Monday, October 23, 2006

A Thousand Words

This image appeared in the NYTimes, on 10/23.
This is an image of the Korean Peninsula, at night, released by the USDOD.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Front Lawn Activism

As the country approaches the 2006 mid-term elections we can't help but notice the blossoming of lawn signs proclaiming fealty to one candidate, or one cause or another. Throughout our neck of Metro-Boston the liberal Democrat candidate Deval Patrick seems to be the darling of our neighbors -- his dominance in opinion polls echoed by the prevalence of his campaign signs that have sprouted on suburban lawns like dandelions in July.

We do not begrudge our neighbors the opportunity to tout their man, and support a candidate who will finally move the Commonwealth into the single party model of the old USSR. Surely, a socialist utopia will ensue. We have no problem with any statement of political affiliation, but we chuckle over the following, prevalent political signs:

War is NOT the Answer.
A Call to Our Conscience: Save

These are statements from the same chapter of the liberal rhetorical playbook that reflexively promotes "dialogue" over fisticuffs, in all instances. These signs express a cherished liberal ideal that talk will fix everything. No doubt, dialogue has reigned in Iran's nuclear aspirations and subdued Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; The Six Party Talks prevented the N. Korean nuclear test of 9 October 2006; negotiation has convinced Omar al Bashir of Sudan to spare the lives and folkways of the animistic peoples of Darfur. This, however, is not the world in which we live.

Because of our extreme civilization, we often forget that it is necessary to "go medieval" particularly when dealing with those who are themselves medieval. As terrifying as hordes of self-satisfied American suburbanites brandishing lawn signs can be, their anger and the concomitant desire to dialogue is hardly a motivator for folks such as Bashir, Kim and Ahmadinejad. Repeated, disciplined beatings with an iron fist and an even steelier resolve to stay with the fist until our enemies relent is the answer -- despite what we want to tell ourselves with our lawn signs.

Monday, October 02, 2006


During its heyday in the late-70s to the mid-80s we toyed with playing Dungeons and Dragons -- the seminal role playing game with the crazy set of 6, 8, and 20 sided dice -- but honestly could not get into it. It was too much work, too cerebral and way too steeped in competitive seriousness with levels of skill etc. If you came late to the game you couldn't just play with your buddies who "knew" how. The owners and their "Characters" had too much "experience" to willingly play with a novice who would undoubtedly slow down game play and make the game un-fun.

So, now, rather than drawing mazes, and building characters via dice rolls, and some predetermined allotment of gold coins, men -- many of whom no doubt played D&D as boys -- now "draft" "teams" of professional athletes and play fantasy (fill in the blank). We know that there are many massively-multiplayer-games on the web that more closely mirror the old paper/pencil/dice-D&D experience but we don't play those for the same basic reasons that we never got into D&D. That said, fantasy (fill in the blank) players (aka: "team owners") are as geeky, dorky and obsessive as any of the most hardcore, 15th level warrior-owning D&D dice-rollers ever were. In our second year of Fantasy Football (FF), we feel much as we did as a 13 year old D&D aspirant -- frustrated, uninterested and basically fed up with the whole inane process.

By nature, we are competitive, and losing is not a fun experience even in relation to something as irrelevant as FF. FF is aggravating and there is enough aggravation in life without willingly submitting to an aggravating "game." Games, by their nature, are supposed to be fun. However, given the unpredictability of "any given Sunday" in the NFL, FF becomes a game of chance and we hate games of chance. So, just as we did 20-odd-years ago with the D&D craze, we'll remove ourselves from the Fantasy universe and leave it to the true fantasists and obsessives. Anybody for Monopoly?