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AgnostoLibertarianTechnoGeek

Monday, May 31, 2004

Mozilla freeze up...

So I've been saving multiple pages in individual tabs under Mozilla (one of the great features of this browser) for purposes of blogging, and I suppose I waited too long before blogging, because I opened up one too many tabs, and this one started up some kind of applet or JavaScript thingie that ended up freezing my browser session, so all of those wonderful pages which I'd saved were lost forever. Ah well. Since I'd put off blogging on most of them for too long, they aren't really topical any more. The biggest one was the president's speech "clarifying" his plan for Iraq. Another one was a newswire article about legislation against Google's Gmail service, which I vehemently oppose... I'll try to get more posted later tonight.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Then leave already!

WorldNetDaily: Christian secession talk sparks flood of reaction
[H]undreds of American citizens have contacted a group of Christian activists looking to secede from the United States to form a republic based on Christian principles.

Good, now get out. You do not live in a Christian country, so if that's what you want, go form your own. The United States was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. Let's please keep it that way.

Re: Bakshi's LOTR

I've been watching more of this with Daughter, and just last night came across the "milking the giant cow" gesture by Boromir. Made me smile when I saw that one...

Solzhenitsyn quote on patriotism

While searching for a reference I found on the Lew Rockwell blog, I came across the following quote regarding patriotism
Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, From Under the Rubble

Amen, brutha...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Penn & Teller: Libertarian Atheists

http://www.sho.com/site/ptbs/community.do?content=answer4
Q: What do you two fight over? Is there something that you just can't agree on?

Penn: We're sober, libertarian, Atheist, skeptics. We're always on time and we take our work seriously. Neither one of us has ever even been late for a show. So, what's to fight over? We fight over every moment of Penn & Teller stuff with a nit picking, pedantic, ridiculous carefulness that would crack anyone else. But, that's fun.

Teller: All we fight about is the stuff we create together. We're very blunt. "That's not an idea," and, "That doesn't add up to anything," and, "Don't you know that was already done in [insert movie or TV show title here]," are three of our most common sneers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Blog about a blog

Hey, I got a mention in Aaron Russo's Blog, because I blogged about an item I first read about in one of his blogs!

Official Campaign Blog - Aaron Russo Audioblog
David blogs about Aaron Russo. Thanks David.


Thanks for the mention, Aaron. I think your campaign is the only one of the LP candidates' to have any hope of gaining traction with the general electorate.

Bakshi's LOTR

Cartoon Network aired Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings cartoon on Sunday, which I taped (videotaping is a ridiculously difficult procedure with the whole digital cable setup). I saw it many years ago, in college, most likely while I was in an altered state of consciousness, so I didn't remember it all that well. However, I have read quite a bit about this version of the story, which is often referred to as "universally reviled" by Tolkien fans, for one of a number of reasons. In particular, this page puts up a detailed and stinging review of the film (it is also part of the "Tolkien Sarcasm" site, which has a good deal of Tolkien-related humor, which, frankly, only the well-informed (read: geeky) will find humorous.

But after reading all the negative items about the film these past few years, I was prepared for a truly horrible movie-watching experience. Luckly, I am somewhat positively surprised. Yes, the film definitely has its faults, but overall, it tells the story fairly well, and thus far (I'm watching it piecemeal with Daughter), it is faithful to the text. Stylistically, I have a number of quibbles: the rotoscoping technique really doesn't work for me, the costumes of Aragorn and Boromir are ridiculous (didn't men wear pants in the Third Age?), Aragorn looks like a Neanderthal rather than a descendant of kings, Gandalf gesticulates wildly rather than being subtle, and the paintings of the backdrops gets far too impressionistic for my taste. But as I said, the telling of the story is actually not so bad.

My memory of watching the movie all those years ago was that it fell apart towards the end and looked as though they had ran out of money and had to finish it on the cheap. Of course the fact that it only tells the first half of the story is a major flaw.

In a week or two, Cartoon Network will be showing the Rankin-Bass version of The Return of the King, which I have very little memory of. But since they also did The Hobbit, I imagine it will be very similar in style. We shall see.

Yeah, yeah...

I know I said I had a lot of things to blog about yesterday, and then I put up, what, one entry? I was busy doing other things last night, so I didn't get to it. Hopefully today. I have a bunch of web pages saved that I'm going to link to and excerpt from. Well, not a bunch, but a couple... Bush's speech on Monday, some new blog entries over at Aaron Russo's site.

And it turns out that Harry Browne finally endorsed Gary Nolan. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but outside of the LP, who has heard of him? Russo seems to have good libertarian credentials, and he has name recognition and contacts in Hollywood. I'm not crazy about his whole "alternative medicine" thing. I agree that such "practitioners" should be able to practice whatever foolishness they do, but it is foolishness and it shouldn't be made to look as legitimate as "traditional" medicine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Act Repsonsibly! Don't Vote!

A very good op-ed piece by Wendy McElroy on the merits of not voting. An excerpt:
It is commonly said, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.' The opposite is true: By playing the game, voters agree to the rules. Only those who don't play and withhold their consent have a right to complain about the outcome, especially since the winner will have his hand in the non-voter's pocket.


Those who say their vote is wasted are generally correct, as well. Almost all of us live in states and congressional districts which lean strongly one way or the other, and since each jurisdiction is winner-take-all, one person's vote matters very little.

It is not possible to vote "against" a candidate by voting for another candidate. We have no such thing as a vote of no-confidence in this country. The closest we have is the non-vote. Or a vote for a third party. And the only one of those to attract any of my interest is, naturally enough, the Libertarian Party.

A lot of blogging all at once

There's lots of stuff to blog about today, but I just haven't had time until now. I actually had to, um, work while I was at work.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Re: Tonight's Sopranos

By the way, I didn't say in my last post that, as far as I'm concerned, last night's episode was the best episode in a long, long time. Definitely the best this season, and probably the best in a few seasons.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Tonight's Sopranos

Let's see if I can get in everything that happened tonight:
  • Tony and Carmela are getting back together
  • Tony broke up with Valentina
  • Adriana was caught by the FBI covering up for a murder which took place in the Crazy Horse
  • The FBI told Adriana to bring in Christopher or go to jail
  • Johnny's crew told Tony's crew to bring in Tony B. or face their wrath. Tony S. said he would bring in Tony B.
  • Little Carmine got tired of all the violence and decided to call it quits, leaving NY to Johnny
  • Tony got pissed off at Christopher about something related to smuggled cigarettes, and told him to have Paulie oversee the operation and split the proceeds with him
  • Christopher got very pissed off at Tony about this and told Adriana
  • Tony S. got a call from Tony B., who is on the lam, and decided to get all his calls traced
  • Adriana tried to convince Christopher to go to the FBI, and they would go into the witness protection program. Christopher almost went for it, then saw a miserable family in a car at a rest stop.
  • Adriana received a call from Tony, saying that Christopher had attempted to commit suicide, and Silvio would be there to pick her up and take her to the hospital.
  • Silvio drives Adriana... out to the woods, where he pulls her out of the car and kills her. Christopher packs her bag and throws it somewhere where it will not be found, then leaves her car in the long term parking lot at the airport.
  • Tony finds Christopher who has had a bit of heroin, then beats him up.
  • Tony B. calls Tony S., who tells him that he's very pissed off at him, and he screwed everything up, but just to stay in hiding and never come back. He then finds out where Tony B. called him from via the call trace.
  • Tony speaks with Johnny, who is now boss of NY. Tony tells Johnny that he will give Tony B. to him, but to please make it quick. Johnny arrogantly tells Tony that Phillie will do whatever he pleases to Tony B. Tony S. then tells Johnny that it's off; he won't hand over his cousin
So it looks like war is about to ensue in the last episode, in two weeks.

Dance rehearsal

Oh this is going to be fun. Driving A and D into Jamaica for D's dance rehearsal. Hopefully, hopefully, the Van Wyck Expressway will be not too heavy.

I'm supposed to videotape D's performance, but let's see if they even let me in. They are only supposed to allow one parent in to watch the rehearsals, so they may not let me in. I wouldn't mind terribly, frankly...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Good for them!

Courtesy of Aaron Russo:

Bush's Third-Party Threat
While Democrats fret over the possibility of Ralph Nader causing them to lose another election by stealing votes on the left, President Bush may face an even greater third-party threat from the right wing. The Libertarian Party nominee could cost Mr. Bush his job in 2004

All I have to say is, "Good!"

Saturday means...

...being lazy? Pretty much. Managed to stay in bed till around 8, mind you with the kids jumping on us. After that, bacon and pancakes (which I made, natch). A little while of being lazy, then out to buy a few things... And of course, indecision remains the order of the day, month, year...

Friday, May 21, 2004

You mean we haven't had one all along?

Yahoo! News - Bush to Outline 'Clear Strategy' for Iraq Monday
President Bush (news - web sites) will outline what the White House called a 'clear strategy' for Iraq (news - web sites) on Monday night in a speech aiming to convince Americas he is in command of the situation.

And here I thought we had a strategy. A clear one. Doesn't a country, you know, kind of need a strategy when they go to war?

They're baaaaack

The bastards have returned. Those big, stupid, disgusting insects that fly straight into you and then drop to the ground, gesticulating wildly, are returning. This is apparently "Brood X", a huge re-awakening of cicadas which emerge from their underground lairs once every 17 years to fly around bumblingly for several days, mate, and die. Jacob Sullum reports on those who try to make this phenomenon attractive:

Bug Bane - Must we learn to love cicadas?
The New York Times informs us that 'the periodic nature of the cicadas, the way they come at about the span of a person's youth, makes them irresistible emotional mnemonics.' To support this claim, the paper quotes Robert J. Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, who says, 'Cicadas are the sound of summer, of the year when you were young...It's the closest thing to a time machine you can get outside science fiction.'

Bullshit! Cicadas are the sound of annoyance. I hear their buzz and a scowl crosses my face as I scan my immediate area for unguided missiles about to blunder into me. I watch where I place my feet, wary to avoid the crunch of these menaces underfoot.

Bah! To paraphrase Calvin speaking to Hobbes, nature is always trying to do something disgusting to you.

Draft = slavery

There is a movement afoot to reinstate the military draft. When I first heard this, it sent chills down my spine. Not for myself -- I am too old for the draft. For my children. In a scant few years, they will be of "draftable" age. I will not allow that to occur. I do not mean I will oppose the draft; I mean I will do everything humanly possible to prevent them from being conscripted.

Don't Bring Slavery Back to America by Anthony Gregory
Even if you still aren't convinced that the draft should be called slavery - because of some strange technical definition of 'slavery' from which the government is for some reason categorically exempt - 'mandatory service' is undeniably synonymous with 'involuntary servitude,' which is supposed to be illegal in America.


Section 1 of the thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


Aaron Russo, Libertarian presidential candidate is sponsoring a petition to stop the draft before it begins. I have signed, and everyone else who truly believes in freedom should as well.

Wonderful Ilana Mercer article on Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit football to join the Army and fight in Afghanistan, was killed a few weeks ago. For the most part, he has been lauded as a "hero" by the media. There are those, let us call them extremists, who have called him an a buffoon (among other things), for supporting the administration and getting himself killed in the process. In particular, cartoonist Ted Rall penned a strip (calling Tillman an idiot and sap) which has generated quite a bit of chatter, and he has apparently gotten more than a few death threats. As Ilana Mercer points out in this week's commentary, both sides are misguided:
In one caption, the cartoonist scribbled that Tillman was a 'cog in a low-rent occupation army that shot more innocent civilians than terrorists to prop up puppet rulers and exploit gas and oil resources.' Like so many justly discredited conspiracy theorists on the far left (and right), Rall managed to fudge the issues. One can certainly argue in favor of the first part of Rall's characterization of the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Although our government refuses to clutter its databases with information about collateral damage, the number of innocents killed in Iraq has passed 10,000; in Afghanistan, the figures are fast approaching that.

Conversely, Rall's gas-and-oil conspiracy is evidence of no more than an erosion of reason. This absurdity is of a piece with the claim that the casus belli for war was Israel. Be it in their allegation of a war for a 'greater Zion' or a war for oil, too many execrable editorialists like Rall have not hesitated to substitute inference and innuendo for facts.

In another caption, Rall accused Tillman of 'falsely believing that Bush's war against Iraq and Afghanistan had something to do with 9-11.' Again, Rall's self-serving ideological occlusions distort the truth. He conflates the legitimate cause for action in Afghanistan

Whole thing here

More:
To believe that Tillman and the 900-plus other soldier victims did not die in vain one must have internalized the abstractions our politicians have force-fed to a torpid public. No one's "freedoms" are more secure now that Pat Tillman is dead; good is no closer to obliterating bad, nor will it, certainly not by conquest and coercion. As for democracy, it is the tyranny of a slim majority that has brought us this far.

Ms. Mercer is one of the finest commentators around.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Indecision

He sat at his desk, staring at the computer screen. He had the desire to write something, anything, that he felt comfortable with (errr... "with which he felt comfortable"). What was lacking? Inspiration? The juice of creativity? The energy and determination to actually take fingers to keyboard and compose something? Perhaps. Trying to be frank with himself, he simply was not sure.

He had wanted to write, to be a writer, for a long time, for years. He had many half-baked ideas floating in his head: "Oh, this would be a great setting for a story. But what's the plot, where does it go?" He had been playing with the same ideas, variations of them, combinations of them, for years. They seemed like interesting places and ideas. The characters were not well formed, and what they did after the initial scenes was unclear.

Love

I love you
Not only for what you are
But for what I am
When I am with you

Too many things!!

Ugh, too many requests coming in at once! Data analysis for two different projects, programming questions on two different projects, and they're all high urgency! Too many ways to get pulled all at once!

Back to the data

Data and programming. Or will it be programming and data? Depends on my mood, but probably data and then programming, since the data is more urgent. Data means money after all.

Am I being mysterious? Not to myself; I know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Blogspot vs. my own site

There's something in me that really wants to host this blog on my own personal site. For reasons best left to a careful think, I am hosting it here instead. I already downloaded, installed, and started using Plog, and it seemed pretty nice, neophyte to blogging such as I am (I still don't know a trackback from a pingback). I am currently in the process of uninstalling it. In the meantime, I came across b2evolution, another blogging tool, and I was about to download it and install it, when I realized... why? why do this if I'm not really going to host my blog on my site? Basically, it's just to play with the software. I'm such a geek. I would end up downloading it, installing it, configuring it, and playing with it, and not being able to do anything real with it. Frustrating, so I'm not going to do it.

Data, data, data

And more data
Data filling my head
Data spilling out and flowing onto the floor
Data searing their images onto my retinas

Databases, spreadsheets, flatfiles
Comma delimited, tab delimited, fixed format
Columns and rows
Indexes and views

SQL, sequel, ess-kew-ell
Queries taking seconds, minutes, hours
How long will it take?
No one knows, but I need the answer!

'You oughta know' that it's Uncle Joey?

Re: my earlier post on Alanis, I was surprised to learn (learned it last week, I think), that the subject of "You Oughta Know" is Dave Coulier, Uncle Joey from Full House. She says that she'll never confirm or deny that rumor, but it's rife throughout the Internet, so it may as well be true.

She could get that worked up about him? Boggles the mind...

MP3 players = $$$

Damn, those MP3 players are expensive. Even for ones which only hold a paltry 128MB (about 2 hours of music), they're still over $100. I guess I'll just get myself a cheapo FM walkman with earbuds for my bike riding...

The air's getting awfully thin

Universe 'in rapid expansion' (May 19, 2004)
THE universe is expanding at an ever increasing pace, British researchers announced today confirming, with the use of a NASA telescope, findings that offer an important potential insight into the future of the cosmos.

I've been reading about dark energy actually accellerating the expansion of the universe for a few years now. I recall when I heard about the scientists initial discovery that the universe is expanding faster now than long ago. It was (and is) a huge mystery, because based on everything known to date about gravity, the universal expansion should be slowing down (since everything attracts everything). The only real question at that time was whether the universe would eventually collapse or if it would continue to expand, but at an always slowing pace.

By examining the rate of expansion long ago versus the rate of expansion more recently, the scientists have determined that the rate of expansion is faster now than before. The universe is expanding faster and faster. It is being ascribed to something termed "dark energy", and now they are trying to figure out what is this (currently) most mysterious, and apparently, most common of things.

Researchers who led the study estimate that the universe is composed of 75 per cent dark energy, 21 per cent dark matter, and only four per cent of normal matter such as that making up the Earth.

Infinite regression... Googling googol

Zero tolerance as Googol plans to take Google to court
A DISPUTE over a very large number of zeroes is threatening to distract attention from a $2.7 billion stock sale by the internet search engine Google.

News of the deal has brought a threat of legal action from the family of Professor Edward Kasner, who invented the word 'googol' in the 1930s to describe a very big number. He wrote about the concept in a 1940 book, describing a googol as the number one followed by a hundred zeroes.

Kasner’s great-niece, Peri Fleisher, now insists that the US-based company has gained financially at the expense of the family. She said: 'If we do have a legal right, we’re certainly going to exercise that. And now is the time.'

How silly is this? Will they be laughed out of court? I hope so.

More from our nannies

Group Seeks to Ban Type of Fat from Foods
A U.S. consumer group asked the government on Tuesday to bar restaurants and food manufacturers from using a type of artery-clogging fat found in pastries, cookies, crackers and deep-fried foods.

Bastards. Meddling, stick-your-nose-in-where-it's-not-welcome bastards. I want my trans-fats, dammit! If I like the way it makes my food taste, then that's my prerogative. Everyone knows that eating fatty food is bad for you. Yup, some fat is worse than others, I'll certainly grant that. But not allowing people to make a choice for themselves is a bad bad thing. You, CSPI, have no right to tell me what I can put into my body.

Alanis on Howard

Alanis Morissette was on the Howard Stern show this morning. In fact, she's probably still on right now, but I had to get out of the car to go into the office.

I expected her to be very close and not say much, but she seemed to be very open and comfortable, laughing along with the Howard-style questioning. She performed "Head Over Feet", and I thought it was a spectacular performance, and I'm not a big fan of hers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Dostoyevsky + Tolkien?

Russia's cult video pirate rescripts Lord of the Rings as gangster film.

A Russian DVD pirate has taken the Lord of the Rings movies and rewritten them in Russian:
In a move that has taken the Russian pirate disk world by storm and infuriated traditionalists and copyright lawyers, Puchkov has completely changed the script, turning the 'good' characters, like Frodo, into bumbling Russian cops, and the 'bad' Orcs into Russian gangsters.

That's pretty damn amusing. I wouldn't mind hearing an English language version of that...

Remind me why we need NASA?

MSNBC - Private spaceship completes third supersonic test
Chalk up another booming flight of the privately backed SpaceShipOne, the piloted rocket plane designed to soar to the edge of space and glide to a runway landing.

SpaceShipOne looks like it will be the first privately funded spaceship. It is competing to win a $10 million prize offerred by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, but in order to win it, they have to
launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers), then return safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks.
Tell people about this when they say we could never have space flight without government funding.

A nice evening ride...

Just in from my bike ride tonight. This is something I've been doing for the past couple of months. Over the winter, my diet took a big hit, and I was cheating like crazy. I've been getting back into the dieting, not as heavily as when we first started on it, but definitely better than I was doing until recently. So when the weather started turning a bit warmer, I drove over to the Sports Authority and picked myself up a new bike.

I had no clue which ones were good or bad; I just looked at the price and whether it looked comfortable or not. The model I ended up purchasing actually calls itself a "comfort" model. Tell that to my posterior. There is no such thing as a comfortable position on this thing.

The riding is fun, though. I hadn't ridden a bike in many years, probably since college. The first time up on it, I was a little wobbly, but I guess the saying is right regarding never forgetting how to ride. I'm on my bike four or five nights a week -- basically every night that the ground isn't wet. Saturdays are also a night I usually don't go out, because that's our video night.

So, yes, the riding is fun, but I think I need tunes. I don't have any kind of portable audio suitable for bike riding. Perhaps it's time to look into something like an iPod...

The work day draws to a close

And I've spent too much time blogging. Awaiting someone's help before I can finish things up at my desk, then time for the annoying car ride home. Annoying, why? Because I can't find anything reasonable on the radio to listen to, and I end up switching stations far more than any marginally sane person should. Hm, what are my choices? Hannity followed by Marc Levin: one Bush cheerleader followed by another. Bob Grant followed by Michael Savage: one nutjob followed by another. At least the nutjobs can be somewhat entertaining at times. There are the all-news stations, but I really don't need to spend 20% of my drive listening to traffic and weather and another 20% listening to commercials. Music stations? Ha! They're more boring and programmed than the talking heads.

So there's a little clue as to why the ride home can be annoying. I guess I'll just end up getting lost in my thoughts about... what? Who knows, I'll blog about it later.

Moral relativity run amok?

Educating Oscar: Snakeheads at Starbucks
'Beheading and stoning are acceptable forms of execution in Arabic cultures,' I explained. 'It pisses me off when the media pundits in this country start calling the perpetrators `savage' and `barbaric.' It's just a different culture.'
Dunno about that one Rodger. I think we can ascribe barbarism to certain practices. By your definition, nothing is barbaric, as long as it is a "norm" within that culture. I think there is a culture of humanity, within which we can universally define certain things as barbaric or unacceptable. And beheading a human who has not violated your rights in any way is, in my view, unacceptable and barbaric.

Osama Bin Laden Is 'a Pussy'?

So, it is mid-afternoon on Sunday, May 16. I'm poised at the keyboard, composing my latest op-ed piece for Strike The Root. Fox News is blaring in the background. Every so often I allow my eyes to wander to the tube. Fox News analyst 'Major' Bob Bevelacqua is being interviewed about the tinder box we have created in Iraq . Bob bores me to tears, so I'm guaranteed ten minutes of unimpeded writing while the former Army Green Beret with his neatly-trimmed goatee natters on and on.

'I think Osama Bin Laden is a pussy,' Bevelacqua declares. The terror mastermind, he explains, is 'a pussy' because 'he hides in caves.'

But that's a priceless Steinway!

Can This Marriage Be Saved? by Jonathan Rauch
In the United States and the rest of Western civilization, marriage has always been between a man and a woman. As [Inspector] Clouseau said: Not anymore.
As usual, a very well-reasoned argument at Reason, this time in favor of allowing gay marriage.
Today, a third of all American children are born out of wedlock, cohabitation is soaring, and nearly half of marriages end in divorce. Marriage's problem is not that gay couples want to get married but that straight couples don't want to get married or don't manage to stay married. At long last, gay marriage provides an opportunity to climb back up the slippery slope by reaffirming marriage's status as a norm -- not just as a right but as a rite, the gold standard for committed relationships. Gay marriage dramatically affirms that love, sex, and marriage go together -- that if you really care, you marry. No exclusions, no excuses.

Words from an anarchist

We Need the State, by Gene Callahan
...when I told a person with whom I was conversing that I believe government is unnecessary, he asked me, 'Well, would you rather have governments or terrorists?' He really seemed to believe he had presented me with a stark alternative: do away with government, as I was suggesting, and we'll have a world where people fly airplanes into skyscrapers, bring down large buildings with car bombs, and strap explosives to their bodies, then blow themselves up on a bus, killing scores of innocent passengers. Jeez, when you put it that way, I guess we'd really better keep government around, so we can live in a nice, safe world where none of those things ever happen.

The longer I live, the fewer things government seems to do well, the more I think we need the least government possible.

Goodbye Felix

CNN.com - Tony Randall dead at 84 - May 18, 2004
Tony Randall, the Emmy Award-winning actor who made the role of fussy neatnik Felix Unger his own in TV's 'The Odd Couple,' has died. Randall was 84.
How sad. The Odd Couple was -- and is -- one of my favorite classic TV shows.

Love this show...

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! on Showtime
In Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, the crusaders utilize principles of magic and trickery, as well as good old fashioned 'hidden camera' sting operations, to smoke out these nonsense peddlers and reveal how they operate.

I've only seen an episode or two of this show over the internet, and it's great. They have no qualms in trying to debunk just about anything. One of my favorite quotes from a show on chiropractic "medicine". Penn referred to a chiropractor who did "adjustments" on infants as young as a minute and a half old. Close-up on Penn with a serious, bemused, sad expression on his face:
Please understand that it's a bad idea to crack your baby's not-formed bones. We don't have a gag here. That baby-twisting motherfucker just makes me angry, scared and depressed. We should have just called 911.

Mind you, I don't want to pay for Showtime, nor do I want to pay for the episodes on DVD, so I guess I won't be seeing much of it, but these guys are great. Saw them on Broadway years ago, for the "Refrigerator Tour".

On Envy

Poverts Love To Say No by Gary North
A povert [PAHvurt] is someone who has not had much economic success, and who then justifies this failure in his own mind by denying that economic success is either desirable or legitimate. A povert praises poverty as a way of life.

In almost all cases, a povert is middle class, meaning a middle-class American, meaning wealthy beyond most men's dreams, today or in the past. He is a rich person by the world's standards, but unsuccessful in his desire to keep up with the Joneses. So, he dismisses the Joneses as misguided.

Poverts tend to be envious. They resent the success of others. They delight in seeing successful people fail, or even better, lose what they possess. Even if they are made worse off by the failure of the successful, they rejoice.

Sarin was found. Does it matter?

Sarin was found in an exploded shell in Iraq. Does this mean anything? Well, yes, it does mean something, but does it change how I feel about whether or not we belong there? No, I don't think so. There were plenty of arguments for not going in there in the first place.
In the final analysis, the war against Iraq was the wrong war. Not because the United States used preemptive military force—preemptive self-defense would have been justified in the face of a truly imminent threat. Not because the United States acted without the consent of the United Nations—no country should surrender its defense to a vote of other nations. And not because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—none has been discovered and, even if they existed, they were not a threat.

The war against Iraq was the wrong war because the enemy at the gates was, and continues to be, Al Qaeda. Not only was Iraq not a direct military threat to the United States (even if it possessed WMD, which was a fair assumption), but there is no good evidence to support the claim that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and would have given the group WMD to be used against the United States. In fact, all the evidence suggests the contrary. Hussein was a secular Muslim ruler, and bin Laden is a radical Muslim fundamentalist—their ideological views are hardly compatible.

So now this new discovery will bring a whole lot of "I told you so's" from the pro-war crowd

Monday, May 17, 2004

Then democratizing Iraq wasn't one of the reasons we went in?

In policy reversal, US signals possible acceptance of theocracy in Iraq
The United States signalled its readiness to put up with an Islamic theocracy in future sovereign Iraq, with Secretary of State Colin Powell saying the US administration "will have to accept" any government created as a result of free and fair elections there.

So, if we were wrong about WMD, and we're willing accept a theocracy, remind me again why we went in? Link via Rockwell.

Kwiatkowski to speak at LP convention

Retired Pentagon analyst to address Libertarian convention
"We solved the things we're there to solve, but it's not what we were told we're there for," says retired USAF Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was working as an analyst for the Pentagon as the U.S. geared up to invade Iraq.

A registered Libertarian, Kwiatkowski will talk about the Iraq war at the Libertarian Party's national convention in Atlanta. Her primary thesis: The reasons for invading Iraq were manufactured.

A very interesting writer, I often see her at LewRockwell.

So let's just leave already

Bremer: If Asked, U.S. Will Leave Iraq
The U.S. governor of Iraq told regional officials Friday that the United States would leave the country if requested to do so by the new Iraqi government -- although he thinks such a move is unlikely

Unlikely, hm, maybe because we're installing the government there, so they will do whatever we tell them to do?
Paul Bremer told a delegation from Iraq's Diyala province that American forces would not stay where they were unwelcome.

Based on all the goings-on there, wouldn't it be safe to say that we're pretty unwelcome there already?

Can I have a third arm please?

True genetic engineering around the corner?

What they're talking about here is not the type of genetic engineering we've had for years, where (for example) after years of work, they can produce a tomato that's more insect resistant, but rather the type of engineering where they have a ready-made set of components on the shelf that they can string together to do jobs. True engineering, not one-off "works of art" as one of the scientists put it.

Will my marriage be able to handle it?

Gay couples are marrying in Massachusetts! This must mean that my marriage will erode, since allowing gays to marry will undermine the very meaning of marriage. And my children! What about my children?!? The law of the land is not enforcing what god says, so how will they know what to think?

Oh wait, you mean that I can actually influence my children in ways other than what the law says is ok? No no, if I think something is wrong, then the law must be written to agree with my beliefs, and conversely, if the law says something is ok, then I can't tell my children otherwise.

What fools are these that think this way? Why must the fact that the law allows something mean that all of society will flush itself down the toilet? I especially love (note sarcasm) those so-called "libertarians" who say that in this particular case, the law is the appropriate way to prevent this social evil. Note that there are those who say that government should be completely out of the marriage business, that it should only be in the business of enforcing contracts (and with that I agree), but it is unlikely that the government is going to recuse itself of the power to recognize marriages, and unless it does, then it has no business deciding who can enter into a marriage agreement with whom.

The sticky part comes in with the granting of certain "rights" to marriage partners. E.g., do benefits have to be extended by employers, etc. Once again, I am firmly in favor of government keeping its nasty hands out of *any* of this. All business agreements, including employment and its benefits, should be the sole concern of the employer and employee.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Imagine that...

CIA Wrong on Iraq 'Mobile Labs,' Powell Says
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was wrong about Iraq (news - web sites)'s purported pre-war mobile biological weapons laboratories, a key part of the case about suspected weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said on Sunday

"I'm very concerned," he said in reply to a question on the NBC program "Meet the Press" about having used claims in a U.N. Security Council speech now known to have been "inaccurate and discredited."

Well well, we've been misled by our political leaders. Imagine that. I'm a little surprised that they're actually admitting it though. I wonder what's up with that, and if it means anything bad is going to happen to Powell?

New Rush Album

Rush is putting out a new disc. An album of covers, amazingly enough. All stuff from the 60's and 70's. Cream, Yardbirds, The Who, guys like that. It's "just" an EP of 8 songs, but hell, I didn't expect anything from them for a couple of years. I guess they were playing some old things while rehearsing for their 30th anniversary tour (which I'm seeing at Jones Beach Theater in August), and they decided to record them. Apparently Geddy said they'll be starting a new studio album next year. I wonder what direction that one will take them. I heard a recording of them doing the Stones' "Paint It Black" at the SARS relief concert in Canada, and it was ok, but nothing special. I hope they rock the hell out of those oldies...

Tonight's Sopranos

For the most part, a dream sequence tonight. It was co-written by David Chase, so it was a fun one, even though not much happened.

It looks like Tony B. is going to have to go. Too bad, cuz I like Steve Buscemi, but he was the new guy for the season, so he has to get killed. He's one of these weirdo type of actors that I enjoy watching. Lots of personality, even if it is mostly geeky personality. And as Tony B., it's the personality of a geeky killer.

Only two more episodes to go already? How many episodes are there this season? According to the episode guide at HBO, tonight's was indeed the 11 episode of the season. Hard to believe.

Nothing about nothing

There is no reason for this. I see that almost everyone has their own blog, so I thought I'd start one and see what I do with it. I'll write about whatever I find interesting and would like to comment about. Things that amuse me, entertain me, interest me... Let's see where it goes.