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Saturday, February 08, 2003


Longtime readers of BBB know that in the future, everyone will be American. That's an invitation, not a threat.

Ever since making that claim, I expected the foreign reaction to be derisive. But here's a whole-hearted endorsement from Germany:

We need to look with more nuance at the forward march of American culture instead of demonizing it as a form of crude imperialism or merely celebrating its liberating potential. In particular, American popular culture must be viewed in light of the drawn-out historical process of cultural modernization.
(Project Syndicate)

In his essay Invasion of the Culture Snatchers, Winfriend Fluck (Professor of Kultur at the Free University of Berlin) discusses how the United States had to assimilate all sorts of tribes from all over the world (ed: still working on that.). The result: a culture appealing to everyone.

For a number of reasons, America was in the forefront of this cultural revolution. Due to its multi-ethnic and multi-cultural composition, especially in the formative years of modern entertainment culture around 1900, American popular culture was faced with the challenge of a market that anticipated the present global market on a smaller scale. This led to the development of broadly comprehensible, non-verbal forms of performance, relying preferably on visual and auditory forms of expression. Before Americanization of other societies could occur, American culture itself had to be "Americanized."
(Project Syndicate)

America was a global village unto itself. So naturally American culture -- with its emphasis on Dionysian liberty -- would run a victory lap around he rest of the world. All we needed were the tools.

So we invented things like Jazz, Rock and Roll, and feature films. We invented the modes of transmission like television and the internet (guess what: you're soaking in it!). We built cities devoted to Disney and fleets of aircraft so foreigners could make the Western hajj.

American culture will take over the world. So don't fight it (as if you really wanted to anyway). Professor Fluck says it's inevitable, and a good thing too:

Americanization, thus, cannot be viewed as a tacitly engineered hidden cultural takeover but as a process in which individualization is the driving force. This process is most advanced in the US for a number of reasons. The promise of a particular form of individualization provides the explanation why American popular culture finds so much resonance in other societies where it has taken hold almost without resistance (mostly carried by a young generation trying to escape tradition).

Cultural Americanization is thus part of a modernizing process. Americanization is not a form of cultural imperialism, but the embodiment of modernity's promise of painless self-realization for each individual, in contrast to the demands made by more traditional concepts of emancipation. Globalization, which often appears as the triumph of cultural standardization, in reality undermines standardization. No single national culture is the driving force but, instead, globalization is powered by a restless individualism drawing on a growing store of mass symbols. So: we are not becoming Americanized. We ``Americanize'' ourselves.
(Project Syndicate)

Friday, February 07, 2003


Here's a remarkable bunny, Sammy:

(Monterey, CA HBS)

This is Sammy, having a supervised playtime outside. He's an active guy, outgoing and yet ready to be petted. He also wags his tail! Sammy is already neutered and good with his litterbox.
(Monterey, CA HBS)

Wags his tail? Actually, bunnies don't have tails, but rather scuts (long page, search for "scut"). Just so you know.

Anyway, if you adopt Sammy, please do him the honor of bestowing his true name: Romulus. Clearly this scut-wagging bunny was raised by dogs.

Arsenal of Democracy

As far as I'm concerned, Congress can write DARPA all the blank checks it wants. What other military has a think-tank developing a race of cyborgs?

The Brain Machine Interfaces Program represents a major DSO thrust area that will comprise a multidisciplinary, multipronged approach with far reaching impact. The program will create new technologies for augmenting human performance through the ability to noninvasively access codes in the brain in real time and integrate them into peripheral device or system operations.

Outstanding. All that trigger-pulling and button-pressing can really wear out our twenty-first century warfighters. Glad to see the eggheads are dreaming up new labor saving devices.

Rest of world: the time available to conquer the planet is quickly running out (as if). In the future the AoD will have...(wait for it)...looks that kill!

Balloon Inflating

You know D-Day is close at hand when:

Speculation over a US-led invasion of Iraq has prompted an unexpected surge in sales of holiday guides to the country.

Why would anyone want to vacation in Iraq anytime soon?

"They want to know what are the people like and what's going to be destroyed."

Heh heh heh...

Getting there is half the fun

The nostalgic appeal of journeys by rail:

A Norwegian man's face was covered with sewage when he tried to wash his hands on a train.

If that happened to you, what would you do? Turn the spigot off?

He tried to block the flow with his hands but his hair, face and jumper were covered with the sewage.

Let's hear it for [the man who does not want to be identified]. Give the guy a hand!

Thursday, February 06, 2003


Rather than feature a single bunny tonight, let's have a look at all the bunny foster homes and shelters.

HBS Adoption Page

Somewhere, some bunny is looking for you.

Arsenal of Democracy

Rod Dreher, Senior Writer at the other NRO worries about robot Iraqis:

Think about that: the Iraqis could quietly park boats big enough to launch these small planes from in international waters anywhere off the U.S. coast, and launch a swarm of these things against our cities. Little robot planes, on kamikaze missions to spray botulinum over New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle... . We'd never see it coming.
(The NRO Corner)

Regular readers of triple-B already know: the fastest way to lose to the AoD is to try fighting with robots. Our robots can beat up their robots any day. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard is buying just the right robot for this particular occasion:

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has formally selected a winner in its largest programme ever, called Deepwater, awarding a Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman partnership a $17 billion contract to replace or upgrade much of the service's ships and aircraft over the next 30 years.

The USCG could buy as many 91 ships, 35 fixed-wing aircraft, 34 helicopters and 76 unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) as part of the Deepwater effort, along with upgrading an additional 49 cutters and 93 helicopters.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins said the winning team offered strong management, a superior technical approach and a low-risk solution. Two other teams led by Boeing/Northrop Grumman Avondale shipyard and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)/Raytheon were previously deemed 'not in compliance' with the competition criteria by the Coast Guard.

Since the Coast Guard doesn't (yet) have any carriers, it needs fighting robots that can take off from smaller ships. The best way to accomplish that is with a rotor.

(Northrop Grumman)

With vehicle endurance greater than six hours, Fire Scout will be capable of continuous operations providing coverage 110 nautical miles from launch site. It contains a baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors (EO/IR), and a laser designator enabling Fire Scout to find tactical targets; track and designate targets; and accurately provide targeting data to strike platforms and perform battle damage assessment. Fire Scout will act as a communications node within the proposed network centric warfare battlespace of the future, increasing the effectiveness and flexibility of other platforms.
(Northrop Grumman)

The best thing about Fire Scout? It really is a robot (and not a flying waldo). It can fly whole missions all by itself:

As in previous Fire Scout flight tests, the preprogrammed autonomous mission included vertical takeoff, accurate navigation and return to a predetermined hover point in preparation for landing—all without operator intervention.

In today's test, the Fire Scout flew for 30 minutes through 16 waypoints at the China Lake range. Using both the electro-optical and infrared sensors, Fire Scout located, identified and tracked a mix of targets including vehicles, buildings and geographic features. In addition, it employed the laser rangefinder to evaluate the precision target location feature of the payload and vehicle management system.
(Northrop Grumman Press Release)

If you read the whole press release, you'll see that Fire Scout is already in low-rate initial production. That means it passed the tests and is in the arsenal. Welcome to the club, little flying robot!

Mind you, Fire Scout is only one of the various types of flying robots the USCG will buy. Pretty soon it will have a whole stable of robots for low-altitude, high-altitude and long endurance mission. Talk about Semper Paratus!

My favorite: Bell's Eagle-Eye (scroll to the bottom). That VTUAV just looks mean.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


Another Amelia:

(San Francisco HBS)

Amelia is a beautiful 2 year-old agouti brown-colored standard bunny. who was found at Lake Merced in San Francisco. She has a very gentle "way" about her and loves people. She also seems fine around the dog and cat. Amelia interacts well with people and loves to have her nose rubbed, actually closing her eyes and relaxing while she enjoys your gentle touch.
(San Francisco HBS)

Amelia likes people. Who likes Amelia?

Arsenal of Democracy

How did the AoD intercept those Iraqi radio messages?

From space, of course. The AoD has a whole fleet of intelligence satellites dedicated to listening to the enemy:

The USA never releases information about SIGINT satellites (but see GRAB). It is believed to operate two constellations in geostationary and elliptical orbits. There is more uncertainty concerning the precise configuration of the operational SIGINT constellation than is the case with any other US space system. This is largely because the lifetime of SIGINT satellites appears to be much longer than other types. They are essentially passive radio receivers, with few of the sophisticated electronics that are usually the source of failure on other spacecraft. In addition, they do not need to maintain a precise orbital location, so they are not using maneuvering propellant which most other satellites need, and eventually run out of.
(SIGINT Shrine)

Before you accuse me of revealing classified material, you should know that this stuff is in public library books all over the place. That’s where I first read about them. Besides, even if the AoD wants to keep the details secret, they surely want you to know these systems exist. Why else refer to them in the SALT II Treaty (see ‘verification by national technical means’)?

Along with the KH-12 (think of it as a fightin’ Hubble), the SIGINT satellites allow the AoD to see and hear everything. All we need are a bunch of giant space-based laser satellites and it’s Crossbow Project time. Oh yeah!

If you want to be hip with all NRO slang, you should refer to any SIGINT satellite as a ‘ferret.’ An odd name for a robot with really big ears, don’t you think? I can think of a more appropriate creature. Ahem.

P.S.: By all means check out that last link. Who would have thought the NRO would one day have its own website? Let alone a page of NRO Toys. Awesome!

Cross Pond Enmity

In the forthcoming New York Review of Books, Timothy Ash writes about Anti-American Europeans (AAE) and Anti-European Americans (AEA). Real Hatfield-McCoy stuff.

With the possible exception of France, few Americans dislike Europeans as a group of people. And let's remember that plenty of European states (especially in the East) are quite friendly to us. I think most Anti-European Americans are only ticked off at the French And German Governments Of Today (no acronym). And so are a lot of French and German people.

Here's the excerpt I found most thoughtful:

Anti-Europeanism is not symmetrical with anti-Americanism. The emotional leitmotifs of anti-Americanism are resentment mingled with envy; those of anti-Europeanism are irritation mixed with contempt. Anti-Americanism is a real obsession for entire countries—notably for France, as Jean-François Revel has recently argued. Anti-Europeanism is very far from being an American obsession. In fact, the predominant American popular attitude toward Europe is probably mildly benign indifference, mixed with impressive ignorance.

I get a chuckle at the thought of all those European intellectumacals beating their chests and pounding their keyboards. This will put those arrogant Americans in their place!

And we don't even notice. How humiliating that must be for them!

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


Another rescue bunny: Snowy!

(North Georgia HBS)

Hello, my name is Snowy. I was given up at a vets office. I am a bit afraid and a little territorial but I really just want to be loved. Once I feel safe I'll relax and push my head into your hand for attention. I am very active and I enjoy the company of people. I've become a bit of a "grunter" since I've been in foster care, but I will calm down once I have a permanent home where I am loved... I like to eat and I enjoy treats (raisins!!!) and relaxing... I have been here at the rescue a while and am hoping to find a home soon.
(Snowy, N.GA HBS)

Given up at a vet's office? Not fair!

Snowy enjoys the company of people. Snowy needs to meet the right people. If you think you're the right person, please follow the link at say hi.

Arsenal of Democracy

Lookie lookie... another fightin' spaceplane prototype: the X-34.

Part of the United States' celebrated series of "X-plane" experimental aircraft, the X-34 was designed to test many new technologies and operational practices that could be applied to future reusable launch vehicles. After being air-launched from our L-1011 carrier aircraft, the 58-foot long, unmanned X-34 would travel up to eight times the speed of sound and reach the outer limits of the atmosphere before returning to Earth and landing by autonomous control like an airplane on a runway.
(Orbital Sciences)

A space robot, and it's American. Awesome! Hang on, what's this?

Despite excellent progress in X-34 development and testing, NASA decided to cancel the program in early 2001 due to funding constraints and other factors.
(Orbital Sciences)

Let's consider those funding constraints lifted. But if I'm wrong, Orbital Sciences has another trick up its sleeve: the Orbital Space Plane.

Orbital's proposed Space Plane is an improved version of the HL-20 Lifting Body that was studied by NASA during the early 1990s. Initially, the vehicle can be used to satisfy Crew Return Vehicle functions, serving as a "life boat" for astronauts on board the International Space Station. Later, it could also carry crewmembers to and from the station as a multi-function Crew Transfer Rescue Vehicle.
(Orbital Sciences)

As we shall see in the next few days, the AoD is chock-full of fighting spaceship prototypes that languish quietly in the corners of sad hangers. Maybe now NASA (or preferably DARPA) will pick a program and stick with it!

UPDATE (on yesterday's post):

A reader has brought up an interesting question: what happens if we trade our ICBMs for asteroids, and real aliens show up?

Good point. The asteroids are only good for hurling downwards. We should probably keep our missiles, just in case we ever need to fling something upwards. And because they make the environmentalists upset.

Monday, February 03, 2003


Just finished viewing Shiri. Too cool, South Korea, too cool!


Oh you two!

(New Jersey HBS)

Ethel and Pascal This sweet boy (Pascal) has been in foster care ever since he was a baby. He and his brother, Albert, were found outside in December when they were not bigger than a lemon. He has grown in to a sturdy, handsome boy who is devoted to sweet, shy Ethel. Pascal always checks out anything new and reports back to Ethel. Won't you consider making your home a 'forever' home to these two angels?
(New Jersey HBS)

...side by side on my... ack, I promised myself I wouldn't break into song...

Arsenal of Democracy

The loss of Columbia won't keep America out of space. Our country is founded not in an ancient, ethnic claim to land, but in principles which can easily be extended off the planet. We're a frontier society, so think of space as our manifest destiny.

Here's a sweet ride coming to a launch pad near you...the X-33:


The X-33 design is based on a lifting body shape with two revolutionary "linear aerospike" rocket engines and a rugged metallic thermal protection system. The vehicle also has lightweight components and fuel tanks built to conform to the vehicle’s outer shape. Time between X-33 flights will normally be seven days, but the program hopes to demonstrate a two-day turnaround between flights during the flight-test phase of the program.

The X-33 is a subscale hypersonic rocket, built to validate the concept and the engineering of a single stage to orbit craft. If the X-33 works as advertised, Lockheed will build its own fleet of Venture-Stars. For the first time, a private company will have its own fleet of reusable spaceplanes to carry cargo and even passengers to orbit and back.

Mind you, NASA actually cancelled the X-33 last year. But when it comes to the AoD, 'cancelled' means: put it on the back burner for a while.

Lockheed still has the equipment and people associated with the X-33. All it lacks is a nod from NASA to set the gears back in motion. Raise your hand if you think NASA isn't taking a second look at this project.

Thought so.

As you know, the AoD has a long-range plan to dominate space. It's sixty-year plan calls for the development of a lot of space infrastructure, civilian and military. Our eyes-in-the-sky will be everywhere, watching the tyrants 24/7, looking for that one false move so we can cry havoc.

As we eventually eliminate our nuclear stockpile, we'll simultaneously assemble an arsenal of asteroids in Clarke's orbit. That way, we'll still be able to strike with megatons of force, but the fallout will be harmless iron, nickel and dust. When the constellation is complete we'll announce to the wo--

--ulp, you are cleared for this briefing, right? Oh, then um... never mind.

The main point is that America was borne to rule space. And from space we will enforce a Pax Americana that will truly rock!

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Missed Opportunity

From Iraq:

Immediate popular reaction in Baghdad on Saturday to the loss of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia and its seven-member crew -- including the first Israeli in space -- was that it was God's retribution.

"We are happy that it broke up," government employee Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi said.

"God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans. They have encroached on our country. God is avenging us," he said.

Granted these folks are repeating the official line. They are not free to say what they really think. But what kind of official line is that?

This was Iraq's last chance for a Christmas in the trenches moment. America is a touchy-feely superpower. A little sympathy - especially from an adversary - goes a long way with us.

Conversely, a cheap shot just hardens our hearts. Nice job Iraqi ministry of propaganda. How will you shoot your other foot?


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