June 29, 2010

That "Reset Button" really worked!

If you missed Cold War cloak-and-dagger skulduggery, the Russians seem to have pressed that button pretty damn hard...

The FBI accuses the SVR, the successor organisation to the Soviet Union's KGB, of running a network of "illegals", described in court documents as Russians who received training in languages, codes and ciphers, invisible writing and counter-surveillance before living in the United States under false identities.

Each of the 10 was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison on conviction.

They were alleged to have met US government officials given codenames such as "Farmer", "Parrot" and "Cat" as well as engaging such tried and tested espionage methods as dead drops and brush passes.

[...]

The nature of their work was said to have been outlined in a secret message to two of those arrested: "You were sent to USA for long-term service trip.

"Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc – all those serve one goal: fulfil your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policy-making circles in US ..."

Mmmmm-mmmm, that's one tasty burger!

This is strangely worded, so I don't really get it, but, um...

A message from alleged conspirators in Boston gave details about a new head of the CIA and the 2008 presidential election gained from a "former legislative counsel for US Congress".

What the hell?

Posted by: Sean M. at 01:07 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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June 12, 2010

Barack Has A Hotdog!

Have you ever had a Chicago dog? They're pretty damn good, and they only cost a few bucks. But have you ever paid for one (or a few) with your tax dollars, and didn't even get to take a bite? Maybe so...

President Obama may be from Chicago, but he still needs some help when it comes to cooking up Chicago-style hot dogs.

The White House was preparing for its annual congressional picnic for last Tuesday and they wanted Chicago-style hots on the menu. Only catch, the staff didn't know how to make them, reports Lynn Sweet at the Sun-Times.

So the White House staff got in touch with Byron's Hot Dogs owner Mike Payne and flew him to the White House to assist the kitchen staff in preparing hot dogs for Tuesday’s annual congressional picnic.
The kicker? According to the article, Payne didn't even bring the ingredients for the Chicago dogs with him. Instead, he gave a grocery list "with all the traditional fixings" to the White House chef.

Um, is it just me, or is that the kind of thing that could be done via phone or e-mail or by looking at a fucking cookbook instead of flying someone several hundred miles across the country?

And, while the article doesn't explicitly say whether or not this was done at taxpayer expense, do you really think that it wasn't?

Posted by: Sean M. at 02:49 AM | Comments (18) | Add Comment
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June 06, 2010

Less funny, more endy

So in late March I had a paranoid fantasy about wars all over the world.
I figured by late May at the latest, there would be wars going on in at least the Caucasus and Israel.
I based that on the fact that invasion season in Georgia and Ukraine is right around then. You wait too long, and you're bogged down in snow and cold and your machines and men start failing.

So I'm still paranoid, and I keep seeing things that make me more so.
NoKo and SoKo are going around the warpole and Obama is silent on that, which would only embolden NoKo.
Now, Iran is making noises about the Revolutionary Guard going with the next Freedom* Flotilla.

The only thing missing from my doomsday scenario is Russia. But I have faith in Putin, sure he's a Bond villain, but he's a KGB/Tsarist Bond Villain in charge of a country all pissed off the world doesn't respect (read: fear) them anymore and looking nostalgically back at the USSR.
I'm not rooting for such a cataclysm, I'm saying that Obama's weakness and the way he always sides with the dictator (from Honduras to Iran to Gaza) is making it much more likely.

*Actual results may vary.

h/t The Jawas.

Spelling fixed.

Posted by: Veeshir at 05:50 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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June 05, 2010

Hey, guess who agrees with Helen Thomas?

Taking a break from donning a Deerstalker cap, grabbing a magnifying glass, and trying to climb up into Sarah Palin's womb, Excitable Andi, in a post titled "Israel Derangement Syndrome" (no link, natch) attacked our staunchest democratic ally in the Middle East yesterday (he apparently doesn't get that the "Derangement Syndrome" thing is meant to refer to someone you support and whose detractors you see as irrationally opposed to—what a surprise), and it's one of the stupidest things he's ever written:

To read Charles Krauthammer today is to enter a twilight zone of an alternate reality. A country permanently occupying and colonizing a neighboring region, and treating its original inhabitants as dangerous interlopers, is the victim.
Okay, where to begin? First of all, Israel isn't "occupying" nor "colonizing" Gaza, permanently or otherwise. Additionally, Israel has pulled out of the West Bank, Sinai, and Lebanon, and who has been the victim since? Innocent Israeli citizens, who have been besieged by rocket attacks by Islamist fanatics.

Moving on, Sullivan continues with the sarcasm (feel the burn!):
An elite commando unit attacking a ship carrying toys and wheelchairs in the hours before dawn are those we should feel pity for.
If all these people were carrying was a bunch of fluffy goodness, why did they insist on docking in Gaza, instead of going to an Israeli port and having their cargo inspected and then trucked in overland, like most other humanitarian shipments to the Hamas-controlled area? Oh, right. I suppose the evil Jews must have wanted to steal all the wheelchairs and toys.

Oh, and I do feel something, though I wouldn't say it was "pity," exactly, for a group of soldiers who were trying to stop a bunch of "humanitarians" who were trying to illegally run a blockade (which is also enforced by Egypt, I might add) and were greeted with a bunch of armed thugs, beating them with pipes and trying to stab them with knives. Seems there might have been a slight miscommunication there, eh, Andrew?
A country with 150 nuclear warheads and the strongest military in its region, the victor in every conventional war it has always fought, is somehow also always fighting for its very existence.
Aaaaaand, here's something interesting. Why mention Israel as the only country with nukes in the region? Sully's native UK (along with France) is one of the only two Western-European powers with nuclear weapons, but I don't recall him ever mentioning that in terms of, say, Ireland. Should my Mick cousins be nervous?

And can you blame the Israelis (this is a rhetorical question for our demented blogger) for having the strongest military in the region when it is surrounded by countries that would like nothing better than to wipe them off the map, not to mention the fact that their founding was necessitated by FUCKING GENOCIDE? A fight for existence is THE VERY FUCKING PURPOSE OF THE NATION.

Sullivan goes on to claim that the late incursion into Gaza resulted in the "hideous murder" of civilians in the name of "the tribe" (got that reference?) and ends with the following:
Something has been wrong here for a very long time, and now it is inescapable. Until the discourse is rescued from the victims of Israel Derangement Syndrome, Israel and America will slowly be drawn into wars they cannot ultimately win, lose every other ally they ever had, and embolden and fortify the very Islamist forces we are seeking to defuse and defeat.
What a triumph of diplomatic thinking! We'll get someone to pretend to like us for now, and the Jews will give up a little bit here and there.

Then, when they've been driven into the sea (or the ovens, again) and a couple of American or Western European cities are smoking, radioactive charnel-craters, hopefully, Andrew Sullivan will be the last homosexual to be hanged or to have a stone wall collapsed upon him.

Fuck you.

Posted by: Sean M. at 06:00 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
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June 04, 2010

No. EN-OH. No.

I accept that language is an evolving, complex thing.  Heck, I took some linguistic classes in college.  I'm aware that modern American English is very different from modern British English, which is different from Middle English, which is different from Ye Auld English, which is different from German, which is different from High German, which is different from Low German, and now I'm getting silly.

But I think that's the point.

I'm not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a lover of words.  Words like "ever" and "enough" and "ought".  And, while, like any dumbass using the interwebz, I will occassionally use words like, well, interwebz, I also recognize the difference between "ever" and "evah" - as a cultural inflection.

Which is why, to the four dumbasses in DC, I say, "No."

Four peaceful protesters, some dressed in full-length black and yellow bee costumes, represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society and stood outside the Grand Hyatt on Thursday, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held. Their message was short: Simplify the way we spell words.

Roberta Mahoney, 81, a former Fairfax County, Va. elementary school principal, said the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.

"Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said.

The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" — a word spelled correctly during the first oral round of the bee Thursday by Texas competitor Ramesh Ghanta — should be "hefer."

I guess all I have to say to that is - fr srsly?

H/T to my husband's Facechimp page.  I hate it when he beats me to a good story.

Posted by: Ember at 05:28 PM | Comments (25) | Add Comment
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