January 06, 2009

Look at Hamas

A reader sent me this video about Hamas.  I should warn you that it contains images of violence.  I also cannot attest to the truth of what the narrator is saying.  Indeed some of the violence is so extreme and so inexplicable that it is difficult to imagine that anyone would behave the way the narrator says.



Horrible.

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Appropriate Irony

BBC: Israeli envoy to Caracas expelled

Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Caracas in protest at Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

A number of diplomatic staff have been expelled along with Shlomo Cohen.

President Hugo Chavez has strongly condemned Israel for its actions and called on Israelis to stand up against their government.

Venezuela is the first country to take such a diplomatic step in protest at the violence in Gaza.

"The Israeli army is cowardly attacking worn-out, innocent people, while they claim that they are defending their people," Mr Chavez said during a visit to a children's hospital in Caracas.
I just have to laugh about this.  This is like a priest refusing to grant me confession.

And yet, because Hamas is a group of terrorist barbarians, it's entirely appropriate that a tyrant like Hugo Chavez would support them over Israel.

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I Think I'm a Terrorist

Salon: Orwell, blinding tribalism, selective Terrorism, and Israel/Gaza

There are few concepts more elastic and subject to exploitation than "Terrorism," the all-purpose justifying and fear-mongering term.  But if it means anything, it means exactly the mindset which Goldfarb is expressing:  slaughtering innocent civilians in order to "send a message," to "deter" political actors by making them fear that continuing on the same course will result in the deaths of civilians and -- best of all, from the Terrorist's perspective -- even their own children and other family members.

To the Terrorist, by definition, that innocent civilians and even children are killed isn't a regrettable cost of taking military action.  It's not a cost at all.  It's a benefit.   It has strategic value.  Goldfarb explicitly says this:  "to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause."
Oh, but he's not done:
Those who defend American actions in every case, or who find justification in attacks on Israeli civilians, or who find simplistic moral clarity in a whole range of other complex and protracted disputes where all sides share infinite blame, are often guilty of the same refusal/inability to at least try to minimize this sort of ingrained tribalistic blindness.
There's an excluded third option here to which Mr. Greenwald is blind because he is apparently subscribing to the whole Just War Theory, which has been shown to be a self-destructive approach to waging war. Yaron Brook seems to have seen a draft of Mr. Greenwald's article while writing his:
To conjure up the emotions we felt on 9/11, many intellectuals claim, is dangerous, because it promotes the “simplistic” desire for revenge and casts aside the “complexity” of the factors that led to the 9/11 attacks. But, in fact, the desire for overwhelming retaliation most Americans felt after 9/11—and feel rarely, if ever, now—was the result of an objective conviction: that a truly monstrous evil had been perpetrated, and that if the enemies responsible for the 9/11 attacks were not dealt with decisively, we would suffer the same fate (or worse) again.
I think everyone will agree that war is a terrible thing.  Words fail to express the horror and devastation wrought by wars both properly and improperly waged.  But I am left thinking that Mr. Goldwald does not have a clear view of the battlefield from his ivory tower.  I would have him know that things are far, far worse than he thinks.  That's why I'm surprised when people treat it so casually -- both in the starting (hawks) and the stopping (doves, such as Mr. Greenwald) of violence.

I am not familiar with Mr. GoldFarb's overall views, but Mr. Greenwald sneers at him for allowing for and even encouraging the destruction of civilians, calling him a psychopath and a sociopath.  This is what makes me think Mr. Greenwald underestimates the terrible cost of war.  I think he must be imagining a war in which soldiers shower one another in flower petals and communities are handed packs of fat-bellied puppies to contend with.

The hideous reality is that the purpose of waging a war is to destroy your enemies.  Wavering from that objective will only lead to further loss of life and property for your own people.

Mr. Greenwald condemns the "us-versus-them" mentality as "tribalistic."  That is such an abuse of the term "tribalistic," that it fails to be meaningful to any person listening to his argument.  The fact of the matter is that Palestine and Israel really are two different countries.  To pretend as if they aren't is stupidity beneath any possible address, but Mr. Greenwald doesn't stop there.  He takes this further to say that those who choose a side -- either side -- in the dispute are guilty of thinking that the other party isn't even human.

The fact that one state is declaring war on another state at all is acknowledgment of the fact that the other state is composed of human beings -- or, in the event of some future interplanetary dispute, at least creatures with rational faculties to be granted all the rights and considerations of other humans.  If they really were not regarded as humans, but naughty animals who've somehow mastered the use of surface-to-surface propelled explosives as well as other ballistics and munitions -- wait, there is no such animal possible because such mastery requires that rational faculty.  Suffice it to say that war is only waged between humans.  Humans do not wage wars against animals and other non-rational entities.  The very thought of sending tanks in after a herd of deer is preposterous.

But mere possession of a rational faculty does not mean one is being rational.  The Islamo-Fascists of Hamas are not rational.  They could be, but they aren't.  This doesn't make them less human, it just makes them evil.  And it is their conduct -- not my moral evaluation of their character, because indeed they could be evil, but keeping to their own devices -- that has warranted their destruction.

Mr. Greenwald seems to understand destruction when applied to soldiers, but he doesn't understand how anyone could possibly justify violence against civilians.  It is as if he imagines some magical boundary the divides the soldiers and the civilians in Gaza.  No, that's not what he thinks.  He knows that the soldiers are among the civilians.  But he regards soldiers and civilians as completely different creatures.  Almost as if the soldiers aren't even human, and the children of Palestine are somehow more human than others.

Reality does not support his delusions.

Soldiers are people, too.  So are their families.  So are the people who don't even agree with what the soldiers are doing who live nearby.  They're all people.  In standing behind, sheltering, feeding, healing, and helping these soldiers, all those "non-combatants" are helping the war cause of the enemy. The children are under the care of their parents and it is the parents who are responsible for their safety even in war.

If a noncombatant does not want to be hurt when war comes, I have only one suggestion: Run.

If a soldier does not want to be hurt when war comes, I have one suggestion: Surrender.

If a country wants to keep its children and soldiers safe when war comes, there is only one option: Surrender.  Completely and unequivocally.

If Palestine is overwhelmed by the violence that Israel is doing to them, they should give up.  They should lay down arms and permit Israel whatever actions will satisfy it.

But if Palestine believes that it is right and just in its cause and believes that cause to be worth the destruction and harm that will come, by all means, they should keep fighting in an attempt to destroy Israel.  War will settle the matter for good or for bad.

Winning a war does not guarantee that the moral or most just or proper country has won.  It is simply a method employed by the unjust to attempt to enslave others and a tool used by the just in an attempt to thwart tyranny.  That is all the more reason to be cautious in employing it.

If war comes your way, you should be absolutely and completely terrified.  It should weigh heavy on your heart before you decide to enter into it.  Because if you choose to enter into war, you should choose to win.  And choosing to win means that you should seek to completely and utterly destroy and terrify your enemy -- your fellow human beings.

So, heaven help you if you convince me to go to war with you because I'm a terrorist according to Mr. Greenwald.  I would become a sociopath who has absolutely no regard for you and yours. I would not care if you surround yourself with babies, blind people, and precious works of art.  I would come for you in order to destroy you. And all the people around you should run.

One final note: Mr. Greenwald conflates strong support for Israel in this and other conflicts with blind nationalism or complete support for everything that Israel has ever done or will ever do.  Even if you constrain the topic to that of war or international policy, support for one action does not necessarily imply support for another.  Even general support for Israel or the US or any country does not imply support for each and every specific action that country may under take.  So, he impugns his readers who agree with him "in almost all areas other than Israel," saying they are being insensitive to the plight of Israel's enemies who suffer, too.  His willingness to blame the victim here is almost too much to believe, but what is particularly galling is his wililngness to simply blame EVERYONE for what's going on and Israel and the Islamo-fascists of Hamas on the same moral footing.

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Hamartians Under Attack

CNN HNN's coverage of Israel's assault on Gaza is even more overtly biased this morning.  They just keep talking about the Palestinian casualties and how Israel is the one causing a "humanitarian crisis."

I just keep going back to my question about who started this with the indiscriminately targeted rocket launches.

Another thing that keeps crossing my mind is that Israel is unlikely to seize control of Gaza and take it as part of Israel.  Yes, I know they've fought for that territory in the past, but I also take note of the fact that in the past when they've launched these assaults in order to stop another country from attacking them, they've satisfied themselves with simply removing that country's capacity to attack and then went home.  Israel just doesn't seem to be big on long occupations or in taking over other countries.  Does anyone think the Palestinians would show that much restraint?  I don't.

Update: On that final point, I am informed that Israel does maintain some sort of occupation of Gaza even after they pulled out in 2005.  I really have no information about the details there, but would be interested if anyone cares to provide any info there.

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January 05, 2009

More about Hamas

Joe.My.God is reporting on a protest here in NYC over this whole Hamas/Israel conflict.  I really do not understand what there is to protest here.  Hamas has been attacking Israel.  Israel is sick of it and it trying to put an end to it.  What's there to protest?  Hamas?

They aren't protesting Hamas.  They're chanting things like "Free Palestine," which I also don't get because Palestine is already a country that Israel was happy to leave to its own devices so long as they don't launch rockets at them... wait.  PALESTINIANS ARE LAUNCHING ROCKETS AT THEM.

Again, I don't get it.  These people have put reason out on its ear.

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Journalistic Bias and Objectivity

I'm watching CNN Headline News this morning and they've talked about the current violence between Israel and Hamas.  Apparently, Hamas has been successful in launching rockets into Israel even though Israel has been bombing them a lot and pushing its forces deep into Gaza.  An EU delegation is going to the region to ask them to stop fighting.  The UN, of course, is also asking for a cease fire.

I haven't done any research on this story.  That's just what I know from the segments on CNN HLN this morning.

They keep showing these people who want to stop the violence, but no one is talking about why there is any violence in the first place.  I can understand wanting everyone to stop and chill out if this is the result of some collosal misunderstanding, but I have my doubts that folks are sending tanks and launching rockets over some superficial misunderstanding.

It's like the UN and all these other people want to stop the violence for the sake of stopping the violence, without any regard to the principles that are driving the violence.  Perhaps there is a very good reason for launching rockets or sending tanks into Gaza.  If there is, you couldn't tell from these reports.

Even after reading this article on the New York Times, I can't tell how this started. 

I remember not long ago, Hamas and Israel had stopped fighting for a second.  So, why'd they start fighting again? The only thing clear to me is that Israel wants to stop Hamas from bombing them and that seems like a very legitimate goal and concern for them.  There is no word about why anyone thinks Hamas should be allowed to continue this.

Some people seem to be arguing for something called "proportionality" from Israel, but I can't even see the hair that is being split to differentiate by scale between bombing from rocket launching. And let's do be clear: I don't support proportionality in war.  If anything, I am for completely, gobsmackingly disproportionate responses in war.  So, if bombing is worse, then I think Israel is doing the right thing to win the war in response to the Hamartian rocket launches.

I obviously have an opinion about who I believe to be at fault here, but what concerns me is that the news is not giving me any factual information with which to either confirm or change my mind on this issue.  Everyone just keeps saying they want to "stop the violence."

Is this objectivity?  I think not.  Is this avoiding bias?  Not possible.

Objectivity requires acknowledging the facts, not avoiding or obscuring them.  Failure to provide essential facts actually serves as bias for the party in the wrong.  I have an example.

Let's say a bank robber comes into a bank, demands money with threats of violence, and is shot by the bank security guards.  Would you call it a lack of objectivity to call him an armed bank robber?  No!  In fact, if you reported anything else, it could only be to make it sound like he wasn't trying to rob a bank.

Man was killed today when bank security guards opened fire while he stood at the teller counter.  The man was wearing unconventional attire that some lady who was wearing her bathrobe to the bank alleges was "bank robber" gear, but all that seems clear is that the man did want to make an unscheduled withdrawl from his non-existence 401K which the bank managed for him.  The teller with whom the man was speaking did not return our calls immediately for comment because she was detained for questioning at the time.
That, my friends, is totally biased and non-objective reporting.

I understand that no one wants other people to get hurt, but some people deserve to be hurt.  Some people deserve to be hurt repeatedly.  And some people deserve to be killed.  This is particularly true in cases where a war is being fought for legitimate reasons.  But if I leave it to CNN and the New York Times, I may never be able to determine whether or not anyone has any good reason for fighting in Gaza right now.  If I leave it to them, I can only think that both parties are out of their minds -- a conclusion that could only abet the aggressor.

Update: Gina Liggett has a nice post about this whole conflict up over at Noodlefood.

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January 02, 2009

No Fats, Please

Paula over at Noodlefood is blogging about the campaign for special rights for fat people based on the categorization of obesity as a disease and Andrew Baker comments about his worries about a fat tax.  (Full disclosure: Andrew often comments here as well.  Hi, Andrew!)

Well, fat taxes are becoming a reality!  Alabama has proposed to charge state employees for being obese -- or for not proving they aren't at risk for obesity-related diseases.  Governor Paterson here in NY has proposed a fat tax on the sale of non-diet sodas.

Aside from the rights and legal issues which Paula deftly addresses, I find the notion of fat as a disease a little strange.  I mean, you don't ask fat people not to cough on you.  You don't say, "Oh, he's got a touch of the Biggins, but he'll be back tomorrow after spending the day on the treadmill."  (Heaven help you, if you get a cold and a fat.  Wait.  It's feed a cold starve a flu, right?) It seems clear to me that obesity is a symptom, not a source of problems and the problems aren't necessarily biological, but doctors are generally more comfortable (and patients usually choose) with prescriptions for drugs rather than frank advice to get up off the sofa to exercise -- and stop eating bad food!

But if obesity is caused by genetics, I think the source of this problem is clear: chubby chasers.  People who are procreating with fat people and making fat babies who go on to make more fat people.

The Chubby Mafia has a massive campaign to promote obesity and the love of obese people.  How often do you hear "big is beautiful?"  "Post-gay" pop icon Mika even has a song called "Big Girl" in which he calls out

Diet coke and a pizza please
Diet coke I'm on my knees screamin,
Big girls you are beautiful'

[...]

You take your girl
And multiply her by four
Now a whole lot of woman
Needs a whole lot more
It's the fat agenda.  Next thing you know, they're going to want to get married and bring western civilization to its knees.

PS. The title of this post comes from a line that appears in singles ads by those brave souls who dare speak out against the threats and coersion from the Chubby Mafia.

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November 26, 2008

Now THIS is Being Sentimental about Animals

CNN: Panda Bites Student Seeking Hug

(The panda didn't want a hug.  He just wanted lunch!)

BEIJING (AP) -- A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday.

...

"Yang Yang was so cute, and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Read it again and just soak in the enormity of this person's stupidity.

I'm bringing this up as a result of some of the implications that came up in our tumultuous bumblebee discussion.

What if a panda set up camp in your yard?

Well, pandas are mostly vegetarian, but they're still giant, lumbering animals with sharp teeth and very strong muscles.  Adorable? Yes.  Domesticated? NO!  Safe for children and adults?  NO!

Now, I would frown on just shooting the panda because it rolled up in your yard, but like slaughtering a hive of bees, it's definitely an option under the right conditions.

I recommend the following course of action.

First, stay away from the panda.  Again: STAY AWAY.

Second, if possible, do keep tabs on the panda lest it sneak up on you or blunder its way into mistaking you and yours as a tasty clumps of bamboo or a threat to its own peace.

Third, whilst keeping an eye on the beast, dial 911.

Pandas, like pretty much any animal, can likely get feisty, so do not toy with the panda.

If the panda does start rampaging around your house or whatever, shoot it dead.  Not the best of all possible outcomes, but that's life.

Final step: find out how the hell a panda came to be in your yard because something probably went seriously wrong somewhere and I bet you could get someone to pay to have the panda brains scrubbed off of your dining room ceiling.

Hat tip, Diana!

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November 07, 2008

The Last to Know??

Did you know that Michael Crichton died yesterday?!  I just found out via one of my friends' Facebook status message.

I enjoyed his early books up to Jurassic Park.  Every book after that was really bland and read like a treatment for a movie or something.  But his early work showed some really creative potential both in form and content.

Thematically, I wasn't terribly inspired because he often seemed to harp on the danger of technology, apparently falling back on that old canard about the woes that come of "playing god."

Nevertheless, I'll miss him.  If nothing else, I could count on him to produce a good beach read.

UPDATE: Careful reading reveals that he died on Tuesday, not yesterday.

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September 24, 2008

Ridiculocity: Fool Speed

WPTZ.com: PETA Urges Ben & Jerry's To Use Human Milk

WATERBURY, Vt. -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

[...]

"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," said a spokesperson for Ben and Jerry's.
  I took out the idiotic PETA explanations.  Go look at the article to see all that ridiculocity. The part I want to call attention to is Ben & Jerry's response.

They don't say that PETA is batshit insane for bringing this up or even suggesting that milking is somehow misery for the cows (and we should be concerned about that) and that milking people would be at all practical for their business.  They don't even bother to point out people milk and cow milk are not the same chemically, which would mean reformulating all of their ice cream to compensate for the different flavors.

No.  Instead, they leave the door wide open to a smartass at PETA pointing out that mommies make way more milk than their babies can eat and so the surplus could be sold to Ben & Jerry's to make their ice cream cow-friendly. 

This is the problem with pragmatists. Instead of pointing out the obvious idiocy here (the idea that animals have rights) they're looking at the practical concern that adopting this stupidity might deprive some baby of his mother's milk.

Stupid stupid stupid.

Ben & Jerry's is a bunch of dirty hippies anyway.  They get what they deserve.

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September 08, 2008

This is Just Too Funny Not to Blog

Times Online: North Korea ‘uses doubles to hide death of Kim’

Is Kim Jong-il for real? The question has baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years but now a veteran Japanese expert on North Korea says the “dear leader” is actually dead – and his role is played by a double.

The expert says Kim died of diabetes in 2003 and world leaders including Vladimir Putin of Russia and Hu Jintao of China have been negotiating with an impostor.

He believes that Kim, fearing assassination, had groomed up to four lookalikes to act as substitutes at public events. One underwent plastic surgery to make his appearance more convincing. Now, the expert claims, the actors are brought on stage whenever required to persuade the masses that Kim is alive.

The author has been derided by rival analysts of the hermetic communist state. Yet so few facts are known about North Korea’s ruling dynasty that some of the strange things reported in Professor Toshimitsu Shigemura’s bestselling book cannot be readily explained.

Kim is/was crazy, so this seems perfectly reasonable to me. The worrisome part is that there is more than one person out there who is willing to act as crazy as he is/was in order to keep his crazy going. Like it's soooo great being in North Korea or something. Nothing says happiness like soul-sucking poverty and crushing tyranny.

Update: I forgot to link to the source! Fixed now.

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August 10, 2008

Shocking Things in the News

  • Bernie Mac died yesterday at age 50 due to complications from pneumonia.
  • Clay Aiken's baby mama gave birth to their son.  Weird.
  • Some dude stabbed the US volleyball coach's dad and flung himself to his death from the Drum Tower in Beijing.
Not so shocking, someone told me Phelps won gold and set a world record.

I am not watching the Olympics because China is a communist tyranny.

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July 28, 2008

How You Know China is Going to Hell

A piglet with a monkey face.

Nuff said.

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July 14, 2008

I Am Caught in the Throes of a Sexual Identity Disturbance.

This is just too funny not to mention.

Reuters: Man Wins Damages Over Gay Driving Test Retake

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian court has ruled the government must pay 100,000 euros ($157,700) in damages to a man who was told to retake a driving test because he was homosexual.

When 26 year-old Danilo Giuffrida told doctors he was gay at his medical examination for military service, they passed the information to the transport ministry, who told him he must repeat his driving test or have his license withdrawn due to his "sexual identity disturbance."

Giuffrida agreed to re-take his test, passed it for a second time, but the ministry renewed his license for just one year rather than the usual 10 years because of his homosexuality.

From the headline, I thought there was some kind of special test that involved emitting a cloud of glitter and flowers from the tailpipe of his motorino or something. 

My favorite part is how the judge added to his damages the fact that the experience left him with "a grave sense of mistrust towards the state."  Um.  I have a grave mistrust toward the state and even moreso toward the Italian state.  Someone get me a a few hundred thousand dollars!

Actually, the "sexual identity disturbance" part is my favorite.  Like he's having some kind of paroxism behind the wheel and THAT'S causing the cloud of glitter and flowers.  heh heh heh...  I've been in the midst of such a fit for several years now and I have to say: it's really not bad at all!

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July 12, 2008

Worst Plan Ever

Why do I like the city?  I love all the people.  I love the big buildings although I'm starting to think there really aren't enough big buildings and there could really stand to be lots, lots more.  I like the noise and bustle.  I like the cars.

WAIT.  Stop the internets!  Did you read that right?

Flibbert likes the cars?  But Flibbert hates traffic.  He doesn't like to drive.  He rarely rides in cars because he's too stingy to pay for cabs.

But you did read that right.  I like all the cars.  I don't mind traffic when I'm not sitting in it.  I like the option of being able to flag down a cab if the situation demands it and move speedily from one point in the city to the next.

But now the great minds behind the government of New York City have come up with the brilliant plan to narrow Broadway, which is one of the major avenues in Manhattan, from four lanes to two.  They want to make room for a bike lane and space for cafe tables because apparently all the people (tourists) who walk Broadway between Times Square and Herald Square have demanded to be allowed to sit amid all that bustling foot traffic and inhale the fumes of stopped cars.

Oh, but there will be planters with flowers as well!  No, really:

New York Times: Closing on Broadway: Two Traffic Lanes

In a surprising reshaping of the urban landscape, the city is creating a public esplanade along a portion of one of its most prominent streets, Broadway in Midtown, setting aside the east side of the roadway for a bicycle lane and a pedestrian walkway with cafe tables, chairs, umbrellas and flower-filled planters.

The esplanade, which the city is calling Broadway Boulevard, will run from 42nd Street to Herald Square. Scheduled to open in mid-August, it will change that section of Broadway from a four-lane to a two-lane street.

“I’m envisioning it as a public park on the street,” said Barbara Randall, the executive director of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, which is working with the city’s Department of Transportation to create the boulevard.

This is part of Michael Bloomberg's multifaceted plans to reduce pollution in the city and encourage people to choose alternative modes of transportation to cars.

He lost an earlier battle to start making people pay fees for driving south of 59th street in Manhattan and he has another plan to close Park Avenue on certain days in August so that people can roam around in the street.

I love the part of the NYT article where the lady describes making Broadway "a destination where you watch the world go by."

I didn't come to New York -- ever -- to watch the world go by.  I came here because I am going by.  The people who come here to watch the world go by -- let along those who want to sit on the street to do so -- are the idiots who are always getting in my way and being rude while doing so.  And now they're to be given tables and chairs.  These are people who do not appreciate the wonderfulness that is New York.  They see New York as some kind of playground.

It's not a playground.  It's a city.  It's THE city.  It's the place people come to in order to get things done.

But nooooo... Bloomberg and company want to turn this place into some great big lounge.  Like, I don't know, Paris or something.

Who's going to keep homeless people from pooping on these tables and chairs?

The people associated with this horrible plan say that drivers will learn to adapt to the change.  Adaptation here means driving elsewhere.  That's already where people drive when they aren't tourists.

This is very, very annoying. I hate the plan.  I hate the idea behind the plan.  And I can't help but believe that the anti-industrialists are behind it.


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June 19, 2008

Egoist in Emergency Sacked, Mocked in Collectivist China

It should come as no surprise that the people of Communist China frown on egoistic behavior.  Emergency situations are common strawmen for people who wish to claim that egoism is ethically corrupt.  Of course, they fail to provide any persuasive argument for why a person should die trying to save strangers or strangers' children.

Reuters: Teacher fired for running from quake school

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese high school teacher has been fired and denounced by local media and Internet users for fleeing a classroom before his students during last month's devastating earthquake.

Fan Meizhong, a Chinese-language teacher at a private high school in quake-ravaged Dujiangyan in southwest Sichuan province, has been branded "running Fan" on Internet chat-rooms and come under fire for defending his actions online in a lengthy post.

...

"At such a life-or-death moment, I would only consider sacrificing my life for my daughter. I would not do it for anyone else, even my mother," Fan wrote on popular online portal Tianya.cn ( http:/www.tianya.cn ).

...

Fan's account has enraged China, as it struggles to rebuild damaged cities and provide housing for millions of victims displaced by the quake.

"I know many teachers died protecting children during the earthquake... In this long essay, I can't see any 'person' here, I just see a big 'me'," a post in response to Fan's account said.
Bravery is a fine trait in some contexts, but stupidity is not.  I suppose if my child were in his class, I would be disappointed that he didn't try to save him, but I can't condemn his actions morally.  I can only say that he didn't act to support my interests over his own and, really, what business have I to ask that in the first place?

Apparently, the majority of China thinks they do have some grounds for making a claim on poor Fan's life.  They were evil and wrong.

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June 02, 2008

The Flash

This is just too cool.  I don't have much of a comment about it beyond that.

ESPN: Jamaica's Bolt sets world record in 100 meters at Reebok

NEW YORK -- Like a bolt out of nowhere, Usain Bolt is now the world's fastest man.

The Jamaican sprinter, who doesn't even consider the 100 meters his best race, set the world record Saturday night with a time of 9.72 seconds at the Reebok Grand Prix, .02 seconds faster than the old record held by his countryman, Asafa Powell.
It's hard to imagine running that fast.  If you want to see for yourself, just go to your local track and have someone time you as you run the straight part of the track.  I did that once and I think my friend timed me somewhere in the 20's of seconds.  9.72 seconds is an incredible accomplishment.

And isn't it great that his last name is "Bolt?"

Congratulations to him!  That's really awesome.

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May 06, 2008

Have You Noticed

That in all the coverage of the "polygamist sect" that the news doesn't mention that this is a crazy, fundamentalist branch of Mormons?  I've heard some news stories that refer to them as FLDS, which stands for Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, but mostly they just use the vague, general term "polygamist sect."

Jon Krakauer's book Under the Banner of Heaven is an interesting exploration of this sub-sub culture and the history of the Mormon church even if it is a bit patchy.

Still, I am vexed by the media's refusal to call a spade a spade.  Those people are Mormons, students of the Book of Mormon, believers in the angel Moroni and followers of Joseph Smith.  And even though the modern day, mainstream Mormon church eschews polygamy, Joseph Smith and his successor, Brigham Young, did not always reject the practice and this crazy, child-abusing "polygamist sect" is simply following in their footsteps.

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May 03, 2008

Japanese Officials Struggle to Avoid the Obvious and Succeed

Reuters: Official suspended for surfing porn at work

TOKYO (Reuters) - A city bureaucrat in western Japan was suspended from his job after officials discovered he visited porn websites at work almost every day, often spending hours gazing at nude photos, a city official said.

...

"The man apologized each time we spoke to him, but we couldn't quite get him to explain to us why he did this," [Kazuhiko Ueyama, a Kinokawa City official] added.
Well, I don't know about everyone else, but I'm kind of glad an explanation wasn't forthcoming this time.  After three hours every day for eight months they're going to have a dickens of a time cleaning his office as it is.

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April 23, 2008

People Get What They Deserve

Reuters: Penis theft panic hits city

Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.  No, seriously.  Stop laughing, this is serious.

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

...

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

...


"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

I just want all those people who think that there is a sorcerer trying to steal their penis to know that it is true. 

I personally pray to the devil every night to shrink, steal, or strike impotent the penises of every man outside of the United States and especially those in Congo.  While praying and saying some very complicated chants, I wear a gold ring, which I twist around my left index finger 13 times and then tap on a map of Congo.

Although, for the sake of women and children, I do wish these men would go behind closed doors to show off their stricken penises and not do that on the street as is implied in the above.

Now, I will ask the Dark Father Lucifer to stop doing this to the Congolese men if they will  help me transfer the money of a Nigerian prince...

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April 16, 2008

And You Thought You Had it Bad

Reuters: Court terminates 8-year-old girl's marriage

SANAA (Reuters) - A Yemeni court ordered the marriage of an eight-year-old girl terminated on Tuesday because she had not reached puberty.

The court also ordered the child's family to pay about $250 in compensation to the 30-year-old ex-husband.

The girl's lawyer and human rights activist Shatha Nasser said the minor had filed a suit in April asking for divorce and told the court that her husband had been physically abusing her and forcing her to have "sex with him after hitting her."

One of the people attending the trial volunteered to pay the compensation, the lawyer said, but did not explain the reason why the court ordered the compensation.

The ruling terminated the marriage instead of granting a divorce to prevent the husband from seeking to reinstate the marriage, according to the lawyer.

Many minor girls in Arab countries that observe tribal traditions are married to older husbands but not before puberty. Such marriages are also driven by poverty in countries like Yemen, one of the poorest countries outside Africa.

At the risk of being accused of ethnocentrism, that practice of marrying minors is barbaric and that a court of law dissolved a marriage merely because the child was prepubescent and not because, oh, I don't know, he hit her or that she is 8 or that she didn't WANT to be married to him, is insane.

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April 11, 2008

Boycott China

So, no doubt you've heard of all the fuss made about China hosting the Olympics this year.  I, for one, am opposed to it.  I think China is a rotten place and I don't even support doing business with China, let alone going there to play games.

A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted this article.

AV Press: Olympic boycott? Exactly the wrong idea

No thinking person would defend the People's Republic of China.

It's a terrible regime guilty of myriad offenses, and its domination of Tibet just happens to be the most trendy cause at the moment.

It's a Communist country. It's not a nice place. We get that.

...

The Olympics began in ancient Greece, and legend has it that even the war with Sparta was put on hold so athletes could compete. The modern Olympics began in 1896; the idea was to foster goodwill among countries of the world.

It's supposed to be the one time, every four years, when nations can set aside their differences and come together to enjoy the magnificent performances of athletes who have trained their entire lives to compete against the best in the world.

...

The world can see for itself what China is doing. The world can see the lengths to which the Chinese must go to prevent the real story of their evil empire from becoming public - banning Internet access in the Olympic village, etc. Having the Olympics in China does not give a nod of approval to China's regime. It shines a light on that regime in hopes of bringing about change.

...

Politicians and pundits who so blithely suggest the United States should boycott the Olympics ought to give up their lifelong dreams and quit their careers in protest. After all, that's what they're asking the athletes to do - give up their lifelong dreams.

First and foremost, the part that irritates me about this article is how it whitewashes the evils of China. 

It's like, "tyranny.. blah blah blah whatever."

Excuse me? 

That kind of response displays a crass, vapid and callous insensitivity to the nature of tyranny and simple facts of its manifestation in China.

Our complaints against China aren't that they stand in doorways or walk too slowly on the sidewalk or that they have no appreciation for the music of the Jonas Brothers.  It's not a minor annoyance or a simple difference of opinion.

China is a country whose government has absolutely no regard for individual rights.  They have no qualms about imprisoning or killing people for the benefit of "the state."  They've impoverished and terrorized at least a billion people. 

Perhaps from the relative comfort and freedom of the United States this is difficult for people to understand.  And this failure to properly recognize the issue here is exactly the problem.

The author of this article mentions the US boycott of the Russian Olympics in 1980 and characterizes it as "foolish."  I don't disagree with that characterization, but for completely different reasons.

The reason we should have boycotted the 1980 Olympics isn't because the USSR invaded Afghanistan, but because they too were a totalitarian government.  The foolishness of the boycott in 1980 was that it -- typical of Jimmy Carter -- was a failed attempt identify and take a stand on principle.

A country doesn't have to invade another to be evil.

The irony here is that the author waxes righteous while citing an example of someone making the same mistake he's making.

His argument is that the Olympics neither help nor hinder nor help countries who host them and that we should just participate in them because the athletes have worked their whole lives to be in them.

Is that even true?

No, it is not.

Hosting the Olympics is a major economic boost to the country and region who hosts it.  When a tyranny hosts the Olympics, all the money spent there goes to sustain that tyranny.

Yes, the Olympics brings global attention to the country and may highlight some of its ills, but so does boycotting it.  Boycotting, in particular, highlights the bad thing, while blind participation in the Olympics is effectively turning a blind eye to these things.

Can anyone turn a blind eye to the evils of China with a clear conscience?  It's astonishing that this author would even suggest it.  And on behalf of athletes who allegedly live for nothing other than the Olympics.

Do these athletes live for nothing other than the Olympics?  No.

The Olympics do bring international attention and a broader viewership to certain sports which may boost endorsements and the like, but the Olympics is not generally the most important competition for a particular athlete.

The author closes with a challenge to those who "blithely" propose boycotting the Olympics asking if they would willingly give up their lifelong dreams for this.

If I, for one, found out that my "lifelong dreams" would necessarily result in the propagation of tyranny, injustice, violence, and poverty for more than a BILLION people would happily reexamine my life priorities and I expect the same of any sane person.

On a finale note, consider the following from Press Esc: China forcibly evicts 1.5 million people for Olympics

1.5 million people had their property seized and were effectively rendered homeless for the Olympics.  It's shocking how blithely this author can ignore atrocities like this just so he can see someone's Ballroom Dancing dreams fulfilled.

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March 31, 2008

Wait. Politicians Lied? NO WAY!

I really need to stop with the sarcasm.  It's just so addictive!

Ok, but what's up with Hilary and Barak telling lies?

Hilary was talking about running to the car while being shot at by snipers and Barak was talking about JFK airlifting (With that family's driving/flying record, would you really -- wait.  Too soon?) his father in from Kenya or something.

Neither of these stories really make either one a good president, but lying is one of those things that makes for a bad president.

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From the Department of Stating the Obvious

Reuters: Study shows life was tough for ancient Egyptians

CAIRO (Reuters) - New evidence of a sick, deprived population working under harsh conditions contradicts earlier images of wealth and abundance from the art records of the ancient Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna, a study has found.

...

Studies on the remains of ordinary ancient Egyptians in a cemetery in Tell el-Amarna showed that many of them suffered from anemia, fractured bones, stunted growth and high juvenile mortality rates, according to professors Barry Kemp and Jerome Rose, who led the research.

...

The study showed that anemia ran at 74 percent among children and teenagers, and at 44 percent among adults, Rose said. The average height of men was 159 cm (5 feet 2 inches) and 153 cm among women.

"Adult heights are used as a proxy for overall standard of living," he said. "Short statures reflect a diet deficient in protein. ... People were not growing to their full potential."
Wait.  Stop the train.

Are you telling me that over 2,000 years ago in a slave culture of mystics without anything even remotely resembling a proper methodology for diagnosing and treating injury and disease, people got hurt a lot and had horrible diseases?  AND they had stunted growth?!  Inconceivable! Next thing you know, a study will come out that will tell us all that they didn't have cars and could not communicate by email or text messaging!  How did they get to Starbucks?  On a camel? HA!  You must be joking me.

In seriousness, I am having a hard time not blaming any surprise around this "revelation" on the idiotic trend among liberal-minded folk to venerate the ancient past and tribal societies.

I briefly participated in a recent discussion in which someone lauded the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations -- both of which were blood-thirsty,  mystic slave societies -- based on incidental characteristics like their development of roads, political offices, and the concept of zero.  (As soon as they threw that out there, I knew I was wasting my time.)

Listen: as far as I'm concerned, a small portion of pity goes out to anyone who had to live prior to the internet.  And if I think about it very hard, I am already QUITE impatient for a cure for HIV and cancer, the internet in my brain, a teleporter, and a jet pack.

If we were still restricted to living in mud huts and riding around on animals for transportation, I would be completely pissed off about it.

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March 27, 2008

Say No More. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. Say No More.

Telegraph: Man said 'wombat rape' led to accent change

A New Zealand man who claimed he was raped by a wombat and that the experience left him speaking with an Australian accent has been found guilty of wasting police time.

Arthur Cradock, 48, from the South Island town of Motueka, called police last month to tell them he was being raped by the marsupial at his home and needed urgent assistance.

Cradock, an orchard worker, later called back to reassure the police operator that he was all right.

"I’ll retract the rape complaint from the wombat, because he’s pulled out. Apart from speaking Australian now, I’m pretty all right you know. I didn’t hurt my bum at all."
The now-fluent-in-Austrailian kiwi was sentenced to community service.

I have no further comment here.

Thanks to W.A.D. for the link.

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