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The Syrian Mess

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

The United States’ response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria comes down to a question of deterrence and not necessarily the chemical weapon use.  If the United States does not respond then deterrence will take a hit and this could result in serious set-backs to global security.

The United States is in this unpleasant situation because the administration claimed the use of chemical weapons is a red line that would be met with punishment.  That red line has now been crossed between nine and fourteen times according to reports and if there is no response our ability to provide credible deterrence will suffer more than it has already.

The United States did not have a credible deterrent against the Assad regime to begin with for a couple reasons.  First, the United States does not have a history of retaliating against the use of chemical weapons.  Chemical weapons were used in the Iran-Iraq war with no repercussions.  They were used by Saddam Hussein against Kurds in northern Iraq; once again with no retaliation.  As previously noted, it has been used several times during the Syrian civil war with little response.

Second, Assad is no fool.  He knows that after spending over a decade fighting two wars and helping rebels in Libya that the United States is war weary.  The people of this nation are tired of being the world’s police.  They are tired of having their sons and daughters coming back from far off lands missing limbs or in coffins.  This does not make people gung-ho about getting involved in a civil war.

However, President Obama drew a red line at the use of chemical weapons and now we must act.  Otherwise other red lines will mean little to our enemies.  In the future our presidents should refrain from drawing red lines except for extreme circumstances such as an attack against the United States or its allies and the use of nuclear weapon; not the use of chemical weapons in a civil war.  Neither Assad nor the rebels are allies of the United States, and the claim that chemical weapons kill indiscriminately does not hold water either.  To push for military intervention over the use of chemical weapons is to suggest that a cruise missile or a drone do not kill innocent civilians.

It would be a better use of resources to provide aid to the nations that have been over-run by refugees fleeing the civil war.

Wikipedia Going Dark to Protest SOPA/PIPA

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has a tweet for students across the country: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

And by “protest”, he means a full-on blackout, taking the sixth most visited website offline for twenty-four hours.

The English Wikipedia anti-SOPA blackout is to signify the possible–and likely–effects that SOPA AND PIPA will have on the internet if they manage to pass at the Congressional level. In case you’re in the dark about SOPA and PIPA, here’s a quick run-down: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act seek to protect intellectual property by enacting stringent laws against the distribution of copyrighted material online. In several melodramatic television spots, they claim that internet pirates are destroying American jobs, decreasing innovation in the entertainment industry, and probably ran over your dog when you were six. What supporters of the bills fail to note is that the language is so vague that any website can be shut down for having any piece of copyright material present on any of its pages. That means YouTube could be taken down if someone posts a video of themselves singing the karaoke version of a copyrighted song. It also means Facebook could be shut down if a copyrighted video is posted on one person’s wall, and thousands of other websites could be stomped out at the drop of a hat.

Oh, and did I mention that a person or entity doesn’t even have to own the rights to the content they claim a website is illegally distributing? And that SOPA and PIPA would effectively give the people who sued a 12-year-old, a dead woman, and claims that ripping music you have purchased to your computer is illegal the run of the internet?

Naturally, most of the tech community (i.e. Google, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, Twitter, and just about every website you will ever use, ever) and anyone with a brain knows that this is a bad idea. So they’re fighting back.

The tech community has been slowly gaining ground on the issue in the last few weeks; former supporters have backed out under pressure, and Congress has finally invited tech community representatives to speak on the issue, where previously they had only heard from representatives of the entertainment industry.

However, Wikipedia is not taking these positive moves as a sign to put the breaks on. The English version of Wikipedia will be blacked out tomorrow as a demonstration of the destructive effect SOPA and PIPA could have on the world wide web. “There’s [..] an element of this sending out a signal to governments in other parts of the world that the Internet is going to get really mad if you try to censor the Internet,” Wales said in an interview with CNN. “It’s quite ironic because the U.S. policy has been quite firmly about discouraging censorship of the Internet elsewhere. So it’s a bit of a shame that we’re trying to do it at home.”

Websites Reddit and Boing Boing will also be taking part in the blackout, and Google will posting a statement explaining its opposition SOPA/PIPA in solidarity with the protest.

The full interview with Wales can be found here. More information on SOPA/PIPA can be found here and here…for now.

Holiday Reading

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones holds intruder at gunpoint; man says God sent him

Cat travels 200 miles under car hood in Ohio

Swallowed pen still works 25 years later

12 Horrible Christmas Gifts To Help Say, “I Hate You” Though, we’re still not sure why these are bad ideas. I mean, we got #4 for the Ol’ Dirty. Also, really, I can think of worse things: a life’s subscription to the Ol’ Dirty, used underwear, rotten moldy apples….these people are just not very creative.

David And Janean Richards Set Guinness Record With 331,038 Xmas Lights

 

I Stand With the (Wooly) Hat

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I say let’s vandalize George Pernsteiner’s house and personal effects until he reinstates Kim Jong Il as living human being and leader of North Korea.

Which of North Korea’s Kims is hottest?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

OK, so this is one for my 1. my ladies and 2. the Juche Idea makes clear that homosexuality is abhorrent, so not my gay guys. It’s an important question.

Who’s hotter? Kim Jong Un or his dad, Kim Jong Il, at his age?

Stern, masculine Kim Jong Un

Steamy young Kim Jong Il

The answer after the jump: (more…)

In the news: scientists playing with mice again.

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Good news for relationships worldwide, scientists may have discovered how to give us better memories. Translation: your girlfriend is going to remember that thing you said you for years and years. And that other thing too. You might as well just break up with her now, seeing as you don’t even remember what it was.

He was a good man

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Oh gosh guys, I’m sorry. I kind of lost the run of myself in the last post. It’s just grief. I just don’t know what I’ll do without him. I feel so isolated, so lonely. It’s hard.

Let’s just concentrate on what we can remember about him. He was a great man. I just think we should focus on that. You loved him, even if you couldn’t admit it.

I met him once. I was six and he was touring the paracetamol factory where I was working at the time. They told us the night before he would be coming, so be sure to get there early and hide the wounds from our lashings.

I picked my best button-down slate-gray blouse — and when I say “best,” I mean “only article of clothing,” since it would be another two months before I received my first pair of trousers — and crunched my way through that glorious paracetamol-scented morning dew.

That day, they told us they wouldn’t whip us at all. It was the first day in the two years I had worked at PyongSu Cetamol that anybody went without lashings. At the time, none of us knew we’d have double the lashings to make up for it, and triple the lashings for the rest of the month. I saw my father An Doo Chol smile for the first and last time that day, the crows feet that framed his morose, ancient 28-year-old eyes narrowing, those quivering jaws parting to reveal the gray gums and those two weathered, heroic teeth.

When a great man like the Dear Leader enters the room, the sensation is ecstatic. You feel it first in the hairs on the back of your neck. Mine stood up like a hundred loyal comrades and saluted the great man. Next, we all breathed deeply of the intoxicating air of sweet hibiscus and crisp dew that surrounded the Dear Leader always. That’s the nourishing breath of the Juche Idea we knew was our birthright. The paracetamol factory normally smelt like ammonia because we weren’t allowed to take bathroom breaks!

Oh my goodness, there he was. He put a wise hand on the conveyor belt and asked to see us working. I don’t think I ever pressed paracetamol so fast in my life. I looked to my left and saw my father An Doo Chol with burly tears welling up in those sunken, weary eyes and flowing forth like the pristine gray opaqueness of the spring that watered our village. The leather of his bottom lip he gripped as tightly as he could between those gray gums to keep him from spilling into open, hoarse sobs. He cleared his throat masculinely

My own eyes misted from the beauty of the moment, as they are misting now. I fainted with pleasure. The next day, I was lashed quadruple for fainting, but those lashes felt as sweet and light as my mother Ho Sook Hye’s kisses because they were lashes of devotion to the Dear Leader.

That day, Kim Jong Il pronounced ours the best paracetamol in all of North Korea. Even though the daily ration of rice gruel or carrot-green broth stopped that day and never came back, it was worth it just to hear that.

This is your fault

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

You Americans. You never loved him. If you had, maybe it wouldn’t have troubled his poor heart so much. He had a big heart, but I don’t think he could take the love you withheld from him! You’ve killed the greatest man who ever was. I hope you die.

It actually happened.

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

OH NO! OH NO! OH NO! OH PLEASE! OH NO! nalfkjbihtyggglknj.;’/!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GVBHKNJJJJJBHGVYTIULOKL;O908UIKL[PLKOMIL,;’/!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

IT HURTS SO MUCH !!!!!!!!!! OH MY! OH NO! I CAN’T … GBHNJKML,;'[

PLOKJIU87YUHJKMLMJNH . M,KJNHVGHB.L,KKLJJGH!!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!

This did not happen.

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Look. There he is. Alive. Like he still is. This is a lie. A LIE! It’s not real. Your Western media are feeding you lies. Tomorrow he’s going to give a speech, I’m going to photograph him ALIVE and you will all feel stupid. He’s alive.

Science Sunday!

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

NASA has discovered a black hole with a “heartbeat.” This is the smallest black hole ever found, and according to Zeenews.com:

 

The “heartbeat” pattern is caused by the regular cycles of matter accumulated into the black hole from its neighbouring star.

“Just as the heart rate of a mouse is faster than an elephant’s, the heartbeat signals from these black holes scales according to their masses,” said Diego Altamirano, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, who worked on the NASA project.

The heartbeat was referring to the intermittent X-ray bursts as gas is sucked from stars, forming a disc around the black hole, where it’s heated by friction to millions of degrees, hot enough to emit X-rays. Astronomers have named the new discovery – IGR J1091-3624.

 

Though it is only speculation, many experts believe that Chancellor Pernsteiner’s heart may in fact reside inside the tiny black hole.

First is the Worst: Natty Light

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

In both old, and bad, news: Natural Light “beer” has become the first beer in space. The people at Natural Light launched a can into the heavens on November 17, reportedly inspired by some assholes on Facebook. The can rocketed into the sky up to “90,000ft+” before returning to the Earth, playing a proverbial game of “Just the Tip” with our atmosphere.

What’s going to be shot up next? Who knows. Probably a fucking Kardashian. Hopefully someone has some cans of OG Four Loko stashed, that is the only thing that will make extraterrestrials run from Earth in fear.

Best part (2:26) “What up aliens? Where the party at, we brought the beer!”

 

Interim president named

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Berdahl for $200 Alex.

Love letter from said interim:

Dear faculty, staff, and students:

I am pleased to report to you that the Oregon State Board of Higher Education has asked me to serve as the interim president of the University of Oregon and that I have accepted their invitation.  I do so with a mixture of excitement, sadness, determination, and gratitude.

I am excited to return to the UO, where I came as a young faculty member and spent important years of my intellectual growth in the presence of wonderful and stimulating colleagues, some of whom remain on the faculty or engaged in the ongoing life of the University.  Although the UO is a much different institution, and a substantially better university than I left twenty-five years ago, I still feel that I am truly coming home.

However, I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to my assuming this position.  I believe that the UO has made important progress on all fronts under the leadership of Richard Lariviere and I have made it clear that, whatever its reasons, I believe the Board of Higher Education made a serious and damaging mistake in terminating his presidency at the UO.

I am also moved by a determination to carry forward the important agenda President Lariviere has outlined for the campus: taking important steps toward the development of genuinely independent governing board for the campus, continuing to assure alumni and supporters of the University that investing in this institution will yield substantial dividends for the State of Oregon, and working with Oregon leaders to restructure and improve all levels of education for Oregonians.  I have said repeatedly that the quality of the University of Oregon is better recognized outside of Oregon than within it.  We must work to persuade Oregonians of the treasure they have in the UO and why it deserves their support.

Clearly, securing a highly qualified permanent president who shares our visions of innovation and academic distinction will be among the top priorities for my term as interim president.  The University’s next president will have unprecedented opportunities to work with other higher education leaders and Oregon lawmakers in setting an ambitious course for the future, expanding the UO’s impact throughout the state and the world.  I intend to assist in recruiting the next president in whatever way I can.

Finally, I am filled with gratitude to the faculty and staff for the confidence you have expressed in me.  It will be difficult to meet the high expectations you have set for me or to provide the quality of leadership provided by President Lariviere, but I commit to you that I will do my best.  I look forward to working with you all as we move forward together.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Berdahl

Black Friday

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

This is a public service announcement:  With all this riffraff about the 1%, don’t forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving: standing in line outside a chain-store at 1 a.m. the morning after, eating left-overs and looking like Rudolph because it’s freezing.

Just please don’t have as many Red Bull and Eggnog’s as these guys:

A Guide to Thanksgiving 2011

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Stuck in town for Thanksgiving? Stuck at home for Thanksgiving? Here are some Commentator-approved ideas!

1.   In general, Macy’s and drunk should be synonymous, but this should be the case even more so on Thanksgiving. If you’re in for the hours and hours of fun called the Macy’s day parade consider making a pitcher of Mexican Thanksgiving Shots and taking a shot each time you see a marching band.

Recipe: Fill pitcher 1/2 full with Tequila. Fill remaining part of pitcher with Wild Turkey.
Alternatively, check out these holiday shot recipes. And this holiday drinking game.

2.   Find a Bank of America and impersonate their door.
3.   Capture wild turkey, take it downtown, let it go and then chase it saying “Turkey is friend not food!”
4.   Make yourself a meal of traditionally American food, just kidding! Check out these local places that are serving up Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you’re too lazy, to venture a mile off campus McDonalds is open until 11 a.m. (Ethics and shit: I contribute to MyEugene and have class with the author of that article, so don’t get all crazy and yell at me for bein’ biased, ’cause I told you!)
5.   Change all of the Bibles for copies of the Student Insurgent before Thanksgiving service at your church. (I’d link to there blog here but it seems they must be SOOOO busy with their upcoming issue that they had to delete their blog.)
6.   And what’s as awesome as walking 2 miles at 9 a.m.? Running 4 miles of course! Sign up for the Turkey Trot 2-mile walk or 4-mile run benefiting Food for Lane County.
7.   Oh, and I almost forgot, the university calender says that the Museum of Natural and Cultural History will be showing an exhibit from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. This couldn’t possibly be wrong, I’m sure they’re open. So make sure and check it out!

And here’s a little history lesson, enjoy!