Friday, November 24, 2006


In the wake of another bombing in Baghdad, this one claiming 144 lives, I felt it appropriate to draw your attention to the essay "The Logic of Disengagement" by Edward Luttwat, first published in the January/February edition of Foreign Policy. It is one of the best summaries I have read on the intricacies of the conflict in Iraq.
Interesting how this essay was published almost two years ago, yet it is more relevant today than ever. Perhaps not exactly Thanksgiving weekend fare, but then again, do we really need to carry on with our bellies full of turkey AND our heads in the sand?
(requires a free NY Times online membership)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Diggling Labels!

Hi All,
You'll notice a new feature here on the Digglings. I've added "labels" to all of the entries. Now you can search past entries by subject, instead of obscure (and often misleading) things like date or title.
Choose from such exciting topics as:
Fun - everything from jokes to cartoons
Go Outside - often humorous tales resulting from my fruitless attempts at extreme sports
Me - when I can't think of a category, I file it here
Politics - how can I resist? Politicians provide such an abundance of subject matter!
Rants - true, almost all my entries are rants. That's why it's often a second, or sub, category.
Religion - almost as entertaining as politics, and often inextricably intertwined...
Science - usually as in vs. religion, but sometimes just plane interesting stuff from the world around us
Travel - everyone's favorite pastime

Friday, November 10, 2006

What Took You So Long, America?

Now that the dust has settled and the giddiness has subsided in the wake of this week's mid-term elections, can we talk? Because, there's one thing I just don't get. It's all fine and dandy that the American voters have finally awakened and exercised their ability to put in place some potential resistance to the Bush Administration's free rein. But, why wait until now? Did the voters have any new information this week that wasn't available two years ago when Bush was re-elected? Did some event occur to sway the vote? What's up America?

The foreign media claims that the people of America have finally started paying attention to the opinions of the rest of the world. I think they're kidding themselves. The average voter in the US doesn't think about much that's outside of US borders, let alone outside his or her daily commute. According to the US Office of Central Statistics, only 18% of Americans even have a passport! Nope, the rest of the world isn't on their radar screen, and I don't buy that any foreign opinion influenced this election. Americans didn't listen last time, and they weren't listening this time.

Others have suggested that the American people are reacting to being lied to by their government - WMDs and all that. Yet again, that's nothing that wasn't already being trumpeted as Bush was campaigning his second time around. The majority of the voting public seemed quite content to let the lies slide. The same goes for the suggestion that Americans are fed-up with a mismanaged war, or a war with corporate intent. The plan was flawed from the beginning, yet to the voters it didn't (and doesn't) seem to matter.

No, I believe that two years ago they still thought they could "win" the war (when they weren't cringing at the thought of two men kissing, that is). They didn't really have a clear vision of what "win" meant, but they figured that at least the US couldn't lose. Now, however, they realize they're not winning anything, and their troops are dropping like flies. Those troops who aren't dead are either returning home maimed, or are going bonkers. Four years of "stay the course" was somehow reasonable, but six years has finally pissed off the American public.

The most important fundamental that the Bush Administration seems to have misunderstood is that Americans don't just love their country, they love their people, too. They can only put up with seeing so many body bags returning home before they react. And react they have.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Rummy's Life

Wow! The emails have been fast and furious in the wake of Rummy's step down/firing. I've heard opinions ranging from "hang him right next to Saddam", to "he was a victim of the administration". I don't agree with either of these extremes, and have enjoyed plenty o' banter over the last few days discussing where in the middle the truth lies.

The best summary I've read so far was posted in Slate this morning. You can read it here: Thanks to Judy for passing it on.

One reoccurring theme we've been discussing since Rummy's announcement (or since 9/11 for that matter) is learning from history. The newly appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates faces quite a task. Time will tell whether he ponders mistakes from the recent past as he moves America's military forward. Mind you, as a former head of the CIA and pal of Bush Sr., I'm sure we can count on him to stay the course.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting's a Bitch

While pedaling my way to work on a blistery wet morning here in Vancouver, my thoughts began to wander south – not way down south to the beaches of Mexico and Central America, but a little closer to home. It’s mid-term Election Day in the US of A, and by all accounts, it looks like the American political landscape is in for a bit of a change. The Democrats are expected to make significant gains in the over 500 races for house, senate and governor. Just how much of a change is, of course, yet to be seen.

Cycling provides ample opportunity for contemplation and reflection. Quite frankly, other than trying to avoid SUVs and their maniacal drivers, there’s really not much else to do when commuting by bicycle.

Today my thoughts drifted back to recent political conversations I’ve had with friends from the States. In similar fashion to the last presidential election, everyone seems quite passionate about the state of the country, regardless of their political leaning. People have strong opinions on Iraq, immigration, stem cell research, and a seeming endless number of other issues. Through it all, however, there remains one consistent thread – everyone wants change.

But, no matter how enjoyable the process of mentally repeating these discussions may be to me, and regardless of the varying opinions of the voters, the real question facing the nation is this: How much real change, if any, can be expected? If the Democrats somehow miraculously sweep the house and the senate, will things in the US change, even perceptibly? If the Republicans maintain their stranglehold on all levels of government, will the republican voters see the changes they are hoping for? After all the slander campaigns and all the promises, what can Americans, and the rest of the world, expect from the great US democratic political machine?

More of the same, of course! What else would you expect? We have history as our guide, and every indication suggests that whether there are donkeys or elephants at the helm, the ship ain’t turning around. It may veer slightly to port or starboard, but it will continue heading in precisely the same direction.

So, what are the voters who want real change to do? Perhaps a good start would be to get fed up with the two political parties currently claiming to offer “choice” to the American people. I think this option is best summed up by some design students in Georgetown who were recently witnessed by a pal of mine hustling t-shirts on the swanky corner of M and Wisconsin that read: Quit Bitching. Start a Revolution! It’s not a new idea, but it may just be a timely one.

Killer Clap?

Bono is at a U2 concert in Ireland when he asks the audience for some quiet.
Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands.
Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone..."Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."
A voice from near the front of the audience pierces the silence..."Fookin stop doing it then!"