The respective rebellions of Burma’s (or Myanmar, as its government prefers it be called) three largest ethnic minorities are, for once, all aflame at the same time. At Asia Times Online, Brian McCartan writes: “Myanmar moved closer to civil war in recent weeks after fighting broke out in Kachin State,” thus breaking its ceasefire with Burma’s ruling junta. “Myanmar’s newly elected government now faces ethnic insurgencies on three separate fronts,” thus putting at risk “Myanmar’s development and international confidence in its supposed democratic transition.”
“In the southeast,” meanwhile, a revolt by “the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) on November 7, 2010, election day, resulted in the temporary seizure of two important border towns.” What’s significant about this is that, despite the noble sentiments suggested by its name, the DKBA had been allied with the government. Continue reading →
The sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC), a large gathering of human-caused climate disruption deniers that is sponsored by the Heartland Institute, opens tomorrow morning. The frontpage for the conference website makes a number of misleading or false statements, but one phrase that caught my eye was “The scientists speaking at this conference…” This list of speakers contains so few actual scientists (and even fewer climate scientists) that labeling the speakers as “scientists” is misleading.
Let’s take a quick look at the speakers:
Tim Ball: Ball has a PhD, but in geography, not climatology, and so calling him a “scientist” may or may not be accurate. Regardless, Ball has a history of padding his resume and filing lawsuits against people who point out that he’s padded his resume. For a long list of Ball’s ethical challenges, please visit DeSmogBlog’s profile.
Typical of articles calling the Taliban attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul a “showcase for their abilities” and a “carefully orchestrated operation” is this from the Daily Beast:
[The Taliban] had proven once again that insurgents can strike just about any time and anywhere against their chosen targets, exposing the fragility of Kabul’s security just days before Afghan security forces are scheduled to take responsibility for securing the city and several other towns and provinces around the country in the wake of President Obama’s announcement of the phased U.S. military withdrawal.
Still, the eight attackers, all armed with suicide vests in addition to weapons, were killed. This begs the question: with its increasing tactical sophistication, why does the Taliban continue to rely on a technique that’s as strictly from hunger as suicide bombing? Continue reading →
What is an alien? Someone not of my own species? Of my own country (cue political flatulence)? Of my own neighborhood? How about of my own planet? How have governments used UFOs? All of these were subject to lively (but short) series of talks this evening at the British Library, where tonight’s talks focused on Aliens and the Imagination. We had a pretty good line-up—fantastic, in fact: Gwyneth Jones, one of my all time favorite SF writers; David Clarke, who among other things is the UFO consultant to the National Archives here; biologist and mathematician (and science and SF writers) Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart; film director Gareth Edwards, who brought us Monsters; and writer Mark Pilkington, who also helps run the Strange Attractor blog. As usual, I thought the problem was too many people and not enough time—but these are all really interesting people, and I could have sat there all evening. Too bad there was no time at the end for the speakers to ask each other questions, or for questions from the audience. Continue reading →
In case you missed it, America’s newest official candidate for the presidency, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, kicked off her campaign in her hometown of Waterloo, IA yesterday by confusing John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy. Honest mistake. Anybody could have made it.
I mean, it’s still odd. I know first-hand how attuned Iowans can be to their own local histories. Iowans by god know who was born in their town, and for Bachmann to mix up The Duke with a serial killer, to somehow mistake Waterloo for Winterset, well, that’s unusual.
I don’t often do confessional. Yeah, a lot of what I’m going through finds its way into my posts in symbolic fashion, perhaps, but I haven’t done much in the way of personal narrative about my life, even though I have encouraged other writers here to do just that. But maybe this little bit is worthy of a slow news day.
I’m hardly the first guy to get a divorce. My guess is that a lot of other guys in my situation will recognize the sensation of emptiness that consumes the first year (or perhaps longer) after you leave. Once you had a house. Once you had someone to share meals with. Maybe you had a yard and grass that needed mowing and even a small garden to weed. You may have been unhappy and unfulfilled, but you had a life. Continue reading →
Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry. 255 pages, $26.99, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY
by John Hanchette
This is a masterful non-fiction book about the game of baseball and its permeation of American society.
In particular, it describes a 33-inning marathon game in mid-April of 1981 (the longest professional or semi-professional contest in the history of our national sport) between the Pawtucket Red Sox, a Boston farm team, and the Rochester Red Wings, a Baltimore Orioles minor league club, both in the Triple-A International League.
The play-by-play description is interesting enough, but New York Times national columnist Dan Barry – one of the most skillful and talented writers currently on the national literary landscape – has made sure the recounting is much, much deeper than that. Barry has forged a hallmark of Americana. Continue reading →
OK, so what’s in today’s edition of the I-Told-You-So Gazette?
As expected, Pawlenty put folks to sleep during the first debate, Newt’s slime, sleaze and sloth continues to give his opponents more than enough to work with, and the publicity-chasing lightweights (that’s you, Herman) continue to fall by the wayside.
Also, last time out we discussed cognitive dissonance, when facts don’t jibe with pre-existing beliefs and the holder of the beliefs simply changes the facts to match the beliefs. This week the Queen of Cognitive Dissonance, Sarah I, provides us an exceptional example. Recently, she botched her explanation of Paul Revere’s ride. But rather than admitting her mistake, her followers piled on Wikipedia and changed the entry to match her inane version of events. Thankfully, the Wiki folks changed it back again, but some of the more conservative history sites are now using the Palin version. Continue reading →