Friday, June 13, 2003

Voyager to a Strange Planet

Living a life online.

IN the year 29477, at the distant end of a strife-torn galaxy, one of the most famous residents of the planet Rubi-Ka is a genetically engineered mutant called Thedeacon.

He is an ugly mutant, prideful and lewd. The spectacle of his wealth is surpassed by the vulgarity of his tongue. He sexually accosts strangers - be they female, male or neuter - and is renowned for his undying fetish for feet.

Thedeacon is also a kind mutant, a leader and beacon. Among Rubi-Ka's weaker citizens, he is revered for his generosity of mind, for sharing the information others need to prosper. Among the planet's elite, he is respected for his generosity of spirit, for comforting the lovesick and the lonely.

Thedeacon does not physically exist, of course. In the year 2003, at the blue-collar end of Madison, Wis., he is a struggling, frustrated 27-year-old computer repairman called Richard L. Stenlund.

Update - Richard Stenlund had very strong objections to this story in the New York Times as detailed here in my politics blog here.

Monday, June 09, 2003

New bases reflect shift in military

In the most extensive global realignment of U.S. military forces since the end of the Cold War, the Bush administration is creating a network of far-flung military bases designed for the rapid projection of American military power against terrorists, hostile states and other potential adversaries.

THE WITHDRAWAL of U.S. troops from the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, announced Thursday, and the recent removal of most U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia are the opening moves in a complex shift that should replace most large, permanent U.S. bases overseas with smaller facilities that can be used as needed, defense officials said.

The bases are being built or expanded in countries such as Qatar, Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan, and the U.S. territory of Guam. While existing U.S. bases in Germany and South Korea, in place for more than 50 years, were designed to deter major communist adversaries, the new bases will become key nodes in the implementation of the administration’s doctrine of preemptive attack against terrorists and hostile states believed to have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Their location is based on the premise that U.S. forces must be able to strike rapidly adversaries armed with weapons of mass destruction before they can attack the United States or its allies. The basing strategy is also predicated on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s oft-stated belief that the United States cannot predict who its adversaries are going to be.

The new network of bases corresponds to what defense officials call an “arc of instability” that runs from the Andean region in the Southern Hemisphere through North Africa to the Middle East and into Southeast Asia.