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Australia thwarts ISIL beheading plot

Islamic State jihadists planned to kidnap two random people off the street in Australia and then behead them, showing the video online as a way to demonstrate their worldwide reach.  But Australian authorities discovered the plot, arresting 15 people in the country’s largest counterterrorism operation.

Do you doubt that ISIL (I’m just going to start calling them that) would like to do something similar in the United States?  I predict that instead of the large-scale mass killings favored by al-Qaeda, the new ISIL-flavored terrorism will aim at smaller-scale attacks that are easier to carry out but that still have a maximum horrific impact.  Think, beheadings. [Read more...]

Taking Lassie straight to merchandising

The Hollywood studio DreamWorks has the rights to Lassie, the TV show about a heroic collie that is the third longest running TV drama of all time (behind Gunsmoke and Law & Order).  But the studio thinks the character is too old-fashioned for a new TV show or movie.  So the plan is to take Lassie straight to the true goal of making movie heroes these days:  merchandising.

Finding that Lassie is still beloved, she will be making appearances on TV shows, commercials, and a host of Lassie-related products.

Do you agree that Lassie, while still popular, is unable to entertain children today?  That children have to have explosions and superheroes; otherwise, they will be “bored”?   That’s the view expressed after the jump. [Read more...]

Russia invades Ukraine!

Russia has reportedly invaded the Ukraine, sending two armored columns that captured a town near the border. [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]

Destroying our own military equipment

My brother-in-law (Seabees, retired) told me that when we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are going to be leaving behind or destroying much of the military equipment our troops had been using, since it is too expensive to bring back and there won’t be that much use for it anymore.

Well, now it’s happening.  We are putting billions of dollars worth of equipment–including trucks and armored vehicles–into giant metal shredders.  Other stuff we are selling to the Afghanis at pennies on the dollar or giving it away free to foreign governments willing to haul it away. [Read more...]

Obama allows U.S. airstrikes in Iraq

As Islamic State routed tough Kurdish forces (the largest pro-American group in Iraq), drawing near to Americans still in Erbil, President Obama has given the go-ahead for airstrikes “if necessary.”  He also said we would drop food and water to the sectarian Muslims that Islamic State is starving out on a mountaintop.

UPDATE:  The bombing has begun.

[Read more...]


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