Wednesday, August 28, 2002

My Friend Joe... awesome, and I miss him. Just so you know
Required Reading in Pluckyland

Everyone in the whole wide world should read this book. Especially "post 9/11". The incomparable Carl Sagan's cool reason was very refreshing after months of hearing about Ann Coulter's harpy-like ranting. The "baloney-detection kit" Sagan provides would be an easy tool with which to discredit Coulter's many logical fallacies.

The final two chapters, "Science and Witchcraft" (where he chastizes witchhunts, not really witchcraft, calm down my Pagan friends...) and "Real Patriots ask Questions" (when's the last time you heard something like that) are the most pertinent now. Sagan mentions that it's a little scary how control over news stories and other media can affect popular understanding of history. He then goes on to say

We saw a pale echo of what is now possible in 1990-1991, when Saddam Hussein, the autocrat of Iraq, made a sudden transition in the American consciousness from an obscure near-ally--granted commodities, high technology, weaponry, and even satellite intellegence datato a slavering monster menacing the world. I am not myself an admirer of Mr. Hussien, but it was striking how quickly from someone no American had heard of into the incarnation of evil.

Ha! Stick that in your memory-hole and burn it!

I don't always agree with Sagan, for example I think he's a little too hard on Star Trek and the X-Files, but his brand of reason, his use of an actual thought process, is so wonderful it nearly made me weep.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Maybe this is why they keep selling all the good songs to commercials?

You know, I've seen Behind the Music. I know what these rock stars do with my hard earned money. So, maybe that's why I have a hard time feeling sorry for the recording industry with news like this. But then again, Idon't really have any intellectual property to speak of, so maybe I just don't know how it feels.
Things that make you go hmmmm....

Why do I get the feeling that if this person were Arab or Muslim, then they would be detained indefinitely without being charged while awaiting their military tribunal?

Thank you This Modern World, from whom I shamelessly found the link.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Are many Americans self-centered xenophones? No...

ABC News again has another gem. Apparently, some Christian students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by the intimidatingly-named "Family Policy Network" are objecting to the fact that they had to read a book that said Islam isn't evil. The book, called Approaching The Qur'án, The Early Revelations contains exerpts from the Koran as well as commentary on it. From the article:

"It doesn't provide any insights whatsoever into what could have caused people to act in the name of Allah on Sept. 11," said Terry Moffitt, chairman of the Family Policy Network.

Well, Mr. Moffitt, maybe that's because the terrorits "acting in the name of Allah" didn't have anything to do with anything out of the Koran. Maybe the terrorists were bad men twisting a religion that condemns murder, and even suicide, as haram or "evil". (Someone correct me if I'm spelling that wrong.) You know, just like the Bible says "Thou Shalt Not Kill", but for 2000 years bad men have been blithely ignoring that, too.

What really irks me, though, is that the "Family Policy Network" sounds like the kind of group that wants "God put back in public schools". Specifically, their god. But a book that teaches about another culture? Never.

At least I can take hope in the fact that not all the students were so close-minded. The article goes on to quote a student named Johnny Gilbert, saying:

"I found nothing offensive," Gilbert said. "I mean, I'm a Baptist myself, and I found nothing offensive in there. I mean, it was something different. It was new, and I think change is what a lot of people are afraid of."

Well put.
The Hayes Code, All Over Again

A few days ago, Salon offered this piece from Henry Jenkins, about the skewering he recieved on a particular MSNBC talk show, and it infuriated me.

Now, to be fair, I have no children, so I may or may not have a leg to stand on when I say this, but I can't stand it when groups of outraged parents get together and show the world how incredilby inadequate they are. For instance, the "Save the Children" pundit Mr. Jenkins was jousting with on this show stated that "parents across the country had purchased [the supremely ultra-violent Playstation 2 game] Grand Theft Auto 3 for their children without any idea of its distasteful contents", to which Jenkins replies in his article:

Hello! The game is called Grand Theft Auto 3. It's rated M for Mature Audiences -- not appropriate for children under 17 -- "violence, blood, strong language." The hit men and prostitutes are right there on the package.

And I whole-heartedly agree. Learn to tell your children "no".

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Of Course They Did!

Also in Salon today (which, by the way, is my favorite news site, ever) is a piece about those supposed mass graves in Northern Alliance territory. The people involved call it a rumor, naturally.
It All Went Down the Memory Hole...

Salon has a very nice short piece about our Middle East foreign-policy cycle. Consistently, the puppet governments we install become the regimes we want to change.

Personally (and admittedly, I'm a complete layman) I've always thought we should help to rebuild the infrastructure of these countries, like we did with the Japanese after World War II. After all, wouldn't the point of forcing a "regime change" anywhere be to have a more stable government afterwards? If we helped Hamid Karzai rebuild his country's roads, schools, businesses, farms, and all the other things that have been bombed to rubble by various groups over the past twenty years, perhaps his fledgeling government might have more of a change fending off the creepy Northern Alliance warlords.

It would be nice for the United States to be seen doing something actually good for the native people of a Middle Eastern country. Instead, however, we create a huge power vaccuum that leaves the door wide open for a group of violent, mass-murdering warlords with little scruples that can easily be seen turning agains the United States.

Let's be clear. The Taliban was a bad government that did bad things to its people (but so is, say China, and don't even get me started on that), and I rejoice at their removal. I just worry that we've caused it to happen in a very sloppy way that will have unintended and tragic side effects that will come back to haunt us.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Our Very Scary New Allies in Afghanistan

This is a very, very disturbing report on possible war crimes comitted by our "by-proxy" army in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance. What makes this even more upsetting is the fact that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East seems to function on a cycle. First, we help a group of rebels build an army and overthrow a tyrranical government that hates us. Then, in ten years, that group of rebels becomes a tyrranical government that hates us that we then help fund a new group of rebels to overthrow.

This (login required, but it's free) story makes that painfully clear. Turns out we may have helped Iraq develop the same chemical weapons it used against the Iranians and the Kurds, and which they may use against our soilders if we invade. You know, the same weapons theyr'e not letting us inspect right now?

The mind reels at the possibilities. I wonder if, in the next ten years, we'll find ourselves fighting the Northern Alliance. I hope not, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Senior Patrols?

This is a very cute, nice human interest story. However, I can't help but feel uneasy about it. The article only mentions that they are looking out for suspicious objects, i.e., brefcases, boxes, things out of place. But what kind of a minor jump would be needed for them to start looking for suspicious people? What kind of training do they recieve?

Maybe it's just because I've often found myself considered "suspicious" based upon my appreance, when I wasn't doing anything "suspicious" at all, that makes me so wary of things like this. Especially since this story has such a warm and fuzzy spin on it. That's what I get for reading mainstream news.

Blogger seems to be having some sort of screwy problem archiving. Or maybe it's just me. If you click on "archives" on the left there and get a "404 file not found" error, clear your cookies and try again. Of course, my computer and internet connection both kind of suck, so maybe it's just me. Maybe I'll call tech support and yell and scream at the person over the phone. (Of course, if you can't read the archive you won't see the post that makes it obvious I don't mean that.)

It could always be my fuzzy knowledge of html. Last time I had a website there were no such thing as frames and people were still using the blink command.

*UPDATE* Well, the Archives page comes up fine here at work, so it seems like it's just my problem. Never mind.
*UPDATE TO UPDATE* Two seconds later, it's not coming up again....grr...spit....
Plucky Is Sad...

It's sad that this is even being debated. Heck, even Jeffrey Dahmer got a trial.

And yet I'm somehow grateful that things like this will always happen. Yo, Joe!

Saturday, August 17, 2002

I hate Ann Coulter

Okay, so the above statement is a little harsh. I don't know Ann Coulter. I'll make the assumption that she's a very nice person to her friends and family. But she is definitely, without a doubt, the most insipid pseudo-celebrity this side of Darva Congers.

I'd never even heard of this woman (I don't watch Fox "News", or MSNBC, just like I never watched "A Current Affair") before her appearance on "The Daily Show" (which, recently, has given less sensationalist reporting to the news that anything I've seen on TV. Now whether that's saying something good about "The Daily Show" or something bad about the rest of mainstream news, I'm not sure). I don't believe she's real. I think she's really Andy Kaufman come back from the grave to play tricks on us again. It's the only possible explaination. The woman is so unfaceted that if she were a character in a book she'd be flat and badly written. You'd have to try hard to make up stuff like this.

Here's a few quotes, taken from Anti-Coulter:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

Funny, that's the same thing the terrorists say when they kill civilians. Another gem:

"The only beef Enron employees have with top management is that management did not inform employees of the collapse in time to allow them to get in on the swindle. If Enron executives had shouted, "Head for the hills!" the employees might have had time to sucker other Americans into buying wildly over-inflated Enron stock. Just because your boss is a criminal doesn't make you a hero."

Why is the person who says she loves working-class Americans playing Devil's Advocate for the Corporate Executives who ruined their retirement funds? I bet if Ken Lay were best friends with Al Gore instead of George W. Bush, she'd be singing a different tune.

Here's an older quote that, I sincerely hope, raises eyebrows.

"I think we had enough laws about the turn-of-the-century. We don't need any more." Asked how far back would she go to repeal laws, she replied, "Well, before the New Deal...[The Emancipation Proclamation] would be a good start."

Wow. That one speaks for itself. This one, though, is my personal favorite. On a recent new York Times article asking the "man on the street" about their opinions on a possible invasion of Iraq:

"...the New York Times managed to locate the only eight people in America opposed to attacking Iraq? (By "America," I obviously mean to exclude newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan [ emphasis...] and Los Angeles)."

How dare she!?! This made me so mad when I read it I was literally shaking. Look, either the attacks on September 11th were an attack on real Americans, many of them liberal, many of them Muslim, many of them even (to use a favorite phrase of hers) "swarthly males", or it wasn't. You can't say that the country that you're faithful to was attacked and then turn around and say that the place that was attacked wasn't really America. Make up your mind, Ann. Either you love freedom, or you don't.

Since I, unlike, it seems, Ann Coulter, do love freedom, I'm glad that we live in a society where she's allowed to prattle on about whatever she chooses. Because, in the America Ann Coulter and others of a like mind to hers would create, anyone as outspoken as herself would be among the first sent off to re-education camp. But then again, I never did "...appreciate the benefits of local fascism." Thanks, Ms. Coulter.

Thanks to Anti-Coulter for most of the info.