Monday, February 26, 2007

Pretty Weekend

Sod it - I’ll write about the week-end anyway (see previous post)

Drove up to Cheshire on Friday morning to see D and N, who are getting married soon. Spent a brilliant week-end with them eating, shopping, playing games on the X Box and watching three films:

The Good Shepherd

The Devil Wears Prada

Pretty Persuasion

All were excellent – PP may become a cult because of it’s mucky script and brilliant lead performance from Evan Rachel Wood. The Good Shepard was an interesting look at the early days of the CIA, and how our hero loses his morality as the agency to which he dedicates his entire life becomes compromised and brutal. As for The Devil, this was a film I’d normally never see and really enjoyed, despite the casual and entirely predictable racism that dictates the sole British character must be unsympathetic and contemptable.

Saturday we went to Llandudno, which was a much nicer place than I imaged. Too bad I had to work while we were there – it would have been nice to have a stroll around.

Got back yesterday evening and am currently wearing un-ironed clothes in the office.

This is normal.

The Surge

I was going to write a nice little post about a really good week-end, but then this morning the War Nerd upstaged all with this analysis of...

The Surge. Jeez, just that title, "the Surge" - what Stan Lee fan thought of that? The DoD is addicted to these corny titles. Can't just say we're going to increase troop numbers in Baghdad. No, it's "The Surge"! Like the name you'd give some lame X-Man added for ethnic balance, maybe a gay Samoan cripple who can turn himself into a tidal wave when danger threatens. One minute he's a mild-mannered Green-Zone accountant making $800 a day, and then -- Kaboom! he becomes a Tsunami of freedom, washing the scum off the "Arab Street."

If only. Unfortunately, this isn't a surge, just a reinforcement, and a pretty small one. And if you have to ask whether it'll work, you don't understand guerrilla war. Of course it won't work. Classic guerrilla doctrine - Hell, plain common sense - says when the occupier floods the city with troops, the guerrilla lays low. Which the Iraqis are doing. And yet people are so stupid they're already crowing that "incidents are down" since the Surge.

Well, duh. That's the idea: avoid battle, watch the Arabic-subtitled Dynasty reruns, let the clueless foreigners zoom up and down the alleys. Meanwhile, every soccer-playing kid in the street is memorizing patrol times and tipping his uncle off about the vulnerable small outposts we're now occupying as part of our meet-&-greet policy. Just yesterday the Sunni hit one of those mixed Iraqi/US outposts in daylight: two GIs killed, 17 wounded.

There's no point watching this like a Dow Jones graph, because any sane primate knows where it's going. Bush drove our car into a tree, and it's not going to un-total itself. All the crazies on Free Republic who screech "Nuke it from orbit!" are actually talking sense compared to Cheney & co. Because nuking the Sunni Triangle would work - might cause trouble elsewhere, but it would solve our problems in places like Ramadi. Whereas feeding more troops in, putting them on show to be blasted by IEDs - that's not warlike, that's...see, I can't even come up with a word for what these neocons are. They're not warmongers, that's for sure, because they'll never use our nukes. They're tinkerers, that's what it is - home improvement assholes who hit the sewer main with their first dig, then try to pretend the shit isn't filling up the basement. They won't nuke or leave, just hope their salaries rise faster than the sewage level.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope

Because I do not hope to turn

Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope

I no longer strive to strive towards such things

(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)

Why should I mourn

The vanished power of the usual reign?

T.S Eliot 1930

In the Zone...

Spent Monday and Tuesday on the sort of mindless repetitive task computers were supposed to do for humanity.

Ho ho ho.

Of course the task itself was computer related, and I once wrote a poem about such work called “The Usual Exquisite Boredom of Data Entry.”

By yesterday afternoon the task had become a sort of automatic muscle memory, and part of my mind was able to wonder a bit (not too much).

So for several hours after lunch I was in some strange autistic zone where I was able to monitor the activities, chat, and occasional jokes of the team opposite while my fingers typed for the audience behind my eyes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sweet Thursday

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • The sun is shining,
  • The boss is absent,
  • I've managed to source a secondhand gearbox for the Micra for £125 on E-Bay
  • There's an enthusiastic potential client to call this afternoon.
  • It's nearly the week-end

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Big (Lie) Wednesday

An ex-colleague and rather dear friend called X has severe problems in the truth-telling department.

I’ve been aware of it for years and have always rather enjoyed the stories, treating them as a kind of hyper-reality or truth-based fiction - X's kitchen sink memoir shot in lurid technicolor.

A lot of technical and fiction writers also suffer from this weird condition, which hovers somewhere between Compulsive Lying and the more serious and irritating Pathological Lying. Famous examples include William Faulkner, Robert Graves, C.S Forester and more recently Jerzy Kosinski and James Frey. I can think of at least three technical writers that have also just lied and lied, although interestingly never in their work.

Other people who know X are less charitable because they feel manipulated and patronised by this weird compulsion. As far as I know, X has never lied or exaggerated for professional or material gain, or to harm anyone else. If X did this, I’d break contact immediately.

As things stand, let’s blame low self esteem and a difficult early childhood for this weird compulsive lying illness. X must suffer a lot of self hate because of it, and it must make long term relationships a nightmare.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


First significant snowfall for ages and naturally, I'm travelling tonight for the first time in a month.

Never mind, the countryside looks pretty and the office is quiet with at least 1/3 of the crew failing to get in so far.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Book Review

The pathetic Israel-Firster Nick Cohen has written a book reviewed by Michael Fitzpatrick in the current issue of Slate magazine.

Fitzpatrick makes several good points, among them the way that Cohen (and others including Bush and Blair) always compare their current enemy to Adolf Hitler:

"...whereas Hitler came to power at the head of a popular mass movement and ruled one of the world’s most dynamic capitalist powers, his supposed successors presided over ruined and marginal economies, with feeble state apparatuses, negligible military capacities and demoralised societies. "

Presumably this weird habit comes from ignorance - anyone who's glanced at the German order of battle for operation Barbarossa in 1941 will see that comparisons with an amateur living in a cave are an insult.