So what was I doing with my time between the Coalition of the Willy-nilly and Cooler Heads Prevail blog entries, you ask?
Even though it wasn't necessarily by choice, I took that week off from being online. It was a little refreshing and sometimes frustrating, very much like what most men think while looking at this hot-looking woman. Unobtainable eye-candy, right? And no, that isn't my money in her garter belt.
But while I was web-less, not only did I have to really think hard to remember what the name of certain movie actors were on TV rather than simply going to IMDb and satisfying my curiosity, but also I spent endlessless hours perseverating with GtkRadiant and designing innumerable Quake3 map-lettes in which to compile, render, and run around and lob grenades mindlessly at the architecture. I also scanned in some more pix from Daytona Beach Bike Week.
So now, I have two sets in that particular /photography/street/ gallery: Beach and Crowds and Chrome. The link above will take you to a thumbnail page. Don't forget to hit next 24 at the bottom of that page, if you want to see the rest of the pix from that day. I'm not entirely sure how the gallery thumbnail pages display for non-deviantART users, or visitors. I hope you enjoy them. If you really, really like them, buy me this cool T-shirt and I'll send you a CD with all the original high-resolution scans of these pix.
Just over a year ago, the Dubya White House announced its coalition of the willing whose primary goal was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction". Ironically, the secondary goal was also to "liberate the Iraqi people from one of the worst tyrants and most brutal regimes on earth." I'd just like to point out that the U.S. government publicly and financially supported Saddam Hussein for decades until he lost his mind and thought we would stand idly by when he sought to control more of our friggin' oil by invading Kuwait.
But the fact remains, we are again, and still, in Iraq with our military. Regardless of the reasons why, real or imaginary, truthful or politically spun, I agree that we will likely have to stay in Iraq and (cough) stay the course -- If for no other reason than to clean up our own mess. Anything else would be un-American. I mean, think about it: we have laws in our own cities that mandate you have to pick up your own dog's shit in public places, why should Iraq be any different?
Unfortunately, as it's been reported in the news, some of the coalition is not so willing anymore. Spain's new leadership said, "No mas". And now, Portugal is yanking its entire military presence from the area. Heh. All 300 of them. Puh-lease! In related news, it hasn't been reported that this pull-out by our some of our European partners has caused France to raise its current terrorist threat level from "Run" to "Hide".
Last week, I went on a [mini-rant] about all the news buzz that the U.S. was going to go kick some more terrorist butt by going after the Shi'ite cleric al-Sadr. I was a little angry at our leaders, or maybe just at the way the media trivializes it all. I was worried about Iraq exploding into a worse situation than it already is and consequently that would mean more of our military men and women die.
Well, hopefully, the situation has calmed down a little with the current cease-fire in place. I'm not even going to bitch that it's been a year since Dubya pranced around the deck of one of our aircraft carriers like a rooster in a flight suit and declared that combat had ceased in Iraq. It seems Iraq's grand ayatollah al-Sistani spoke up, or more accurately, did not endorse the recent actions by Shi'ite cleric al-Sadr. If none of what I'm saying is making any sense to you, I have just found something for you to read.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq is currently in a transitional phase. Either the anti-U.S. insurgency will be brought under control and security will be provided to those forces involved in nationbuilding; or the insurgency will expand, and U.S. goals in Iraq will be undermined by increasing civil unrest. It is imperative that the former objective be accomplished while the later fate be avoided. To ensure this outcome, U.S. policymakers must understand the internal dynamics of Iraq, including the role of Iraq’s Shi’ite clerics.
Whether it was even mentioned on our news or not, al-Sistani may have recently saved many lives, both Iraqi and American. Here are some quotable quotes to understand the impact and power this Najaf cleric has:
"Every day, we receive dozens of requests from Iraqis asking us to issue a fatwa against the Americans, and we say no. But this “no” will not last forever." -Spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Sistani
"If Sistani calls for a holy war, it will happen." -Ayatollah ‘Ali al Wahid
The full SSI monograph is available in PDF format. I encourage you to read it. For those of you with a short attention span, just read the Conclusions and Policy Recommendations. They are on page 33 in the PDF.
I played Short Circuit about a dozen times against just 3 bots and it was very challenging to come out on top. Running through Binaryshi's C-12 pipes is a visual rush. Some lead down to the Red Armor. Some lead to more powerful and effective weapons, like the Rocket Launcher or the Plasma Gun. Red Armor is available at the bottom along with the Lightning Gun. As is the case with all popular areas in this map, you then have multiple paths available to take: you can exit the Red Armor room via the jump pad, the teleporter or go back up through one of the pipes. Up top, the Med Kit respawns and is accessible from many directions. Quad Damage respawns at the bottom of a pipe of water and is a popular place for bots and humans alike. The Shot Gun and the Grenade Launcher are readily available at player respawn locations.
It's like running through a game of Chutes and Ladders ... with no pesky ladders. It is a fast-paced and well-designed multi-levelled map where the action can come from any direction, all the time.
Wednesday night, the Detroit Red Wings started their run for the Stanley Cup by beating the Nashville Predators, in game 1 of the first round of playoff games. Living in the middle of citrus country in Florida, the one thing I really miss about the Detroit area is the whole Hockeytown thing.
I've waited all Winter for ESPN to stop airing endless college basketball games and friggin' billiard tournaments and get down to the business of showing me some damn hockey! Back in Detroit, Red Wings fans don't have to bother with the corporate whims and decisions of Michael Eisner. No, they just turn on the local friggin' station and watch half of the games. Sometimes, you even have a choiceas to which local station on which to watch the games. I used to think, "Maybe tonight, I'll watch the game on CBC Windsor and see what ugly tie that legendary goof, Don Cherry, is wearing." The NHL may have a television blackout rule like in any other major sport, but it simply doesn't apply to the Detroit Red Wings. I have heard on-air announcers joke that even Detroit Red Wings players usually only get tickets for their own family at away games in other teams' arenas. Most Red Wings home games are completely sold out so far in the future that one of the sperm swimming around my left ball sac would most likely have to know someone to get a ticket.
A few years ago, Toulon and I had the opportunity to see a Red Wings playoff game or two. An executive suite with 20 tickets were bought at a charity auction for $20,000 for one playoff game. I happen to know the guy who bought these tickets, and we paid his out-of-pocket cost (after using 50% as a tax deduction) for game tickets. So, I paid $500 per ticket to watch the Red Wings play one playoff game at Joe Loius Arena.
Before those games that year, the last time I had seen the Red Wings play in person was in the 1970's when a neighborhood kid's dad took a bunch of us kids to Olympia. Later on in life, I discovered this guy was a VP for the Teamsters and his house across the street was an alibi destination for Chuck O'brien on the day Jimmy Hoffa vanished. I told you that you had to know someone to get friggin' tickets ...