Friday, July 29, 2005

[politics] How does it feel to be a Thought Criminal?

Courtesy of Sivacracy.net, the latest idiocy suggested by Tom Friedman: an official blacklist of ideas, compiled by the US government, to be published quarterly. This report would identify 3 groups: "hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers". Hatemongers: people who incite hatred and violence against others; excuse makers: those who would seek to excuse the words of the first group and/or the actions of the people inspired by the first group; truth tellers: Islamic writers who take their fellow Moslems to task for supporting groups 1 and 2. See, here's where this bullshit falls apart. First off, Friedman wants the first group to include anyone who incites hatred: radical imams, far-Right nationalist Jews, whoever. Okay... but in the second group, Friedman would include anyone who offers forth any kind of analysis of the first group:
We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."
Who maintains that wall? Who defines it? Does this include scholars seeking to understand the motivation of terrorists? Or are their actions so clear-cut in Freidman's mind that no such study is needed? His words suggest the latter, as the next paragraph itself reads:
There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder.
You see, there is a political justification for such acts. I'm not saying that I support that justification, but there it is. It exists. When we inflict collateral damage upon civilian populations in pursuit of our own foreign policy, we are often labeled as 'murderers' by outside observers. Does this mean that we are to be subjected to the same standard Friedman puts forth? Of course not. How do we know this? Friedman's definition of the third category, the 'truth tellers':
Finally, we also need to shine a bright light on the "truth tellers." Every week some courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst(protected static: emphasis mine). The truth tellers' words also need to be disseminated globally.
So, while the first and second categories are apparently open to anyone, the third group can only consist of Muslims and/or Arabs. And not just any old Muslims or Arabs: only Muslims who criticise... who? Muslim fundamentalist extremists? Corrupt Arab states? Sure. How about those who call into question US, European or Israeli policies? Are they to be classified as possible 'truth tellers'? No, they are 'excuse makers', remember? So, remember this: if you've ever thought that our actions abroad have contributed in any way to the actions our enemies take against us, you belong to that middle group in Freidman's eyes. You are an 'excuse maker', and, in his words, 'one notch less despicable' than suicide bombers. Got that? You've committed a Thought Crime. And the punchline: this list should be maintained in a 'nondiscriminatory way' by our government. An enemies list, compiled as part of government policy, based not on actions, but words. Thoughts. Ideas. Political opponents. Dissidents. In a list maintained by the government. Is this sounding familiar to anyone at all? Anyone? Read the critique published by FAIR that the title of this piece links to - it lays it out much more chillingly than I can manage (and exposes more of Freidman's double standard to boot - for instance, his advocacy in favor of NATO committing war crimes as a matter of policy during the Serbian wars). And Mr. Freidman, read your own piece for the ironies contained within: Words do matter. So does suppressing them.

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[random] Site notes...

Changed the RSS feed back from short (1st paragraph or 255 characters, whichever is shorter) to long (full posts). If there's anyone out there who's actually reading my feed, I'd appreciate your thoughts on partial vs. full posts feed...

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[geek][random] Musing on site visitors...

While my hit counter is pretty chimp simple, I do pick up some interesting tidbits every now and then. For instance, at the height of the blogstorm over Microsoft's backing away from gay rights in the state legislature, I was visited repeatedly by IP addresses from MSFT's PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, who were doing Technorati searches. When I wrote a snarky piece about patents and Smuckers' Crustables, I was visited several times by IP addresses from the JM Smuckers corporate network (doing Google searches... no, they don't quite understand blogs yet). I also get a bunch of hits on 2 pieces from people doing image searches: my '30-second science blogging' piece on the first photo of a planet outside our solar system, and my 'strange fruit' piece on racism. Okay... come for the images, stay for the writing? Nah, I'm flattering myself. But there're others that make me go 'hmmmm'. Not in a bad way, just 'hmmmm'. Like the visitor the other night who translated my site into Chinese. I braced myself for some comment spam when I saw that referral, but nope - no spam. Just someone reading my site. In Chinese. I know how badly the automated translators work - they're good for rough approximations, but not a whole lot more. I wonder how stupid I sound in Google-translated Chinese?

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[geek][politics] This is the end, beautiful friend

This is the end My only friend, the end Of our elaborate plans, the end Of everything that stands, the end No safety or surprise, the end I'll never look into your eyes...again
No, I'm not stopping my blogging... Rather, Jim Morrison's apocalyptic lyrics (and the psychotic visual montage from the 'final' Marburg virus outbreak in the TV series Millenium) immediately came to mind when I read about the increasing death toll in China from a swine-'flu' outbreak. I wish I could believe the Chinese that it is under control, but unfortunately they don't seem to have learned anything from the SARS outbreak. Lying, for instance, about using antivirals meant for humans to prophylactically treat poultry against the HN51 bird flu. From the BBC link:
Transfer to humans is rare - which makes the Sichuan mortality rate alarming. Also of concern is the authorities' silence on the deaths. It knew of the first cases on 24 June but it only allowed the story out on 25 July. In addition, this province is China's largest pig centre, producing over 50m swine annually. But it took over three weeks to identify the pig disease. The Sichuan government stresses larger breeding farms are not infected, and that pig meat bound for the market place is safe. In the affected region, billboards still boast that this is a national model of a disease-free zone.
Why don't I believe them? And I don't find it comforting that when the pandemic comes, the PRC will be among the hardest countries hit due to government corruption and coverups instead of effective public-health policy and actions. Not comforting at all.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

[politics] It gets better and better.

Such progress we're enjoying in the Global War on Terror... er, the Global War on Violent Extremism, or whatever the fuck we're calling it these days... Insurgents 'joining Iraqi police' Afghan insurgents urged to unite I'm momentarily drawing a blank on URLs for the mass protests outside Bagran Airbase in Afghanistan, but there's more depressing stuff here as well. [updated 29 July 2005 9:32 PM PDT to add this:] The hits keep on coming... We've just been booted out of Uzbekistan:
Uzbekistan has been widely viewed as an important test for the Bush administration -- and whether the anti-terrorism efforts or promotion of democracy takes priority. "We all knew basically that if we really wanted to keep access to the base, the way to do it was to shut up about democracy and turn a blind eye to the refugees," said the senior official, on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive diplomacy. "We could have saved the base if we had wanted."

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Monday, July 25, 2005

[random][geek] Must. Not. Post.

Too late. Couldn't help myself. Verily, thus sayeth the Beeb: Ancient phallus unearthed in cave

I wonder how often those come up? [rimshot] Thanks folks, I'm here all week. Don't forget to tip the waitstaff, they're marvelous. You've been a wonderful audience; good night.

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[politics] Liquid liabilities

I haven't written anything to date about the recent attacks on London because a.) so many others have already done a bang-up job and b.) well... see a.). But I must say that I'm getting sick and fucking tired of the demonization that's going on. Demonization? Of Muslims? Well, yeah - them too. But unfortunately, there's been this growing tendency among the supporters of the architects of our current debacle to lump anyone and everyone with whom they disagree into one category: those who must be eliminated. Muslims, liberals, so-called 'activist' judges, centrists who have the temerity to suggest that enough is enough, gays, abortionists, and did I mention the liberals? Oh yeah, while we're at it, we'll toss in some of them Mexicans too. Are you assholes even listening to yourselves when you spout this bile? Does that sound like something to be proud of? Liquidating your opponents, while a time-honored tradition, isn't exactly something that the US has traditionally engaged in. We've encouraged, tolerated, and promoted slavery and genocide, but to date we haven't really engaged in the sorts of politically-motivated massacres that help make European history so colorful. Is anyone else out there worried that this unwritten and unratified moratorium is about to expire?

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[politics] Headlines that caught our eye

Courtesy of the New York Times online edition, we have this gem: "Egyptian Police Say Security May Have Disrupted Bombers' Plan" File that under "If that's success, what the fuck does failure look like?". Seriously though, the implications are pretty chilling: if this is what successful policework can look like... I'll let you fill in the blanks. This next one was a real hoot. This gets filed under "I know you're lying: your lips are moving". From the BBC: Al-Qaeda 'destroyed in Pakistan' The headline continued:
"Pakistan says its troops have al-Qaeda on the run" Pakistan has destroyed al-Qaeda's ability to operate on its soil, President Pervez Musharraf has said.
Uh. Yeah. Right. This from the fuckers whose secret police are still in cahoots with the last elements of the Taliban and who provided Al Quaeda with technical assistance and cash (but I'm sure they drew the line at providing intelligence - Musharraf has some limits, right?). The headline that sums it all up best? From MSNBC: Poll: Six in 10 Americans expect new world war Jesus. Y'all are only now figuring that one out now? Well, glad to have you along finally. Remember those rallies? The ones we organized and participated in, pointing out the folly of attacking a country that hadn't attacked us? Yeah, that's what I thought. Fuck you too. So, to anyone living or working in (or for) 1600 Pennsylvania Ave: if you could possibly show me the history book that demonstrates the wisdom of attacking phantom enemies, the successes of creating a climate that encourages attacks against us, and the benefits of overlooking the ties to extremism that our so-called allies in the Middle East exhibit, I'd really appreciate it. No, really. I'll sleep so much better at night knowing that there's a rational basis for the conduct of our so-called Global War on Terror. Then maybe the headlines'll at least seem better...

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[geek] How does that joke go?

Russia’s Biggest Spammer Brutally Murdered in Apartment Created: 25.07.2005 13:14 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 14:24 MSK, 8 hours 37 minutes ago MosNews Vardan Kushnir, notorious for sending spam to each and every citizen of Russia who appeared to have an e-mail, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. He died after suffering repeated blows to the head.
I believe the punchline is 'a good start'? Unfortunately, this is probably about organized crime taking over, and not some pissed-off Muscovite performing a public service. Oops. Was that out loud? From /., of course...

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

[random] Delayed gratification

sucks. And not in a good way. Still waiting on my new album... [Drums fingers impatiently]

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[politics] Good...

Associated Press Updated: 10:49 p.m. ET July 23, 2005 LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets Saturday to protest a controversial civilian border patrol group, calling the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps racist and un-American.
Good for them - what else is there to say? Racism can be so hard to see in the first place - it'd be a crime to not stand up to it when it's so blatant in the first place.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

[politics] The Seattle P-I nails it:

Schoolchildren, take note. There will still be high standards for you, your teachers and your schools. But at the White House, the rule is a little different: No pal left behind. Unless, of course, he is an out-and-out criminal. That's quite a standard.
Heh.

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[politics] 2-fer? Not quite...

So, Bush's nomination of Roberts was an attempt at a 2-fer: distract the media from Rove, and sneak a hard-core right-winger onto the bench. The first point failed: Rove is front-page on both the NYT and the Washington Post. Blood is in the water on this one, and I don't think the media are about to let this go - it'll reflect too poorly on themselves if they do. Let's keep our eye on the second point, though. I've been reading a lot of 'well, it could have been worse'-flavored posts in the blogosphere. Guess what? Unless Bush nominates someone who shows up to the photo op wearing a white hood and robe or a swastika armband, we'll always be able to find someone else he could have nominated who would be worse. There is no 'save it for later' - what are we waiting for? This is later. At this point, our Constitutional duty is to oppose. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our kids.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

[cultcha] geeks, freaks and good psycho jazz

So about 6 weeks ago, we went and saw Circus Contraption, a local act that's part of the sideshow/freakshow/circus Renaissance taking place in this country. We liked 'em so much, we went again last night. We were not disappointed. They definitely had some technical problems last night. For the first ten minutes of the show, the lights weren't working properly (and the spots were slightly off most of the night); the sound was spotty the entire evening; and for whatever reason, there seemed to be a degree of ambient light in the theatre that wasn't present the first time we saw the show, resulting in some of the acts that depend upon optical illusions (like a juggling act using glow-in-the-dark balls) losing some of their effect. It was still great. The ringmaster/barker character improvs well ("Imagine, if you will, that I am being immensely witty and entertaining"), and the band - the band is excellent: they whipped off a couple of extra songs while the technical crew figured out what was going on with the lights, and the show went on. You've got 2 more weeks to see them. Go. They're great. The band is also playing at the Crocodile Cafe July 21st along with an act called Reverend Glasseye - tix are $7, show is at 9:00 PM (I think). If we can find a sitter, we're so there... Circus Contraption, ladies and gentlemen. Homegrown artistic madness. Don't miss it.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

[politics] More on the coming New Counter Reformation

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the sixth volume of the adventures of Harry Potter, the teen wizard, about to be released, new attention was being given to a 2003 letter from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. ... Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, wrote to Gabriele Kuby to acknowledge receipt of her book, "Harry Potter: Gut oder Bose" ("Harry Potter: Good or Bad"), which expresses her concern that children can become fascinated with the occult through reading the series. In the cardinal's letter, excerpted on Kuby's Web site and published widely since late June, he praised the author's attempt to "enlighten people about Harry Potter" and the possible "subtle seductions" that can distort children's thinking before they mature in the Christian faith. ... In the letter, Cardinal Ratzinger suggested Kuby send a copy of her book to Msgr. Peter Fleetwood, then an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The article goes on to quote Monsignor Fleetwood, who wrote Kuby explaining that he thought she was perhaps mistaken in her theology... So, what does that suggest about Pope Benedict's grasp of theology? Hold on tight - we're in for some reactionary times.

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[politics] "...they now prefer the resistance..."

In today's New York Times, one can find an article titled 8 Months After U.S.-Led Siege, Insurgents Rise Again in Falluja
"Some preferred the city quiet, purified of the gunmen and any militant aspect," said Abdul Jabbar Kadhim al-Alwani, 40, the owner of an automotive repair shop, expressing a widely held sentiment. "But after the unfairness and injustice with which the city's residents have been treated by the American and Iraqi forces, they now prefer the resistance, just so they won't be humiliated." In a state of perpetual lockdown, Falluja is far more secure today than it was before the November invasion, and safer than nearby Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency. In the elections in January, when only 2 percent of Anbar's eligible voters went to the polls, a reasonably secure Falluja was a singular bright spot, with about a third of eligible voters taking part. The city had 30,000 residents then. But Falluja is approaching a turning point, American officials acknowledge, precariously balanced between rebuilding or degenerating into the urban battlefield it once was.
Words fail me.

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[politics] But at least he's a cat lover...

This is something I'd been meaning to blog about a week ago, but the London bombing pushed it off the radar (mine and the media's). But yesterday, when I saw the article on MSNBC.com gushing over Pope Benedict's love for cats, I wanted to scream. Why? Because Benedict is going to preside over the Church's greatest pushback against liberalism since the Counter Reformation:
Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real.
This little gem published in the New York Times was written by Christoph Schönborn, the Cardinal of Vienna. It rolls back John Paul II's embrace of evolution by lightly dismissing it in favor of an earlier and much less authoritative document written by the late Pope. The significance of Cardinal Schönborn's writings? He is the point man on Church dogma, being the lead editor of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992. Got that folks? This is the face of the Catholic Church in the 21st century. They're going to 'defend reason' by attacking evolution, and the most coverage we'll see about it will consist of soft-headed simpering over the Pontiff's pet preferences. Just remember: Eppur si muove (hat tip to John at AMERICAblog yet again)

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

[music] punk meets the blues

I'm not even sure what the Markov chain of URLs was that led me to this site, but here you go: The Black-Eyed Snakes (requires Flash 7). One word: wow. Seriously... I've been a fan of punkabilly/psychobilly/what have you for a while, but this - this is different. This feels like the blues, seen through a punk glass darkly. They've got a bunch of streaming audio and video on the site, and I say go thee hence and listen. The only caveat I'd toss out is that the quality of the audio on the streams of their live performances is better than the quality of the video. I liked what I heard enough to plunk down $12 for their most recent album, "The Black-Eyed Snakes Rise Up". I'll post a review of sorts (even if only a quick 'thumbs up/thumbs down') after it arrives. If you're intrigued by what you've heard, this site has a bunch o' links to similar stuff. I think I'll probably be working my way through this list for a while... Oh, and to the BES, should you read this: Seattle ain't so far from Minneapolis, is it? Hint, hint...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

[politics] I live in hope...

I'm seeing more and more headlines going after Rove and the White House distancing themselves from him... I'm not gonna do the happy dance yet (and no one really wants to see that anyway), but I shall call myself, for the time being, "cautiously pessimistic"*. [*] As in, gee, there's a slight chance that the light at the end of the tunnel might not be an oncoming train. Cautiously pessimistic.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kristina said...

My plan is to ignore what's going on... I'm afraid that as soon as I pay it any attention and get the slightest feeling that maybe this time the bad guys will get what's coming to them, it will all fall apart. The causes (and teams) that I root for always do fine until I turn my attention to them. Just call me the Eye of Sauron.

7/12/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

That's why we call it 'cautiously pessimistic' ;-)

7/12/2005 09:26:00 AM  

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

[geek] Oh wait... scratch that...

Evidently, Dr. Michael Bailey, the researcher mentioned in my previous post, maintains some unsavory connections. I don't think I'm going to get worried about someone who associates himself with pro-eugenics nutjobs who have, uh, decidedly unconventional views on race, gender and sexuality. From the SPLC link above:

According to a list posted on HBI [ps: Human Biodiversity Institute]'s Web site until last summer [ps: date of article unclear], this "elite" includes:

  • Jean-Phillippe Rushton, a prominent researcher on black genetic inferiority who is president of a pro-eugenics hate group, the Pioneer Fund;
  • Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, which purported to show black and Latino intellectual inferiority;
  • Kevin MacDonald, a professor at California State University at Long Beach who has written several books about supposed Jewish strategies to subvert "Euro-American" culture; and
  • Gregory Cochrane, a physicist who has suggested the existence of a genetic "gay germ."
  • These ideas about race and sex have not been limited to the world of academia. The HBI also includes several right-wing journalists who help popularize their theories — and promote their books. The most prominent cheerleader for Bailey and the other HBI researchers is the man who started the HBI: Steve Sailer, a United Press International reporter and frequent contributor to the anti-immigration Web site, VDARE.com.

    I will, however, worry about the New York Times for featuring this fuckwad on the first page of their Science section... If you feel like being enraged further, John at AMERICABlog has more details here.

    2 Comments:

    Blogger Carnacki said...

    Remember when The New York Times meant something? Man, it's standards are worse than some local rag.

    7/06/2005 06:40:00 PM  
    Blogger protected static said...

    I'm willing to cut them some slack on this, but not a whole Hell of a lot - reading between the lines of the coverage on AMERICABlog and elsewhere, it really seems like the NYT was fed this story by Bailey's publicist... But yeah - the Lady ain't what she used to be.

    7/06/2005 08:28:00 PM  

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    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    [geek] So that's my problem...

    I don't exist:
    But a new study casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men. The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation. People who claim bisexuality, according to these critics, are usually homosexual, but are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted. "You're either gay, straight or lying," as some gay men have put it.
    Following my hat tip to Amanda at Pandagon, I'm going to go have an existential crisis. Hey, can I do that while downloading bi porn?

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    Monday, July 04, 2005

    [politics] Happy Independence Day

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    2 Comments:

    Blogger Carnacki said...

    Damn. I wish I thought to post that flag on Independence Day!

    7/06/2005 06:44:00 PM  
    Blogger protected static said...

    Why wait? Any day's a good one for that one - here's the URL for the image, feel free to link away...

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/4350/donttread3001th.gif

    7/06/2005 08:29:00 PM  

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