The Fish
for 25 January 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
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Suck Alumni Text
 

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Carl Steadman
Co-Founder

 

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Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor

 

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Sean Welch
Suckgineer

 

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Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

 


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Production Manager

& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
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Ghost in the Machine

 

Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Rolling Blunder

FWIW, I mostly agreed with
"Rolling Blunder" ... except
for one point.

You wrote, "Mercifully true to
the era, it's the
low-casualty version, so far"
... which is only correct for
the United States and its allies.

Although the United States and its
allies have done their best
to avoid discussion of the
issue, tens of thousands of
Iraqis died during the Gulf
War ... 150,000 soldiers,
I've read ... many as sitting
ducks during the retreat to
Baghdad ... and thousands
more have been killed during
the subsequent attacks.

later,

Jim Cook
<jimcook@panix.com>

Sigh.

Yet again, you have declaimed
sense and wisdom to a deaf
and gleefully pig-ignorant
populous.

One quibble. The description
"low casualty" applies, of
course, only to our side. The
hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis dead from starvation
and other war-related causes
may be deemed "acceptable
losses" by their government,
but I don't share that view.
Call me nutty.

Looking forward to your next
epistle....

Rob Seulowitz
<rss2@idt.net>

Yep, the "low-casualty"
sentence ended too soon, or
at least was missing a word
or two. Big difference if you
happen to be, say, an Iraqi -
although, of course, one
could make the argument that
it's their own damn fault for
not being American.

But, really, you're right -
kind of a lazy sentence I
wrote, there. Good call.

gleefully pig-ignorant,

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

I suppose the fundamental
mistake of US military policy
is that Saddam Hussein is not
Adolph Hitler, he's Ho Chi
Minh. To update an older
joke: Either way, the French
rolled over.

By the way, was Tet regarded
as a military success for the
VC? My knowledge is lacking,
but I thought I had read it
was not.

Ned Kittlitz
<kittlitz@world.std.com>

Tet was very much not
considered a military success
for the Hanoi regime. But,
after the US military command
in Vietnam, and the political
leadership back in the
States, had spent all of 1967
telling the people whose sons
and husbands were being
killed in the war that it was
almost wrapped up, that the
communist forces had been
"attrited" well beyond
effectiveness, the size of
the offensive made it
instantly, embarrassingly
clear that Westmoreland and
Co. had been lying, horribly,
to its own people. It
ended the fiction that had
sustained support for the
war. An implausibly
fascinating book about
Vietnam is War of Numbers: An
Intelligence Memoir,
which
details a long struggle
between the military machine
and a few of the people
within it who understood what
was going on over the "order
of battle," or estimate of
enemy strength. From page
147, this describes the reaction
to the Tet Offensive back in
Washington:

"How could the communists
have mounted such a big
attack with only 225,346 men,
the number carried in MACV's
(Military Area Command,
Vietnam) latest order of
battle?

"I put that question on
Monday morning to the (CIA's)
VC Branch chief Ron Smith
... he said, 'It's obvious
they couldn't. They've got
double that figure, and
probably a lot more. The main
question is whether the
higher numbers are acceptable
to the chain of command.'"

(Here's a link for more info
on the book.)

It was a victory
strictly speaking, but a
victory that exposed a fraud.
Oh, and it also raised the
question: If the people
running the war were so smart,
why didn't they see such an
enormous attack coming or
at least a hint of it? How
could such a clever and
powerful war machine get
caught so completely unaware?

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Excellent piece today. I did
some research into the
success of bombing campaigns
during the Gulf War, and
after presenting it to a
large body of academics at my
university, was surprised to
see how many among the elite
had totally bought into
American military propaganda.

Sigh,

Michael K Vance
<mkv102@psu.edu>

Hey, did you publish that
research somewhere? Or, if
not, would you be willing to
let us have a look? Or even
just email a list of sources
you used ...

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

I'm a fairly new reader of
Suck, but I keep coming back.
Anyhow, I couldn't agree with
you more. Is it really so
necessary to use the
military's weapons and people
that they must find an enemy
to (try to) kill? I suppose
if you don't use it, you lose
it, and that would make some
people very poor, er, unhappy,
yeah.

Keep at it,

Shaun
BC, Canada

<byron@nanaimo.ark.com>

(Excellent place to live,
eh?)

You know, I seem to remember
a news story, a while back,
about one of these
interminable US airstrikes
being a good opportunity to
get rid of some cruise
missiles that were becoming
obsolete. Like, you know,
we've got to sell off the '96
models before the
manufacturer loads up the lot
with the new '97s. Fire-sale
prices for qualified third-
world countries, this month
only.

War: Not a bad business
opportunity!

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dissent of Man

Subject: Neanderthal Thyroid
Function

I enjoyed your spoof of my
findings regarding iodine
deficiency in Neanderthals.
However, I do not agree that
"physiques of Neanderthal
fossils are not part of the
natural story of evolution."
My paper emphasizes the role
of iodine in evolution and
offers a genetic option as
well as a pathological option
to solve the Neanderthal
mystery. One genetic
difference affecting the
thyroid gland may have caused
modern humans to be more
efficient in extracting iodine
from food. That's much
simpler than the traditional
hypothesis that many genetic
changes affected many
individual bones, muscles,
tissues, etc.

Jerry Dobson

<jed@ornl.gov>

Thanks for the kind words,
Professor. That line about
"not part of the natural
story" was sort of an effort
to state succinctly the idea
that Neanderthals weren't a
developmental stage on the
way to Cro-Magnons (I realize
stating it this way is itself
an oversimplification to the
point of wrongness), but the
result of a specific dietary
event. There's only so much
detail we can get into, as I
suspect our readers are
always on the prowl for any
excuse to stop reading
anyway. Please accept my
apologies if that resulted in
an accidental
misrepresentation of your
views. More a result of my
infelicitous writing style
than anything else.

Best wishes to you, and for
God's sake, make sure you're
getting enough iodine!

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Details, Details

Polly, Polly, Polly ...

I am so sorry. All this time
I never knew. Now I am sure I
understand you. You poor
thing! You must have been one
of those graduates of the
Brain Behavioral Studies
departments when universities
had way too many students to
know what to do with. Well, I
am very glad you found
something to do with your
analytical skills and ability
to "compartmentalize" the
information being handed to
you at the end of the
millennium. At least you are
employed and published. Maybe
things will turn out better
for you. Keep in mind that
the author of the Origins of
Consciousness and the
Breakdown of the Bicameral
Mind
passed away without
hardly a mention. So it is
not likely anyone will be
scrutinized as a "throw back
to the age when information
came to us as hearing voices
in our heads." Keep making
those charts and multiple
choice tests. We all need to
know who we really are. Those
skills still have relevance
to people like me who have a
need to know where in the
maze we think we are. Just
think, you could be one of
the people that inherited the
job of making up another list
for Harper's, and you wouldn't
be getting any mail
whatsoever.

jharford
<jharford@weebotech.com>

Well, it looks like you're
employed, and now you can say
you're published, too!

Thanks for helping me to know
who I really am.

Feeling understood,

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Subject: STOP!

quoting pomo lit crit. It's
shameless, boring, and
superficial. You'd be better
off quoting Pee-wee Herman.
He has more street cred.

Disgusted,

Andy LaValle
<andy@imagemusictext.com>

It's shocking to you that a
column called Filler would
quote stuff that's shameless,
boring, and superficial? Or
"pomo lit crit" is shameless,
boring, and superficial, even
when it's in the context of a
cartoon about how quoting
"pomo lit crit" is shameless,
boring, and superficial?

Actually, what could be more
shameless, boring, and
superficial than writing to
the author of a cartoon about
how quoting "pomo lit crit"
is shameless, boring, and
superficial and telling her
that quoting "pomo lit crit"
is shameless, boring, and
superficial? You are either
missing the point of the
cartoon or going out of your
way to make it clear that
cartoons that concern "pomo
lit crit" in any way
thoroughly disgust you.

Shameless and superficial,
but not boring,

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dearest Polly,

Longtime listener/first-time
caller.

While I follow your work with
the "giddiness of a call
girl," to re-coin a phrase, I
found the final page of the
"Detail Oriented/Detail
Ignorant" piece, where the
multiple choice quiz answers
boil down to "your mama," in
a word, cliché. It was
a trite ending to an
otherwise humorous piece. And
another thing: When are you
guys going to get back to
pillorying the powerful and
idiotic in a more incisive
way?

Brian Mahoney
<bmahoney@chronogram.com>

Your mama grows milkweed.

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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