Observations of War

In his war against America and Britain the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has recently begun using two rather suspect tactics. Iraq has begun deploying his Fedayeen in civilian garb and in civilian vehicles in ambush against coalition forces. Some Iraqi units have begun to fake surrender in order to ambush American and British soldiers. There are believable, yet unconfirmed, reports that chemical weapons will be used once coalition forces penetrate a so called "red line" around Baghdad. Each of these tactics may provide the Ba'athis regime some military advantage. The price for this is that those forces using such tactics give up much international protection after Iraq's defeat.

One of the more suprising (to the media) was the use irregular forces in the areas occupied, but not pacified by Coalition forces. That such small scale guerrilla tactics would be used, and somewhat successful should not be surprising to the serious student of military history. Mobile warfare is full of small ambushes as competing armies maintain fluid and unsecured rear echelons.

In more familiar terms, this means that the coalition decided to deploy almost all it's combat units forward, and left very few troops behind to secure their supply lines. The choice to do this was pretty much determined by the very small ground forces deployed in light of both the size of Iraq and the size of Iraq's army. (See my w/u March 20, 2003) With only three divisions of combat troops available-- only half of whom are really fighting soldiers-- there just aren't enough troops going around to secure very much territory. Particularly if you want to attack.

This means there are only a few hundred combat troops left to patrol several thousand square kilometers of territory. The reason US commander General Tommy Franks felt able to do this was total air superiority and the very low mobility of Iraq's military. Air power gave Franks not only an enormous striking capacity, but also an absolute advantage in the battle for information. Any Iraqi subunits large enough to sever the communications lines of the Third Infantry Division would be detected and attacked long before they could move far. And US mechanised forces are very, very fast. Such a rear battle would very much favor the coalition, whose troops are better trained, better equipped and able to see over the horizon. Think Little Big Horn.

Smaller forces might slip by now and then, and could do some damage. However, radio calls from the ambushed units would bring rapid help and decisive firepower. So while Iraq can hurt the coalition, it has little possibility of inflicting a really severe blow. When a Pentagon spokesperson tells you they really aren't very worried about the small wrong turns and ambushes, they aren't bullshitting. That sort of thing happens in desert warfare. If you doubt that read a good history of Rommel's Afrika Korps.

Still, it has come as a suprise that the Iraqis have chosen to fight by and large. At least a surprise to the civilians running the war, who counted on rapid surrender. Those battles haven't proven very effective by and large, but one of the more interesting tactics have been the guerrilla attacks of the Iraqi fedayeen. Normally clad in black uniforms, they are the thugs and enforcers of Saddam's regime. Chips off the ol' block.

Of course a black uniform and BRDM are a trifle obvious, and these people aren't trained to NATO standards. In a straight up fight against British Royal Marines they're toast. So they have taken off their uniforms and traded their APCs for SUVs with the machine gun option installed.

Mao once wrote that a guerrilla 'must swim in the civilian population as a fish swims in the sea'. The fedayeen have decided that to kill Marines it must cheat. They cruise about pretending to be civilians. As civilians they can move about looking for opportunity, while in uniforms they get shot. The can choose to attack only when the opportuniity is choice.

Such tactics serve the Iraqi purpose well. First of all, the Fedayeen get to kill coalition troopers, and the casualties will appear on TV news. Dead coalition troopers can't fight any more. If their deaths can be accomplished without corresponding loss to your own troopers, so much the better. Dealing with them absorbs soldiers in an expidition that was undermanned from the beginning. Another plus is that such attacks will make coaltion troopers much quicker on the trigger. The Marine who lost a buddy to the fedayeen may still not wish to shoot at civilians, but the civilian who appears suddenly is swiss cheese.

Dead Iraqi civilians are something Saddam very much wants. First of all, they're irrelevent as people if they're not from Tikrit. Plus they abet his strategy. He hopes to hold out long enough, and lose enough Iraqis that public opinion on the street will force other Arab governments to curtail their support for the coalition. He also seems to think that the US and Britain have no stomach for casualties, mistaking our respect for human life as weakness. The combination of Western Wimpiness and Islamic anger is supposed to force W. to give up and go home, leaving Saddam alive and the new Saladin. That miscalculation will cost him his life.

For the fedayeen the consequences are more serious. By putting on civliian clothes they give up all protections of the Geneva Conventionand the Hague Convention. Under the Laws of War irregular and militia forces are entitled to the same protections as other POWs, provided that they have a leader, carry weapons and wear a clear insignia marking them as combatatants. In other words, some form of uniform or flag that is known to their keeper.

Certainly ruses and deception is permitted by the laws of war, but soldiers cannot pretend to be civilians for military advantage. Captured Fedayeen can expect to be shot. A trial is supposed to precede execution but such rules are often honored in the breach, when military necessity makes punctilio impractical. Coaltion forces may choose not to execute captured fedayeen for intelligence or political reasons but they have no right to expect mercy. The executing soldiers are not liable for War Crimes charges.

Other Iraqi units have begun to pretend surrender in order to draw coaltion soldiers into an ambush. This is also a violation of both the Geneva and Hague conventions. Such actions are considered perfidy under international law and expressly forbidden in the Hague Treaty. The reason for this is simple: feigned surrenders may make all surrenders impossible, effectively preventing any humane treatement of prisoners of war.

So an Iraqi units faking a surrender had best expect their real surrender won't be honored. Unless it comes as part of a total and unconditional surrender of all Iraqi forces. Even then they may be charged with a war crime.

But faked surrenders do serve Iraqi purpose. They represent a calculation that dead Americans will do more for them on the Arab street than flaunting the conventions will hurt. In that they may be right. In addition, a new reluctance among coaliton units to accept surrenders (and perhaps a bit of retribution) may stiffen the backbone of faltering Iraqi units. Either way suits Saddam.

The use of these outlawed tactics may very well aid Saddam, and they are not necessarily irrational. The Special Republican Guards and the Fedayeen owe their power, income and prestige to Saddam's regime. With him gone, they have none of those things. And the people they bullied may seek to teach them what brutality is like when the shoe is on the other foot. These people may not fear summary execution, as they may see themselves as dead anyway if they lose. Bullies are often the biggest cowards.

Selected excerpts from the Hague and Geneva Conventions

Militia and irregular forces under the First Geneva Convention

Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

These conditions are repated verbatim in the Hague Convention of the Laws of War

from the Hague Convention, Second Section, "Hostilities", Means of Injuring enemy combatants

Article 23: In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -

To employ poison or poisoned weapons;

To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;

To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;

To declare that no quarter will be given;

To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;

To make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention;

To destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;

To declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party. A belligerent is likewise forbidden to compel the nationals of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the belligerent's service before the commencement of the war.

Chapter 3: Flags of Truce

Art. 32. A person is regarded as a parlementaire who has been authorized by one of the belligerents to enter into communication with the other, and who advances bearing a white flag. He has a right to inviolability, as well as the trumpeter, bugler or drummer, the flag-bearer and interpreter who may accompany him.

Art. 33. The commander to whom a parlementaire is sent is not in all cases obliged to receive him.

He may take all the necessary steps to prevent the parlementaire taking advantage of his mission to obtain information.

In case of abuse, he has the right to detain the parlementaire temporarily.

Art. 34. The parlementaire loses his rights of inviolability if it is proved in a clear and incontestable manner that he has taken advantage of his privileged position to provoke or commit an act of treason.

Why can't people just stay the same as they always were?

I've been with my church for about a year and a half, and in that time I've seen my friends and I go through an amazing mental change. For most of my friends, this is a wonderful thing. They've gained compassion, forgiveness, and confidence. They are all taking massive steps forward. All except for one. As near as I can tell, he's going through the same thing as us, except backward.

The compassion and forgiveness are leaking from him like water in a fishbowl in Iraq. He gets mad at stupid stuff. He goes off on people for nothing at all. He explodes on girls, and even his parents, for God's sake. Then he gets pissed when he doesn't get called when the group wants to do something.

It's so hard to put up with his infuriating remarks and idealism. He seems to have forgotten that the Earth revolves around the sun, abandoning this simple logic for the notion that the planet revolves around him. And by God, we had better not be anything less than perfect or we will hear about it. While you're at it, don't bother offering an opposing view to his, because it is obviously wrong and ridiculous, seeing as how Cory Pond is indeed a unified expert on all things.

I'm proud of my performance so far. I have said nothing to attack him or in my own defense. I love it. It drives him insane.

I wish, however, that I didn't have to be silent. I wish he were the same as he always was.

An extraordinary thing happened after volleyball practice today (incidentally, a practice that he had gotten pissed off during and left halfway through). Practice came to a close, I walked outside, and it was raining. Raining! I simply love the rain. That church parking lot in the middle of White House, Tennessee smelled of the essence of spring. I felt my spirits lift, and then I became truly happy. The rain fell in small drops, showering the world like the mercy of God himself. Then, at that moment, I didn’t care that one of my closest friends had become an egomaniacal jerk. I was reminded of the single point that he had forgotten.

That point, of course, was that in two years it won't matter one way or the other, and if he can't treat other people like human beings, that's his loss.

Use your Daylog as a Bitchlog, Heres how!

People just don't like me or something. A few of my "best friends" are going on a trip during spring break to Virgina, but i'm not invited, because they can't deal with me. This isn't too convoluted, I mean, nobody can deal with me, i'm an asshole or something.

A nice little study by some university somewhere reveals that when you feel pain, other people observing you feel pain too. For instance, if you saw someone getting crushed by a massive rock, that recoil you feel in your body is your brain saying, "Wouldn't that hurt? I wouldn't let that happen if I were you, WHICH I AM, SO DON'T." So of course my depression keeps people away, which is ironic because my depression is caused by my infinite distance from others. In the end i'm nothing more than a dangerous vampire bent on ending someones good day, I guess.

Yeah, another spring break spent in front of the computer.

Despite all the things that change about me, the one constant is my anger towards the world.
I normally hate daylogging (that's what livejournal is for...) but today I have to vent...

Fucking bastard scumfuck British Telecom

I telephone BT on Saturday:
"There's a cheque in the post to pay the bill"
"Right, we'll make a note and there'll be no restrictions on your account"

Last night I call Tim (my cousin and flatmate) - "The number you have called is not available"
I call BT "Oh yes, we cut off your phone"
"But you said you weren't going to do that"
"Well, it was already being done while you called"

So now I have to borrow the cash off my parents, cancel the cheque (because paying by cheque means it takes 10 days to reconnect the phone as opposed to the same day), grovel to Tim when I go back to Manchester tomorrow, and do even *more* stuff to help my parents, in order to pay back the loan.

I am very very very very annoyed right now.

Merit Whore for the Ages™

proudly presents...

The Everything Noder Pageant® 2003



Contestants are back on the catwalk for the Talent Show. The judges are awed by how truly skilled these luscious ladies are. All this and a pretty face and nice legs to boot! If there are more like these back where they came from, then I'm emigrating.

More Pageant back-stage intrigue... Miss Turkmenistan stole in during the quiet hours and cleared out her room, not even her roommate, Miss Norway heard a thing. There has still been no sight of Judge E and it could be that things are not well between him and Miss Turkmenistan. A new Judge E has been recruited, and the judges collectively have been warned against further fraternising with the ladies.

There were a few jitters with other contestants, with one or two tearful eyes, but the group-hug seems to have worked and things are all on track for a spectacular finalé.

Put your hands together ladies and gentlemen, as we welcome our ladies and marvel at their mastery!


Miss Spain

Miss Spain fancies herself as a stand-up comic. Now Mexican comedy were're well versed with, but the Spanish variant... well... see for yourself. A round of applause for Miss Spain!


Miss Democratic Republic of the Congo

Miss DRC walks us through a mid-western community where something... strange is seeping into the gutters. Deity, or devilry? You decide.


Miss Suriname

Miss Suriname takes us back in time to the age of leisure, pleasure and the importance of art. Join her in the studio as she puts on an accent and poses for a struggling artist.


Miss Federated States of Micronesia

Miss FSM takes us into the realm of science fiction, where a hero is judged by how he dies. She will make you laugh, she may make you cry, but she will definitely make you pull out your Star Wars collection.


Miss Serbia

It has been a tough two weeks for Miss Serbia, who had to head home briefly to attend her Prime Minister's funeral. But the show must go on, so quiet please while she touches us with a haunting dirge.


Miss Ethiopia

Miss Ethiopia takes us on a tour of a small Minnesota town, giving us the low-down on all its inhabitants. Listen closely, folks, she's not just a great gossip, she's got an eye for a good scoop.


Miss Portugal

Miss Portugal, it appears, is wont to shirk the affections of her countrymen in favour of those of the Scots. While I do see her point, I am glad to see that she has put her career ahead of domesticity, even if it did break her heart. Buck up, Miss P, that's the spirit. (Pass me a Kleenex, would you?)


Miss Norway

Miss Norway has recovered well after bunking out a fortnight ago and getting horribly drunk on Vodka smuggled in by her supporters. She tells her tale here, going Beyond Fortitude.


Miss Canada

Miss Canada shows us her DJing skill and compiles for us a narrated soundtrack to an Ordinary Day. There's nothing ordinary about the compilation however. Go and have a listen.


Miss Australia

Miss Australia takes in the harshness of life in her own country and shows it to us here, in all its beauty. There is something haunting, and universal, about our Amy's story.


Miss Thailand

Miss Thailand has dug deep and exposed herself down to her very core. She has climbed onto the couch, looked into the darkness of her past, and learned a few lessons that she has been brave enough to share. Miss T, thank you, we are blessed.


Miss Iraq

Miss Iraq, Miss Iraq, Miss Iraq! Yes, yes, we sympathise, we know your country is at war. But do you have to be so damn melodramatic?




I'm sure you agree, Ladies and Gentlemen, that our Beauties have exceeded themselves yet again. Please give them another round of applause!

Today's Headlines

US News

Senate Slashes Bush Tax Cut By More Than Half
President Bush yesterday formally announced his $74.7 billion plan to pay for the Iraq war and strengthen homeland security, but Democrats issued a stiff warning he would not be given a blank check to fight war and cut taxes at the same time. To drive home that point, the Senate voted 51-48 to slice Bush's tax cut by more than half, from a $726 billion 10-year plan to $350 billion. Senator Christopher J. Dodd said that although he was going to support Bush's war request, it was "disturbing" that the request comes "as the president continues to dig us further in debt by pushing through a massive tax cut to benefit the most affluent."

Air Force Reogranizes Academy
Air Force officials told a Senate panel Tuesday that four top officials of the Air Force Academy would be replaced because of a sexual assault scandal at the Colorado Springs facility. A congressional aide said after the closed briefing that two of the four positions would be filled by women. Senator Wayne Allard and Senator John Warner, Warner being the chairman of the armed services committee, have demanded that a woman be installed in one of the academy's two top posts. This comes in the aftermath of revelations of more than 60 sexual assault charges at the academy in the last ten years which were handled internally and not to the satisfaction of most observers. "Given what we've learned about the size of this problem, I think changing the leadership is insufficient in and of itself," said Cari Davis, executive director of a private rape crisis clinic in Colorado Springs that has counseled cadets.

3rd Member Of Al Qaeda Cell Pleads Guilty
A third member of an alleged terrorist sleeper cell in Lackawanna, New York pleaded guilty in Buffalo's federal court today. Yahya Goba adknowledged that he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and allowed a recruiter from the terrorist network to stay at his home through 9/11. Goba, who spent his time teaching religion to children in the Yemeni-American community, pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Goba is the third member of the cell to plead guilty to this charge, following Shafal Mosed's plead on Monday and the plead of a third member this January. Three more members of the cell still face trial but are negotiating a plea bargain to reduce their sentences. Authorities say that they have no evidence of terrorist plots by the group, only that they harbored and supported individuals involved in terrorist activities.

International News

Prep For Baghdad Battle Continues
Coalition warplanes have struck more targets in and around Baghdad, including the headquarters of Iraqi satellite television, which was knocked off the air temporarily early this morning; the satellite channel has since resumed broadcasting. The primary goal of missions early Wednesday was to damage communications systems within Iraq, particularly within Baghdad, as coalition armies prepare for a potential land assault on the Iraqi capital near the end of this week. Elsewhere, coalition planes hit targets in and around the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, near the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Local Kurdish leaders say US Special Forces troops, who have been scouting the region for months, have been directing allied planes to targets belonging to the Iraqi regime and carefully avoiding those belonging to Kurds.

Major Rise In Pneumonia Death Toll
The spread of the mysterious pneumonia-like disease severe acute respiratory syndrome continued today as China dramatically raised the death toll from the disease in its southern province of Guangdong on Wednesday, bringing the world toll to at least 50 and global infections to more than 1,000. Also, Singapore reported its first death from SARS while Hong Kong officials searched for dozens of foreign visitors who may have been exposed to the virus. China's previous report on the disease stated that they had observed 305 infections and five deaths from the disease, but yesterday increased those numbers to 24 deaths and 800 infections. The Chinese government has yet to admit any cases have occurred in the nation's capital, but doctors have confirmed two deaths. SARS has spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and Germany, infecting nearly 500 in those nations, while suspected cases have been reported in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.

Canada, US Have Growing Rift Over War
The United States is upset and disappointed Canada has refused to join the war against Iraq and the issue has caused a "bump in relations," said Paul Cellucci, the US ambassador to Canada yesterday. Cellucci went on to say that the US would be ready to answer any security threat against Canada and that has left many Americans wondering why "Canada is not there for us now." At a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto, Cellucci went on to say, "It's disappointing to us and a lot of people in Washington are upset that Canada is not fully supporting us here." This statement came in response to the news that the Liberal party, which holds an overwhelming majority in the Canadian legislature, overwhelmingly voted down a motion to support forced disarmament in Iraq.

Business

Frist Pledges Government Aid To Airlines
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pledged to provide government aid to the US airlines as they face a slump in business due to the war with Iraq. The airlines, which lost $11.3 billion last year, are claiming that the war will add another $4 billion to losses for the year along with increased insurance costs and additional security needs. Carriers, including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, have lobbied the White House and Congress for aid, arguing that more airlines will file for bankruptcy without the help. The carriers' Air Transport Association trade group estimated that combined losses may reach $10.7 billion this year due to the effects of the war. "Relief will be given to some extent" for the airlines either through legislation to pay for the Iraq war or some other bill, Frist told reporters yesterday, although he didn't specify an amount. Airline shares rose after his remarks.

Al-Jazeera Websites Hit By Crackers
The English and Arabic websites of Qatar-based broadcaster al-Jazeera were forced down this morning after a spate of suspected computer attacks last night. Neither aljazeera.net, which gets the most hits of any Arabic website in the world, nor english.aljazeera.net, which launched on Monday, were available this morning after suspected attacks crashed both sites. Al-Jazeera communications manager Jihad Ali Ballout said the company was doing everything possible to get the sites up and running. "Our people are doing our best but it could take some time," he said. "I am so concerned this is happening when there are clear lines that should be drawn." It is suspected that this may be a retaliation against al-Jazeera's decision to air video of American POWs on the network.

Consumer Confidence Takes A Dive
Consumer confidence plunged to its lowest level in almost 10 years this month, the Conference Board reported yesterday, to 62.5, the fourth lowest level since the index began in 1967. The typical consumer response to such low confidence is to invest in long-term purchases, such as a home. "Americans are so depressed now that they go out and buy a home," said Ed Yardeni, the chief investment strategist of Prudential Securities. Another potentially good investment in this reduction of consumer confidence is stocks; historically, whenever the consumer confidence level reaches this level, the stock market begins a major jump within a year as it predates an economic rebound.

Science & Technology

Nvidia, IBM Sign Deal
Nvidia has signed a three-year chip-making agreement with IBM, making TSMC no longer Nvidia's only parther in terms of manufacturing graphics chips. IBM will begin manufacturing GeForce FX chips at 0.13 micron this summer, and in the future will begin manufacturing Nvidia parts at 90 nm resolution once the process becomes commercially available, which is expected to occur late this year. Nvidia is likely to split the three-chip GeForce FX line between TSMC and IBM on a chip-by-chip basis. Nvidia was keen to play down any suggestion that it was unhappy with TSMC's 0.13 micron work, which is held by some observers to be the reason for the delayed introduction of the GeForce FX 5800.

Another Windows Flaw Disclosed By Microsoft
Just one week after Microsoft alerted the public to a serious security vulnerability in a component of its Windows 2000 operating system, a security researcher has posted code to exploit that vulnerability. The exploit was posted to two online discussion lists for computer security experts by Rafael Núñez, a senior research scientist. The exploit affects users using the WebDAV extensions to the IIS web server package often used with Windows 2000. The problem is at a very low level within Windows 2000, however, and leads others to be concerned about whether or not other exploits may take advantage of this problem.

Apple, Adobe In Rift
Yesterday, Adobe added a page to their website stating that Adobe products run faster on Microsoft Windows-based computers than comparable Apple machines. The page on Adobe's site points out test results published last year in Digital Producer, a magazine for video editors. The tests compare the performance of comparable high-end PC and Mac products (a Dell PC with a 3.06GHz Pentium processor versus a Mac G4 with dual 1.25GHz processors) on three Adobe applications. The tests revealed that across the board the PCs performed better on virtually all tasks. "We get a lot of requests for performance data on the video side," Trescot said. "We thought we would post some of that information. It's not really about advocating one platform over another; it's about if you prefer a PC, here's information that might help you."

Health

Troop Post-Deployment Physical Exams Discussed
A top Pentagon health official conceded Tuesday that conducting physical examinations of troops after military deployments might help prevent a recurrence of gulf war illness. This concession comes in the light of recent criticism of the military for its inability to follow a 1997 law that requires medical screenings of troops before and after deployment. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, also told a congressional hearing that the Pentagon's brief health questionnaire, which it plans to give to troops as a substitute for physical exams, might not be adequate. "I've already initiated an effort to reassess this survey to see if it collects all the information," he said. The issue came about from a House Government Reform subcommittee looking into the health care of the deployed forces particularly in light of lessons learned from the first Gulf War.

Harvard Claims Link Between Virus, Multiple Sclerosis
A virus that is believed to infect up to 95% of all Americans may play a crucial role in triggering multiple sclerosis, Harvard researchers reported today. This news could potentially provide an important clue to understanding MS, a disease whose root causes have eluded scientists for decades. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, writing in the March 26, 2003 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, provide some of the most persuasive evidence so far that the Epstein-Barr virus may play a role in the cascade of genetic and environmental forces that combine to cause multiple sclerosis. "It's not easy to find the causes of any disease, but in terms of MS especially, we know very little," said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the Harvard epidemiologist who directed the study.

Sports

Skating Organizations In Chaos
The new World Skating Federation appeared in front of the media for the first time yesterday, but it didn't take long for its scramble with the International Skating Union for figure skating supremacy to get a little heated. Formed by high-profile officials, coaches and former skaters who are disgruntled and discouraged by the operation of the ISU, the WSF had already contacted Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, to tell him of its existence. Ron Pfenning, the president of the WSF, said he told Rogge that the new federation believes the ISU has failed figure skating and "is no longer able to lead us in the right direction for the future growth of our sport," along with several other suggestions for management of ice skating in the future. Pfenning also said the actions of ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta had caused many ISU members concern because "of his failure to represent the matters before us. ... Since the Winter Olympic Games of 2002, the leadership of the ISU has directed the sport ... down a path that could irreparably harm the sport."

Livan Hernandez Traded To Montreal Expos
Yesterday, the San Francisco Giants traded Livan Hernandez, Edwards Guzman and $3.2 million to the Montreal Expos for pitcher Jim Brower and a player to be named. This trade unites 1997 World Series hero Livan with his brother Orlando Hernandez on the roster of the Expos. "I feel good, not good, but you need to go. It's the only way sometimes. You need to go play and forget everything that happened," Hernandez said. Hernandez's 3 1/2 year run with the San Francisco Giants was full of ups and downs as the virulent pitcher often ignored coaching advice for better or for worse. "I think he was set in his ways," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "I told him the other day, 'I know something is going to happen. It's obvious something is going on.' We couldn't hide it. But I said, 'There are things you can do to get better.' You never know with anybody, did we get the most out of him or was there more there? I'll always go through that with Livo, just as I did with Shawn Estes and Alan Embree and John Johnstone."

Entertainment

CNN Fires Connie Chung
Effective immediately, CNN has canceled Connie Chung Tonight, the prime-time newsmagazine that had been on the air only since last June. Also gone is anchor Connie Chung, the broadcast network news star CNN had wooed to become its crown jewel in a new star-strewn prime-time lineup. This comes after severe ratings disappointments for the show, expected to compete strongly with The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. Although the show did improve ratings in the timeslot for the network, Bill O'Reilly's competing program actually increased its ratings lead over the life of Chung's program. The split was apparently amicable and is viewed as another move in CNNs general trend to return to less personality-based news programming in the wake of a reorganization there.

Lenny Kravitz Releases Duet With Iraqi
Lenny Kravitz recorded a strongly political song entitled We Want Peace with popular Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Miami, Florida last week. The single was released yesterday on the website of Rock The Vote, a national organisation which encourages young people to become involved in politics. Kravitz said he had chosen to link up with Rock the Vote "because of its strong stance with young people as defenders of free expression." Kravitz joins a growing list of recording artists releasing protest songs directly to the internet to bypass a cautious radio market. REM, the Beastie Boys, John Mellencamp and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha have all released anti-war songs via the internet in recent weeks. Kravitz's song features Palestinian musician Simon Shaheen on strings and Lebanese artist Jamey Hadded on percussion.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

Download Protest Songs and Perform Them For Friends!

I invite you to download a number of war protest songs that artists have released in the last week or so directly to the internet. Here are links to some of these songs; you'll have to cut-and-paste them into your browser to use them. I also encourage other noders to node these songs, as they provide effective commentary on political perspectives on the war. Note: if you have links to other songs or better links to these, let me know by email at tes@writedream.net. Also, note that I am trying to keep this list of reasonable length with non-obscure artists; please don't send me mp3's of your local garage band putting out a two chord song of rage.

The Beastie Boys - In A World Gone Mad - http://demand1.stream.aol.com/ramgen/timeinc/uk/ipcmedia/nme/audio/mar03/BeastieBoys.rm
Zack de la Rocha with DJ Shadow - March of Death - http://bitpimps.com/happy_times/Zack%20de%20la%20Rocha%20and%20DJ%20Shadow%20-%20March%20of%20Death.mp3
Mick Jones (formerly of The Clash) - Why Do Men Fight? - http://www.poptones.co.uk/news.shtml
Lenny Kravitz with Kadim Al Sahir - We Want Peace - http://www.lennykravitz.com/rockthevote/index_popup.asp
Madonna - American Life - http://www.toto691.co.uk/Madonna_American_Life_192.mp3
John Mellencamp - To Washington - http://www.mellencamp.com/news/old_news/John_Mellencamp_To_Washington.mp3
REM - The Final Straw - http://www.remhq.com/finalStraw/finalstraw.html
Cat Stevens - Peace Train - http://www.yusufislam.org.uk/audio/peacetrain.shtml
Saul Williams / Cold Cut / DJ Spooky - 6-track EP, including Pledge of Resistance, September 12th, and Bloodletting - http://www.notinournamemusic.com/home.php
Yoko Ono - Give Peace A Chance - http://www.eastwest.nu/mp3.mp3


Lent Diary, Day 22

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

I had previously believed that Easter was coming as soon as April 13, 2002. It turns out I was wrong, and my discipline will go on longer than expected.

It rather took me by surprise, this discovery, as I had made plans for the week of the 14th to eat lunch with several people who I have been postponing recently, so now I'm busy rescheduling lunch dates.

It will build my strength, though.

Well, it looks as though I’ve lost my fight to keep custody of my daughter on the week on/week off basis that, for me, has worked so well over the years. I don’t know if “lost” is the right word, maybe I’m just tired of fighting. Maybe I just don’t have the worldly resources available to compete with my ex when it comes to dealing with attorneys and the courts and any other of the so called “powers that be” that seem to make decisions that are incomprehensible. Maybe I’ve just been worn down emotionally to such an extent that I just can’t deal with the thought of fighting any more. I feel guilty about that, I feel like I’ve surrendered in some way. Surrendered to forces who know nothing of the relationship we’ve established in her short life-time.

I never thought that I would say this about another human being but I’ve come to despise my kids mom in ways I’d never imagined. I don’t like myself for feeling like that but truth be told, that about sums it up. She’s a public defender who pretends to fight the good fight for those who can’t afford a so-called “real” attorney and I respect her for that. The thing is, she treats her clients better than she treats the father of her own child. Once again her selfishness has driven a wedge between my daughter and me. All of this is over money, a concept that my daughter can’t understand and I wouldn’t want her to. It isn’t healthy for either of us. This isn’t the first time that the battle over money has been brought up, it rears its ugly head every couple of years.

It looks like I’m going to go the route of many other single fathers out there. You know, the every other weekend kinda dad who is sometimes so far removed from their kids life that they try and cram all of the good times into a 48 hour period. Sure, I’ll make the occasional phone call during the week to find out what’s happening in her life but to me, it just won’t be the same.

Some of my friends and co-workers have told me that in a way, this will be a good thing, that I’ll have more time to figure myself out and do things I couldn’t do before. To them I say, thanks, but I already had myself figured out and there really wasn’t much in the way of things to do that I was missing. I’ve been to enough parties, events, social gatherings and whatnot to last a lifetime. It’s not like I was missing anything at all. In fact, I felt as though they might have been missing something.

In no particular order, here’s a couple of things I’m gonna miss ‘bout my kid. They’re really quite simple…

Tucking her in at night Waking her up in the morning
Making breakfast
Packing her lunch for school
Holding her hand as we walked around the neighborhood.
Her questions, her amazing questions
Her face, happy or sad
Picking her up from school
Her voice
Teaching her all sorts of things

Shit, who’s kidding who, I’m going to miss it all.

/me is very sad today…and probably will be for some time to come….

Sorry, I just had to let it out.

And so now I must make a decision in my life that is hard, one that may not appear hard to others but is quite nearly heartbreaking for me. I have to decide whether I want to give up writing or keep taking my anti-anxiety meds. Since this war started, I've suffered from terrible anxiety attacks and nightmares, insomnia, fits of crying, anger...it's been the worst since 9/11, which nearly had my husband taking me to the hospital. So I went to the doctor and she first prescribed Zyprexa which turned me into a total zombie, so I changed to Clonazepam twice daily.

Don't get me wrong. It helps. I sleep very well now, the nightmares have gone away, I am able to watch news coverage without feeling like I'm having a heart attack. But the downside is that I can't write. My mind is so quiet, so calm, so dulled that I have no creative drive. I stare at blank pieces of paper, at my journal, at my novel that I'm trying to rewrite, and nothing comes. My eyes wander around the room and I end up just going to take a nap or a bath or to sit in front of the t.v. I don't sketch anymore, don't knit, don't sew. I sit calmly and flip through magazines I've read three times and watch television. But I am calm. I relish being calm, because I can't handle, my body can't handle being scared.

But I had a day once, a day I miss so terribly, where I sat in front of my computer and wrote 23 pages of a short story without stopping. My brain never slowed down until I had wrung every word from it. And now, there's nothing, not a sentence, a paragraph. I have no desire to do it. My desires are for sleep and staring.

Is it worth it?

Inpatriation

After nine years living in Belgium, my time as an expat is nearly up for now. Chairman Miao, my last companion here, has been taken off to what felt to me like a prison cell and I'm quite alone in a house packed of boxes full of my life, trying to list and prioritise the items to be taken and the stuff to be abandoned for the removal, strictly no more than 20 m3. The movers will be here at 08.30 tomorrow, so sometime this evening this machine, my lifeline and my addiction and my route to all of you and many others, goes into a box, and it will be in the hands of everyone's favourite telecoms provider as to when I will be able to get anything more than a fleeting borrowed Internet connection. Which might seem trivial touchy feely stuff, but it's also the only way I have of earning money and continuing to feed my kids, so wish me luck.

We realised rather late how stupid we had been. Problems with our dealings with the incredibly complex (and more complex because of its alien quality) Belgian tax system should have been clear even before the day that both my father-in-law and our accountant died, and the lingering shock of bereavement was probably a factor in our rather head-in-the-sand approach to finance. But even before that we had precipitately bought a house in order to remain in the same village where our sons had started school, a house that turned out to have more things wrong with it than we could count, a village in which, for all the amiability we were shown, we had no friends, and a school which, despite the initial promise, could not in the end provide proper care for Dan, who has Down's Syndrome.

The house will now, I guess, be fought over between the fisc and the bank; we will still be in debt to one or the other to more than the value of our assets, which is the definition of being bankrupt. But more important was the deteriorating state of family relationships, as my wife struggled to keep the ship afloat while I unhelpfully - in a household where we both live and work together, 24 hours a day in each other's pockets - retreated into myself and into the 1024x768 bright dots that sit between me and you. In January we realised that the situation really had become unsustainable, and that the two of us were both spiralling into what to our admittedly amateur eyes looked like clinical depression. So we're going back to Blighty, somewhere where there are old friends and new ones, networks of people who are at least a bit like us, and systems we understand, and a clean start. It will not be easy but it will be better.

Some of you out there who have been party to my mid-life crisis peregrinations over the last couple of months will be aware that the story is of course not quite that simple, but that is the gist of it. My elder son, aged 7, has already started at his new school, taught in English for the first time by someone other than his parents, but his French will I think always be better than mine; I hope I can help him keep in contact with the friends that he has here. His brother is in good hands. The new house has a little riding school at the back, and fitted carpets in that peculiarly obsessive British way that will undoubtedly be getting muddy already (priority item: vacuum cleaner), and plumbing that has undoubtedly been repaired since the war and walls that have probably never been damaged by shelling. I will no longer have the excuse of being a foreigner. There are many things about Belgium that I shall miss, but they seem to have got, if not fewer, less important by and by.

I'm on my way home. Maybe I'll see you there.

Man, do I love war. I love how it effects everyone's life in it's different ways. If you're a fan of Pardon The Interruption, a sports talk show on ESPN, the you are well aware of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon's position that sports must be played so American life can continue as it normally does. I agree with this, but this is not the point of this little rant. About a week ago, during an NHL game in Montreal, fans booed the American National Anthem. While I can recognize this as a free-speech thing, it is rather uncouth. Hell, I disagree with what's going on out in the desert, but you have to display your point in a quasi-intelligent manner. Booing another nation's national anthem just ain't cool. Plus, I can only imagine the flak the Candiens received during their first game on US soil.

However, we, Americans I mean, cannot be completely upset at the actions of those Canadian hockey fans. In a recent golf tournament, PGA tour member Thomas Levet was taunted for being the only frenchmen at the tournament. Those with some semblance of current events could imagine what they were taunting about. While I am not an expert on France's current government, I believe it is safe to say that Levet had nothing to do with France's position towards the military excursion in the Middle East. I know us Americans are not the smartest people in the world, but this is just absurd. Sports are entertainment, they hold absolutely no standing in real world events, unless you count certain Olympic boycotts and whatnot, but that is a different situation than a golf tournament and a NHL game.. Let them play. If you heckle, heckle because they threw up an airball, or they're an asshole and beat their wife. There is no need to hold an athlete responsible for the actions of his/her government, unless Jacques Chirac is putting, or George W. Bush is at the free-throw line.


For those who want to know how it turned out, the last enagement log was on March 14, 2003.

I have a theory that my world is in some sort of time envelope, in which Wednesdays always go slower then any of my other days. Every hour seems to drag by like one whole day. Boredom seaps in on Wednesdays. Something happened to me today though that if you don't read on, you will skip the most interesting part of it.

I didn't have to work today, so I spent most of my day laying around and reading. I could hear the mechanical humming of the bulldozers outside my window on this sunny day. It's so hard to concentrate on reading when you have the constant humming in your head, so I decided to wander outside. My neighborhood is a developing one with houses popping up like daisies after a wet spring day. It can be slightly annoying with all the noise the construction machines make and all the pounding of hammers and screeching of drills.

Walking down the street I saw that almost every single house looks exactly alike except for a slight difference in color which I never really noticed before. I stopped for awhile at the end of the street, just to bask in the glow of the sun and listen to the whisper of the wind. I panned my view around where I was standing, like I was looking for something, but I couldn't see much. No one was around except a few construction guys, but that was a couple blocks over.

Suddenly, I saw at the other end of the street a woman. She was about 200 feet away, just standing there. She was dressed in a white flower patterned summer dress. She had blonde hair and I couldn't really tell her height from the distance I was at, but she seemed about 6 feet tall. I squinted to get a better look at her, but I didn't want to look like I was staring. She looked very pretty. Her skin was sort of tan and her face had a smooth complexion. It was weird just to see her standing there, staring at me, with absolutely no smile or expression and I stared back. I looked away for a couple seconds, because I didn't want to seem like some sort of staring weirdo. When I looked back, she was gone. I looked around and walked up the street some, but she was nowhere. I don't know if she was a ghost, an angel or just a very quick human, but whatever she was, she was one of the most intriguing and odd things I have ever seen.

What would it take?

Let's see... What do we know for sure about this guy Saddam? His first, entry-level job was assassin. His work was satisfactory and he advanced steadily in his Ba'th party. After a decade of violent swings (including exile and imprisonment for Saddam), the party took over Iraq and Saddam became Vice President. Under President Bakr (who was elected), Iraq experienced a decade of rising standards of living, improved health care and improved infrastructure. When his boss resigned in 1979, Saddam took over Iraq. Six days later he set the tone for his administration by having 20 party members executed for "conspiracy".

Soon afterward, he invaded Iran. The conflict was long and bloody and millions (including many thousands of civilians) died. Saddam even used weapons of mass destruction during the conflict. The unsuccessful war bankrupted the country and poverty soared. In 1990, he invaded and raped Kuwait; again killing thousands of civilians in the process. Foreigners in Kuwait, including Americans, were rounded up, beaten, imprisoned and killed. The country was bashed and looted. When the US forced him out, Saddam set the oil wells on fire and flooded the sea with oil; doing massive harm to the environment. He used is own people as human shields and he used humanitarian facilities (such as hospitals) as military facilities.

At the end of the first Gulf War, Saddam signed a cease fire that allowed him to stay in power, but only if he disarmed and then proved his disarmament to UN inspectors (the burden of proof was always on him, not the inspectors). Various populations of his people tried to rise up against him, and he put down the revolts with all means at his disposal, including chemical weapons. More than a hundred thousand more civilians were killed.

His regime stays in power by the daily use of murder and torture. Under the "oil for food" program of the UN, Iraq was allowed to sell oil to buy food, but not weapons. Saddam diverted much of the money, however, to military uses and to build dozens of fabulous palaces for himself and his supporters. Despite these billions of dollars of oil money coming into the country each year, about 60,000 Iraqis, mostly children and the elderly, die of deprivation. That's sixty thousand, every year.

It's interesting to note that this UPI story didn't get much play:

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030321-023627-5923r

From the story:

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality."
Evidently, the Iraqi's told the human shields a thing or two that caused them to rethink their positions. Some of the Iraqi's told them that they would commit suicide if the bombing didn't start soon. They were "willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny". They told stories of "slow torture and killing" that made the young pastor physically ill. This isn't coming from slanted media reports or government propaganda, this is from human shield volunteers who found reality in Iraq.

After all of this, George Bush is the one condemned when he labels Saddam "evil".

You have to wonder then, what would it take for the peace-lovers in America to think Saddam was evil? It's not like those who condemn Bush for the war aren't capable of labeling things evil. Despite the modern trend toward moral relativism, moral condemnation is actually thriving. These are the same people, by and large, who will call a corporate CEO - who hasn't even killed anyone - evil at the drop of a hat. They will call a politician who disagrees with their environmental stance evil every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Just not Saddam. If George Bush just destroyed one massive wetlands area (as Saddam has done) they would call for the death penalty. They're perfectly willing to use the "evil" label, just not on Saddam, not seriously.

I think for most of them the problem is that, if they're willing to concede that Saddam is truly evil (and all that such a label entails), then the war has justification. If you admit he's as evil as he obviously is, then removing him from power is the duty of every good-minded world citizen. These people hate George Bush, however, with such passion that they don't really care how bad Saddam is for the Iraqi people. They will oppose anything Bush tries to do with intense fervor, regardless of its morality. Even peace is completely secondary to their hatred of Bush. If you're one of these people, ask yourself, "what do I hate more, war or George Bush?" The answer will tell you if you're in the group I'm talking about.

I'm willing to forgive the peace-niks of most other nations. Many of them don't have access to good information. A state-run Egyptian newspaper, for example, told its readers that the US was deliberately dropping tainted, genetically modified food on the Afghan people, so that they would get sick and die when they ate it. When that's the information you have to go on, you've got to hate the US with a passion. All we can do is work toward opening up their societies; doing good works won't help if they never hear about them.

Americans, however, have no such excuse. They have access to the truth, even if they have to do some work to sort it out of the many different biases. To be confronted with such evil and desire to appease, delay, "inspect" or simply do nothing is to shirk your duty as a world citizen. None of these actions help the Iraqi people.

I don't really care about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction or his designs on neighboring countries. These are bad things, but nothing compared to his abuse of his own people. Even the 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center pale by comparison. I care that the Iraqi people get their basic human rights and the freedom to choose a life of their own. I would risk my life to get that for myself, I have to think that they would do the same.

Clearly, Saddam isn't just mainstream evil. He's one of the Evil All Stars, he's going to get a place in the Evil Hall of Fame. His picture will be just down the isle from Hitler and Stalin, across from Pol Pot. People reading this as history many years from now will see him in the same light that we now see the other Evil All Stars: they'll be amazed that he was allowed to go so long unchecked.

What would it take for most American war protesters to admit that Saddam is evil enough to be forcibly removed from power? Evidently, it would take each of them being sent to Iraq to hear it from the source. It's sad that their hatred of the President has pushed them to that extreme.

Once we're done with Saddam, let's go after the next most evil dictator, until we run out of them.

Washington shifts strategy away from "Shock and Awe"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Military planners in Washington have grudgingly admitted their "Shock and Awe" air campaign has not been entirely effective. It was hoped several nights of sustained bombing would cause Iraqi generals and elite troops defending their homeland from foreign subjugation to simply give up and accept an American military government.

"We've scaled back our Shock and Awe campaign," said Joint Chiefs Vice Director Maj. Gen. Overs Sanguine. "Instead we're implementing a back up strategy called Concern and Miff."

Gen. Sanguine, standing before several aerial photos of buildings destroyed by cruise missiles and F-117 Stealth Fighter strikes, explained during his daily press briefing why Shock and Awe has had mixed results.

"Our plan was to eliminate key Iraqi command and control elements. Night bombing raids were meant to take out government buildings and Baathist Party office complexes in downtown Baghdad and decimate their leadership. But apparently, no one in Baghdad works at night. Aside from cleaning staff, it turns out most of those buildings were empty when we blew them up."

Gen. Sanguine added the recent surrender of Local 410 of the Union of Iraqi Custodial Workers in Basra is evidence that Saddam is losing control of his infrastructure, if not his ability to keep offices tidy.

British Royal Marine Major Archibald Trebuchet described it as "the mother of all walk outs". "They threw down their mops without a fight. Poor sods were even more demoralized than a Thatcher-era British coal miner."

An unnamed government source offered a more candid explanation why Shock and Awe did not achieve desired results. The source indicated CIA analysts failed to learn that most Iraqi government workers keep a 9-5 schedule and rarely, if ever, work at night.

"Many Iraqi government employees actually clock out around 4:30 pm," stated another highly placed confidential source within Baghdad itself.

Despite Shock and Awe's apparent failure, Gen. Sanguine is resolute in his assertion that Concern and Miff has already achieved its goals.

"Those government workers no longer have day jobs," stated Gen. Sanguine and then added after a brief pause "Or desks. If your job was in doubt, wouldn't you be concerned? And if you saw your office building leveled, wouldn't you be miffed knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that your Dilbert mug was no more? I remember once I accidentally broke my secretary's Edvard Munch The Scream coffee tumbler and she made sure my photocopy jobs went to the bottom of her In Box pile for weeks after."

Does anyone else feel that perhaps an ex-Hallmark employee is in charge of the attack strategy naming? First there was "Shock and Awe," a plan to bomb everything to smithereens and hope the war is over within 12 hours. My inital impression of this plan was that it should simply be called "Gratuitous." Unfortunately, I'm not in charge of naming. Furthermore, this entire plan is called "Operation Iraqi Freedom." How dull is that? That's like naming the Lord of the Flies, "Kids on Island Acting Like Savages."

I'll be completely forthright, I have no idea what's going on in the Middle East. Not only am I not keeping up with the news, but I'm purposely skipping the sections in the news mentioning anything in that vicinity. Which means that an entire newspaper can be finished in about 30 seconds, especially the New York Times. My reasoning for this is two fold. First of all, it's simply propoganda. We're not getting the real story by any stretch of the imagination. I won't encourage the bias that is so prevalent in all newspapers. Secondly, we're being inundated with information. Only one out of five articles actually provide some new and vital piece of information, the rest is absolute filler. There's often a new article describing in 1,000 words that nothing has changed since yesterday. On the television there are newscasts about miscellaneous pieces of artillery or some mundane military facts to give us our "fill." Fault can't be placed on the shoulder of news agencies, they're simply selling a product. We're the ones eating this stuff up with a spoon. Am I responsible American? No, I'm not even American to be honest, but I do live here and realize it's the most advanced and opportunistic country in the world. These are simply my reasons for not partaking in this sadism.

Let me provide you with an interesting tale of a recent development on my college campus. I go to a New England area state-run university with approximately 12,000 students. Last week we had Spring Break, and on our return we were meet with a posting that said this:

"It is difficult during times like we are currently experiencing to determine what actions should or should not be taken. Actions need to be prudent and not unnecessarily contribute to creating a climate of fear. One action that the Department of Housing feel is prudent to take is the locking of our residence halls and apartments on a 24 hour basis. This is a condition that many college and universities have as a matter of routine policy.
This university is infamous for the procrastination of any actions due to it's fierce belief in a democratic process. This leads to continual debate and argument over the most minute issues. This action occured with no premonition or discussion. While they do make the claim that it's a routine process in many schools, those schools are in more urban and dangerous areas. We're a rural town with little to no trouble with the law (outside of underage drinking of course). So this is creating a climate of fear, because we can't get into our apartments in the middle of the afternoon if we're not carrying some form of identification.

Repeat after me: "This is simply a tactic to give some upperlevel decision makers a false sense of security." The entire premise that this protects us in any way is ludicrous, and let me explain why. If a terrorist was to decide that this medium-sized college was a worthy bombing target in their campaign, how would locking our dormitory buildings fend this off? It's unlikely that they'd only use a small bomb that can be carried by hand inside a building. Therefore what we're looking at is probably a van full of exposives. How will locked buildings hinder this attack? It won't. On top of that, if the bomb was handheld they'd want a concentration of civilians, and a dormitory is far from that. We're split into hallways of 20 rooms with only 2-3 students in each.

Next is the possibility of a hostage situation. Let me just state here that all these events could happen by any lunatic, and simply saying that terrorists from the countries we're at war with is a horrible generalization. Let's remember that the second worst terrorist bombing came from an American in Oklahoma City, and not an individual of Middle Eastern decent. Back to my point, let's juggle the idea of a hostage situation. I've already explained that our dorms are a long hall of many rooms with few students in each. This would be a very difficult hostage situation, unless the intention was only for a handful of victims. As historically shown, hostage situations meant to convey a message usually require a large group of people and an area sizable enough to house them. Obviously, either a classroom or a conference room in our community center would best suit this purpose.

So those are my arguments as to why I believe the University is only inconveniencing students, and not creating a safer environment. The school paper would probably be a more apt place for this rebuttal, but it would certainly be met by severe reactions from my overly sensitive campus. That's if it was even printed, which would be a feat on its own. Maybe my claims are way off track, or there's a simple explanation that hasn't occured to me yet. If anyone knows, enlighten me.

This evening, I endured my (so far) worst physical injury ever.

Mel left in the morning for Queensland, a holiday-slash-move of indeterminate length which she's planned for a while. Wednesday is my day off work ever since the maths PhD commenced, so I went into uni, showed what work I'd done to my supervisor, and then headed back home with Dana, whom I'd bumped in the courtyard near the maths building. We share not only an aptitude for maths but for heavy drinking, this latter being the one we soon decided to hone. Next thing you know, it was six hours later and we'd been joined in my loungeroom by a handful of similarly skilled chemical practitioners, and things were flowing along nicely. Christ knows how many cones I smoked along with the beer (both cunningly ingested on an almost-empty stomach), but soon enough I felt like I was greening out and retired to bed for a mid-party powernap.

Half an hour or so later, I got up and started preparing an adhoc meal amongst the crowd in the kitchen. Standing up took its toll, however, and feeling quite woozy I headed back to bed for recovery attempt two. I didn't make it.

Next thing I know, I awake on the loungeroom floor. For some reason, I was unsurprised to be "napping" in this location. Fucking hell, though, there was some definite oral discomfort. In fact, are those chips of tooth floating around in there? Damn, I must have been grinding my teeth like a motherfucker. No point moving, though, it's comfy down here.

I'm told that at some point during my unconsciousness, Gid found me face down, and in his crazymofo way requested to be allowed to walk on my back. Who was I to argue? Who was I to move any part of my body at all, come to think of it? So apparently he trod on my back, then I rolled over and he saw my face and was filled with horror. Inexplicably, though, he soon brushed the sight from his mind, and with the explanation "You scared me for a second!", left the room. Shaun, who was sitting near me as I "napped" and listening to The White Album, noticed the fear briefly cross Gid's face and then pass, from which he presumed I'd pulled a scary face (or something) and that nothing was wrong.

A minute later, though, I roll over again and Shaun freaks out and all of a sudden I'm wider awake as I become the centre of attention and everyone is demanding "what the HELL did you do?" and I'm like, I dunno, what, why, what's wrong?, until the blood all over my chin surprises me and my teeth feel like a shattered wreck and Shaun demands to be allowed to look in my mouth, this request granted on my insistence that he not freak out... so he braces himself and peers into the mess that was my expensive orthodontistry and says "Dude... it's not good".

Anyway, no-one saw shit and I don't remember shit, so I end up guessing that I lost consciousness near the bedroom door and bust my chin open and shattered my teeth as my head hit the floor or the wall or some furniture or something, in any case, far less comfortable than the pillow I'd been headed for. (Later I learn that I'd likely been developing pneumonia--the deserved result of inhaling carcinogens on top of a lingering cold--and fainted due to this, plus pot, plus beer, plus no food. What a dickhead.)

Soon enough, Renee and Matt come with me to the emergency room at John Hunter Hospital in Kristy's car and I'm taken in and stitched up (the worst bit, of course, is administration of the local anaesthetic) and X-rayed and told that my jaw's broken, more on which (if I get around to it) in another daylog. And the first of many shitty nights unfolds as I sleep (yeah, right) in the emergency ward and listen to the dickheads passing through around me. (One, in particular, sticks in my memory. An 18yr-old with an attitude huger than he thinks his balls are called Andrew, who obviously got his head split open in a fight but who manufactures a ridiculous story about jumping into rocky water instead, all delivered in his arrogant fuckyou tone, boasts that he "wasn't KOed" this time like he was the other night and generally makes a pain of himself. Including refusal to hold still while he's being stitched, and loud complaints about said procedure betraying that his manliness isn't quite as huge as he acts it is. All this, mixed in with his tearful bonding with an equally repugnant dickhead whose wife is in the bed near mine, and who belligerently questions the (female, foreign) doctor attending her before saying, in her full earshot, "she doesn't know what she's on about" and choosing Andrew (birds of a feather) as his preferred conversational partner rather than staying to hear the prognosis.)

Am writing this after the whole ordeal's progressed somewhat... so more to come.

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