A UPI report says Iraqi troops were pounded with airstrikes and artillery fire after falling for a strategic trap set by U.S. Marines.

This is my favorite quote:
"This is miserable. This has got to be the ass-end of the world," Lance Cpl. Gregory Moll, from Harrisburg, Pa., commented.
This UPI writing style is very graphic, very descriptive. I like it. It sounds like war reporting from Vietnam.


War Plans

It appears that the U.S.'s Iraq disarmament plan (war plan) has multiple layers of increasing violence, complexity, and flexibility. To date, it seems to have unfolded this way:

Plan A -- Bellicose rhetoric forces Saddam to seek asylum in another country. Coalition forces (U.S. forces) enter Iraq unopposed.

Plan B -- U.S. in contact with senior Iraqi army officers. Encourage Iraqi army officers to assassinate or otherwise depose Saddam.

Plan C -- War -- Target Saddam with precision munitions. Kill Saddam. Enter Iraq unopposed.

Plan D -- Shock and Awe -- Intense targeted bombing campaign causing the immediate demoralization of Iraqi leadership and surrender of Iraqi forces. Assassination or otherwise removal of Saddam.

Plan E -- Coalition forces rapidly sweep through Iraq to the outskirts of Baghdad. As Iraqi leadership realizes that resistance is futile, Saddam is assassinated or otherwise removed.

Plan F -- Because of stiff resistance, U.S. forces remain in place. Target and destroy any opposing forces. Keep supply lines open. Secure rear areas. Regroup and re-supply for main assault on Baghdad.

Who knows how the plan will change in the days and weeks ahead. Be surprised at nothing. Although right now it seems as though the war will go on for weeks, it could still end sooner. A trusted Iraqi general with a bullet for Saddam could end this war in 24 hours.

Mi Monkeys Esta Aqui!

Some of my monkeys came home. Chewy is still missing.


I Can Write as Good as This Guy

I have been doubting my writing ability lately ... until I read this from a so-called professional newspaper writer.
If you've been following the war in Iraq in the American media, you might be getting a different idea of it than people in other countries.
He utterly and completely fails to give examples of how the media in other countries are presenting war news. This article is not cohesive and unconvincing. After reading this I'm pretty sure I could do as well ... probably better.


Donde Esta Mi Monkeys?

Who stole my monkeys?


Local War Effort

There are a number of defense contractors here in the Central Florida area. A division of Lockheed-Martin missile guidance systems are in south Orlando. We have the Harris Corporation, Northrup-Grumman, Boeing, and others along the east coast. Many smaller contractors support the space shuttle. There's also quite a few computer-simulation research facilities near the University of Central Florida.

There's an article in today's Orlando Sentinel on computerized weapons

Here's a description of some of the more high-tech weapons developed in Central Florida.
...One of the key components on the battlefield will be a flying command post built in Melbourne by Northrop Grumman -- the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems, or Joint STARS. 
Think of a Joint STARS as the director's chair in the theater of battle. Flying miles above Earth, the plane is packed with a huge arsenal of electronics that coordinates a battlefield. It gathers vast amounts of data from the ground and air. Using Global Positioning System satellites, the Joint STARS can direct an airstrike against enemy positions almost as quickly as they are identified. 
The joint air-to-surface stand-off (JASSM), built by Lockheed Martin\'s Missiles and Fire Control Division in Orlando and Dallas, is an advanced missile that might be used in combat for the first time in Iraq. The stealthy weapon with a range of 200 miles is satellite-guided and uses an infrared device to recognize targets.
Precision guided weapons have come a long way since the first Gulf War. This is going to be one of the reasons why this war will be short with fewer US lives lost.


Don't Forget The Grunts

The men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, etc. They are our friends, neighbors and co-workers.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of debate about the war. But that debate has been about whether our leadership is right or wrong. No matter what side you come down on, you have to wish our service men and women the best.

May God bless them and keep them safe.


Auto Racing in Switzerland

The 1955 Le Mans race may be the most remembered motor race in history. A rear axle from a flaming, tumbling Mercedes flew off the car and into the crowd killing eighty-four spectators.

The race was also the scene of a titanic struggle between Britain and Germany, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Stirling Moss and Juan-Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes 300SLR equipped with a flap air-brake held off the challenge of the disc-braked D-Type Jaguar of Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb. Mercedes withdrew their team after the accident - and from racing for more than thirty years - and the Jaguars went on to score a 1-2-3 clean sweep.

After that deadly race, Switzerland outlawed automobile racing. Now it seems they may allow auto racing again.
According to reports in the Motorsport Aktuell, a member of the Nationalrat, the Swiss national parliament, has initiated a bill to lift the ban on motor racing in Switzerland in the hope that the Formula One circus may return there in the future.
A Swiss Grand Prix race makes a lot more sense than this.


Not The War

What with all the war talk I'll write about something else. Many other web sites have the war thing covered anyway.

We went to Sebring, Florida this past weekend to experience the 51st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring sports car race.

Charlotte and Max Papis
The cars were fast and we had a great time despite a torrential downpour that threatened to wash us away Friday night.

In my excitement at just being there, I picked probably the worst spot to camp in the entire track. We were camped beside the road that takes cars over the bridge into the infield. A steady stream of cars paraded by Friday night spewing exhaust fumes on our tent accompanied by with all the sounds of drunken revelry. Periodic war whoops, screaming girls, breaking bottles, racing engines with loud mufflers, car horns of all kinds including those diesel-rig blasts. We also had a travel trailer right next to us with one of those little lawn-mower-engine-powered generators running.

I finally tried to go to sleep at midnight. Charlotte was already asleep, although for the life of me I don\'t know how with all the racket. The party went on right outside our tent until at least 2 or 3 in the morning. And to top it off, our air mattresses leaked all their air out and before long we were sleeping on the hard, hard ground.

The next day, Saturday, started foggy but turned clear and sunny. There were some clouds and after Friday's tropical rains I was a little worried that we would get wet. Because I carried two umbrellas with me all day it didn't rain.

I was surprised at how fast the Bentley's were. The Audi R-8 has been the undisputed leader in the American LeMans Serries for the past few years, but the Bentley's were putting in higher top speeds during qualifying. They qualified faster than the Audi's but because of some rule violation the Bentley's had to start from the back of the grid.

Shortly after the start of the race the Bentley's slashed their way to the front of the field. For most of the last half of the race the top cars were:

1. Champion Audi R8
2. Joest Audi R8
3. Bentley Speed 8
4. Bentley Speed 8
5. Audi U.K.
6. Panoz

Near the end of the race the Champion Audi had to pit for a mandatory driver change. The lead went to the Joest Audi and they went on to win the race.

We had a great time and want to go back next year (with better accommodations, however). Charlotte got to meet one of her favorite drivers, Max Papis, and I got to ogle some shapely race babes.

You can see pictures of the event here.


Sebring Testing

It appears that even though the Audi's are not factory backed, they are still the class of the field.

According to Crash.net:
For the second consecutive day, Emanuele Pirro was on top of the speed charts Tuesday as American Le Mans Series teams tested their cars for Saturday's season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Pirro, the 2001 American Le Mans Series champion, drove the ADT Champion Audi R8 to a lap of 1m 49.819s, fastest of the 46 cars that recorded times during Tuesday's unofficial testing session.
Pirro will co-drive with Stefan Johansson and JJ Lehto in Saturday\'s race.
Frank Biela, driving the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8, was second-fastest on Tuesday with a lap of 1:49.824.
Unfortunately, Max Papis was not mentioned as recording a good time.


Joe Strummer Autopsy Results

For those of you who never heard the results of Joe Strummer's autopsy, here they are courtesy of Arrow 93FM in Los Angeles:
(12/30/02) -- Autopsy results from the death of The Clash's frontman, Joe Strummer, were released late last week. As expected, the report confirmed that Strummer, 50, died of a sudden cardiac arrest - his death was not drug related. Strummer died at his home in England after returning to his house after walking his dog. His wife, Lucinda, found him and tried to revive him, but to no avail. Strummer is survived by his wife, two daughters and a stepdaughter.
It's funny, but these results were never announced in the mainstream media. At least I missed them and I was looking for them. I guess it's because Strummer died of a heart attack and not an angst-filled, romantic drug-alcohol mix. A rocker who dies of natural causes isn't news.

Oh well, Strummer was great anyway and was honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of The Clash last night.

Cat Scan

I received this in an email from my old friend Mark Drummond:

A woman brought a very limp parrot into a veterinary surgeon. As she lay her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I\'m so sorry, Polly has passed away. 
The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure? I mean, you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something?" The vet rolled his eyes, shrugged, turned and left the room returning a few moments later with beautiful black Labrador.
As the bird's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the dead parrot from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. 
The vet patted the dog and took it out but returned a few moments later with a cat! The cat jumped up and also sniffed delicately at the ex-bird. The cat sat back, shook its head, meowed, and ran out of the room. 
The vet said, "The parrot is most definitely 100% certifiably dead." He then turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill which he handed to the woman.
The parrot's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!" she cried. "$150 just to tell me my bird is dead?!" The vet shrugged. "If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would only have been $20, but........what with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan..."


Albert Park Wrap

It appears the new Formula One rules and the rain certainly mixed things up in Melbourne, Australia this past weekend. Michael Schumacher lost the race because his team failed him in the pits. Rest assured THAT won't happen again. I can almost hear Michael screaming from here.

Michael's brother Ralf continued his lackluster performance. It seems as though his heart just isn't in his racing.

I thought Villenueve was finally going to live up to expectations, but alas it was not to be. Hey Jacques! If your not going to drive to win, get out of the sport!

Couthard's winning strategy was the same one used by Carlos Sainz in the Turkey Rally: Wait for everyone in front of you to either crash or break.

Raikkonen deserved to win but didn't and Montoya almost won and didn't deserve it.

I thought Firman looked good. The Renault team looks like they are serious about winning this year. Barrichello continues to be the hard-luck kid by sliding out early on an oil patch.

My favorite big-dollar team continues to be Williams-BMW. My favorite small-dollar team this year is Sauber.

Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the year if he wins another world title (if that's the case Reubens will be canned also).

Renault will replace Jordan as the best after Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams.

Ford management will decide they are not getting a good return for their marketing dollar and dissolve the Jaguar team after the end of the season.


Hunter S. Thompson Quote of the Day

A memo from the Rolling Stone magazine National Affairs Desk, August 1972, as published in Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976. Here Thompson uses great imagery to describe the motivation of presidential candidates:
The dumb bastards [wild elk] lose all control of themselves when the rut comes on. Their eyes glaze over, their ears pack up with hot wax, and their loins get heavy with blood. Anything that sounds like a cow elk in heat will fuse the central nervous systems of every bull on the mountain. They will race through the timber like huge cannonballs, trampling small trees and scraping off bloody chunks of their own hair on the unyielding bark of the big ones. They behave like sharks in a feeding frenzy, attacking each other with all the demented violence of human drug dealers gone mad on their own wares. A career politician finally smelling the White House is not much different from a bull elk in the rut. He will stop at nothing, trashing everything that gets in his way; and anything he can't handle personally he will hire out -- or, failing that, make a deal. It is a difficult syndrome for most people to understand, because few of us ever come close to the kind of Ultimate Power and Achievement that the White House represents to a career politician.

Pro- or Anti-War

Matt Welch asks ...

About That War: How many of you are still undecided, conflicted, Gollum-like, etc.? Seems a large portion of my group of thirty-something Blue-state friends -- the vast majority of whom supported the Afghan campaign -- have been untouched by the Certainty Fairy.

I've been reading Welch for a long time and think that politically we are very similar. For example, since September 11th, I've been feeling a little less left-wing liberal, less in line with Democrats. Although, I certainly don't align with the Republicans on much of anything. If anything I'm more libertarian. I'm still pro-choice, don't mind paying taxes (even higher taxes if we get more services) and I still believe in public education. That means I'm against school vouchers. However, I'm conservative on crime issues. I'm for three-strikes laws and I'm pro-death penalty.

Last October ... NOT for the war. Now ... FOR the war.

After hearing Bush talk about war on Iraq for the first time I thought, "Wait a minute. The U.S. people are not the type to make unprovoked war on another country.

But since autumn I've been reading and listening to a lot of arguments for and against invading Iraq. Listening to intelligent arguments changed my mind.

I find it difficult to say "for the war" because it sounds so much like I'm "for war". I'm not "pro-war", but who is? It's better to characterize my feelings as "pro-liberation".

Didn't we try sanctions and negotiation. That path did\'t work. Now it's time to try something different.

One of the problems I see today is that a lot of people are confusing the war issue. The quarrel is NOT with the people of Iraq or the country of Iraq. Bush does not want to harm the people of Iraq. His problem is with the dictator, Saddam Hussein. The people of Iraq want to be free from Hussein.

It is always a shame when innocent civilians are killed in a war. For that matter, it's a shame when anyone anywhere loses their life for ANY reason. It's not right, but even the people of Iraq know that innocent deaths are necessary to be free.

This Iraq war could be the worst thing to happen to the world in my lifetime. It could trigger another world war or cause world-wide economic collapse. It's a big gamble, but you've got to gamble big to win big. The Iraq war could be the first step toward making the world a much safer place for the next 50 years.

Everyone has to work out the war issue for themselves. I however, will not weep when Saddam, his brutal son Uday, and the rest of the "Tikrit Mafia" have JDAMs stuffed up their rears.


Universal Orlando to Viacom?

It's no secret that Vivendi-Universal has been a little short on cash. It's also reported that some of Vivendi's U.S. assets, including the Universal Orlando theme park, will be soon be on the auction block. Vivendi stock has risen in the past few days on auction rumors.

There's been a lot of chatter about Viacom chief Sumner Redstone as a bidder for certain Vivendi holdings in the U.S.
Viacom has already said it would be interested in Vivendi's TV networks Sci Fi and USA. Redstone discussed the other assets, namely Hollywood's Universal Studios and the theme parks, at the meeting with Fourtou, one source said. But it is still unclear if he would be prepared to go for those as well, he added.
Viacom already owns Paramount studios and theme parks so may not be willing to stand up to the anti-trust scrutiny. The bidding may begin after Vivendi's board meeting tomorrow.


Great Quote

Roger Ebert hated the movie The Life of David Gale. It stars Kevin Spacey and it's anti-death penalty. I mean, Ebert hated it so much he gave it 0 stars.

This is a great quote from Ebert's critique:
This is a plot, if ever there was one, to illustrate King Lear's complaint, "As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport." I am aware this is the second time in two weeks I have been compelled to quote Lear, but there are times when Eminem simply will not do.

Slavery Is Back!

I saw this in today's paper:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In a letter marking the Islamic new year Tuesday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Iraq will defeat any invaders and accused the United States of trying to turn Arabs into slaves.
"The tyrant thinks he is capable of enslaving the people and hiding the decisions, freedoms and legitimate choices (they were born with) when their mothers delivered them as free people," Saddam said in the letter, read Tuesday morning by an announcer on state-run television.
I hope GW whips Iraq soon so I can get my own Arab slave. There are so many more things I could get done if I had my own slave. I mean, number one, I could finally get the house painted. And the cat's litter box ... yuck. And the vacuum hasn't been run since we had company at Christmas.