Archive for August 15th, 2007

General Petraeus Presents

This surprises… no-one:

Despite Bush’s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report’s data.

See, the “Petraeus Report” is like those movies that are “presented” by some big-name director who actually had nothing to do with them. They’re packaged as “Wes Craven presents,” or “Quentin Tarantino presents,” but the director is usually some mediocre hack no-one’s ever heard of.

Stay tuned for the next big Iraq report early next year – I hear it’ll be written by General Alan Smithee.

August 15th, 2007 at 10:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

If You Can’t Create Your Own Reality, Just Custom Order It

This is kinda cool, in a depressing, what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-people kind of way:

“The problems of cartography are the same that exist in diplomatic relations,” said Stefano Strata, a co-director of Nova Rico, a company that has been making custom globes for 50 years in this small town near Florence better known for its terra cotta.

For mapmakers like Nova Rico, geographic disputes are commonplace. For a Turkish customer, Cyprus is shown split in two, a division that Greek Cypriots do not recognize. On one globe, Chile is given parts of Antarctica that on another globe go to Argentina. And in much of the Arab world, Israel is nonexistent.

(…)

When working on a commission, Mr. Strata and his business partner, Riccardo Donati, receive precise instructions, sometimes from government officials. In the 1980s, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq commissioned Nova Rico to draft a globe with all the Arab countries colored orange and the rest of the world yellow. Iraqi military advisers came to Impruneta to monitor production.

“It was clearly a political globe,” Mr. Strata said.

Sometimes, the problem is in the name. Mr. Donati recalled an Iranian diplomat who threatened to boycott a globe that called the gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran the Arabian Gulf, instead of the Persian Gulf.

(Threatened to boycott a globe? What does that even mean???)

Vladimiro Valerio, an expert in the history of cartography on the architecture faculty at the University of Venice, called mapmaking a blend of science and art. “Maps aren’t faithful portraits of reality but subjective constructions,” he said. “Maps reflect the design for which they are to be used. They reflect who commissioned it.”

In sum, he said, “cartographers don’t lie, but they take a position.”

(…)

Three centuries ago, said James R. Akerman of the Newberry Library in Chicago, “political boundaries were not as defined on maps in many instances, as they are now, and were often more fluid in practice, so cartographers did not give them the same level of attention that they do now.”

But changes like the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fragmentation of Yugoslavia have kept Nova Rico and other mapmakers in motion. “From the end of World War II to 1989 nothing changed, and we thought things would stay the same for another 100 years,” Mr. Donati said. “Luckily we are small and flexible, so things didn’t go so badly.”

Dubya will no doubt be ordering up a globe with “The United States Of Iraq” on it for the Oval Office any day now. He will stroke it continuously.

August 15th, 2007 at 06:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Politics

Downtown NYC Photoblogging

Some photos from downtown NYC:

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I found myself reminded of Rashomon for some reason…

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Which way to the out-of-place historical building, I wonder.

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Ah, there it is.

1 comment August 15th, 2007 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Great moments in military history:

DURING the Civil War, the Confederacy won a victory in the Battle of Chickamauga and the North’s need for more soldiers forced President Lincoln to create a new branch of the infantry.

“A fierce patriot, Lincoln felt that all Americans should do their part in the war,” said Civil War historian Daniel Grey. “That’s why the new infantry consisted of drafted infants.”

While the babies in this new infantry weren’t required to fight, they did serve other functions. They were first used in military observation balloons.

“Hot air balloons were used for reconnaissance,” said Grey. “The babies were employed as ballast.

Although the babies were strapped to the outside of the gondolas, surveyors had to keep their ears plugged to block out all the crying. The babies were quite helpful in keeping the balloons from flying away.”

Drool was also a useful commodity.

“There was a shortage of oil in those days, and many of the union sabers were rusting from rain and blood,” said Grey. “Ulysses S. Grant realized that baby saliva was almost as good at keeping swords in good fighting condition. There was enough saliva to keep every sword in the Union from rusting.”

Babies also saw action on the front lines.

“Despite their young age, seasoned soldiers were able to show babies how to load muskets,” said Grey.

“Fortunately, the infants enjoyed shoving the ramrod in and out of the muzzle. Even amidst explosions, the babies were having fun.”

If it hadn’t been for Lincoln’s daring initiative, the outcome of the war might have been very different.

“It was certainly more successful than his other idea, which was to use baby cows as mounts,” said Grey. “The ‘calvealry’ never quite caught on.”

Never thought I would see the sentence “Drool was also a useful commodity” in print…

1 comment August 15th, 2007 at 08:02am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News


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