December 27, 2007

New to the blogroll

Sorry that I've been away, but family gatherings and reaquainting myself with the sin of Gluttony have taken up most of my time recently. In any, event, I stumbled onto a new blog that's worth reading called Back Talk. Thoughful analyses make for an interesting read. Here's an excerpt from an earlier post called What Does Torture Mean?:


What about waterboarding? Arguing about whether or not that interrogation method constitutes torture is like arguing about whether or not a flat rock is a table. The problem is that there are good arguments as to why this technique should not be lumped in with the methods described in al Qaeda's interrogation manual and some good arguments (I guess) as to why it should be. But just as a flat rock does not magically become a table if we force others to suppress their opposition to using the word in that fashion, waterboarding does not magically become torture if we shame everyone into remaining silent about their objections to using the word "torture" for that method of interrogation.
...
In cases like this, and there are many, there is no right answer. Even so, as a legal matter, the line needs to be drawn. Drawing the legal line is the job of our elected representatives. That's why I consider George Bush to be a serious participant in this debate and consider Democrats to be nonserious hysterics. From the beginning, George Bush has been clear that he supports the use of harsh interrogation techniques like this, that he understands how others could disagree, and that he wants congress to clearly draw the line so that CIA interrogators would know what techniques they could use without placing themselves in legal jeopardy. Until now, however, Democrats were much more interested in pointing the accusing finger at Bush and portraying him as supporting "torture." They wanted to apply the word "torture" to waterboarding so they could then accuse Bush of being "no better than the terrorists." That political game works (i.e., in a time of war, the Democrats have succeeded in their deliberate effort to tarnish their own president in the eyes of the nation and the world), but it is not a serious approach to the problem. This is why I must now applaud the Democrats for finally taking steps to draw the legal line. I disagree with them, but, as I said, drawing the line is one of the reasons why we have elected representatives:


House Passes Bill to Ban CIA's Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics

The House approved legislation yesterday that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, drawing an immediate veto threat from the White House and setting up another political showdown over what constitutes torture.

The measure, approved by a largely party-line vote of 222 to 199, would require U.S. intelligence agencies to follow Army rules adopted last year that explicitly forbid waterboarding. It also would require interrogators to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. The rules, required by Congress for all Defense Department personnel, also ban sexual humiliation, "mock" executions and the use of attack dogs, and prohibit the withholding of food and medical care.

This is what the Democrats should be doing. They should also do one more thing that they will never, ever do: define the harshest interrogation techniques that the CIA is permitted to use because they fall short of torture. If they would do that, the Democrats would be completely serious in addressing important issues of national security. But they never will take that step because, the moment they do, they will be accused of condoning torture by the far left elements of their own party. And accusing others -- Republicans in particular -- of condoning torture is an essential part of the liberal experience (which, as a said before, requires a villain).

Bang, zoom. Into the blogroll with ye.

Update: I'm a moron and I'm sure to catch crap from Harvey, but somehow I've managed to NOT add Iowahawk to my blogroll before today. I visit there so often that typing "I" in my browser's address bar automatically fills in the rest. Imagine my surprise when I went over to my blogroll and didn't see a link. Ugh. Anyway, consider that oversight corrected. Not because I'm trying to garner a cabinet position, either. So far as you know, anyway.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 12:42 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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December 19, 2007

Heartwarming

Helen typed another good Christmastime post, one which I can full understand. Go over and read it.

Merry Christmas, Helen. And I still believe, too.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 04:52 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Is it the NY Times or is it Memorex?

I've always enjoyed Gregg Easterbrook's football insights in TMQ, but I think that he really excels when he does his non-NFL schtick. Excerpt:


William Jennings Bryan Secretly Behind the Wicked Witch of the West?
Actual correction from last week's New York Times: "A television review in Weekend on Nov. 30 about 'Tin Man,' a mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L. Frank Baum, referred imprecisely to an interpretation of Baum's having Dorothy wear silver shoes on the yellow-brick road. While the juxtaposition of the colors has been seen by some as indicating Mr. Baum's support for the monetary system of bimetallism, he is not known to have advocated that system."

Here are corrections expected to appear soon in the Times:


  • "A television review about 'Tin Man,' a mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L. Frank Baum, referred imprecisely to an interpretation of Baum's having the Cowardly Lion wear both whiskers and eye makeup. While the juxtaposition has been seen by some as indicating Mr. Baum's support for bisexuality, his views of gender issues are not known."
  • "A television review about 'Tin Man,' a mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L. Frank Baum, referred imprecisely to an interpretation of Baum's depicting an animal that is a cross between a bird and a monkey. While the juxtaposition has been seen by some as indicating Mr. Baum's advocacy of stem cell research, he is not known to have taken a position on DNA splicing."
  • "A television review about 'Tin Man,' a mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L. Frank Baum, referred imprecisely to an interpretation of Baum's having the Emerald City guards wear green and black. While the juxtaposition has been seen by some as indicating Mr. Baum's advocacy of anarcho-primitivism, whose flag is green and black, he is not known to have advocated that system."


Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:22 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 16, 2007

Christmas info memo

Yeah, it's an oldie, but it's still on my list of favorite holiday repeats.
===========================================

CHRISTMAS INFO MEMO 12/21
IT CAME UPON A SERVER CLEAR...
***************************************************
Archaeologists working in the Holy Land have discovered an ancient
diskette mixed up with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Here is what they found on the diskette:

Date: Mon, 2 Dec

To: all@gol.com

From: Caesar_Augustus@Rome.gov

Subject: Taxes, Census

I decree that all the inhabited world shall be counted and taxed. You must
every one go unto your own city.
------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 4 Dec

To: Inn@Bethlehem.com

From: nazrthjosph@gol.com

Subject: Reservations

Please reserve room for two, perhaps three, for December 24 to
January 6.
------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 6 Dec

To: nazrthjosph@gol.com

From: Inn@Bethlehem.com

Subject: RE: Reservations

Sorry, no room available. We've got the Hanukkah rush and the census crowd.
Thank heaven Athens beat us out for the Olympics this year! Why not come in
the off-season and get our special rate? Anyway, if you have a forms-capable
browser, you can register for the census and pay your taxes on the Med Wide Web
at http://mww.Caesar.gov/render.html.
------------------------------------------------------

Date: Sun, 8 Dec

To: Inn@Bethlehem.com

From: nazrthjosph@gol.com

Subject: RE: RE: Reservations

Forms-capable browser? You must be kidding! It'll probably take
Galilee OnLine a couple of thousand years to work out access like
that. Please place us on waiting list for room.
------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 23 Dec

To: Inn@Bethlehem.com

From: healthdept@ci.beth.judea

Subject: Temporary Permit

Due to the crush of taxpayers and holiday visitors, you are hereby
granted a permit to use your stable, barn, or any agricultural outbuildings
for temporary lodging or shelter for up to 30 days from this date.

Address any appeals to:
Herod@Jerusalem.gov
ATTN: Manger Manager
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: Webmaster@houseofdavid.net

From: nazrthjosph@gol.com

Subject: It's a boy!

Unto us a son is born.

Let the family know. He came upon a midnight clear, away in a manger.
Hope to upgrade room.

Love, Joe
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: shepherds@nightwatch.com

From: heraldangels@lord.org

Subject: Hark!

Tidings of great joy: Unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Saviour.
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: shepherds@nightwatch.com

From: heavenlyhost@lord.org

Subject: Praise the Lord ...

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward
men.
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: shepherds@nightwatch.com

From: heavenlyhost@lord.org

Subject: ... and Pass the Admonition

If ye do not act now, rates for heavenly hostingWeb sites will go up
January 1. Sign up now to lock in current prices, so ye can make known
abroad (at our famous low rates) the saying which was told you
concerning this child, glorifying and praising God for all the things
that ye have heard and seen, as it was told unto you.
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: heavenlyhost@lord.org

From: shepherds@nightwatch.com

Subject: RE: ... and Pass the Admonition

Angels we have heard on high. We'll sign up, but only if you can get
us the domain name we want: FirstNoel.com.
-----------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 25 Dec

To: nazrthjosph@gol.com

From: melchior@magi.edu

Subject: Star sighting

We've seen the light! Heading your way. May take a few days. Caspar wants
to pick up some gold, frankincense, and myrrh before leaving. And for some
reason, everything seems to be closed today. Also, transportation is heavily
booked westward leading, still proceeding. We just got bumped off a caravan
because Balthazar wanted a non-smoking camel. See you January 6 or so.
Sorry we'll miss the bris. So, what are you going to name the kid, anyway?
------------------------------------------
And his name shall be called Jesus.
That's what this is all about...
------------------------------------------

Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 06, 2007

Defending science fiction

I've listened to and read way too many elitists who think that scifi is a crap genre. I will grant you that a lot of what is written sucks, but I would add that most of what pretends to be literature also blows great big enormous chunks. Anyway, Megan McAardle links to what she calls "a stirring defense of science fiction". I can't disagree. Excerpt:


The big problem with being sniffy about SF is that it’s just too important to ignore. After all, what kind of fool would refuse to be seen reading Borges’s Labyrinths, Stanislaw Lem’s Fiasco, Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World or Wells’s War of the Worlds just because they were SF? These are just good books, irrespective of genre. But they are also books that embody the big ideas of the time – both Wells and Lem were obsessed with human insignificance in the face of the immense otherness of the universe, Huxley with technology as a seductive destroyer and Orwell with our capacity for authoritarian evil. Borges, like Lem, suspects we know nothing of ourselves. Interested in these things? Of course you are. Read SF.

As an addendum, here's a link to the short story Answer referred to in the article above.

Update: It appears that both Vox and Bane have started related threads, which mainly state that the vast majority of new scifi writers suck. A lot.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 10:45 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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