May 17th, 2004



It's inevitable that the circumstances surrounding the execution of Nick Berg have been the subject of in-depth examination. As much as the Gulf War was the first military conflict fought in an age of satellite communication and live broadcasting, this war in Iraq is certainly one that has been fought in an age of, err, massive internet penetration... No, that's not the phrase. I know what I mean anyway. The ubiquity of the internet throughout the world compared to the Gulf War. So, any action or announcement can be dissected and discussed within minutes of announcement. The execution was notably uploaded onto a website, rather than delivered to a media source as tape which is one of many points raised querying the execution story as it stands. I don't really swallow much of this, although I'm not going to take it apart point by point.

Mmm, the same chair as those in the Abu Ghraib photos. I think my mum has some of those too. Let's not be glib though. The accusation seems to be that Berg was actually killed in some American psy-ops plot to take focus away from other misdeeds. It's not impossible, in a Holmesian way of separating the impossible from the improbable, but I'm unconvinced. As one person comments, if America has been using this sort of subterfuge, discovering WMDs would have been something you might have expected them to do also. Of course, my opinion of American espionage and the like, and I suspect the opinions of many others, is built on a mixture of fact and fantasy. However, I do wonder whether this sort of supposed activity is becoming increasingly difficult to conduct because of the internet. Everything gets dissected. Mind you, this dissection may also obscure, or be used to obscure, what was originally there. Not seeing the wood for the trees or the rabbit for the viscera.

As I've been typing this section, I've been streaming an American forces station, which is interesting for a while. But the stream keeps breaking, so now I'm over at WFMU, listening to Jewish Moments in the Morning with Nachum Segal. Mmmm, if you thought that Christians had the market for schmaltzy religious songs, you'd be quite wrong.

Since Abashidze's departure for Russia, Saakashvili (That's Mr President to you or Misha as he is called by some, however I remain dubious about him so I'll be avoiding the diminutive until such time that I love him - unlikely - or wish to demean him) has announced plans to auction off Aslan's personal belongings and use the funds raised to pay for schools and orphanages. Amongst his belongings was a collection of 80 or so Caucasian sheepdogs (ovcharka) which supposedly was costing $20,000 a month to feed. One of these dogs, Basmach [MGHN, skip Poland, head to Kazakhstan...], named after a famed anti-Bolshevik leader of times past, has apparently been pining for the former Ajaran leader, refusing to eat and is therefore being shipped off to Russia to be reunited with his owner. Ahhh......Or rather AAARRRRGGGHHHHH. This was my instinctive reaction to these dogs, which have been bred over many generations for their aggressive loyalty. Whilst Staffies and the like can actually be real softies at heart if left unbrutalised, I've never heard any tales of stranger-friendly ovcharka. Of course, if it's your sheepdog, then it will probably attack and defeat tank regiments on your behalf. With this sudden glut in the market, it's not impossible that some may be appearing on UK streets shortly. They're an exclusive breed with a certain cachet, but bear in mind that some may have been raised and trained by Abashidze. I advise you to cross the street immediately. Either that or take to wearing caucasian sheepskin and obey the dog at all times as it herds you back towards the Black Sea.

Yes, let's not hang around in the house all day.