March 31, 2002

Andrew Olmsted thinks that the rise in Female suicide bombers is a sign that the PLO is getting desperate. I disagree.

I think Arab women just really want to kill themselves. Wouldn’t you?
You wish it was an April Fool's joke, but it's not:

French Book claims attack on Pentagon never happened
I know, I know - linking yourself is masterbation - but I dont care.

Here's
a littly ditty for my english class.

Blogging as homework - what an age we live in.

March 30, 2002

Vodkapundit forgot to deliver me my weekly dose of Krauthammer. No wonder I felt so tired and lethargic.

...no wait, that was the Easter turkey. Regardless, check it out - nothing goes with turkey and stuffing like a side of the hammer.
Another example of the News being seriously behind the times when it comes to reporting on teenagers.

High School Students engaged in "Fight Club" style brawls

Actually, students have been doing this sort of thing since shortly after the movie came out. The reporter course conclude that the movie inspired the fights, but he fails to address the greater issue:
Teens may try things they see in movies once, but why did they keep it up? Doesn't it say something about kids when, like the characters, they actually enjoy fighting for no reason at all? Perhaps people should be less concerned with movies promoting violence as they should be with the reasons for teenagers around the country identifying with the idea of fighting and getting seriously hurt as a way to connect with their friends. This is not something you just pick up from a movie. The kids aren’t alright.
Mark Goldblatt over at NRO writes a mildly amusing piece on the metaphorical similarity between random change and the law of averages - and individual freedom versus the hand of God. It's trite, offhanded, and completely lacking a basis in philosophy, or an understanding of probability for that matter. But worse of all, he ends the piece thusly:

Over a hundred years ago, Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God was dead. Turns out God's harder to knock off than Nietzsche ever imagined.

He says this as if his little coin toss parable has, for the first time since the day of Nietzsche, proved the existence of God. Right - because up till you, nobody's really addressed this issue much. The implied weight of his own meager argument is so overpowering that you wonder whether he just needed a dozen more words to fill his column space, and decided that a ridiculously grandiose conclusion was as good a way as any.

This reads like a last minute sermon written by a an old priest who was up late watching A Brief History of Time on Public Television.

March 29, 2002

Dammit dammit dammit! I hate teenagers so much.

Sarge has already covered this, but I'm not done being angry yet.

March to Stop the War

Protest marches. Goddam fucking protest marches. Kids: Read a book, write a blog, do something to understand the world as it is.

You cannot, cannot, CANNOT simply go looking for change in the status quo.

Things being the way they are does not immediately mean that they are wrong, there is always going to be a status quo.

I know you're all still pissed that you missed the 60's, So am I.

I know you really, really want to reinvent leftism, but there's nothing there anymore.

I know you want to provoke authority into giving you a reason to rebel.

Think, argue, learn, and yes, protest. But do not just walk around shouting because you want to change things, whatever they may be.

Somehow, people have confused democracy at work with a violent mob.

People have confused noise with speech.

Some say that dedicated protesters like this are what makes this country great. I say that badass riot cops are what makes this country great.
Israel's next move:

An interesting approach. They're demanding that Arafat arrest those who he says he will, and their doing it with a gun to the back of his skull.
Good call I think. Arafat himself is pretty much the weakest link in the chain of terrorism. Hamas suicide bombers may be willing to die for their cause, but I'm willing to bet that Yasser is not, and now he's going to have to put his blood-money where his mouth is. Call them all off NOW, or when the tanks are done with you, no stone shall stand upon another.

March 28, 2002

NRO certainly has a way with words:

Are the American Catholic bishops a lavender mafia involved in a conspiracy of vice?

Well… yes and no. Way to load a possibly powerful and interesting argument with implied prejudice from the get go. Sort of like saying: “Are the Catholic Bishops a secretive and corrupt organization, like the Jews?” isn’t it? – Yes, its possible they are secretive and corrupt, but you pretty much kill the argument there by basing it on a derogatory slur.
Traffic to the site increased by something like a factor of 50 in the last hour. I don't know why, but I must have hit a nerve with something. I better keep it rolling:


Tried to send a letter to the author of this pieces (Toronto Star) but her mailbox was full, so I've been forced to blog about it instead.


Over the past week, there’s been a little scuffle in a Toronto regional school board over whether a male student can bring his boyfriend to the prom of his Catholic School. The Board maintains that it has a right to enforce its religious beliefs within the school, and as such, this cannot be permitted. The student has made a major issue out of this which has received a disproportionate amount of press in the Toronto Star as of late.


Now, that in itself is perhaps not Blog worthy, but then this little gem popped up on the Star Website, claiming to represent the Jesuit take on the situation:


Although half the story is actually nothing more of a “History of the Order of Jesus - for Dummies”, eventually she gets to the matter at hand:


But young Hall deliberately made an issue of it. It's not that he wanted his boyfriend on his arm, it's that he wanted everyone else to acknowledge it, accept it, even applaud it. And that's either naïve or deliberately reckless. Hall wanted to create a stink, and he has.
Most commentators have vigorously defended Hall's right to bring a same-sex date to his prom. Such a brave boy and all, standing up for his rights, admitting — bellowing, in fact, crowing about it — what he is, which must be a difficult thing indeed for any teenager. Except this does not seem in the least bit difficult for Hall, a most self-confident young man, media-hip and wise beyond his years to the litigious way of the world.


Well there you go, the Order of Jesus, protectors of education and knowledge for the Catholic Church, have taken a definite stand on a matter of Dogma: The kid's just making a fuss for its own sake, so who cares whether he’s right or wrong? At least thats what it looks like from Rosie Demano's point of view.
It’s a lot easier to engage in the defense of a hotly debated issue of religious freedom/catholic dogma/discrimination/church and state simply by dismissing the involved party as a shit disturber and general “punk kid” then by, you know, addressing anything.


So in the spirit of addressing the issue rather then just resorting to personal attacks, here’s my take:


In Ontario, the Catholic School Board is a government funded institution, not a private school. That means that they do not have Carte Blanche to assert any view they want, if it is in direct violation of Canadian anti-discrimination laws, which this is. True, the church must not be made subject to the views of the public at large, but the Catholic School Board is also a public institution. It’s paid for by taxes, and that funding comes with a price: the occasional act of tolerance is, in accordance with the law of Canada and the Province of Ontario, one of those prices.

How about we offer separate bathrooms for pretty, and ugly people?

Yes, you heard it: 45% of people polled said that there should be separate bathrooms and locker rooms in high schools for gay students. I guess straight parents don't like the idea of gay classmates watching their children change.

Of course, the law immediately said that such a measure is out of the question, but it's not the danger of such a thing happening that scares me so much as what the poll (as accurate as it may be) indicates about the mindset of Americans. Are people really so freaked out by the idea of gay people in their locker room that they would support Selma-Alabama-circa-1954 style segregation in High Schools around the nation? Can they even imagine the danger and abuse students would face if they were forced to use such facilities? Do they have a clue how it could be enforced?

What the numbers tell me is that the answers to these questions are: yes, no and no, for a staggering half the people polled. Democracy just doesn’t work.

March 27, 2002

If I may indulge something a little more lighthearted for a moment:

Did anyone see tonight’s episode of The West Wing? If you didn't, it featured a subplot about Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman discovering a website dedicated to himself, and proceeding to become engaged in a bizarre argument with the rabid fans found there. It was a brilliant rip on the culture of message-board junkies, including his snide comments about their fascist, dictatorial leader who decries his improper use of fonts.
I have personally been on West Wing message-boards (I needed a quotation, I swear) so I know exactly were Aaron Sorkin got the fodder for this little bit. Why is it that the most thought and discussion based aspect of the internet (message boards) seems to magnetically attract the most thoughtless, possibly mentally unstable members of the greater community?
Tragedy, Reuters style:

Israeli Retaliation Looms After Bombing Kills 16.

You can always count on Reuters (…one man’s wire service is another man’s gouged eyeball…) for that special flava of Israeli/Palestinian conflict. That is to say, they can move from addressing the current horrific act of terrorism to speculation about what (over?)reaction we will see on the part of Israel in the space of one headline.
And I quote:

“A suicide bombing that killed 16 Israelis starting a traditional Passover holiday feast in a seaside hotel has raised the specter of heavy Israeli military retaliation in the Palestinian territories.”

That’s correct, the bombing has raised speculation. You know what else it did? It injured possibly hundreds, it turned a solemn religious holiday into a bloodbath, and it gave more reason for innocent women and children to live in fear every day of their lives, but first and foremost, it raised speculation about retaliation. Of course, this is notwithstanding the fact that speculating about the possibility of retaliation in a case like this is a bit like speculating about the possibility of the sun rising tomorrow.

And by the way, its not "tit-for-tat" bloodshed, more like "tit-for-being a jew" bloodshed.
What are you doing here? Go read Stephen Greeen already.

Now.

March 22, 2002

From (God help us) the Guardian:

British Islamist Faces Swift Execution

For those of you not familier with Guardianese, "British Islamist" translates as "Daniel Pearl Murderer"

This has got to be the absolute worst in biased headlining I have ever seen, and I read Reuters.

March 20, 2002

Nobody ever said the world isn't getting slightly warmer, all they are saying is that when we know the planet goes through natural phases where Central Park is covered in glacier, or Alberta in tropical Forest, a 2 degree rise in temperature hardly constitutes evidence of human destruction of the biosphere.
Commenting is now avalible, tell me what you think of me.
This Article raises what should have been an obvious question:

No matter what you say, the US did liberate Afghanistan. Whether that was the intention or not, and regardless of what the anti-war left will tell you, the country was formerly dominated by a vicious fanatical dictatorship, which has been lifted by the efforts of the US and the Northern Alliance.

However, unlike in other wars, the enemy who has been removed is still at large. They’re broken and beaten right now, but still there none the less. Right across the Border in Pakistan waits thousands of Taliban army, waiting for the US to move on, so they may sweep back into Afghanistan. How can we take the war on terrorism elsewhere and still ensure the safety of those who fought off the Taliban if they should return? Do we even have such a responsibility to the new Government? Does the Taliban really have the ability to retake the country in the first place?

My suspicion is no on all counts, but it would certainly look bad for the war to move on to other targets just to have thousands of Pakistani Taliban sweep back into Afghanistan and slaughter those who opposed them along side the USA. As one Taliban puts it:

"America and Britain will have to leave one day, and then we will have a jihad against those Afghans who fought with them against other Muslims."

We must treat this possibility very seriously. They may not have the power to take the country as they once did, but they certainly have the potential to do great damage, especially if we have to come rushing back to the rescue from Iran, or where ever our military is when they strike.

This once again proves what’s been said all along about this war: the only solution is to wipe out the enemy. We would like to think beating them and sending them running for the hills is enough, but its not. Because they will live in those hills and come back at the next convenient moment. This makes me think that all the current speculation is wrong; the next target in the war on terrorism should not be Iraq, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, it should be Pakistan.

March 19, 2002

Schools are prisons; You'll pee when we tell you too -Supreme Court

To summerize:

1) Joining the band, the baseball team, or any other activity carries with it the expectation of random drug tests.

2) Being a teenager constitutes "special needs" when it comes to obtaining a warrent. That is, you dont need one.

3) Students do not have the same expectation of privacy as adults, and teachers have the same control as parents, all the time, obviously.


Man oh man am I glad I live in Ontario, at least here we only have to put up with annual teacher strikes.
Ok, I know you've already read this, since it's been Drudged, but I find it funny as hell. Adults could never pull off satire in that kind of way.
Expect limited Blogging until April 11th, my creative energies are needed elsewhere. I promise something special when I get back though.

That is all.

March 18, 2002

I think all this Academy Award controversy represents an all time high for over-sensitivity to political correctness.


As it has long been leaked on Matt Drudge, the controversy surrounding A Beautiful Mind subject John Nash's has threatened to cost it a shot at Best Picture in the upcoming awards. Apparently, during Nash's 25 year bouts with severe Paranoid Schizophrenia, he became obsessed with "Zionist" conspiracies, and blamed all the problems of the world on the Jews.


Now, I understand that politically speaking, this is a sensitive time for anything dealing with accusations of Jewish conspiracies, and the problems of Israel and the Middle East and monumentally more important then this little Soap Opera, but the fact remains that all these accusations and threats are ridiculous in the context of Nash's purported comments.


You don't even have to had seen the movie to know that nothing someone in a bout of severe schizophrenic delusions says can possibly be held against them, especially comments dealing with conspiracies and secret political cabals. That’s the nature of the disease, you are going to say and believe absurd, baseless and completely outrageous things. Paranoid Schizophrenics see conspiracies everywhere, so why can we not accept that among the hundreds of bizarre theories Nash may have held, on of them was racist? Should a person in his condition be held responsible for not having unbiased, politically correct delusions?


One of the Academy members even went so far as to call Nash a “Jew-Hater” and lament his considering voting for the film. Regardless of the fact that Russell Crowe gave fine performance, and the Academy was voting for him, not Nash himself, the statement represented was completely unfair. Racism is prejudice, and prejudice requires the person espousing it to be capable of judgment in the first place, which John Nash was not.


Perhaps it would have been a better idea to include some of the Anti-Semitic aspects of Nash’s paranoia, if only to show that Anti-Semitism is just that; baseless paranoia, the product of a sick and damaged psyche, containing the kind of theories that only the severly deranged could possibly believe. However, it has become clear that audiences are not mature enough to make that leap; they only see racism and hatred, now matter how blameless the culprit.

On the subject of steel Tarrifs, I offer this from Ambrose Bierce, who, as with most things, has already said it best:

TARIFF, n. A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the
domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.

The Enemy of Human Souls
Sat grieving at the cost of coals;
For Hell had been annexed of late,
And was a sovereign Southern State.

"It were no more than right," said he,
"That I should get my fuel free.
The duty, neither just nor wise,
Compels me to economize --
Whereby my broilers, every one,
Are execrably underdone.
What would they have? -- although I yearn
To do them nicely to a turn,
I can't afford an honest heat.
This tariff makes even devils cheat!
I'm ruined, and my humble trade
All rascals may at will invade:
Beneath my nose the public press
Outdoes me in sulphureousness;
The bar ingeniously applies
To my undoing my own lies;
My medicines the doctors use
(Albeit vainly) to refuse
To me my fair and rightful prey
And keep their own in shape to pay;
The preachers by example teach
What, scorning to perform, I teach;
And statesmen, aping me, all make
More promises than they can break.
Against such competition I
Lift up a disregarded cry.
Since all ignore my just complaint,
By Hokey-Pokey! I'll turn saint!"
Now, the Republicans, who all
Are saints, began at once to bawl
Against _his_ competition; so
There was a devil of a go!
They locked horns with him, tete-a-tete
In acrimonious debate,
Till Democrats, forlorn and lone,
Had hopes of coming by their own.
That evil to avert, in haste
The two belligerents embraced;
But since 'twere wicked to relax
A tittle of the Sacred Tax,
'Twas finally agreed to grant
The bold Insurgent-protestant
A bounty on each soul that fell
Into his ineffectual Hell.

Edam Smith

March 16, 2002

To those who said it couldn't be done:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) (Motto: One Man's wire Service is Another Man's Cryptosperidium Infection)- The latest and most challenging test in a U.S. missile defense program was successful on Friday when a projectile weapon destroyed a mock warhead in space over the Pacific Ocean after accurately choosing the target over three decoys, the Pentagon said.

I used to worry about a missile shield shifting the nuclear balance and leading to a new arms race - now I worry about being blown up with a nuclear missile. To that extent, a successful missile shield gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Besides, I'm not worried about an arms race, we're the only player who can afford to compete anyway. You think North Korea can afford to invent a new missile to evade our shield? The only nuclear threats to the US right now are so desperately poor and technologically backwards that any attempt to engage in a Cold-War style arms race will only cause them to fold, and they know it.

I mean, even in the Good Old Days, the arms race meant little more then making more bombs, and pointing them at more places. Once you have the infrastructure and the technology, this is a relatively cheap process, compared to inventing an as of yet non-existent weapon to avoid the missile shield. The USA has upped the ante to the point that we've won the arms race before it's even started. We've put the cookies on the top shelf where Iran, North Korea and Iraq can't reach them while still keeping an eye on us. We win - infinity plus one.
Salman Rushdie banned from flying Air Canada

Now this I Absolutely must take issue with. We've heard a lot of mostly bullshit filled talk about "letting the terrorists win" by doing this or that, but banning Rushdie from flying because of the increased security necessary really is letting the terrorists win, for two reasons:

1) It effectively assists those who want to harm this guy, by making his life more difficult. We give in, when we should be countering those who would have him killed by welcoming him into our country and doing whatever is necessary to ensure his safety from fanatics.

2) It effetely assist those who would hijack airplanes to spread terror (you might remember some of their faces from point #1) by admitting we are to scared (terrorized, if you will) to fly a renowned author on Air Canada because of the risk of attack associated with such things.

What we need is to do anything and everything to allow Rushdie to fly Air Canada, including the increased security associated with his presence, or barring that, compensate him for whatever alternate means necessary to travel. Buy him a private plane if necessary. What we must not do, under any circumstances, is allow religious fanaticism, terrorism, censorship, and the thousand ugly things propagated by those who hate this man, to flourish by declining, as a nation, to serve him as we would any other passenger.
We must rise about threats and attacks of low men, who would murder those who speak freely and assault us with our own airplanes. We must say as a nation that we will not be intimidated, we will not be deterred, and we will not turn away any individual because you say so.
From the "You Gotta be Fucking Kidding me" Department:

Video Game maker wants to pay families to advertise on gravestones


It seems like something like this warrents a comment, but I'm left utterly speachless. Advertising reaching gross new levels? Yes. Pushing the bounds of good taste? Obviously. I'm not missing something right?

March 15, 2002

Where to after Iraq? Well, Saudi Arabia is looking pretty good right now.

You could change the word "Saudi Arabia" for "Afghanistan" and this could have appeared in any newspaper 6 months ago. They even give their religious goon squad the same name: "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." If we think that we can expect anything different from the Saudi's then we got from the Taliban, then we're fooling ourselves, this form of Islamofacism is directly connected to terrorism, and we know it. Sure, we're just morally outraged over their behavior now, but we were just morally outraged over the Taliban then. Let’s see if we can still ignore it in another 6 months.
Oh happy day: my hit counter is up and running, and this time it didn't rape and pilliage my Markup code. Fortune smiles.
Jeff jarvis, via Little Green Footballs, explains why well maintained weblogs are the only entities capable of effective googlebombing.... here.

Ingenius, some hacker trying to promote his own work with circular links won't be effective, but a team of bloggers can use their regular sites to promote a certain page. (Like with that afgan casualty report business some time ago, ho-ra.)

Google rules.
Does anyone happen to know why Blogger hates me?
That is, why any additional code added anywhere to the template causes my page to become distorted and ugly, with numbers leisurely strewn about? I could do without that, and i would really like a hit counter, but it won't let me.
The wheel of obsolescence keep's a rollin'

If you though being a blogger was the cutting edge of news, you haven't seen this

I kid you not, it’s a friggin computer-generated blog. It trolls hundreds of news sites, collects all the information from the articles, and summarizes them with links, its frighteningly good.

UPDATE: It just dawned on me the implications this site has for the problem of bias in the news media. By collecting information from several difference sources and compiling it together, Newsblaster ensures a level of accuracy, and its computer-generated summaries are virtually free from any possible taint of bias.

March 14, 2002

Googlebombing Is Allowed Under the Geneva Conventions
The following text and links were lifted directly from Megan McArdle's Jane Galt, in an effort to Googlebomb away shoddy civilian death statistics from the Afghan campaign.

Feel free to "View Source" and copy it for your blog, too. You don't need to click the links to make the Googlebomb, so just scroll on down to my next post.

"Kill Marc Herold Afghan casualties meme by Googlebombing it. For the uninitiated, “Googlebombing” takes advantage of the fact that Google gives a high ranking to regularly updated sites; this means that if a lot of bloggers link to, say, Iain Murray’s take-down of the Herold Afghan casualties study, using relevant search terms like Afghanistan civilian casualties and Herold collateral damage and Marc Herold Afghanistan study, we can move Iain’s article to the top of Google’s search results."

"WASHINGTON (*********) - U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday takes his Middle East swing to Gulf oil producer Oman and to Yemen, the ancestral home of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden."

You get three guesses at where this headline came from:

1. The New York Times "All the News that Fit to Print"
2. The National Post "The News. You Have Our Word on it."
3. Reuters "One Man's Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter"

I'll give you a hint: it's the pansy-ass neo-lib, can't call a spade a spade, propaganda mill.
"If you declare war against the Palestinians thinking that you can solve the problem by seeing how many Palestinians can be killed, I don't know that leads us anywhere." So says Powell.

Notwithstanding the fact that this is the exact same strategy employed by the US in it's war, its wrong in principal. The fact is that seeing how many of your enemy you can kill does lead us somewhere; it might just be the only logical approach there is. Appeasement won't work, rational discussion is impossible -the only way to stop suicide bombers and terrorists is to hit them so hard in retaliation that the idea of attacking you again becomes unthinkable. Palestinian Terrorists want to blame all their suffering on Israel? Well if you continue blowing up innocent children with suicide bombs, then we'll SHOW you the meaning of suffering. You can kill all the terrorists, or you can kill so many and destroy so much of their property that they can't even conceive of hurting you again. Either way, Colin "never start a war you’re not sure you can win" Powell is just wrong.

March 13, 2002

A prime example of "Argument ad Hitlerum"

Nazi concentration camps tattooed numbers of prisoners
Israeli military numbered prisoners in ink
Therefore, Israeli military are as bad as the SS.

You know, every prison in the world forces inmates to wear a number on their clothing, but we don't cry "yellow star" about that. And for good reason, because none of these scenarios are anything close to resembling the kind of abject suffering of holocaust victims. The resemblance between this story and Jews in concentration camps is so incidental, it would be like claiming that nightclubs which stamp your hand at the door are reviving Nazi practises.

"Israeli military commentator Ron Ben-Ishai said commanders in the field often scribbled on their own arms, to
note down such things as radio frequencies and call-signs, but acknowledged that to do so with Palestinian
prisoners was insensitive."

March 12, 2002

We'll there you have it folks: expect to see elevated levels of terrorist threats, with a 50% chance of vague uneasiness in the weeks to come.
Here from Reuters (one man's wire service is another man's tea service)
U.S. Set to Unveil Terror Threat Advisory System

It seems to me that fighting terrorism with a new colour coded threat meter is a bit like preventing hurricanes by with the Channel 6 Accu-weather forecast.
Mark steyn rules all you puny-ass humans.

"Yes, we're a behemoth never before seen in the history of the world,
but you can grab a piece of that. We're loaded, sell us something."
In keeping with the times, Pundit Ex Machina is now proud to announce it will be 100% Rall Free.

March 11, 2002

Take heart, aspiring writers: The Boston Harold will print ANYTHING.

This is an example of what happens when a terrible human being is an even worse writer.

March 10, 2002

More on ID Cards

This time, they're being introduced in Hong Kong. Now I know it sounds silly, but I honestly don't see what the big deal is when it comes to national electronic Identity cards. Civil Libertarians, as they always do, express fear about such and such, but in all honesty, what’s the real catastrophic danger involved in having these cards? Identity theft? This crime is already rampant, and it seems to me that an electronically encrypted card containing irrefutable biometric information only puts more control of one's identity into the hands of the holder. Loss of personal privacy? Nobody is talking about putting information on these cards that’s not already on your driver's license, Social Security (or Social Insurance, if you live in the great white north) or other forms of ID, this data is already readily in the hands of the government, and the database containing this information would be no more susceptible to hacking then those already in place, probably safer, considering the centralized nature and need for utmost assurance of privacy.

Electronic, biometric ID cards are nearly impossible to forge, they contain all the same information as existing cards in a more secure form, and they do something no other ID can no do: provide reliable proof of Identity over electronic networks. The only difference between smart cards and existing card ID is that we are trading the tenuous protection of inconvenience – we’re safe because our information is spread over several different systems – into the more secure method of electronic encryption and biometric identification.

Personally, I think it provides more privacy to an individual. A piece of documentation that I can carry around and say “Look, this is me, these are my fingerprints, this is my card” allows people to prove who they are without the necessity of intervention on the part of the state. It puts proof of identity in the hands of the individual, on a secure, electronic chip that you can carry with you. As it stands, people don’t have identities on the internet beyond what their credit card says, and for me, this is just not good enough. We cannot have personal privacy in the cyber age until we extend our personhood into the online world. I for one, and not willing to let my Visa number be my bond online.

Ever since 9/11, the Government seems to be taking the "Friday afternoon trash" approach to their successive reduction of personal privacies. (The Friday afternoon trash, as the journalists’ among you will know, is the strategy used by the government when they have lots of bad news to report. By announcing bad things all at once, they limit the space available by newspapers to talk about each individual thing, thus limiting the amount of bad press they receive. They usually do it on Fridays, because nobody reads the paper on Saturday.)

This system can be adapted to the states new anti-terrorist legislation and new security systems that have a disastrous effect on privacy, such as this, which will allow the government to track 140 million cell phone users. These things have become more and more common, and it's no accident. By encroaching on civil liberties - in many ways, all at once, they can reduce the total amount of attention paid to each problem by the media. And by doing these things during the war in Afghanistan, they stand a substantial chance of slipping much of it in under the wire, while people are distracted with other things.

March 09, 2002

Since the whole Catholic Priest molestation case broke, there have been a number of issues discussed that are indirectly related to it. The first was spurred by the remarks of a high ranking church authority that part of the blame for pedophiles in the priesthood should be directed at gay Bishops, who had some say in recruiting some of the abusers. The other, broader issue was the entire question of celibacy within the Catholic Church, and whether some of what has gone on was caused by sexual repression due to these strict rules.

The first issue has far more chilling implications for the future of the church. The speed with which the Church pointed the heat away from the institution and towards the scapegoat of gay Bishops implies two things on their part: that there is some connection between being gay and aiding and abetting a child molester, and that they intend to make homosexuality within the priesthood a front and center issue in itself.

Now clearly, it is despicable to demonize gay Bishops by suggesting that they and the rampant pedophiles who work for them were all part of some big fringe sexuality conspiracy, completely ignoring the fact that the real criminals, the Bishops and Cardinals who actively covered-up, paid-off, and shuffled around the guilty parties for years to hide their crimes.

Not only is this there no connection between the actions of these monsters and homosexual Bishops, but the witch-hunt it represents can only turn out badly for the Church. Witch hunt’s only work when you’re seeking out groups who are already feared and hated. Any attempt to rout out gay Priests is doomed to fail, simply because the catholic and non-catholic public at large has, by and large, little desire to find or cause harm to homosexual priests. People are smart enough to know the difference between being gay and being a child molester, and when they see the Church does not, they will demand they put a stop to it. Besides, on the scale of public opinion, I think you will find that when you put gay priests in one hand and malicious, evasive Cardinals in the other, it’s clear which will fill up first.

All this is ignoring the fact real reason why this Witch hunt is on a course for utter failure. Simply look at the past: there were no real witches in Salem Massachusetts, there were very few communists in the United States in the 50’s, but there are lots and lots of gay Catholic Priests. It’s quite possible that they are the majority. We don’t know, because the Church runs the sort of system where gay priests are stigmatized (or maybe stigmata-tized? ok, bad joke) while active child molesters are assisted and covered up by the hierarchy. There could be Space Aliens from Roswell working inside the church, and Higher-ups would simply put them somewhere discrete and devote their attention back towards explaining why condoms are the tools of Satan.

Now, as for the other issue, namely the question of celibacy, I don’t see that this has any direct relevance to what’s going on. Being celibate didn’t make any priests into child molesters, and it certainly didn’t make and of them gay (it did, and still does, however, provide a handy examination for why they aren’t married.) This is an important distinction to make. There are, it seems, a lot of pedophiles working in the Catholic Church, but the requirement of celibacy had nothing to do with their condition. They committed these atrocious crimes in spite of the rules, not because of it. (After all, most heterosexual priests can resist the desire to have sex. If anything, we should expect priests with this sexual disorder in the priesthood to be better able to resist their urges then those in the general public, just as working as a priest probably assists straight priests from resisting their own desires better then someone in the general public attempting to do the same.

No, the repressive nature of the Church didn’t cause these people to act the way they did. However, it’s secretive and self-serving Cardinals did assist them in continuing their serial abuse.

This is not to say that the repressiveness of the Church is necessarily a good thing, but the requirement of celibacy makes nothing worse. It is, after all, the expectation we have of all pedophiles anyway – that despite their condition, they absolutely must resist their urges. It is a frightening truth that there are many more pedophiles in the world then there are active child molesters. Some are simply able to control their urges. For these individuals, we should have the deepest pity for the affliction that makes their basest instinct the committing of a terrible, unthinkable act of evil. But if celibacy is the difference between pity and utter evil in pedophiles, who had no choice in their condition, how can it be an impossible expectation for priests?

In conclusion, we need to escape the ridiculous, antiquated notions that those inside and outside the church would have us believe. Gays are not responsible for allowing child molesters into the priesthood; celibacy does not turn a sexually frustrated priest into a sexual predator, neither of these things is to blame. The people who are to blame are right in front of us: they are the predators who committed these crimes again and again, and the knowing culprits who hid their crimes, paid off their victims, and spirited them away to act again. Let’s not allow any such utterly foolish red hearings to get in the way of the search for the corruption that is so apparent.
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
Hell ya, the Killer robot to end all killer robots. Take that Megazord.

Sadly, the Optimus Prime Image has now gone defunct.
Did you see Politically Incorrect last night? Well if you did, then maybe you noticed the same thing I did: Michael Moore appears to be making a play for Alec Baldwin's seat as king of tool-dom. He rants the whole night about:
a) "Bush stole the election!"
b) "America wants off the oil!"
c) "One person one vote!"

More or less, he seems to not have the slightest idea what he, or anyone else, is talking about. To make up for this, he resorts to his tried method of yelling really loud. I especially liked the part where he shouted at the Alaskan women about how real Americans didn't want oil, and the Electoral College was a bad idea. It's a tough sell Mike.

I think Mike and Alec need their own match on Celebrity Boxing, agree?

March 08, 2002

Breaking News: Alec Baldwin is a tool.

He's still whining about the 2000 election, but now he says that it damaged this country as badly as Sept 11th.

Alec: you’re a cheap, pathetic, pandering, whining left-liberal spoiled brat. Somebody needs to smack you around like a red-headed stepson, then remind you in their indoor voice that you promised to leave the country forever if Bush won, but you didn't. Not one more word until there’s an ocean between us mister. Not One. More. Word.
I'm currently engrossed in reading Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age (which, incidentally, I highly recommend) so expect postings to be sporadic at best.

March 07, 2002

The Link Not Taken

I want to try something new, if you well indulge me. I am going to attempt a link free blog - a posting without reference to a single other site. Normally I avoid this; I think that the thing that makes the internet so special is lots of hyperlinking. And more importantly, I think what makes blogging so special is not just the truly independent expression it allows, (although that’s a lot of it) but also the fact that people’s thoughts are instantly hyperlinked to references, counterarguments, or breaking news related to their topics. Those links (ideally) lead on to yet more sites. The web is made the web because it is knit together by cross referencing. In this way, a person’s essays or arguments do not exist in an isolated format, as they do on paper, but in a living entity of words, images, and links.

On the web, the very words themselves are doors to other places, everything is dynamic, a constantly changing path through the universe of ideas. Traveling the web is not, as it may seem, like diving into a mish-mash of different ideas being flung back and forth. It is, however, more like traveling through Robert Frost’s yellow wood. Way really does lead onto way, and more often then not, a person finds themselves sidetracked from what they thought they were looking for. Sure, you may bookmark a spot, leaving that roads for another day, but knowing how hyperlink leads onto hyperlink, it is doubtful that you shall ever return.

The trick, as Robby would certainly agree, is to take the road less traveled. On the net, this can be difficult business. Like most people, my journeys begin at one of several prominent starting points. A news site, a favorite web log, or a major portal like Yahoo! or Excite might serve for this purpose. These sites are, most certainly, the road more traveled. They are the village squares of the internet, those who peruse only these major portals will receive only the most superficial overview of the world, with little to no original thought, examination, or criticism, only lots and lots of headlines.

In the battle to get away from this type of informational gorging, blogs have been a god-send. Weblogs are run by individuals, many just like you or me, many a good deal smarter. Either way, the important part is that they are someone to do the grunt work for us. We don’t need ten million surfers checking the latest news on MSNBC and CNN.Com. What we do need are smart, web-savvy individuals to get below the surface, digging up the really good stuff. People who know how to navigate the web like a sextant-armed sea Capitan, guiding us to the new world.

The other crucial aspect of the new architecture of the web is sites like Google. Google is the first, and most popular of the “smart” search engines, those that use carefully refined algorithms to index websites based on their actual popularity, not just a scanning of relevant terms. Google looks for two things: constant updates, and links. The more a site it linked to, the most important it must be right? Right. If something interesting or important hits the web, you can bet it will get blogged sooner or later - usually sooner, as bloggers battle to outdo each other in frequency of updates and originality of links. These items are picked up by other bloggers, and soon the speed of updates and number of links gets detected by Google, where the previously obscure essay/news item/manifesto/whatever becomes indexed for the world to see.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting: because Google has proven to be such an effective search engine, where do you think link-hungry bloggers often go for site-fodder? Well of course, they go to Google. Blogs feed Google; Google feeds blogs, now this is progress. Now we have a workable structure for finding the information that’s really relevant, really popular, or hotly debated. The Google-bloggers symbiosis is probably the single most important development in the information side of information technology. Now other authors have already touched on this subject, I didn’t discover this phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination. What I think is really important to understand, however, is how this change effects the constant information hunt in which web-surfers are engaged.

Rather then being fed news by proprietary sites who basically regurgitate the standard evening news in web form, we have a self sustaining system for web content to be read, discussed, and sorted according to current popularity, all through the vox populi of bloggers, and the indexing algorithms of high tech search engines. We don’t need the major media outlets to tell us what’s important or controversial; the news makes itself, controversy emerges where it will, and when it does, you’ll here about it, and hopefully link it, so the rest of use travelers can follow the road you lay out.

March 05, 2002

Here's the Link...

and heres the feedback page. I'm sure you know what to do.

UPDATE:
The cartoon has been removed. Not that it makes a difference really, I wasn't bothered by it's existence so much as it's waste of space on the pages of the New York Times.
Stratigic Products... To Counter Barbie and Ken
"Each Barbie doll is more destructive then one American missile." Says Iranian toy seller.
I don't care what strategy the doll is trying to promote, because it's still a testament to American style free market capitalism. In response to an influx of popular products from somewhere else, a local entrepreneur creates his own product, designed to complete with foreign products by incorporating the wishes of his customers, and offering lower prices. That’s as American as apple pie.
Besides, do you know where you could find a Barbie with a stylish new chador? I didn’t think so.

March 03, 2002

From the "Well, if you say so" Department:
Iraqi Foreign Minister Promises "another Vietnam"

Tarik Aziz promises a new Vietnam if the U.S. attack Iraq, saying that "against the United States, each town will become another Vietnamese jungle."
What he seems to forget is that Vietnam was a nation of dense, unexplored jungle filled with guerrilla Viet-cong entrenched as deep as possible, fighting touch-and-go helicopter and ground troop strikes by the U.S. All the while mixing their own forces within the villages of the south Vietnamese, making positive enemy identification a nightmare.
Iraq consists of wide open, highly visible desert terrain, complete with tanks, heavy artillery and other modern, easily bombed-to-shit equipment. The U.S has top-notch satellite and spy plane surveillance of every inch of the country, as well as the experience that comes with having defeated them a decade ago, in a decidedly un-Vietnam like victory. In fact, Iraq doesn't even have the intricate systems of caves and weapons stockpiles that Afghanistan boasted about. Afghanistan was supposed to be the great military quagmire - unbeatable by the British Empire or ten years of Russia's superior technology, and the US walked over it in record time. Why then, should we think that Iraq would be another Vietnam, when all the evidence seems to suggest that it would more likely be another Iraq?
Flame Companies Online - Get sued
The internet is not a safe place anymore. Not only does one need to have antivirus and firewall software up to prevent hackers from making off with their credit card numbers, but people are increasingly needing to watch what they say online, lest they get SLAPPed with a lawsuit. (The new industry term SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation.)

Basically, more and more companies are pursuing liable lawsuits against individuals simply for saying critical things about them one internet message boards. Sound like a clear infringement of free speech? Why isn't anyone shouting bloody murder you say?

Well, the answers to those questions are (respectively)
1) Yes, it is.
2) I am, and you should too.

There are, of course, efforts underway to stop such frivolous and suppressive lawsuits, such as the California Anti-SLAPP Project but just as important as fighting these things in principal is finding practical ways to get around them. To this end, there are "anonymizing" services available on the internet, which basically strip your packets of data of any identifying marks, before sending them onward, making tracing of ones identity extremely difficult.

Anonymizers, previously the domain of malicious hackers and child pornographers, are becoming more and more a good idea for anyone wishing to have some practical level of free speech on the internet. I can only hope that such services remain both unnecessary, and readily available.

March 02, 2002

Strange, my old Blog is still registering far more hits then this one. Someone hasn't updated their bookmarks.
Mirror.co.uk - PEARL MURDER VIDEO ON SALE

I don’t know what to say about this. It's around this point where any argument about the socio-economic disparity of Islamists in the Middle East seems like such complete bullshit, you just want to scream. I can't seem to construct any analysis of the situation whereby Pakistan is not a nation of brutal thugs and monsters.
How does a person become so depraved as to want to watch that horrific murder on video? Certainly no level of economic suffering, self or otherwise imposed, can account for that kind of mentality. Someone should remind Pakistan that there's always room for one more in the Axis of Evil.

March 01, 2002

More on Sorkin's Bush Bashing

Ok, looks like I'll have to get the ten-foot poll out again:
Why, may I ask, is Aaron Sorkin's insulting of George Bush, news? The President, any president, be they (R) or (D), must get attacked in ways just like this all the time. So what if a TV producer thinks you aren’t great. Have we forgotten that pre-Sept. 11th, a good chuck of the populous hated Bush with the fire of a thousand suns? I'm sure many still do, not withstanding the fact that Sorkin's criticisms, while vague and perhaps slightly simplistic, were far from being especially callous or fabricated. There’s nothing here that warrants major attention, and certainly an apology.

What really got me about this was NBC’s latest reaction to Sorkin’s words. I quote:

"We respect Aaron's right to say whatever he thinks. The only place we disagreed with him was (in his comments) about Tom Brokaw….Aaron was not chastised by anybody at NBC at all."

This is so typical of NBC, it’s not even funny. Oh wait, yes it is. “Say what you will about The President,, but leave our TV anchor man alone! My god man, have you no dignity?” The media folds in to protect its own like a mother armadillo.

However, I must take exception with Goldberg’s statement that

“even if Bush had an I.Q. of 7,000, spoke 16 languages, and could explain in flawless Latin how to make the clock on my VCR stop blinking, Sorkin would still think Bush is an idiot.”

The fact is that Bush doesn’t have an IQ of 7,000 - and speculation about what things would be like in the bizarro-world where that is the case is both counterproductive and baseless.