November 30, 2008

It's Over In Mumbai....For Now [Vinnie]
— Open Blog

Or anywhere else that isn't Muslim enough. Which, well, is pretty much anywhere.

All clear at the Taj Mahal hotel.

MUMBAI, India – Authorities finished removing bodies from the bullet- and grenade-scarred Taj Mahal hotel Monday, the final site of the Mumbai siege to be cleared, as schools and businesses reopened and commuters returned to work.

Security forces had been scouring the 565-room hotel for booby traps and bodies, and declared the landmark building cleared two days after they killed the last three militants holed up inside following a three-day rampage in India's financial center that left at least 172 dead.

"We were apprehensive about more bodies being found. But this is not likely — all rooms in the Taj have been opened and checked," said Maharashtra state government spokesman Bhushan Gagrani.

The army had already cleared other sites, including the five-star Oberoi hotel and the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group.

On Monday morning, parents dropped their children off at school and many shopkeepers opened their doors for the first time since the attacks began.

Mumbai returns to normal, and the AP returns to normal. Notice how the place for Jews to congregate in Mumbai has suddenly morphed into an "ultra-Orthodox Jewish group."

Never mind that five members of that "ultra-Orthodox Jewish group" were tortured in a horrific manner, and a 2 year old "ultra-Orthodox Jew" is suddenly parent-less.

You stay classy, AP.

See you next Open Blog, peeps.

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Thomas Freidman: Iraq Suddenly Looking Like a Success, and Guess What? Obama Gets the Credit
— Ace

This Lightworker is truly amazing. He causes wars to end successfully and young democracies to strengthen before taking office.

Here’s a story you don’t see very often. Iraq’s highest court told the Iraqi Parliament last Monday that it had no right to strip one of its members of immunity so he could be prosecuted for an alleged crime: visiting Israel for a seminar on counterterrorism. The Iraqi justices said the Sunni lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, had committed no crime and told the Parliament to back off.

That’s not all. The Iraqi newspaper Al-Umma al-Iraqiyya carried an open letter signed by 400 Iraqi intellectuals, both Kurdish and Arab, defending Alusi. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of press freedom. I can’t imagine any other Arab country today where independent judges would tell the government it could not prosecute a parliamentarian for visiting Israel — and intellectuals would openly defend him in the press.

In the case of Iraq, though, the federal high court, in a unanimous decision, vacated the Parliament’s rescinding of Alusi’s immunity, with the decision delivered personally by Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud. The decision explained that although a 1950s-era law made traveling to Israel a crime punishable by death, Iraq’s new Constitution establishes freedom to travel. Therefore the Parliament’s move was “illegal and unconstitutional because the current Constitution does not prevent citizens from traveling to any country in the world,” Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, spokesman for the court, told The Associated Press. The judgment even made the Parliament speaker responsible for the expenses of the court and the defense counsel!


If Iraq can keep improving — still uncertain — and become a place where Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites can write their own social contract and live together with a modicum of stability, it could one day become a strategic asset for the United States in the post-9/11 effort to promote different politics in the Arab-Muslim world.


If he [Obama] pull this off, and help that decent Iraq take root, Obama and the Democrats could not only end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it. Nothing would do more to enhance the Democratic Party’s national security credentials than that.

Um, a decent Iraq has already taken root and is in fact growing. Obama and the Democrats cannot "pull this off," except if you mean "claim credit for a fait accompli."

The general pattern here is that after years of calling more or less explicitly for a cleansing defeat in Iraq, liberals are beginning to make the case that we shouldn't lose a war we've already won just to appease the netroots-- in other words, Bush was right.

But they didn't say that before. Only now that Obama has been elected to they admit it.

Partly because they are now willing to argue in the American interest rather than the liberal Democratic Party interest, and partly because politics continues well past the water's edge -- they want credit for a victory and won't permit the fallout from a defeat suffered on their watch.

Thanks to Mr. Wolf.

Posted by: Ace at 12:07 PM | Comments (150)
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Widow of Blackwater Contractor States Her Husband Should be Thanked for Providing Security; WaPo Commenters Call Him a Mercenary Thug
— Ace

The word has come down that they can't malign the soldiers whom they desperately wish to spit upon. Mostly they restrain themselves from doing that (mostly), but channel their hatred towards the non-forbidden focus of hate, civilian contractors.

You know -- security guards on the most hazardous duty on the face of the earth. Protecting unarmed civilians, relief workers, diplomats, and journalists from being murdered.

Obviously they're getting what they so richly deserve.

dsrobins wrote:
Sorry it doesn't wash. Laguna, like all who work for Blackwater was a paid mercenary thug. These guys come from the dregs of our society, losers who love guns and violence and are attracted by the high salaries in Iraq. They have committed countless atrocities there, murdered utterly innocent men, women and children and accepted to responsblility whatsoever for their crimes. They are criminals who have betrayed America and always will remain so.

bama510 wrote:
Marybeth, I am sorry for your loss. I presume that since your husband was fighting for all Americans, he was fighting for my right to disagree. Well trained men like your husband are draining the military of the well trained men we paid to train. They make it possible to run an illegally "justified" war and make an obscene amount of money while doing it. I myself am concerned that since Blackwater bows to the highest bidder, and are so close to Washington that the orderly transition of power is threatened. Your husband while a good man, was a mercenary. He did not take his orders from the U.S., but from an ultra-conservative billionaire and the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. He made a lot of money doing it. He in no way equates with the grandmother from Ohio, in the National guard who lost her life, she and those guardsmen, and all soldiers like them are heroes and to be greatly admired. They were following the orders of the U.S government and died carrying them out. Sadly there is a difference.


Deric1 wrote:
Dear Ms. Laguna: I am sorry for your loss, but no matter how noble your husband may have been, in many ways, the fact is that he was a thrill junkie who was being paid as a mercenary in a bad war at the time of his death. He loved to fly and to help people, but he also loved the adrenaline rush of watching tracer rounds go past his cockpit. Otherwise, he could have stayed right here in the US and flown and helped people. "Blackwater" and "hero" do not belong in the same sentence.


AMviennaVA wrote:
Husband was a mercenary. Pure and simple. Never glamorize the breed.


Thanks to James W.

Posted by: Ace at 11:36 AM | Comments (90)
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Are You Ready For Some Football?
— DrewM

The Thanksgiving weekend is wrapping up and it's snowing here in the Northeast (my part of it at least)'s definitely time for some football.

Of course, there is something to be said for warm weather as well.


Posted by: DrewM at 07:55 AM | Comments (85)
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Black Friday Sales Up 3%
— Gabriel Malor

Not bad, for a country barely staving off the second Great Depression, right?

U.S. holiday retail sales increased 3 percent yesterday from a year earlier, the smallest gain for a “Black Friday” in three years, research firm ShopperTrak RCT Corp. said.

Sales rose to $10.6 billion, the Chicago-based company said in a statement. The increase was the smallest since a decline of 0.9 percent in 2005 and compares with a jump of 8.3 percent last year.

“So far, so good,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners LLC, a retail consulting firm based in New Canaan, Connecticut. “But a decent Black Friday figure doesn’t predict the whole season. The question is, how much momentum we can keep” in this “challenging” economic environment, Johnson said.

An increase, but not enough of an increase, so once again the sky is falling.

It's anecdotal, but shopping has been crazy around here. People actually slept in tents outside the West Hollywood Best Buy on Thursday night. It was still crowded when I stopped by yesterday looking for new headphones (no luck, buying them online). Last week, people had camp chairs in front of the Verizon store for the new BlackBerry when I walked by on my way to the Red Line.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 07:52 AM | Comments (70)
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November 29, 2008

USGS: 85.4T cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas in Alaska
— Purple Avenger

Cowbell anyone?

The USGS estimates that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope. This is the first-ever resource estimate of technically recoverable natural gas hydrates in the world...
More details here.

Podcast here.

Current gas reserves in North America are estimated to be in the 280T cubic feet range. Adding another 85T to that is a pretty big jump indeed. more...

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 07:09 PM | Comments (115)
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Heh: Scenes from an Upper West Side MoveOn Meeting
— Ace

We lost to these guys? These guys?

Good Lord. It's nothing but menstrual snapping and free-range guacamole. more...

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Taliban Commander Killed by Cross-Dressing Mishap and US Fighters, But Mostly... Well, a Bit of Both, Really
— Ace

He tried to escape dressed in the traditional Courageous Muslim Warrior garb, a woman's burka.

The Carmen Miranda fruit-hat was a bad choice of accessory. Sure, it showed off his hazel eyes, but at what cost?

Gunbattles and airstrikes by NATO and Afghan troops killed 53 militants in Afghanistan, including a wanted Taliban commander who tried to hide from soldiers under a woman's burqa, officials said Saturday.

The U.S. forces targeting the commander surrounded a house Friday in Ghazni province and ordered everyone inside to leave, a military statement said.

Six women and 12 children left the building, but while soldiers were questioning the women they discovered one was actually a man dressed in a burqa, the traditional all-encompassing dress that most Afghan women wear. The man, later identified as the targeted commander Haji Yakub, tried to attack the soldiers and was killed, the military said.

Read on. "Militants" are dying all over, especially when they come into contact with real militants.

Thanks to Josh.

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Vid: Roger Simon, Lionel Chetwynd on Quantum of Solace and the Appeal of Bond
— Ace

They didn't like it much.

Posted by: Ace at 11:34 AM | Comments (37)
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Ten Terrorists Caused "India's 9/11"?
— Ace

Above the Post Update: The NYT reports estimates of 20 to 40 terrorists -- the nine killed and one captured are just the hold-outs and the ones who didn't flee.

That's still not an awful lot of guys, though.

One reason for the nervousness is that it seems likely that not nearly all the terrorists were caught or killed — and so far the whereabouts of the rest are a mystery. At least eight were confirmed dead on Friday, although more might be found as soldiers and the police combed through the two hotels. Security officials declared that they had taken control of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower on Saturday morning, killing three militants.

Estimates of the number of attackers have ranged from 20 to 40, with the number depending to a considerable extent on the number of boats involved. As security forces seek to reconstruct how the gunmen managed to inflict so much carnage so quickly, they have been turning their attention to how so many assailants managed to reach the heart of Mumbai undetected and with such a large collection of guns, ammunition and explosives.

I hope that an American response to this sort of thing (and remember, it has long been speculated that the terrorists would move away from mega-attacks like 9/11 to simpler but easier attacks like invading a mall and shooting it up) would be a lot better.

I suspect it would be. However, a couple dozen terrorists in a high-traffic area could kill a lot of people before cops could show up.

Americans tend to carry more personal defensive weapons than just about anyone else in the developed world, but the terrorists would not be hitting targets in rural Texas, but in areas like NYC or big suburbs which are unarmed.

Even if a group of terrorists encountered some armed citizens -- the citizens would not be acting as a coordinated group and would be out-gunned in any event.

While cops in America would, hopefully, shut down this sort of an attack within (at most) a half an hour, the success of the terrorists in Mumbai only encourages fresh attempts at this sort of thing in our own country.

A lot of people can be shot or blown up in ten minutes.

I'm pretty sure that the long-anticipated small-scale run-and-gun terrorist attacks on malls and theaters and even waterparks -- anywhere with large crowds of people -- just went from a possibility to a near-certainty.

Via Hot Air's headlines.


Hard to imagine that India's police reaction could be that slow-responding to 10 armed psychopaths. It's possible the terrorists were just that good at executing their plan, but it seems more likely the cops weren't good enough.

India strongly suspects Pakistan -- and Pakistan warns (perhaps hoping to enlist tUS pressure) that should India deploy its military to Pakistan's border, Pakistan will (of course) divert all forces used in the War on Terror to respond.

Commandos ended a three-day rampage by Islamist gunmen in Mumbai on Saturday, gunning down the last of the militants who killed nearly 200 people in a strike on India's financial heart.

Elite Black Cat commandos killed the remaining four militants after a running gunbattle through a maze of corridors, rooms and halls in Mumbai's best-known hotel, the Taj Mahal.

There were signs of mounting public anger over the attacks, most of it directed against Pakistan, and officials in Islamabad said the next two days would be crucial for relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

One senior security official said Islamabad would divert troops to its border with India and away from fighting militants on the Afghan frontier if tensions erupted over Mumbai.

"If something happens on that front, the war on terror won't be our priority," the senior security officer told journalists at a briefing. "We'll take out everything from the western border. We won't leave anything there."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said "elements" in Pakistan may have been responsible for the attacks in Mumbai.

Other officials have said most, perhaps all, of the attackers were from Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved out of Hindu-majority India in bloodshed in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars since the partition, and relations have always been tense.

More on the massacre:

The commander said his men had had to literally feel their way through the hotel corridors and rooms in complete darkness.

The black-clad commando said it had been impossible to differentiate between dead bodies, the injured and people simply pressing themselves to the floor in terror.

“When an exchange of fire takes place in darkness and there are bodies strewn all over and blood all over, you’re actually not looking who is injured or killed,” he said. “You’re just looking for someone with lots of weapons on him.”

But if were just a case ofo shooting indiscriminately, one would assume they'd kill a lot of civilians, but also kill the terrorists somewhat early in the ordeal.

A lot more at the link, including the bonus treat that seven of the terrorists appear to be British-born Pakistanis.

Britain itself is rapidly becoming one of the world's preeminent exporters of Muslim terrorism. Maybe they should see to that at some point.

Denied: Off of Hot Air's headines, a denial that any British-born persons were among the terrorists at all, issued by Indian intel.

Booray For Bollywood: Bollywood actors react with mixture of introspective criticism of their own country and sappy renditions of John Lennon's Imagine.

Oh, wait, that was our cadre of actors. Bollywood actors are demanding better security and an in one case an "iron hand."

Shabana Azmi: I was on the phone with a friend in London when she asked me to switch on the TV. It's a diabolic war waged on our city and country. This isn't the time to place blame. We need to maintain peace and communal harmony and cooperate with the police. Our condolences to police officers who sacrificed their lives. Terrorism should be struck down with an iron hand.

Gleen Grenwald Now Worries the Indian Constitution is Being Shredded: He worries a lot.

He's quite an imbecile.

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Zawahiri: Financial Meltdown Can Be Overcome... By Embracing Islam
— Ace

One-stop shopping for all that ails you, plus barbarism, primitivism, and murder free of charge.

Now how much would you pay?

He also suggests that the financial meltdown is partly due to 9/11 -- which, of course, it is. Greenspan increased the money supply an awful lot after 9/11 to avert a meltdown; then he kept money very loose to avert recessions. He seems to have delayed, not prevented, a meltdown, as a lot of that money wound up fundng bad mortgages and being invested in bad mortgage derivatives.

Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader appeared in a new video posted Friday calling on Americans to embrace Islam to overcome the financial meltdown, which he said was a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks and militant strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ayman al-Zawahri, whose 80-minute recording touched on a number of subjects, also lashed out at Afghanistan's government and said any U.S. gains in Iraq will be temporary.

Zawahri's new recording came in the form of a question-and-answer session with an off-camera interviewer.

Appearing in a white turban and robe, Zawahri discussed the roots of the U.S. economic crisis. He said it was a repercussion of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, and that the crisis would continue "as long as the foolish American policy of wading in Muslim blood continues."

"The American economy was afflicted by a downturn and loss of investor confidence in the market following the events of Sept. 11," he said.

"The modern economy has been destroyed by the strikes of the mujahedeen (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and usury," he said, using the Arabic term for holy warriors.

Under Islamic Sharia law, usury, like drinking alcohol, is among the grand sins.

Zawahri then called on the American people to "embrace Islam to live a life free of greed, exploitation and forbidden wealth."

We could only but dream of matching the innovation, vibrancy, and prosperity of the Islamic world economy. The same economy, incidentally, we are frequently told produces terrorism in the first place.

Posted by: Ace at 10:41 AM | Comments (30)
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Umm... Batman Killed By His Own Father
— Ace

Just to update a dumb story from earlier this week. It gets dumber.

In a highly controversial new storyline Bruce, who first appeared in 1939, is killed by Simon Hurt – the leader of the shady Black Glove organisation.

Simon claims he is really Dr Thomas Wayne, saying he faked his own passing when Bruce was a child.

The superhero dies when he tries to stop his foe escaping by helicopter in the new comic Batman R.I.P.

Writer Grant Morrison said: “This is so much better than death. People have killed characters in the past but to me, that kind of ends the story!

"I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death. Things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all.

"This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman."

Batman will live on though, with another character filling his Batsuit.

"So much better." In Cockney rhyming slang, "better" means "more retarded" for some retarded reason.

Thanks to jdub.

Posted by: Ace at 10:15 AM | Comments (62)
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Giants WR Burress Shoots Himself in the Leg
— Dave in Texas

That will certainly take your mind off a pulled hamstring.

Seems to be a lot of this going around. Ohio Police Chief shoots himself in the leg after giving his daughter a firearms safety lesson.

Unorthodox perhaps, but very effective.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 09:14 AM | Comments (39)
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BSG: The Final Episodes
— Gabriel Malor

Battlestar Galactica returns in January. Here's the new promo:

Looks "meh." Not BSG's best half-season promo.

Also, two recurring characters will come out of the closet in the webisodes available online in December and on the SciFi channel in January. No word on whether their relationship will be seen during actual episodes of the show. Find out who likes to smoke cock here. I never liked those characters.

From the Comments:

Season 1 - fantastic
Season 2 - fantastic
Season 3 - first few episodes and last few episodes were fantastic (the assault on New Caprica alone makes this season worth owning), everything in between was crap. I believe they were trying to draw in new viewers by sticking in more episodic fare rather than stick with the serialized storytelling that hooked people like me at the beginning of the series. Big mistake.
Season 4 - so far, fantastic.

I agree with J Foster. Despite the occasional misstep, this remains my favorite current TV series and I'd recommend it for those who haven't seen it.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 08:48 AM | Comments (47)
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Football Open Thread
— Gabriel Malor

Bumped: So what's all this Bedlam stuff about? It all started years ago, right about the time Dave in Texas was born, in fact:

In 1900, in Oklahoma Territory, Oklahoma A&M (later Oklahoma State) veterinary medicine professor Dr. L.L. Lewis assembled a group of A&M students to participate in the first territorial Track and Field Meet. Held on May 4, 1900, the event included Alva Normal College, Central Normal of Edmond, Kingfisher College and the University of Oklahoma, along with OAMC. The prize of the tournament was a silver cup donated by a local jeweler named Douglas. Surprisingly, A&M won the meet and returned to Stillwater with the traveling trophy.

In 1901, A&M won again, and a third consecutive win would mean permanent retirement of the Douglas Cup in Stillwater. The meet was held on May 23, 1902, with the Aggies amassing the most points. Oklahoma filed a protest based on the pole vault competition not having been completed due to darkness, however, Oklahoma A&M claimed the Douglas cup. [They were whiners even then.]

The next day the Sooners held their own vault competition and declared themselves the victor. Several weeks later, the Douglas Cup was missing from its place in a glass case at the Oklahoma A&M chemistry lab. Suspecting that OU students had stolen the Cup, a group of A&M students retrieved the Cup from Norman, supposedly burying it under Old Central for safekeeping.

Ten years later, when excavation was being done for A&M's Gundersen Hall [where I actually had classes a few years ago], the trophy was found. Today it resides in OSU's Heritage Hall.

Ever since, the criminals cheaters Sooners have been grouchy about it.

Game starts in just a few minutes. Stick around to see me taunt the Normanite commenters or start arbitrarily banning them when the Cowboys start to lose!

Original Post:
I guess Dave's not around. Some games have already started today, but there's only one I care about:


I can't even describe to you how awesome things are in Stillwater right now. Fortunately, they are televising the game out here in California, now that the outcome is important for OU's fate. The game starts at 7pm CST.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:58 PM | Comments (199)
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Villagers Kill Male Babies to Prevent War [dri]
— Open Blog

A shocking report out of Papua New Guinea claims that for ten years, the women of two villages have systematically killed all male babies in order to prevent them from growing up to become warriors and engaging in war.

"Babies grow into men and men turn into warriors,' said Rona Luke, a village wife ... It's because of the terrible fights that have brought death and destruction to our villages for the past 20 years that all the womenfolk have agreed to have all new-born male babies killed,' said Mrs Luke.

A resident of Agibu village, Mrs Luke said she did not know how many male babies were killed by being smothered, but it had happened to all males over a 10 year period - and she suggested it was still happening.

'The women have really being forced into it as it's the only means available to them as women to bring an end to tribal fights.'

The report sympathetically portrays these women as desperate hut wives who, faced with tribal extinction, are forced to take extreme measures in order to survive. One wonders how sympathetic the writers of this story would be if the men of the tribe killed all of the female babies to prevent them from growing up and committing male infanticide.

HT to the always interesting neatorama

Posted by: Open Blog at 03:47 AM | Comments (91)
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Overnight Thread and Slinky Post (genghis)
— Open Blog

A toy story.

Tragedy: Betty James, co-founder of the Slinky Company passed away last week. It’s old news by now, being last week and all.

The story has a kind of a weird twist though. Seems her husband, co-inventor of the Slinky, ran off to join a religious cult in Bolivia at some point in time, leaving Betty to run the Slinky empire.

Some niblets:

”HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. - Betty James, who co-founded the company that made the Slinky and beat the odds as a single mother in the late 1950s to become a successful executive, has died. She was 90.”

“In 1945, James and her husband at the time, Richard, founded the company that would later make Slinky, the toy for which she was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001.”

“Hundreds of millions of Slinkys have been sold worldwide. James explained the classic toy's success in a 1995 interview with The Associated Press.”

"I think really it's the simplicity of it," she said. "There's nothing to wind up; it doesn't take batteries. I think also the price helps. More children can play with it than a $40 or $60 toy."

Of course, there was always the matter of two specific problems. 1) The Slinky had a bad habit of getting all tangled up, particularly when you threw it at someone. Say, for example, your younger brother. And 2) It had limited entertainment value if you lived in a single story house with no stairs. Watching the Slinky go over a 6 inch curb in the front yard was entertaining for exactly …never.

But RIP to Mrs. James anyway. The article doesn’t really tell us about the fate of Mr. James, except that he died in 1974. Probably due to cannibalism.

Slinky, at rest, but pissed off and ready to spring into action

More toys below the fold.

Posted by: Open Blog at 02:35 AM | Comments (91)
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November 28, 2008

You Can Own A Piece Of History! [Nice Deb]
— Open Blog

Anyone seen this commercial, yet?


Posted by: Open Blog at 06:33 PM | Comments (175)
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Analyzing The Enemy [Vinnie]
— Open Blog

Bill Roggio offers up a heaping helping of excellent analysis.

h/t to Wolverine in the headline comments, which I didn't read, but he deserves it anyway thanks to Methos in the comments.

Update: The American Traitor reaction to the attack.

Update: Taj Mahal hotel finally retaken.

Posted by: Open Blog at 02:54 PM | Comments (38)
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Thanksgiving Weekend Movie Thread [someone]
— Open Blog

So what, if anything, did/will all you morons see at the movie theater this weekend? Comment away.

Last night, on the recommendation of some moron commenter, I caught Role Models, which is now almost out of theaters. Good stupid movie, and actually prime AoS Lifestyle material: regrettable intoxicated behavior, glam rock, the pathetic pursuit of women, and a big LARPing finale (not kidding!). Plus, I may have imagined it, but I think I caught one character making an out-of-nowhere reference to hobos... Is director/writer David Wain a stealth AoSHQ reader?

Posted by: Open Blog at 12:19 PM | Comments (79)
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