Is that all you got?

For the past few weeks, my chain-smoking monkey underlings and I have been running across various stories or thoughts and it’s high time I actually find some time to post them. Some of them you’ve no doubt seen before (that’s what I get for sitting on them so long), but they’re worth posting anyway, so here goes.

  • Steve Mumford’s fourth installment of his excellent Baghdad Journal is up, and as usual he paints (literally and figuratively) a balanced and refreshing vision of Iraq. A choice quote, from his poet friend Naseer Hasan (who references an interesting opinion poll that I was going to post):

    “What do you hear from the Shi’ite of Najaf? Kill the Americans? Have an Islamic state, like in Iran? No. They are not so happy about the Iranians; Iran played a dirty role in Iraq after the war. The Iranians said nothing about the crimes of the Saddam regime. In Najaf they are no longer saying that the Americans are responsible for the death of Hakim [the assassinated Shi’ite leader]. His death actually changed many peoples’ minds towards his views. Hakim did not claim an Islamic republic which, in any case, is not very suitable for democracy.

    “In the office where I work we used to have some people who say: ‘The Americans destroyed our country, things were better before.’ Now when these people talk others tell them they are wrong. You know about the opinion poll recently: 67 percent say that the hardship is worth it to be rid of Saddam. Maybe more important, only 8 percent say they prefer Saddam. I can tell you that more Iraqis are believing in the fight of the U.S., that you are with us.

    “There may be battle ahead, between the extremists and those who want peace and stability. This is not necessarily bad: if it has to happen, then better it should happen now. We are ready for it. The important thing is that the attitude of the people has shifted after all the attacks, the bombings. The bomber thought to divide the people, Shi’ite against Shi’ite, Iraqi against American. In reality, the opposite has happened. Now we know this is about a democracy or chaos.”

    Read the whole thing, it’s well done. And there’s good art too…

  • A recent Secrecy News posting has some great info, especially with regards to another amazing angle of the Galileo probe (which I posted about recently). Due to various environmental (among other) concerns about the use of Plutonium 238 to power the probe, the project was “conducted with an unusual degree of transparency.”

    Whole bookshelves of program documents, design studies, technical assessments and environmental reviews were publicly released under the Freedom of Information Act, or simply upon request.

    Galileo project manager John Casani willingly engaged critics and interested members of the public on safety issues and anything else. In at least one case, Mr. Casani somewhat fearlessly invited a critic to come over to JPL to inspect the spacecraft in its secure “clean room” and to pose any question, and raise any objection.

  • The Iraqi Homecoming by Johann Hari : An excellent article about Iraqi exiles returning to their country. It has received widespread attention in the blogosphere and was originally published in The Independent, but it’s worth pointing out again. [via uBlog, though Den Beste has some excellent commentary as well]
  • tacitus originally pointed out this startling story of a brazen US patrol group, led by one Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell:

    Russell jumped from his truck and strode straight into the middle of a well-lit intersection taunting the unseen assailants. “Is that all you got? Is that all you got?”

    I dunno how I feel about our troops believing they have divine protection, but you have to wonder how the guy who just shot an RPG feels when he sees Russell pull that sort of thing… “Is that all you got? Is that all you got?”

  • Zubaida’s Journey : Yet another tale of American greed and corruption in action. Or not.
  • When I heard they were going to do another Joe Millionaire show, I (along with everyone else, I assume) wondered how on earth they could find willing contestants. Then I heard that the second season featured women exclusively from Europe. Huh.
  • I was watching Rocky II the other day with my friends and we noted for the first time just how circuitous his jogging route around the city was. We assume he started in South Philly, hits Little Italy, makes his way over to Kelly drive, then up to Market Street, back to Ben Franklin Parkway and finally to the Art Museum. Ok, so I don’t remember so well and it’s only natural to choose interesting locations for a movie, but I thought it was funny…

That’s it for now. Next post on Sunday, as usual…