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Halloween quiz

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw this quiz over on Eric’s site and had to take it.

You Are A Vampire

You have a real thirst for bliss, and you consider yourself a true hedonist.
And you’re not afraid to walk alone in life, if it means getting what you truly crave.
You truly enjoy entrancing people. Not to mention the ensuing pleasures of the flesh.
Your tastes have been called decadent and bizarre. You usually give in to your temptations, no matter how primal

Your greatest power: Your flawless ability to seduce and charm

Your greatest weakness: Human flesh

You play well with: Werewolves

Carry on.

Happy Halloween

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a safe and happy Halloween. It looks like Villainette #1 will be a witch, Villainette #2 will be a pirate and the Wee Villain will be Spiderman for Trick-or-Treating tonight.

Your Maximum Leader will accompany, of course.

He will be dressed like a serial killer…

Because they look like anyone…

Carry on.

My Cow Is A Whore

Cleo the cow went for a stroll last weekend. I thought she was pregnant, but I guess I was wrong and she hopped the fence and went looking for love.

She also took two heifers down the path of wantoness.

The trio walked four miles over the river and through the woods and ended up in another farmer’s herd. He doesn’t castrate his bull calves. She had a lot of fun.

It took me an entire weekend to track her down (assisted by my fine friend Polymath). When I found her, she was surrounded by ten bulls who were taking turns. The farmer commented that her heifer calf had been crying because she couldn’t get through the crowd to nurse - and that the “activity” had been going on since the previous day. When I said that I had thought she was bred, he said “well, she sure as heck is now!”

I’m glad to have my girls back, but rather disappointed that I’ll have a scrub calf rather than an AI-sired genetic improvement. Ah well.

100 Below: Irv’s First Day.

Irv Mills was at the top of his game. This was his first day as CEO of ConglomoCorps, a multi-national (and multi-billion dollar) company.

“Time to start making changes,” he thought as he pulled out an organizational chart.

He noticed a box marked “Research and Development.” He scratched it out and wrote “Research & Development.”

No. Scratch.

“R and D”

No. Scratch.

“R & D”

No. Scratch.

Damn. This was going to take longer than he thought.

Churchill painting to auction

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, if he was made of money — which sadly he is not — would fly to London this December to try and score for himself a Winston Churchill painting. According to the news wire services, Margaret Truman is going to sell at auction a painted rendered by Churchill and given as a gift to President Truman. The auction will occur on December 13.

The painting is of Marrakesh and the Atlas mountains in North Africa. If your Maximum Leader is correct, this particular painting was completed during the war while Churchill was conferring with Allied leaders (including FDR) in North Africa. Your Maximum Leader is a little too lazy to check into his many books on Churchill (including two on Churchill as a painter) to confirm this.

This little piece of history would be a great Christmas present.

(Hint hint)

Carry on.

100 below: Thinking non-idiomatically

He regarded her.

Regarded in true sense of regard. He supposed that regarding in this sense was fairly uncommon. He wondered how many definitions of the word he’d have to read before he got to the sense he was using. One? Two? Fourteen?

Of course, it would be more accurate for him to say he was trying not to leer at her.

The non-etymological thoughts he had were lewd.

He thanked her for the coffee and left the shop.

But is it art?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader does this because all the other cool kids are doing it.


And one with less color:


Get your own here.

Carry on.

October 25th

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was going to write a post commemorating today as the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.

But while examining other interesting things on Wikipedia he discovered that Geoffery Chaucer died this day back in 1400. Alas, other than mentioning this fact, your Maximum Leader has very little to add to this mention of Chaucer. Sadly, your Maximum Leader was never much of a Chaucer fan, and had difficulty plowing through “The Canterbury Tales.”

For those of you more curious today than your Maximum Leader… Here is the Wiki page for events that occured on October 25th.

Ingenuity and the young man

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader laughed his arse off after reading this.

Thanks to Ted for the link.

Carry on.

Is there anything harder?

Greeting, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been feeling like crap the past few days. Fall allergies probably coupled with some sort of cold bug that the Villainettes brought home. He hasn’t felt up to much when given the choice between watching baseball or football on TV and something else…

Your Maximum Leader read that Ted had the sad task of putting down his dog, Sam, two days ago. Ted and his family are in my thoughts.

While sitting thinking about what Ted had to do, your Maximum Leader thought that if you are a “pet person” you really set yourself up for regular heartaches. Your Maximum Leader is a pet person (a dog man frankly). And now that he is thinking about it, he’s suffered a lot due to the death or disappearance of his pet. If you are a dog lover, you can expect that every 8-12 years (or longer depending on the breed) you are going to have to deal with the trauma of your beloved pet dying. That is pretty hard. There seems to be some sort of cosmic injustice that relegates our pets to such short life spans compared to our own. This is not to say that the joy a pet brings isn’t great during the pet’s life — it is. But it is more to say that you take the joy knowing there will be heartache as well.

As your Maximum Leader was typing this he realized that his dog, Maia, is 7 years old now. She is a black lab/whippet mix. We rescued her from the SPCA in Virginia Beach a few months after we had to put down Muffin, the dog Mrs Villain brought to our marriage. It seems like only yesterday that Muffin was vibrant and active. Your Maximum Leader remembers (also like it was yesterday) the day we had to put Muffin down. That day capped off the worst Christmas season your Maximum Leader ever had. He remembers the day we got Maia. He also is now thinking that depending on the longevity of the breeds involved, Maia is likely half-way through her life. That has made your Maximum Leader feel a little melancholy now.

He’s going to stop typing and start brushing his dog for a while. It will cheer him up, and probably please Maia greatly as well.

Carry on.

Is Waterboarding Torture?

Not according to our president and several Volokh Conspiracy regulars.

My take is:

The Bush administration has been playing definition games with the word torture. “We don’t torture!” they proclaim vociferously, while pointing to a hastily assembled legal definition that narrowly defines torture a something that causes major organ failure or death.

Several of the comments above embrace this willfully obtuse definition. Waterboarding, they argue, only causes temporary discomfort.


By this definition, Saddam’s rape rooms were not torture for the women raped – they were only temporarily discomforted. They were not torture for the interrogated – they only had to watch their daughters be raped and were not physically touched at all.

One of the big moral problems of torture is the direct infliction of pain; it is the way you psychologically damage the tortured person. I teach in an immigrant-rich community. I had a young man from the Sudan who freaked out when I patted him on the back for a correct answer. He was literally incapable of seeing any physical contact as being positive because he was tortured by a militia in his homeland. I never enquired about the type of torture. It might have been physical pain or it might have been induced feelings of powerlessness while seeing his family abused, or maybe he was – wait for it – waterboarded. I didn’t ask for clarification from his family because it just didn’t matter. We just had to find a way to help this young man integrate back into society and feel safe, even if he didn’t suffer “major organ failure.”

Semantic games are fun. Arguing about definitions can be a jolly good time. But I hold that excusing the excesses of this administration is harmful to our nation.

Let me ‘splain.

But first, lest I be excused of being a islamofascistophile (is that a word? To heck with it. I’m German. I can glom words together), let me state clearly and unequivocally that I have no sympathy for the terrorists and believe that they do not have valid moral claims that would check our actions. Having set themselves outside the human social contract, they cannot then claim the protections of that contract.

That said, it is hard to know with 100% accuracy whether or not someone is a terrorist (aside from catching them in the act of putting out an IED.) As I understand it, many of our detainees were turned in by their neighbors or captured by reward-seekers. Some of the detainees were not Al Queda sympathizers when we shipped them to Gitmo. Of course, as a wise friend of mine once said, once you’ve sodomized someone with a plunger, whether or not he is sympathetic to the terrorists is a moot question. You’ve made up his mind for him.

The Geneva Conventions do not apply to the torture of the detainees despite the fervent dreams of the Kos Kids. The Geneva Conventions apply only to uniformed members of a combatant signatory of the treaty. Under the Geneva Conventions, illegal combatants may be summarily executed on the battlefield. And yet:

Even if we are not bound by treaty or moral argument to refrain from torture, we still should refrain from torture.

Because it is not effective and counter-productive.

This is what all the semantic-torture-narrow-definers miss. It simply doesn’t matter how you define torture. Many reasonable people will disagree. Many reasonable people with different ideas about the origins of rights will disagree with me about whether captured terrorists have a right not to be tortured.

When we torture folks, the limited utility of largely unreliable data is more than outweighed by the negative impact on support for the American effort – internationally and domestically.

The data gathered by torture is highly unreliable. If someone is removing your spleen (major organ failure!) with a spoon, you are likely to say whatever you think your torturer wants to hear in order to make the torture stop. If someone is waterboarding you (Not torture! Not torture! We have defined it as not torture!), you are likely to say whatever you think your non-torturer wants to hear in order to make the non-torture stop.

The damage to our reputation, however, can be reliably anticipated.

It does not good, oh ye Bush apologists, to point the finger and cry “The terrorists are worse torturers!” True, and irrelevant. The terrorists aren’t trying to motivate a coalition of liberal-minded Europeans and Latte-swilling Americans.

Aside from: one of my biggest complaints about the anti-torture folks like John McCain is that they underestimate the rationality of the American public and try to ban torture on the grounds that when we torture other folks are more likely to torture our soldiers. They should simply stick to the point that torture is wrong/ineffective/counterproductive. The bad guys are going to torture our boys no matter what we do.

If you want to defend “alternative interrogation” measures, we can have a debate. But to disingenuously claim that waterboarding is not torture is unproductive. If I’m wrong about the inefficacy and counter-productivity of torture convince me. Don’t try to pretend we don’t torture.

100 Below: Torched.

Brother Thomas fell exhausted onto the creek bed. He turned around. His monastery burned. Flames licked the sides of the building and blasted open the roof. Black smoke rose towards heaven.

Brother Thomas had fallen asleep in the hay loft. He awoke to the sounds of the horses panicking. From his vantage point he could see that fire had consumed the gatehouse. He leapt from the loft window and cleared the back wall. He ran from the monastery compound.

As he watched the monastery burn he had one thought on his mind.

“Damned Lutherans.”

This makes all those visits to the Headmaster’s rooms a little dicey…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read that J.K. Rowling has just outed Albus Dumbledore. Yes, you read that right. The Hogwarts Headmaster is gay.

Frankly, this doesn’t change the fact that your Maximum Leader tremendously enjoyed the whole Harry Potter series. Indeed, he doesn’t really care. It doesn’t change the arch of the story for him. Your Maximum Leader does wonder if this revelation will affect other’s view of the story.

Of course, your Maximum Leader supposes that this announcement will cause a flurry of revisionism concerning how people will interpret what is (or is not) in the story.

Ah well…

Carry on.

100 Below: The tale of Urferd Forkbeard, part the first.

Urferd Forkbeard stood a head taller than the next tallest man in his village. Urferd was as broad as two men. His muscled shoulders sat atop a barrel chest. It was known that he could rip trees out from the earth with his massive arms. Urferd’s stony visage was punctuated by world-weary blue-green eyes. As he thought he pulled on his beard; a beard that grew in two long tendrils from his chin.

Urferd Forkbeard should have been the most feared Viking of his age.

But he was not.

100 Below: The tale of Urferd Forkbeard, part the second.

Urferd Forkbeard sat on a great rune covered stone near his hut. The sun shone brightly on his face. He squinted down towards the village. The men of the village gathered at the foot of the path leading to Urferd’s hut.

They were talking in hushed voices. They looked at him furtively.

Urferd pretended not to see them.

Urferd picked up his massive axe and whetstone. The axe was a terrible sight. He wondered if there was another man in the village who could wield it like him. Amused, he sat and sharpened the axe.

He knew what they wanted.

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