Saturday, October 26, 2002

I THINK GLENN REYNOLDS is making a little much of the Islamic tendencies of the Beltway Sniper, John Muhammad. I agree that it's silly that CNN is calling Muhammad "John Williams"; the man got his name legally changed, and this sort of PC pretending that he didn't is becoming all too common. But if one reads the note that Muhammad left behind, with its fourth grade level of literacy and its fantastic schemes of a magic ATM card with a ten-million dollar balance, it's fairly clear that this isn't an Al Qaeda activity. Muhammad is simply a violent idiot, and to the extent he subscribes to violent Islamic ideologies that call for the death of infidels, it is because he is the sort of violent idiot for whom such ideologies appeal, rather than because the Islamofascists persuaded him to do it. If Muhammad were white, he would've been drawn to the Timothy McVeigh circles of black-helicopter paranoia and The Turner Diaries; because he was black, it was the idiocy of the African-American flavor--Nation of Islam--that appealed to him.

Another question is how the heck the Army admits such illiterates into their ranks in the first place, but I'm sure someone will have an explanatory comment. I blame Jimmy Carter, history's greatest monster.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

AS JULIA Z. POINTED OUT to me, we've been refusing to broadcast Osama tapes and the statements of prominent Muslim terrorists for fear that they might be using coded messages to sleeper cells. So why in hell was Police Chief Moose announcing "You want us to say 'We have the sniper caught like a duck in a noose.'"?
BASED ON WHAT I HEARD from the press conference, it sounds like they've forensically matched Muhammad's gun with the bullets in all the shootings except the first three -- the one shot through the window of the craft store, the one that killed James Martin and the one that killed Sonny Buchanan. The forensic evidence was apparently inconclusive in those three shootings, but the police said that they have other evidence tying in those three shootings as well.
AM LISTENING TO THE NIGHTLY cop-after-cop-after-cop press briefing right now on WTOP. It seems the cops are still refusing to say John Lee Malvo's name because John Lee Malvo is a minor and they can't divulge the names of minors like John Lee Malvo. Perhaps someday we will know what John Lee Malvo's name is.
HAPPY UNITED NATIONS DAY to my fellow Blogospherians! I would suggest honoring the day by being hopelessly ineffectual with as much bluster as possible, but I guess that's what we bloggers do pretty much every day.
TUESDAY'S DISPATCH FROM the Grauniad's DC correspondent, Matthew "The Olive Garden" Engel, has inspired an all-star international Fiskalympics! Let's take a look at the competitors:
  • The U.S. competitor turned in a two-fisted traditional fisking that demonstrates what it really looks like when Americans get merciless. But Emperor Misha was sufficiently disoriented by Engel's "reasoning" that the poor doggie found himself babbling something about Dungeons & Dragons partway through the round.
  • Norway's entrant stunned the crowd by paying homage to the American competitor while presenting a Nordic-style smartass fisking with opening allegory. That's the creative streak that makes Valberg a formidable foe.
  • Meanwhile, the madly innovative British competitor took his own tack with an experimental neo-fisking that takes full advantage of the HTML arena. The observers say Daddy Chapman's the one to watch to see where the sport of fisking will be in the years ahead.
So, what say the judges? Hit the shoutout link below if you'd like to register your ratings!

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

MUG SHOTS OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS. Come on, you know you want to look.
THE WAPO REPORTS ON "a rare unsanctioned protest" in Baghdad. The protesters were mostly Shi'ite Muslims -- young men and distraught mothers -- demanding information about relatives who were jailed for political crimes. The protesters were reportedly upset that their relatives did not return home following Saddam's prison-release stunt. Political observers have been left scratching their heads over this nigh-unthinkable event, the article says.

Is it too optimistic to hope we're seeing the creation of another Mothers of the Disappeared?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL A-hed is about a program in Los Angeles that's training dogs for use in Israel as IDF bomb-sniffers. A Google search revealed that the program has a Web site and is accepting donations.
ANOTHER SNIPER DRAGNET HAS choked up morning rush-hour traffic here in the D.C. area like nothing you've ever seen. Or so I'm told. Watching my haggard coworkers straggle in after sitting in their cars for an hour and a half, I've never been gladder that I live in the same neighborhood where I work and just commute by sidewalk rather than highway. Regional politics moment: The sniper issue has already been picked up by both sides of the gun-control debate, but if we have many more of these Beltway bridge shutdowns, you can bet it'll reinvigorate both supporters and opponents of the Inter-County Connector highway proposal and the related Techway bridge plan.

Update: The victim of this shooting, which may or may not be the work of the sniper, is a bus driver for Montgomery County's suburban Ride On service. (Ostensibly for some bureaucratic reasons I've never bothered to attempt to understand, the greater D.C. area has a complex assortment of suburban transit systems whose coverage areas generally overlap the suburban coverage of D.C.'s main Metro bus and subway system.)
Hooray for Captain Spaulding takes on Doonesbury better than anyone else to date:
Trudeau does bloggers today (and presumably this week) with the original punchline that bloggers have nothing to say (Check out next week's strip about two guys standing next to each other talking on their cell phones).

I don't have much to say, I will grant. Other than, at least I wasn't dopey enough to fall for the Presidential IQ hoax.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

THE ROBOT WARBLOG takes on Max Power and Julia Zlotnick. I have to say the attack on Captain Spaulding was uncalled for, though.
INTERESTING NYT REPORT on the possibility of using commercial trucks in terror attacks. Given the fragmented nature of the trucking industry, and a grassroots trucking culture that is even more resistant to federal regulation than the suit-and-tie industries tend to be, it'll be a heck of a task trying to coordinate a federal response to this potential threat. In fact, I'd have to question whether it would even be worth the bother of trying to impose some coordinated federal scheme that -- given the government's track record thus far in domestic security -- might not accomplish much aside from making truck drivers more annoyed than usual. I wonder what Cold Fury Mike will have to say about this.
THE SMOKING GUN HAS a photo and rap sheet for the schmuck who's ticked off everybody in the D.C. area by making up stories about what he supposedly saw at the Seven Corners shooting last week. (Via Jim Henley.)
YEAH, SO THEY MAKE A big deal about this spy plane flying over the D.C. area and the latest shooting happens way down south of the D.C. area. Feh. They close down tens of miles of highways three times and what do they have to show for it? Feh.

Don't mind me, I'm in a bad mood. Go check out this pretty nifty rough-around-the-edges indie guitar pop band that I discovered a while ago, if you like that sort of thing.
CBS RADIO NEWSCASTER DAVE BARRETT is annoying me by referring in apparent earnestness to the "recently reelected Saddam Hussein" in reports on Saddam's prisoner-release scam. You can hear this during the top-of-the-hour newscasts on CBS affiliates such as D.C.'s WTOP (which you can listen to live via RealPlayer if you like).
THEY'RE ADVERTISING THE new movie "The Truth About Charlie" with Klint's "Diamond" theme from "Snatch" [track 2]. Last time I saw that, the preview for "Being John Malkovich" used "Brazil's" office worker march music [track 1], which didn't appear in the movie itself, though one can see the preview on the DVD. It's apparently not uncommon for previews to swipe music from earlier movies when the released film has not yet finished being scored ("The Royal Tenenbaums" had the music reworked between the New York Film Festival and its commercial release, for example), but it's rarely so noticeable -- perhaps other musical selections aren't so distinctive.