Banana Counting Monkey

Friday, June 21, 2002:

Canadian Dollar On A Tear

And the USD getting Torn.

$0.6583 USD, up 0.0046, 150pm quote

BCM // 12:49 PM


FBI Warns of Attacks on US Jews

I am getting to dread seeing the red banner at the top of FOX news' site. It's never good news. I've seen it twice already this week,
and this one is the topper.

BCM // 12:02 PM


Bad Ideas

I know that the movie version of Scooby Doo is a piece of unmentionable crap. The
reviews were appalling, coworkers who saw it with their kids hated it, and it just looks bad.

Having said that, there is still a part of me that want to see it, hoping against hope that it will somehow redeem itself, be better than the critics say. Forlorn hope I know. I guess I'll make it one of those guilty rentals in six months time or so.

Dammit, why did it have to be bad? I was so looking forward to seeing Scooby and the Gang again. I'll just have to go and watch Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back again for a view of what could have been.

Now they have already green-lighted a sequel. (Okay: today, and today only, I will have a problem with capitalism.) Why do I already hear the voice of Scrappy-Doo?

BCM // 6:00 AM


Thursday, June 20, 2002:

"Let's Bash The Greens" Day

First, we have the US Forest Service. Thanks to its
previous involvement in environmentalist skulduggery and unwillingness to 'fess up and punish wrongdoers, the Service is now not trusted to do the right thing, even when it obviously does.

Then we have a thorough demolition of Greenpeace's latest claims that GM cotton is bad. Gee, you mean lab test conditions aren't exactly like the real world and you can't broadly generalize between the two?

BCM // 8:12 AM


Quote of the Day

"If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man, you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one."

Jonah Goldberg

BCM // 7:52 AM



The Bourne Identity vs. Windtalkers

I've seen both over the last few days, and given they are both action movies, I thought I might as well post my opinions on both.

First, for Windtalkers, anyone expecting more of director John Woo's typical bullet-opera is going to be dissapointed. Not one character wields twin automatics at any point and there is a complete absence of Woo's trademark white doves flying by in slo-mo. There wasn't even one moment of Woo-vian excess which demands rewinding and repeated viewing. It's a war movie. Lots of people on both sides die in messy ways, but this is at most a nod to realism, the rest of the time the heroes fire phenomenally accurate bursts which wipe out entire platoons of Japanese soldiers while the Japanese fire tends to be horribly inaccurate (until dramatically appropriate moments).

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it was less than I expected. They seem to have tries for a middle ground between Saving Private Ryan (SPR) and a John Woo film, but walked away with the best of neither. There was a lack of a driving goal in the movie as well. SPR had the goal of, well, saving Private Ryan. Windtalkers explores the anti-buddy relationship between the codetalker and his guardian/executioner who are caught up in a campaign to drive the Japanese off an island, not a goal the heroes alone can accomplish which makes them feel like bystanders in the goal's completion.

Now, as for the Bourne Identity, it kicked ass. I came to the movie with a lot of expectations, having been a fan of the book for years. They did a good job of adapting the basic premise of the book (amnesiac spy on the run) since some of the original premise has been consigned to history. (Carlos the Jackal being part of the book's focus, and now a resident in a french jail.) Matt Damon did a good job as Bourne and Franka Potente, well, I'm prejudiced, I've always found her nice to look at. The techno soundtrack will be added to my CD rack as soon as I see it in the stores. The action was well filmed, fast and brutal, in other words, realistic. people don't keep walking after recieving bullet wounds. Overall, the best spy movie in years.

One great thing: you can see the movie and still read the book, as they're almost completely different past the basic plot. Bourne is still a dammed fine thriller. There were two sequels to the novel (Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum) that won't make it to the screen (they focused on Carlos exculsively) and perhaps shouldn't as they were nowhere near as good as the original.

For those looking for good thrillers to read, I'd recommend some of Ludlum's other novels. The Chancellor Manuscript, The Road to Aquitaine, and The Holcroft Covenant are great, the later ones weren't anywhere near as good.

BCM // 6:15 AM


Wednesday, June 19, 2002:

The Fence, Con't

National Post Editorial today discusses why they feel the Israeli fence is a bad idea. My comments are interspersed.

The latest atrocity carried out by Palestinian terrorists -- 20 dead, at last count, in a homicide-bomb attack on a Jerusalem bus -- will amplify demands to build a large-scale security barrier between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On Sunday, ground was broken just north of an Israeli checkpoint near Jenin. Following yesterday's attacks, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Defence Minister, promised to accelerate its construction, especially in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

In the short term, a fence would probably help reduce the number of terrorists crossing into Israel. But it will not solve Israel's problem in the long run: If a terrorist is so committed to the goal of killing Jews that he is willing to blow himself up in the process, he will probably not be discouraged by a barrier of wire and concrete.

So? Stopping Palestinians at checkpoints doesn't solve Israel's problem in the long run either. It can help protect Israelis in the short term, and the long term is made up of a whole bunch of little short terms. Reducing the number of attacks is the goal. perfection isn't attainable and is not the immediate goal of building the fence.

A fence will not discourage a bomber, but will slow him down, force him to expend time and effort in finding a way through/around it. This will make it easier for the Israelis to catch the bombers.

The reality is that construction of a full ring around the West Bank would take several years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

As I've previously mentioned, the cost of continually calling up the reserves, loss of tourism revenue and the human and medical cost make it worth it, if not cheap by comparison. A fence will not necessarily take years to complete either. Even a partially built fence will make completed areas harder to attack from.

Even then, determined killers can still slip through checkpoints with forged papers or recruit volunteers living within Israel's pre-1967 borders. Around built-up areas, such as Jerusalem, it will be impossible to seal every possible hole.

True, but if the terrorists have to come through certain choke points, the job of stopping them becomes easier because you can concentrate your resources.

Moreover, once built, the fence may contribute to the isolation of Israeli settlements and give terrorists more freedom to arm themselves openly from foreign sources. Some of these arms, such as Katyusha rockets and mortars, can be fired over a fence. Indeed, terrorists themselves can fly over the fence in gliders, tunnel beneath it or land behind it from the sea.

I'm not quite sure how the lack of a fence prevents katyushas from firing into Israeli areas. A solid wall, on the other hand, would have some effect at stopping rifle fire. The Israelis have attack helicopters that would not regard any fence or wall as an obstacle. One of the problems with this editorial is that it insists on considering the fence in isolation, instead as part of Israel's defence integrated with Intelligence, helicopters, naval boats, satellite surveillance, electronic sensors, mines, armed patrols, etc, etc, etc.

Oh, and I'd love to see them try the glider. The West bank is not Colditz Castle.

But the greatest weakness of the fence concept is that it symbolizes withdrawal. By encouraging groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad to believe they have caused Israel to abandon territory, it will encourage more attacks -- as did Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the buffer zone in southern Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah saw the voluntary withdrawal as a forced retreat, or proof that terrorism works against democracies. Thus, unless Israel accompanies its fence project with a robust counterterrorism campaign within the disputed territories, the barrier may create more problems than it solves.

Okay, the last paragraph I can't disagree with. A permanent fence would be seen as a sign of Israeli weakness, and would be a goad to world opinion. But the bottom line to me is that a fence, or better yet, a set of walls with a minefiled inbetween will save Israeli lives.

BCM // 2:13 PM


The I-Bomb

Linked via the
Prof, this page discusses the potential and a prototype for an Information-bomb. Designed to completely erase credit cards, computer drives and advanced electronics it could indeed be a useful weapon of war.

After reading through the description, one unfortunate though immediately came to mind: the Greens would love this weapon. Just think, a means by which they could halt the industrial society they despise in its tracks without piling up people like cordwood. Their supposed moral high ground can be maintained while they attempt to halt human progress.

BCM // 9:20 AM


Tuesday, June 18, 2002:


Israel is
pondering "unusually harsh" means of retaliation for the attack today.

"One measure under consideration is a large scale deportation of terror suspects, the report said."

Oh that's harsh. Really, really harsh. "Possible deportation." That will really make the Palestinians stop bombing.

Big problem with deportation: it means letting them out of their cells. I have a problem with this. How is this supposed to be a deterrent?

BCM // 1:36 PM


The Israeli DMZ

The only solution I can see to Palestinian terrorism has nothing to do with making the West Bank and Gaza a state. The Korean DMZ is the only model for a workable solution. The Israelis do not "need" the Palestinians. The Palestinians need the Israelis a hell of a lot more. Hatred has become their only animating and motivating force. They have become a society that worships death. Death for their enemies, and death for themselves.

There cannot be meaningful negotiation with someone bent on murdering you.

The sooner the Israelis erect two fences with a minefield inbetween them, the sooner the Israelis will know relative peace. It is not a perfect solution by any means, but it has provided fifty years of peace between the Koreas, despite frequent border skirmishes.

Now, I'm going to provide what I see as the problems with this idea. Don't get me wrong, I believe this is the way to go, but there are problems. First, a minefield would not prevent all attackers from getting through. It provides discouragement and quite likely a number of dead attackers, but can be tunneled under or paths can be cleared. Second, thousands of mines along a border hundreds of miles long would become a veritable farm for palestinians to dig up mines and use them in their own efforts. Third, having a minefiled emplaced would limit the IDF's flexibility in making incursions into the West Bank and Gaza, having to clear their own path before attacking. Fourth, the inevitable PR backlash. Having a wall/minefield would immediately become a popular symbol of "oppression" that the world media would film with breathless voiceovers implying that the West Bank had been turned into a concentration camp. Fifth, given the cult of death that the palestinians have embraced, I believe that suicide charges into the minefield are a plausible possibility.

The PR backlash is worth discussion on its own. A
letter in today's Globe and Mail is the mildest to expect.

The "fence" Israel has undertaken to build is a false promise. The Great Wall of China has proved to be more successful as a tourist attraction than an obstacle to northern barbarians. Hadrian's Wall, while less successful as a tourist attraction, marks the point where the Roman Empire began retreating. Hitler found a speedy way around the Maginot Line, on which the French wasted huge sums. The Berlin Wall delayed German unification for only a few decades.

A "fence" is merely a further drain on a severely damaged economy, not a way to Israeli safety.

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. The Berlin Wall analogy is particularly dumb. There is a difference between a wall built to keep people from escaping and a wall built to keep attackers out. The Great Wall of China? What a logical debating tactic, looking at its role today and thus concluding that its function a thousand years ago was unsuccessful.

The Maginot line is perhaps a good comparison, best used to illustrate the dangers of relying on a fence for your protection. Complacency and arrogance on the French scale will undermine any defense. I don't think that the Israelis are going to become complacent anytime soon. When your enemy is constantly testing your defences and trying to kill you, it focuses the attention wonderfully. In Korea they've had North Korea smuggling spies, commando teams and even outright skirmishes between their boats on a fairly regular basis for the last fifty years. The forces along the DMZ have maintained their readiness.

As for the economic cost the building a fence would impose, I don't think it is that much of an issue, at lest compared to having to call up the IDF reserves every few months. Calling up the reserves takes key people out of place all throughout the economy. There is also the loss of cheap palestinian labour that would hurt the Israeli economy (in particular the Kibbutzim). That would prove harder to replace.

Thoughts and comments on this idea would be appreciated.

BCM // 8:52 AM


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