Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oh, lovely....

Oh, lovely. Israeli military are firing Dual-purpose ICM artillery shells at civilian villages in southern Lebanon.

ICM ("Improved Conventional Munitions") are commonly called cluster bombs. Back in the stone age of 1970-71 when the Mandarin was an artillery officer, we called ICM "popcorn" because of the popping sound of the little bomblets going off in a cloud over the target area. Each 155mm DPICM artillery shell releases 80 or so little bomblets that are supposed to bounce up a couple of feet after hitting the ground and explode at a pre-determined hight most effective against both people and military equipment (hence "Dual-Purpose").

Unfortunately, 10-20% of the bomblets usually fail to explode, and are sometimes picked up later and detonate themselves in the hands of curious children thinking they are some kind of little toy. For that reason, use of them against civilian areas is prohibited by normal military doctrine, and is considered by some to be a war crime. We even stopped selling them to Israel twenty years ago or after they fired them into,... you guessed it, Lebanon. Israel now makes DPICM itself.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Thank goodness there is no such thing as global warming

Thank goodness there is no such thing as global warming, because if we had global warming on top of the record-breaking heat wave hitting Los Angeles for the last few weeks, our goose would really be cooked.

The Mandarin was over in Burbank yesterday and the temp display on the Mandarin's Saab read 117 degrees. And that was the actual air temperature. In the car, after sitting for a few hours, it was pushing a Baghdad-like 140!

Perhaps the Mandarin should blame his lack of postings recently on the unprecedented hot weather we've been having. But the news has been exceptionally depressing lately - not much to make jokes about as Israel destroys Lebanon while Shrub and Condi sit on their hands.

The British and French foreign ministers, quoted by Kevin Drum at "Political Animal", said it well:

Speaking to a BBC reporter before travelling on for talks in Israel, where he will also visit the missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite number [British Foreign Office Minister Kim] Howells said: 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation.' The minister added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.' -- The Guardian

"It is obvious that there were a certain number of hits where one did not exactly see the point," [French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie] told reporters on board the French frigate Jean Bart, which has been shuttling between Beirut and Larnaca, Cyprus carrying evacuees to safety. "One cannot ask the Lebanese national army to disarm the militias and at the same time bomb the main Lebanese barracks." Alliot-Marie also raised doubts about the strategic sense of bombing factories that produce powdered milk for infants. "And unfortunately, more and more, we are seeing a number of bombardments that are hitting civilians, even convoys of people who were simply seeking to reach Beirut to find shelter have been hit by bombs." -- The Lebanon Star

Whether enervated by the heat, or depressed by our powerlessness to force Shrub and his neo-Con Mafia to condemn Israeli agression in Lebanon, the Mandarin is at a loss.

Original photo caption: An injured Lebanese woman and her daughter from the southern village of al-Tiri sit in the hospital following Israeli air strikes on a convoy of people fleeing their villages in the southern city of Tyre. The UN relief chief condemned Israel for "violating humanitarian law" over its blistering raids on Lebanon as the Jewish state and Hezbollah killed more civilians in another wave of attacks.(AFP/Hassan Ammar)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Where has the Mandarin heard that before?

As the Israeli military invades Palestine and Lebanon trying to recover three captured soldiers, Shrub -- visiting Germany -- weighs in:

[Shrub] voiced concern about the fate of Lebanon's anti-Syrian government, but offered no direct criticism of the punishment Israel is meting out.

"Israel has the right to defend herself," he said in Germany. "Secondly, whatever Israel does should not weaken the ... government in Lebanon."

Sustained air strikes in south Lebanon killed over 50 civilians and wounded 110 people, security sources said. Ten family members were killed in Dweir village and seven family members died in Baflay. A Lebanese soldier was also killed.

Hmmm. Take one of ours and we kill fifty of yours. That tactic sounds familiar.... Where has the Mandarin heard that before? Maybe here? Or here?

No. The Israelis would never, ever do something like that. Definitely the wrong guys. That can't be it.

The Mandarin must have been thinking about something else.

In fact, never mind. Forget the Mandarin even mentioned it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pick your sponsor

The Mandarin has been off-line lately doing some rush work on a book manuscript for a publisher who wants to see a full draft by the end of the summer.

Also, politics hasn't been that funny lately.

But, a couple of things in today's TV listings caught the Mandarin's eye. There are probably a dozen jokes here about flexible shafts and going the distance (not to mention golf games lasting longer than four hours being dangerous to your health), but you loyal readers can handle that on your own.

But considering which products sponsor which sports, the Mandarin can definitely see some method to their madness:

PGA Golf - The Cialis Western Open

NASCAR stock car racing - Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400

If those are the sponsorship choices, the Mandarin would have to give the nod to golf....