Archive for October 14th, 2002
“Here comes the man…….with the auger in his hand….he’s going to bore a hole-a…….bore a hole-a…….bore a hole-a….bore a hole-a!”
Oh, how I feared that sound as a child. Dad would intone it in a dead monotone that sounded like a zombie Voice of Doom, his finger spiraling in slowly towards his target, then faster and faster, the pitch in his voice rising the faster his finger went, until it inevitably attempted to drill a hole into some ticklish portion of the anatomy. Eventually all he had to do to drive his children from a room was to intone “Here comes the Man” in a suitably suspenseful voice; convenient when he desired a nice peaceful little lie-down on the couch.
I don’t ever remember liking it, not that the memory has stopped me from inflicting it on Ngnat, who absolutely adores it….for the moment. I suspect that in a couple of years she’ll come to hate it as much as I did as a child, as I follow my dad down the same path of futility, resorting to ever more frenzied measures in order to produce the same innocent toddler delight I receive now–from a jaded and cynical kindergartner.
But that’s in the future. For now it’s the latest and greatest in the Daddy bag of tricks, so effective that I got her to shriek in faux terror and collapse onto the floor tonight just by turning my head ever so slightly and extending my index finger. She gets some of her own back occasionally, turning her finger in little circles, then jabbing at me.
“Heah comma man, nana ina han…….bora hola!,” chuckling as I mime an extreme ticklish reaction. “Do again?”
So we do again, or we do momma, or the cats, who ignore the first part of the ritual, then stare at us in astonishment and stalk stiffly away after a bora hola! interrupts their nap on the couch, and a tiny finger or two bumps along their rib cage.
These are new times, though, and modern times call for new techniques to supplement the old in the area of tickle technologies. She’ll be lying on the floor, kicking at me with a kind of joyful viciousness, and I’ll switch from the slow torture of the auger chant to something several warps speeds beyond it, from longish period of horrifying anticipation…..poke to pokepokepokepokepokepokepokeppoke. Unlike the auger…poem?, for which I have been unable to find an origin, I know exactly where this tickle chant comes from. I don’t know why this particular bit of life’s detritus popped out of my head when it came time to tickle the toddler, but it seems to fit.
Interesting times In Indonesia
If the bombing in Bali has proven anything, it’s that you don’t have to co-operate with the U.S. in the WoT, but not doing so is worse in the long run. According to the CIA factbook, 42% of Indonesia’s economy is service based, which basically means tourism. That’s going to be in the toilet for a while, which ought to point out to the rest of Southeast Asia that allowing terrorists to operate without hindrance is a recipe for economic disaster.
The attack could also serve as an illustration of how well we are actually doing in the war on Al-Qaeda. All of their recent actions, assuming that the Maryland sniper is a home grown crazy, have come come in areas where the organization doesn’t have to go very far from its base in order to attack the West. The shootings in Kuwait, the attack on the French tanker near Yemen and the explosion in Bali are a direct result of a dramatic reduction in Al-Qaeda’s ability to project power. The consequences of this attack will include a further reduction in that power, as the Southeast Asian governments now have a powerful motive to root out the cells in their respective countries.
It’s an open question whether Indonesia can follow such a path without falling into civil war. Despite charges of clear ties between Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah by neighboring countries, no one in Indonesia has officially said anything about Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bali bombing, even though three days before the Bali attacks the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, had threatened the Indonesian government with jihad. Up until the attack, many Muslim Indonesians summarily dismissed Western claims of internal terrorists, so we can expect them to seize at any number of straws in an attempt to save face. President Sukarnoputri can’t depend on the military, which is still smarting from its defeat in East Timor. Her Vice President, Hamzah Haz, is the leader of the the Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, and paid a personal visit to Ba’asyir back in May, seeking his support for a run at the Indonesian presidency in 2004.
I suspect that a lot of what happens in the near future is going to depend on Hamzah Haz, as he balances plans for that run against the security and economy of the Indonesian state. Ba’asyir has already thrown down the gauntlet by declaring that the U.S. engineered the bombing in order to portray Indonesia as a terrorist haven. Arresting him will likely involve big repercussions, and how Hamzah jumps when those repercussions arise will determine how easy or hard clearing Al-Qaeda out of Indonesia will be. I’ll bet that in any case the Australian military will be heavily involved in the area. That nightclub explosion is going to be Australia’s 9/11, and will do a lot to bind that country even closer to the U.S. in future actions.
Freak Freak Freak
Howdy Howdy Howdy! to our visitor from the Albany Law School, who came via a Google search for blog blog blog penis penis penis penis penetrate penetrate penetrate feel feel feel
I guess it’s true, lawyers do everything in triplicate.
Grabbing the Third Rail
Congress should make it easier to identify ammunition and the weapons of individual destruction that fire it. Gun registration’s time has come.
If you think of Safire only as the token conservative on the op-ed pages of the NYT, this might come as a bit of a shock. This is because gun-control, like abortion, is portrayed by the the sides arguing over it as a black and white issue, where you are either on the side of the angels or on that of evil incarnate. It’s not just the media’s fault, even though the desire to tell a simple story helps to perpetuate that perception. The Brady Center and the NRA depend on that moral division for fundraising. The idea that those two will find some common ground on the issue is about as likely as Jane Fonda giving Rush Limbaugh slow, deep tongue kisses in front of the Vietnam War Memorial.
The large, sweaty man with the garish tie glared at her. His dark eyes were hungry, feral. Jane found him repellent, yet a frisson of delight trilled its way up her spine as he rubbed his thick, sausage-like fingers across his bald pate.
“Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream,” he growled.
Her breath quickened, and she swayed slightly, leaving a slight sheen of perspiration where her hips brushed up against the black marble. My god, she thought, that man needs some aerobic exercise. NO! He’s…he’s…. She grabbed his tie.
“C’mere fat man!” Jane pulled him in, her ribs creaking as his great bulk smashed her into the wall. Chubby hands lifted her up like a kitten as the crown around them stared, aghast…
Okay, you get the point.
In truth, Safire’s has had a more subtle take on gun issues than one might expect for years.
Comes now the emergence of a constitutional middle ground. The Murky Second is thus interpreted as a state right sometimes and as an individual right at other times. One day it’s James Madison, the next day it’s Madison James.
That can’t be right. Put another way, a right that is sometimes not a right is no right at all. After doing a great job on the First Amendment, the amending Founders botched the Second.
The intellectually lazy will say, “Let the Supremes sort it out.” I say, let the people decide a political issue. Either we’re serious about our right to gun ownership or we’re serious about our need for gun control.
Here’s how to fix a flawed amendment that is the source of so much confusion: Repeal its ambiguous preamble. Let some member of Congress introduce an amendment to strike the words before the comma in the Second Amendment.
Then vote the amendment up or down. If it fails to pass, stop arguing and compromise on nibbling. If Congress passes repeal, let ratification be fought out in the states, where representatives closest to the people can decide on strict licensing.
That’s the decisive, constitutional way to come to grips with the abomination of too many handguns in trigger-happy hands.
Gun control is the third rail of warblogging. People who agree on many of the same issues on Iraq will pull out the long knives and start swinging once the topic switches from foreign policy to gun registration. But Safire’s suggestion makes sense to me, and has the added value of attempting to force the gun debaters out of the well worn rhetorical ruts they’re in now. Let gun control or no gun control programs bloom in 50 states, and we’ll find sensible solutions to the problem one way or another.
If I were a the head of gun right’s advocate group, or one of the nattering nabobs who regularly pop up on pundit TV, I’d be embracing that position. I think Safire is rushing to judgement too early on who is behind the shootings, but if the killer or killers do turn out to be home-grown, there’s going to be a new clamor for gun control, and Republican administrations are just as likely to pass gun control bills as Democratic ones. Bush has already demonstrated a history of abandoning Republican ideals for political gain with his positions on steel tariffs and the farm bill. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t also turn equally feckless on gun control if Karl Rove told him it was politically expedient.
Failing Safire’s solution, I have to say I would come down in favor of gun registration, two of the main arguments against which are “It won’t work” and “Slippery slope.” The first argument is at least partially correct in that it will do little to deter shootings, and will not aid in tracing down the culprit in every shooting. Of course, it will aid in tracing down the culprits in some shootings, and can also rule out suspects in others, something that would allow law enforcement authorities to focus resources on more likely leads. The slippery slope argument to me is a more potent one, summarized here.
Registration lists have led to gun confiscation in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Soviet Georgia and other countries. It has also happened here, and the history of firearms registration in New York City is particularly instructive.
In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring a citizen to obtain a permit to own a rifle or shotgun, which would then be registered. Concerns over the potential use of those registration lists to confiscate guns in the future were dismissed as paranoia. In 1991, gun owners’ legitimate fears were realized, when the city passed a ban on the private possession of some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, despite the police commissioner’s testimony that no registered firearms of the types banned had been used in violent crimes in the city. New Yorkers who had been licensed earlier to possess semi-automatic rifles and shotguns were told that any licensed firearms that were covered by the ban had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable or taken out of the city. They were warned that they might be subject to “spot checks.”
The slippery slope argument is persuasive because it states that once a government knows where the guns are it will eventually come to take the guns away. Essentially, a gun-rights advocate must fight any gun law that could theoretically lay the basis for a future law that results in a diminution of gun rights. It is an argument that relies at its base on a distrust in government, a sentiment which is hard to argue with. Were we living under an E.U. government, I would find the argument more appealing, but I think the divisions that have sprung up between the U.S. and Europe on the War on Terror have demonstrated exactly how far we are from a government with a European sensibility. Reasonable people may disagree with that statement, of course.
There are already reliable ways of telling who and who is not a gun owner if the government really wanted to start taking guns away. Hunting permits, for one, shooting club memberships for another. The government can already tell who many of the gun owners are, if the government decides it needs to. That particular privacy exists as a fiction only, so I don’t see what other rights are taken away by a registration database for individual guns. Again, I’d prefer this to be on the state level, like automobile registration, for the the somewhat better efficiency in the process if nothing else.* There is also at least one case where a democracy registers guns but has not confiscated them en masse, Israel.
*I was ready to make a reference to the Niven short story “The Deadlier Weapon”, but I couldn’t find a good link.
Who’s Training Who?
Raising a child is an awesome responsibility…………but beyond that it is a chance to teach a little kid neat tricks to impress your friends with. No, I don’t think of my child as the family pet………the pet’s tricks aren’t nearly as cool. But, in only the way that she can, the Bug lets me know that she is still in charge. Sure, I work and work on teaching a new trick, like saying, “Go State,” or “Big poo-poo, da-da,” but they are only cool if she shares them in front of other people.
Therein lies the problem. There are times when I swear she is just mad at me for something and decides that she is not going to show off her new trick, no matter what carrot you dangle in front of her……….although cookies do appear to be her kryptonite. Yep, friends come over, I’ve worked with her on a trick sure to impress the buddies and embarrass the wife, I ask my question of the Bug, and instead of showing off she does her best Michigan J. Frog impression and acts as though she cannot hear a word I am saying (Rrrribbitt!!). It is as though she has on earphones that do not allow the slightest bit of sound to permeate their lead walls.
So, we do her tricks when she wants to, and not a minute sooner. It’s her world, I am only renting it.