2003-12 posts.

  1. 2003-12-03t18:25:32Z. RE: Politics. Big Spending. Tech. Deneba Canvas.
  2. Fantastic Four 507. RE: Comic Art.
  3. 2003-12-07t14:31:57Z. RE: Faith. Fun. Politics. Cheesy Anti-Bush Stuff. Science. Tech. zMisc.
  4. Mega Link Dump. RE: Bush/War. Politics. Science. Tech. zMisc.
  5. 2003-12-07t22:50:52Z. RE: Bush/War. Ethics. Politicians. Politics. Faith. Fun.
  6. Celestial Marriage Cons. RE: Faith. Marriage. Polygamy.
  7. Clark On Hardball. RE: Politicians. Wesley Clark.
  8. 2003-12-11t06:19:57Z. RE: Bush/War. China/Taiwan. Election. Science. Tech. Faith. Lord of the Rings.
  9. 2003-12-12t00:07:19Z. RE: Bush/War. Election. Science. Tech.
  10. 2003-12-14t01:06:11Z. RE: Bush Administration/War. Chicago. Elections. Fun. Science. Tech.
  11. Upgraded At Last. RE: Tech. Microsoft.
  12. Burning Churches And Saddam Hussein. RE: Politics. Philosophy. Spirituality.
  13. Hussein Is Not Aguinaldo. RE: Bush Administration. Iraq War. Philippines.
  14. 2003-12-17t00:09:00Z. RE: Bush Administration. Movies.
  15. 2003-12-19t22:55:11Z. RE: Politics. Bush Administration/War. WMD. Chicago. Election. Engineering/Science. Fun. Movies. LOTR. Philosophy. Ethics. Tech.
  16. 2003-12-22t21:34:56Z. RE: Bush Administration/War. Hussein Capture Conspiracy. Elections. Engineering/Science. LOTR. Politics.
  17. 2003-12-23t23:10:35Z. RE: Bush Administration/War. Fun. Movies. LOTR. Politics. Tech.
  18. 2003-12-28t05:14:31Z. RE: Bush Administration/War. Election 2004. Fun. Green. Politics. Sex.

2003-12-03t18:25:32Z | RE: Politics. Big Spending. Tech. Deneba Canvas.

  • Politics
    • Big Government
      • I thought smaller government was a big Conservative/Right/Republican issue? It doesn't seem one of this administration's goals.
      • Chuck Hagel [Senator R-NB]: This measure will not strengthen Medicare.
        • "We have come loose from our moorings. The Medicare reform bill is a good example of our lack of direction, purpose and responsibility. If we don't get some control over this out-of-control spending and policy-for-the-moment decision-making, we will put America on a course that we may not be able to recover from."
      • McCain Rips Congress, Bush on Spending
        • ' Congress is throwing away astonishing amounts, "spending money like a drunken sailor," and President Bush shares the blame because he is not using his veto power, Republican Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] said Sunday. '
        • ' "The administration originally supported an energy bill that would cost about $8 billion. This one is up to $24 billion, and the administration is still saying it's one of its highest priorities," McCain said. "I don't know how you rationalize that." '
        • "Any economist will tell you cannot have this level of debt of increasing deficits without eventually it affecting interest rates and inflation," he said. "Those are the greatest enemies of middle-income Americans and retired Americans."
    • zMisc
      • Canada's View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.
        • I had no idea their politics were so much to my liking! I'd consider moving to Canada if it weren't so damn cold up there. Chicago gets more than cold enough for me. If Wisconsin seems bitter cold in comparison to Chicago, then Canada must be cold beyond imagination! Isn't that where we get all those Artic blasts from? Besides I'd miss the Chicago Cubs. We Americans should just get rid of that Bush extremist and bring America back to center.
        • "Being attached to America these days is like being in a pen with a wounded bull. Between the pot smoking and the gay marriage, quite frankly it's a wonder there is not a giant deck of cards out there with all our faces on it." -Rick Mercer, Canada's leading political satirist
        • 'Analysts say that Canada and the United States have always been similar yet different, and that the differences are often accentuated at the margins. But today, many analysts and ordinary Canadians said in interviews around the country, the differences appear to have moved center stage, particularly in social and cultural values. '
      • Liberal Radio Group Says It Is Close to Acquiring 5 Stations

        • 'A Democratic investment group [Progress Meida] planning to start a liberal radio network to counterbalance conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh says it is close to buying radio stations in five major cities [New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston].'
        • They're looking into shows hosted by Janeane Garofalo, Al Franken, and Martin Kaplan. This is one of those project that we'll believe when it's been actualized.
        • Rush Limbaugh said this: "Please! On TV you own C-Span, PBS, C-Span 2, CNN, ABC, CNNfn, CBS, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, NBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, Lifetime, Oxygen, etc.," he wrote on his Web site this year, addressing liberals. "Simply for giving the conservative point of view equal time, you call Fox `conservative.' You have radio guys on NPR 24/7!"
        • Jon Sinton, Progress Media's president, replied with this: "While individuals on those networks may occasionally express views that are left of center, on balance we find those organizations to be pretty centrist. Our task is more than to be left leaning — with the exception of Al, who wants to call his show 'The Liberal Show.' Our task is to be funny and entertaining, a no-sacred-cows sort of thing."   
  • Tech
    • Deneba Canvas
      • Boy have I been out of touch with an application I love and use all the time.
      • 2003-04-04: ACD Systems acquired Deneba Systems. I didn't even notice until now.
      • 2003-07-07: Deneba Canvas 9 was released. I'm shocked and jealous because I'm still on Canvas 7! At least I was aware of Canvas 8. It would cost me $250 to upgrade or $400 to buy new.
      • FYI: Canvas is "the only cross-platform, technical drawing program that seamlessly integrates professional-level image editing, page layout, web graphics and presentation features into a single creative application". Or, as I've always said, it's like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and PageMaker combined. These days you'd also have to throw in Adobe InDesign and GoLive too.

2003-12-03t18:35:25Z | RE: Comic Art.
Fantastic Four 507

WARNING: Spoilers beyond the second paragraph. The last few paragraphs in particular have a big spoiler.

I used to collect more comic books but these days I go to a comic shop perhaps once a season. I peek into a few books briefly, trying to find interesting art and interesting stories without spoiling the unfolding that happens during the reading done after purchasing my books. I don't really know the quality of a book until after I've read it. If I went comic book shopping more frequently, then I'd know which titles had a good thread going and would increase the odds of picking good reads on the next visit. As it is I have to use my intuition.

This past weekend I picked up three comic books. Thor Vikings #5 of 5, JLA #90, and Fantastic Four #507.

Thor Vikings was disappointing. I picked it because it was a little gorier and since I'm into medieval weaponry these day, I wanted to see some of that action. However the comic book was just smash and bash. Boring.

JLA was more interesting.

The thing that caught my eye about the art was that they were rendering Wonder Woman as much more muscular: sort of like the women of wrestling. I wanted to see how that worked. In one sense there is no need to make her more muscular because more muscles does not explain how she is able to lift a ship. I think they executed it just fine. It was interesting to see an earthier WW who still retained her "godliness".

In recent JLA issues somehow Batman had given Wonder Woman a meaningful kiss. Over the years the intrigue that had been played with was usually between Wonder Woman and Superman so this was an interesting twist. I like the device that they used to explore the different possibilities of a BM & WW coupling. I also found the way that the two of them handled the touchy issue satisfying. I think they were also correct in the bottom line analysis of such a relationship. It's the same problem that Superman and WW would run into; It's the same problem that Aragorn and Arwen run into in the Lord of the Rings. Basically mortal and immortal couplings are difficult and would only work if the each felt that the coupling was destined.

Fantastic Four was probably the best read of the three.

The art composition was good, the panels were well used. There was a good unfolding art that tied with the story. I always like elements that seem minor when you first encounter them but whose significance is revealed later in the story. I like the inclusion of the art by past artists like Kirby to give but the sense of long history that exists between Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom. There were some renditions that could have used more refinement but I think it was a deadline issue because the art was better earlier in the story than later.

Story wise: who can resist a classic face off between two arch enemies? Richards and Doom have a delicious rivalry that is on par with the rivalry between Batman and the Joker. The story was excellent on that part. As a bonus they did a subplot with Nick Fury leading a UN coalition into Latveria because of Richards replacement of Doom. Doing this type of story during these days of the Iraq occupation adds a delicious richness to the story.

However, the thing I like best about the story is the very end. It touches on a personal issue I have in the realm of super powers.

Here comes the big spoiler. I warned you.

At the end of the story Doom possesses the body of Susan Richard, the Invisible Woman, kills three UN soldiers, and says: "You know I always said Susan was more powerful than the three of you put together..." As a story element the mere possession is excellent. What really gets me is that Doom really knows how to use Susan's powers.

Anyone who has ever read super hero comic books must have, at some point, taken some time to fantasize about which super hero they'd like to be or what super powers they'd like to have. My choice has always been to have Susan's powers. Note that I don't say "the powers of the Invisible Woman". Susan's "action name" of "The Invisible Woman" has always sucked. The only good thing about that name is that it's better than her old name: "The Invisible Girl".

Her powers are two fold. Firstly she has the power to become invisible and make different objects around her invisible, hence the sucky action name. Secondly she has the power to make, shape, and move invisible force fields. The power of invisibility is fine but I've always considered it secondary to her power of force fields. There's nothing wrong with the power of invisibility: it's just that the power of force fields rocks so much more.

I suspect my rendition of these force fields is different from how Marvel renders them. I think Marvel has the resistivity of Susan's force fields dependent on her will power. My force fields on the other hand are quite different. In my imagination, my force fields are base on multi-dimensionality.

Consider the classic scenario of a two-dimensional universe with two-dimensional entities. A circle entity named "O" in this 2D world would see all other entities in his universe as lines. If O went around another circle, he would see  line that was of consistent length. If O went around a square, he would see a line that varied in length. O could not lift off of the plane because that would be going beyond the edge of his universe. If a sperical 3D entity named "P" visited O's world, then P could give O a funky time. P could move up and down in the 3rd dimension, thus P could vary in length or even disappear. P could even lift off the plane and and touch down  within O.

In my rendition of the force field power, I have some tapped into a dimension beyond the third. That is I would be the equivalent of a 3D O but with the capability of a 4D P. That is some how I have acquire the ability to fold space and manipulate hyper cubes  and such. My force fields would be manifestations of the fourth dimension in our 3D world. The folding would be effortless and only limited by my ability to visualize the folding. Thus my force fields would be of infinite resistivity because as a piece of the 4th dimension, it could not be penetrated by 3D objects: just as the 2D O could not penetrate into the third dimension.

I could extend my 4D powers to include folding that would allow teleportation and invisibility but in my fantasies I have limited my capabilities to the ability to generate 4d fields of fields that are made, shaped, and moved through my will power. These 4D fields would be not only be impenetrable, unaffected by mass, inertia, energy. I could make these fields anywhere I could visualize, even within objects (like a person's head). I could shape these fields into infinitely sharp lines or planes or points or hollow shapes or solid shapes. I could move these fields at incredible velocities. I could use these fields to move against an object regardless of the mass of the object, thus penetrating or pushing the object depending on the shape of the field.

Anyhow I want to see if the writers will have Doom do anything like I've imagined. I suspect Marvel will have Doom use Susan's force fields with greater force and with more fantastic shapes than Susan did.

2003-12-07t14:31:57Z | RE: Faith. Fun. Politics. Cheesy Anti-Bush Stuff. Science. Tech. zMisc.

  • Faith
    • Atheists are Discriminated Against in Seven State Constitutions!
      • Discrimination invisible and unspoken but written nonetheless. It's not just atheists either: what if you're a pagan?, say a Native American who believes spirits?
      • "Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God." -Article 6 Section 8 of North Carolina's State Constitution
    • Breast-feeding driver says her rights violated
      • I'm all for breast-feeding and religious tolerance but we're talking about weirdos pretty extreme stuff here here.
        • 'Donkers, who acted as her own lawyer in a two-day trial in August, was found guilty of driving without a license, failing to comply with a police officer's order, and violating a car-seat law by nursing her baby while driving. In trial testimony, she also admitted she was talking to her husband on her cell phone as the trooper was trailing her for three miles -- and taking notes on the steering wheel about what she should do.'
      • The belong to a religious sect called "The First Christian Fellowship of Eternal Sovereignty" (SovereignFellowship.com).
        • 'We feel it is our obligation to teach our members to be self governing by learning the liberating principles of individual responsibilities under God. The Holy Bible tells us that we cannot serve two masters. We intend to use all legal means to regain our sovereignty as "We the People" by placing our governments back into the proper role of servants and not of masters by following the precepts and duties as defined in the Declaration of Independence, enforcing the Constitutional limitations set upon our governments and by applying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We intend, also, to help obtain for our membership salvation from the involuntary servitude {see the Thirteenth Amendment} imposed upon us by the Beast, through his agents, disguised as the Social Security System and its "Mark of the Beast" the infamous Social Security identification number.'
  • Fun
  • Politics
    • Israel-U.S. Tension Rising Over Symbolic Accord.
      • I've been watching this Geneva Accord issue unfold over the past several weeks. It's fascinating because of the similarities between Israel and the US. In Israel and the US, the government is in a Right-wing phase and they are pushing for security through aggression. In Israel and the US, the Left-wing is pushing for peace through diplmacy. The difference is that the Israeli Left has had some success with this Geneva Accord: so much so that the US and Colin Powell are taking their side. But the success is limited because the Right-wing in Israel is fighting this Accord tooth-and-nail (more settlements). Will the Canaanites and the Philistines ever have peace?
      • In the US, the Left's push for peace has been smothered by the Bush administration. Only as the post-Iraq invasion has lengthened has the Bush administration started pushing for international (NATO, UN, etc.) assistance. It would have been smarter and easier to push for this pre-invasion. You can't use mega-bombs or fire blindly in populated areas. Our expensive, hi-tech, hi-numbers army isn't good against this inexpensive, low-tech, low-numbers guerilla warfare. The way to fight terrorism is through police action, diplomacy, multilateral governmental cooperation, political concessions, good intelligence, etc. with a sparse sprinkling of special forces and precision strikes.
      • My hope is that the US is learning this. My hope is that Israel is learning this. My hope is that this Left-wing solution will be able to overcome the dominance of the Right-wing in the governments of both nations. My hope is that both wings can work  together because you need both wings in order to fly.
    • Japan Set to Send Troops to Iraq
      • Whoo hoo! Watch out! The samurai are back! 1000 members of Japan's SDF (Self Defense Forces) may be heading over to Iraq even though polls indicate that 75% of the Japanese population would be against sending them. I'll bet that each SDF member has an advanced degree black belt in at least one martial art.
      • 'The deployment would represent a momentous shift. Some say it could irrevocably set Japan on the path to becoming what they describe as a "normal country" that would eventually be responsible, at least in part, for its own defense. Since the end of World War II, Japan has relied on the United States for its national security.'
      • The funny thing is that I'm going to see The Last Samurai this weekend.
    • Molly Ivins: Picking a winner
      • 'But then I saw Dean laugh his way through a Chris Matthews interview (which he should have done with Tim Russert, who was hell-bent on gotcha questions), and I know the guy can take care of himself. So he fights back if you get in his face -- that's not all bad. I know, he's even less of a liberal than Bill Clinton was, but I don't think Dean is a moderate centrist. I think he's a fighting centrist. And folks, I think we have got ourselves a winner here.'
      • I've been leaning toward Howard Dean myself. Let's see.
  • Cheesy Anti-Bush Stuff
  • Science
    • The best physics humour ever
      • two atoms bump into each other:
        • "I think I've lost an electron!" says one.
        • "Are you sure?" replies the other.
        • "I'm positive!"
    • Hide and seek: The nearest galaxy to the Milky Way is found sneaking up behind us. Aww, isn't that cute? Related: g1 g1
    • Essure.com
      • "Unlike tubal ligation and vasectomy, there are no incisions or punctures to the body. Essure takes about 35 minutes, does not require general anesthesia, and provides birth control without hormones."
      • It looks like they slide a 4 cm micro-insert up each fallopian tube with a tiny "fishing pole", tissue eventually forms around the insert which causes a permanent blockage. It is essentially a non-surgical tubal ligation. Pretty neat!
  • Tech
    • Source Claims SCO Will Sue Google.
      • 'Last week SCO threatened to make an example of a big-time Linux user that hadn't paid SCO the license fees it's demanding and take it to court for copyright infringement.'
      • 'industry wags are saying that God invented SCO to give people a company to hate more than Microsoft'
      • SCO has been annoying us long enough. If I had anything SCO, I would dump it.
    • IBM Wins Both Motions to Compel
      • "Needless to say there was blood all over the floor on the SCO side of the aisle none on the 'left' side."
      • "Judge granted both IBM motions to compel, gave SCO thirty days to comply 'with specificity' and suspended further discovery. Did not rule on the SCO motion until next hearing scheduled for Friday, Jan 23 and 10:00 am."
      • Show us the code SCO, show us!
  • zMisc
    • Electric Poster Series. For those of you who have fun with hate and anger.
    • On 11-14, a woman trespassed into the compound of Cinnamon Bear (an 11 year old northern gray wolf), the wolf attacked her, and a zoo police officer had to shoot Cinnamon. Don Wycliff did a poll on 11-20 about whether her name should have been published. As of now, 85% said publish. I was mad at her and my instinct also said "go ahead and publish the fool's name!". But after thinking about it and reading Don's follow up on 12-04, I came up with this:
      • She must have liked or possibly loved the wolf to hop over a fence to pet him. So in one sense she will punish herself since she must know that her stupid behavior directly led to the death of dear old Cinnamon.
      • Zoo creatures are under our responsibility. They are imprisoned through no choice of their own. Zoo creatures should have some legal protection. Legal action should be taken against her and she should definitely pay a fine or something.
      • We publish the names of those who perform public actions, whether hero or villain. However we usually do not print the name of victims. Nor do we publish the names of alleged villains who have not been proven guilty yet. Why? Not only because of their potential innocence but because people may take it upon themselves to unethically perform vigilante justice. Final result: don't print her name.

2003-12-07t14:49:38Z | RE: Bush/War. Politics. Science. Tech. zMisc.
Mega Link Dump

I've had a backlog of links for long enough. I've decided to organize them, comment on a few of them and put them here. Besides clearing off a task that tends to cling to my to-do list, I also got to see what sort of links I'm interested in. I have 5 major categories here:

  1. Bush/War
  2. Politics
  3. Science
  4. Tech
  5. zMisc

I noticed a maddening number of Bush/War related links. In a good democracy: the people get the credit for all the good and the leader is invisible. As things stand, there is too much focus on Bush because he is supposed to represent us but he's doing his own agenda.

  1. Bush/War
  2. Politics
  3. Science
  4. Tech
  5. zMisc

2003-12-07t22:50:52Z | RE: Bush/War. Ethics. Politicians. Politics. Faith. Fun.

  • Bush/War
    • 9 Afghan Kids Dead After U.S. Air Strike.
      • ' "They were just playing ball, and then the shots came down," said Hamidullah, a distraught villager who said his eight-year-old son, Habibullah, was among those killed. Like many Afghans, they only have one name. '
      • ' By an AP count from hospitals and other reliable sources conducted in February 2002, at least 500 to 600 Afghan civilians were killed by airstrikes during the U.S.-led campaign that removed the Taliban. Since then, as American forces try to stamp out Taliban fighters, more deaths have occurred. The worst incident was in July 2002, when Afghan officials said 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship in Uruzgan province, which borders Ghazni province. '
      • Fuck this shit! How many terrorists did this accident just create? If some government killed my kids by accident I'd want some sort of compensation or else I'd go on some sort of personal jihad. Americans are scurrying around buying Christmas crap from Walmart while our brothers and sons are killing children and turning peoples houses into rubble. Merry fucking Christmas.
      • As a side I think we had the evidence to enter Afghanistan but not Iraq.
    • Card dismisses questions over prewar intelligence as 'moot'
      • "When you go there today, and you see some of the mass graves of the dead, where he murdered his own people, you just can't help but think that we are much better off. So I think it's a moot point." -Andy Card, Bush's Chief of Staff.
        • But we didn't go because of the mass graves did we? And how many of the bodies in those graves come from the days when the US government supported Iraq?
      • 'Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., suggested on Sunday that next summer's planned transfer of power from American occupying authorities to Iraqis might be driven by Bush's re-election campaign, to be bringing troops home by November.'
        • Of course. Bush said no one would hurry or hinder the process... except himself for the sake of his re-election. How come it took us 2 year after invading Afghanistan to set up their constitution?
      • 'Bush "is taking an appropriate line on spending. He is a great watchdog for the taxpayers' money," Card said on Fox. '
        • 'Campaigning in California, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry scoffed at the assertion. "Spending is up, the government is larger than it's been in years, and this is the administration that's promised to cut both," Kerry said in a conference call with reporters. "They ought to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction if they can pass that one on." '
    • Sparks still flying in transatlantic trade dispute
      • 'On the trade front, the EU is still waiting for Washington to rescind tax breaks given to US exporters that the WTO has ruled illegal, as in the steel case.'
      • Bush is still seeing what he can get away with that.
    • Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns
      • "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them" -Colonel Sassaman.
      • ' Well, I guess what we need to do is go back to the laws of war and the Geneva Convention and all of those issues that define when a structure ceases to be what it is claimed to be and becomes a military target. We've got to remember that we're in a low-intensity conflict where the laws of war still apply." ' -Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top military commander in Iraq
        • Oh I see so it was US policy to throw away the Geneva Conventions. I'm so fucking proud to be a US citizen.
    • AP Investigation: Scientists to Begin Excavating First Iraqi Mass Graves to Get Evidence in Killing of at Least 300,000
      • 'The mass grave at Mahaweel, with more than 3,100 sets of remains, is the largest of some 270 such sites across Iraq. They hold upward of 300,000 bodies; some Iraqi political parties estimate there are more than 1 million.'
      • 'After seven months of work, the team has confirmed 41 mass graves across the length and breadth of Iraq - a country the size of France - some near major cities, and others miles from the nearest road.'
      • There's no denying Saddam Hussein was evil. But we set him up and let him loose for decades. And there are other evil warlords out there too.
  • Ethics
    • Taboo
      • 'The aim of this activity is to tell you something about your moral intuitions. It comprises twelve questions.'
      • I love the fields of ethics so I loved this test even though some of the subject matter might make people feel uncomfortable.
      • In case you want to know, here are my scores. At the time I took the test, the test had been taken 13, 617 times.
        • Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.42 (0.26 avg., i.e. I am less permissive then avg.)
        • Your Interference Factor is: 0.25 (0.15 avg., i.e. I am more likely to recommend societal interference than avg.)
        • Your Universalising Factor is: 1.00 (0.43 avg, I am more likely to see moral wrong doing in universal terms than avg.)
      • The averages probably mean nothing because I'm sure that people have retaken the quiz multiple times in order to skew it. 2003-12-16t19:44:14Z UPDATE: The author sent me an email saying that they use cookies to prevent multiple submissions. I'm still surprised at my 1.00 score fore Universalizing!
  • Politicians
    • Hillary Rips Buh: Warns of 'Irreprable Harm' To Nation
      • "I don't know where it came from, but the fact is that this President Bush has not only been radical and extreme in terms of Democratic presidents but in terms of Republican presidents, including his own father." -Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
      • 'She believes Bush is beatable next year because his administration is "making America less free, fair, strong, smart than it deserves to be in a dangerous world." '
      • ""This administration is in danger of being the first in American history to leave our nation worse off than when they found it." -Clinton.
      • You go girl!
    • Howard Dean
      • Dean Ripped for Bush-9/11 Smear
        • "The most interesting theory that I've heard so far — which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved — is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now, who knows what the real situation is? But the trouble is, by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kinds of theories, whether they have any truth to them or not." -Howard Dean
        • Why shouldn't Dean put that meme up? Especially with Bush pushing hard to block the 9/11 investigation.
        • Others have suggested it:
      • "There They Go Again" by Nicholas Kristof. ::: Nicholas thinks Dean will lose by a landslide for 3 main reasons: Geography (Notherners can't carry the South), Style (angry doesn't carry Centrists), and Biography (Dean's blue-blooded, rich, not very religious). This all may very well be true but I'll still vote according to principles and issues.
      • Establishment lining up behind Dean
        • 'we're seeing most of the outright opposition to Dean evaporate, and this week proved the turning point. The latest NH, IA, and MA polls. The $50K for the Florida Democratic Party. The realization of what the SEIU and AFSCME endorsements meant, the realization that it would take a miracle to overtake Dean given his current advantages in support, money, and most important (and most often overlooked) -- his ground organization. Clark, the only guy left with a chance to catch Dean, trails in all three with just over a month left before the first ballots get cast.'
        • Go Dean Go! We want to believe!
    • Cursing Kerry Unleashes Foulmouthed Attack On Bush
      • ' Sen. Kerry (Mass.) used the undeleted expletive to express his frustration and anger over how the Iraq issue has hurt him because he voted for the war resolution while Democratic front-runner Howard Dean has soared by opposing it. "I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did," Kerry told the youth-oriented magazine [Rolling Stone]. '
      • Way to go!
      • Here's the actual interview in Rolling Stone.
  • Politics
  • Faith
  • Fun
    • Free Flight [game]Wheee!
    • Egg Shell Carving. I've seen this before but it's worth a quickie post.
    • SnowCraft [game]. I can feel the snow melting down the back of my neck.
    • Five Geek Social Fallacies. There are some geeks who can really use this advice. The cool thing is that it is written geekishly enough that geeks might accept this advice. Personally I think that we should all be like geeks to some degree by enjoying our eccentric interests enthusiastically.

2003-12-10t15:42:00Z | RE: Faith. Marriage. Polygamy.
Celestial Marriage Cons

Polygamy is in the news now because of the recent case in UTAH where Tracey Roberts is protecting her 10 year old daughter, Kaylynne, from her polygamist ex-husband Stanley Shepp. Astonishingly, this story is similar to older stories like Salon's "Signs of the Father" and "The Dictator of the House", both of which were posted in five years ago!

Polygamy has a tendency to be abused. You can find all sort of articles supporting this like "Polygamy creates abusive lifestyle" (which is basically an extension of PolygamyInfo.com). At it's worst polygamy is lying, child abuse, rape, slavery, incest, statutory rape, disempowerment of females, wife beating, welfare fraud, identity theft, adultery, religious fraud, contract breaking, etc., all rolled into one. It's quite astonishing that there are still 10-30 thousand practitioners of this Celestial Marriage-style polygamy and that the government is not coming down hard on them.

My guess is that most of the plural marriages that have existed historically or currently are of the "alpha male with female harem" model. The Utah, Biblical, Arabian, Oriental, African, etc. polygamies are almost certainly based upon situations with great inequality between the sexes. My guess is that multiple wives is much more prevalent than polyandry (multiple husbands) or other combinations.

In theory a plural marriages could be a good thing. Clearly minors should never get involved in polygamy: only consenting adults. There should also be no secrecy, i.e. no behind-your-back spouses. Polygamy is also illegal in the US so there are no legal contracts for plural marriages. If consenting adult, public, legal, and mature polygamy were ever to become a reality, then here are some of the advantages it might offer:

  • Built in sitter(s). Couples within plural marriages could have dates more often. Of course everyone would have to take turns.
  • Shared economy. It is much more likely that one or more of the spouses would only have to work part-time.
  • Sexual variety. All without infidelity or worries about diseases.
  • Spread the blame. Questions like "Who left the toilet seat up?" might have more than one possible answer.
  • More hands. It would be much easier to move the sofa around.
  • More heads. More ideas and input on decisions (which may be a liability in some situations).

Realistically, I think most people cannot handle polygamy psychologically or culturally. I don't know if the masses ever will. Single people have plural relationships but usually they do this in sequence as opposed to in parallel, or the plural relationship is transitory as opposed to permanent. People have issues of jealousy, boundaries, privacy, intimacy, etc. It is hard enough to have a linear, one-to-one relationship, but it must be remarkably difficult to have a successful and deep triangle relationship, let alone a rectangular relationship or above.

If you are a victim of polygamy, please get out of it and get help. It is illegal in every state in the US. Sites like Polygamy.org (Tapestry Against Polygamy) offer support. Rest assured there are men out there who would be willing to kick your abusive husband's ass.

2003-12-10t23:56:34Z | RE: Politicians. Wesley Clark.
Clark On Hardball

Hardball Battle for the White House: Gen. Wesley Clark. I watched this Chris Matthews interview with Clark live the other day.

Here's stuff I liked:

  • Clark seemed positive, his eyes shown, his smile was genuine, his voice was sure.
  • Diplomacy: "Well, if I were president right now, I would be doing things that George Bush can't do right now, because he's already compromised those international bridges. I would go to Europe and I would build a new Atlantic charter. I would say to the Europeans, you know, we've had our differences over the years, but we need you. The real foundation for peace and stability in the world is the transatlantic alliance. And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we'll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We'll bring you in. And in return, we want the same right on your security concerns. And that would reinvigorate NATO. We then put the foundation in place to have a real transatlantic agreement. And working with our allies in Europe, we could move the world. We're 600, 700 million people, we're three permanent seats on the Security Council, we're half the world's GDP. We can do it. Whether it's dealing with North Korea, the value of Chinese currency, or the problems of nuclear developments in Iran. And so that's the essential first step. George Bush cannot do it. He's compromised those ties. It starts with personal respect. He doesn't have it. He's forfeited it. I do."
  • Cause of the Iraq Invasion: 'And so I went in to see Secretary Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz was there. And I went downstairs, and a guy said, sir, come in here. And I said, I don't want to take up your time. He says, no, you need to hear this. He said, have you heard the joke? I said no, I haven't. What joke? He said "9/11, Saddam Hussein, if he didn't do it, too bad, he should have. Because we're going to get him anyway." Of course, it wasn't a joke. It wasn't funny. And he didn't tell it to me to make me laugh.'
  • Reaction to 9/11: 'When this administration came to office, they were advised that the greatest threat to American security was Osama bin Laden. Yet almost nine months later, there was no plan to deal with Osama bin Laden. Yet there were plans to start national missile defense and a lot of other things, but not to deal with the greatest threat. And then after 9/11, there was this massive bait and switch operation. I think they made the decision to go after Saddam and worked very hard to try to find the evidence to justify it. But they failed. That evidence is not there. It was not there. It was the wrong war, it was an unnecessary war. And it's a $150 billion mess today."
  • I liked his focus on trying to retain domestic jobs through tax incentives and dis-incentives for businesses.
  • I liked his support of international organizations by wanting bin Laden tried in international court instead of the US.
  • American focus: "I remember telling at the time to Madeleine Albright, I remember telling her in the fall of 1998, and I said Madam secretary, your real problem that's coming is not Iraq, it's in Europe. But this problem for a New American Century started this movement to use force against Iraq in an effort to make the Clinton administration look weak. They built a case that the Clinton administration couldn't handle international affairs. It's exactly the same kind of movement that went against President Carter 20 years ago in a committee on the present danger they're had to do with a salt treaty, but in this case it was directed against Iraq."
  • Economy: "What we need to do is we need to restore fiscal responsibility in this country, and it starts really with going back to the bush tax cuts. We need to bring back from the wealthiest Americans, those making $200,000 and more the tax cuts President Bush gave them. We didn't have the money. They could have called those tax cuts for wealthy Americans theft, if it hadn't been signed into law. Because we're borrowing money from our children. We're giving the notes to the Chinese and the Japanese, and we're giving it to wealthy Americans to buy stock and Homes in aspen and other places. It's not money that's being spent for the best future of America. So, that's the number-one thing to do, is restore some fiscal responsibility in this country, and I will do that."

Here's stuff I disliked:

  • I felt Clark was too slippery on his retirement. It may be true that he was retired 3 months early for political reasons but he needs rhetoric that seems less defensive, less focused on whether he was "fired"/"relieved" or not. I liked that Clark held Bush accountable a la Truman's "the buck stops here" but it seem hypocritical to not hold Clinton responsible for his release from duty.
  • Clark said that gays and lesbians "should have exactly the same rights that every other American has," and on "Equal rights under law". However he insisted on sticking with the terminology of civil unions, but as far as "the word marriage, that's up to the church, the synagogue, the mosque, and it's up to the state legislatures". Too slippery a statement for me.

2003-12-11t06:19:57Z | RE: Bush/War. China/Taiwan. Election. Science. Tech. Faith. Lord of the Rings.

  • Bush/War
    • Bush's Song. I've added "Razzle Dazzle" to my list of potential Bush songs:
      1.  "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking" by U2.
      2. "Bad Reputation" By Half Cocked.
      3. "Razzle Dazzle" Sung by Richard Geere in the movie Chicago. Especially these lines:
        How can they hear the truth above the roar?
        Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
        They'll never know you're just a bagel,
        Razzle dazzle 'em
        And they'll beg you for more!
    • U.S. to set $18.6B in Iraq contracts: But Germany, France and other nations excluded because of national security concerns.
      • More Bush-style diplomacy. So our tax dollars are going to pay these friends of Bush tons of money while alienating other nations. Bush could have simply selected the bids of allies instead of barring these nations from bidding at all. I've had it with Bush talking out of his ass: He demands more international participation and then squanders an opportunity like this. Put your money where your mouth is.
      • Of course corporate America has been doing business with Iraq all along ("U.S. business sees opportunity in Iraq" and "Firm's Iraq Deals Greater Than Cheney Has Said").
      • I can see France, Germany, and Russia but Canada?
      • This whole Iraq Invasion reeks of war profiteering ("Bring Halliburton Home").
      • Perhaps we should reread "War is a Racket" by General Smedley Butler.
      • Welcome to MeccaDonalds [annoying].
      • FYI: "The United States government is paying the Halliburton Company an average of $2.64 a gallon to import gasoline and other fuel to Iraq from Kuwait, more than twice what others are paying to truck in Kuwaiti fuel, government documents show." [via "High Payments to Halliburton for Fuel in Iraq"]
    • China/Taiwan
      • President Bush and Premier Wen Jiabao Remarks to the Press [11:05]
        • "We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo, and the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan [Chen Shui-bian] indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally, to change the status quo, which we oppose." -Bush
        • Who is Bush to preach about unilateralism? Or against pre-emptive action in a nation's interests?
      • Background Briefing on President's Meeting with Chinese Premier Wen [15:35]
        • "there are two separate messages here. One is for the Chinese that, look, you can't use force, you can't use coercion. The other one is for the Taiwanese, look, you shouldn't be moving towards independence." -Senior Administration Official
        • This is so delicate. We're risking another economic war, war with China, nuclear problems with North Korea, Taiwan's freedom, etc. I hope the sentiments of economic greed and peace can overcome the warhawk mentality and Bush's ineptness.
      • Neo-cons cry 'appeasement' over Taiwan
        • 'Analysts said Bush's statement did not reflect a substantive change in US policy, but the directness - some said brutality - with which it was expressed came over as unexpectedly harsh, particularly his reference to Chen as "the leader of Taiwan" rather than as "president", a formulation that must have caused considerable satisfaction to Wen [Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao] '
        • Bush is appeasing China? Can NeoCon even say "appeasement" in public? Why aren't we appeasing North Korea? Is a non-aggression pact with North Korea so difficult? Is PNAC (Project for the New American Century) cracking?
      • Tale of the colossus and the inexorable upstart
        • 'China is already the world's sixth-largest economy, and it is growing like the US did in the 19th century. It could be the world's largest within four decades.'
        • This article gives other numbers.
    • US military admits it killed Afghan children in attacks
      • 'The US military admitted yesterday, for the second time in a week, that Afghan children had been killed by US forces in action against Taliban and al-Qa'ida suspects. Six children and two adults were crushed under a wall last Friday after an attack at a compound stacked with weapons belonging to a fugitive militant.'
        • Fuck this shit! Now we're dropping buildings on kids.
      • ' "The people are growing very hostile now, because America should know how to avoid these things," said Tareq, a 30-year-old government worker in Kabul. "They are bombing children every day. It is not Mullah Omar [the Taliban leader] or [Osama] bin Laden that is killing them." '
    • The George W. Bush G.I. Joke Action Figure (by Mad Magazine)
    • Moving Targets. ' The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq. '
      • ' According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. '
        • Oh great so we're going to do eye for an eye potshots, assassinations, etc. just like the Israelis. You can see how successful that program has been in acquiring a peaceful world for them.
        • This also puts us in bed with Israel, the usual Muslim fanatic's arch enemy, thus magnifying their hate for us.
      • ' An American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad said, "The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We're going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We've got to scare the Iraqis into submission." '
        • I can see going guerilla v guerilla, but scare into submission? You can't scare these guys. These guys live in rocks, they've had their friends dying all around them for as long as they can remember, they're religious fanatics, they grew up using bullets to pick their ears, etc., etc. What's to fear?
      • ' Many of them fear that the proposed operation—called "preemptive manhunting" by one Pentagon adviser—has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program. Phoenix was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong. In choosing targets, the Americans relied on information supplied by South Vietnamese Army officers and village chiefs. The operation got out of control. According to official South Vietnamese statistics, Phoenix claimed nearly forty-one thousand victims between 1968 and 1972; the U.S. counted more than twenty thousand in the same time span. ... The adviser added, "The problem is that we've not penetrated the bad guys. The Baath Party is run like a cell system. It's like penetrating the Vietcong—we never could do it."'
        • If the situation is identical, then we're going to repeat history. Geez. I smell another disaster.
      • ' The rising star in Rumsfeld's Pentagon is Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, who has been deeply involved in developing the new Special Forces approach. ... One of the key planners of the Special Forces offensive is Lieutenant General William (Jerry) Boykin, Cambone's military assistant. '
        • Oh great the one who's on a Crusade.
      • It seems to me that we are on a military track, we're trending towards becoming a military-police state. The US is becoming like Israel. I wouldn't be surprised if the current administration assassinated a politicial contender if he or she was perceived as a threat to their military objectives.
  • Election
    • Dennis Kucinich. Anti-Bush Animation by Kuchinich camp. Angry at the death and injured Coalition people and Iraqis by the Iraq War, which Kucinich basically says was done for war profiteers. There are also flashes of patriotic words: apparently Kucinich also dislike Bush's subliminal and oppresive brain washing techniques used to pass this war off to the US and the Coalition.
      • More anti-Bush animations at BushFlash.com, like Strange Glove.
      • In the comments at Metafilter, Faze had an interesting comment: ' "They are are sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters..." Kucinich is still protesting the Vietnam War, which was fought in large part by draftees, whose deaths were indeed a tragedy. Our current armed forces are all-volunteer. They are paid killers. They receive salaries and other benefits in return for their willingness to go overseas and -- when ordered to -- kill people. They are exhaustively trained to kill people. Every day of their lives in the service, they are reminded that their mission is to kill people. There has to be some limit to how much boo-hooing we do when these paid killers themselves get killed. War is murder and volunteer soldiers are... not innocent.'
        • Volunteer soldiers are not simply paid killers, mercenaries, and murderers. The police are also all-volunteer. The important thing is that the laws, the leaders, and the people have to ensure that our police and military are doing the right thing.
    • Gore Endorses Dean [transcript].
      • Gore quotations:
        • "Howard Dean really is the only candidate who has been able to inspire, at the grassroots level all over this country, the kind of passion and enthusiasm for democracy and change and transformation of America that we need in this country."
        • "Democracy is a team sport, and I want to do everything I can to convince anybody that is interested in my judgment about who among these candidates has the best chance to win and the best chance to lead our country in the right direction"
        • "This nation cannot afford to have four more years of a Bush- Cheney administration. We can't afford to be divided among ourselves to the point that we lose sight of how important it is for America."
        • "What is going on in this Bush White House today is bad for our country. And it's slowly beginning to sink in to more and more people out there. And we don't have the luxury of fighting among ourselves to the point where we seriously damage our ability to win on behalf of the American people this time around. "
        • "I've heard a lot of folks, who in my opinion made a judgment about the Iraq war that was just plain wrong, Howard Dean's decision to oppose the Iraq war calls his judgment on foreign policy into question. Well, excuse me. He was the only major candidate who made the correct judgment about the Iraq war. (APPLAUSE) And he had the insight and the courage to say and do the right thing. And that's important... (APPLAUSE) ... because those judgments, that basic common sense, is what you want in a president."
        • "Our country has been weakened in our ability to fight the war against terror because of the catastrophic mistake that the Bush administration made in taking us into war in Iraq. It was Osama bin Laden that attacked us, not Saddam Hussein. (APPLAUSE) Saddam Hussein is a bad guy and he's better off not in power. We're all better off. But it was a mistake to get us into a quagmire over there."
      • Gore's endorsement divides Dems: Race now pits Dean against everyone else.
        • '[Dean is] already is far ahead in money and polls -- a recent New Hampshire poll had him leading his closest rival by 30 percentage points -- and he has won the endorsements of the nation's two largest unions. '
      • Stop This Train: Who decides this election—you or Al Gore?
        • The other candidates can whine about it all they want but Gore has free speech rights too and he can endorse whoever he wants. He is not discounting the voters or anything like that.
      • The New Hampshire Debate: The Democrats split between Clinton and Gore.
        • I like how the little alliances might be forming amongst the Democrats. It's sort of like watching reality TV: "Democrat Survivor"!
        • Here are the alliances as I see them:
          • Howard Dean (Former Gov. VT)/Gore. The clear front runner. It's possible that Gore may seem more Left than the Clintons. Both may shoot their own feet.
          • Gen. Wesley Clark/Clintons. Time is running out for Hillary very quickly for most people. She needs to shit or get off the pot. For me, unless Dean goofs up, it's too late for her. Otherwise very strong.
          • Dennis Kucinich (Rep. OH)/Rev. Al Sharpton. These guys will provide more interest to the stories. They will do their job to make sure the issues, including the further Left issues get discussed.
          • John Kerry (Sen. MA)/Joe Lieberman (Sen. CT)/Dick Gephardt (Rep. MO). Fading.
          • Amb. Carol Moseley Braun/John Edwards (Sen. NC). No chance and hardly contributing to the debate.
        • It ain't over until the fat lady sings. Anything can happen but it's important to keep the debate going.
  • Science
  • Tech
    • Authentication and Authorization. In .NET.
    • How To: Traverse an ADO MD Cellset Object by Using Visual C# .NET. Not too far different from non-.NET usage of ADO MD.
    • A new MS Internet Explorer vulnerability is discovered.
      • "By opening a window using the http://user@domain nomenclature an attacker can hide the real location of the page by including a 0x01 character after the "@" character. Internet Explorer doesn't display the rest of the URL making the page appear to be at a different domain."
      • Frighteningly simple for something so potentially dangerous.
      • EG: onclick="location.href = unescape ('http://www.microsoft.com%01@zapthedingbat.com/security/ex01/vun2.htm');"
    • Microsoft to ditch older products. Phasing out the following: Office XP Developer, Visio 2000, BackOffice Server 2000, Office 2000 Developer, Office 2000 Tools, Office 2000 Multilingual, Office 2000 Premium SR-1, Office 2000 Service Pack 2, Outlook 2000, Project 2000, SQL Server 7, SQL Server 7 Service Pack 3, Embedded Visual Tools 3.0, Visual Studio 6 MSDE, IE 5.5, MapPoint 2002, Visual Studio 6.0 SP3 and SP5, Windows 98, Windows 98 Y2K, Windows 98 Resource Kit, Windows 98 SP1 (all win98 except SE), Windows NT 4.0, ISA Server 2000, Visual Basic for (Alpha Systems).
  • zMisc

2003-12-12t00:07:19Z | RE: Bush/War. Election. Science. Tech.

  • Bush/War
    • Pentagon: Many of New Iraq Soldiers Quit
      • 'Plans to deploy the first battalion of Iraq's new army are in doubt because a third of the soldiers trained by the U.S.-led occupation authority have quit, defense officials said Wednesday.'
        • Ahh money well spent, eh Bush?
      • 'It was uncertain exactly why a third abandoned their new jobs, though some had complained that the starting salary — $60 a month for privates — was too low, officials said. '
        • Oh I see Bush was doing the old corporate trick of cheap foreign labor. A military sweat shop!
      • Coalition: Nearly half of new Iraqi army has quit. Looks like they updated the numbers from 250/700 to 300/700 since I started writing this post.
  • Election
    • Bush's Advisers Focus on Dean as Likely Opponent Next Year
      • 'For months, members of Mr. Bush's political team said that the nine-person Democratic field was too jumbled to predict the outcome of the primaries, and they cautioned that the situation was fluid. But with Dr. Dean, in their view, pulling away from his Democratic rivals by all indicators — the polls, fund-raising and endorsements — Republicans said he was forcing the Bush campaign to begin making decisions about how and when to engage him.'
      • ' Throughout the year, many Republicans have been longing for a Bush-Dean matchup, saying Dr. Dean's opposition to the war with Iraq, his call for rolling back Mr. Bush's tax cuts and his support for civil unions between gay people would open the door to a Republican landslide in November. Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's senior adviser and political strategist, was reported by The Washington Post this summer to have exhorted the crowd at his neighborhood Fourth of July parade to cheer for marchers wearing Dean T-shirts and carrying Dean signs. People close to Mr. Bush, who prides himself on his personal and political discipline, describe Dr. Dean as a sloppy candidate who gets himself in trouble too often by shooting from the hip and who is slow to clean up messes. '
      • It might be said that giving Bush multiple targets is a good reason for the Democrats to delay on choosing their Presidential candidate.
    • "Dean's Urban Legend" by Robert Novak
      • ' In his Dec. 1 interview on NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show," Dean was asked about allegations that President Bush is suppressing information that he was warned about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "The most interesting theory that I have heard so far . . . ," Dean responded, "is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis." This received scant media attention (except for Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer), but Democratic politicians shuddered. Dean was given a chance to back off six days later by Chris Wallace, debuting as "Fox News Sunday's" moderator. "I don't believe that," the candidate said, then added: "But we don't know, and it'd be a nice thing to know." He concluded: "Because the president won't give information to the Kean Commission, we really don't know what the explanation is." After playing to Bush-haters who listen to National Public Radio, Dean repeated the same canard to Fox's Sunday morning mainstream viewers.'
      • ' "It's McCarthyism in reverse," one 35-year Democratic political veteran told me. "Dean doesn't understand that he's accusing Bush of something worse than an impeachable offense. It's treason." He and several other Democrats that I contacted all expressed the fear that Bush's political operatives will shred an opposing presidential candidate that undisciplined. '
        • The loose lips worry about Dean is only a problem if he does not qualify his statements. When you're trying to explain a phenomena, you need to come up with many hypotheses (even wild and crazy ones), and put them up to testing.
      • ' After an impressive performance answering Tim Russert's policy questions, the former first lady would not flatly promise to turn down a presidential draft. "The nomination -- it's not going to be offered to me," she insisted. "But if it did happen?" asked Russert. "You know, I have, I am -- ," she stammered. "I think the door is opening a bit, Senator," Russert concluded. "Oh, no, it's not," Clinton shot back. Finally, when pressed to say she would "never" accept the 2004 nomination, she said, "I am not accepting the nomination." That was ambivalent enough to intrigue Democratic worriers. It's a slender reed, but still reason for them to think that Hillary Clinton might be there if Howard Dean self-immolates by next summer. They are thinking such thoughts because their prospective nominee is spinning wild conspiracy theories. '
        • This is why we need to put high pressure on the Democratic candidates now. We need to screen them well before summer or even spring. A last second save by Hillary Clinton may come too late.
    • Four More for Gore? The good thing about this link is that he has quotations from multiple blogs and sites, all talking about the Gore endorsement of Dean.
  • Science
    • UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women.
      • Neato. A study that looks into the issue of stress responses for men (fight v flight) for men and women (tend and befriend).
      • 'Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it. '
      • 'Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push the m right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.'
  • Sex
    • AdultWebmasterSchool.com.
      • A slightly more honest version of the usual "get rich quick scheme".
      • 'Get paid to look at porn!'
      • 'Work for only an hour a day!'
      • 'Did you know that the online Adult industry generated over $9 billion in revenue last year? That's right, $9,000,000,000! Not only did that account for 12% of the total e-commerce in 2001, the online Adult business currently is, and always will be, the number one product/service on the Internet. Were you also aware that according to a recent Forbes Article, the Adult industry is completely "recession-resistant?" In other words, no matter how poorly our economy performs, Adult Webmasters will continue to turn profits. '
      • 'Enrollment costs only $140. This gives you access to the course guide, video tutorials, chat rooms, message board, free hosting, resources section, and teacher support. We also offer a 100% money-back guarantee. '
      • Sex sells, especially to Web surfers
  • Tech
    • Microsoft Support Schedules
      • Yesterday I listed that Microsoft was phasing out the following products: Office XP Developer, Visio 2000, BackOffice Server 2000, Office 2000 Developer, Office 2000 Tools, Office 2000 Multilingual, Office 2000 Premium SR-1, Office 2000 Service Pack 2, Outlook 2000, Project 2000, SQL Server 7, SQL Server 7 Service Pack 3, Embedded Visual Tools 3.0, Visual Studio 6 MSDE, IE 5.5, MapPoint 2002, Visual Studio 6.0 SP3 and SP5, Windows 98, Windows 98 Y2K, Windows 98 Resource Kit, Windows 98 SP1 (all win98 except SE), Windows NT 4.0, ISA Server 2000, Visual Basic for (Alpha Systems).
      • Today I got an email from Microsoft indicating that the following products are also reaching "end-of-life": DFS 4.1, Fax Services for NTW, Routing and Remote Access Services for Netware 4.0, SMS 1.2, Visual SourceSafe 5.0, Windows Media Encoder 7.1 on Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Media Player 6.4 on Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Media Player 6.4 on Windows XP Home Edition, Windows Media Player 7.1 on Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Media Player 9 on Windows Millennium Edition, WMF SDK 7.1 on Windows Millennium Edition, Zero Admin for NT4, Access 97, Excel 97, FrontPage 98, Office 97 Developer/Professional/Small Business/Standard, Outlook 98, PowerPoint 97, Word 97, Visual FoxPro 6, Visual Interdev 6, Visual J++ 6.
      • Sounds like a list of incentives for people to migrate to Linux.
        • Apparently we have another task on our lists: Keep an eye on http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/.
        • This is all very aggressive especially to do it in such large batches.
        • Apps should work reliably forever if cleanly installed on a clean system.
        • The "Online Self-Help Support" and knowledge base should be available forever. This "minimum of eight years" is unacceptable.
        • Their timeframe of five years of "Mainstream support" for each product is too short.
    • AT&T To Offer Voice Over IP Service
      • 'AT&T today announced a major new initiative to deliver a full complement of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to business customers and consumers in 2004. The company, which already serves hundreds of businesses with its managed VoIP services, said it will expand its VoIP portfolio and aggressively market a full suite of VoIP-enabled services to business customers worldwide. AT&T will also roll out a new VoIP consumer offer in major cities across the United States in 2004, beginning with select metropolitan markets in the first quarter of the year.'
      • At last VoIP is hitting mainstream! Circuit switching is so 20th century. Digital packet switching is modern and much cheaper. A VoIP company like Vonage.com can cover the country with only 250 employees. Contrast this with the tens of thousands of AT&T employees. Unfortunately I foresee massive layoffs. Alas the high employment cost of our high efficiency!

2003-12-14t01:06:11Z | RE: Bush Administration/War. Chicago. Elections. Fun. Science. Tech.

  • Bush Administration/War
    • Dick Chenney: Canned Hunter.
    • Homeland security chief endorses legalizing undocumented immigrants.
      • "The bottom line is, as a country we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way, but also as a country decide what our immigration policy is and then enforce it." -Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
      • Good, good. Our borders are very permeable. Even if they are here illegally this will help us track them and it will help the illegal immigrants live more safely.
      • This follows one of my basic principles of governing: Legalize as much as possible.
    • Mr. Bush's Kowtow
      • 'Mr. Bush had his reasons for doing so -- above all to avoid one more foreign policy crisis during an election year. But in avoiding a headache for himself, he demonstrated again how malleable is his commitment to the defense of freedom as a guiding principle of U.S. policy.'
      • 'So Mr. Chen [of Taiwan] cleverly proposes to hold a referendum on his own election day next March asking his citizens not to decide on Taiwan's status but simply to call on China to remove the 500 missiles it has positioned in range of Taiwan and to renounce the use of force. It is, perhaps, a cynical electoral ploy -- something known to occur in other democratic countries -- but it poses no threat to China.'
      • 'A president who believed his own promise to "favor freedom" would have said yesterday that China's "comments and actions" -- from invasion threats to missile deployments -- were of considerably greater concern than a proposed exercise in voting booths.'
      • Bush once more demonstrating his bad judgment.
    • The privatisation of war
      • 'In 1991, for every private contractor, there were about 100 servicemen and women; now there are 10. The private sector is so firmly embedded in combat, occupation and peacekeeping duties that the phenomenon may have reached the point of no return: the US military would struggle to wage war without it.'
      • 'the US army estimates that of the $87bn (£50.2bn) earmarked this year for the broader Iraqi campaign, including central Asia and Afghanistan, one third of that, nearly $30bn, will be spent on contracts to private companies.'
      • 'The surge in the use of private companies should not be confused with the traditional use of mercenaries in armed conflicts. The use of mercenaries is outlawed by the Geneva conventions, but no one is accusing the Pentagon, while awarding more than 3,000 contracts to private companies over the past decade, of violating the laws of war.'
        • But while these war profiteers may not be directly killing like mercenaries, they still encourage wars for the sake of profit.
      • 'But if an American GI draws and uses his weapon in an off-duty bar brawl, he will be subject to the US judicial military code. If an American guard employed by the US company ITT in Tuzla does the same, he answers to Bosnian law. By definition these companies are frequently operating in "failed states" where national law is notional. The risk is the employees can literally get away with murder. Or lesser, but appalling crimes. Dyncorp, for example, a Pentagon favourite, has the contract worth tens of millions of dollars to train an Iraqi police force. It also won the contracts to train the Bosnian police and was implicated in a grim sex slavery scandal, with its employees accused of rape and the buying and selling of girls as young as 12. A number of employees were fired, but never prosecuted. The only court cases to result involved the two whistleblowers who exposed the episode and were sacked. "Dyncorp should never have been awarded the Iraqi police contract," said Madeleine Rees, the chief UN human rights officer in Sarajevo.'
      • I will reiterate that while it is necessary to fight terrorists, it was not necessary to invade Iraq.
    • Buying Up Iraq
      • An article by an Arab American woman who was part of the team prepping Iraq for elections as a Clinical Pscyhologist doing pre-elections assessments.
      • "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men. ... The people of Baghdad shall flourish under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws. ... The Arab race may rise once more to greatness!" -General. F. S. Maude, commander of the British forces, said when he captured Baghdad in 1917.
      • 'After the need for physical security, the Iraqis I talked most stressed the need to solve the problem of 60% to 70% unemployment the occupation created by firing employees of the military, police and civil services. Kids are begging in the street to support their families while their well-educated parents sweep at its rubble. A good percentage of the 70% of Iraqis under the age of 30 are young men who have AK-47s and no jobs.'
      • 'I was told that the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] arrived in Iraq with neither Arabic speakers nor translators. I can't quite believe that but I can vouch for the fact that very few CPA people speak Arabic and almost none of them can communicate with Iraqis outside the Palace. The CPA has no real communication with local Iraqis. Its staff seldom leaves the compound and, when it does, it goes through the streets in heavily guarded convoys. Other than a few cellular phones and some walkie-talkie radios, there are no phone lines. The CPA is floundering as it tries to administer a country it does not understand while its military patrols disgruntled civilians by shouting at them from the high turrets of their Bradley tanks.'
      • 'Trying to rebuild a country, when you are policing its civilians and fighting an escalating guerilla war, is a daunting task at best but the United States has boxed itself into an impossible position. Having justified its war on Iraq as measure that would bring liberation and Western-style democracy to Iraq, it needs Iraq to conduct elections as a fig-leaf to justify its occupation and allow it to step away from the impossible task of governing what may now have become an ungovernable country. And, the Bush Administration wants the Iraqi elections to be held before the American presidential ones. But, the Iraqi political scene contains several irresolvable contradictions.'
      • 'I was prepared for the political and military ramifications of the American occupation of Iraq. I was not prepared for the extent to which CPA policies were facilitating the American corporate buy-out of the country's infrastructure. My first clue was the initials KBR on the counter of the buffet table in the Palace mess hall: Kellogg, Brown and Root-a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp, the company once headed by Vice President Cheney which received its contract in murky bidding process endorsed by the Bush Administration. According to the Government Accounting Office's (GAO) February 1997 study, KBR claimed its operation in Bosnia would cost $191.6 million. A year later this figure had ballooned to $461.5 million and the contract has cost the taxpayer $2.2 billion over the last several years.'
      • 'The Pentagon's recent huge no-bid contract with Kellogg, Brown & Root, is classified. The terms are secret. The Bush administration says that the reason that the KBR contract is a secret is also a secret.'
      • 'Iraqi's know Bush Administration insisted that America was in imminent danger from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Having found none, the Administration has come up with the retrospective objectives of liberating the Iraq and opening it up to free market democracy.'
      • 'the United Nations/World Bank estimates that, in contrast to the $18.6 billion figure submitted to the House Appropriations Committee by the Bush Administration, Iraq reconstruction costs in 2004 do not exceed $9 billion. The Iraqi Governing Council has questioned the CPA's budget projections. Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the council, told the New York Times, "There is no transparency, and something has to be done about it. There is mismanagement right and left... A lot of American money is being wasted, I think. We are victims and the American taxpayers are victims." The council has charged the CPA with using higher-priced foreign contractors, mainly Americans, to do jobs that Iraqi businessmen could perform at less cost.'
      • 'The more I discovered about the corporate buy-out of Iraq the more upset I became. I was upset as an American-an American taxpayer happy to support social, medical, and security services. The transfer of money from the poor and middle-class tax payer into corporate coffers is a scandalous affront to the American sense of fairness. Corporations are supposed to pay taxes for the common good, not take collect them for their own private use. Let us not fool ourselves about 'military spending.' Functions such supplying food and fuel and munitions, building barracks and other facilities, and conducting logistical operations in Iraq have been privatized. The young foot-soldiers who do the actual shooting and killing may be equipped with more reliable flak-jackets out of the $66 billion dollars appropriated for the military but the rest will go to the corporations that supply the military. The funds appropriated by Congress will go primarily to large American corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton connected to, or should I say 'imbedded in,' the Bush administration.'
      • 'To top it off, the corporate take-over of Iraq excludes most Iraqis. The bidding process favors Americans and Europeans over Iraqis and, while small enterprises are protected by the new law which mandates 51% Iraqi ownership, large ones need only be 30% Iraqi. It would be interesting to know how many Iraqi exiles with dual citizenship will be represented as Iraqis in these figures and how long it would be before the big fish eat the smaller ones.'
      • 'The United States has its arms around a tar-baby. It cannot stay-without exacerbating the conditions, increasing the resistance-and it cannot leave without plunging the country into the chaotic violence characteristic of a failed state. While I believe the United States can endorse small civil institutions in Iraq such as those that advocate the national rights of women, improve health and education, and encourage local groups to participate in municipal efforts to improve daily existence it cannot allow the emergence of a true democracy at the national level. To be fair to the Iraqis and ourselves, I believe we must cut a deal with the international community to rescue us from this situation. If we taxed the corporations instead of letting them tax us, we could pay the United Nations for the costs of reconstruction, pay them for peace-keeping, and pay them to run elections. Then we can get out of Iraq.'
    • Thousands take to Iraqi streets to protest "terrorism"
  • Chicago
    • Ikea drops city, eyes suburbs.
      • 'An Ikea executive said the retailer needs to develop a second store in the Chicago area by 2005 in order to ease overcrowding at its Schaumburg store. A Roosevelt Road store wouldn't be ready until 2007.'
      • Too bad. It would have livened up Roosevelt & Damen/Stevenson area. Hopefully they'll build the new Ikea store in a closer suburb.
  • Elections
    • Hil puts chill on Al's party plans
      • It's funny that the title and the start of this article tries to make a soap opera out of the Gore-Clinton tension but then it winds down with Clinton calmly doing what needs to be done.
      • ' "Hillary Clinton is focused on reclaiming the White House in '04," said Democratic operative Howard Wolfson, who ran her Senate campaign. "And a big fight with Al Gore is a distraction from that effort." '
      • "I think we are in the middle of a primary campaign, and I want to see who emerges as the candidate. And I will support whoever that nominee is." -Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
    • Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate in Durham, NH. I'm dumping this here so I can easily reference it later.
  • Fun
    • O Come All Ye Faithful [video]. A funny little Christmas commercial for a sex toys shop.
    • Now You Can Call Him Sir Mick Jagger. Rock on, my good knight.
    • The Create A Snowman Gallery [activity]. Drag and drop to make a snowman.
    • The Pussification of the Star Wars Jedi
      • This is funny stuff even though I think that du Toit is a pig.
      • 'While we're on a rant :-), are Jedis the worst-equipped fighters in the universe or what? They have a single, close-range weapon with no backup. What's worse, they don't even put a tether on the stupid thing. Have you noticed how many Stars Wars fight scenes revolve around the idiot Jedi dropping his light saber and becoming defenseless? Yoda needs to amend the Jedi training to include a course in weapons retention.'
  • Science
  • Tech
    • Spoke.com. I've known about Friendster.com for a while, but it seems that the concept is catching on in business. Spoke (and other companies like it) are business equivalents of Friendster. Spoke is an ASP that uses "degrees of separation" to do marketing/networking.
    • Top 20 Definitions of Blogging. Very nice. I like most of them. I agree with #13, "A way to think and write in short paragraphs instead of a long essay (which no one has time to read anyway)", but I also write long paragraphs anyway.
    • Wait Until Next Year to Buy That Flat Panel TV
      • Timing is everything. Just today my friend just emailed pictures of this beautiful plasma TV he just finished setting up in his house. I haven't the heart to email him this URL.
      • 'Global production of LCD TVs will more than double next year to between eight and 10 million sets from about four million in 2003, analyst say. That is out of a total TV market of about 150 million units. As a result, prices for 30-to-39 inch LCD TVs may tumble as much as 38 percent next year, to about $3,000 from $4,800, IDC's O'Donnell anticipates. Wargo, of the Consumer Electronics Association, sees LCD TVs in the range of 17-20 inches dropping to about $700 next year from around $1,000.'
      • 'What costs $5000 today will cost $2500 a year from now, and as reports come in that gas plasma screens loose their contrast and luster over the course of a couple years, dropping six grand on something that will be useless in three years and cost half as much next year doesn't look like the best idea.'
    • Patenting Air or Protecting Property?
      • Intellectual property rears its head again!
      • Acacia Research Corp. claims 'it owns the patents on how most audio and video is sent over the Internet.' So they're in court to get royalties from streaming companies like porn sites, universities, hotels, etc.
      • "It's like patenting air." -John H. Payne, director of educational technologies at the University of Virginia's division of continuing education.
      • ' The country "needs to revamp not just the patent system, but the entire system of intellectual property law," said Andrew S. Grove, chairman of Intel Corp. "It needs to redefine it for an era that is the information age as compared to the industrial age." '
      • 'Overall, the number of patents has nearly doubled since 1990, fueled in large measure by the high-tech boom. The patent office now has a backlog of 450,000 applications pending for all types of inventions; software and Internet-related patents account for more than 15 percent of all patents granted.'
      • '[R. Jordan Greenhall, chief executive of streaming media firm DivXNetworks Inc.] argues that the cost of software innovation is lower than in other industries and noted that extensive software invention occurred well before the courts first allowed software patents. If nothing else, Greenhall said, 20-year patents on software, which quickly becomes obsolete, are "asinine to the point of ludicrosity." '


2003-12-14t13:15:33Z | RE: Tech. Microsoft.
Upgraded At Last

Yesterday I upgraded my home computer from Windows Millennium Edition to Windows XP Home Edition.

  • TIME:
    • The entire process took around four hours.
    • I spent most of that upgrade time fiddling around on my laptop while the upgrade ran mostly by itself. The self reboots was a bit worrisome but I got used to them. There were a few odd times when the upgrade process couldn't find the CD and I had to browse to it myself.
    • The time involved wasn't too bad considering I probably spent that much time evaluating my home system, choosing which items to back up, and then backing up from my home desktop to my work laptop.
  • DOC:
    • The upgrade/install manual was very thin: it had 15 pages of content and 8 blank pages. Since everything went smoothly, the manual was just fine.
    • The operating system help seemed much friendlier and searchable.
  • APPS:
    • So far all of the apps that I had before the upgrade seemed to work. It even ran an old DOS version of Tetris even though the clock rate of modern computers are too fast.
    • The default app for several pictures was changed to XP's "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" app but that's trivial.
    • XP doesn't recognize my printer. It's a HP PSC 750. I tried the HP install disk but it's not XP compatible so I imagine I'll have to go to HP.com to get the drivers and such. ::: Around 2 hours later: OK, the problem was not XP or HP. The problem was my USB hub. So now I can print, scan, and copy again.
    • Concerning the little "Tour Windows XP" wizard/animation thing: As an experienced user, it was a big waste of time. If I were totally new to computers, then it might have been worth it.
  • USERS: One of the best thing about XP so far is the multi-user capabilities.
    • There are several of us (myself, wife, and kindergartner) who use the home desktop. Now I don't have to hear complaints from my wife about how I've tweaked the system since we have separate My Documents, Desktops, Favorites, etc. I have to finish distributing our old content (in C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator) into the appropriate users under in C:\Documents and Settings\UserX, and C:\WINDOWS\All Users.
    • I snickered as I took away Connie's administrative powers. However she's not the dangerous one: two year old York is much more dangerous because he sneaks onto the computer and he'll do stuff like turn off the computer instead of shutting it down.
  • STABILITY: Solid so far. I look forward to having the stability of Windows NT technology on the desktop as well as my laptop.
    • XP doesn't look much different from previous versions of Windows since I did stuff like going to System Properties in the Control Panel, Advanced tab, Performance Settings, and adjusted it for best performance.
    • As far as functionality and ease of the user interface, it has a few oddities and some improvements.
      • The sorting in is odd. EG:
        • On 2000 I have files in this order: gh.bmp, gh.ico, gh060v.gif.
        • But in XP the ordering is different: gh060v.giv, gh.bmp, gh.ico.
        • Basically it seems that 2000 sorts by file name then extension, whereas XP sorts by file name and extension. That's fine but it will take a bit of getting used to.
      • The tree in Windows Explorer has one goofy quirk. Before if a folder had sub-folders, you could click on the +/- icon to expand/collapse it, but clicking on the folder's name would show the content in the right pane and not expand/collapse. Everything's the same in XP except that clicking on the folder's name now expands the tree but does not collapse it. I find it annoying.
      • I like how you can choose which attributes can show in detailed view and how more attributes are available. I've lost the little feature which gives a count of the objects in the current folder in Window Explorer.
    • Internet worked just fine. I have a little dialog that comes up at boot up but I'll ignore it until I figure out how to turn that off.
    • LAN seems fine.
  • BOOT UP: This morning I booted up the desktop and the laptop at the same time. XP booted in the time it took to take a sip, while my laptop (which has Windows 2000 Server), took 210 seconds longer to boot up! Too bad I didn't document how long it took to boot the desktop before the upgrade.
  • LAST WORD: I've worked with Windows NT and 2000 over the years so many of the XP features don't seem like a big deal to me. For home users however, this is the best Windows upgrade since Windows 95 (DOS was good, Win 3 sucked, Win 95 was good, Win 98 sucked, Win ME sucked the most). Except for a hardware problem with my USB hub, the upgrade process was painless and worthwhile.

2003-12-16t03:09:11Z | RE: Politics. Philosophy. Spirituality.
Burning Churches And Saddam Hussein

Yesterday, after installing Windows XP, I packed up the two kids and hurried to church: this was a special mass. You see, my folks' church, St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church, had a fire last winter. Luckily they stopped the fire before the entire church was consumed, but since then, the masses have been in the assembly hall underneath the gymnasium. Now that the repairs and restoration work have finished, yesterday's mass was the first one in the church itself since the fire. I knew that this was a special event after such a difficult and bonding year for my folks' church.

As I drove there I turned on the radio and listened to NPR. There was a question-and-answer meeting going on between the press and a military officer. They had captured someone big and they didn't say who it was for several minutes. As the story unfolded, as they talked about finding the high level target in a hole in the ground, I was wondering who they caught. It sounded like someone big, either Saddam Hussein or, better yet, Osama bin Laden. I tried to catch any  town names or other clues. I thought perhaps they weren't going to release the name of who they caught until they got more confirmation. I thought perhaps I wouldn't find out who they caught before I got to the church. Then, finally, just before I had to park, I found out that it was Saddam Hussein.

So I went to church giddy for two reasons: the reopening of the church and the news of Saddam's capture.

The church was packed. It has never been that full in the 25 years that I've been associated with that parish. The rear of the church (the narthex according to the little booklets they had made for the reopening) was full of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder. The mass was officiated by half a dozen priests including the Cardinal and the Pastor. The church will be 100 years old next year but it has never looked so fresh and new. The mass was long and the multiple speakers after the mass (giving acknowledgements and bits of history) made the whole thing seem even longer. The kids were getting hungry and antsy. Finally it ended and everyone went to the school cafeteria (where I ate from 4th grade through 8th grade). There was a festive air and lots of food for everybody. There is certainly an amazing feeling of continuity in a church. There are so many faces: some old and familiar, some young and new.

During most of this I kept my thoughts in the moment and just experienced it without too much interpretation. But now and then my thoughts would drift to the capture of Saddam Hussein. The church reopening and the capture of Saddam Hussein are two events that are unavoidably linked in my memory.

It was certainly very good news that such a heinous villain has finally been captured. I expect that there will still be violence in Iraq but that the capture will help bring peace to Iraq in the long run. It's funny that a few days ago I postulated over how the capture of Hussein would be handled, and then suddenly it became a reality. The options are an Iraqi court, an international court, or a US court. The latter is a definite no. I think a joint Iraq and international court would be the best thing. It will be a big case with decades of material to cover.

It's good that they caught Hussein but it still has nothing to do with 9/11. However many people won't see that. All they'll see is that we're fighting a war and terrorists in Iraq and that capturing Hussein is good for that cause. People will overlook that while we should be fighting terrorism, invading Iraq was not necessary for that goal. People will see that it's good to be free of an evil, brutal dictator, and a it's good to have Iraq as a budding democracy, but they will overlook that we went in unilaterally, inefficiently, and lost much cooperation with our allies. People will see the victories, but forget the unnecessary cost in money, lives, and goodwill. People will forget lies of the administration, the diplomatic catastrophes, the war profiteering, the Pandora's box of pre-emptive war.

On Sunday, the church was a phoenix reborn. The people were warm, happy, and fuzzy. There is truth to emotional experiences. When my brother died in September, I could not deny the truth of the feelings that produced my tears. When I behold my children, I cannot deny the truth of the joy I feel. When you capture a murderer, you cannot the deny the truth of the feeling of righteousness.

On Sunday, I was a witness to the power of emotion. For human beings emotion is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. Emotion is beauty, truth, art, music, myth, and literature. Emotion is darkness, sadness, jealousy, anger, pride, and so much more. Emotion is the greatest way to control the masses: proof of this is found in churches, advertising, sex, and politics.

Until Sunday, I thought that there was another ability of humans that was greater than emotion: our ability to reason. It is apparent that reason is good to show that 1+1=2 therefore 2-1=1, or that simple bleeding may be stopped with pressure. However if we go not far beyond that, we reach practical limits with reasoning and the scientific method. A hypothesis is only as good as its premises and the reasoning used. But who chooses the premises and how? Who does the reasoning and how do they do it?

Clearly political decisions would be very simple if we all worked with the same premises and applied the same reasoning. But, as I've suspected for a while, we are apparently working with a self-organizing system so Complexity Theory and Chaos Theory come into play (see comp.theory.self-org-sys). This is a critical state system and anything can go at any moment. Reasoning and evidence will only take you so far: the ability to emotionally influence the masses will have much more power than whatever evidence, hypothesis, and reasoning you can come up with.

It's struggles like this that almost make one want to go to church again. This is probably the biggest problem that we Brights have. I'm guessing that eventually Brights will have to form some sort of quasi-spiritual/political entity, i.e. some sort of social structure that is emotionally, spiritually, and politically potent and satisfying as well as based upon the scientific method (evidence, reasoning, and testing). Such a "Bright+" organization/system woudl also have to be robust and flexible enough to accommodate the wide variety of people it would serve. It is illogical to deny the non-scientific aspect of living as a human being.

2003-12-17t00:07:03Z | RE: Bush Administration. Iraq War. Philippines.
Hussein Is Not Aguinaldo

Perhaps the Iraq Invasion strikes a chord with me because as a Filipino American I feel indignant about the Philippine American War.

I like this article, "Saddam's capture won't ensure end of fighting", because they mention discuss how the capture of Saddam Hussein may be put in context of the PAW (Philippine American War). The PAW happened almost immediately after the SAW (Spanish American War). The SAW is a fairly big thing in most American text books ("Remember The Maine!"), even though it only took a few months, whereas the PAW, which was much uglier and took years to resolve, hardly gets mentioned in textbooks. Some people say that this is so because both wars were sandwiched between the Civil War and World War I, but Americans like to gloss over their ugly past.

Basically Emilio Aguinaldo and the Philippines helped the Americans beat the Spaniards during the SAW, thus gaining independence from hundreds of years of Spanish occupation on 1898-06-12. But then, with the Treaty of Paris (1898-12-10), the Americans decided to be imperialist and they bought the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico from Spain for $20 million while giving Cuba independence. Aguinaldo insisted on Filipino independence hence the start of the PAW, aka the Philippine War of Independence in 1899-02-04.

The Philippine War, one of the biggest counterinsurgencies ever waged by the United States, offers some perspective on what capturing an enemy leader may - and may not - accomplish. Starting in 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo led a tenacious resistance against the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, which had occurred as a consequence of the Spanish-American War. He finally was captured on March 23, 1901, in a daring raid led by Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston, who dressed up local allies as insurrectionists and pretended to be their prisoner in order to infiltrate the rebel stronghold. The U.S. went wild with excitement, especially when Aguinaldo issued a proclamation from captivity calling on his comrades to end their struggle. Four thousand did join him in surrendering. (Could Saddam be induced to make a similar statement?)

"The armed insurrection is almost entirely suppressed," crowed Gen. Arthur MacArthur, the commander of U.S. forces in the Philippines (and father of Douglas MacArthur). But the war did not end overnight. In fact, six months later, U.S. forces suffered their worst single loss of the entire conflict: An infantry company garrisoning an isolated village on the island of Samar was surprised and massacred on Sept. 28, 1901, by insurrectionists armed with long bolo knives. More than 40 soldiers were killed in one grisly Sunday morning.

It was not until July 4, 1902 - more than a year after Aguinaldo's capture - that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the Philippine Insurrection at an end. And, even after that, scattered resistance dragged on for years.

Gen. John J. Pershing, who went on to command U.S. forces in World War I, made his reputation with his successful campaigns against Philippine Muslims known as Moros from 1907 to 1913.


Overall 'the United States needed 126,000 soldiers to subdue the Philippines. The war took the lives of 4,234 Americans and 16,000 Filipinos. As usually happens in guerrilla campaigns, the civilian population suffers the worst. As many as 200,000 civilians may have died from famine and disease.' [ref]

Filipinos killed by Americans during the first day of the PAW.

'President McKinley's Schurmann Commission (1899) recognized the determination of the Filipino people to gain their independence and recommended the establishment of the institutions for a civilian domestic government as soon as practical.' [ref]

So why didn't the Philippines gain official independence until 1946-07-04?!? 50 fucking years is too god damn long!

Obviously Aguinaldo was a Filipino hero, whereas Hussein is an Iraqi villain but the point is that Imperialism does not suit the US. The Bush administration needed to get more legal justification of invading Iraq in the first place. The Bush administration should not have invaded merely because the US has the power to do so. Ends don't justify the means. And what was the "end"? Hussein was not Al Queda. Hussein did not have any significant weapons of mass destruction.

Another point is that if Iraqis feel at all indignant about Hussein's rule and now the US occupation, then they will be itching for true freedom. One of the biggest Muslim extremist issues is the presence of the US in Muslim holy lands. In both cases the US needs to get out of there as fast as is safely possible. The Bush administration will probably want to get out of there before the press starts talking about body counts and body bags come election time in 2004-11.

You can read more about the PAW at SpanAmWar.com, BoondocksNet.com, and here.

2003-12-17t00:09:00Z | RE: Bush Administration. Movies.

  • Bush Administration
    • Cheney Energy Group Case to Get High Court Hearing. I've been watching this for a while so it's good to see it progressing. You'd think this administration has something to hide. And why are they also fighting the investigation of the lead up to 9/11 so hard too? Clinton's administration left the Bush administration the tools, the staff, and the intelligence to fight terrorism: they were told that terrorism and bin Laden specifically would probably be their main concern but Bush's administration did nothing until 9/11.
  • Movies
    • Lord Of The Rings
      • Smart soldiers decided to flee the Rings battle. Run away! Run away!
      • In England, Tolkien Gestures
        • ' "Myths are not lies," Tolkien replied, according to his biographer, Humphrey Carpenter. Materialistic progress leads only to the abyss, Tolkien argued, but the myths we tell reflect a fragment of the true light. Seeking truth in all storytelling -- the Bible, Beowulf, the annals of Middle-earth -- was Tolkien's lasting gift of fellowship to us.'
      • I finished re-reading The Return of the King last month. I'm all set to watch the movie tomorrow. A number of us will gather at 10:00 at a friend's house (because he has this awesome TV), where we'll watch the extended FOTR DVD and the extended TT DVD before seeing the movie at 19:00 Chicago time. We tried to get tickets for tonight's theater showing of the extended movies back to back followed by the midnight showing of ROTK, but they were sold out on opening day. Since then those tickets have sold for hundreds of dollars each on eBay. Lately though they've been selling for only $60 each. However I think gathering a friend's house will be much cozier and will allow us to have heated arguments over Jackson's rendition.
    • 'Peter Pan' Seems Awfully Grown Up in New Movie. I think we all knew that the Pan hints at things old and dark and wonderful to behold. A live action should work for Peter Pan but it definitely does not work for Dr. Seuss. This is part of a trend in movies that I like: doing a story straight and seriously for adults while trusting that kids will get it too. Good example: Lord of the Rings. Bad example: Star Wars.

2003-12-19t22:55:11Z | RE: Politics. Bush Administration/War. WMD. Chicago. Election. Engineering/Science. Fun. Movies. LOTR. Philosophy. Ethics. Tech.

  • Bush Admin/War
    • War profiteering
    • Saddam
      • "Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him". Lots of nice links on the capture of the villain.
      • Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive. Another conspiracy theory. This one theorizes that when Saddam Hussein was not simply captured by the US but that he was "rescued" from being held hostage by bounty hunters that were negotiating for the $25 million from the US. This makes perfect sense, EG: If he was hiding himself, then he would have groomed himself better. I wonder if Hussein's gun was even loaded. However the US may never let the evidence supporting this theory public.
      • Iraqi Minister Scolds U.N. for Inaction Regarding Hussein
        • "The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure." -Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister.
          • Where was the US during these 35 years? Weren't we funding and arming Hussein? Does the UN and the US have the job of preemptively changing regimes all over the world now?
        • "Settling scores with the United States-led coalition should not be at the cost of helping to bring stability to the Iraqi people. ... Squabbling over political differences takes a back seat to the daily struggle for security, jobs, basic freedoms and all the rights the U.N. is chartered to uphold"
          • We all agree with but the UN has to work within its framework: which includes working as a democratic process. If the Bush administration were better at diplomacy we would have gone into Iraq with greater legitimacy, more multilateral support both politically, financially, and militarily.
    • WMD
      • Bush on Phantom WMD: "What's The Difference?" [2003-12-16].
        • Ouch, ouch! Bush seems to have a hard time talking to real people (people not groomed by his administration). As I noticed in the 12-15 news conference, Bush does not do well when he strays too far from his "talking points". He must be doing this stuff not to practice for the election.
        • 'BUSH: Well you can keep asking the question, and my answer is going to be the same. Saddam was a danger, and the world is better off because we got rid of him.

          (Raised voice cracks a bit on "rid." A pause, then Bush shoots Sawyer an exasperated look as if to say "Get it?", though with a bit of a smile.)

          SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

          BUSH: So what's the difference?

          (Smile's gone.)

          SAWYER: Well --

          BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were acquire weapons [sic], he would be the danger. That's the -- that's what I'm trying to explain to you. '

      • Senators were told Iraqi weapons could hit U.S.: Nelson said claim made during classified briefing. It sure is taking forever to charge Bush with lying to Congress (or at least bending the truth).
      • [David] Kay Plans to Leave Search for Iraqi Arms Members of Survey Group He Heads Being Diverted to Fight Against Insurgents. Why? Could it be because he can't find any WMD?
    • zMisc
      • President Bush Holds Press Conference [transcript 2003-12-15]. A rare teleprompter-&-earphone-free question-and-answer session with Bush. I saw this live. He sounded very hesitant: as if he were really really reaching for thoughts. He's certainly no Tony Blair who can definitely think on his feet and sound intelligent even if you ignore his British accent. Also it was pretty clear that Bush was sticking to certain points and often repeating the same points.
        • 'Q: And the question of execution?

          THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I said I have my personal views. And this is a brutal dictator. He's a person who killed a lot of people. But my views, my personal views aren't important in this matter. What matters is the views of the Iraqi citizens. And we need to work, of course, with them to develop a system that is fair and where he will be put on trial and will be brought to justice -- the justice he didn't, by the way, afford any of his own fellow citizens. '

          • Good statement.
        • 'We had a disagreement on this issue about Saddam Hussein and his threat. I obviously felt like September the 11th changed the equation to the point where we needed to deal with emerging threats and deal with them in a way that would make America more secure. And they didn't see that, they didn't agree with that point of view. I can understand that. And we are now reaching out to them, by the way -- Jim Baker, as you know, will be going to both those two countries tomorrow, I think it is, to encourage them to work with us on debt relief, all aimed at encouraging the development of a free and peaceful Iraq. '
          • Good. Although he kept stressing the "over 60 nations involved in the reconstruction of Iraq", he also preemptively brought up France, Germany, and Europe because he and the reporters knew that that's the crux of the multilateral issue.
        • 'A free and peaceful Iraq is part of protecting America. Because I told you before, and I truly believe this, this will be a transforming event in a part of the world where hatred and violence are bred; a part of a world that breeds resentment.'
          • I agree but that was not the justification he presented to the UN, and that's why there was a strong element of "invasion" when it should have been all about "liberation".
        • 'Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, it's been nine months now, and still there is relatively little evidence of WMD in Iraq. In retrospect, if you think back over the year, would you have been better to make more of your -- of the argument that you've made in recent times, that democratization in the Middle East was the reason to go to war, rather than WMD?

          And since the CIA has been telling you that North Korea does have two or more weapons, what lesson should Kim Jong-il draw from the capture of Saddam Hussein?

          THE PRESIDENT: Very deft at weaving in two questions. Here's what I took away from September the 11th, 2001 -- that any time a President sees a gathering threat to the United States, we must deal with it. We can't pick or choose like we used to, could in the past. In the old days, oceans protected us from harm's way, and a President could stand back and say, well, maybe this gathering threat is an issue, maybe it's not. After September the 11th, that complacency, I guess may be the right word, no longer is relevant. And, therefore, I began to assess threats.

          And the threat of Saddam Hussein was a unique threat in this sense: the world recognized he was a threat for 12 years, and 17 resolutions, I think it is -- I believe it was 17 resolutions -- for the resolution counter, give me a hand here -- 17? Seventeen resolutions. And he ignored them. He just treated the U.N. as an empty debating society, as if their resolutions meant nothing. This is a person who has used chemical weapons before, which indicated to me he was a threat. He invaded his neighbors before. This is a person who was defiant, he's a deceiver, and he was a murderer in his own country. He was a threat.'

          • He was definitely a threat to his own people, but to the US? I doubt it. I think we should have worked more on hunting Al Queda, securing the homeland, and getting to the root of what's creating all the terrorists. WMD is not as big a threat as terrorists. As far as Resolution 1441, the UN had not agreed to whether Hussein was in violation of 1441, and the UN and 1441 did not specify what "severe consequences" would be.
      • Rumsfeld [animation]. Just some fun.
      • France, Germany to Help Relieve Iraq Debt. But not Russian. I'm surprised given that they were denied the ability to bid on Iraq reconstruction contracts. However this does show two things: (1) The US and Europe can heal it's relationship. (2) That Europe wants to do good too.
      • Bush Says He Could Back Gay Marriage Ban. Amendments are difficult. This could be a big issue.
      • Bush in 30 seconds. You can vote on submissions so far.
      • 9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable
        • "As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done.This was not something that had to happen." -Thomas Kean, chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.
        • ' "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," said national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on May 16, 2002. "How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility," said Kristen Breitweiser, one of four New Jersey widows who lobbied Congress and the president to appoint the commission. 
      • Albright: Bin Laden Comments Were 'Tongue-in-Cheek'. Gee Fox News: People should be free to say whatever they want in the waiting room, including discussing conspiracy theories. This is crappy reporting aimed at smearing Albright on a bizarre subconscious level.
      • Courts: Terror cases flawed: Bush can't order citizen held as enemy combatant. Ah. As I've said all along Bush just keeps bending and breaking the rules. All of that is unnecessary to fight terrorism. You don't need to lie to Congress, lie to the UN, torture prisoners, etc., etc. (Applicable cliches:Might doesn't make right. Two wrongs don't make a right.)
      • Bush presses lab nuke research
        • 'Critics of the administration's new nuclear policies say the Dec. 5 memo suggests a no-holds-barred approach to designing new weapons that is more reminiscent of a Cold War arms race -- without a competitor -- than trying to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.'
        • Kill, Kill, Kill! Sarcasm: Don't you feel safer already?. You'd think we were preparing for an alien invasion or something.
        • Official links: Brooks Memo [2003-12-05]. CRS Report for Congress.
        • On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with knowledge and research, but I would have prefered that this money were spen on, say, space exploration. Which reminds me that Bush missed a prime opportunity to make announcements about boosts in our air and space programs on the centennial anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight on the 17th.
      • White House Web Scrubbing: Offending Comments on Iraq Disappear From Site
        • Talk about revisionist historians! This sort of stuff should be illegal. They are modifying historical documents for political purposes. The integrity of historical records is important. Can we now trust our records anymore? Doesn't this sound like Big Brother?
        • 'White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which turned out to be a gross understatement of the tens of billions of dollars the government now expects to spend.

          Recently, however, the government has purged the offending comments by Natsios from the agency's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished.

          This is not the first time the administration has done some creative editing of government Web sites. After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.'

      • Dubious Link Between Atta and Saddam: A document tying the Iraqi leader with the 9/11 terrorist is probably fake.
  • Chicago
  • Election
    • Dean
    • Clark
      • Clark: Bush lacks will to find bin Laden Democrat says he would have had the al Qaeda chief by now
        • "capturing Saddam Hussein doesn't change the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. ... If I'd been president, I would have had Osama bin Laden by this time. ... I would have followed through on the original sentiment that the president gave us -- Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. ... Instead, he executed a bait-and-switch. He took the priority off Osama bin Laden. He shifted the spotlight onto Saddam Hussein." -Clark
        • "I'll put my 34 years of defending the United States of America, and the results that I and my teammates in the United States armed forces achieved, against his three years of failed policies any day" -Clark
        • "We've got a president who will go halfway around the world for a photo opportunity but won't go halfway across town for a funeral for an American serviceman. ... I've been to those funerals. I've comforted families. ... I don't think you can make good policy at the top if you don't understand the impact at the bottom of your organization." -Clark
        • ' He said the United States should put "intense political pressure" on Pakistan to find bin Laden and move "substantial" U.S. special operations forces and intelligence personnel from Iraq into Afghanistan. To free up those assets, Clark said the United States should end its "fruitless" hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and turn the task over to the international community. "I could never understand why we insisted on doing this anyway, when the international community was fully willing to participate and do it," he said. "The experienced U.N. inspectors, who've done it before ... were champing at the bit, waiting to go there. We kept them out."
    • zMisc
  • Engineering/Science
    • Volvo teams up to build what women want. Yes, it's true, there are female engineers.
    • Sony's dancing robots [video], World's First Running Humanoid Robot, and QRIO.
      • 2 foot tall robots doing some pretty fancy dancing.
      • Imagine a future with armed and armored emotionless robots doing law enforcement or military missions. Imagine such robots hunting humans who have irremovable ID (like DNA) that is tracked by satellite.
      • Imagine robotic servants doing housework, helping the handicapped, moving furniture.
      • I wonder how the Japan project to create robots equivalent to a 5 year old are coming along?
    • Private plane breaks sound speed. First time by a non-government organization. And they did it on the centennial of the Wright brothers' first flight on the 17th.
  • Fun
  • Movies
  • Philosophy
    • Ethical Philosophy Selector. I love these links on ethics. This test and the results are a little loose but just for fun, here are the results of my test. Once again, a scary 100% score.
      • Aristotle (100%)
      • Ayn Rand (98%)
      • John Stuart Mill (92%)
      • Aquinas (90%)
      • Plato (78%)
      • Jeremy Bentham (75%)
      • Epicureans (74%)
      • Jean-Paul Sartre (74%)
      • St. Augustine (58%)
      •  David Hume (55%)
      • Kant (53%)
      • Spinoza (47%)
      • Stoics (46%)
      • Prescriptivism (42%)
      • Ockham (40%)
      • Nietzsche (30%)
      • Cynics (26%)
      • Thomas Hobbes (26%)
      • Nel Noddings (15%)
  • Tech
    • Biculturalism.
      • Inspired by the book The Art of Unix Programming (online version)
      • 'There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers. This is, of course, a major simplification, but really, that's the big difference: are we programming for programmers or end users? Everything else is commentary.'
      • This stuff is frighteningly more important than we want to admit.
    • WhatACrappyPresent.com. Intellectual Property rears its head again! Pretty funny too.
    • On Search, The Series. Saving this for reference. Series of articles on making full text searches.
    • Metadazzle overfizzle. Hehe. Blogs have too much metadata. Reminds me of that Saturday Night Live spoof of CNN where they kept placing more and more metadata on screen until the reporter was left talking from some tiny corner of the screen.

2003-12-22t21:34:56Z | RE: Bush Administration/War. Hussein Capture Conspiracy. Elections. Engineering/Science. LOTR. Politics.

  • Bush Administration/War
    • Hussein Capture Conspiracy
    • zMisc
      • "Iraq Has Made us Safer From Terrorism My Ass" by Doug Basham.
        • I had no idea that there were Left-wing versions of Rush Limbaugh on the radio! It's sort of fun.
        • 'This country, George W. Bush's America, is being consumed by the same type and magnitude of ignorance being exhibited by a leadership that is the very personification and glorification of ignorance. '
      • A new era of colonialism?
        • ' "Given the location and circumstances of his capture, it makes clear that Saddam was not managing the insurgency and that he had very little control or influence," noted Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic leader on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "This is significant and disturbing because it means the insurgents are not fighting for Saddam; they are fighting against the United States," he added. '
        • 'Critics argue that what is being seen in Iraq is the first battle of a modern era of "colonialism" where resource-rich countries would be invaded and occupied by great powers with an eye on those resources. The difference with the earlier era of colonialism - which started 500 years ago via European gun boats and missionaries - is that today the modern communication media plays a great role as part of the imperialist war machine, both as a weapon in its armoury and as a missionary for spreading the American gospel of "freedom and democracy". Rather than the American high-tech weaponry, it's the international clout of their media, especially the news media, which has allowed President Bush to promote the slogan that the war in Iraq is about bringing freedom and justice to the Iraqi people.'
  • Elections
    • Clark
      • Better not mess with Clark. Live on CSPAN! If someone criticizes his patriotism or military record, then Clark said: "I'll beat the shit out of them.".
    • Dean
      • "Out of the Mainstream? Hardly" by Howard Dean.
        • 'The reasons I opposed the war in Iraq are clear. In the fall of 2002, Saddam Hussein did not pose an imminent threat to America. The administration had not (and still has not) presented clear evidence that Hussein was on the verge of attacking his neighbors or threatening the United States or the Middle East with weapons of mass destruction or supporting al Qaeda. The administration's failures to mobilize allies and plan effectively for the war's aftermath suggested difficulties ahead.'
        • 'A critical presidential campaign is now underway. Americans face a choice between two very different views of our role in the world. My agenda returns security policy to its fundamental course: protecting Americans and advancing our values and interests -- democracy, freedom, opportunity and peace -- through effective partnerships and global leadership, as well as military strength. The current administration strays wildly from this course and from the time-honored manner of pursuing it. In the end, I believe it will be clear who is in the mainstream and who is swimming against the tide of history.'
  • Engineering/Science
    • A Sightseer's Guide to Engineering. Use this link if you wanted to travel around the US and see some feats of engineering. I've only visited 4 of the 6 sites they list for Illinois.
    • Lost? Hiding? Your Cellphone Is Keeping Tabs
      • 'Still, personal location devices are beginning to catch on, largely because cellular phones are increasingly coming with a built-in tether. A federal mandate that wireless carriers be able to locate callers who dial 911 automatically by late 2005 means that millions of phones already keep track of their owners' whereabouts. Analysts predict that as many as 42 million Americans will be using some form of "location-aware" technology in 2005.'
      • I think it would be nice to keep track of kids and teenagers via cell phones and GPS. One of my concerns would be that a teenager might be tempted to leave his or her cell phone someplace so he or she can go someplace in secret. Of course they can do that already.
      • Related links: uLocate.com and WherifyWireless.com.
    • Police call for remote button to stop cars. O woe, we Americans are so technologically behind! I knew the Brits had everything video taped but I didn't know that they were electronically controlling speed limits. And now they want to end car chases? What will Big British Brother think of next?
  • LOTR
  • Politics
    • Texas housewife busted for hawking erotic toys. After all, we are currently under orange alert! It's interesting that they have "Passion Parties", just like they have Tupperware or Mary Kay parties. This national hyper-Right Wing trend is getting out of hand.
    • Sanctions, Isolation Wore Down Gaddafi: Two Decades of Sanctions, Isolation Wore Down
      • 'For all the Bush administration's focus on deadly arms, however, the United States may have missed an opportunity to act earlier because of its preoccupation with Afghanistan and then Iraq, said U.S. officials familiar with earlier overtures. "Within months after September 11th, we had the Libyans, the Syrians and the Iranians all coming to us saying, 'What can we do [to better relations]?' We didn't really engage any of them, because we decided to do Iraq. We really squandered two years of capital that will make it harder to apply this model to the hard cases like Iran and Syria," said Flynt Leverett, a former Bush administration National Security Council staff member now at the Brookings Institution. '
      • ' "It's not a dramatic turnaround. It's part of a trend that has been underway for 10 years -- of reforms and trying to reintegrate with Europe, mainly for business reasons," said Joseph Cirincione, an arms specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Gaddafi has turned away from radical Arab nationalism of the 1970s and 1980s toward programs geared toward economic development that require Western investment and markets, which means coming into line with international norms," he added. Ironically, Libya may not have had large quantities of weapons of mass destruction by the time the deal was struck with the United States and Britain. "Libya's program did not have a sophisticated enough infrastructure for a very viable program, and they haven't had it for years," Takeyh said. '
      • But of course the Conservatives try to take credit for this and will say that Bush's pre-emptive war policy won over Libya.

2003-12-23t23:10:35Z | RE: Bush Administration/War. Fun. Movies. LOTR. Politics. Tech.

  • Bush Administration/War
    • France, stung by Libyan WMD deal, admits US policies showing results
      • As someone who's been against Bush since the Iraq invasion, I have this to say: HOLY SHIT!
      • 'The announcements last Friday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush that Libya had, after nine months of secret negotiations, agreed to renounce its quest for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons caught the French government short. "These talks were secret, as the three countries involved have said, and France, along with everybody else, was not informed," President Jacques Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said.'
      • ' Another newspaper, France Soir, said that "it has to be recognised that the Americans ... whose sad record of supporting tyrants we know, have nonetheless contributed to making sure that Hitlerism, Stalinism and fundamentalism don't last." '
      • But on the other hand, the same site also has this article: "Blix says Libyan example shows that Iraq could have been contained"
        • "Pressure, including military pressure, is important but does not necessarily mean that one should go to war" -Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
    • BushTax.com. "The Bush Tax: How Much Is It Costing You?"
    • SUVs [may] face new rules on mileage. Gasp! Bush might do something good for the environment for a change.
  • Fun
    • Freedom Tower to rise 1,776 feet from ashes. 70 stories tall. With the antenna it's over 2000 feet. The US will once more be home to the world's tallest building. I also like how it will have wind turbines on top to provide 20% of its own power.
      artist's conception of new tallest building
    • HunkinsExperiments.com. Neato! Tons of little comic strips giving little experiments or fun things to do. Good for grade schoolers and up.
    • ZIP Code Visualizer by Ben Fry [applet]. This is so cool! Click on the map of the US, and start typing in a zip code. It will highlight the zip codes covered until you get to the full zip code.
  • Movies
    • IRobotNow.com. I almost forgot that I saw the trailer for this in the theater. I have dozens of Isaac Asimov books at home so I think that it's awesome that they're doing more Asimov movies. Pretty neat that they're doing promo material for the NS-5 as if it were a Mac.
      robot of I Robot movie
    • LOTR
      • Silly me! I almost forgot to give my review of The Return of the King (ROTK)! It was awesome. The best of the trilogy.
      • I've seen it twice so far.
        • I saw the movie on Wednesday at 7:45 pm on 2003-12-17, with my co-workers. We've seen all the LOTR movies on opening day. As I mentioned before we gathered at 10 am so we could watch the extended DVDs of the first two movies on a big screen TV.
          Ticket stub to the opening of LOTR: ROTK
        • I saw the movie again on Saturday at 3:30 pm on 2003-12-20, with my wife and two kids. The kids were very good. They deserved to see it because they've watched the DVDs dozens of times. We sat in the front most row because it is not wise to wait in line for a long period of time with a 2 year old and a 5 year old. When Frodo was in the orc tower and he thought they had taken The Ring, York cried out "Where's The Ring? Where is it?" several times. This got a good laugh for several rows around us.
      • People who are not fans of the book may find it too long (esp. the ending), but fans of the book will love it. The movie is still much shorter than the book. Don't forget that the book is not a mere novel: it is an epic novel. It's supposed to be long. This was not just "this month's adventure", it was The Adventure, the end of an Age. This is the book that started modern fantasy.
      • The movie included much more of the book than I was expecting so I was pleasantly surprised.
        • The instant I saw the boat in the beginning I knew they were doing Gollum's origin! I was so tickled!
        • In the movie Elrond and Aragorn paraphrase what Aragorn's mom told him in the appendices: that she gives hope to the Dúnedain (men), but keeps none for herself.
      • I'm fine with what they left out because there are time constraints in a movie (200 minutes is pretty long). Plus I'm certain that much of it will be shown in the extended DVD since it's supposed to be 55 minutes longer.
        • I also saw at the bookstore that they had costuming for the Mouth of Sauron so I look forward to that parley at the Black Gate. That will give more meaning to Aragorn's charging forward and saying "For Frodo!".
        • Saruman will be in the DVD too. They really should have told Christopher Lee sooner though.
      • I've always appreciated Peter Jackson's editing and rehashing while sticking true to the spirit of the book. He has condensed characters or moved lines around.
        • It was fine that only Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas took the south road as opposed to a larger party.
        • I loved the scouring of the Shire but it worked fine to cut it out, just like Tom Bombadil was totally removed from Fellowship of the Ring (FOTR).
      • My gripes are mostly with The Two Towers (TTT).
        • Faramir was already screwed by hid dad, why did PJ also weaken his quality by not having him see more immediately that he should have released Frodo?
        • I thought that Jackson allowed the Nazgul to see Frodo in TTT in lieu of Sauron seeing Pippin through the palantír, but then Jackson had the palantír in ROTK, so now I don't think it was necessary.
        • The part where Aragorn falls in the river was not in the book at all and not necessary.
  • Politics
    • Schwarzenegger declares fiscal emergency. Sort of like fiscal martial law eh? Now imagine if Bush did this. This might be fun to watch.
    • China acts to protect private property
      • 'China is changing its constitution to protect private property rights for the first time since the 1949 Communist revolution — a key step in making capitalism its economy's driving force.'
      • Wow. China has always had good merchants, and they were already on a steep growth before this. They're doing the right things for economic growth.
    • UN should fight for rights, says Berlusconi.
      • 'The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, believes the United Nations should intervene militarily wherever dictatorships abuse human rights.'
        • I've never been against liberating Iraq or interventions: what I've been against was doing it unilaterally, undemocratically, outside of the rule of law.
      • 'A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid." '
        • Hmm.
  • Tech
    • A fragment of a world full of metadata.... A response to the Metadazzle overfizzle post. There is the distinction though that the meta data on a letter has been worked over for decades, whereas the metadata in blogs is very new. Thus letters have refined metadata whereas blogs have some crap that needs to be worked out.
    • Microsoft's "VB Problem": The Forgotten 3 Million
      • ' It's not that C# is more widely used than VB. VB is still the most widely used programming language. The issue is that after an extremely slow start, use of C# has accelerated. Microsoft wants to capitalize on that momentum. In high-tech PR, as in politics, the spin is based on the big M.O.—where you're headed is perceived as more important than where you are, or where you'll end up. '
      • ' Microsoft might still be struggling to figure out what features will go in VB, and which in C#. It's a difficult problem. More of the functionality underlying the development tool has moved into the Framework. Plus, .NET and the Framework are fundamentally aimed at enterprise-level developers creating large, distributed applications, targeting J2EE-based application servers in a battle for the data center. That's rarefied territory. Remember, only 10% of Java programmers have a good command of J2EE, and Java has been in use for far longer than .NET. There is a fundamental conflict: If .NET targets a smaller group of highly skilled developers, how do you build VB to reach the majority of programmers that do not do that type of work? '
      • The Microsoft marketing spiel of "write .NET in any language you prefer" is essentially a lie. They can't give documentation, examples, articles, etc. in all the different .NET languages for the wide range of situations. I foresee two possibilities.
        • They will slowly kill all the other .NET languages (including VB.NET), and leave us with just C#. That way the forgotten 3 million VB programmers can influence the c-derivative crowd and make them realize how nice things like "edit and continue" are.
        • They will revert VB.NET as their flagship high-level language (for RAD of small to medium apps) and have C# as their flagship low-level language (for large and enterprise apps). That way the c-derivative crowd can ignore the VB programmers and their crazy ideas like "edit and continue".
    • Norwegian DVD Cracker's Acquittal Upheld.
      • Intellectual property rears its head again.
      • Hackers everywhere rejoice! 20 year old Jon Lech Johansen, aka "DVD Jon", has escaped from the clutches of the movie industry.
      • 'Judge Wenche Skjeggestad ruled that Johansen could freely copy DVDs he bought, adding he didn't violate the Nordic country's laws protecting intellectual property.'
    • MySQL Quashes Defects in Database Release.
      • 'Defined as the number of defects found per thousand lines of code, MySQL's defect density registered as 0.09 defects per thousand lines of source code. Through its analysis, Reasoning concluded that the commercial average defect density—covering 200 recent projects and totaling 35 million lines of commercial code—came to 0.57 defects per thousand lines of code.'
      • That makes it 6 times better! And it's open source!
    • Microsoft asks Linux users, "How can we get your business?'. O this gets a rise out of the Linux community.

2003-12-28t05:14:31Z | RE: Bush Administration/War. Election 2004. Fun. Green. Politics. Sex.

  • Bush Administration/War
    • It's greed, not ideology, that rules the White House
      • ' In the days leading up to Baker's drop-the-debt tour, there was virtual consensus that the former US secretary of state had been sabotaged by deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, whose move to shut out "non-coalition" partners from reconstruction contracts in Iraq of $18.6bn seemed designed to make Baker look a hypocrite. Only now it turns out that Wolfowitz may not have been undermining Baker, but rather acting as his enforcer. He showed up with a big stick to point out "the threat of economic exclusion from Iraq's potential $500bn reconstruction" just as Baker was about to speak softly. '
      • ' Seen through this lens, the seemingly erratic behaviour coming out of Washington starts to make a lot more sense. Sure, Wolfowitz's contract-hogging openly flouts free-market principles of competition. But it does have a direct benefit for the firms closest to the administration. Not only are they buying a debt-free Iraq, but they won't have to compete with their corporate rivals in France and Germany. The entire reconstruction project defies more neo-con tenets, sending this year's US deficit to a cartoonish $500bn, with plenty handed out in no-bid contracts, creating the kind of monopoly that allowed Halliburton to overcharge by an estimated $61m for importing gasoline into Iraq. Those looking for ideology in the White House should consider this: for the men who rule our world, rules are for other people. The powerful feed ideology to the masses like fast food while they dine on that most rarefied delicacy: impunity. '
    • White House Faulted on Uranium Claim: Intelligence Warnings Disregarded, President's Advisory Board Says
      • But you know what? He can lie, mislead, etc. but it won't make a difference because when you instill such fear in people, little things like ethics don't matter and the ends will justify the means. I knew this was the direction we were headed within a week of 9/11. On the day of 9/11, everyone was running around like witless chickens and while I kept on working. Just a few days after 9/11 one of my friends was seriously thinking that nukes was a valid option. I could tell that reason was being abandoned for emotions.
  • Election 2004
    • Clark
      • Clark fires a volley against Bush
        • "I don't see why the media and the press can't hold the administration accountable for telling the truth" -Clark
        • "In the Diane Sawyer interview, he said, 'It didn't make any difference.' Well, it makes a whole lot of difference." -Clark
        • "I think his conduct in office, his misleading of America, is not only fair game for the election, but it's essential for the election. I just don't see how the American people won't hold him accountable." -Clark
        • In the age of Enron, Exxon, closed door Energy task forces, Mad Cow disease, WMD, 9/11 investigations, Halliburton, SCO suing Linux, Catholic coverups, power outages, space shuttle crashes, unexplained CIA leaks, etc., I think accountability and trust is amongst our our most important issues.
      • Gen. Wesley Clark Credits Clinton for Ghadafy Breakthrough
        • 'In a slap at Bush, Clark said, it "shows that you don't need to use force to get your way in world affairs," adding that Prime Minister Tony Blair deserved credit for the Ghahafi breakthrough as well.

          The retired general added new details to his charge that President Bush was responsible for leaving America vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks, saying that President Clinton tried to warn Bush about Osama bin Laden but Bush wouldn't listen.

          "He wasn't paying attention," Clark complained. "He didn't do his job as commander in chief."

          The former NATO commander said that Bush deserves to be "fired" for not doing more to prevent 9/11. '

        • Yes! Clinton was the first President to have a modern anti-terrorism program. Clinton's administration gave Bush's administration all of this stuff and told them that this would be his largest problem but Bush did nothing until 9/11. Clark would be the candidate for bringing this issue to the fore front.
    • zMisc
  • Fun
    • Lenny Bruce granted posthumous pardon.
      • 'Comedian Lenny Bruce was granted a posthumous pardon by Gov. George Pataki Tuesday for a nearly 40-year-old obscenity conviction prompted by a foul-mouthed political commentary.'
      • About fucking time! Let's hear it for the First Amendment!
  • Green
    • US court blocks changes in Clean Air Act
      • 'A US appeals court has blocked a Bush administration proposal to alter the Clean Air Act to allow utilities, refineries and others to upgrade their facilities without meeting pollution standards. ... The older facilities were grandfathered in by the 1977 Clean Air Act, under the presumption that they would be taken off line as they became obsolete. '
      • Good news for the environment! It's so nice to see checks and balances at work. But if the Republicans have an overwhelming win in 2004, will things be balanced?
  • Politics
    • 'Please don't sleep with Israelis'
      • 'An Israeli company has required thousands of Chinese workers to sign a contract promising not to have sex with Israelis or try to convert them, a police spokesman said today.'
      • 'About 260,000 foreigners work in Israel, having replaced Palestinian labourers during three years of fighting.'
      • 'Israeli advocates of foreign workers - who come also from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania - say they are held by employers in nearly slave-like conditions, and their bosses frequently take their passports and refuse to pay them.'
      • WTF? This is one of the more insulting things I've read about. No wonder they don't get along with their neighbors! They sound like domineering, racist xenophobes who don't believe in personal rights. America uses a lot of foreign workers (mostly Mexicans and such) but we don't stop them from having sex or restrict their freedom of religion or speech.
    • More U.S. women crack glass ceiling
      • 'For the first time since tracking began 20 years ago, U.S. women outnumber men in higher paying, white collar managerial and professional occupations.'
      • Good news. But of course for some of my misogynistic friends, this will drive them to more "manly" views.
    • USDA refused to release mad cow records
      • 'Although the United States Department of Agriculture insisted the U.S. beef supply is safe Tuesday after announcing the first documented case of mad cow disease in the United States, the agency for six months repeatedly refused to release its tests for mad cow to United Press International.'
      • 'Despite this and a 30-day limit under the Freedom of Information Act on responding to such a request, the USDA never sent any corresponding documents. The agency's FOI office also did not return several calls from UPI placed over a series of months.'
      • ' [USDA Secretary Ann M.] Veneman said the Washington case "does not pose any kind of significant risk to the human food chain." Friedlander called that assessment, aptly enough, "B.S." Referring to the USDA's failure to provide their testing documentation to UPI, he said, "The government doesn't have records to substantiate their testing so how do they know whether this is an isolated case." The agency also cannot provide any assurance that this animal did not get processed for human consumption, he said. '
  • Sex
    • According to the SDM (Standard Days Method) women who have menstrual cycles between 26-32 days may be considered to be potentially fertile only on days 8-19. SDM has a pregnancy rate of 95.2% just like spermicides, condoms, and diaphragms. The Pill is better with a rate of 99.7%.
  • zMisc
Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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