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Saturday, February 28, 2004
Orson Scott Card is an uneven sci-fi author who wrote the excellent Ender's Game series. Like most sci-fi authors, he's a bit of a right-winger. He seems unclear as to why a gay would want to marry someone they love, as opposed to a random person of the opposite sex.

Is sabotaging the software for an oil pipeline in order to create a huge explosion and destroy the pipeline terrorism? Many people would regards it as harmless property crime. What do you think?Click here when you've decided.

All the reviews of the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre that you'll ever need.

Samuel Huntington continues his long descent from respected academic to racist crackpot in his latest screed, The Hispanic Challenge. His "clash of civilizations" was always more about his fears of multicutluralism at home than any sort of theory of world politics. Now he ditches the international trappings altogether and bemoans Latino immigration, in a xenophobic screed with all the fixin's: First reference to fertility rates: paragraph 6 First reference to restarting the Mexican-American War: paragraph 21 First reference to the "shallow river": paragraph 9 First attempt to argue that Latinos are bad for African-Americans: paragraph 31 Argument that "Government documents and forms could routinely be published in both languages." -- as if this will obviously be a horrible thing to befall America: paragraph 33 First warning of "reconquista (re-conquest)" by Mexican-Americans: paragraph 37 But the most blatantly racist paragraph is third from last. Choice sentences: " Sosa identifies several Hispanic traits (very different from Anglo-Protestant ones) that “hold us Latinos back”: mistrust of people outside the family; lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition; little use for education; and acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven. Author Robert Kaplan quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity and is thus willing to “buy into America.” Profound cultural differences clearly separate Mexicans and Americans, and the high level of immigration from Mexico sustains and reinforces the prevalence of Mexican values among Mexican Americans." No wonder this guy needs to resort to his own "journal" to publish this stuff...

Friday, February 27, 2004
The mystery of the missing people-shredder -- More war propaganda gone amok. Remember the "babies yanked from incubators" story during the Kuwait War? This one is so much better....

FBI destroyed and his evidence in Oklahoma City bombing case. There is suggestive evidence that McVeigh may have been involved with a much larger group of white supremacists and that the attack was therefore an act of organized (as opposed to private) terrorism. The FBI kept this evidence from the trial and even Oklahoma police. Of course, they got McVeigh dead, which is what they wanted...but at the cost of killing off the man who knew most about any conspiracy.

BBC News is reporting that the US plans to keep holding Guantanamo prisoners even if we find them not guilty! Keep in mind that the detainees are to be tried by military tribunals anyway -- but just in case even our own military can't find fault with these people we want to make sure we can keep them anyway. I wonder if we aren't simply keeping some of them as hostages in order to control their relations or compatriots back home....

Where's Waldo in Haiti? -- This is a photo I just spotted on CNN's front page, and I swear I see Waldo....

Mars Rocks! Eclectic Music Moves Rover Mission: "Sol 19: S.O.S., by Abba. (Objective was to regain contact with Spirit after a loss of communications. We did.)"

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
According to Political Money Line, Bush has already spent over $40 million on his campaign. What on earth did he buy? The airwaves haven't exactly been saturated with Bush ads....

Monday, February 23, 2004
And I always thought middle school war boring... What could possibly make a 7th-grade boy attractive? I was one myself, and I'm not even sure we were human back then.

Saturday, February 21, 2004
I bet you forgot about the Armenia-Azerbaijan War around a decade back. Well, they haven't. Partnership for Peace, er Pieces....

This article on Kurdish refugees returning to their homes has an almost surreal blame-the-victim tone. You see, Saddam Hussein forced Kurds out of oil-rich areas and sent in Arabs to seize their homes and possessions. Now some of the Kurds are returning and want their homes back. This threatens to undo Hussein's social engineering and ethnic cleansing, creating a multiethnic area in which Kurds might actually be a majority again. You might think that this was good news -- people getting their homes back, thieves deprived of their ill-gotten gains, and ethnic cleansing undone. You might think that -- unless you were desperate to get the heck out of Iraq and wanted to avoid the "tensions" that those vicious refugees create by wanting to go home. The US now finds itself in the awkward position of enforcing Saddam's ethnic cleansing so as not to upset the Arab majority in the country. Ick.

Friday, February 20, 2004
Scientific American's article on gamma-ray bursts is among the most straightforward and informative pieces I've read on the subject. It nicely summarizes a decade of research that has taken us from "Oh my God! These are the most powerful explosions in the universe, and could sterilize our planet from halfway across the galaxy!" to a plausible explanation for the bursts and their observed strength. (The good news: we're probably safe).

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Curry KitKat Bars! A dream come true....

SFGate.com has an article detaling some of the consequences of our reliance on high fructose corn syrup. Oddly, the article doesn't mention the effect of our expensive program of sugar price supports -- a program that pushes businesses to use cheaper alternatives like high fructose corn syrup.

STUFF New Zealand has a story on culinary changes in the wake of the bird flu. "Bird flu may have decimated poultry businesses across Asia, but rat dealers have never had it so good."

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Good news for African refugees -- about 2 million may finally be able to return home, thanks to a downturn in violence in some areas.

Amazon Glitch Unmasks War of Reviewers -- Authors review their own books, pretending to be readers. They pan the competition. Oops! They lose their anonymity for a weak, exposing their self-puffery for all to see 8:)

Killer-for-hire Web site prompts arrest. Let's see. Guy pretends to be a hit man and takes money from people who want others murdered, raped or beaten. He never makes any omve to carry out said killings, rapes, and beatings. Social score: Transfer of wealth from would-be murderers to unemplyed college student. Why charge this guy with anything at all?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
My first reaction to this article about Floridian officials threatening citizens who request open records was man, what a bunch of SOBs. My second reaction was "Wait a minute! People in Florida can just walk in to a county office and demand to see the boss's cell phone bills?" I'm impressed -- Florida is at least trying to get this democracy thing right...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Got Casualties? Here are a few good sources for estimating casualties in the Iraq War. For American and Allied (but not friendly Iraqi) casualties, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count seems to be authoritative. For Iraqi civilian deaths and deaths among Iraqi police friendly to the US occupation, there is only fragmentary evidence, much of which is gathered at the Iraq Body Count site. I haven't seen recent estimates of Iraqi military fatalities yet, but this war casualties site has some press reports from March-October 2003. Results: Iraqi military fatalities = 3000? US fatalities = 534 | Allied fatalities = 41 | Friendly Iraqi police fatalities = About 300? Civilian fatalities =About 8000? TOTAL: Around 4000 "military deaths" and around 8000 "civilians" = 12,000 dead, give or take a few thousand....

U.S. Says Files Seek Qaeda Aid in Iraq Conflict -- Maybe I'm just jaded after so many forgeries and fabrications, but I call bullshit on this letter. Yeah, many people describe their own side as looking for a "pretext" to fight. I wouldn't be too surprised if the letter was real but the Pentagon "translation" was bogus (a single reporter was allowed to view both documents, but was only allowed to write down excerpts of the translation, not the Arabic "original"), but I suspect both are fakes. The only doubt I have is that the story wasn't reported first by Fox, the usual dumping ground for Adminstration falsehood, nor was it reported by the NYT's usual shill for the Pentagon, "I saw them digging up WMD stockpiles" Judith Miller.

President Ronald Reagan Memory Game -- This is sick and wrong, but I smiled anyway. Persistence pays off....

My local paper is running a story about a school that decided to suspend a kid (honor student, if it matters) for fighting, erm no that isn't it.... maybe drugs? weapons? swearing? disrupting class? No, they decided to suspend him for "not taking a test seriously." Next up: student expelled for failing to proofread essay...

Monday, February 09, 2004
I'll say this for the Russians: When they do something, they do it big. Some countries might be satisfied with merely destroying one of the world's largest bodies of fresh water. Instead of seeking even more water, they would grow low-water crops and fix the irrigation system so water actually reached farmers. Not our friends the Russians. I've noticed that every great public works project, without exception, is an exercise in manipulating the largesse of government to reward favored cronies and constituencies. Examples: LBJ's "Great Society," innumerable Big Dam projects, the Space Shuttle, etc. Leaders just love big centralized projects, consistently choosing them over decentralized local projects. Thus LBJ undermined community-based antipoverty efforts, while the Space Shuttle starved small scientific projects in favor of huge aerospace contractors.

MP3 players for AK-47s. I swear I didn't make this up, but I'm awfully suspicious that the "Herald Sun" did....

Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name -- The headline of this story about gay penguins raising hatchlings was cute enough to grab my attention. Clearly, this means that gayness and tuxedo-wearing must be genetic traits. Um, wait a minute. Maybe we could just say that it makes no difference whether being gay is genetic and call it a day, instead of dragging poor Squawk and Milou into our bedrooms to settle our disputes...

Some U.S. Soldiers Forced to Buy Own Gear -- Apparently, the US is following the lead of the ancient Greeks as our soldiers buy their own equipment before heading off to battle.

Sunday, February 08, 2004
Scientists alter mice to produce omega-3 acids -- does the world really need a reason to EAT us?!?

Friday, February 06, 2004
Carter Ecstatic, Finally Freed of "Worst President Ever" Label -- just a cute two-paragraph item on something called the Moderate Independent....

A FARK Photoshop contest featuring a bust of Dan Quayle is quite amusing, with both over-the-top and subtle entries. Well, at least he wasn't Agnew....

Home of the Underdogs has another major update available. This is the single best site for anyone looking for older computer games. Every game has a review and plenty of bizarre and obscure freeware titles share space with older commercial titles. Best of all, it's free. This month's update features a "pedestrian revenge" game in which you try to make cars crash into each other by running around in intersections, a game in which you play a toaster aiming for a rotating town hall building (yes, it's really that strange), and old classics like Carmageddon and Sid Meier's Civil War Collection.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
This is cute. Ever wonder how homing pigeons home? According to this UK tabloid, they follow the roads 8:)

Meg! tries for a merit badge....

Looking for a refresher on the last 5500 years of military history? Check out A Short History of War, which has all the major trends in one short html book....

Sunday, February 01, 2004
Uut and Uup Add Their Atomic Mass to Periodic Table -- More elements are always interesting, particularly since these ones seem to have unusual properties. This follows the recent official approval for the name Darmstadtium for element 110. By the way, a surprisingly interesting periodic table from WebElements has lots of info on each element, though it doesn't yet list this discovery....

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