A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, May 19, 2003 :::
You Go, Anti-Spam Spammers...You Mean I Can't Trust the Newspapers?...Further Evidence of How Bad Our War Plan Was...June Carter Cash, One Very Strong Lady...Country Music Done In by the Suits, Again...

Ever Heard the One About Sauce for the Goose? There is a loose-knit subculture of spammers who use legally questionable tactics to shut down spam-generating servers. Most commonly, these stalwart defenders of civilization simply do what spammers do: they use that weird loophole in e-mail software that allows on outside sender to forcer your e-mail server to forward their message with your name on it. Why that is legal, I don't know, but if I get one more promotion for better septic tank maintenance, I may try and join them. Some have gone so far as to generate bugs that make all of the phones all at once in a "promotional" firm that uses spam. That clearly crosses the border into illegality, but it is easier to sympathize with the anti-spammers than with the spammers who complain about being attacked. The whole thing is detailed in a delightful report in this morning's Journal. (Available only to on-line subscribers.)

We Don't Trust You Because You Are Not Trustworthy. It now turns out that the total number of items looted from the Iraq national museum was...38. That's a lot less than the 170,000 initially reported. Which means that the photos on the front pages of newspapers around the world were wildly misleading. The photographers were standing in the middle of a museum full of artifacts, and took pictures of the few empty spaces. It's hard to pick the villains here: we have no idea if the photographers took pictures of the intact artifacts and the editors chose selectively (and dishonestly,) or if the photographers set out to get the most sensational picture that fit the story, while standing in the midst of contrary evidence? It's clear that the museum officials lied or were just so emotional that they exaggerted beyond all reason. But some journalists also lied, or else they failed to ask the obvious questions. And they wonder why Americans don't trust them.

A Bad War Plan, Right From the Start. The Washington Post provided excellent coverage of the story that most needs to be told about this war, and that is the way the administration's plan was deeply flawed from the beginning. Traditional strategists wanted us to do what the American armed forces have almost always done, and that is overwhelm the enemy with massive force. Advocates of new strategies, led by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wanted a lean force to prove what the modern American military can do. He basically won, though the original force was slightly larger than he wanted, and lots of conservatives cheered him on. We won the war, all right, but we are losing the peace. fast. Yesterday, the Post described how every possible site for hiding weapons of mass destruction has been stripped bare. Remember that it is entirely possible that Saddam may have dismantled his weapons and left in place the ability to build them. All of the evidence we need is gone. Today, the Post runs an excellent survey of the other ways that we have failed. The most important is that where we are in charge, there is chaos and no one feels safe, and Islamic militant leaders are rushing in to fill the void. The Bush administration's war plan was quite simply a bad plan, from start to finish.

One Very Tough Lady. I thought of the following this morning, but it has partly been incorporated into my much longer tribute to June, which immediately follows, from Friday: I have not read June Carter Cash's memoirs, but apparently she frankly admits that, in falling in love with Johnny Cash, she was getting drawn into something that might ultimately prove impossible to control. She wrote the lines "I fell into a burning Ring of Fire. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher" about that very thing, five years before they finally married. She proved equal to the task, of course, and brought quite a bit of fire to the marriage herself. Johnny wrote the line "you make it very easy to be true" shortly before they met, but it certainly describes their relationship. Johnny's fondness for amphetimines was the problem that hung over the marriage for so long. She very early caught on to the addict's way of emphatically reassuring their loved ones even as they go to great lengths to hide the drugs, and she didn't give up. She would ransack the house until she found the drugs. June Carter, one of nature's unstoppable forces, stopped what looks to the outside world like another unstoppable force, Johnny Cash, and may we all have people in our lives that love us that much.

Speaking of Country Music. The country music industry has always been embarrassed about the very thing that makes it an industry, and that is country music itself. They demand that song writers provide a Three Minute Postive Not-Too- Country Up Tempo Love Song, as memorably described by Alan Jackson, a country artist who himself has grown immensely over the years. Fans of real country music have to thank the Dixie Chicks for bringing back traditional instrumentation, despite their genuine anger of Natalie Maines' big mouth. Now, Nashville is turning to computer programs to actually make songs that all sound the same. This is detailed in a scathing article by the venerable Chet Flippo on the CMT website. One can wonder if CMT exactly fights this tendency in its programming, though over the Christmas season--the only time A Mind That Suits gets cable, at his father's house--CMT dedicated its programming to Johnny Cash, the two Hank Williamses, and a charming and dedicated Russian immigrant country band called Bering Strait. I guess their programmers really do love country music. Too bad the corporate suits don't.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 9:33 AM



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