Saturday, January 26, 2002

It took about an hour after getting my cable modem hooked up for the first hacking attempt. They must have hacker bots out there or something set on random.

Friday, January 25, 2002

What to tell the Concerned Ones who are still vaporing over the poor, abused Al Qaeda prisoners' having been hooded and goggled and sedated etc. en route to Camp X-Ray: the military was only trying to protect their sensibilities -- the in-flight movie was Glitter.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Uh oh -- blogs are getting fashionable. Expect the backlash: "Blog? That's so 2002! Only neanderthal conservatives still have blogging sites. The new trend in web fashion is interactive 3-D!"

Let the VRML revolution begin!

It is done: I cancelled the trial MSN account, eliminated the Borg-style "MSN browser" from my computer, and signed up for broadband though Earthlink (via the Borg Time Warner). It's only about $19.00 more per month. Next on the agenda: a domain, as soon as I can think of the perfect name -- if it isn't taken already. Then in the possibly near future I may switch to Movable Type or Greymatter. Time to get the HTML/web-building skills back in gear. (I've been doing a little blog research and I've heard good things about both systems. Any suggestions will be appreciated. I have some rudimentary programming skills -- very rudimentary -- and a little experience in tweaking cgi scripts, if they come with instructions.)

New addition to the blog list on the left: Kesher Talk, manned by Howard Fienberg. And a big thanks to Protein Wisdom for linking to my little anti-peace-creep screed below.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Why "Human Rights" Activists and Other Beasties Won't Ever Let the USA Off the Hook

(And: why they will never bother China or the Sudan or Saudi Arabia or any other creepy totalitarian/slaver/misogynist nation-state about their record on human rights.)

Because they know they can say any anti-American thing they like, go to cool anti-Guantanamo protest parties 'til the break of dawn, and the worst thing they will have to suffer is cross words from those they will label "right wing warmongers." They can go inside the borders of the US and do this, citing "freedom of speech," and be able to label any complaints or disagreements that may come their way as "censorship," and not have to suffer anything but exhaustion from going to so many academic soirées.

The reason why you won't see these same people up to the same antics in countries like China, the Sudan, and so forth, is that they knew that they would be deported, if lucky, or jailed, or they might find themselves becoming the victim of an "unfortunate accident."

The sad thing is, if the US became the military dictatorship as these people keep direly predicting, they'd still be of no use to any underground resistance, since they would be too busy congratulating themselves for how prescient they were.

That's what I think.

[Edited to fix minor spelling and syntax mistakes. That goes for all my posts. If it's spelled correctly and the grammar makes sense, then I've edited at least three times.]

Robert Fisk isn't the only writer of purple prose out there: try out this grapelicious selection by one Stephen Moyes of the Mirror. His assignment? To try on the outfit worn by the Al Qaeda prisoners. (There's a photo of him all dressed up. He looks just darling. Minor quibble. He didn't go all the way and get his head shaved. How can he really know what it's like unless he gets his head shaved?) Here's an example of his writing style: "I gasped for air as I tried to breathe through my nose. I told myself not to panic. All I could smell was the nauseating material of the surgical mask. And I knew my moans of discomfort went unheard." Do tell.

Among the many (un)interesting things he found out, one was: "There are no pockets or zips - which might have been useful to hide weapons. No belt, which could be used as a weapon."

I'll just leave that sentence by itself for obvious reasons. Damian Penny thinks we should mock this guy for saying that, but I admit to being speechless. Maybe I need more coffee. Anyway, I have to wonder just where these people get their updates. Isn't the Mirror one of those tabloids whose print edition has a naked girl on page 3? Someone needs to tell them that the Red Cross has already checked on the prisoners' condition, and apparently "hell on earth" does not apply; unless you count "hell on earth" as being kept from killing your allotment of Americans.

Perhaps the prisoners should all be transferred to prison in Brixton, UK: there, apparently, they won't be deprived of weapons (this story was also in the Mirror), since this intrepid reporter was able to smuggle a gun in. Apparently, security in Brixton Prison is a joke. No doubt the place has been given a clean bill of health by Amnesty International.

I found this link on Little Green Footballs and I couldn't resist:

Robert Fisk would like to thank America for making Osama Bin Laden happy by the horrible way we are treating those nice Al Qaeda we've imprisoned in Guantanamo. Well, Mr. Fisk, we aim to please. But how, pray tell, are we accomplishing this dastardly deed?

Well, for one thing, we made the prisoners wear hoods over their heads. For some reason this hooding thing really seems to steam these bloviators most of all. Some of these articles mentioned the "malaria-infested swamps" they were supposedly confined near, others mentioned the indignity of shaving off their beards, but they all complained about the hooding. Fisk is no different; in fact, he seems obsessed with hooding, going on at length about how the Iranians hooded their victims, how the Israelis hooded their prisoners, etc. I find this obsessive fear of hooding puzzling. One of my college professors told us about the graduation ceremony where he received his doctorate. Not only do PhD candidates wear caps and gowns, they also have to wear a hood, the full-head kind. Could this Fear of Hoods be a result of so many of these left-leaning academics going through a ceremony for a title that deep down inside they knew they did not deserve? And this hood-thing seems to have trickled down into the lefty academic/media elite population at large.

After an interval wherein, for some reason, he goes off on a tangent about how the Israelis supposedly tortured their prisoners with electrodes (he apparently is trying to insinuate that the US is going to do the same thing to the Al Qaeda prisoners, but I think he is really trolling for hits by putting "penis" and "nipple" in his column), he complains that the prisoners are being held "incommunicado." I guess that this article was written before the Red Cross et al got to communicate with the prisoners (and were told by the prisoners that they were being treated well).

Mr. Fisk's style is to write in a prose so purple it makes Danielle Steele read like Jane Austen. An example: "And now, a trip down memory lane. In the 1980s, when I was covering the war in Afghanistan between the brave mujahedin guerrillas and the Soviet occupiers, Arab fighters" blah blah blah. Count the clichés: "a trip down memory lane," "brave mujahedin." You know, Orwell wrote other things besides 1984; perhaps Mr. Fisk needs to read "Politics and the English Language" again -- though he does not seem to have ever read it, or else he would not use such hackneyed language.

Then again, Mr. Fisk sounds so much like the sort of person that Orwell complained about in that and in many other essays and commentaries that it makes me wonder if there isn't some sinister organization somewhere creating beings like Robert Fisk et al in a vat. Remember that scene in one X-Files episode (early in the series, when it was still good) where Mulder finds the room full of naked paunchy white guys floating in giant aquariums? Something like that. I know, it's part of an alien plot to take over the world and colonize it! "The truth is out there, Scully!"

By the way, this page on the Independent's website seems to be fucked (unless it's due to the fact that my version of IE needs updating); if you want to enjoy Mr. Fisk's mental droolings, you'll have to scroll way down the page. You're right, too much trouble to bother with.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Update: the "structure" off the coast of Japan was a hoax. (Heads up from Stephen Den Beste.) Bummer, I thought it was neat... Back to fiction. Wonder if the findings in India are a hoax too. After all, potsherds and the like can simply have been planted, and the structure-like things could be natural.

Cuba Camp is "Unacceptable", from the Telegraph. Apparently making the prisoners wear goggles and masks and gloves is "sensory deprivation" and is thus some sort of torture, according to the Concerned Individuals quoted in this article. You know, I can remember when "Sensory Deprivation Tanks" were the next big things in therapy. Yes, it was back in the 70's, I don't call myself "Olde Hagge" for nothing. You'd climb into this tank of body-temperature water, strap on an oxygen tank mask, get blindfolded, plug up your ears, and just float. Supposedly blocking out all your senses was supposed to get you acquaited with your "inner child" or some such nonsense.

Myself, I think the prisoners are getting the Hannibal Lecter treatment; after all, these are people who are quite willing to die as long as they can take an American or two with them. Better safe than sorry?

Neat: what might be the ruins of a 9,500 year old city have been found off the coast of India. Urban civilization could have started before the Ice Age. One wonders what might be found off the coasts elsewhere. There are those strange, regular-shaped rocks under the ocean in the Bahamas, or somewhere in the Caribbean, that are supposed to be a natural formation. But what if it isn't? And I saw something on one of the cable channels last year (I think it was Discovery Science) about a guy in Japan who discovered a pyramid-like stone structure under the sea off the coast of Japan. I wonder if a lot of "natural formations" are really the remains of drowned structures after all. Obviously, this excites the fantasy/sci-fi writer in me. But I wonder if the drive to label every angular rock that looks like it was manmade as merely being due to nature isn't due more to our fear of appearing irrational, non-scientific, etc., than to solid evidence.

Concerning this post on Samizdata (that quoted Brian Linse) on reasons to keep tv cameras out of the courtroom, I'd like to add another: the use of courtroom artists to make visual recordings of various moments in court trials lend the procedure a dignity and respectability that is sorely lacking in the all-warts-showing televised method. Showing only drawings, rather than live feed or even recorded videotape, have a distancing effect on the audience, which is a good, rather than a bad thing. Once, courtrooms were considered by the bulk of ordinary people to be scary places full of stern, Perry-Mason-like figures. Then we started to televise the proceedings (and modernize courtrooms from being dark-paneled, high-ceilinged chambers full of uncomfortable church-pew-like furniture to brightly-lit, air-conditioned rooms painted in bright, institutional-kindergarten shades), and courtrooms began to lose their status as places where the public did not go except as a last resort. I think it is no coincidence that the number of lawsuits went up as people began losing their fear of the courtroom.

And yes, that was slavish agreement on my part with a like mind, at least on this subject.

My sentiments exactly - William Quick on America vs. 'international opinion."

Correction: the winner of my First Geek Challenge is Christopher Johnson, the Midwest Conservative. What can I say? I obviously need new glasses.

My connection sucks and I can't stand it.

Anyway, I remembered what I wanted to post about, but first, this: over at Daimnation is the latest in an ongoing Al Qaeda prisoners/Geneva Conventions discussion. I have little knowledge of the finer points in legal terminology. I am not coming at this subject with any kind of expertise. But it seems to me that the arguments in favor of the US's position are sound. They may not seem convincing, but I think that has less to do with the fact that our position is weak, or that the US is "acting in defiance" of the GCs, than it has to do with the possibility that the Conventions don't entirely cover the sort of "armed force" that are organizations like Al Qaeda. It may be that the GCs are outmoded, and don't adequately cover a situation where the opposing force does not seem to have any interest in life on this earth, except in so far as to how much of it they can destroy before they are killed.

I think, though, that all this blather about the Geneva Conventions is beside the point: what really bothers critics is the way the US just hauled the prisoners off to Guantanamo without asking the rest of the world's permission. And underlying that is the fear of Angry America, bent on revenge. From the way some commentators are acting (see my rant) one would think that we were going to immediately start the torturin' and rapin.' I really don't know what basis anyone has for treating the US as a nation of brutes and neanderthals. I'm tired of seeing my country treated as if we were the abode of Cthulhu, and were only being restrained from unimaginably horrifying acts by our handwringing betters from overseas, not to mention Canada. If the shoe had been on the other foot and the Saudis had been the ones with the arsenal of nuclear weapons, who were attacked in such a manner as WTC by American terrorists, there would be no question of how to treat prisoners because there wouldn't be any; the United States would be a sheet of glass from sea to shining sea.

Thank you for your time.


Anyway, to move along, after reading report after report on the incompetence and just plain wackiness (heh heh, plane wackiness) that passes for airport security these days, and reading Mr. Norm Mineta's continued stance against "racial profiling" because he and his family were interned in camps during WW2, I wonder if he is the right man for the job. I mean, I'm sorry for his sad experience in the past, but the situation is not quite the same, and he seems to be unable to see that. While there might be the occasional little old lady who decided to go out with a bang by becoming a terrorist and smuggling a bomb onto a plane, it is more likely that the terrorists that have to be looked out for fit a certain profile, part of which happens to be their ethnic background. It is a waste of time to randomly search babies and old people when we know this. But Mr. Mineta seems to be holding the system hostage to his childhood trauma.

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