Friday, June 18, 2004

Savages, indeed
The main page of the Drudge Report site, at least for the moment, has a photo of Paul Johnson's severed head. The poor man. My thoughts are with his family. I can't imagine the grief they must feel. I can't say any more.

UPDATE: The images have been moved. Warning: they are disturbingly graphic. They're awful.
I'll take a large popcorn and a nail bomb, thanks.
Fahrenheit 911 is getting some support that's not all that surprising:
Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, the film is being offered the kind of support it doesn't need. According to Screen International, the UAE-based distributor Front Row Entertainment has been contacted by organisations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon with offers of help.
Beam me up!
Pseudo-teleportation has been achieved at the atomic level. I use the prefix because matter was not transferred, it was the properties of the matter that were sent:
In NIST's teleportation experiment, there is no physical movement. Instead, data is transmitted. Such a transfer could speed up calculations in a futuristic computer. "It is quicker than moving the atoms" in such a computer, NIST spokeswoman Laura Ost said.

The NIST experiment works by putting three atoms in a confined area, called a trap, filled with gold electrons and lasers. Lasers are used to excite the atoms and change their spin, a quantum property. Atoms No. 1 and No. 2 are entangled, or set into a relationship with each other that creates a distinct interaction. The properties of the 1-2 relationship are then replicated in a 1-3 entanglement. Thus, atom No. 3 takes on the characteristics of atom No. 3, because the 1-3 entanglement now is identical, for measuring purposes, to the 1-2 relationship.
I guess this would means I couldn't be teleported from one place to another, but if the destination had enough goo, they could make a copy of me. Or something like that.

And it is really teleportation when all three atoms are in the same confined area? No wonder they're talking about using this technique for some new form of computing and not for eliminating mass transit.
Andrew Sullivan,
under "Quote of the Day II", links to an article claiming the institution of marriage is still strong despite what's happening in Massachusetts. The piece is a little tough on Rush Limbaugh, but in this case he deserves it.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Jonah Goldberg makes the case
that the Geneva Convention does not apply when fighting terrorists. Strictly speaking, he's probably right, but we need to hold ourselves to that standard anyway. It's the honorable, American thing to do.
The legal foundation already exists
for removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, or so says Vincent Phillip Munoz:
In Lee v. Weisman (1992), Kennedy wrote that school-sponsored prayers at public-school graduations violate the Establishment Clause. He stated then that when public schools ask students to stand while others invoke God, they "psychologically coerce" religious practice in violation of the Establishment Clause. No honest way exists to square Kennedy's Lee reasoning with teacher-led recitations of the Pledge in public schools, a point made forcefully by Justice Thomas's concurrence.

Thomas's honesty, ironically, may encourage more litigation. He stated plainly that, "adherence to Lee would require us to strike down the Pledge policy." Since Lee remains good law, an even stronger case now could be made against "under God."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I've always rather liked
being governor of Egypt, so it'd be tremendously sad if I changed my name. But I don't think I could go for "Sauron." I still prefer "Faceless Corporate Monolith." Anyway, my favorite LotR characters is still Theodon.
A caller to the Glenn Beck program
just identified himself as Ed. He said his name used to be Ted, but he "dropped the T because it was in the shape of the cross". Ed has a point. I have a Biblical name, so perhaps I should change it. I've always liked Gandalf. I'm sure Joe would love to change his name to Sauron. Or Darth.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Being the token Republican,
I need to extend my obligatory outrage over the recent reference by Julian Bond of the NAACP to the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party." Honestly, I don't care. I actually have seen Julian Bond speak before. He probably wouldn't remember the trip, but he visited my hometown of Lindsborg once and spoke at the high school. He seemed an affable human being. Quite decent and gave a good talk (such was my impression; I remember nothing about what he said, other than his reference to being on SNL once). That means nothing, of course, other than that he knows not explode at a room full of adolescents.

Why don't I care? People say scathing and inappropriate things in political discource. The "Taliban wing" comment has been around for a couple of years. Just do a search at Google and see for yourself (or click here). Bond's comments are nothing new.

I suppose I should rephrase, then. It's not that I don't care; I've become desensitized to this kind of biovolating inanity. I'm a fascist, Taliban-loving, Nazi, racist, classist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, neo-, paleo-, whale-nuker (I think that covers my bases) and one of the advantages of being such a human being is that the opinions of others don't matter to me.

What depresses me is that I don't have an equivalent thing to call liberals. If I'm the Taliban wing of something, what are they? I'm partial to "Castro-wing of the Democratic Party," or maybe the "Che Gueverra wing," or the "Robespierre wing." This has potential.

Any thoughts?
Like the footballs whizzing by
in his piece on the "under God" case, the real issue is something WFB and others (like Sean Hannity) are trying to avoid. Buckley attacks Newdow and ignores the substance of the argument. Pointless.
It's coming from all sides
Yesterday, Sean Hannity treated Michael Newdow like a moron for believing what he believes and standing up for it. This morning, I received the following e-mail from an acquaintance:
DID YOU KNOW?

As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the U.S.
Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world's law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view - it is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?

As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door.

DID YOU KNOW?

As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall, right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?

There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, D.C.

DID YOU KNOW?

James Madison, the fourth president, known as "The Father of Our Constitution" made the following statement "We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

DID YOU KNOW?

Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ".

DID YOU KNOW?

Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law....an oligarchy....the rule of few over many.

DID YOU KNOW?

The very first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, said, "Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers."

How, then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?

Please forward this to everyone you can. Lets put it around the world and let the world see and remember what this great country was built on.
Sigh. It doesn't matter. Regardless of whether it was founded on Christian principles or not, the United States is first and foremost a nation of liberty. We are all free to be Christian or Jewish or Muslim or anything else, including none of the above. The government represents all of us, whatever our religious beliefs, Christian and non-Christian alike.

When our Pledge contains the phrase "under God", when "In God We Trust" is stamped on our money, when court is opened with prayer, the message is the opposite: we represent believers - we do not represent you.

By the way, one of the arguments I heard on Hannity for leaving "under God" in the Pledge is that it's tradition. I found the same sentiment repeated in interviews with local residents in my hometown newspaper (sorry, they don't appear to have these interviews online). Yeah, well, the Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 and contained no mention of a deity until "under God" was inserted in 1954 to distinguish the God-fearing United States from the atheist Soviet Union. So not only is "under God" lacking in any sort of tradition, it contributes to the "all Communists are atheists so all atheists are Communists" fallacy.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Just sent this note
to Sean Hannity's radio show. I don't have time to give the details of what prompted it right now. I'll explain later:
I listen every day and respect you, Sean, but your treatment of Michael Newdow was ridiculous. You and your guest, with the frequent, condescending "let me educate you" remarks, treated Newdow like a chump. You focused on Newdow's legal standing and paid little attention to the larger issue, namely, that the words "under God" constitute an un-Constitutional establishment of religion. You appear to believe this forbids the establishment of a particular religion - such as Christianity, for example - as the State religion and as long as references to God remain generic (and therefore meaningless, no?), then that's fine. What you do not understand is that to an atheist, any government recognition of any sort of God, even of the watered-down sort, is exclusionary. Simply put, our government is supposed to represent its citizens, but it most certainly does not. That is the issue. How disappointing it is that you did not display the civility to discuss it rationally, instead letting it turn into a shouting match. Nice.
What was more unlikely?
Arnold Schwarzenegger sitting next to Margaret Thatcher at Ronald Reagan's burial service, or Rush Limbaugh posing with Mikhail Gorbachev at Bush Sr.'s birthday party?
He's a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy
InstaPundit refers to this post about efforts to slow or halt aging, and it's depressing:
As you get older, your high hopes and ambitions inevitably collapse around you. The wonders of travel turn into a series of disappointments. Your high hopes for your children come crashing down, especially when you discover the moral ugliness of the culture in which you are raising them.

The job that you enjoyed at 23, and 25, and even 28, by 35 or 40 has lost its luster. You do it because you need the money to pay your bills. At the same time, your financial obligations prevent you from making the career change that might make work fresh and new again. Imagine having to do a career change 30 or 40 times over a lifetime! No thank you!
Bah. The big thing I'm worried about is where to put everyone. If science really could progress to the point that everyone will live forever, we're going to need a lot more room. This will lead to a boom in space exploration and colonization. It'll be exciting.