Again, anyone can understand that war and conquest without and the encroachments of despotism within give each other mutual support; that money and men are habitually taken at pleasure from a people of slaves to bring others beneath the same yoke; and that conversely war furnishes a pretext for exactions of money and another, no less plausible, for keeping large armies constantly on foot, to hold people at awe. In a word, anyone can see that aggressive princes wage war at least as much on theis subjectts as on their enemies, and that the conquering nation is left no better off than the conquered.

Jewish children in West Bank settlements

There was a big news story today about a very young Palestinian boy who apparently was strapped to a suicide bomb, and the Israelis had to get it off him, a tragic example of the conflict consuming the young, for sure. There are some rumors the whole thing was staged but I don't really believe it yet. Looking around the threads at agonist.org, I happened upon one talking about child soldiers and children thrown into conflicts, where one poster found info critical of Palestinian society for putting its kids on the 'front lines' of the fighting and having kids near militants. That, and an article I read in an academic journal today, got me thinking about how the conflict harms Jewish kids forced to grow up in the West Bank (and how hypocritical it is to blame the occupied for their occupation). I responded:
(crossposted to DKos diary)

Writing on the wall

I have been very busy this week working on a group paper for International Security class responding to Richard Perle and David Frum's horrible book, "An End to Evil." The whole thing filled me with dread. I never want to look at it again.

Having said that, it has been most entertaining to watch CNN these days, as Dick Clarke brings down the Bush Administration's American Grandstanding about their competence in confronting terror. By his account, the Administration's first months were like a special cubicle hell, an inert bureaucracy staffed by cold war geriatrics "encased in amber" who invented task forces that never met and demoted Clarke, the nation's supposed counterterror guru, who tried to put the government on high alert, but found the shell of evildoers around the president almost inpenetrable. Happily, Bush's poll numbers seem to be taking a hit.

Reporting Near the Gates of Hell

There are some days when you wish that they would just put out the real damn story for a change. But now, let's go to the Laci Petersen case. You can always tell when the narrative is dissolving, because somehow Scott Petersen's symbolic crucifixion becomes the hottest thing in American cable news. *CLICK*

While the Bush administration visibly flakes into a dozen pieces on TV under fire from the Clarke Battleship, we have a whole menu of items from the post-9/11 bloodsphere. From the furthest 'Bled al-Siba' (Lands of Insolence), we learn that the wicked Governor of Herat in western Afghanistan has regained control of his city, after someone killed the Aviation Minister and everyone ran a little amuck. Roughly 50 to 100 factional warlord fighters were killed fighting each other over this historic (formerly besieged) gateway to Persia. See it fall again next Thursday on live satellite!!

The problem with Afghanistan is that it's more an aggregate of ethnically jarred city-states than a coherently governed nation. The U.S. plan pretty much hyper-Balkanized it by installing worthless factional warlords with no oversight in every major city, kind of a government glued together like toothpicks. Wildly xenophobic, tribal toothpicks.

A jumbled adventure

I have been recovering for a couple days from my circuit around London, with an exciting day trip to Paris on St. Patrick's Day! I experienced so many things out there, it's still difficult for me to boil down at all. I saw a number of key things on the trip, but I didn't want to follow the standard tourist adherence to tour buses and rapid runs around cathedrals and Sites of Interest.

I wanted to try to really get the texture of the places, so instead I put on my New Balance sneakers and walked all over, assisted by my friends who knew the lay of the land.

In London, since my last message, I saw Parliament in session, the Tower Bridge, the Globe Theater, the Tower of London, Canary Wharf, places like historic Bank and Liverpool Street, the Greenwich Observatory (where I set my watch) and Downing Street, on the very day the Spanish announced they would ditch "Blair's war alliance," as the tabloids called it.

DNS network problems

Sorry about the lack of updates since I rolled in from O'Hare at 11:55 PM on Friday. Comcast gave our cable modem a new IP number on Thursday which caused HongPong.com to get disconnected.

It should be working now, but it's a very annoying problem. Comcast has rather pokey DNS servers, so even when I fix my number, it still takes them forever to update their system. Right now I am using the University of Minnesota's fine Domain Name Server at IP to get at my own damn site!

If you ever want to use a different DNS server than your Internet Service Provider's, go to your network control panel or network system preferences and set "DNS server" to

Report from Mile End

(please forward this to everyone not on the list-i don't have my address book)

Hullo to all from the merry land of the Angles and Saxons!! I am having a great time here in London staying with my friend from high school, Nick Petersen, who went to the U of M before coming here for a year. We have been all over much of the city already.

Arun, you should get the hell over to this school, Queen Mary University of London (http://www.qmw.ac.uk/) because it is *mostly* British Indians. (although apparently the London School of Economics has a lot too) It also has the largest medical school in England. There's a canal which runs all around north London and goes right in front of Nick's hall. There is a little lock and dam and canal house right here. They look very old.

Last thoughts inside the box

In less than 12 hours I'll be winging it out of this country for the first time in many years. The last time I flew out was Jamaica in high school. Since then, I've driven into Canada and Mexico, which is an entirely appropriate way to learn how the country ends at a line. I've given a lot of attention to what happens elsewhere but i haven't been elsewhere in so long, which is plainly negligent or even hypocritical.

Meanwhile, rumors are flying that Al-Qaeda bombed Madrid in retaliation for Iraq, an entirely reasonable idea when we remember that Al-Qaeda means "the base." So who knows what branches of the base might be involved in bombing European public transportation? There have been bomb threats against French trains, as well. It is safe to say that the security apparatus will be out in full. I haven't flown since 9/11. I'm a little edgy that there might be another incident in London during this season of the unexplained.

Final flight check

I've been wrapping up all kinds of things before break. This is shaping up to be a fantastic trip. Here are some scattered results of today:

After class today I helped Dan Schned work on the material he is putting together for the Hiawatha Line program, where he interns this semester. He has very exciting giant orthographic aerial photo composites of the Minneapolis-Bloomington route and all sorts of info on the planned corridor developments. I really like to see all these new development plans up close. If it works, then Minneapolis will start to grow up again, not further out.

Hurrah!! Server goes down & gets put together as Neo-Con castle crumbles!!

Everything got pretty risky there for a little while, and many bits of the system were fouled up, including important Perl files. I decided to install OS X fresh on the machine, and in turn rebuild all the site's MySQL hookups, Perl modules and everything. Fortunately it somehow only took about 90 minutes to do all this. Is it flawless? I'm not sure, but it should work.

On Friday I am flying off to England. How sweet.

There has been a ton of news lately about the spoofed Iraq intelligence I love so dearly. Finally, Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski (Ret) has written her definitive expose on what she witnessed in the Pentagon and around the Office of Special Plans. Everything here reinforced what I have been saying all along. I am really happy that the Kwiatkowski is living up to the exacting standards of personal integrity that all armed services people should strive for, and not enough have in this time of lies.

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