Monthly Archives: June 2007

Updating Movable Type

I’m installing a new version of MT today. Because of the weird issue where my index page keeps reverting back to January 30, I’m going to be deleting MT and then reinstalling it, instead of just upgrading. Hopefully, everything comes out okay. See you on the other side.

EDIT: Here we are at the other side, version 3.35. I’ll be fiddling with templates later.

EDIT: Man, I can’t get my template junk to work right.

Who’s the radical?

I was skimming through SCOTUSblog and I saw something shocking in this entry, Government calls Al-Marri ruling a threat to security:

The Justice Department, denouncing as “radical” a Fourth Circuit Court ruling rejecting presidential authority to seize and detain a civilian captured inside the U.S., asked the Circuit Court on Wednesday to rehear the case en banc, and to overturn it swiftly.

Yes, how dare the courts have the audacity to deny the president kingly powers. Any citizen should be detained by the president, if he suspects they are a terrorist. Habeas corpus, schmabeas corpus. We’re in a fucking war on terror! 9/11 changed everything.

The terrorists could be anywhere! They made the whole world a battlefield, and thus, we must take the battle to them, wherever they may be. I bet the liberal-commie-traitors would love for terrorists to be able to hide on our own soil. I bet they’d love for terrorists to hide behind our ancient liberties and constitutional safeguards. I can’t decide whether I hate them more, or the terrorists.

Descent into Pseudonymity

I’m about to start working, so lately I’ve been frightened about the prospect of people finding me on the internets. Luckily, I share the name of some Christian singer guy, but this weblog still shows up on the second page when you google my name. I don’t want to watch what I say on this weblog; I don’t want to manage my image at this young an age. I want to be as crass as I fucking want on The Chalkboard Manifesto — and I reserve the right to be offensive to anyone.

This could also be a problem if I decide to become a public figure of some sort. One cannot help but be a moron at 20 years old, and I do not want those moronic things preserved on the internets for all to see. A simple slip of judgment can be a disaster.

Things I have said can be easily taken out of context, especially when that context can sometimes be my entire life (or my personal growth during my teenage years.) I believe that people are smart enough to recognize context, but they have to be given that context in the first place. I won’t be able to defend myself.

Of course, certain public persons have recovered from much worse than I can ever do, but I do not have the skills to attempt such a recovery.

So maybe it’s best if I become anonymous, so I can do what I want to do. Alternatively, I can make this weblog private, but that doesn’t solve the Chalkboard Manifesto problem. Furthermore, there’s still the risk that information will leak out even from a private weblog. Writing under pseudonym will not sate my vanity, but that may be the price of freedom.

I’m undecided whether I should really go anonymous, but I’m certainly leaning in that direction. While it may be a tragedy to possibly erase this weblog from existence, I will at least keep records for myself.

Too Soon

Something most people don’t know about me is that I’m a pro-wrestling fan. I just wanted to note here that Chris Benoit was one of the greatest. Just the other week I was commenting on how much more enjoyable he was to watch than many other wrestlers out there. So it was shocking to learn that he was dead when he had so many years left in him to entertain us.

A Modest What?

The New York Times has this article on Michael Bloomberg, which contains this offending tidbit:

Which opens the door to a Swiftian modest proposal, one that might appeal to any billionaire independent presidential candidate who knows the art of a deal: Rather than try to win the White House outright — a long shot — an independent candidate could instead try for a king-making (or queen-making) bloc of votes in the Electoral College.

John Swift’s original “A Modest Proposal” satirically referred to eating Irish babies. So, I’m kind of confused about how this is Swiftian — unless my satire-detector is completely off. Yeah, it’s a Swiftian modest proposal, if you also believe that Alanis Morissette understands the word “ironic.”

[Disclaimer: I am only harping on one thing. I make no other claims about the article, the author, or the media, or whatever.]

Conspiracy E-mail

In reference to this comic on conspiracy theorists, I got this email:

I stumbled on your comic “do you know why we’re in Iraq” and am having difficulty understanding.

Do you mean to say that Iraq is a diversion from the proposed North American Union?

Do you think “conspiracy theorists” is a functional way to describe someone? What does it mean?

Ps. learn more about 9/11

After a laugh, I sent this thoughtful reply:

North American Union? Don’t make me laugh.

The American military invasion of Canada is imminent.

Clean Inbox

Well, I just cleaned out my school e-mail inbox. I feel so clean and uncluttered. Now, I will keep it clean.

Speaking of keeping things clean, I have something totally unrelated to say. I’m going to be hunting for a new moniker over the next few weeks. This may even end up with me getting a new domain or something.

Einstein and Metaphysics

I was skimming through a copy of Relativity by Einstein in the bookstore at the airport. I remember getting the impression that the book read almost like philosophy. He interpreted facts in a different way. Einstein made a breakthrough in metaphysics, more than anything else. At least, that’s what my uninformed mind thought as I quickly glanced through it.

The Hacks Attack the Demagogues

Trent Lott today: “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”

AHAHAHA! Man, these people are totally clueless. The Republican Party is ripping itself apart. It’s going to be great to see these poison-spewers unleash their poison words upon each other.

EDIT: Geeze, I know, I sound like a liberal, but I’m sick of Rove-style politics, and I’ll be glad to see certain elements of the party attack each other.

Writings against God and religion

Since the beginning of time, students have been admonished not to use introductory sentences which are wildly general. I’ve been indoctrinated with this principle since high school, and I’ve even been warned in college. My TA in my philosophy of mind class advised us not to start our essay with something like, “Since the beginning of time, people have wondered if ‘I’ refers or not.” Not only is it bad writing, but it is inaccurate. We didn’t start wondering about it until the 20th century (however, most of us don’t worry about it at all).

Imagine my surprise when a writer for the New York Times uses this type of shitty introductory sentence for a blog entry. Stanley Fish, from behind the TimesSelect wall tries to defend theism from the onslaught of the recent books by Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens. I’m going to show you the offending sentence, with a few follow-up sentences for context:

Writings against God and religion have been around as long as God and religion have been around. But every so often an epidemic of the genre breaks out and a spate of such writings achieves the status of notoriety (which is what their authors had been aiming for). This has now happened to three books published in the last three years: Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and The Future of Reason” (2004, 2005), Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” (2006) and Christopher Hitchens’s “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007).

I know, I know, who am I to criticize someone’s English? What authority do I have? What have I published? Who have I taught? Good questions. Who am I? I’m just an observer, and I’ve observed that that sentence is horrible. I make no other remarks on anyone’s command of the English language. Furthermore, if you disagree with me on the merits of wildly general introductory sentences qua good English [Note: Is this even grammatically correct?], then you can at least agree that the sentence leaves out a lot of history.

First of all, writing itself hasn’t been around as long as religion has been around. But that’s just nitpicky. The second, and better, point is that writings against God and religion haven’t been around because such writers have been fearful for their reputation, livelihood, and lives for most of the time God and religion have been around. I’d argue that religious tolerance and freedom of religion are modern concepts, let alone freedom from religion. John Locke’s landmark A Letter Concerning Toleration advocated religious tolerance, but left out atheists.

Religion has long suppressed criticism. Galileo was punished for contradicting Church teaching, even though he had no quarrel with God himself. Even if criticism has occasionally surfaced, the critics weren’t around for very long afterwards.

While there is evidence of anti-theist writing from antiquity (namely, Epicurus), this does not excuse the poor sentence. Among Socrates’s charges was believing in strange, new gods. He received the death penalty. After the Roman Empire fell, humanity took great steps backwards. “Every so often an epidemic of the genre breaks out”? Please, point to me an epidemic of these writings before the Age of Enlightenment.

For a long time, the Catholic Church forbid translating the Bible into the vernacular. The Bible was in Latin, while the people didn’t speak Latin. The absurdities of the Bible were hidden from the public. How could anyone criticize the Bible if they couldn’t read it?

To me, Stanley Fish’s introductory sentences are not only overly general, but also misleading. Atheists have not always had such opportunity to point out the flaws in the concepts of God and religion precisely because of the horrific actions of the followers of God and religion.

Bizarre Krauthammer

Krauthammer on the office of the presidency:

Why do we inflict such cruel and unusual punishment? Because our winner is not just chief magistrate but king. True, the kingship is temporary, but its glories and perks are beyond compare — the pomp and pampering of a head of state, married to the real political power of controlling the most important state on the planet.

The bargain we offer the candidate is this: We will make you Lord, circling celestially above us on Air Force One, but because we are flinty Jeffersonian yeomen, we insist that you flatter us first with a very extended show of camaraderie and commonality with the Iowa farmer, the New Hampshire alderman and the South Carolina good ol’ boy. Aboriginal tribes have slightly different rituals for those who pretend to kingship, but the idea is the same: ordeal before dominion.

What the heck is this guy smoking?

Anti-War Right

I have a crazy idea that won’t quiet down: I want to stage an anti-war right protest.

There are a few big problems. I guess the biggest is that I haven’t even been to any protest. I wouldn’t know the first thing about putting one together.

The other problem: Is there even an anti-war right? I guess there has to be. Surely, there’s a good number of disaffected libertarians and old-school isolations. Maybe there are even some people who share opinions similar to mine. Yet I’m worried that such a protest will attract 9/11 truthers. Ick. But are they any less nuts than our candidates who would nuke Iran or those who think Armageddon is just around the corner and it should be nudged along?

The last problem: I’m worried about the smear machine.

regarding blogging about religion

A while back, I said I was going to write some entries on religion. These have not materialized yet. The problem is that I don’t really feel like blogging about this; I want to write an actual essay. So, I’ll continue blogging about politics while I work on my essay drafts. When they’re ready, I’ll post them.

My Opinion of Ron Paul

I watched parts of the last 30 minutes of the Republican debate. I have no interest in watching the rest of the lies.

Here’s a clip with Ron Paul speaking about preemption. I find it utterly bizarre that Republican candidates for president would even consider preemptively launching nuclear weapons at Iran.

Ron Paul should be a fringe candidate. But it shows how far the Republican Party has fallen when he’s the only one who makes any sense.

Huge Difference

I can’t figure out what this is: Stay-the-Course Plus. I’d call it sophistry or lies, but it’s too unclever and serious. The thesis: Obama and Romney have foreign policy agendas which are strikingly similar not only to each other, but to Bush.

I mean, does this even deserve a response? Mr. Double-Guantanamo vs. Mr. Obama have the same approach?

One respects the rule of law and the other doesn’t. Mr. Hiatt, that’s a huge difference. One supports an unnecessary war and the other doesn’t. That’s a huge difference.

But if someone were to not appreciate the rule of law, I suppose I could see how you would get the two confused.

Democratic Debate, New Hampshire

I was going to write something long about the second Democratic debate, but this debate format is ridiculous. We can’t learn anything. If every issue could be summarized in a minute or less, being president wouldn’t be a full-time job.

All we are left with are impressions. I am not voting for a candidate based on an impression.

That said, I will give you my impressions, for what it’s worth.

Obama had a great moment when he criticized Wolf Blitzer for his question. And to go back to the previous debate, I read commentary that he stumbled when asked what he would do during a hypothetical attack. The first thing he mentioned was emergency response and I applauded that. Obama appears grown-up.

Edwards appeared a bit slick at times. I think he scored points with the anti-war left by going on the attack against Hillary and Obama.

Hillary did better than I will ever admit publicly. But if you want change, she’s not the candidate of change.

Biden impressed me with his passion.

Maybe we made a difference

Enough Americans registered their distaste of the corrupt Republican Party in 2006 that the Republicans lost their majority in both the House and the Senate.

One immediate consequence was the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld, which came 6 years too late. I rejoiced then. In his place, we have the sane Robert Gates. It’s sad that sanity is now something we have to celebrate, rather than take for granted, in a Secretary of Defense, but I’ll take what I can get.

The other consequence is this. Even the devout have lost their faith because of the issue of immigration. Last year, when Congress first tried to pass an immigration bill, it died only because the House Republicans stood their ground. The Senate and Bush all wanted amnesty. Without the House Republicans, no one stands in the way of immigration reform.

Noonan blames Bush, but the power-worship would’ve continued unabated if not for the Republican loss in 2006. Now they may open their eyes and look at the damage that has been wrought.

The party, hopefully, is now torn asunder.

Shakes. The ground is now beginning to shift while for years all we felt were rumbles. The best, the worst, is still yet to come. The shakes will become full-blown earthquakes. The ground will crack; the tectonic plates will shift; and things will never be the same.

Kidney Transplant TV Show

A joke I came up with a while back goes something like this:

“Have you heard my idea for a reality TV show? Alright, there are 15 kids competing for a prize. But the twist is that they’re dying little children and they’re competing for a kidney.”

I know, a despicable joke, right? It’s not a very popular joke among the ladies.

Lo and behold, Kidney Transplant TV Show Is a Hoax. A real damn TV show. I know, I know, a hoax TV show, but I can’t believe someone had the gall to carry this out.

And I thought I had no taste.

Sci-fi and Security

This makes me want to cry: Sci-fi writers join war on terror. Am I the only one who finds this appallingly moronic? We pay the Department of Homeland Security for this?

Here’s the worst bit of idiocy in the article:

Although some sci-fi writers’ futuristic ideas might sound crazy now, scientists know that they often have what seems to be an uncanny ability to see into the future.

“Fifty years ago, science-fiction writers told us about flying cars and a wireless handheld communicator,” says Christopher Kelly, spokesman for Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division. “Although flying cars haven’t evolved, cellphones today are a way of life. We need to look everywhere for ideas, and science-fiction writers clearly inform the debate.”

Talk about confirmation bias! Mr. Kelly is oblivious of his blatant counterexample, which he brings up himself. He just proved that sci-fi writers have an equally uncanny ability to imagine complete fantasies.

Apparently, when Mr. Kelly refers to “everywhere” he even means this realm of pure fantasy. Bravo! Now DHS will work to prevent us from being killed in terrorist attacks that can only occur in one’s imagination. I feel safer already.

Now we will know what to do if a terrorist crashes a flying car into the Golden Gate Bridge.

[Found this article via Schneier on Security.]