Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Iowa Caucus is in full swing but I can't seem to care so you'll read about none of that here...

Happy New Year, gentle reader! I hope you enjoyed your holidays as I did mine. One high point was my daughter’s transformation into the Master Painter upon providing her with an easel and art supplies. It dominates our living room as it did on Christmas Day but I don’t have the heart to move it yet. You see, the Master Painter flourishes when working before an audience, someone who can listen to her running commentary. There are already about forty original works, should you drop by the home you may secure one before they enter the art world proper.

The turkey was another high point, it came out great. Gravy from scratch still vexes me. Who would have though that combining stock, drippings, and flour to make a divinely smooth concoction that makes love to your mashed potatoes would be difficult? I’ve received advice to this end and more than once been told about gravy making powders. Don’t get me wrong, in me you have a man who loves powder but in this case it seems wrong to throw down your culinary integrity in favour of DOW Chemical thickening agents whose inner working we are wholly ignorant to. Once I’ve perfected making good gravy from scratch then I can decide if it’s worth the effort. Until I get it right I’ll never know what I’m missing.

I just remembered something! I am not in fact a fifty year old woman and this isn’t her blog. I should therefore stop talking about cooking.

I received an I-Pod Nano which is cool because I’ve wanted one but it underscores how old I’m getting. You know you are getting old when you can’t easily incorporate modern technology into your life. The little black nano is sexy and the snug leather carrying case with its magnetic snaps only enhances the sexiness but now I must do things to make it functional. I must find music in MP3 format to download and then I must actually find the time to listen to the device itself. I drive to work, I work, and then I go home to raise children at various levels of intoxication. Ear buds to not lend themselves to this regiment.

New Years was especially lovely. Good friends had us over for a private pre-party social and stuffed us with finger foods. Thank you Joel and Emma! I briefly played the Wii again and it remains a gimmick. I know I'm alone on this and in truth I prefer it that way. I also belted out a few tunes on SingStar and was impressed with the high quality of microphone. Though my wife and I were home and cozy by nine we had a great night together talking in the New Year.

My thoughts remain fixed on Pakistan and their turbulent times. I feel especially bad for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; the nineteen year old son of Benezir Bhutto. First of all this kid is going to develop something of a Harry Potter complex while attending university at Oxford. He’s going to have to deal with his mother’s death while walking the storied halls of that institution as kids whisper, point, and politely pump him for information.

Bhutto the Third ordained to eventually rule Pakistan

What’s worse however is that he has been appointed to replace his mother to rule the Pakistan People’s Party in time, which when one looks to the viciously pruned Bhutto family tree is something akin to a death sentence. Of course young Bilawal’s father Asif Ali Zardari will act as court vizier while Bilawal finishes school and a long-time member of the party will be the candidate in the upcoming election, but it looks that in the long run the line of succession will trump all.

The mindset of the Pakistani masses confounds me. Is not the concept of democracy and voting for leaders a response to dynasties and appointed rulers? The Bhutto’s have become a royal family and what’s most perplexing is that they have been elevated to this lofty post by the citizenry themselves! Do none of them think that leadership of their own country can come from within? What is the point of endorsing a nineteen year old who is years and even decades away from performing the task to which he has been assigned?

Bhutto’s Manner of Death Questioned

Thanks to Marc for this tidbit, it’s worth going over. For a little while a member of the Pakistani government claimed that Bhutto died as a result of her own clumsiness, that while she was ducking down to avoid being shot she hit her head in the car and died as a result of skull trauma. There was the predicable response of outrage and request for inquiry. The story has since receded back into the woodwork.

If you were a desperate fool and thought that such semantics might tarnish the title of martyr that Benazir Bhutto has earned then you might try the above weak ploy. It is however a tactic that cannot stand up to the facts of the case. Bhutto was attacked by a man wielding a gun and wearing a bomb. She died after his attack and the exact manner is utterly irrelevant. Had the assassin not attacked she would still be alive.

Some fool must have believed that this kind of hair-splitting would be a worthwhile gamble and in doing so they not only exposed their own flawed judgement but tipped the hand of President Musharraf as well. Anyone willing to capitalize or spin the death of another has to appreciate the fact they died at all. If Musharraf thought Bhutto’s death was a bad thing he would not try to fight the fact that she would be regarded as a martyr. As well, he is the President and a General. If he wanted Bhutto protected he could have, in fact no one in Pakistan could have done a better job. So while I can’t say he ordered the kill I’m prone to believe that he knew it was coming and did nothing to prevent it. There is no doubt in my mind that he knew this smear attempt was coming and did nothing to prevent it either.

Conflicting Stories on the Basra Pull-Out

Thanks to Mike for this article. A while back I posted a link regarding Basra and the British troops that pulled out in order to halt the violence directed against them. The end result was a more peaceful province. Now it appears that the original report may have been only so much good press for the peace of mind of the English back home. Iraqi officials are stating that Basra is as lawless and violent as ever and that the British pulled-out before the task was completed.

Into the Valley of Death

This article shows us what life is like serving in Afghanistan in one of the most contested stretches of land in the entire theatre. Here a small group of American soldiers are fired upon daily by the Taliban and of course it takes a heavy toll.

On-Line Gaming Gone Evil

Thanks to Jeffrey of Pundit for sending this excellent article out. It explores a Korean MMORPG called ZT Online. Most games use time as their currency: you play a lot and you get more powerful. One clever but corrupted businessman decided that if money is used instead of time players could get everything they can afford and he would get rich in the process. Not a bad concept for a certain kind of player; those with coin and a busy agenda but this being Asia it’s taken to the extreme. The story starts with a wise and benevolent girl who becomes Queen, tries to buck a system that compels people to fight, and winds up getting gang raped repeatedly in prison. Hey now, that's my kind of fairy tale!

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