Sunday, October 28, 2007

SUNDAY IRAN FUN PAGE: Bombs from the archives

"Tucked inside the White House's $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran," wrote someone at ABC News recently.

The story was oh-so-uniquely entitled "Bomb Iran" and you can read it here.

It was a piece on a budget request for modifications to the B-2 bomber fleet, changes which enable planes to fly the latest US superbomb, called the MOP.

"The MOP is a massive bomb -- 20 feet long and encased in 3.5 inch thick high-performance steel," writes the ABC News scribe witlessly. "It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground ... "

"You'd use it on Natanz [in Iran]," said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.Org, to ABC News. "And you'd use it on a stealth bomber because you want it to be a surprise. And you put in an emergency funding request because you want to bomb quickly."

"It's kind of strange ... It sends a signal that you are preparing to bomb Iran, and if you were actually going to bomb Iran I wouldn't think you would want to announce it like that."

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow has seen news of American superbombs come and go.

What can be said with some reliability is that US superbombs have a wretched track record when it comes to achieving political ends. But that never stops a certain portion of the national leadership and its obedient journalists and pundits from salivating and writing with some glee about the potential for slinging them on a piss ant designated as the latest arch enemy aimed at destroying our way of life and all that is good in the world. Like Iran.

While in the land of endless summer last week, Santa Barbara, DD bought the trade paperback copy of Cobra II, an account of the Iraq war by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor.

Long story short, the book makes abundantly clear that American superbombs didn't do any good at all in Iraq. This in contrast to all the press on the supremacy of American bombs just BEFORE the war, joyfully published by the mainstream media on how every American weapon was great, evidence of a transformation in military affairs and a sure sign that democracy and freedom would be delivered as we crushed all who dared to oppose our will.

The Los Angeles Times op-ed page delivered some good news, too.

The paper had finally fired Niall Ferguson, a right-wing ex-pat Brit historian serving as part of the newspaper's collection of "give war a chance" pundits.

Ferguson spilled the beans that he was turning in his last column but couldn't resist recommending war one more time, one with the current favorite -- Iran. It was inside a piece noting he'd previously made the boner of predicting a nuclear war between Iran and Israel this year in the same pages.

The LA Times has been ever the good citizen in the give-more-war-a-chance debate. While it's un-bylined editorials have declared war with Iran and the naming of the Revolutionary Guard as a terror force bad ideas, it has been generous in giving space to the let's-have-a-war-with-Iran-and-the-sooner-the-better types.

DD has no good idea if there will be war with Iran.

In reading Cobra II one comes away with the feeling that there's very little sign of intelligent life in the warmaking arm of the government. Therefore, it's impossible, even irrational, to predict what it will do. One would imagine this has Mohammed ElBaradei rather shaken.

Just in case you're wondering where DD stands on all this: I believe the bomb Iran crazies need to be put down -- as one would do with any collection of rabid animals. However, Americans no longer have a say in whether or not the people at the top have decided to bomb someone in an unprovoked sneak attack.

So what I think in this matter doesn't matter.

In the past year, this blog has tracked some of the "Bomb Iran" stories.

Here we have James Woolsey and the Short Count discussing it over drinks at the Metropolitan Club.

Also for your diversion, George W. Bush's final stroke, in which an attack on the Republican Guard is gamed. If you wish to recreate it, you will need to purchase a copy of the HPS Simulations computer game, Point of Attack 2.

And for a full-on surprise strategic bombing campaign, we furnished Radiating Rubble in January of this year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PROFESSOR SCHNITZEL: Pennsy Dutch stand-up comedy reaches its zenith


DD's parents had a record collection, one which demonstrated how much they hated music.

The stuff they were into: Assorted records by piano hacks Ferrante & Teicher, a duo who turned popular tunes into muzak; a collection of the Ray Coniff Singers, a vocal group which turned pop hits into muzak, the complete works of Robert Goulet and crap from Mitch Miller's Sing Along With Mitch show.

When it came to 45's, their taste was almost as dire. Think novelties like Rolf Harris's "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto and the absolute pinnacle of elevator music, "The Girl from Ipanema."

However, the neighbors -- who were Pennsylvania Dutch -- were another matter.

The Musselmans introduced me to Professor Schnitzel's records. Schnitzel was a stand-up comedian from Lancaster who traded on humorous foibles particular to the Pennsylvania Dutch country, which my hometown, Pine Grove, was smack dab in the middle of.

The Pennsylvania Dutch were good at three things: beer, potato chips and sausage. The chip companies in Lebanon and Lancaster counties were the best in the world. By way of example, nothing made in California, or by the food giant Lay's, compared or compares favorably with Utz.

Interestingly, it took the Pennsylvania Dutch a bit to get sausage right. The natives tended to undercook their pork, the result being that the PA Dutch country had the highest rates of trichinosis infection in the country well into the Eighties. Tastes good, though!

But back to Professor Schnitzel, who issued his jokes on 45's, of which DD believes there are four: "As I Was Saying...", "Schussel Along with Schnitzel," "Imagine That" and his first, "Pennsylvania Dutch Spoken Hereabouts" -- all on Buch Records of Lancaster, PA.

"As I Was Saying... is another in a series of records giving you a taste of Pennsylvania Dutch flavored humor and stories," reads the jacket copy from 1962. "Ingredients: a bit of spice, logic and tall stories of the gay Dutch, served to you platter style by none other than the famous Professor Schnitzel, one of Pennsylvania's outstanding humorists for more than three decades. He bubbles with humor and friendliness, and dispenses corn, comedy and nonsense in a thick Pennsylvania Dutch accent ... [Professor Schnitzel] has become our local ambassador of goodwill to millions of people throughout the nation."

The last sentence may overstate the case somewhat.

For "As I Was Saying...", Schnitzel expounds on his "courting days" as well as his Uncle Louie, who seemed either to be always having sex or knocking on doors answered by nude women. [See also What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? by Alan Funt.]

Another prominent feature of Pennsylvania Dutch humor is the shit joke.

A good Pennsylvania Dutchman thinks there is nothing quite so funny as a mess in someone else's pants. Indeed, the love of brown humor was and is so ingrained, copy editors at the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown used to have to regularly purge it from columns contributed by a local pastor, prior to publication.

Professor Schnitzel contributes his own gentle version of the shit joke, one containing absolutely no four letter words. The fifty second routine, from an old copy of "As I Was Saying..." is here.

The astute listener will immediately notice the crowd laughter appears to be from a women's social event.

[Big thanks and a tip o' the hat to Rick Noll of Bona Fide Records in Pennsyltucky for reuniting DD with the old professor.]


The modern equivalent of my parents' record collection is taken up by the phenomenon known as indie pop. Another description of it might as well be music by nerds for other hopeless nerds.

If you like rock 'n' roll at all, you can't listen to indie pop. It's painfully white, stopped-up and collegiate -- not in a frat party classic rock way -- but in a failed-liberal-arts-major-turned-new-sincerity-writer-with-really-crap-taste-in-clothes sense.

This being the case, many music journalists love it.

The Thursday edition of the Los Angeles Times turned its Calendar section over to pushing what it considered the best local "indie" bands in a feature entitled, "Their Moment Is Now."

Not buying what they were selling, it was time to serve up superciliousness, platter style, aided by a couple handy photographs and captions.

"The world is so confusing ... Maybe it always has been, but especially now because the media is everywhere and there's so much of it," says Mikel Joliet, "the former music journalist and aspiring novelist who fronts the Airborne Toxic Event [band]," writes Kevin Bronson of the Times, without an atom of humor.

"It's kind of mind-numbing..." continues Joliet.

"Joliet's decision to set aside finishing his novel" apparently led to the formation of a band. Please, won't someone get him a literary agent?

Next up, Castledoor.

"If their penchant for neo-hippie fashion doesn't get your attention -- their folk-pop melodies will..." intones the newspaper.

Absolutely! Castledoor's fashion got DD's attention. The act is bringing back the look of the made-for-TV- movie, Heidi, the one that butted in before the end of the a famous Raiders vs. Jets match-up in 1968. One of the bandmembers is also reviving the fashion statement worn by the kids in "A Christmas Story," the uncool winter cap with earmuffs.

Remember, this is a band in southern California, where it never snows except high in the mountains and the temperature didn't go under ninety this week.

The LA Times was so taken by the dude rockin' his earmuff cap look it put him in the newspaper twice.


Castledoor's Heidi and friend in earmuff cap, soCal indie musos ready for a tour of chocolatiers in the Swiss Alps.


Leaked promo shot from the remake/sequel to A Christmas Story: Randy Parker Goes to College.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

DICKO COMES TO AMERICA: Poor man's Don Rickles takes to pulling wings off flies on US TV

Fox's "The Next Great American Band" broke wind from eight to ten last night, giving Ian "Dicko" Dickson, its chief judge of talent, his shot at American celebrity after being a big deal on "Australian Idol."

However, one understands that being big in Australia means doing well in Melbourne and Sydney, equivalent -- numbers-wise -- to being hot between Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, MD.

Dicko was designated Mr. Supercilious, next to nice lady Sheila E. and cool dude Johnny Rzeznik.

Perhaps it's the accent of British empire producers now look for. It's been all downhill for being professionally insulted by a fellow American since the death of Howard Cosell and the retirement of Don Rickles one or two decades ago.

Fifteen years ago DD would have said insulting struggling rock bands in a talent show on network TV was a great idea.

However, now everyone who wants to be in a rock band in the States IS in a rock band in the United States. The noise to signal ration has become so high, ridiculing the pathetic and ludicrous isn't challenging. It's not even light work.

In Allentown at the Morning Call, you had to go to the trouble of shlepping to the arenas and clubs. There you would endure the excruciating in shows people actually paid for. There was some honor, consumer reporting and civic duty involved in puncturing balloons, gratuitously slagging overpaid favorite sons and blackjacking complete strangers in print for the weekend editions.

Now the pathetic and ridiculous come at you every hour of the day for free -- in promotional materials, on the Internet and television. If you go to a website that purports to provide professionally done reviews, better than half the time it will include barely listenable and totally unlistenable bands shoving MP3's at you.

Hey, I've written for them and I know the ropes.

In any case, perhaps one of the reasons for slumping sales of CDs -- besides the rampant stealing of music on-line -- is that the number of people in pop rock bands is rapidly approaching the number of people who actually want to listen to new pop rock bands. And when the first number inevitably exceeds the latter, the latter will become so turned off by rock 'n' roll that only oldies acts at county fairs will survive.

"There are a lot of bands around these days -- it's not quite as common as having a blog, but it can seem that way ... " wrote LA Times TV writer Robert Lloyd on Friday, in a short preview for "The Next Great American Band."

A bit understated but, heck, he's just a TV critic.

Dicko shelled the obvious on Friday night: An Asian woman who slaughtered "Good Vibrations," a polka band, a fat and mouthy 40-something guy from Hollywood who dressed in Kiss make-up and a clown suit, a band of dancing girls in sequins who performed to a tape, a band whose frontman wore a foam horsehead much like the idiot things worn by college football fans.

We have no shortage of Rupert Pupkins, something which has made watching "The King of Comedy" impossible.

When Zolar X, a trio of middle-aged men who dress in the garb of Seventies Star Trek aliens hit the stage, Dicko yelled "Rubbish!"

Many of Dicko's insults are fairly obviously staged, prepared prior to dismissing a band from the competition.

When Zolar-X were interrupted, Dicko asked a question to which he already had the answer.

"Where are you from?" he asked.

"We're from Plutonia," said Ygarr Ygarrist of Zolar X.

"Oh, I thought you were from Uranus!"

Haw-haw! Haven't heard a variation on that one, Dicko, since "The Groove Tube."

Many TV rock shows are not complete without the spectacle of twelve and thirteen year olds doing heavy metal.

This was old ten years ago but it's a stubborn and and always growing fad thanks to those white trash Mums & Dads who see "School of Rock" or the doc on the real school of rock in Philly. A kid is always viewed as a way to vicarious thrills and perhaps a bag of cash.

Is there anyone who has not yet seen and heard a few twelve-year olds who can shred like Eddie van Halen?

The shtick is to buy the kid a ton of equipment, have the parents act as managers, and set him loose like a wind-up toy on as many stages as possible.

Generally, many idiots can be counted on to be impressed by the process although such novelty acts never sell.

Light of Doom, from San Diego, were the twelve and thirteen year-old wind-up toys ready to replace Iron Maiden or Dio. They passed the audition although one of them squirmed a little when asked why he didn't say onstage what he said he was into -- tits -- on his "resume."

There were two acts chosen for their stories of perseverance.

Big Toe featured a bass player/singer, born without arms, who played bass with his big toes. If one set aside the spectacle of it, Big Toe was awful. Of course, no one actually knows what to say when confronted by the various Big Toes of America except variations on, "Wow! Ain't you something! Keep on doing what you're doing and you'll make it eventually!"

Look, only three and a half million hits for plays-guitar-with-feet on Google!

The other story of stick-to-it-tiveness came from The Muggs, whose bass player had suffered a stroke a couple of years ago.

The Muggs are a hard rock band who have made a CD independently, a good one, of which DD has a copy. Their bass player switched to organ, which allows one -- as old classic rock fans know, to still rock out mightily in the bass register.

The Muggs impressed everyone and were qualified for the next episode.

Another thing that plagues these types of talent search shows is the front-loading with hack bar bands from Nashville. Think of them like upper-class cockroaches.

There were three on "The Next Great American Band," all obvious pros who'd been grinding it out in country dives in Tennessee for years. Two featured players who shredded ... on mandolin.

One of the van Halens of mandolin from Nashville thought to dress his band in zombie make-up.

The other van Halen of mandolin was in The Clark Brothers, an act which did not dress in zombie make-up. They did "Jesus on the Mainline" and professed fervently to their evangelical beliefs.

The last act were a group of girls from Hollywood who played a stiff and light-in-the-loafers cover of The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." They were called Rocket and didn't although their picture made it into the LA Times.

Rocket graduated to the next episode because they were inspirational and empowering to other young girls. That's so novel. Or at least I thought that was the message Dicko was trying to put over on us. Hey, men are creatures with two legs and eight hands, I heard once.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

THE DAILY MUSHROOM CLOUD: WAPO fear peddler sez itzashame to peddle fear while peddling it

Glenn Greenwald has written that pundit David Ignatius "vividly demonstrates the dishonesty and shallowness of our opinion-making elite." (Read it here.)

At Salon, Greenwald has regularly dissected Ignatius, exposing his columns as outlets for Bush administration propaganda and lies.


The favorite image of the fear-mongering journalist. "...al-Qaeda is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb that will leave the ultimate terrorist signature -- a mushroom cloud," writes David Ignatius.

In a column today, Ignatius takes up fear-mongering on "a nuclear al Qaeda."

It is a topic which various pundits have regularly beaten Americans over the head with in the past year. Notably, in the pages of the Washington Post (the home of David Ignatius) and other big newspapers.

There is never a shortage of copy on al Qaeda and its plans to get the bomb. If you have passed over it be rest assured that it's always the same 750-1000 words.

"We've all had enough fear-mongering to last a lifetime," writes Ignatius as he takes on the job of being head fear-monger for yet another day.

"Indeed, we have become so frightened of terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, that we have begun doing the terrorists' job for them by undermining the legal framework of our democracy," he continues, not honestly admitting he's about to use the Bush administration's favorite tool for "undermining the legal framework of our democracy."

Many times druing the past year we have heard or read that some repellent piece of legislation -- justifying torture or the granting of immunity to those involved in illegal wiretapping -- must be passed because, according to the Bush administration, preventing a devastating attack from al Qaeda depends upon it.

It is the pure and simple methodology of the American fear-monger and it enhances the aim of terrorists in providing a rationale for those who are destroying our principles, trashing our once good reputation and corrosively eating away our liberties. To put it the Greenwald way, fear-mongering is used by the Bush administration and its enablers as a means to shred the Constitution and undermine the rule of law in the United States, vesting all power in an executive branch made immune from investigation.

"[It's] worth listening to [the latest expert's] warnings -- not because they induce more numbing paralysis but because they might stir sensible people to take actions that could detect and stop an attack," writes Ignatius, parroting the nuclear-armed al Qaeda script.

There are already many experts and agencies working on preventing al Qaeda from getting bomb-grade uranium or plutonium and Ignatius surely knows this.

These warnings are numbing, not because of any paralyzing quality, but because they have been repeated so many times they have lost all civic value, becoming only blandishments used as cover for something bad being done or needing to be done behind our backs.

"[The] danger of a nuclear attack by terrorists is not only very real but disturbingly likely," wrote Graham Allison deadeningly for the Baltimore Sun on July 2.

"Who could be planning a nuclear terrorist attack?" the man mused rhetorically.

"Al-Qaida remains a formidable enemy with clear nuclear ambitions."

The Sun's Harvard-expert-on-nuclear-al-Qaida continued: "Former CIA Director George J. Tenet wrote in his memoirs that al-Qaida's leadership has remained 'singularly focused on acquiring WMD' - weapons of mass destruction - and willing to 'pay whatever it would cost to get their hands on fissile material.'"

"Now that the uproar over [George Tenet's] mistaken 'slam dunk' assessment of the Iraqi threat has died down, it's worth rereading [his book again]," writes Ignatius, copying from the same menu. "It provides a chilling, public record of al-Qaeda's nuclear ambitions."

"Consider the worst-case scenario: a suitcase nuclear attack at a presidential inauguration, with the outgoing and incoming president and vice president, most of Congress, and the Supreme Court present; the outgoing Cabinet scheduled to leave office; and no incoming Cabinet members yet confirmed," wrote another fear-mongering hack, this time from the American Enterprise Institute, for the Washington Post, only in July.

Ignatius roped in the mythology of the dreaded Mubtakkar of Death, too.

The Mubtakkar of Death was an unseen instrument of catastrophe in a so-called cyanide bomb plot that was allegedly not carried out because Ayman al Zawahiri decided to spare New York City for reasons known only to the journalist, Ron Suskind, who used the tale to sell his book on the Bush administration-led war on terror, The One Percent Doctrine, to other journalists.


"Most chilling of all was Zawahiri's decision in March 2003 to cancel a cyanide attack in the New York subway system," wrote Ignatius. "He told the plotters to stand down because 'we have something better in mind.' What did that mean? More than four years later, we still don't know."

The Mubtakkar of Death was terrible to behold, it was said. But because it was never used (actually, one was -- in Afghanistan, where it fizzled, but no one includes that part of the story), something even more terrible had to be in the pipeline, said the fear-mongers.

If you ask someone in the street what the great threat to the nation, the Mubtakkar, was today, they won't know.

The only people who do still know are journalists who jumped on board the publicity train for The One Percent Doctrine in June of 2006.

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow punctured the story with a series of articles. (See here and here.)

"So what to do about this [nuclear] danger?" writes Ignatius. "The first requirement ... is to try to visualize it. What would it take for al-Qaeda to build a bomb? How would it assemble the pieces?"

Again and again, the same numbing details and claims on the building of al Qaeda's bomb are delivered through the press.

They have been passed out so many times it seems they ought to be put into a required course in high school: "How Terrorists Might Build the Atomic Bomb and Your Civic Duty in Understanding the Menace which Threatens Us All (0r those of us in Washington, DC, the first address of interest to the bomb-makers.)"

"One way or another it will be no great feat to transport the stolen [bomb-grade uranium] to Istanbul where assembling it into a workable bomb will require a machine shop, a nuclear scientist, several technicians and up to four months of work," wrote some other fear-mongering hack for the New York Times in May. (One hallmark of the script is that you can cut and paste pieces of it together, taken from any article delivering it, and the result will read fine.)

"In [one] fictional scenario ... a nondescript terrorist drove a vehicle-borne explosive' on Interstate 465 bound for downtown Indianapolis," wrote another fear-mongering op-ed hack embarked on an alleged public service mission at the Indianapolis Star, also in May. "When the terrorist saw [a] cop, he detonated the bomb while driving."

There. Now you know how it will be done. Again. Remember, it's not a matter of if, but only when.

Your course -- "How Terrorists Might Build the Atomic Bomb and Your Civic Duty in Understanding How an Industrious Army of Fear-Mongers are using it to help rip up the Constitution" -- is complete.


From the archives: The nuclear bomb is coming script.


Reasonably astute readers have probably figured out that, theoretically, were al Qaeda to get the bomb and detonate it on American soil during the last months of the Bush administration, we would most certainly see the rest of our democracy killed off in the immediate government response. And its burial would be rubber-stamped and rabidly endorsed by the present Congress and judiciary. This being the case, there is no rational reason to do the terrorists' work for them ahead of time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

RAGINGLY PSYCHOTIC NATION: But we'll pay for your new legs after we blow your real ones off in an air strike!

"[Ten year-old Salee Alawe] of Iraq lost her legs in what her family said was a US air strike on the outskirts of Baghdad, last November," wrote reporter Louis Sahagun in today's LA Times.

"Salee, who was discovered by her mother dragging herself over a pile of bricks, helped identify the remains of her 13-year old brother..."

"Salee recently was fitted with mechanical knees and prosthetic limbs ... Her sponsors wanted to give her a happy memory ... So they brought her and her father to Catalina Island."

On Catalina, Salee got to see the sights, enjoy a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, and meet an island fox named Tachi.

Here's the pisser, though, courtesy of the ragingly psychotic nation -- that big rich one that blew off your legs in a war alleged to be for the spreading of freedom and the preservation of all that is good and right.

Salee Allawe gets to go back to Iraq.

Read the entirety.

The ragingly psychotic nation is known by its mainstream media editors and reporters. Many of them can't resist turning a story that probably won't have a happy ending into something they can smile over and feel good about.

"We blew off her legs but this Iraqi girl still stays in love with life," was the thrust of this horrible piece at CBS News.

The Columbia Free Times, an alternative newspaper, where the news first appeared, turned in an originating piece which put the rest of its lunatic brethren at bigger media organizations to shame.

“I wanted to put a face to what is called ‘collateral damage,’” said Cole Miller, the man who brought Salee to this country, to the Columbia altie.

"... [A] large percentage of civilians who have been killed or wounded in Iraq are children ... If the American people had even an inkling of what we’re doing, they would put a stop to this ... Miller said air strikes would more than likely continue and escalate as the United States begins to withdraw, leaving many more casualties to come."

If you read the LA Times, you were told none of this.

Instead, just the feel good story about petting a fox and getting a ride in a glass-bottomed boat.

What fine people we are!

The Los Angeles Times, it should be noted, has editors and reporters who are infatuated with the local angle afforded by Iraq war amputees in LA county.

Every other week or so, it publishes feel good stories with photos of Iraq war veterans fitted with new artificial legs, arms or both, littered with can-do quotes about how everyone who has been maimed is simply aching to get back to golfing, boxing, running, surfing, etc.

To read these stories is to almost come away with the idea that getting ground up in Iraq is nothing more inconveniencing than what happened to Luke Skywalker when Darth Vader cut off his hand with a light saber.

Nothing to it, folks!

We'll just fit you up with a new robot hand and not only won't you be able to tell the difference, neither will your friends and enemies.

You'll be back to waving your light saber in no time, mates! You'll be the new bionic woman or man, just like on network TV. It's only months away from reality! You'll think getting maimed in an explosion was the best thing that ever happened to ya!

The ragingly psychotic nation will take your legs and then send you back where you came from, onto the battlefield, if you're a child.

Now that's one helluva feel good story. Heck, it's even great for telling to your own kids, perferably right before bed time, especially if they've been bad.


Columbia Free Times article on the same.


"Whenever nature leaves a hole in [the minds of Americans], she generally plasters it over with a thick coat of self-conceit." -- Longfellow

Saturday, October 13, 2007

TV FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY MASSACRES: Futureweapons, Blackwater USA's only friend in the entertainment industry

Futureweapons' mission: Free publicity on US cable TV for world arms developers and the televising of great enthusiasms over the technologies of massacre, as mostly developed by American business in cooperation with the military.

As an educational tool for measuring delusion within the Department of Defense and political establishment, Futureweapons always delivers. Since it is devoted to the demonstration of potential massive escalations in force as an answer to everything, it mirrors the philosophy of the US military, capable of turning a foreign country into a cauldron of misery while losing and turning the entire citizenry and rest of the world against it with merciless exhibitions of sophisticated mechanized cruelties.

Once again, DD blog chooses to rag on Futureweapons, the only TV show I know of to make entertainment out of publicity video from corporate arms developers. (With the possible exception of network news agencies during the first two weeks of the invasion of Iraq.)

While the mainstream newsmedia was choosing to bite down on Blackwater USA's mercenary army actions in Iraq, Futureweapons took the opposite track.

Although the Blackwater USA piece must have been in the can for some months, the TV show chose to air a publicity video segment at the security giant's facility in Moyock, NC, during the week of the eruption of outrage over the company's shootings of civilians in Baghdad.

Futureweapons delivered to viewers Blackwater's vision of massive firepower and the putting of it downrange in the service of ... well, that wasn't actually important.

What was important was to show the hardware and ammunition: Rifle grenades, an armored car called the Grizzly, a machine gun designed to punch through a car and put down drivers.

Futureweapons is also the first show to put the United States Air Force's Active Denial System (ADS) on display as evening entertainment.

The Air Force and the developers of the ADS have a public relations problem.

The reputation of the ADS, accumulated over at least a decade of development, is a bad one.

As an allegedly miraculous directed-energy weapon, one which shoots a beam of energy designed to heat the skin of human targets, it is cumbersome and expensive. And it has up to now only been shown to the media in carefully scripted strapped-down chicken tests.

Outside of these carefully conducted publicity exhibitions, it is perceived as a potential exotic instrument of torture.

DD, in writing about the ADS for the past several years, has certainly contributed to its poor image. The Active Denial System is one of the most wretched weapon projects a person could think of, deceptively and laughably claimed to be a revolution in arms, a humanitarian mechanism able to solve the insoluble in places like Iraq.

The ADS has been such a magnet for bad publicity, the military is afraid to open real books of scientific testing on it.

If the Active Denial System is actually as wondrous, harmless and beneficial to the common good as its fuglemen have always insisted, it should logically be FIRST deployed on American streets against civilians as part of crowd control measures.

DD is betting this will never happen.

Read the entire piece of criticism at el Reg here.

Caveat emptor: For those who can't yet tell, I'm not a fan.


The Active Denial System ad nauseum news, from the archive.

Friday, October 12, 2007

STEROID-GOBBLING KLEPTO EX-MARINE: Exposes war on terror follies

"Marine Gunnery Sgt. Gary Maziarz said patriotism motivated him to join a spy ring, smuggle secret files from Camp Pendleton and give them to law enforcement officers for anti-terrorism work in Southern California," read the most ridiculous and unintentionally annoying story of the day, courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune. (See here.)

In January, Maziarz had been exposed as a steroid-pumping stealer of war swag who just happened to work as a Marine Corps intelligence analyst in Fallujah and later at Camp Pendleton in southern California.

With an apparent fondness for nickel-plated, gold-painted AK47's, Russian sniper rifles, pistols and swords taken by the US military from the palaces of Saddam Hussein, Maziarz was the target of an Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe in January, one in which he was reasonably deemed a threat to the security of the United States.

Maziarz eventually pled guilty to mishandling hundreds of classified documents and passing them on to four alleged co-conspirators in law enforcement in Los Angeles County.

In return for a reduced sentence, Maziarz has become the primary source in an investigation into what has been dubbed a "spy ring," one which is said to include Larry Richards, an employee of the LA Sheriff's Department, a man said to be an intelligence analyst in great standing within the county's Terrorism Early Warning Center. (Note sarcasm. The center exists, known under the acronym as TEW, but you'll be hard-pressed to show that it's work has been worth anything if you require evidence from the public record. The San Diego Union Tribune revealed Richards had been awarded a Bronze Star for "psychological warfare strategies" developed for or during the Iraq War. Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow cannot help but think readers will find the claim a source of great jollity, psychological warfare having obviously worked so well in that country.)

Another alleged conspirator, named by the Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times is David Litaker, an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department assigned to the Rampart division. Rampart is well known mostly for a past history of corruption -- but not counter-terrorism.

Two other members claimed to be part of the spy ring were Lauren Martin, a civilian intelligence analyst at Peterson AFB in Colorado and Mark Lowe, another Marine reserve officer.

"[Maziarz] knew his group was violating national security laws," wrote the Union Tribune. "But he said bureaucratic walls erected by the military and civilian agencies were hampering intelligence sharing and coordination, making the nation more vulnerable to terrorists."

DD now asks readers to reflect upon the testimony and rationalization put forward by a disgraced ex-Marine, one given time off from stir for good behavior -- testimony to incriminate his former colleagues.

"Maziarz isn't alone in asserting that terrorists are operating in the United States," asserted the San Diego newspaper's report, somewhat nonsensically given that part of the article seems to be intended to portray a seemingly crazed, bad and troublesome ex-military man as a patriot, someone invaluable in our struggle for national existence.

"In the big picture, defense experts said, the Maziarz case isn't just about patriotism," continued the newspaper.

Naturally, patriotism and the desire to protect America from terrorists at all costs are things one always thinks of first as the motives of those who accumulate war booty, take steroids and collect mountains of intelligence documents, stowing them away in sheds in Carlsbad, California, and Fairfax County, Virginia.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that alleged Maziarz collaborator Larry Richards had been placed on leave. Alleged collaborator and LAPD officer Litaker had been assigned to desk duty.

"Richards is perhaps best known as the co-creator of the [LA County] Sheriff's Department's Terrorism Early Warning Center," wrote the Times, a claim not really backed up by the public record or Lexis which contain virtually no mention of the organization, or Richards' alleged invention of it, in the last ten years.

"[Richards] is one of the top guys in the field," said Sheriff's Chief William J. McSweeney to the Times.

Richards and Litaker, as well as the LAPD, the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department would have essentially had to have known of Maziarz's troubles and their ties to him much earlier in the year.

However, until the San Diego Union Tribune broke the story, there has been no public comment on what must be substantial internal investigations.

The LAPD's anti-terror division, while mostly invisible, has occasionally attempted to emphasize its role in the war on terror.

Judith Miller, famously ejected from the New York Times for Iraq war articles which turned out to be an assortment of interesting lies and frauds, has reported on the excellence of the unit.

Miller now very occasionally writes for the LA Times Sunday opinion section as a desperate nutbag eager to regain some of her former mojo.

LA's terror forces, "analysts [who] vet tips and leads -- nearly 25 a week, on average -- [trying] to identify the one percent that prove serious," she wrote in July of this year for a piece entitled, "Lacking funds and manpower, [Police Chief William J.] Bratton's war on terror is based on the principle of sharing..."

Now rendered unintentionally hilarious, DD blog points out some of this "sharing" was apparently illegal and involved a very dodgy person. And it has been hushed up. Until now.

Miller wrote Los Angeles's counter-terror operation was understaffed. Counter-terrorism operations make up about 2 percent of the LAPD's annual operating budget.

"If someone threatens to spread anthrax in the city, for instance, the [Terror Early Warning] center's 'threat squad' tries to figure out if the danger is real," wrote Miller.

There's been no anthrax in LA county. Good job!

No Miller story would be complete without at least one invention, something no one else could or can see.

"[Details of which haven't yet been made public," wrote Miller of "the uncovering in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 of a group of French-speaking North Africans, then living in an apartment complex in Hollywood, who may have provided support to the 9/11 hijackers."

Presumably an editor made Miller add the qualifier: "Neither the FBI, which helped investigate the cell, nor the 9/11 commission agreed with the LAPD that this was an Al Qaeda support cell."


Maziarz spy ring investigation in the Los Angeles Times.

Information sharing, by hook or by crook -- on Steven Aftergood's Secrecy blog.

Iraq war loot, steroids and classified information found in sheds in Virginia and California.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

UK TEENAGER HOOKED ON TERROR BEEF: Owner of Anarchist's Cookbook and a trivial amount of potassium nitrate

On October 6, the Yorkshire Post ran the luridly entitled story: Teenager 'had bomb-making chemicals under his bed.'

"A Yorkshire schoolboy was found with chemicals used for making bombs under his bed, a court heard yesterday," reported the newspaper. "The 17-year-old, from Dewsbury, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of plotting to make bombs following a trip to Pakistan."

It was another in a long series of depressing news articles on people being banged up on terror charges based on materials and suspicions which are none too impressive.

It is a British law enforcement directive -- a fever to get "terrorists" while they're still only wanna-be bombers.

Call it a unique variation on "Minority Report," one without the fancy machinery hooked up to clairvoyants sauteeing in tubs of goo in the basement.

Alleged to have a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook on his computer, the court was told the court it "had instructions for 'viable' bombs."

The teenager has been arrested in an "anti-terror raid on his home in Ravensthorpe on September 12" and, if one pieces the newspaper reports on him together, under surveillance of some kind since at least last year when he was apparently charged with possessing materials unspecified "for terrorist purposes."

"During the search approximately 500g of potassium nitrate were found under the defendant's bed in the room he shares with his younger brother," said the prosecutor.

"Potassium nitrate is a critical oxidising component of gunpowder. Also recovered was a file on a computer in the defendant's bedroom entitled the Anarchist's Cookbook.

"The prosecutor alleged 250g of calcium chloride was also found which features in the chapter How to Make a Plastic Explosive," reported the newspaper. "Videos including the devil's face made in smoke following the 9/11 attacks, beheadings and references to jihad were also allegedly found at the address."

The teenager was accused to plotting to blow up "members of the BNP," an ultra right-wing party of racists.

To put things in perspective, DD had these quantities of chemicals when a teenager.

As hard as it may be to believe, in the US -- and presumably in Britain -- one was permitted to have chemistry sets in the Sixties.

And it was not uncommon for us young men to be interested in gunpowder and then to make some. Five hundred grams of potassium nitrate was a trivial amount -- then.

Now, it's an entirely different kettle of fish. It is elementary to find someone to tell a jury or a journalist that a pipebomb capable of leveling part of a block can be made from a modest amount of finely ground charcoal, sulfur and nitrate.

The amount of "calcium chloride," another common compound found under the alleged bomber's bed, is also trivial.

However, lay juries and the press don't know anything of this.

And, experts are on hand to profess it could be made into a bomb in minutes, even if it is not quite so. Indeed, a real chemistry set, or even parts of one, would now be regarded as a complete terror lab.

Making the prognosis even more grim for the teenager is the existence of the Anarchist's Cookbook and the fact that while he is a Brit, he also shares Pakistani citizenship.

That's two bull's-eyes on your back, as far as the forces of counter-terror are concerned.

Copies of literature thought to contribute to the cause of terrorism on the hard drive are now enough to set in motion the process of conviction on charges of supporting terrorism or engaging in conspiracy to commit it.

Practically speaking, The Anarchist's Cookbook -- one of the more widespread anarchy files found on the net and in the possession of young boys -- is now considered a jihadi document.

It becomes irrelevant whether The Anarchist's Cookbook, or portions of Maxwell Hutchkinson's The Poisoner's Handbook, or the works of Kurt Saxon (the Poor Man's James Bond) actually enable terrorism in a practical way.

A strong case can be made that they don't -- that the authors were, in many ways, fundamentally incompetent and that their literature serves more as a source of titillation than as one of practical advice.

For example, if one actually tries to follow the recipes found in such books, and then actually gets lucky, the luck will most likely arrive in the form of an accident which burns or maims the home cook.

"The [Anarchist's Cookbook], in many respects, was a misguided product of my adolescent anger at the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight in a war that I did not believe in," wrote the author of The Anarchist's Cookbook, somewhat infamously.)

And certainly, the menacingly leering prose of Hutchkinson and Saxon, even when read as bad Arabic translations back to English, always stands a good chance of inflaming a jury into believing any owner of it must be hell-bent on terror.

So if a Muslim man is found with such texts in any language, the probability of being sent over on terror charges is excellent. It is also directly proportional to the amount of additional jihadi video, inspirational literature and links to such material in the cache of your web browser, found in the bedroom.

"After the 40-minute hearing, the teenager was released on bail under several conditions," reported the British newspaper. "These included reporting daily to police, living at his home address, only leaving home in the company of a named adult, and not being allowed to access a computer, use an internet cafe or use a mobile phone."

Perhaps a small victory -- usually one gets checked into a room at Belmarsh.


If you're Muslim and male -- the police better not catch you with this.

Thanks to David Mery, he who excellently delves the restriction of liberties for the sake of the war on terror here and here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

THE CLOWNS OF CYBERWAR: Rediscovering electronic Pearl Harbor, always handy fodder for the lazy opinion page editor

In today's Los Angeles Times, electronic Pearl Harbor mania is unimaginatively recycled through the wisdom and beneficence of Jim Newton, editor of the opinion pages.

Capable of winning over dullards at water fountains and in restrooms nationwide, Duncan E. Hollis of Temple University writes, "Estonia claimed to be under attack last spring, but not by guns or bombs."

"Likewise, last month ... hackers somewhere in China infiltrated a U.S. Defense Department Network ..."

And, the US government-run secret strapped-down chicken test showed we must be afraid:

"...[Researchers] at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory managed to make a generator self-destruct."

"So computers don't just threaten other computers but the larger infrastructure. Viruses could become as dangerous as missiles. At the same time, cyberattacks have the potential to minimize the costs of conflict in lives and dollars. Instead of demolishing an electrical grid, cyberattacks offer militaries the option of disabling it temporarily."

Hey, dude, pitch a techno-thriller book proposal.

"Cyberwar undoubtably will attract groups like al Qaeda; the technology is inexpensive, easy to use and can be deployed from almost anywhere," the man rambles on, just like countless other before him, including celebrities like Richard Clarke.

DD, colleague Rob Rosenberger (of the USAF's actual first information warfare squadron way back in the last century) and a handful of other experts stamped out belief in electronic Pearl Harbor prior to 9/11 but there are always a couple from universities, those who were still either in high school or undergraduates in the late Nineties when we did it.

Nine-one-one quashed most of them with the exception of the occasional dead-ender hankering for a job in the computer security industry.

Estonia, a good place for an alleged cyberwar because no real journalists were actually interested in actually wasting their time in going there to investigate it, is a fine repeatable tale in the tradition of digital warstories.

Cyberwar has always been said to be easy to do. Al Qaeda has always been said to be working on it. Before al Qaeda, it was Russia, China, India, North Korea. Even Saddam Hussein was imagined to be readying a US-smashing Internet strike force.

Computer viruses were regularly said to be about to become as dangerous as high explosives. And if I had one crisp Ben Franklin for each statement like this in my archive, DD could walk down the to the local Pasadena Hummer dealership and drive off the lot with one after paying in cash.

In 1998, a leading proponent of cyberwar was James Adams. Adams wrote a best-selling book about it called "The Next World War."

DD gave it poor marks in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Entitled "Truth is the first casualty of cyberwar," it read:
Concern is growing in many quarters that society's reliance on computers has made it extremely vulnerable to attack via keyboard. Journalist James Adams has written a new book, "The Next World War," which claims that information warfare will be the battleground of the future. At the Pentagon, military theorists ponder how to defend America against hackers in the employ of a foreign power who might use the Internet to turn off the electricity, paralyze the armed forces, cause corporations to crumble and write dirty words on your Web site.

Before you run screaming from your computer and haul the old manual typewriter out of the closet, look closely at the source of these cyber-scares. It turns out that many of them are information-age ghost stories that get spookier with every telling.

Mr. Adams's book passes along a couple of hoary tales. The first revolves around the idea that the National Security Agency developed a computer virus for use in the Gulf War. Supposedly secreted in the hardware of computer equipment destined for Iraq--printers, in the most popular variation--the virus was somehow designed to bushwhack Iraqi air defense computers hooked to the same network. This is implausible on its face: A printer has neither the hardware space nor the capability to spontaneously transmit programs, which is what computer viruses are, to other computers on a network.

The printer-virus story is very similar to an April Fool's joke published in a 1991 issue of Infoworld magazine. The story was subsequently picked up in "Triumph Without Victory," U.S. News & World Report's book on the Gulf War. Many have fallen for it besides Mr. Adams. In 1997, a Hudson Institute researcher gave it credence in an analysis of "Russian Views on Electronic and Information Warfare."

The second beguiling myth perpetuated by Mr. Adams and many others is that of the electromagnetic pulse gun. Since at least 1992, teenage hackers desperate for media attention have been spinning elaborate tales about this exotic weapon, usually said to be cobbled together out of a few hundred dollars worth of electronic trinkets, radio antennae, bailing wire and automobile batteries. This electronic rifle is allegedly capable of destroying computers by firing an assortment of electromagnetic waves. Mr. Adams reprints part of a 1996 interview in Forbes ASAP in which a hacker insists these are the "poor man's nuke." At a hackers' convention in Las Vegas, one participant-- appropriately named "Ph0n-E"--even showed off a bogus contraption that he claimed was a pulse gun.

Obviously, the genesis of this idea lies in a 1962 nuclear test whose electromagnetic pulses famously blocked radio communications. But no one has been able to overcome the basic physics problem of packing these pulses into a gun: Any such weapon would have an effective range of only a few feet while requiring a power supply so large it would severely burn, if not kill, whoever fired the weapon.

Indeed, no genuine pulse gun has ever been produced for examination. But that hasn't stopped Congress's Joint Economic Committee from holding two unintentionally amusing hearings, in June 1997 and February 1998, on the matter. Apocryphal claims have even spread that unnamed British financial institutions have had their computers electrocuted by such weapons.

Some other cyberwar myths making the rounds:

In 1997, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's commission on reducing government secrecy issued a report containing a chapter devoted to computer security. In a boxed-out quote, the commission uncritically reported: "One company whose officials met with the Commission warned its employees against reading an e-mail entitled Penpal. . . . Although the message appeared to be a friendly letter, it contained a virus that could infect the hard drive and destroy all data present." Actually Penpal is a notorious Internet hoax. In this instance, the pranksters took in a commission whose members included former intelligence agency chiefs John Deutch and Martin Faga. The spring issue of the U.S. Army War College's scholarly journal, Parameters, contained an article by Lt. Col. Timothy L. Thomas that soberly mentioned a computer virus called Russian Virus 666 allegedly capable of putting computer users into a trance in which they could be made to suffer from arrhythmia of the heart. The virus's satanic name should have been a tip-off. Yet while no one would give credence to a military publication that wrote about, say, salvaging weapons technology from UFOs, readers seem to leave logic behind when the subject is computers. In the December 1996 issue of the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin, two academics, Andra Katz of Wichita State University and David Carter of Michigan State, discuss the "Clinton virus" which was "designed to infect programs, but . . . eradicates itself when it cannot decide which program to infect." To the chagrin of the authors, the indecisive "Clinton virus" was revealed to be another Internet joke.

Oh well, look at the bright side: Cyberwar is cheap. Dueling jokes, myths and hoaxes cost almost nothing to produce and even less to spread.


The bad review did not discourage Adams.

Adams started a private sector intelligence firm -- iDefense -- to sell advisements to the US government and other gullibles in corporate America. It went bankrupt a few years later.

"How sweet to be an idiot, as harmless as a cloud/Too small too hide the sun, almost poking fun at the warm but insecure, untidy crowd," sang Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, sometime in 1968. "Hey you, you're such a pedant! You got as much brain as a dead ant ... But I still love you."



Recently: The Yellow Peril -- PLA cyberwarriors rile Pentagon, allegedly.

Friday, October 05, 2007

US MILITARY EMBRACES HUMAN TERRAIN TEAM CRAP SCIENCE: Gamey hearts and minds mutton rebranded as tasty lamb

It is standard American hubris to believe when things are going badly, homegrown eggheads will ride to the rescue with something capable of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Sometimes nowhere does this flavor of wishful thinking seem more entrenched than in the US military.

In today's New York Times, the latest miracle -- which has been gaining speed as a cliche for a few months -- is the Human Terrain Team at the battlefront.

"In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy," reported the Times.

"Tracy, who asked that her surname not be used for security reasons, is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The Human Terrain Team is a hot military fad, something which generals can employ to momentarily delude themselves and journalists into thinking a new technique can win a war that, as far as the rest of the world and well over half the people in this country are concerned, has been decisively lost in Iraq.

In March of this year, DD blog touched upon the Human Terrain Team -- or HTT -- fad.

HTT was and is old mutton now reseasoned as lamb because what it used to be -- the winning of hearts-and-minds -- got you laughed at as out of it.

Now -- winning hearts and minds, which the American military has always been notoriously rotten at practicing -- is packaged as a system defined by corporate-type jargon so someone in the service can call it their unique contribution, a new giftbox of allegedly more considerate personnel to take to foreign lands where things are blowing up beyond control.

From a military publication called the Military Review on "The Human Terrain System" by Jacob Kipp, Lester Grau, Karl Prinslow and Capt. Don Smith, one reads:

"The core building block of the system will be a five-person human terrain team (HTT) ... The HTT [provides] the commander [with]...civilian social scientists trained and skilled in cultural data research and analysis."

"During the Vietnam war, [a project] was administered to win the 'hearts and minds' of the South Vietnamese people ... In the above photo, a soldier ... is playing with children of An Dien ... a Viet Cong stronghold west of Saigon..."




DD has included the specious photograph of the smiling Vietnamese children included in "Human Terrain System," meant by the authors to show how it was first implemented.

Yes, I think we can all agree that HTT/hearts-and-minds in Vietnam really worked.

"In the current climate, there is broad agreement among operators ... that many, if not most, of the challenges we face in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted from our failure early on to understand the culture in which [US] forces were working," continues the journal. "In other words, we failed to heed the lessons of Vietnam ... and we did not take the steps necessary to deal appropriately with the insurgencies within the context of their unique cultural environments."

"...With the introduction of the Human Terrain System and its human terrain teams, future deploying brigades will get a running start once they enter threater. They will be culturally empowered and able to key on the people and so prosecute counter-insurgency ... not by fire and maneuver but by winning hearts and minds. In turn, the Army, our Nation, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan will benefit from the fielding of this powerful new instrument for conducting stability operations and reconstruction."

It's hard to think of anyone with common sense and whose pay grade, rank or job description not preclude they keep their mouths shut, not laughing at such conceits.

The keys to look for in the HTT delusion are the national tics of empty bragging and wishful thinking.

"...[The] people of Iraq will benefit from the fielding of this powerful new instrument," reads like a contribution from apple-polishers rather than deep thinkers.

Our military will get "a running start" and it will be "culturally empowered."

In his 1991 book, BAD, World War II veteran Paul Fussell wrote: "The United States especially overflows with [bad thinking] because of all countries it is the most addicted to self-praise ... even more than France."

As remarkable as "Human Terrain System" is in its weird and clouded military groupthink, get it here.

"[Criticism] is emerging in academia," reports the Times on HTT.

"Citing the past misuse of social sciences in counterinsurgency campaigns, including in Vietnam and Latin America, some denounce the program as 'mercenary anthropology' that exploits social science for political gain. Opponents fear that, whatever their intention, the scholars who work with the military could inadvertently cause all anthropologists to be viewed as intelligence gatherers for the American military."

When the reader is done perusing the "Human Terrain System" article they'll have noticed that its authors specifically invoke Vietnam.

The idea, of course, is a variation on the old excuse -- if we had just done this more we could have won that war. Just like if we just would have bombed them more, we could have won that war. Or if we hadn't been stabbed in the back at home, we would have won that war.

Examination of the footnotes is also in order.

The authors bow to T. E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" -- notoriously turned into a PowerPoint slide exhibit by David Petraeus, now used as a Magic Eight-Ball of Answers in much the same way as Sun Tzu's little book of idiot savant aphorisms on war was prior to the invasion.

"Hugh Gusterson, an anthropology professor at George Mason University, and 10 other anthropologists are circulating an online pledge calling for anthropologists to boycott the teams, particularly in Iraq," continues the Times.

"While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world ... at base, it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties," continued Gusterson.


Crap Science for the War Zone in today's NY Times.

From the DD blog archive -- on HTT from March.
BUSH ACTUALLY LIKE CHIMP: Proven by science!

DD has only seen Bushorchimp.com once or twice. But even though I did not get all the photographic comparisons, Bill Feldspar was apparently on to something all along.

In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman writes, "Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by ... Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned."

This in a Krugman column on the parsimoniousness of George W. Bush and other Republicans.

" ... [The] truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance," writes Krugman.

Then, just in time for lunch, DD read in the LA Times that "a study with chimps finds they are content with decisions humans would reject as unjust."

"In a food-sharing experiment published today in the journal Science, chimpanzees readily accepted stingy offers [from their peers] humans would tend to reject, suggesting the human sense of fairness evolved to foster cooperation in a complex society made up of unrelated individuals and groups."

"In the context of everyday life, it is an advantage to not allow people to treat you unfairly," said one author of the scientific study to the newspaper.

The study was based on an adaptation of an "ultimatum game" administered to humans.

In such a game, a small parcel of money is given to one player with the orders to divide it between himself and his game-playing partner. If the offer of money to the second player is accepted, the money is shared. However, if the second player rejects the offer because of a lack of generosity, no one gets to keep any cash.

In humans, offers of less than 20 percent of the whole tend to be rejected "giving the first player a strong incentive to be fair."

Scientists used raisins instead of cash with chimpanzees.

"Chimps tended to accept any offer and didn't get upset when they were offered a small amount of raisins or none at all," reported the newspaper.

The primary author of the study told the newspaper that chimps behave more rationally than humans, saying "...[I]t makes perfect economic sense to accept any nonzero offer and to offer the smallest amount possible while keeping the most for yourself."

"Human sensitivity to fairness may have evolved along with empathy and other traits that allow individuals to cooperate..."

However, comparing George W. Bush to a chimp is a bit unfair. To the chimpanzee.

A scientist told the Los Angeles Times that chimps have a strong sense of justice but that it is just not the same as that which is found in humans.

Anyone who lives in Los Angeles County knows this is absolutely right.

A family in Covina kept an old acting chimpanzee named Moe in a cage in their backyard for many years. Moe was very popular but there came a time when he bit off the tip of a finger of a visitor, mistaking the visitor's brightly colored red fingernail for a piece of candy.

Covina officials required Moe to be removed and so he was sent to an animal refuge which served as a sort of retirement home for other old acting chimpanzees near the Angeles Crest forest.

Moe's human "parents" visited him regularly and one day brought him a celebratory cake for a party.

The other acting chimps incarcerated at the animal refuge became incensed and sought vengeance when they were not welcomed to Moe's party and invited to have cake. They broke out of their cages and attacked Moe's human dad, biting off his nose, lips, testicles, fingers, a cheek, an eye and a foot while beating him so savagely he lapsed into a coma.

This is a true story.

"Deviations from the [chimpanzee] code of conduct are dealt with swiftly and succinctly and then everybody moves on," said the chimpanzee scientist to the Times. "They're more adaptive than we are -- just look at the Middle East."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

THE US MILITARY'S HUMONGOUS CRAP SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROJECT IN IRAQ: Gadgets, gizmos, unblinking eyes, rayguns and bomb-sniffing bees flop

The US military has always been vulnerable to crap science.

Real science requires critical thinking in abundance, the ability to come up with good questions as well as good experiments, and the intellectual honesty to accept the truth in what nature gives you.

All of this is anathema to the American military way.

The military way is "Can do!"

If something needs to be done, then a way must be found to do it! Nothing is allowed to be impossible.

In the war against Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq, the US military has come up against the impossible. And it was not intellectually flexible enough to realize it.

At least that's the way your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow interpets the Washington Post's "You can't armor your way out of this problem," published earlier this week here.

The Washington Post's interviews show military men who are woefully ignorant in the ways and history of science, people with a weak grasp of this country's actual technological achievements what it took to accomplish them.

Our military leaders instead latch onto slogans, bromides and sloppy thinking -- the kind of things which would get them laughed out of the auditorium at any grad student seminar in a hard science department from the academies in this nation.

"Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, who headed the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, lamented the failure of American science to vanquish the roadside bomb," reported the Post. "If we could prematurely detonate IEDs, we will change the whole face of the war ... [for a] country that can put a man on the moon in 10 years, or build a nuke in 2 1/2 years of wartime effort, I don't think we're getting what we need from technology on that point."

This almost sounds reasonable until the stark realization hits home: Neither of the technological achievements mentioned by Mattis are in any way like what he wanted to have done. (We'll get to how this idiotic meme poisoned clear thinking in the military in a minute.)

The Post's reporter documents how one attempt involved implementing something called "the unblinking eye," an all-the-time surveillance of a bomb-attacked road called Route Tampa. It was all to be accomplished through state-of-the-art technology.

The problems: The much hyped technology of surveillance drones and aerial videography and photography can't achieve the level of magnification and observation required. Much data can be provided but while it appears to be an ocean, it's still not enough and people required to observe, align and sift it can't do the job without their attentions wandering.

"Numerous images showed Iraqis in pickup trucks staring into the sky and making obscene gestures at the [recon] drones, which were as noisy as lawn mowers," reported the Post in one part of its series.

[Ground surveilling radar] was bedeviled by false positives, including oil barrels and car hulks. The Iraqis ... were [also] 'wonderful buriers.'"

"The most disheartening day came on Thursday, Nov. 4. By chance, virtually all surveillance assets — satellites, U-2s, drones — happened to be focused simultaneously on one small swatch of Route Tampa. Traffic appeared normal. Two hours later, another sequence of images revealed a scorched crater where a bag of artillery shells triggered by a detonation wire had just killed one American soldier in a truck and severed the leg of another."

So much for the unblinking electronic eye, a realization, the Post reports, which would take the military months to arrive at.

The US military in Iraq was possessed with having a "Manhattan-like Project" to fight IEDs.

Now, you know those questions Jay Leno likes to embarrass people outside his studio with?

"What was the Manhattan Project?" should be one. Any guesses on how many people would know?

In any case, the US military in Iraq certainly did not know, even though it professed to.

The Manhattan Project was the US effort to develop the atomic bomb and it was staffed by the finest high energy nuclear physicists, chemists and metallurgists in the world. It was led by a group of people who either were or would become Nobel laureates.

There aren't Nobel laureates in Iraq. There aren't any in the military. And there most certainly weren't any working on the science of improvised explosive devices.

The development of the atomic bomb was built upon nature's unchanging laws --a hard bedrock of solid physics and chemistry. It was a project which required hard scientific thought and a good number of achievable technical solutions for the fast generation of a supercritical mass of uranium or plutonium, a mass which would allow a well-defined fission reaction to quickly go to completion, consuming all its fuel in a tremendously destructive release of energy.

However, the nature of uranium, plutonium and fission reactions did not change during the development of the bomb and still are as they have been for all time.

The neutron cross-section of the various metals used in the bomb do not change in the way Iraqi methods for developing IEDs change in apparently infinite and often unforseeable ways.

The atomic bomb incontrovertibly changed the history of the world. It led to the development of the hydrogen bomb and national ability to slay nations and exterminate the human race.

IEDs have changed only the US military in a war it should not have been asked to wage.

"Whether the nation could conjure an IED solution, as the Manhattan Project had delivered the atomic bomb in 1945, also remained uncertain, given how little of the country seemed mobilized for war," wrote the Post's reporter, with unintentioned humor.

"Uncertain."

DD is certain.

The US military and its scientific servants didn't have the brainpower for it. More precisely, they didn't have the brainpower with the intellectual honesty to tell them what they didn't want to hear.

"Joe Votel, the Joint IED Task Force director, had come to regret [John Abizaid’s] Manhattan Project allusion," reported the Post. "The metaphor implied a facile, scientific solution to IEDs, a technological silver bullet."

In this, the Post reporter perhaps delivers a spin Votel did not intend. The Manhattan Project was, obviously, neither a facile accomplishment nor a technological silver bullet, as history has shown.

“That was easy ...” said Votel to the Post. "You were in a sanctuary, you developed a bomb, you dropped a couple of them and it was done."

Yeah, easy.

In any case, the Post's statement and the military's argument comparing IED countermeasures to the Manhattan Project was senseless. It showed an inability to think things through.

The atomic bomb was, only in a broad sense, a technical solution to the devices of the enemy. The solution was in that it potentially enabled the total annihilation of the Japanese.

In that sense, it IS a solution for the IED problem in Iraq. Totally annihilating the enemy.

The Post's series also dealt with other gadgets and gizmos -- dodgy electronic rayguns made by Israeli scientists and a variety of jammers -- junk that either didn't work or presented its own set of limitations and problems.

IEDs hits went up, anyway.

It would take wisdom and guts to realize IEDs are a problem that cannot be solved as long as the US military must remain in contact with a civilian population that wants it gone.

The Post's series also dealt with the certified idiot's idea of bomb-sniffing bees, a DARPA/National Lab boffin's contribution to detecting IEDs.

The bomb-sniffing bees were bunk.

"The practical applications [of bomb-sniffing bees] in combat seemed limited," reported the Post. "'How does, say, 1st Platoon manage their bees?'"

"After an analysis concluded that the honeybee's 'explosive-detection capabilities have significant reliability issues,' as a Defense Department official put it earlier this year, the Pentagon withdrew its support."

In November of last year, DD blog wrote of the crap science involved in the bomb-sniffing bee project:

"And then [we envision] the comedy when local police forces [and the military] buy into the phlogiston of bomb-sniffing bee-keeping only to find a number of things to be true: (1) They're not so good at bee-keeping, [and] (2) the bomb-sniffing bees don't work so hot, so can't we go back to using dogs because you can tell them what to do and they wag their tails?"

Read the rest here.


Armchair Generalist reflects on the bomb-sniffing bees.
RAGINGLY PSYCHOTIC NATION (continued): A Blackwater USA employee walked into a bar ...

Only in the United States under the rule of George W. Bush can you have a spectacle in which no one can know the name of the raging drunk from Blackwater who killed a security guard in Iraq.

In today's Los Angeles Times, one has two good examples of this tortured way of practicing journalism, where black is white, down is up, gravity no longer applies and common sense is absent.

"In one incident, a Blackwater employee was quickly flown out of the country after killing an Iraqi vice-president's security guard after a holiday party," reads an account on page A6.

Weekly, almost daily, the Los Angeles Times prints the names of murderers and accused murderers apprehended, in prison or on the lam in the region. Newspapers like the Times do not generally refer to them as anonymous "employees" and decline to print names.

On the Op-Ed page, Patt Morrison of the Times writes in "Blackwater Has No Business Here" (she refers to the company's efforts to set up shop in San Diego County):

"An Iraqi vice-president's security guard killed by a drunken off-duty security contractor. The shooter was fired and quickly bustled out of Iraq."

Morrison calls the man a drunk and a shooter, not the usual "employee of Blackwater" -- as is the practice of the standard news journalist mysteriously bound from reporting that which logically needs to be reported.

In our America, even those who richly deserve being thrown under the bus can't be thrown under the bus because they're working for our government in Iraq.

Surely many have thought to send FOIA requests to the State Department with queries to release information on the incident in question. They must be asking WHO WAS THAT MAN? Is the information protected by classification? Is it a state secret?

Morrison quotes a Blackwater official, Seamus Flatley, commenting that Blackwater USA employees are simply like doctors, lawyers, funeral directors and newspapers, in reference to earlier news that it had been hired by the government to furnish security after Katrina.

Flatley: "...[I]t's a distateful fact ... doctors, lawyers, funeral directors, even newspapers ... they all make a living off of bad things happening. So do we, because somebody's got to handle it."

Such an astounding thing to say!

Only in newspaper land, like the Virginian Pilot, a newspaper local to Blackwater in Moyock, NC, where the quote originally appeared, can a journalist be constrained from laughing superciliously at it.

Corporate spokesmen know this.

They know their most intelligence-insulting, malicious, self-serving and just plain nasty comments must be reprinted straight, without reprimand or denunciation.

The practice of medicine is not comparable to what employees of Blackwater USA do.

Going to medical school to learn how to heal is in no way existentially or philosophically similar to being enrolled in a course at Blackwater USA in Moyock to sharpen one's skills in the use of heavy weapons, firing to kill and storming buildings in a mock-up combat town.

Blackwater USA, however, as part of its arsenal of talking points, frequently tries to pass its function off as humanitarian.

Yesterday, DD blog again published Cofer Black's statement about Blackwater allegedly spending a great deal of thought on this.

"How can [Blackwater] contribute to the common good?" said the man in April of 2006.

Blackwater could have not smuggled a power drunk/murderer out of Iraq, is one obvious answer, among others.

"Contractors play a critical role - not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Somalia and many other places where international peace and stability operations are underway. Indeed, peacekeeping could not happen without them," wrote a Blackwater USA lobbyist for the Google News tab yesterday.

Disguised as a president of a group called the International Peace Operations Association, the commentary was another in a long list of efforts by Blackwater USA to confuse people into thinking a mercenary army is a humanitarian organization, similar to teams from the World Health Organization or the Red Cross, only with big muscles, heavy weapons, armored cars and helicopter gunships.

Perhaps Blackwater USA could help in controlling malaria in Africa! They could shoot up, throw hand grenades into, drive over and stomp through bodies of stagnant water where the Anopheles mosquito is known to breed.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Times op-ed page, in its constant effort to be edgy for the sake of being of edgy, published "In Defense of Blackwater" by Max Boot. Again, Blackwater USA was stood up for its humanitarian potential.

"Under the right circumstances, we could even expand the use of [mercenary] companies. In the past, I have suggested hiring [them] to end the genocide in Darfur," Boot wrote.

If only Blackwater USA could be sent to Darfur!

In the meantime, outside the environment of the Beltway, Blackwater USA is a corporate pariah. It's an image of what's s--- and bad news in America. Iraq can't get rid of Blackwater USA but in California we still can be immunized against its disease.

In San Diego county, there is a strong opposition effort underway to forbid its setting up shop in Potrero. For those not familiar with the area, Blackwater USA wants to be in Potrero because it puts it in close proximity to the Navy in San Diego and the Marines at Camp Pendleton. This would enable contracting services in training special forces and providing firing ranges and mock-up combat facilities for the US military in much the same way the Moyock, NC, facility is geographically convenient to the military at Bragg, Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads (Virginia) and the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

"Blackwater is a corporation the puts profits above human life, a corporation that sees themselves as above the law," said one local to the Los Angeles Times.

Described as a peace activist, readers should know that in the context of the Times' story, written by Tony Perry, a journalist who acts as a fugleman for the Marine Corps and Navy in San Diego County, being called a "peace activist" is a vague putdown.

"A recall movement is underway aimed at the members of the Portero community planning group who voted to recommend to county officials that the proposal [to admit Blackwater] be approved," wrote the Times.

In additional news, it was mentioned Rep. Bob Filner (D -- Chula Vista) -- who serves that region of southern California, had introduced a bill to allow training facilities by mercenary groups [Blackwater USA] only on federal government land.

California may be able to inhibit the plans of Blackwater USA. Morrison's column in today's Times seemed to indicate various officials at the state level were running for cover whenever the company's name was brought up.

Unfortunately, the US government will never inhibit Blackwater USA. Our government --the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and the Congress will stall and stall and stall. They will count on everyone getting worn out and down by the big long nothing which transpires when there is any effort to get in the way of conducting endless war in the Middle East.

Getting rid of Blackwater USA in Iraq would burden the military in Iraq, is the argument. The US military is already burdened in Iraq and has been for a good long time. Kicking 1,000 security guards out of the country and forcing the regular military to replace their function is one productive way to redirect the forces of occupation and pacification. And it would eliminate a national shame and source of trouble in the process.

That would be hard, though, like getting Lindsay Lohan off booze.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

RAGINGLY PSYCHOTIC NATION: Blackwater USA brings out the best in us

It would seem purely coincidence that the same week the mercenary group, Blackwater USA, would be in the news for pumping fire into civilians in Baghdad, it would appear on Futureweapons peddling automatic shotguns, armored cars and the application of massive firepower. -- from this blog a couple weeks ago

From the New York Times by way of the International Herald Tribune today:

"A deadly cascade of events began when a single bullet apparently fired by a Blackwater guard killed an Iraqi man whose weight probably remained on the accelerator and propelled the car forward as the passenger, the man's mother, clutched him and screamed ... The car continued to roll toward the convoy, which responded with an intense barrage of gunfire in several directions, striking Iraqis who were desperately trying to flee."

Skipping further ahead:

"Then Blackwater guards opened fire with a barrage of bullets, according to the police and numerous witnesses. Ahmed's father later counted 40 bullet holes in the car. Ahmed's mother, Mohassin Kadhim, appears to have been shot to death as she cradled her son in her arms. Moments later the car caught fire after the Blackwater guards fired a type of grenade into the vehicle."

From DD blog's description of Blackwater's p.r. segment on Futureweapons, the diseased entertainment TV show which is currently the crown jewel of the Military channel:

On display was the the Grizzly, a fifteen ton armored car invented and made by Blackwater USA, and automatic shotguns that fire as fast as machine guns. The automatic shotguns were claimed, by a Blackwater employee, to be the most powerful of their kind, capable of shooting small grenades ... One would view the part where the hopped-up host uses a Blackwater machine gun to riddle a civilian automobile with a dummy behind the wheel as magnificently and malevolently mentally ill.

Blackwater USA is known worldwide as an entity besmirching the reputation of the country. Whether one believes it is wholly deserved is beside the point. Vexingly, in the recent hearing it was revealed that Blackwater USA fires employees which embarrass the company. Besmirching Blackwater's reputation is verboten -- if it has some say in the matter. However, the United States government cannot and won't fire Blackwater USA for embarrassing the rest of us.

There'll be no voluntary or compelled seppuku in store for Blackwater USA.

The fact of the matter is that the company is viewed as a private army -- a corporate guard of ex-military men who shoot civilians indiscriminately as a regular part of their job guarding American politicians and State Department employees in Iraq. This is part of the humanitarian operation our nation is conducting in Iraq.

When someone is shot dead by a raging drunk on the streets of the United States, their name is immediately on TV and in the newspapers. When a raging drunk from Blackwater USA shoots the guard of an Iraqi official, the perp is referred to only as an anonymous "individual" in Congress and by the media. No one can be allowed to know who he is. It might prejudice justice should -- theoretically -- it be pursued.

Like everything about the Iraq war, it's repellent and as ridiculous as the various reasons for the war. It's another in a huge list of shames and stains upon the country, blots we'll have to endure.

The fault is not just with the current administration.

Congress held no investigations into whether it was wise and proper to use private armies in Iraq until this week. Private armies were and are politically convenient. Actually getting more Americans into uniform to handle all the security functions in the occupation of a failed state was and is way too politically inconvenient.

Years of war went by and no one in oversight positions within the Beltway could be bothered to look into outsourced security except a couple journalists and academics who wrote books and who were, until the last couple of weeks, banished to the fringes.

Even portions of the media have previously gone along with the idea that Blackwater USA is nothing more than a security company trying to do right for the American people. Heck, Blackwater USA provided great edutainment on cable TV's Futureweapons!

"[Cofer Black of Blackwater USA] astonished special operations forces representatives gathered here from around the world with a proposal to use his company as an army for hire for the world's secondary battles," reported Army Times in April of last year.

" 'It's an intriguing, good idea from a practical standpoint because we're low-cost and fast ... The issue is, who's going to let us play on their team?'"

"Blackwater spends a lot of time thinking, 'How can we contribute to the common good?'" the man said.

To read these words was to experience great hilarity at the preposterousness of such a presumption. It was supposedly right and good, like everything wise and caring Americans invent to further security in foreign countries, all of them much smaller and weaker than us, places where no one can stand up and say "Get the Hell out!" and enforce it.

DD cynically predicts get used to more business as usual.

Benighted Connecticut politician Chris Shays was in awe of what Blackwater does, we were informed through the hearing.

On the evening news hour with Jim Lehrer, the politicians, as usual -- banged heads and split down the middle.

If you were a Democrat, Blackwater USA was in need of some serious brushbacks. If you were a Republican, the Democrats were using Blackwater as political theatre. The company was just doing its job and no one should rush to judgment.

Besides, getting Blackwater USA and other mercenaries out of Iraq would be harder than getting Lindsay Lohan off booze.


Google, as part of its News tab, has started published by-lined commentaries from "experts." These commentaries are positioned to show with cluster's of news stories to which they apply.

Today, DD noticed Google had placed a commentary on the Blackwater hearings, written by Doug Brooks, President, of the International Peace Operations Association.

Brooks is a lobbyist for Blackwater USA, another Blackwater subsidiary -- Total Information Solutions, and a host of other mercenary security contractors working in Iraq. DD thinks most readers can perceive Blackwater USA's action in protecting a State Department convoy in Nisour Square does not really fit the definition of an International Peace Operation unless, perhaps, you always use the Orwellian definition, "War is Peace."

However, nowhere in the Google-published commentary was Brooks' affiliation and history revealed.

Instead, it was tossed out to the layman as the work of an expert instead of a professional p.r. man hawking Blackwater USA's position.

"Much of the information [on Blackwater] that the Members of Congress based their questions on was hopelessly biased, and collapsed in the face of the testimony," wrote Brooks.

"Contractors play a critical role - not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Somalia and many other places where international peace and stability operations are underway. Indeed, peacekeeping could not happen without them," he continued.

"We often point out that U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are the best supported and supplied military operations in history," Brooks goes on.

Yes, that's so obvious, Mr. Lobbyist for Blackwater. Even better than World War II!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

THE GWOT'S PROFESSIONAL WITNESS: Guaranteed convictions

The recent conviction of Mohammed Atif Siddique on terror charges highlighted the role of globetrotting professional witness Evan Kohlmann. Defenders in the US and UK have come to recognize him as a figure brought in to furnish opinions which are only of use to prosecutions in the frightening of juries. Kohlmann was also tapped by New Scotland Yard and the Crown in the well known case which resulted in the recent conviction of al-Qaeda's super-cyber 007, Younis Tsouli.

For the past couple of years, Kohlmann has been reasonably ubiquitous in US news reports on terrorism, usually in your backyard, even if you cannot perceive it.

In the US, defenders have tried to have Kohlmann barred from presenting testimony, with poor results. In cases traced through a Lexis search, all those in which Kohlmann participated as a paid witness for the prosecution, the US government prevailed.

Naturally, it is not quite as simple as all that and you can read the rest about it in today's issue of the Reg here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

MUSIC FOR A MONDAY: Hooray for the Salvation Army Band



Well before Bill Cosby's enshrinement as a TV star in the Huxtable family, DD thought he was hilarious.

If you were a smartypants kid living in Pennsylvania within easy travel of Philadelphia in the mid-Sixties, Cosby was the homegrown comic for you.

The most played Cosby vinyl in the Smith household, between my brother and I, was "Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow Right!" -- a live recording of him doing his thing at the Bitter End in NYC.

But there was one Bill Cosby record that was off style.

"Bill Cosby Sings Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!" was an album of Cosby singing -- or yelling and chanting if you prefer -- old favorites, many with his own lyrics tacked on, while backed by a funk band.

Viewed with a fishy eye by some regular fans, it was at first perceived to be a joke album by a jokester putting one over on the same fans.

It wasn't.

DD was introduced to it by fellow Pine Grove Area School District student Dave Berger. Berger showed up in class one day reciting the lyrics to the title track. Even without music, they were a laugh riot if you were in our state of mind.

As we were easily entertained, Berger's description of Bill Cosby singing about "stealing tires" and getting ready to "have a little sin" set to an unusual interpretation of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Purple Haze" sounded top shelf -- not a piece of eye-rolling junk to try your patience.

After that, it was about a week before I had convinced my grandfather to drive me to Pomeroy's in Pottsville to secure a copy.

In the Eighties in Bethlehem I always wanted to perform "Hooray for the Salvation Army Band" but the Highway Kings would have never went for it.

The song was recorded using Roger Linn's Adrenalinn III magic box. The Adrenalinn III is a guitar amp emulator and drummer coupled to beat-synchronized multi-effects. What that means is you can play a guitar through its digital selection of vintage pieces of equipment, like amplifiers chosen for their rock and roll history and tone. Through the software and processing power in the Adrenalinn III's chips, your playing is lashed to the beat of any song you would like to record or perform.

The Adrenalinn has been around for years, upgraded intermittently but very effectively by its designers. It is the embodiment of sophisticated music machine fun and it's hard to imagine making a recording or writing a new tune without employing it.

So the Adrenalinn III was the perfect tool for "Hooray for the Salvation Army Band" as it provides settings and sound ideal for something loosely based on "Purple Haze" -- the original's basic drum track, plus the old Marshall amplifier and octave fuzztone used by Jimi Hendrix.

Everything on the track (with the exception of the "Bringing In the Sheaves" punchline) was sent through the Adrenalinn III.

If you have Cosby's original album -- it is back in print -- you know the tune was interpreted as garage-style funk rock. DD has altered it slightly, toward a more psychedelic hard rock flavor.

Hooray for the Salvation Army Band MP3.


A variety of endorsements of the Adrenalinn III -- including mine.