The Way It Is (I Think)


Required Reading:

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Pre-emptive Assisinations

Recent musings on assination:

In [the context of war], targeting dictators is not murder or assassination. Once the shift has been made to “war,” army against army, killing becomes legitimate. But once war breaks out, even direct targeting of the political leadership is bound to involve many civilian deaths. Surely, in these kinds of situations, it would be far better to target an individual political leader from the beginning of a crisis, not with the force of arms but the force of law. Identify him as a criminal and seek his arrest by any means possible. If all else fails, authorize the use of force, but against an individual, not a nation. (Mercy Killings, Foriegn Policy May/June 2003, p. 72-73.)

The problem is with the word assassination. It brings the image of Lee Harvey Oswald or John Wilkes Booth. . . . You may decry it instinctively. But wouldn’t the world be better off had we been able simply to kill Saddam Hussein, his two sons, and a dozen of his top henchmen? Wouldn’t it be better to kill 13 to 15 people than to have a massive war that no matter how cleanly executed will still cause human casualties, dislocation, and suffering? (Reason 6.03, What's Next for U.S. Foriegn Policy, p22-30.)

But Heather Wokusch asks, If the United States can openly murder foreign POWs, how soon before American POWs are systematically murdered abroad? If the US can justify invading another country because of unproven "imminent threat," how soon before US cities are similarly attacked? And if pre-emptive assassination deems the murder of civilians/bystanders abroad acceptable collateral damage, then how about on US soil?

Everything Spam

If you haven't seen it already, John Walkenbach's The 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference is a stroke of parody brilliance. ("Like most Nigerians, you're probably finding that it's increasingly difficult to earn a decent living from email. That's why you need to attend the 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference.")


If you'd like to get into the business yourself, the "Business Proposal Generator" will get you started quick. This link reports that the average individual loss for those who fall for the scam is $91,000. You can read more interesting information and background here.

I battle spam with Mailshell, a service that lets you create unlimited disposable addresses which you can use when you register on-line or post on a web site. If you start getting undesirable mail from the address, you can simply delete it, quickly solving the problem.

For the serious anti-spammer, you should check out the O'Reilly book, Stopping Spam.

Bumper Sticker

REMEMBER: It's funny until someone gets hurt. Then it's hilarious!

Friday, June 27, 2003

Mormon Crickets

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Break In

I heard him trying to break in. I ran to the cabinet, grabbed my automatic, slammed the clip in and put one in the chamber.

I was scared as I snuck down the hall to the back door. I also grabbed a flashlight. I opened the door as quietly and as slowly as I could.

I tip toed to the side of the house where I heard him still working on the screen.

I turned the corner and put the flashlight and gun in his face, I yelled hands up!!

As he turned to face me . . . . . . . [Click Here]

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Enemy Combatant

In response to Ali Saleh Kahlah Al Marri being designated at an enemy combatant, Patriot Act Watch asks:
Can someone please explain the ad hoc nature of our system regarding post 9-11 detainees? Why is it we decide to designate Al-Marri an enemy combatant and not Iyman Farris or John Walker Lindh. Why is it we hold someone for almost 2 years and then decide to designate them an "enemy combatant". Are we trying to put the squeeze on Al-Marri? (Apparently Al-Marri made calls to an affiliate of Moussaoui in the United Arab Emirates.) Is this a pre-cursor to designating Moussaoui an enemy combatant or putting him before a military tribunal? We aren't radicals or apologists for the terrorists. We aren't making claims to the innocence of the accused or designated, however, we are asking why the administration no longer trusts our system of civilian criminal justice. It worked with the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the Unabomber, and Timothy McVeigh. We should still believe in it.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

More Weapons of Mass Hysteria

A 13-year-old middle school student has been suspended for 10 days because his gadget-laden calculator includes a knife, violating the school district's zero-tolerance policy on weapons. . . .

The calculator also includes a screwdriver and a magnifying glass. Curtis was not brandishing the knife or threatening a classmate, but when he brought the calculator to Burns Middle School on Friday, he dropped it in class, exposing the blade. . . .

District officials say their policy is clear: Whether butter knife or machete, policy dictates an automatic 10-day suspension.
[article] (via Reason Magazine)

Let's get rid of the Patriot Act

Check out the Bill of Rights Defense Commitee.
We support repeal of parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security Act, and Executive Orders that infringe on Constitutional rights. This web site documents and supports local efforts to restore civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, which have been threatened by the Act and Orders.

Is this really funny?

This found its way into my in-box this morning. It's a patch with Elmer Fud saying, "Be vewy vewy quiet, we're hunting I-Wackis."

What, exactly, do people find funny in this? The fact that we have killed thousands of civilians? The fact that our soldiers have fired into crowds? That our use of cluster bombs continues to kill and maim children? Maybe it is the use of our troops to "root out" Saddam "loyalists." (Note, Iraqis who oppose U.S. occupation are automatically branded "Saddam loyalists.")

But, hey, we're teaching the world a lesson: If you are an evil dictator who abuses your people, we will occupy your country and abuse your people. Don't mess with the US! We've got morality on our side!

Monday, June 16, 2003

Flying with the Wrong Name

My second blog entry, What's in a Name?, presented the difficulty those with the common name Muhammad Ali have boarding a plane. It turns out that David Nelson, that is any of the hundreds of people named David Nelson, will also face difficulty boarding a plane.
Throughout Southern California and across the country, men named David Nelson report they have been harassed, questioned by FBI agents, pulled off airplanes, searched and then searched again when attempting air travel.

Apparently caught up in a nationwide dragnet for a real terrorist by that name, David Nelsons everywhere are being told their names produce red flags on airline screening software. The government, however, maintains that the problem is essentially a computer glitch the airlines must solve.

Beat up a white kid

I had no idea. May 1st is Beat-Up-A-White-Kid Day.

I wonder if Michael Jackson counts.

Freedom of the press in China

Chinese journalists say that on June 2 editors relayed to them the first extensive list of banned topics issued since March's National People's Congress, when a new president and premier took office.

Among the taboo subjects: military doctor Jiang Yanyong, who blew the whistle on Sars; negative comparisons of China's medical system with those overseas; a revisionist historical television drama; prostitution among female university students in the city of Wuhan; the bribery case of a municipal party secretary in Heilongjiang province; and details of a submarine accident first reported by the Xinhua news agency on May 2.

In addition, the new instructions decree that natural disasters and accidents should be reported only by local media, not by the national media.

From the June 12, 2003 issue of Far Eastern Economic Review.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

The on-going double standard

Heather Wokusch writes:
Disturbing new evidence puts the US military's use of radioactive weaponry in the spotlight, casting doubt on the Bush administration's upbeat estimates on civilian war casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. A study by the Washington, D.C. based Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) suggests coalition forces used Afghanistan as a testing ground for radioactive weaponry, thereby placing generations of civilians - not to mention US service members - at unspeakable future risk.


The ultimate irony, of course, is that America may have used radioactive weaponry to justify invading other countries to search for radioactive weaponry.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Better than day trading!

The website lets you play the first-person shooter Return to Castle Wolfenstein online against others, for money. Shooting opponents adds money to your account, while dying will put you all that much closer to bankruptcy. I wonder who will make their first million from this site?

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Model Rocket Terrorism

Model RocketModel rocket enthusiasts say new government restrictions aimed at terrorists threaten to ground a hobby that can get youngsters fired up about science. Homeland security regulations that took effect in May require a background check, fingerprinting and a $25 federal permit for people wanting to buy high-powered rocket engines.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Martha Admits All Wrong-doing

In order to avoid prosecution, Martha Stewart confesses.
I am DB Cooper. I am Joseph Mengele. I am the mistress of Osama Bin Laden. Saddam Hussein is one of my best friends.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Government without limits

In response to Bush's Jan. 2003 State of the Union address, David Boaz asks,
Where are [the] bounds? If the federal government should build cars, train mentors for children and treat AIDS in Africa, what are the limits of its responsibilities?
Excellent question. It certainly appears that the federal government no longer has bounds. And this from the Republican party which is supposed to espouse conservative ideals.

Quick, who said that?

If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road.
Was it an anti-war, anti-occupation protestor? Democratic legislator from the East coast? Perhaps a Bush rival?

It was none of the above. The honor goes to George W. Bush, who said it during a debate with Al Gore.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Healthy . . . yes. But who'd want to do it?

Research indicates that skipping some meals and occasionally fasting for an entire day may have health benefits, even if the same overall number of calories is consumed. Why?
A meal-skipping diet . . . is good for cells throughout the body because it periodically reduces the amount of glucose from digested food available to cells. During those times, cells build their ability to take up glucose when it's available.

Thus, the mild stress of temporarily having less glucose may help cells prepare to cope with major stresses later. In that sense, meal skipping may be analogous to exercise in how it improves physiology. In fact, intermittent fasting reduces blood pressure [and] reduces heart rate similar to what's seen with regular exercise.
Could you super-size that order, please?

Guaranteed to increase hits

Dance Dance Dance

Real Ninjas, Really Cool

Real Untimate Power

A must see page for Ninja information. Packed with little-known facts, such as:
  • Ninjas are mammals.
  • Ninjas fight ALL the time.
  • The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.
Don't forget to join their mailing list.

Mass Graves Provide Justification?

Mass Graves in IraqA number of people, including most recently Portugese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, have said the discovery of mass graves in Iraq are themselves sufficient justification for the war. A report in the New American correctly points out that most of the victims were slaughtered during the U.S.-provoked rebellion against Sadam--a rebellion that we failed to support. Any "surprise" by the Bush administration or anyone else over the "discovery" of mass graves can only be considered dishonest at best.

Have the Iraqis forgotten our lack of support?
"Our betrayal by the United States will never be forgotten," declared an Iraqi physicist imprisoned and tortured by Saddam’s regime. "People remember how they were urged to rise up against Saddam, and how the Americans then turned their backs. They even helped Saddam massacre the Shiia."

Thursday, June 05, 2003

"Men's Odd Place in the Abortion Debate"

In the April 2003 issue of Reason magazine, Cathy Young points out,
Women have reproductive rights, and men have reproductive responsibilities.

If a woman gets pregnant and does not want to be a mother, she can end the pregnancy with or without her partner’s knowledge. If she wants to have the baby, she can force the father to pay child support.

Loose-Belt Lawsuit

A Chinese man is suing a shop that sold him a belt that twice came loose during an important business meeting.

Li, of Zhengzhou, Henan Province, was meeting a woman executive from Canada about a contract to run an immigration agency.

But he failed to win the [$128,000] contract after his belt twice came loose, reports China Daily, quoting Henan Shangbao.

Li said he had already reached a verbal agreement to become the local representative of an immigration agency.

He had bought the [$80] belt from a local shopping centre before a final interview for the contract.

But the belt suddenly came loose when he shook hands with the woman in her hotel lobby, forcing the woman to look away in embarrassment.

Li apologised and fixed the belt in the bathroom. But then the same thing happened again in the middle of their conversation. He is suing the shop for [$24,000] compensation

Monday, June 02, 2003

Lives Destroyed

One day in late April, Mary Arnold opened an e-mail message and felt the first traces of relief settle in her. Her marine son, Andrew Todd Arnold, a chief warrant officer, was preparing to leave Iraq for Kuwait.

"That morning, when I saw it in writing," Ms. Arnold said, "I thought, `O.K., God, thank you. He's made it.' "

Hours later, at 10:15 p.m., the doorbell rang at Ms. Arnold's home in Spring, Tex. She spotted two marines through the peephole, she said, and began to scream.
View the New York Times article and slideshow.

Land of the Free?

Just in, the United States has "overtaken Russia [with] a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country."

And while you're in prison, you can read Taryn Simon's The Innocents, which "documents the stories of individuals across the country who served time for violent crimes they did not commit."

(Via Hit & Run and LibertyThink.)

Visual Thesaurus

The Visual Thesaurus,
uses Plumb Design's Thinkmap® software as a visualization engine, [which] gives users the ability to retrieve a result set from large data sets, and then, through a series of task-specific visualization mechanisms within a graphical user interfaces, to navigate, organize and visualize the result set.
Definitely worth checking out! (Via Hit & Run)

Discuss Politics, Go to Jail

Recently, four Chinese men were sentenced to 8 or more years in prison for discussing politics. The reason? They hadn't registered their group with the state. The verdict came after the men had already been detained for two years without access to their lawyers or ability to visit with relatives.