smoke that helps me forget that so many people dear to me support Kerry.

Back to the trenches for another drink!

Summer Drinks

My favorite summer drink is a Corona with lime, sipped on the porch with friends or my Dad after a hard day's work. I love the pleasant feeling of muscle soreness as I sip on a cold one. I also learned how to add salt and to suck the resulting explosion while with the army in Texas.

When the Propaganda Minister is around, I'm partial to Heinekens, glorious reminders of our high school escapade to Burke Lake with Kirsten and Katy. I also recall his hysterical essay in the Yale Record that included a reference to "the time Mark and I slammed Heinekens at Demery's and ended up in the gutter in our underwear." Or the time we slammed Heinekens and ended up at a drama party - where we had such a great time dancing that we didn't notice the skewed sex ratio. No one hit on us - either they could tell we were heteros or they assumed we were a couple. Here's to old times, buddy.

I also have a soft spot for Rolling Rock - this was the drink of my high school years. The Laughing Lizard Lounge never carded so we would often go to comedy sports and order pitcher after pitcher of beer. Good times with Stu, John (the wildman turned accountant), Lisa, and Ann. And Occasionally the Propaganda Minister when he visited me. Here's to the whole Laughing Lizard Crowd. I don't think the underage drinking hurt us that badly. Stu's a doctor, John has become respectable, Lisa is a theatre manager, Ann's an academic folklorist, and I'm a... oh well. It didn't seem to hurt the other people.

See here for the legend of Rolling Rock's "33"

I'm not much for mixed drinks - my manliness quotient is lacking here. At the risk of turning in my man card, I will admit liking amaretto sours. But, (he hastens to add), I only drink those at places where mixed drinks are the norm - like country clubs or office parties.


Here's a great story from the liberal media. It's good to read about things like this when one starts to get down on America. Or this story.

American's are good people, and America still can be a powerful force for good. How many global powers have tried to make a positive difference without expecting much in return?

Sam Adams Triple Bock

Knowing I love beer, my cousin bought me a book rating the world's beers for Christmas. Now, I was a little put off noting that Klein trashes Corona, which I like, and pretty much follows the pattern of trashing lighter beers, and praising heavier beers. He also refuses to rate light beers. Whatever, reading it pretty much makes it obvious he's a beer snob. Still, I enjoyed reading the book.

That is, I enjoyed it until I decided to try what he rated as the best beer in the world; Sam Adams Triple Bock. I bought this beer against the advice of friends, including good old MaxLeader. Now, I'm a huge Sam Adams fan, and I remain so even after tasting Triple Bock.

Granted, I'm a sucker for packaging too. I bought the bottle of Triple Bock along side a bottle of Grolsch, which does have just about the coolest boottle of any beer in the world. Sam Adams Triple Bock comes in a slightly smaller dark blue bottle with a cork. Hmmm. Pretty cool.

So opening the bottle, the first thing I smelled was overpowering Sour Molases. Already I'm a little put off. The website suggessts serving it in a snifter, so I poured a little into a snifter and tasted. And wretched. Boy, it's nasty. Almost like a port that's gone to vinegar. Best beer in the world? No freaking way.

Two things came to mind...

The first was an English professor I had in college. The second is spicy food. I'll explain.

An English professor I had freshman year in college said that James Joyce's Ulysses was the best English Language novel ever written. So I went out and bought a copy and struggled with it for a while until I went back to him. He was not surprised that I struggled with it. He explained that most people find it unreadable. I asked him if most people can't read it, then how can it be the best? he went on a long rambling explanation of why it was the best, but he made the point that precisely those things that made it unreadable also made it the best novel written in English. It was at that point that I realized he was full of shit. I just nodded and pretended to get it until he was done, then I left. Got a "B" in his class if I remember.

As for spicy food, I have a lot of friends who revel in spicy food. Several of them equate spicy with quality. If I make salsa, or cook Mexican stuff, and it's not hot enough, that means it's not good. Personally, I like spicy food if I'm in the mood, but I also enjoy mild subtle flavors. When we go out for Sushi, one friend who fits this pattern takes double the Wasabi, and coates each piece in wasabi. What's the point? Sushi's a delicate taste, and you're paying for it, so why do that? Might as well put Wasabi on a cucumber. It's a lot cheaper. You aren't even tasting the fish when you do that.

Anyway Klein reminds me of these two things. The prof seemed to think that Ulysses was the best BECAUSE it was such a mess. Spicaholics like Spicy food, and don't really care what's behind, or under, the spices. I think Klein rates Triple Bock so high because it's such a freaking BIG taste. But BIG tastes can also suck.

You see this same thing in reading about Scotch on line. Many people rave about the BIG scotches like Laphroag from Islay (which I love) and put down the subtler, milder drinks like Glenfiddich (which I also love). Glenfiddich, in fact, takes a pounding among whisky writers because it's so popular and easy to find. Somehow it's more manly to like the bigger harsher tastes I guess.

Bill Cosby says things that need saying

No, it's not a funny article. It's an op-ed piece from the Washington Post about a talk Bill Cosby gave at Howard University to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Read it here.

Media Bias?

I can only speak for myself, but media bias as shown in FoxNews or the Washington Post doesn't bother me one bit. I recognize the bias, and filter it out. Personally I like the Washington Post not because of its liberal bias, but its regional bias. living in the area, I have no problem with news coverage skewed to my region. Or my sports teams.

The only thing about FoxNews that bothers me is the attitude that SOME of it's people have... the "Fair and Ballanced" shit, or the "No Spin Zone" stuff. It's as biased as the NY Times or the National Review. Recognize the right wing bias and acknowlege it. If you're a right winger, then of course you think that that point of view is correct. Just recognize that it's a point of view that a lot of people don't share.

The part of the Conservative media that pisses me off is mostly talk radio, and I'll use Rush Limbaugh as an example. He'll give opinions and "Tell it the way it is". He makes accusations against those who disagree with him. He gets self righteous, and acts as if he is informing the masses of things that "the liberal Media" doesn't want the masses to know. Then when he gets caught in factual slipups, "It's just entertainment, it's not news." I actually heard him on an interview say something like "noone actually believes that I'm reporting facts." Well, actually, I know a lot of people who do. And that's the problem. A lack of accountability. He'll say whatever he wants, and when he gets somethign wrong (and it seems to me he makes stuff up to make points) then it's just entertainment and it's OK.

To be "fair and balanced", its the same problem I have with the leftist self righteous shit, Michael Moore.

And as for this "Liberal Media" crap, if you take the media as a whole, printed, radio, TV etc. There is a pretty wide spectrum of political viewpoints. Conservatives have Fox, NRO, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, pretty much ALL talk radio, and a nice slice of op-ed writers, TV pundits etc. Yes, mainstream news on TV is slanted Left. Big deal. Stop whining about it.

May 23, 2004

Love the Bias media... on both sides

Don't tell me your still smarting over that "liberal source" jab FM? (hee hee)

Aw come on! You guys are just upset that the conservative side FINALLY has a media outlet with its own bias.

I don't have to do a comparison of AIM vs FAIR because I know who their target audiences are. It should be a no brainer about what will be found there.

What I find hysterical is that Joe liberal thinks that FOX is biased, but their favorite flavor of News media isn't!

I have had to accept that the Job of the media (whatever the bias) is to sell newspapers or advertising time. If fair and balanced news gets reported, then so be it but I have stopped getting upset when XYZ unbiased Media outlet ENDORSES a candidate for crying out loud! no mystery that its usually a Dem.

More bad Gun news for the left
I am glad the PM posted a link to the International Crime Victim Survey's site. The only criticism you can come up with is that you can't find evidence of the group pre-2000? When you follow the link you provided, you find out that this is NOT some freaky American pro-gun group but a International working group made up of folks from the UK, Denmark, Canada, and other EU countries (set up in 1987 and began field work in 1989).

Their financing
"Dutch Ministry of Justice, which has also sponsored survey activities in almost all the developing countries and countries in Central and East Europe. Further financial assistence has been provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs, the UK Home Office, the Department of Justice Canada, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control"

Not really a who's who of Pro Gunners eh?

Correct me if I am wrong, but the article in Stratfor says that it was RIGHT to invade Iraq, but wrong to fall prey to mission creep. Reinforce the western edge of the country to put pressure on Iraq's neighbors and leave the population centers alone.

Does the PM agree with this or where you just posting the site as an alternative strategy?

Back to the Trenches.


I know I'm a biased reader, but everything on the Accuracy in Media site reads like an editorial straight out of the New York Post: the headlines are sensationalistic ("AIM Report: Dopers for Kerry the Toker" and "AIM Report: Kerry's Marxist Bedfellows" are just two of the silliest examples) and the writing is both shoddy and defensive (the first 'report' mentioned above starts with a non sequitur about Kerry's claim of foreign leader support -- why? -- and goes on to villify Kerry for the support of 'drug-legalizer' George Soros). I know that the articles at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting support my viewpoint, but I think they're at least trying to sound objective. And truthfully, I think the facts they present are pretty damning without any spin.

Anybody else want to check in and review both sites? I'd appreciate a couple more opinions. I already know how the Foreign Minister is going to weigh in, and not because of any content issues: in a blatant attempt to coral the gun lobby, AIM uses a bullseye as their logo. ha.

Speaking of the media, here's a cartoon from last year that is still funny in a sad way.

Incidentally, I don't want the media discussion to distract the blog from the Strat For article and the ongoing discussion about Iraq. The Foreign Leader correctly notes that Strat For is now a paysite, but it posts sample analyses that change weekly, I think.

Since he first drew the Indian election to my attention, I would also like to know the Maximum Leader's take on India appointing a principle economic reformist as Prime Minister. It doesn't negate the influence the communists will have in the new government, but it shows that Ghandi's party is at the very least concerned about the economy.


Fox News

Last year during the March to Badgad, I used to read FoxNews as my main news source. The reason behind this was that FoxNews really was faster than CNN, msnbc or any other news source that I read. Events were moving fast, and FoxNews really did a decent job of keeping on top of events... to a point.

The price was that you really couldn't trust what they reported until it was verified. Frequently they jumped all over a news story only to have the links evaporate in an hour or two never to reappear. No retraction or correction, the story just evaporated into cyperspace. Granted, I know better than to accept a conservative news source to EVER admit a mistake. In any event, it was more funny than anything else to watch reports of battles, victories and defeats just vanish. The Mobile Weapons lab was a big one. So was the Bin-Laden/Hussein link that FoxNews reported.

So when I saw the reports of Sarin on Fox News, and the Washington Post I was concerned. Then nothing. Not much outside of conservative pundits and bloggers saying "I told you so." Now, granted, lots of news papers, TV stations, and various media outlets carry reports that are later de-bunkes. What makes Fox News so cool is that reports that it deems particularly Fair and Ballanced get "BREAKING NEWS" front page treatment. It's more entertaining than anything else.

Dueling watchdog groups.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader also really likes the ongoing dialouge between the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Propaganda. But if the M of P is going to pull out the FAIR group; your Maximum Leader feels it is incumbent upon him to pull out Accuracy in Media.

Without going all post-modern on him, any interest group you can pull out to support your views can be countered with one your Maximum Leader can find to support his. Your Maximum Leader isn't sure that these negate each other (so to speak). But they do certainly add more voices to the discussion.

As for Fox reporting about the Sarin-filled shells... Other news organizations have reported the same thing. For example: the LA Times, Reuters, and the Washington Post. While no one is claiming that a single sarin-infused artillery shell constitutes a WMD horde, it is another sign that WMD were possessed by the former regime after such time as they claimed they were destroyed.

Carry on.

May 22, 2004

If linking to Fox News, make sure you're FAIR

I appreciate the on-going, balanced dialogue with the Foreign Minister -- his links to Fox News are similiar to the links I post to op ed pieces in the LA Weekly. However, anyone who's going to Fox News for actual 'news' (tee hee), should also visit the Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting website, just to be safe.

While you're there, dig around a little and you'll find all kinds of intriguing stuff about Bush, the campaign, O'Reilly, even NPR, etc., etc. Here's a nice one on Bush vs Kerry media coverage (hey, hey, look at that -- Bush isn't as 'single-minded' and 'determined' as his publicists want us to believe), and here's one reaching back to Fox News coverage of the White House vandalism after Bush's election (Fox News still sucks).

But I digress. Given their reporting history and obvious bias, I'm not really convinced by a poorly footnoted op ed piece about gun control as evidence that gun control is a bad thing. I tried to do my own admittedly haphazard Googling on the International Crime Victimization Survey, but I couldn't find any evidence that the organization existed past June 2001. John Lott himself is a rabid gun advocate, much like our Foreign Minister (you can visit John Lott's site directly and decide for yourself).

Concerning the chemical weapons (again reported by Fox), even if completely true, the use of chemcial agents in Iraq is hardly evidence of the massive WMD program that we invaded the country to prevent. And even the Pentagon thought the release of that story was premature -- or perhaps they just don't want to get burned by inaccurate reporting, like with the bogus 'mobile weapons laboratories' from last year.

Bush is still a big liar.


Interesting piece on the Anti-gun movement

For those of you inclined to glance...

I love this
"The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the most recent survey done, shows that the violent crime rate in England and Australia was twice the rate in the US."

Back to the trenches....

4 more years....

Thanks for the link PM. Isn't stratfor a pay site now? I use to check them out regularly a long time ago when it was free.

I like what what was said and I thank you for the link. As you would probably guess, I would put myself in the "ideologue" category, and I agree that the purpose of invading Iraq is to put pressure on other Middle Eastern governments and to foster some sort of change whithin.

I know you don't feel like Bush is the QB for this game, but I feel as strongly about Kerry. Why can't the Dems put up a viable candidate when they feel the Rebublicans have a crappy one?

But I would imagine that you feel that Bush loosing is a sure thing... you are probably right so don't bother to go to the polls.

Back to the trenches

On Blogging and Hairy Chasms.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is peeved. He is downright angry. Maybe the RCOB is just now being drawn back from his eyes. Why has your Maximum Leader's wa been disrupted? Why has he lost his famously even-temper?


Now allow your Maximum Leader to explain...

Any of us who choose to blog do so for a number of reasons. Your Maximum Leader started this blog as a way of just typing out his comments and thoughts on anything that seemed to catch his attention. Eventually, he realized that he wanted to invite a few of his friends to join in the same medium. He liked talking to these friends about anything in particular; and figured that he would enjoy reading their thoughts just as much.

Additionally, there is a certain narcissism to blogging. There is a particular joy some people can get from writing something, posting it, and then knowing that someone somewhere will read it. Your Maximum Leader admits that he does get a certain degree of self-satisfaction when he looks over his site statistics and sees how the ebb and flow of readership goes.

For a time, early in his foray into blogging, your Maximum Leader wondered what he could do to make his site more popular, and to drive more people to it. Then he realized, at least for himself, blogging was an end to itself in many ways. His goal shouldn't be to try and corral more and more readers. It should be to write about things he wanted to write about, and respond to items that his friends have written. That choice has certainly affected who comes to and who links to this site. Since you get a variety of opinion here we may not fit well into any category of blogger. And that likely has reduced site traffic. Liberal bloggers might not want to give your Maximum Leader a forum to speak to a liberal audience; and conservative bloggers might not want to give the Minister of Propaganda the chance to woo a conservative audience.

In the end, this blog, like any blog, is a forum for the authors. If you like it you are welcome. If you dislike it deliverance is a mouse click away. Your Maximum Leader has very little patience those who say "Oh I love it when you write about X. But do you have to write about Y too? I don't like your writings about Y."

To visit and read a blog is to accept it for what it is. You don't have to agree with what you are reading. Often you are free, or encouraged, to disagree. But don't go being all mealy-mouthed and say, "If only you wouldn't write about Y. I'd like you a lot more then."

That is why this post upset your Maximum Leader so much.

Your Maximum Leader was not upset with Dennis Mangan, but with Dr. Vallicella. You see Mr. Mangan's delicate sensibilities appear to be unsettled when he reads some of the scatological writings of my good friend, Kevin. He states that Kevin's blog is "not a blog I want to read."

Fine. He looked over Kevin's site and decided that it was not for him. Great! But what really sticks in your Maximum Leader's craw was Dr. Vallicella's response. Your Maximum Leader will summarize it thus: "Yeah, Kevin is a really bright guy who can comment intelligently on philosophical matters. But, all this potty humour is better relegated to somewhere where I wouldn't have to sift through it to get the good stuff. And by the way, I only linked to him because he linked to me."

What a sad response.

It is as if Dr. Vallicella was embarrassed for providing the link on his site. Dr. Vallicella was apologizing for upsetting Mr. Mangan's sensibilities by providing a link to Kevin's site. And at the same time he was trying not to offend Kevin, who is after all just being authentically Kevin.

Kevin's site is Kevin's site. You take it for what it is, or you don't visit. One thing that is so appealing about it is the very fact that it is both highbrow and scatological. Your Maximum Leader cannot think of another site quite like it. And that is its charm. You read it (or choose not to read it) for what it is.

I (your Maximum Leader) have known Kevin for nearly 30 years. And I can say that I have in the past said that we needed to figure out a way to harness Kevin's powers for good. I admit that I feel a little guilty now about those words. It is my hope that Kevin can harness some of his creative ability into a medium that a wider audience might enjoy. (Scatological humour isn't for everyone I grant you.) But I certainly don't want him to cease writing the potty humour either. It gives Kevin pleasure to write it. And I take pleasure from reading it.

This leads me to the one particular portion of Dr. Vallicella's response most annoys me. The whole "The Big Ho is obviously intelligent and I would encourage him to put his talents to better use" part. Just how exactly can he put his talents to better use? His frequent intellectual and philosophical posts aren't a good use? Or is good use exclusively contemplating the most esoteric aspects of human understanding to the exclusion of humour in any form? The mindset that Dr. Vallicella appears to be displaying is one of the most stifling. The mindset is "if you joke around and try to make people laugh you can't be a serious scholar." Why is it that academics and intellectuals have to be humourless? Is there really so much self-doubt in academe that you have to guard your reputations so closely against even a hint of self-deprecation or levity that you seek to stifle others?

(In my own field (History) this mindset manifests itself as intellectual elitism. I have met a number of "serious historians" who absolutely despise "historians" like David McCullough, David Halberstam, or Stephen Ambrose. Why? Because they are popular and accessible to the masses. And heaven forefend a serious historian be accessible...)

The suggestion that Kevin run two blogs I find somewhat insulting. Some people may choose to manage multiple blogs. They may choose to keep each blog to a particular theme so as to organize their own thoughts. Or they might choose to give you a single blog with all their thoughts present in a single place. That is their choice. Your choice as a reader is to frequent the sites you want without regard to the desires of others. If you don't want to read Kevin's humour posts - don't. But don't complain that you have to slog through the shit to find the serious stuff that you are really interested in. What Dr. Vallicella is really saying is that he wants Kevin to conform more to his idea of scholarship; or if he can't do that at least hide the unseemly parts from view.

Is this what Dr. Vallicella is talking about when he discusses reaping the whirlwind? Now that the boomer generation has successfully destroyed the "bourgeois patriarchy" that came before them, they are filled with regret that hitherto fore unacceptable topics of discussion in polite society are routinely flaunted publicly? Perhaps some boomers should have given a little more forethought to what they were doing to the fabric of society at the time. Society is a fragile thing. It is like spun sugar. A beautiful elaborate structure that is a wonder to behold. But touch it without a gentle hand and it disintegrates in front of you. The boomers were all too happy to smash the structure of society when it suited them. Now they lament its passing? The irony is not lost on me.

And as for the yet unstated issue of linkage on a blog... The owner of a blog has the right to link to whatever he chooses. My own blogroll is slanted towards right-of-center blogs about politics. And it is that way because I want it to be. You are free to click through on any link. If you like what you read visit again. If you don't like what you read, don't click through and don't complain to me. The very fact that a link exists on my page is a conscious choice I have made. You're complaints that you don't like a link of mine will get you nowhere with me. I may not (and in fact don't) agree all (or even some of) the time with the authors of the various sites to which I link. (And if you haven't noticed, I don't agree with the various authors who write on my own page!) But I have selected those links because I think there is value to what they say. That value may be thoughtful, it may be humourous; but I find it valuable on some level. I don't apologize for any link on my blogroll. If you don't like the links, don't click through.

I know that this whole issue has likely upset me more than Kevin. And I can't tell you why it should upset me. But it does.

This tirade completed, your Maximum Leader's wa is restored and his even-temper returned.

Carry on.

Bush, Kerry and the war in Iraq (with illustrations)

Do you miss me when I'm away? Work has been a bit of a distraction lately. Work, and oh yes, life, too. It still is, actually, but I want to weigh in on some recent commentary about Bush, Kerry and the war in Iraq.

As any frequent reader already knows, I'm solidly with the Air Marshal on the critique of Bush. He's a crappy president, and spreading innuendoes about Kerry and smearing administration critics is his only hope for reelection. I'll obviously have to be the one who starts pushing Kerry stock around here as an alternative, but that'll have to wait until I have more time. For starters, however, I don't think Kerry can do any worse than Bush.

Setting aside the credibility and competence of the current administration, we as a nation need more debate about the merits of the war in Iraq independent of this November's election. It may be true, as the Foreign Minister once asserted, that Democrats will use every anecdotal failures in Iraq to attack Bush, but it's also true that this administration has disdainfully used patriotism in an attempt to stifle dissenting opinion (one of many electoral hypocrises). The greatest foreign policy shift this nation has undergone in nearly half a century, and Bush still isn't public about the decision.

The neocon vision for remaking the Middle East (which, incidentally is Bush's only remaining justification for the war in Iraq) is flawed. I recently read an admittedly biased but thought-provoking op ed about this issue, but I'll only summarize the quoted analysis of Steven Metz, director of research at the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, here:

He [Metz] noted that the neocons' campaign was predicated on three fundamental assumptions: that an outside force, such as the United States, can play a decisive role in removing obstacles to democracy in the Middle East; that a democratic Middle East is worth the costs and will be more amenable to U.S. interests and less supportive of fundamentalist terrorism; and that a democratic Iraq can be a catalyst for democracy in the region. None of these assumptions, he suggested, is grounded in fact. Outside nations played important but not decisive roles in the democratization of Latin America and Eastern Europe, Metz noted. New and fragile democratic governments in the Middle East might reinforce themselves by pandering to their citizens and adopting anti-American positions. And there's no telling if a democratic Iraq -- if one comes to be -- can serve as a model for its neighbors. "I hope this is true," Metz said. "But we have not debated the analysis -- whether this is true . . . We've gone barreling into this based on assumptions."

As a former member of the Armed Services, I fear where this chain of logic is going to take us. For an alternative, read this excellent analysis from Stratfor Weekly before they update the post (their next sample post might also be excellent, but I don't know if it will pertain to New Strategies in Iraq). I think this article will be of particular interest to the Foreign Minister, as it shares his concerns for the region but follows them to a different conclusion. Basically, it suggests that we refocus on our true mission (defeating terrorism, not reformatting Iraq) and, while keeping forces in Iraq, consolidate our troops in the south and west and cut our losses elsewhere. Personally, I think it's an insightful solution to our mess. But whatever your opinion, I think it's exactly the kind of idea that needs to be on the table, exactly the kind of debate we should be having, and exactly the kind of debate that the Bush administration wants to avoid. They'd rather not consider the reality of our situation at all. Shame on them.

Responding to a recent post by the Foreign Minister, I fully agree tht 9/11 changed the nature of the game. However, that doesn't mean that Bush is the best guy to QB it. And there is no way in hell that W. would have gotten reelected ("8 mediocre years of W. presidency" my ass) in the absence of a 9/11. He's got nothing now to run on except his status as a war president, and that's also why he's going to lose.


Boooze Response No. 1.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will answer the questions posed to him by his illustrious AirMarshal.

Your Maximum Leader believes that Scotch is perfect for all seasons. Although, for the sake of full disclosure, he probably drinks more Scotch in the Fall - Winter - Spring months than in summer. Bourbon is good for summer drinking; in that your Maximum Leader does sort of like a good Mint Julep.

And beer is always a good choice too. Your Maximum Leader prefers Sam Adams among most domestic brews. Although he also likes Yuengling's as well. Your Maximum Leader also is very fond of Bass Ale and Guinness.

As far as wines go, your Maximum Leader is definately a red man. He likes his Egri Bikaver, his burgundies, his merlots. But he also likes his port (generally after dinner with a good cigar and a bad woman).

Your Maximum Leader doesn't know if he goes through some sort of seasonal change with his booze. Booze is more a state of mind.

Carry on.


So enough politics and back to important things.

My favorite drink, were I to choose, would probably be an Islay Single Malt. Probably Lagavulin. These are heavy, smoky Scotches with a great deal of character. The kind of scotch you can imagine Captain McAllister from "The Simpsons" taking a drink of and saying "Arg!"

However, on a hot summers day, or night, this just doesn't feel right. To me, Lagavulin is best enjoyed in the fall, Winter or early spring. Drinks to me are seasonal. Winter's a time for Whiskey in general. Summer's a time for something else. Ice cold beer, yes, but more than that.

So this brings me to my question, and I encourage all of you to answer.

To the denizens of this blog, what is your favorite Summer beer, and your favorite summer cocktail. It's a hot and humid july night. You've been working on the farm, in the yard, hitting on starlets, playing softball, or doing whatever Germans do. You come in, and you want a drink. What do you have?

For me the beer is easy. In the summer, I love Corona with lime. Yeah, sometimes I want A Sam Adams, or something heavier. But more often than not, in June, July and August, my favorite is Corona. I cannot stomach Budweiser. I will go without rather than drink Bud. My football beer is Miller Lite, which is also a nice cookout beer. Still, in hot weather, I'll reach for a Corona if it's available. Caveat is that on July 4th I drink American Beer. Sam Adams preferably.

The cocktail is a little trickier. I might have to say my summer choice is probably a gin and tonic. I'm not too particular about gin. I buy Tanqueray largely because that was my Dad's brand, and I like it. No reason to change. Bombay Saphire's good, but not better enough than Tanqueray to justify the $5 more per bottle.

Tequila is a summer favorite. Good tequila, none of this Cuervo crap. I blogged earlier on Tequila's and margaritas, so I won't say more here. Search the Archives for my feelings on Tequila. Rum is also a summer drink to me. Rum and Coke, or a Mojito are both nice summer cocktais. And Bourbon on the rocks, or a Mint Julep, can be very nice in hot weather. As far as Bourbon goes, though, I'm enough of a snob to not buy cheap bourbon, and I'm enough of a purist to not want to dilute good bourbon over ice. So that's a catch 22. Makers Mark or Wild Turkey Rare Breed on the rocks can be very pleasant, though. Actually, scratch that. Rare Breed is too good to pour over ice.

Maybe it has something to do with the climate of the geographic origin of the liquor. Tequila, Rum, and Bourbon are all from places with nasty and hot summers. Scotch is from a colder climate. Maybe that determines when it's best to drink a spirit.

Still, something about a Gin and Tonic just works in hot weather. So that's my choice. I was gonna google something about the history of this cocktail, but I'm too lazy. Go look it up yourself.

And please, no sissy frozen drinks. Might as well pour a shot of everclear in a slurpee.

La Chaim

May 21, 2004

Sympathy for the Air Marshal...

I feel your pain. Really I do. I have spent 8 years myself wondering what the hell the guy in the oval office was doing and couldn't believe the apologist on the left that were so blinded by their donkey shirt that they couldn't see the truth even if they wanted to.

As to the current situation
I think that we are all going through a paradigm shift over the role of our president and the United States' place on the world stage. I know that it is a cliche to say, but 9-11 caused it all. Had it not been for that, we would have had 8 mediocre years of W presidency where taxes went down and gun rights were left alone and that is about it.

But the reality is different. We are in un-chartered territory with this war on terrorism and hind sight and arm chair quarterbackin' make some people feel like their geniuses and give them a chance to thump the chest but, like the guy who watches jeopardy at home and aces all the questions. When they get their chance on stage, they choke on even the easiest questions.

This is not a Hollywood script where in a half of an hour all the loose end are tied up and we have a few laughs along the way. We are in a war that threatens the very fabric of American society and our way of life.

Crazy shit is gonna happen no matter whose watch its on now and we have to be prepared to take the fight to the enemy.

George W had the US abstain from the UN resolution condemning Israel for their recent military offensive. Did ANY of the A-Rab countries go on record as to say "Wow, those Americans are really coming around... Thanks!" ???? If we had vetoed the resoulution, we would have been seeing more burning flags in the Middle East and we would be lectured by the Palestinians about how biased we are.

I personally believe that going to War in Iraq was the right thing to do. I did not need the WMD argument. (I find it strange that CNN's website had NOTHING on the Sarin... You know the WMD, that was found in Iraq). The Middle East is, and has been, a festering cesspool of anti-Americanism (and Anti-Western) for a LONG time, not just under George W. The governments and royal families blame everything bad on the US and Israel to take the pressure off of their own corrupt regimes. So the average guy in the middle east is some poor bastard with a shitty standard of living that has been born and bred on anti-US sentiment while their countries wealth and resources are only benefiting the elite.

The war on terrorism is not going to be over until there is democracy and prosperity in the middle east. That is not going to happen until their regimes are toppled from within or from without. I hope that by starting Iraq on this road, that neighboring countries will see that the freedom and democracy and control over their own resources is a good thing and they will start to work harder for change in their own countries.

As Americans, we cannot wait for this process to happen "naturally" as their might not be any tall buildings to fly things into then.

Back to the trenches....

Political stuff

Great essay by Kurt Vonnegut here.

Couple of great quotes:

If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal.

If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative

About Bush, and Alcohol, he has this to say.

My government’s got a war on drugs. But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal.

One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W. Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed or tiddley-poo or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 41. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.

Other drunks have seen pink elephants

Vonnegut also brings something to mind, something that I'd like BigHominid to comment on.

As I look at Dubya, I wonder to myself how anyone with his apparant set of values can claim that he is a Christian. First of all, I am not a Christian. Consider me an educated, and curious outsider. But somehow, I don't think Jesus would approve of Bush's version of Christianity, whatever that is.

I have known a few southern-type Born Agains in my day, and unfortunately Bush is typical of them. The belief at the core is that they have "seen the light", opened themself to Jesus, and they are saved. It really doesn't matter what they do, as long as they accept Jesus as their personal savior. Back in college, a friend trying to convert me to his version of Christianty tried to explain to me how, in theory, he could do just about anything but it would be OK becuase Jesus hase forgiven him through salvation. I however was damned regardless of what I did in life because I hadn't accepted Jesus. It was my friends mission in life to bring others into this fold I guess.

Maybe that's how Bush sees Christianity. Get to know Jesus, be forgiven and get your friends to help buy you a share of a baseball team, or get daddy to get you an executive position with an Oil Company. Then life is hunky dory. In a serious note, the notion that acceptance of Jesus is all that is required strikes me as incredibly similar to Islam. Submit to the will of Allah, follow the rules, and you gain righteousness.

This isn't what I get out of the Sermon on the Mount. But then again, I'm just an outsider looking in trying to understand. I see mercy, love, compassion and sympathy for those less fortunate, with an liberal dose of dogma thrown in. Couple this with a disdain for opressors and hypocrites. That's what I see. But that's just me.

Enraged Smallholder and Gay Marriage for the Maximum Leader

I'll probably be AWOL for a couple of days on the blog. Your humble, normally calm Smallholder is currently seeing the world through a red haze.

Irresponsible dog owners must be shot.

I'm not sparing the dogs anymore. I have failed before to put down a dog that has threatened my livestock. I won't make the mistake again. Even my softhearted wife wants blood.

[happy thoughts... happy thoughts... go to my happy place...]

During the hiatus I need to recoup my mental stabilty, here is a link for the Maximum Leader. I think that it makes a pro-gay marriage argument that might appeal to the Maximum Leader re: individual liberty. At the very least, I would like his response.

Rooting for the shirt

The Southern post below got me thinking.

Seinfeld had a great routine about sports fans in the era of free agency rooting for the shirt, not the team. The point being that the only identity the team has in the modern era comes from the uniforms. When guys bounce between rivals without a care in the world, it's difficult to maintain an attachment to the team concept.

That's what I think of when I hear conservative appologists for the Bush regime. Bush seems about as Republican to me as Jesse Jackson. Or Michael Jackson. Whichever. He's just a rich oil guy from Texas with a bunch of rich friend who happen to have won the White House. He has about as much of a clue as that little blond snot nosed brat who played Annakin in Episode I.

You don't have to like him, just cause he carries the same GOP card in his wallet that you do. You can still like Kerry less. But stop trying to paint Bush as some glorious leader. He's a shitty president with shrewd political handlers and big money. Maybe you feel you have to defend him because you feel he is one of yours. It's painful to read posts by Buckley and Will where they procede to out think out president in order to rationalize his policies. Guys, the presidents policies aren't thought out completely. Bush has out-punted his coverage and puntits are the guys trying to figure out how to block for a return when the punter screwed up. And, yes, the President should be a QB, but I feel a punter analogy is more appropriate for this guy.

And please don't respond by bashing Kerry. That's irrelevant. I'm talking about the loser who is in the White House now. I don't really like Kerry, and I won't defend him. I'm struggling with the problem of who would be worse since I think they'll both be bad presidents.

May 20, 2004

A Southern Conservative's Advice for GW

I thought this was amusing.

Money quote:

If that support [for the war] goes the way of Coke's stock, then you might as well join Halliburton's board come December. Without support for the war, then people will judge Bush on a domestic record that makes that Arkansas boy Billy Clinton look as fiscally responsible as your local Wal-Mart.

That's why I've been sweating so much for you in the Confederacy, and not at Hilton Head. Lots of people, and not just Southerners, are beginning to reckon that if it wasn't for Iraq, then Bush would be exposed as the biggest spender since that New Yorker FDR, and with none of Huey Long's charm. If it wasn't for Iraq, Southerners might even choose a Massachusetts Democrat this November on the basis that he would govern closer to the Right.