is the birthday of Ambrose Bierce. He was born in 1842, and nobody
knows when he died, because he journeyed to Mexico in 1914 and was
never heard from again. A fitting departure for a writer of horror and
war stories, although it must be said that he was far more than a
teller of tales. His entry at the site
Those familiar with Bierce usually
approach him through his Civil War
stories ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga," etc.) and
then stay to enjoy, or at least marvel at, his celebrated aphorisms and
definitions. These offer a scoff for every situation, and are so
thoroughly, happily bitter that even H. L. Mencken recoiled in horror.
Almost any sampling from The Devil's Dictionary will demonstrate what
Bierce was capable of feeling about human relationships:
In honor of Bierce's dark and scathing contribution to American
letters, we've rounded up some internet resources on some of his works,
in hope that those who are not already familiar with them will become
, a true masterpiece of malice. The link will
carry you to the complete text, but be advised not to read it in a
single sitting. It can turn your blood to acid and your heart to ashes.
But you'll be laughing right up to the moment the metamorphosis occurs.
For any among you who prefer to do your reading from T-shirts rather
than books or CRTs, here's a site offering Bierce
with some of the briefest meanest entries from the DD. You may even be
tempted to buy one, although we'd prefer it if you'd buy one of
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" was mentioned above. It's a classic
short story, but it's also become a classic short movie, which you can
learn more about (and possibly see) at
of the 28-minute film
made in 1962. The vidclip is a promo piece for liketelevision, so be
prepared to wait through previews of the
, before seeing the
Owl Creek footage. It will likely make you want to see the movie and
try out the musical experiment they demonstrate in the preview. (If
your browser is cranky about playing the clip, you can also access it
at the liketelevision link.)
Finally, we thought you might want to read a sample of Bierce's
strangely compelling fiction. So here is the complete text of one of
his most haunting stories.
One sunny afternoon in the
the year 1861, a soldier lay in a clump of laurel by the side of a road
in Western Virginia. He lay at full length, upon his stomach, his feet
resting upon the toes, his head upon the left forearm. His extended
right hand loosely grasped his rifle. But for the somewhat methodical
disposition of his limbs and a slight rhythmic movement of the
cartridge-box at the back of his belt, he might have been thought to be
dead. He was asleep at his post of duty. But if detected he would be
dead shortly afterward, that being the just and legal penalty of his
The country was wooded
everywhere except at the bottom
of the valley to the northward, where there was a small natural meadow,
through which flowed a stream scarcely visible from the valley\'s rim.
This open ground looked hardly larger than an ordinary dooryard, but
was really several acres in extent. Its green was more vivid than that
of the inclosing forest. Away beyond it rose a line of giant cliffs
similar to those upon which we are supposed to stand in our survey of
the savage scene, and through which the road had some how made its
climb to the summit. The configuration of the valley, indeed, was such
that from this point of observation it seemed entirely shut in, and one
could not but have wondered how the road which found a way out of it
had found a way into it, and whence came and whither went the waters of
the stream that parted the meadow two thousand feet below.
The father lifted his
leonine head, looked at the son
a moment in silence, and replied: "Well, go, sir, and, whatever may
occur, do what you conceive to be your duty. Virginia, to which you are
a traitor, must get on without you. Should we both live to the end of
the war, we will speak further of the matter. Your mother, as the
physician has informed you, is in a most critical condition; at the
best, she cannot be with us longer than a few weeks, but that time is
precious. It would be better not to disturb her."
So Carter Druse, bowing
reverently to his father, who
returned the salute with a stately courtesy which masked a breaking
heart, left the home of his childhood to go soldiering. By conscience
and courage, by deeds of devotion and daring, he soon commended himself
to his fellows and his officers; and it was to these qualities and to
some knowledge of the country that he owed his selection for his
present perilous duty at the extreme outpost. Nevertheless, fatigue had
been stronger than resolution, and he had fallen asleep. What good or
bad angel came in a dream to rouse him from his state of crime, who
shall say? Without a movement, without a sound, in the profound silence
and the languor of the late afternoon, some invisible messenger of fate
touched with unsealing finger the eyes of his consciousness - whispered
into the ear of his spirit the mysterious awakening word which no human
lips ever have spoken, no human memory ever has recalled. He quietly
raised his forehead from his arm and looked between the masking stems
of the laurels, instinctively closing his right hand about the stock of
His first feeling was a
keen artistic delight. On a
colossal pedestal, the cliff, - motionless at the extreme edge of the
capping rock and sharply outlined against the sky, - was an equestrian
statue of impressive dignity. The figure of the man sat the figure of
the horse, straight and soldierly, but with the repose of a Grecian god
carted in the marble which limits the suggestion of activity. The gray
costume harmonized with its aerial background; the metal of
accoutrement and caparison was softened and subdued by the shadow; the
animal\'s skin had no points of high light. A carbine, strikingly
foreshortened, lay across the pommel of the saddle, kept in place by
the right hand grasping it at the "grip"; the left hand, holding the
bridle rein, was invisible. In silhouette against the sky, the profile
of the horse was cut with the sharpness of a cameo; it looked across
the heights of air to the confronting cliffs beyond. The face of the
rider, turned slightly away, showed only an outline of temple and
beard; he was looking downward to the bottom of the valley. Magnified
by its lift against the sky and by the soldier\'s testifying sense of
the formidableness of a near enemy, the group appeared of heroic,
almost colossal, size.
For an instant Druse had a
feeling that he had slept to the end of the war and was looking upon a
noble work of art reared upon that commanding eminence to commemorate
the deeds of an heroic past of which he had been an inglorious part.
The feeling was dispelled by a slight movement of the group: the horse,
without moving its feet, had drawn its body slightly backward from the
verge; the man remained immobile as before. Broad awake and keenly
alive to the significance of the situation, Druse now brought the butt
of his rifle against his cheek by cautiously pushing the barrel forward
through the bushes, cocked the piece, and, glancing through the sights,
covered a vital spot of the horseman\'s breast. A touch upon the
trigger and all would have been well with Carter Druse. At that instant
the horseman turned his head and looked in the direction of his
concealed foeman - seemed to look into his very face, into his eyes,
into his brave, compassionate heart.
Is it, then, so terrible to
kill an enemy in war - an
enemy who has surprised a secret vital to the safety of one\'s self and
comrades - an enemy more formidable for his knowledge than all his army
for its numbers? Carter Druse grew pale; he shook in every limb, turned
faint, and saw the statuesque group before him as black figures,
rising, falling, moving unsteadily in arcs of circles in a fiery sky.
His hand fell away from his weapon, his head slowly dropped until his
face rested on the leaves in which he lay. This courageous gentleman
and hardy soldier was near swooning from intensity of emotion.
It was not for long; in
another moment his face was
raised from earth, his hands resumed their places on the rifle, his
forefinger sought the trigger; mind, heart and eyes were clear,
conscience and reason sound. He could not hope to capture that enemy;
to alarm him would but send him dashing to his camp with his fatal
news. The duty of the soldier was plain: the man must be shot dead from
ambush - without warning, without a moment\'s spiritual preparation,
with never so much as an unspoken prayer, he must be sent to his
account. But no - there is a hope; he may have discovered nothing;
perhaps he is but admiring the sublimity of the landscape. If
permitted, he may turn and ride carelessly away in the direction whence
he came. Surely it will be possible to judge at the instant of his
withdrawing whether he knows. It may well be that his fixity of
attention - Druse turned his head and looked through the deeps of air
downward as from the surface of the bottom of a translucent sea. He saw
creeping across the green meadow a sinuous line of figures of men and
horses - some foolish commander was permitting the soldiers of his
escort to water their beasts in the open, in plain view from a hundred
Druse withdrew his eyes
from the valley and fixed them
again upon the group of man and horse in the sky, and again it was
through the sights of his rifle. But this time his aim was at the
horse. In his memory, as if they were a divine mandate, rang the words
of his father at their parting: "Whatever may occur, do what you
conceive to be your duty." He was calm now. His teeth were firmly but
not rigidly closed; his nerves were as tranquil as a sleeping babe\'s -
not a tremor affected any muscle of his body; his breathing, until
suspended in the act of taking aim, was regular and slow. Duty had
conquered; the spirit had said to the body: "Peace, be still." He fired.
An officer of the Federal
force, who, in a spirit of
adventure or in quest of knowledge, had left the hidden bivouac in the
valley, and, with aimless feet, had made his way to the lower edge of a
small open space near the foot of the cliff, was considering what he
had to gain by pushing his exploration further. At a distance of a
quarter-mile before him, but apparently at a stone\'s throw, rose from
its fringe of pines the gigantic face of rock, towering to so great a
height above him that it made him giddy to look up to where its edge
cut a sharp, rugged line against the sky. At some distance away to his
right it presented a clean, vertical profile against a background of
blue sky to a point half the way down, and of distant hills hardly less
blue, thence to the tops of the trees at its base. Lifting his eyes to
the dizzy altitude of its summit, the officer saw an astonishing sight
- a man on horseback riding down into the valley through the air!
Straight upright sat the
rider, in military fashion,
with a firm seat in the saddle, a strong clutch upon the rein to hold
his charger from too impetuous a plunge. From his bare head his long
hair streamed upward, waving like a plume. His hands were concealed in
the cloud of the horse\'s lifted mane. The animal\'s body was as level
as if every hoof-stroke encountered the resistant earth. Its motions
were those of a wild gallop, but even as the officer looked they
ceased, with all the legs thrown sharply forward as in the act of
alighting from a leap. But this was a flight!
Filled with amazement and
terror by this apparition of
a horseman in the sky-half believing himself the chosen scribe of some
new apocalypse, the officer was overcome by the intensity of his
emotions; his legs failed him and he fell. Almost at the same instant
he heard a crashing sound in the trees - a sound that died without an
echo - and all was still.
The officer rose to his
feet, trembling. The familiar
sensation of an abraded shin recalled his dazed faculties. Pulling
himself together, he ran obliquely away from the cliff to a point
distant from its foot; thereabout he expected to find his man; and
thereabout he naturally failed. In the fleeting instant of his vision
his imagination had been so wrought upon by the apparent grace and ease
and intention of the marvelous performance that it did not occur to him
that the line of march of aerial cavalry is directly downward, and that
he could find the objects of his search at the very foot of the cliff.
A half-hour later he returned to camp.
This officer was a wise
man; he knew better than to
tell an incredible truth. He said nothing of what he had seen. But when
the commander asked him if in his scout he had learned anything of
advantage to the expedition, he answered:
The commander, knowing
After firing his shot,
Private Carter Druse reloaded
his rifle and resumed his watch. Ten minutes had hardly passed when a
Federal sergeant crept cautiously to him on hands and knees. Druse
neither turned his head nor looked at him, but lay without motion or
sign of recognition.
"Did you fire?" the
"A horse. It was standing
on yonder rock-pretty far
out. You see it is no longer there. It went over the cliff."
The man\'s face was white,
but he showed no other sign
of emotion. Having answered, he turned away his eyes and said no more.
The sergeant did not understand.
"See here, Druse," he said,
after a moment\'s silence,
"it\'s no use making a mystery. I order you to report. Was there
anybody on the horse?"
The sergeant rose to his
feet and walked away. "Good
God!" he said.
Happy birthday, Mr. Bierce.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Catharsis is good for the soul, and sometimes it's good to go a little
over the top to relieve the frustrations caused by events out of our
control. Today we're going to do nothing more ambitious than have a
little fun with terror.
First, just to remind us of what we're so frustrated about, here's an
al Qaida recruiting and training video
captured by the U.S. military.
Next, we'll give you an opportunity to prove how restrained you would
have been if you'd been on duty in Abu Ghraib prison. You'll have every
resource you need to demonstrate your virtue and kindness. Ready for al Qaidamon
You've probably heard that some of the more pacific and enlightened
among us are now pitching the idea of negotiating with al Qaida. Here's
a movie that explores the possibility. It's called Diplomacy
Of course, you may be one of the ones who just want to get a clean shot
at the ultimate bad guy. If so, you might enjoy Bin Blaster
And if you want to be your own special forces unit, you can wage your
in four different scenarios, including a face to face,
er, meeting with Osama.
But not everyone gets off on a little isolated shooting and killing. If
you're really really disgusted with Islam, the middle east, and our
loving allies the French, Da Payback
is going to be just your cup of tea.
Finally, a little video feature you shouldn't watch if you blushed
during Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance. It's actually a good
deal racier than that, but it's also quite funny. So weigh the matter
carefully, then click on Taliban
If any of this offends you, we'd like to apologize, but we just can't.
Instead, we'll give you some good advice. Get a sense-of-humor
transplant and come back tomorrow when we'll try to be a little more
dignified and serious.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Back from Olympus!
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
He's ba-a-a-ack. And he's absolutely everywhere. His
16-pound book got reviewed on the front page of the New York Times, and
they just loved
As his celebrated 1993 speech in
Memphis to the Church of God in
Christ demonstrated, former President Bill Clinton is capable of
soaring eloquence and visionary thinking. But as those who heard his
deadening speech nominating Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic
National Convention in Atlanta well know, he is also capable of
numbing, self-conscious garrulity.
Unfortunately for the reader, Mr.
Clinton's much awaited new
autobiography "My Life" more closely resembles the Atlanta speech,
which was so long-winded and tedious that the crowd cheered when he
finally reached the words "In closing . . ."
The book, which weighs in at more than
950 pages, is sloppy,
self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man
prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant
recording angel of history.
He also had a wonderful and charming interview with Mr. David
Dimbleby of the BBC.
A preview story described some of the highlights:
The former American
president, famed for his amiable
disposition, becomes visibly angry and rattled, particularly when
Dimbleby asks him whether his publicly declared contrition over the
affair is genuine.
His outrage at the line of
questioning during the 50-minute interview, to be broadcast on Panorama
on Tuesday night, lasts several minutes. It is the first time that the
former President has been seen to lose his temper publicly over the
issue of his sexual liaisons with Ms Lewinsky.
In fact, everyone's been so glad to see him again that
the Associated Press celebrated by conducting a poll in which 1,000
Americans were asked to compare Bill Clinton with Ronald Reagan. As
expected, people still admire Clinton lavishly. Fully three in ten
believe he was a greater president than Reagan, one in three believe he
was a better communicator than Reagan, and almost half as many people
who respect Reagan as a person respect Clinton as a person. You can
read the rest of the lovefest here.
Even card-carrying members of the vast right-wing conspiracy
were overjoyed to see Bill on TV again. They couldn't tear themselves
away from the screen and rushed into print with their delight at what
Just as they
absurdly greeted Hillary Clinton’s book a year ago as “candid” about
how she only learned after eight months that Bill Clinton had lied to
her about Lewinsky (on the June 4, 2003 Today Katie Couric gushed about
how Mrs. Clinton was “very candid about a very personal matter"), some
network stars have been equally gullible about Bill Clinton’s new book.
Couric touted at the top of Monday’s Today: “True confessions. A candid
President Clinton talks about his political accomplishments and
personal demons.” Over on
ABC’s Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos called the book “very
candid, there's no question about it, a lot of personal revelation
there.” Time’s Joe Klein, appearing on Today, complained about how the
media “blew” Clinton’s “scandalettes way out of proportion.”
just as happy to see him again at the folks at the MRC. So we're
joining into the general adulation with a rare excerpt from Shuteye
Town 1999. The
hyperlinks work (look for the little hand to appear as you move the
cursor around, then click.) The F11 key will give you a full-screen
view of the graphics as you visit one of the bays at Afrian-Amerianz
Station's Hall of Heroes.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Watch out for speedtraps.
It's the first day of the hot season, and if you're like us, you're
going to be out there on the highways and back roads boosting the
throttle for that marvelous wind-in-your-face feeling. That's why we
want to share a little gift that's free on the internet: a site where
you hunt down and smoke out the dirty, cowardly speedtraps
that afflict our great nation. You can search by state, county, and
town. We recommend it highly as a safeguard for your summer fun.
The curs at Time
are salivating over new charges of abuse at Abu Ghraib.
More detainees are claiming sexual abuse that goes beyond mere
humiliation. But before you forget about Paul Johnson and start foaming
at the mouth about the inexpressible evil of America, take a look at
this article in the obscure online magazine New
People are woefully bad at recalling
details of their own traumatic experiences. When military personnel
were subjected to threatening behaviour during mock interrogations,
most failed to identify the questioner a day or so later, and many even
got the gender wrong. The finding casts serious doubt on the
reliability of victim testimonies in cases involving psychological
If you want details of the latest study, read the whole article. It's
not long, but it may help in the assessment of some of the wilder
charges that aren't documented with self-incriminating photographs.
The Kerry campaign is burning the midnight oil to find ways of
countering the negative public impression created by partisan attacks
like the one shown above. Now they think they've identified a means of
proving that "Kerry isn't a waffler, a double-talker, or a spinner."
Web surfers can log on to a continuous Virtual Press Conference in
which candidate Kerry answers every question posed. An unnamed campaign
spokesman said, "Ordinary average Americans will be able to see for
themselves that Senator Kerry gives direct answers without mincing
words." Try it. We did, and you know what? He's a lot more terse
and succinct than we thought he'd be. Ask your question here
(Scroll down for the answer.)
Sunday, June 20, 2004
In a recent InstaPunk entry
R. F. Laird suggested we should "yank something we take
for granted out of context and observe just how amazing it is." Some of
our readers have responded eloquently to this challenge, and today we
are offering what we hope will be the first of many such communications
from friends who are blessed with the ability to see majesty and
meaning in the commonplace. If you would like to submit a wonder of
your own, please email it with all appropriate graphics to the address
shown on this page. We look forward to hearing from you. Now for a
detour into the miraculous world of dogs:
Life with Greyhounds
When I adopted my first greyhound, Sonny, I used to say that I got a
greyhound because I wanted to look like my dog – long, lean, and
elegant. (This is something only to be imagined when you are five feet
tall.) He is the most beautiful dog I have ever seen, with a
narrow, beautiful face, brown doe eyes that break your heart, a deep
chest with a nipped-in waist, long slender legs that sunlight shines
through, ears that can lie down or stand up depending on his mood, and
a blinding white coat with fawn patches. He makes me feel as if I'm one
of those art deco statues, a perfect woman moving in stride with an
equally perfect, devoted companion.
There is a myth that greyhounds are hyperactive. And it is a myth. They
sleep about 20 hours a day and love to lounge around. Sometimes it's
difficult to get them in motion at all. This from an athlete whose top
speed would embarrass Secretariat. Though they love to go for a walk
anytime, mere walking requires some training. It's a question of
repealing their instincts. The fastest sprinters on earth next to
cheetahs, they can reach top speed faster than a Ferrari, but they tire
quickly when they have to slow and maintain their pace for a long walk.
They do it because they want to be with you. Imagine the world's
smallest, slimmest racehorse content to stroll at your side taking in
the sights and smells of gardens, people, cities and countryside.
But their cslm willingness cannot hide the exotic nature of a
greyhound. Because they have no no body fat, they require a coat when
the temperature dips below 40 degrees. Their diets have to be managed
to perfection if they are not to gain weight. If they overeat by even a
little, the extra flesh is too great a strain for their fine-boned
bodies. I learned to feed my boys in strict rations twice a day. If
more or less food is needed, I can adjust the amount they eat within
days because their bodies respond so quickly.
All of this knowledge was still in the future when I first took steps
toward acquiring my first greyhound. Having passed the adoption
requirements and reference checks, I received a phone call on September
29, 1995, telling me that 'my boy' was ready to come home and that I
could pick him up on the first of October. I asked what he looked like
and was told that he was white with fawn patches, at least 7 pounds
underweight, and scruffy from all the fleas that had chewed on his
fragile skin. His name, they told me, was Knock and he was not yet two.
I was informed of other details. He didn’t walk very well on a leash,
he was exceptionally timid, but he had been pronounced safe for cats.
My daughter Susan and I started our journey up the Garden State Parkway
on Sunday morning, both very excited to be adding this special dog to
our family. We already had two cats and one dog, a fairly
dog-aggressive mixed-breed terrier named Tissues, who had recently been
diagnosed with mouth cancer. It was a grim time. We had just lost two
dear canine companions in June, Lady and Snoopy, within a week of each
other. Tissues had sunk into serious depression, refusing to eat or go
for a walk. So we had decided, in extremis, to adopt another dog. We
arrived at the home where our greyhound had been boarded since his
rescue from the life of the track. When we went inside, three long
heads curled around the doorway and looked us over. The foster-mother
Gwen said, "The middle one is yours." I stooped down to greet the
three faces eye to eye. Our boy immediately sidled up to me, lay down,
and rolled on his back, inviting me to start rubbing his belly. Gwen
was astonished and said she had never seen a grey do that before. To me
it felt inevitable, an immediate joining of spirits.
I received a half hour’s worth of instructions, a scroll of do’s and
don’ts, a folder of papers, a special collar and leash, and a crate. At
long last, we loaded the hurriedly renamed 'Sonny' (who would have a
dog named Knock?) into the car and started home. He was placid and
accommodating the whole trip. As Susan studied his deceptively smooth
face, she suggested we should have named him Yoda for his big, knowing
There's a protocol for introducing a track-damaged greyhound into a new
home. Following Gwen’s instructions, Susan stood outside and somewhat
away from the house while I went in and got Tish. The terrrier and I
went out the door and down the street to join Susan and Sonny. We had
taken a couple of steps before Tish realized that she was in the
company of a very large and spectacular creature. She almost jumped out
of her skin. But we stuck to the protocol and took the two for a
ten-minute walk before entering the house through the back door,
deliberately not our usual entry. By now, Tish seemed accustomed to her
new friend and it seemed as if everything would go smoothly from here
And so it did. Sonny proved to be a gentle, friendly, and affectionate
boy, fond of both other dogs and cats. Tissues took to him immediately
and lay directly in front of his crate, keeping him company whenever he
was in it. After he mastered the difficult (for greyhounds) art of
walking up and down steps, Sonny soon displayed the true nature of all
greys, the overwhelming desire to be a couch potato. A seven-foot
potato. He liked nothing better than to stretch his vast limbs to their
full extension and take up the entire three cushions, allowing no one
else any space. Tish observed this and objected. She knew the couch
belonged to her, not Sonny. Her determination to reclaim the couch bore
fruit; by December all traces of her cancer had disappeared. The vet
called her God’s miracle because there was no other possible
eexplanation for her cure. She crowned her triumph by reclaiming her
spot on the couch, which she accomplished by sitting on top of Sonny
until he moved or gave her enough room to curl up in the steep curves
of his body.
Cats were one thing, but people were another. Sonny had lived the life
of a gladiator, a professional serf at the dogtrack, and people made
him nervous. Unaware of the stress it would cause him, Susan and I
invited 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner. Sonny was so traumatized by
all the strangers that he crushed himself in the back of his crate and
shook like a leaf. After four hours of this misery, I knew he had to go
out but couldn't bring himself to leave his crate. So I attached his
leash and tried to lead him out the door. He stared wildly at all the
people, then launched himself into a prodigious leap -- practically
knocking me over -- and flew out the door. When the dismaying guests
finally went away, he forgave us and returned to his usual paradise on
But greyhounds are spiritual creatures. They learn, they adapt, they
grow. Sonny slowly began to get used to visitors, as long as there were
no more than one or two people. We continued to guess about what had
happened in his two traumatic years of racing; he remained
exceptionally tense with men. When a male came in the house, he ran for
his crate and refused to come out or greet anyone. Unfortunately for
Sonny, we had Christmas Eve to contend with too. And he repeated his
performance for everybody. Only children were accepted with no concern
Over the next year, he became accustomed to life in a house. He loved
to run in the back yard and Tish would always try to run with him. She
would give up after about 5 steps. Sonny would coyly look around to see
where she was and play hide and seek with her. He created the world’s
best track by running in a circle and I spent most of my time shoveling
dirt back in, a truly futile task.
In March of 1996, Susan came home with a stray that she had found
outside the parking garage where she worked. He was large boned,
skinny, missing a lot of hair, and had eyes full of mucous. After a
veterinarian visit to make sure he was healthy, Achilles now needed
surgery. His eye problem was the result of ingrown eyelashes. The
operation cured his problem and he became one of the gang.
Tissues just adored her boys and pushed them around regularly. They
accepted this because they could. They were much larger and didn’t need
to push back. Now we had Achilles trying to run with the greyhound.
There has never been a funnier sight than a medium-sized terrier and a
large Swiss Mountain dog trying to keep up with a greyhound.
In October 1996, I decided to bring a kitten home from the barn where
my horses were boarded. He was black but had a misshapen lip and
mucousy eyes. He used to follow me everywhere and even helped me when I
was cleaning out a stall. I felt sorry for him with his conditions and
selected him because he was so outgoing and needed help. We named him
Ajax. He immediately fixed on Sonny and started playing with him. I did
not know how things would turn out. Ajax was so small and Sonny looked
enormous next to him. I would watch closely as they played. Ajax would
run and attack Sonny’s leg, biting merrily away as the grey just looked
at him. Then he would lie on his back and Sonny would put his long nose
down and sniff him. It was all I could do to stay in my seat. But the
kitten seemed confident and Sonny never did anything wrong. Ajax loved
to run up to Sonny when he was lying on the floor or sleeping and
attack his tail or walk on him. They would sometimes sleep together and
Ajax was so completely unaware of any possible danger that he would hop
up on the couch and walk on Sonny’s head and over his body searching
for the perfect spot for a nap.
Ajax, and Mickey
(A greyhound really keeps you warm.)
Eventually Ajax even took his game outdoors and would run across the
yard to attack Sonny, who always stood completely still while the cat
flung himself around Sonny’s leg.
After a couple of years, Sonny finally became used to people coming
into the house and would even come to greet them. He began to enjoy
holiday parties (especially all the food that he can reach). He is
still wary of strangers and will revert to his old habits from time to
In September 2002, Susan bought a house and planned to move herself and
Achilles. Tissues had passed away in April at the age of 15, and now
Sonny would be an only dog. Friends of mine adopted a greyhound in
October and Sonny and I would visit them to help him adjust to his new
life. Jay loved Sonny’s visits and the two boys would play and run
together in the yard and at the dog run. But Jay was very quiet and
withdrawn otherwise, so they got a second grey. With Buddy’s arrival,
Jay started to come out of his shell and enjoy his new life. In January
2003, I adopted another greyhound, Patrick.
Patrick settled in very quickly, even with the five cats. They just
love to play with his tail, which he wags most of the time. When
Achilles moved in March, we had no separation anxiety. He still comes
for visits and sometimes for overnights. It’s as if he never left. Both
greys are always delighted to see him and he takes up his old spot in
the bedroom with them.
Patrick was so easygoing and cooperative that I decided to take him for
training. We took beginner obedience first. We didn’t need the
instruction for pulling since greyhounds don’t pull, and we didn’t need
to learn how to stand at the side since they love to stay planted next
to you. But they don’t normally sit because their conformation makes it
uncomfortable for them. I thought I would never get him to sit. We
tried and tried and tried. At long last, after 8 weeks, he finally
mastered it. After this huge success, I decided to take an agility
course. Patrick balked at everything. He just refused to try anything
new. We had to lift him onto the A-frame, guide him up the
teeter-totter one tiny step at a time. He was enjoying himself
enormously. Finally, we were able to do each piece of equipment, so we
moved on to advanced beginner. More balking. On the last night of
class, we were able to work outdoors and he performed perfectly. Never
being one to miss an opportunity, I immediately retired him. No
competition for us.
But in July, disaster struck. On July 1st, I received a call from the
barn that my horse, Naomi, was very sick with a colic. I called the vet
immediately and he said he would meet me there. When I got to the barn,
Naomi was in serious distress. Her belly was bloated and she now had a
twisted gut. There was nothing to do but put her down. It seemed such a
terrible way to end a life of 25 years.
now in heaven
On the fourth of July, I noticed a small lump on Sonny’s right front
leg. I was sure that it was not an abscess and I didn’t think it was an
insect bite. Now I had to wait for the vet’s office to open. The worst
possible news – it’s a tumor. We scheduled surgery and a biopsy. The
tumor was benign but the doctor was not able to remove everything so
there was a good chance that it would grow back. Sonny would not leave
his leg alone and ripped out the stitches. Back to surgery we went to
sew it up again. It finally healed but all too soon the tumor started
to grow again. Now we had to wait; the tumor would either burst or cut
off the circulation in his leg.
This past Monday, June 14th, the tumor burst. Sonny went to the vet’s
on Tuesday. The vet was willing to try to cut it out if I was
willing to try, so Sonny went for surgery on Wednesday morning.
Luckily, there was sufficient skin to sew him up and now it is healing.
Sonny is 10 and a half. The doctor said that the tumor might grow even
more quickly as a result of the surgery. I am trying to face the
prospect of losing him.
Both of my boys love other animals. Greyhounds are so used to being
with each other and hanging their heads on each other’s backs that they
do not recognize any form of danger from another dog. If one starts
running at them, they simply stand and wait for their newfound friend
to arrive. This has caused me some scary moments over the years because
not all dogs are so friendly. There have been greyhounds injured and
killed by other dogs. They are completely defenseless. Greyhounds also
rarely bark (except for Patrick who is all too willing to let you know
that he wants something with a bark). We have been to a couple of
greyhound picnics with one-hundred or more greyhounds in attendance and
there is not a single bark. It is a most extraordinary and eerie
Since Patrick came to live with us, I realized even more how much I
love greyhounds. I thought I already knew this from having Sonny, but
Patrick has made this feeling even more intense. I cannot imagine life
without one. These retired racers, so poorly treated in their life on
the track, are serene, loving, and eternally sweet companions. Their
eyes are as gentle as spring rain, and their long faces are as graceful
and moving as a dream of angels. I feel honored and privileged to have
Saturday, June 19, 2004
. Trust the Brits to be involved when there's some really good
cloak and dagger work underway. The same people who brought us Kim
Philby and David "Squarehead" Cornwell are breaking the news that an
unnamed senior intelligence official is getting ready to expose the
deep love bin Laden has for the Bush administration. You can read the
full piece here
which might be wise, because we're going to tackle it a sentence or two
at a time. And yeah, we know we're not intelligence experts, whatever
that means anymore, but we do possess a modicum of logic and common
sense. Let's see how those two homely attributes stack up against what
passes for intelligence these days.
told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands
'reward' American president with strike aimed at keeping him in office,
senior intelligence man says
Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday June 19, 2004
A senior US intelligence official is
about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism
policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and
that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played
into Osama bin Laden's hands.
Wow. This has got it all. A provocative headline, a downright
inflammatory subhead, a mysterious highly placed source, and a
vitriolic quote -- all in the first few lines. Should we wait or just
sail in right away? Well, you know us. Avaricious, huh? The Bushies
couldn't wait to reap the bonanza of a $100 billion war expense, a $70
billion rebuilding effort, and a quick handover of Iraqi oil revenue to
the provisional government. We've seen infomercials on late-night TV
that looked more promising than this particular formula for enrichment.
Premeditated? We hope so. Somehow invasions don't belong to that
category of festivity that seem best done as a spontaneous lark.
Unprovoked? Right. Twelve years of defiance, U.S. planes shot at in the
no-fly zones... who could be provoked by that? Certainly not the old
'intelligence' hands who refused to be provoked by the World Trade
Center bombing (1993), the Khobar Towers, Riyadh, the embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole,
et al. Whatever else you want to say about them, those boys don't
Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing
the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most
frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida
are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.
Funny. Just the other day on Drudge, the Financial Times was
reporting that Gitmo interrogations had turned up the interesting
fact that Mullah Omar wasn't too gung-ho about the 9/11 attack.
Seems he was afraid the Americans might do something military in
Afghanistan afterwards. The genius bin Laden told him not to worry, the
Taliban was safe. But now we learn that bin Laden actually prefers it
this way; he must find it especially inspiring to have big chunks of
his leadership captured or assassinated. In fact, that's how you make
his day. Another dead colleague, another divine inspiration. As for
whether America is safer or not, let's just say that it's become
clearer all the time that the American intelligence apparatus may not
be the best judge of that. We know this gypsy who divines the future
from the grounds at the bottom of your Starbucks cup. Maybe we should
In an interview with the Guardian the
official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more
proficient and focused organization than it was in 2001, and predicted
that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try
to use them.
We're always much surer of ourselves, too, when we write as
'Anonymous.' Amazing how it reduces the blood pressure to know you can
say anything without fear of direct retort and personal challenges.
(Note the tagline we're using for this piece. Cool, huh.) One could
point out that a real good way to become more focused is to be the
target of a continuous international manhunt. That would sharpen our
concentration wonderfully well. How about you? What else? Oh. The dire
prediction. Imagine you were a 'senior intelligence official' who had
participated in the Keystone Kops pursuit of terrorists and WMDs over
the past ten years. How hard would it be to make this particular
prediction? Or to put it another way, how hard would it be to avoid
making this prediction? Color us impressed.
He said Bin Laden was probably
"comfortable" commanding his organization from the mountainous tribal
lands along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He would know this how? Of course, you'll have to pardon us for
being a bit skeptical when a high-level spook uses the word 'probably.'
The Pakistani army claimed a big success
in the "war against terror" yesterday with the killing of a tribal
leader, Nek Mohammed, who was one of al-Qaida's protectors in
But Anonymous, who has been centrally
involved in the hunt for Bin Laden, said: "Nek Mohammed is one guy in
one small area. We sometimes forget how big the tribal areas are." He
believes President Pervez Musharraf cannot advance much further into
the tribal areas without endangering his rule by provoking a Pashtun
revolt. "He walks a very fine line," he said yesterday.
You see, we can place great confidence in the words of Anonymous
because he has been "centrally involved in the hunt for bin Laden." And
Scotland Yard was centrally involved in the hunt for Jack the Ripper.
Maybe it takes a Brit to believe that failure is a good credential for
Imperial Hubris is the latest in a
relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election
year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered
former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a
serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism
who is still part of the intelligence establishment.
He's still part of the
intelligence establishment. Great. If you were part of a huge
establishment that kept falling on its ass in critical situations in
public, would you feel any incentive to tell the world that your
screw-ups were somebody -- anybody -- else's fault, and you just
couldn't be held accountable for anything that has happened, is
happening, or will happen? Does anybody else feel like it's time to
fire a few of the sorry so-called expert asses that are warming the
plush chairs of the intelligence establishment?
The fact that he has been allowed to
publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works
for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence
officials at the course the administration has taken.
Or it may reflect the increasing fear of senior intelligence
officials that sooner or later, even they will be exposed and reviled
for their incompetence. Can you spell P-E-N-S-I-O-N?
Peter Bergen, the author of two books on
Bin Laden and al-Qaida, said: "His views represent an amped-up version
of what is emerging as a consensus among intelligence counter-terrorist
What a potent mouthful: "a consensus among intelligence
counter-terrorist professionals." If we're allowed to consult the
record on this, we might be excused for preferring a consensus of the
1962 New York Mets.
Anonymous does not try to veil his
contempt for the Bush White House and its policies. His book describes
the Iraq invasion as "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war
against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer
We're still waiting to hear about the economic advantage. Lifelong
Washington bureaucrats are always the most insightful people about how
economics work, we know, but a shred of fact might be helpful in
enabling us proles to understand. As a footnote, we'd be more
respectful of Anonymous's refusal to veil his contempt if he weren't so
thoroughly veiled himself.
"Our choice of timing, moreover, shows an
abject, even willful failure to recognize the ideological power,
lethality and growth potential of the threat personified by Bin Laden,
as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the US-led
invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq."
Another big mouthful. However, if we were looking for a great
example of "abject, even willful failure to recognize the
ideological power, lethality and growth potential of the threat
personified by Bin Laden," we probably wouldn't pick the first
administration that dared to overturn the status quo in confronting and
seeking to kill Islamofascist terrorists. We might light instead on the
senior officials who twiddled their thumbs while bin Laden was moving
from attack to attack with utter impunity from the intelligence and law
enforcement establishments, not to mention the blind eye of Reno, Gore,
In his view, the US missed its biggest
chance to capture the al-Qaida leader at Tora Bora in the Afghan
mountains in December 2001. Instead of sending large numbers of his own
troops, General Tommy Franks relied on surrogates who proved to be
As opposed to the times when the Sudan tried to hand bin Laden to
the U.S. on a silver platter.
"For my money, the game was over at Tora
Bora," Anonymous said.
How cool is this? The game is over. Guess Anonymous can just sit at
his big desk shaking his head at everything that happens from now on.
Nothing left to do.
Yesterday President Bush repeated his
assertion that Bin Laden was cornered and that there was "no hole or
cave deep enough to hide from American justice".
Anonymous said: "I think we overestimate
significantly the stress [Bin Laden's] under. Our media and sometimes
our policymakers suggest he's hiding from rock to rock and hill to hill
and cave to cave. My own hunch is that he's fairly comfortable where he
If it's cause for concern when an intelligence official says
"probably," imagine how confident we are when he has a hunch.
The death and arrest of experienced
operatives might have set back Bin Laden's plans to some degree but
when it came to his long-term capacity to threaten the US, he said, "I
don't think we've laid a glove on him".
"I don't think" is almost as good as a hunch, though it may be, in
some sense, truer.
"What I think we're seeing in al-Qaida is
a change of generation," he said. "The people who are leading al-Qaida
now seem a lot more professional group.
"They are more bureaucratic, more
management competent, certainly more literate. Certainly, this
generation is more computer literate, more comfortable with the tools
of modernity. I also think they're much less prone to being the Errol
Flynns of al-Qaida. They're just much more careful across the board in
the way they operate."
We're inclined to agree that Anonymous knows his stuff about
bureaucratic management. Who but a Washington bureaucrat would conceive
that the most fearful descriptor he could apply to Al Qaida would be
"bureaucratic." We're quaking in our boots. Any moment now, the next
attack may come in the form of a series of suffocating regulations.
What would we do then? Oh that's right. We have senior intelligence
officials who know how to deal with that eventuality, if no other.
As for weapons of mass destruction, he
thinks that if al-Qaida does not have them already, it will inevitably
The most likely source of a nuclear
device would be the former Soviet Union, he believes. Dirty bombs,
chemical and biological weapons, could be home-made by al-Qaida's own
experts, many of them trained in the US and Britain.
Duh. And on whose watch did they get all that training, Anonymous?
Anonymous, who published an analysis of
al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite
possible that another devastating strike against the US could come
during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the
administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping
the same one in place.
"I'm very sure they can't have a better
administration for them than the one they have now," he said.
"One way to keep the Republicans in power
is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the
We've been waiting for this part of the spiel. Only a true
professional bureaucrat would be able to figure out that bin Laden's
greatest fear is a return to the dread days of the Clinton
administration, when counter-terrorism lay firmly in the hands of
experts like Anonymous. When bin Laden contemplates the havoc Kerry
will wreak by genuflecting to the anti-terror leviathan named Chirac,
he practically wets his pants. Worse still is the prospect that under a
Kerry administration, the Taliban might be restored in Afghanistan and
then bin Laden would have to return from his comfy aerie to the urban
dangers of Kabul. For months he has lain sleepless in his bed pondering
ways of enhancing the electability of the man who made him look like
such a genius with Mullah Omar. "Anyone but that ruthless and cunning swift boat
captain," he mutters. "anybody but Kerry."
The White House has yet to comment
publicly on Imperial Hubris, which is due to be published on July 4,
but intelligence experts say it may try to portray him as a
professionally embittered maverick.
The tone of Imperial Hubris is certainly
angry and urgent, and the stridency of his warnings about al-Qaida led
him to be moved from a highly sensitive job in the late 90s.
Oh? So he's been working in a cubicle next to the copier for the
past five years? But that wouldn't make him bitter or strident, would
it? And isn't it odd that the "consensus among intelligence
counter-terrorist professionals" is being articulated by a guy nobody's
seen except at the water cooler since before 9/11.
But Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief
of operations at the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said he had been
vindicated by events. "He is very well respected, and looked on as a
serious student of the subject."
Oh, that explains it. He's a serious student of the subject. Why, we
have it on good authority that he got a 720 on his counter-terrorism
SATs. That's easily in the 99th percentile. Of what, you ask? We don't
Anonymous believes Mr. Bush is taking the
US in exactly the direction Bin Laden wants, towards all-out
confrontation with Islam under the banner of spreading democracy.
Excuse us, but that's what war is. Two combatants identify one
another as enemies and have at it. Unless one of them chooses abject
surrender, that's pretty much how it has to go.
He said: "It's going to take
10,000-15,000 dead Americans before we say to ourselves: 'What is going
We've been saying the same thing. Largely because of brain-dead
bureaucratic incompetents like Anonymous. There's no way to finesse
this war with elegant memos or bitter, self-promoting leaks to the
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
Friday, June 18, 2004
killed Paul Johnson. Click on the picture to see what they did.
. As the
slaughter of the helpless continues, the modern secular responses we
read seem increasingly weak and pitiful. The enemy are jihadists, but
we are not permitted to speak of crusade, only of 'justice,'
'civilization,' and 'outrage.' Perhaps it's time to call a spade a
spade -- it's the Islamofascist
killers who are the true infidels here, after all -- and call down upon
their heads the kind of Old Testament vengeance they deserve. I give
6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O LORD , the
fangs of the lions! 7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted. 8 Like a
slug melting away as it moves along, like a stillborn child, may they
not see the sun.
13 Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains
ablaze, 15 so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your
storm. 16 Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your
name, O LORD .
8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays
you for what you have done to us- 9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Oh No! More Panties on
Panties on the Head!
it would happen. Those evil American sadists couldn't resist
humiliating Saddam with their favorite torture device. Now we'll
probably have to let him go. Amnesty
is already plenty steamed.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Leading
human rights organization Amnesty International has branded as
humiliating the publication of a new photo of Saddam Hussein.
An Iraqi newspaper on Thursday published the picture of the deposed
Iraqi president in captivity, and Baghdad residents were hurrying to
buy copies, said CNN correspondent Satinder Bindra.
The photo is the first picture of Saddam
to be released since his
capture...when the U.S.-led coalition showed images and
video at a news conference of him being examined.
Those pictures were defended by U.S.
Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, who said it was clearly important that people knew Saddam was
alive and really had been caught.
Well, if Rumsfeld's not worried about the panties, maybe it'll all
blow over. Sure.
Decompressing after Torture Talk (June 15 entry
we discovered this picture of Bill Clinton being tortured by a young
lady in the White House. The source of this evidence is Shuteye Town 1999
which is just as nastily relevant now as it was when first published.
Containing more than 3000 graphics, sound files, and 350,000 words of
text, Shuteye Town is a hilarious place through which you can wander
for weeks or months. Fortunately, it's still available from our friends
. You can find
out more here
Back to Archive Index