Inane Ramblings (archive one)

 

Amazon Honor System

 

 

My Cafe Press Art Shop is up!

I mean those pieces were just sitting there anyway I figured...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Union of Concerned Scientists Against the Invasion

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(The great Micah Wright has a radio interview online. He's also collected his cartoons into book form. He even got an intro from Kurt Vonnegut. Now, that makes me jealous. By the way, Kurt opposes the war too like most artists with a scrap of talent...)

It has been at least 15 seconds since I last said something justifiably nasty about Pejman "I've Gotten Way Too Prolixy" Yousefzadeh. Lately, he's been on a "What Liberal Media" rant. First, he does a terrible job of debunking Eric Alterman's new book. Then he's been arguing that the media is liberal because it's not pushing Estrada's nomination enough. You would think that he would be happy that the right has the Supreme Court, most of the appeals courts, and a Republican Senate. I suppose those aforementioned facts are more evidence of the liberal media and their transformative effects upon the body politic. As if CBS news had the same spin as Democracy Now, a show run by real leftists. Please. Come on.

I don't see what he's so upset about frankly. The almost completely bought off Dems will cancel the Bork and give us the Scalia everytime, as this great Kurt Nimmo post will attest to. (Kurt has a great blog by the way...)Their tactic should be to filibuster tic for tac. Bring back the Clinton nominees and force the White House to accept one of yours for one of theirs. It's their limpwristed capitulation on the courts--which their rich sponsors love--which probably cost the Dems the White House in the first place. They only needed one vote. I won't hold my breath for a real backbone.

Meanwhile, I'm sure I'll get plenty of progressive left encouragement from Limbaugh talk radio, General Electric owned NBC (have they ever done an anti-nuke piece, ever...?) Bill Maher-free ABC, that wild anarchist group CBS, the Mike Savage MSNBC and our good friends at Fox News, not to mention my content free local news that reminds me of the manufactured dream world so articulately drawn in the Truman Show. Dog Fancy, indeed, as the Great Rationalizer of Republican Evil might say...

 

SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM . . . LawMeme has some ideas on how to stop spam e-mail. I suppose that their answer is unsurprising when you remember the fact that it is coming from the legal community, but it still strikes me as a good idea.
:: Pejman Yousefzadeh 11:28 AM [+]::

Let The Muse Inspire You

(Right Wingers just don't get art. The Pythons are notorious left of center types. In fact, the one Python who has come out against the War is Terry Jones, who I believe wrote the Spam sketch with his writing partner Mike Palin.)

10. Pejman "I don't really understand modern humor or modern Art." Yousefzadeh

--From the classic annotated Pejman. The Pejman Rules still hold up unfortunately...

It's been way too long a time since I've said something justifiably nasty about Pejman "Still A RNC Whore and Proud of It" Yousefzadeh. He seems to have thought lately that they should replace Terry Jones, of Python fame, because he's not a member of the silly party and actually opposes war in Iraq, which, even to amateur futurists like myself, could very easily devolve into both nuclear and chemical exchanges--

--Here's an interesting aside: I've always thought that the purpose of the 9-11 attacks was to get us to come to them. The problem with nuclear weapons is transport. Only a few nations have the capacity to make nuclear weapons and also to deliver them, to like, say, Alaska. (I'm really glad that we're ignoring North Korea by the way, said the Warblogger Watch writer in just the most sarcastic, eye-rolling way...)  For example, there may be nuclear weapons held by hostile powers in the mideast. But they probably never had a way of getting those weapons to our shores. How nice of us to put 300000 of our troops in harm's way. North Korea could adopt our wondrously new brain dead policy of pre-emption after all...no wonder science fiction writers are against this war--

--and on the optimistic side: a friendly imperialistic 10 year occupation of Iraq which at the least will turn us into the Worst Side of the Israelis. I guess I should practice showing my shock when somebody starts blowing up our school busses for God Knows Why. Here's a few Pro Idiotarian future stock expressions of amazement we'll probably see: The Savages. Where did that come from. Why do they hate us afterall we had to steal their oil...? Etc. Turns out that the Pythons that Pejman likes has narrowed even further according to the latest episode of Real Time, hosted by Bill Maher (Now that Phil is gone, he's it for us crazy wacky leftists in this the overwhelmingly librul American media...) For Eric Idle sang a very angry and funny anti-war tune on the show. I don't remember all the funny lyrics but it went something like "Our God is better than your God" and "We're bigger than you are...". Eric seemed to imply that the war was arrogant, our means of prosecuting smacked of bribery, and that those aforementioned sentiments were just a little bit too obvious for comfort. By the way, the timing was vintage Python.

So, the correct answer to the question posed by the warbloggers of which Python you would be is: probably nobody. I understand that Drew Carey and Benny Hill are available for cultural conscription, however. And considering the talent level of your average warblogger, quite appropriate for your artistic gifts.

Philip Shropshire

PS: I mentioned the liberal media earlier, but I'm pleased to say that left wing online media is growing. Afterall, it's the left that needs a mass media of its own. I check out Democracy Now everyday (it doesn't play in Pittsburgh so thank god for the Internet for the 1000th time...). And now, like CSPAN, it's televised with Real Media. Check out the March 6th story about the student protests. I'm guessing that's the only place I'll be able to catch it. My only complaint about Democracy Now is that it's a little dry and academic. The left has to be as entertaining as Bill Maher and Mike Moore to go mainstream. I think the best online left television that I've seen comes from the Guerilla News Network. It's left politics done like music videos. It's very impressive. I'll never understand how Glenn Reynolds thinks the net means a revolution for people who watch Fox News. Ours are the views that are never disseminated or aired...

 

 

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(final chapter coming soon...!)

 

Reports about North Korea are disturbing.

We don't want to act as though the sky is falling on our heads...

 

But North Korea's Nuclear capability is quite frightening. The CIA says their ballistic missiles could hit the west coast. Their leader is a bit loony, too.

This is all taken from one of two (count 'em, two) very funny Tom Tomorrow/Tom the Dancing Bug-like parody sites of our new Department of Homeland Security Website. The other is here.

 

 

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I was over there at the Stand Down blog and they linked to a story about things that the  anti-war side probably shouldn't bring up. I agreed with some of those things, but not against the war for oil argument. Because it clearly is a war for oil. Ask the North Koreans. One of the interesting aspects of the Warblogger mantra, pretty much unchanged after all these months, is their spectacular display of Doublethink (dazzling textbook really) whenever the topics of North Korea and Iraq are brought to their frenzied drooling pack-like attentions. We're going to blow up a country, possibly kill thousands, and ever so serendiptously (like two dem senators being killed days before the election cycle, what luck...) hold power over one of the largest oil reserves in the known worlds. Anyway, Galactus says it best...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Policy and Pro Idiotarian The First

I actually don't have a bunch to say about this,   because if you're serious about space travel you had better get used to death. Just two thoughts: While nuclear powered rockets probably would provide a faster ride, it's clear that transporting the "fuel" with current  shuttle technology might not be such a safe bet. Before we go about conquering the stars perhaps we should put our efforts into research for cheap and affordable low orbit delivery. It looks like the space elevator could be the best shot. I noticed that Oliver put forward a very articulate argument  for the space program. But for space proponents it's clear that we not only don't spend the money we have very wisely, but we don't spend enough. Now, of course, space will probably play second string to a United States dedicated to imperialistic occupation. It's estimated that if Iraq sets fire to its oil wells it could cost 40 billion to get those pumps up and running again. That's a cost that will be added   or included  to an estimated 100 billion dollar price tag for war. That's money that can't be spent on Zubrin's Mission to Mars or alt fuels or even rebuilding Afghanistan (remember them?) Two: Evil Glenn, or Pro Idiotarian the First,  finds a way to make this thing political. Apparently, the Iraqis (every single one of them apparently) are happy that one of our shuttles blew up. You would think that Iraq would feel the pain of seven lost souls, six American and one Israeli. You would think they wouldn't be so selfish and  wouldn't remember the estimated half million Iraqis that died because of our sanctions, the ominous gathering of a 100,000 troops at their borders and the openly aired threat that we will use nuclear weapons not in defense, but whenever our oil-addled plutocracy thinks it's a swell idea. Some nerve those Iraqis have...Of course they don't like us Glenn. It's called history, past and present.

In other links: William Gibson offers the most poetic summing up of the tragedy. He's one of the few science fiction writers who aspires to poetry with his every line. Evil Glenn, Pro Idiotarian the First, even links to it. Remember Pro Idiotarian masses: Gibson fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War. I'm guessing he's not wild about our new American role of Global Nuclear Terrorist. Just a hunch.

Humbly submitted,

Philip Shropshire

PS: By the war, I'm offering the phrase "Pro Idiotarian" under the Creative Commons or Abbie Hoffman license, which is Steal Often and When Necessary. Look, Prospect fellas, who I suspect are the usual lot of priveledged white males who have attended private schools all of their lives, if they call you Idiotarian, then call them Pro Idiotarian. It makes about  as much sense and it will go further than whinin'.

 

Solar Power company claims 80 percent efficiency (current rate is 17 percent or so...). I think this is fake. Was fooled by the Entropic Energy company. Not this time. I'm older and wiser now. Besides, my favorite pie-in-the-sky company remains BlackLight Power. And if the technology doesn't work, they can always trademark it as a pedestrian Jazz Rock band name.

Speaking of unteneble and highly dubious tech claims, I was over at American Antigravity dotcom and found these silly ass interesting companies. I'm going to let The Supervillain Troupe of Players Introduce these wondrous new products, must haves for any decent Lair of Evil mind you...

 

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Die Puny Humans (!), bow before the unmatched might of my Vortex Thruster! Bhahahaha etc..."

 

 

 

"What's that Mister Fantastic? You mock me? Then tremble before the glory and power that is the Lifter 4...! And yes I think a war for oil is perfectly reasonable, although I do admire Saddam's methods, I mean, here in Latvia blah blah blah"

Goldfinger sez: "Ahhh, Mr. Bond, of course I support a war with Iraq and I don't think that George Bush is a dumb man. And wait until you see my nefarious plans for Personal Flight Systems...No I don't expect to show you the product Mr. Bond, I expect you to die...!"

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(Separated at Birth?)

Evil Glenn: "Yeah, well I see your little joke. Har har. How humorous. I think there's a difference between myself, The Great Rationalizer of Republican Evil and General Zod. Afterall, General Zod never offered an intelligent rationale for his conquest of the Planet Houston.  Where, in Iraq, who we're going to smoke (unless they have weapons of mass destruction, which they shouldn't, because we want the invasion to be fun n' easy, besides, nobody lies to us...We're the good guys...), it's uh, well, let me take my Hovercraft over to Zod's so I can clarify my position...Indeed."

 

 

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GROTH: Was it dangerous?

RALL: It has its dangers. It's not really so much that as it is -- well, first of all, the diarrhea is just out of this world. It just goes on and on. The first time you go to Central Asia, you'll have it for two to three weeks, and you're completely liquid the entire time. You're just deadly sick. I lost about 40 pounds and I weigh about 200. I was pretty messed up. And also, the climate's extreme. One bus ride I took, I was in shorts and a T-shirt because it was 120 degrees, and that night I was freezing my ass off above the snow line in the mountains. It's very uncomfortable. And because the distances are so vast, you might routinely find yourself going four or five days without a bath because you're stuck on a bus. I guess the biggest hassle of traveling out there is documentation, because it's the former Soviet Union and there are checkpoints all throughout. You're constantly being pulled over and hassled by the police, who are always trying to shake you down for bribes. The first time I went, this just enraged me. I couldn't believe the systemic corruption.

Well, when Ted puts it that way—with the extreme diarrhea and the 120 degree days and the freezing your ass off nights and the systemic corruption—who wouldn’t want to go to no doubt equally Hellish and bowel challenging Iraq?

I have to accept the Shropshire Challenge (with some conditions.) I mean, Hell, Grady already has accepted like 14 times I figure I can at least accept once. There’s just a few minor conditional details: Instead of $2000, I want enough money to risk my life, at least as much money as my crazed hero Ted Rall got (8 Grand) plus $5000 because I’ll be needin’ bribes bribes bribes, and enough to cover the $10000 (1) fine that Americans face for going to Iraq. So, if you’ve got $23000 grand I’ll be taking that trip to Iraq! (Yeah I know sucks to be poor…)(I’m not rich enough to go anywhere for just $2000 for more than a month or so. I won’t have anything left to come back to. Got no trust funds around here.)This also answers another warblogger query: It takes a certain amount of wealth to be a rebel. The upper middle class people who threw their planes into buildings didn’t think like Americans. True, they had wealth and privilege but they didn’t think of themselves as rich because, unlike Americans—the bestest greatest keenest group of folks in the world who wouldn’t dream of killing 1 or 2 million peasants in Guatemala or East Timor—they probably thought I’m not rich unless my people are rich. I know, ker razyyyyy right Misha…

Keep in mind: The full amount has to be collected before I even deign to leave the Greater Pittsburgh area. I want half up front. The other half, including the $10000, should stay in the hands of a neutral third party, or a side or person that both side respects. I suggest the American Prospect or Brenden O’Neill. For that, I promise to spend a month in a war zone. Give me six weeks to get there (The only exception is if I’m physically not allowed to enter the country, then I should be given several (three) weeks to go to Dangerous Place option two or three. I choose my own transportation. If I don’t get to Iraq in time for the war, or if I’m not allowed in what may be the radioactive wasteland formerly known as Iraq then I’ll go to two other equally dangerous places: Israel, or the surrounding territories. And my third option is Venezuela. I’m game and I’m ready.

But I have to be honest, Iraq is probably the last place I’d like to be. I think that if Iraq is attacked then Saddam will unleash all the bad stuff that he does have. (I'll probably have to get a smallpox shot at the very least before I go.)  Afterall, there would be nothing holding him back except Saddam's good conscience. Now, here's where it gets kind of interesting and it has to do with a point that Noam Chomsky made in a recent interview. Chomsky said that, essentially, Israel had once threatened the oil reserves by force which might yet be another reason the United States is such a strong supporter of Israel.  Let's assume for a moment that our country is run by oilmen and let us assume that maybe they've concluded that the biggest threat to their Crack-like oil supply is not the Arab countries, but a country that has over 400 nuclear weapons. Now, Sharon has said that he'll retaliate if Saddam attacks Israel with germ warfare. I'm making the assumption that Sharon means nuclear weapons. But what if the US doesn't let him? What if they decide to attack Israel preemptively in order to protect the oil supply? This is a pretty evil administration. The administration would simply have to choose what's more important: the sacred right of Israeli revenge or the pristine health of the oil fields and all the concomitant Bush/Cheney family oil deals tied to them past present and future. I think a sane presidential administration, not in the pocket of the oil industry or led by a guy who can pronounce words, would never lead us to such a point where such a horrific call would have to be made. Personally, I think this administration will always choose the pristine health of the oil fields over Israel. 

It's also why I don't think attacking Iraq is good for Israel, unleashed bioplagues notwithstanding.

By the way, I will go as a writer, period. I'd rather not go, but if Ted Rall can go unarmed then maybe I can be courageous like Ted Rall, at least once. I'd like to talk to and interview as many people as possible. Just like my hero, Noam Chomsky, I'm not under the illusion that Saddam is a nice guy. I just don't think that force creates longterm peace or stability as the quagmire known as Afghanistan would attest to, not to mention that Al Qaeda seems to be well and active. Wasn't Osama Bin Laden the primary threat? Oh, that's changed. I get it. It'll be France next week. And yes I'm open to negotiation. Bottom line: Collect $23000 grand. Write me a check for $11,500. I'll be in Iraq or options two and three within six weeks (If I'm not there, then you get your money back, unless I'm not allowed to enter the country or if there is no country. as I explained earlier.) Why, that's only $100 per venomous warblogger apiece and there's at least 500 of you. Send a commie pinko to Iraq. Come on. You warbloggin' cowards.

(1) This is a story about one guy who has already gone. Here's what I found in the story and here is the link: Neither that argument, nor the $10,000 fines imposed on some activists who've gone to Iraq in recent years without U.S. government permission, sway Mr. Mauger. Well, it sways me. I'm not rich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There's a lot of good stuff in this Z Magazine interview with Noam Chomsky. One of the things that his foamin' at the mouth critics often miss, aside from the complexity of his arguments, is that he's very funny.

Here's a highlight:

8. How will the Iraqi people react to a U.S. attack on Iraq? What are the likely humanitarian consequences of a U.S. war?

No one has a clue. Not Donald Rumsfeld, not me, no one. One can imagine a delightful scenario: a few bombs fall, the Republican Guards rebel and overthrow Saddam, crowds cheer as US soldiers march in while the band plays "God Bless America," the people of the region hail the liberator who proceeds to turn Iraq into an image of American democracy and a modernizing center for the entire region -- and one that produces just enough oil to keep the price within the range that the US prefers, breaking the OPEC stranglehold. And Santa Claus smiles benignly from his sleigh. One can easily imagine rather more grim outcomes. That's a normal concomitant of the decision to resort to massive violence, and one of the many reasons why those who advocate that course have a very heavy burden of proof to bear. Needless to say, neither Rumsfeld nor Cheney nor any of the intellectuals urging war against Iraq have remotely begun to meet this burden.

Noam Chomsky: He'll be appearing at Chuckles all this week.

 

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It(Ted Rall at the Comics Journal message board, commenting on how hard it would be to create a left paper...)That's a great idea, but one that will cost a substantial amount of money. One of the big problems nowadays is that what's needed to take down Bush is a team of investigative reporters, a very pricey proposition which is why so few papers use them.

You want a budget for an alternative online press? I'll give you one on the small scale and the large scale (Who knows: Maybe you'll meet Barbara Streisand on the set of "To Afghanistan and Back" and you'll get a Sugar Mommy...You know she funds the excellent Center for Public Integrity...!)

Let's take $1 million and make the HQ Washington D.C.

Here's a tentative budget:

5 Staff Reporters:

$60000 apiece, total: $300000

Three Salespersons, base 20,000 and 30 percent of ad revenue:

Total: $60000 ($360000)

One Tech Guy

Total: $50000 ($410000)

Living Allowance (Let's Get the Best Journalists and bring Greg Pallast back home.)

Total ($1000 a month per writer) $60000 ($470000)

Make it Online Only. Costs for Computers, domain names, several laptops, DSL and PDAs:

$50000  ($520000)

HQ Costs, Health Insurance

Total: $100000, ($720000)

Freelance Budget

Total: $120000 ($840000)

(Pay $300 to $500 for arts and movie pieces, books and comics reviews, fiction. More money for larger pieces.)

One fulltime Fact Checker/Attorney

$60000 ($900000)

One Full Time Editor (Suggestions: William Grieder, Greg Pallast, Kovach)

$100,000 ($1 million dollars)

 

I think that's everything for one full year.  A trust fund of $10 to $100 million could go a long long way. You have to keep costs down. (You might consider buying a building or a mansion outright...) With a strong staff corp and a healthy freelance budget you could create enough interesting content to create an American Guardian.

Here are some interesting details: One year contracts with progressive discipline. Allow the writers to legally publish anything they write unedited (with the possible exception of libelous or lawsuit material). Create a bill of civil rights for journalists. Create open freewheeling message boards. Take on all comers. The salaries would automatically get you the best people. For staffers I would suggest contacting Pallast, Gary Webb, Kovach, the exiled yet excellent Atlanta Constitution editor who broke the bank redlining stories (he teaches now), and every journalist profiled in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of the Free Press. By the way, good investigative reporting doesn't have to be expensive. Public Citizen routinely provides great stuff and they pay their people anywhere from $25000 to $50000.

I would suggest using the blog as a new model for daily journalism. Require the staffers to provide a mininum of 2500 words for three weeks in succession and then a week off for reading and research. (Here's something fun: Insist that they write several fiction stories a year and give the paper a 10 percent cut of Universal Rights. In other words, you could write To Iraq and Back, but the paper would get 10 percent of film revenues, book sales, action figures. The goal is to make it self-sustaining.  Frankly, though, my favorite plan is raiding the classified ad stream of Big  Print media. Would serve those frells right...)

Don't do a paper edition. Make it online only to keep down costs. Obviously, you could cut down on the costs. Well known penny pincher and cheap guy Ralph Nader could bring you the same product for about several hundred thousand dollars less, but if you have the money...

That's the small plan by the way.  What's your plan that costs millions of dollars...Salon Two? A paper edition?

There is a big plan by the way. Get a hundred or so of your rich Hollywood pals (Don't do a Bill Griffith. Take those calls and make compromises so they want Adam Sandler or Pauly Shore to play Ted Rall so what...Get a good director, though. Hey, I like Oliver Stone. Is Costas Gravas still alive...?) and put those papers into 12 states, preferably swing states. Do national and state corruption stories. (Nobody writes about the corruption at the state levels, which is what the Center for Public Integrity is focusing on...) Want an even bigger plan? Get your Hollywood Left, the ones who have bankrolled the Dems and gotten Joe Lieberman to condemn them, to put their money into buying a network. Want an even bigger plan? Buy up a portion of the underused fiber optic glut and buy up one or two of the WIFI startups and create your own national communications infrastructure. Include cheap DSL and as many channels as you want (Gawd a decent music channel for once) (Soros could do that)....just more stray thoughts...

 

(Art by the great great Bill Sienkiewicz)

I actually did a feature story about these cards back during the dark days when I worked for Scripps Howard. There are 35 cards that feature the worst assortment of dictators that we've supported. Whenever the usual heckler suspects show up at Warblogger Watch and talk about how wonderful our occupation will be for the Afghan people I just roll my eyes in disbelief at the screen. I mean, you support bloodthirsty dictators once or twice, then maybe it's not a pattern. You support bloodthirsty dictators 35 times then, hey, that's a pattern. And an evil pattern at that. Anyway, check them all out. Here's what's on the back of this card.

13    GENERAL AUGUSTO PINOCHET
President of Chile

On July 2, 1986, 18 year old Carmen Gloria Quintana was walking through a Santiago slum when she and photographer Rodrigo Rojas were confronted by government security forces. According to eyewitnesses, the two were set ablaze by soldiers and beaten while they burned. Their bodies were then wrapped in blankets and dumped in a ditch miles away. Witnesses who spoke out about what they saw were beaten and arrested. Such events are not unusual since "Captain General" Augusto Pinochet seized power from democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and buried Chile's 150 year old democracy. "Democracy is the breeding ground of communism," says Pinochet.
The bloody coup, in which Allende was assassinated, was carefully managed by the CIA and ITT, according to the Church Committee report. Tens of thousands of Chileans have been tortured, killed, and exiled since then, according to Amnesty Intemational. A U.S. congressional delegation was told by inmates at San Miguel Prison that they had been tortured by "the application of electric shock, simultaneous blows to the ears, cigarette burns, and simulated executions by firing squads." Despite Chile's bad human rights record, the U.S. government continued to support Pinochet with international loans. Even the state-sponsored car-bomb assassination of Chile's former Ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, did not convince the U.S. to break with Pinochet. Chileans called for his removal in a 1988 election, but he clung to the presidency until 1990, and remains the commander of Chile's army. (Note: these cards ended in 1990 so you don't learn about the very just effort to put Pinochet on trial over the last several years...)

The Air Car is back! I hadn't heard or seen anything from this story in such a long while and I was beginning to think that it was a hoax. But apparently this is the real thing. The story was reported by MIT Technology Review, not a mag known to be taken in by frauds and shysters. This could be just one of many significant weapons against our dependence on foreign oil.

Go read the whole article. Here's a few graphs:

Though some CAT models are meant for individual consumers, don’t expect to see many in your neighbors’ driveways right away. Vencat says most of the early adopters will be businesses like taxi services that want to replace their combustion-based fleets of cars with low-cost, non-polluting vehicles. With the compressed air station, explains Vencat, “fleet owners can quickly fill the cars up. It can service 8 to 10 cars an hour.”

While it’s a safe bet that the CAT line of cars will not be setting any land speed records, they may promise to be a viable and environmentally correct means of mass transportation, especially in urban areas with high pollution. What remains to be seen is whether they can compete with gas-powered vehicles for the consumer market. For this to happen, Baltierra believes, “the automotive industry has to get behind this car, and it seems that right now it is not.” If traditional carmakers do decide to distribute the car, however, it would really help what is now a maverick automotive movement in its infancy quickly get up to speed. 

Thailand's Q (Would Love The Bullet Proof Baseball Cap...)
And I'll never understand why the Democrats don't make nonlethals and bullet resistant vests an issue.
("The Republican's claim that you have a right to own a gun and to kill. Fine. Then shouldn't there be an implied right to attain a bullet proof vest to defend yourself? Shouldn't you have the right to own rubber bullets...?", said presidential candidate John Kerry.)

 

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Ted Rall has written a long and intimidating piece about why he thinks that this is a war for oil. It's about 14,000 words and it is exhaustively footnoted. I like the graph that he footnotes where he says "I was there". You will probably never hear similar words from your usual blohard warblogger who probably wouldn't visit a war zone with a gun, let alone without one. Read the whole thing. By the way, I find this a completely plausible argument. Hey, it's always about the oil or the slave labor or the rubber. It's never about true democracy. Anyway, here's a point and here's his "I was there" footnote.

By the way, here's a related story about how life for the Afghan women is still horrible.

(Not sure why this is being posted on a Warblogger Site! I suspect it was leaked or hacked and that the publishing was a kind of premption. Still, there hasn't been an effective counterresponse to this essay....)

The decision to attack Afghanistan surprised experts on Central Asia and the Islamist terrorist organizations that were based there.  Osama bin Laden lived in Afghanistan (near Kandahar) and Al Qaeda operated training camps there, but Al Qaeda’s primary operations were (and remain) in the dusty towns of the remote tribal areas and occupied sections of Kashmir--places like Quetta and Gilgit--in Pakistan.  Pakistan was also the main source of money and weapons to the Taliban militia.  The Pakistani intelligence service had helped install Mullah Omar’s Taliban in 1996.  And General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in September 1999, had invited Taliban and Al Qaeda “holy warriors” into Pakistani Kashmir to fight the Indian army.[ix]  

ix] I personally witnessed the flow of Afghan troops into Pakistani Kashmir two days after Musharraf seized power in Islamabad.  Characteristically the Pakistani government claimed to be unable to defend its border with Afghanistan, hoping to be held blameless in the court of international opinion for the latest attacks against Indian positions.  For the most part, it worked.  International opinion wasn’t concerned with the Kashmiri conflict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Rhetorical Whoop Ass For Mr. Godless Capitalist or:
What color,  race or ethnic origin is that Transgenic Mouse?

 

(This is an essay in response to this link)

 

Lysenko was opposed to the use of statistics, but had he been clever enough to see how useful statistics can be in the service of ideology, he might have changed his mind. Had he seen what J. Philippe Rushton, Arthur Jensen, Richard Lynn, Richard Herrnstein or Charles Murray have done with statistical data to support their ideology of racial superiority, Lysenko might have created a department of Supreme Soviet Statistics and proven with the magic of numbers the superiority of Lamarckism to natural selection and genetics. For these social pseudoscientists have never seen a statistical correlation they couldn't turn into a causal claim fitting their racist ideology. Lysenko might have done the same for his Michurian/Lamarckian ideology. 

 

--Interesting quote I found where GC's heroes were also listed...

 

Prologue:

If you don’t have time to trawl through the many points below, let me offer a few distilled points above. First, I suppose I just have deep philosophical differences with Godless over what matters more: environment vs. nature. I also think  you're hostile when you quote that whole Bell Curve crew of “academics” that pursue a line of science that carries with it a noxious social agenda that only ruthless capitalists would love. Down below, you attempt to conjoin me with one of the scientists of the Stalin regime when in fact I have never declared a love of Stalinism. In fact, I admire the European democracies that manage to create wonderfully ruthless and competitive multinationals and also manage to feed the hungry and provide decent health care for their citizens. I actually think that not only is that a smarter kind of capitalism—meeting at least minimal human needs while also trying to make a buck—but I also think it’s more sustainable. On another point, and this goes to the nature of intelligence, is that just because you’re smart about one particular field doesn’t mean that you’re smart about other fields or disciplines. In other words, the fact that you score high on IQ tests sometimes means and only means that you just score high on IQ tests. I’ve been debating you now for, what, seven or eight months now, and I’m amazed by the remarkably stupid things that emanate from your keyboard, how tone deaf they sound, how emotionally insensitive and arid they happen to be. What should I think of the superior IQ man—let’s estimate and say that it’s around 150 or so—who tells me that he’s certain that there are nuclear arms in Iraq that the country won’t use if they’re invaded. What should I think of the superior high IQ man who tells the world I can’t fight because I’m better, even if he, in all probability would be doing the exact same research as an army scientist? I don’t think people on the fence would find this line of argument convincing. Or, as of late, what should I make of the superior high IQ man who will lecture us on the wonders of biotech innovation but whose field happens to be nanotechnology? And to put a blunt point on it, what should I think of the superior high IQ man who lies so badly? (It’s clear that GC points to pathologies within the black community as proof of their inferiority if you look at the percentage of his last eight posts over at Gene Expression and three of the five scientists he points to who have been allegedly blacklisted have nice think tank and/or academic jobs, one at Berkeley no less…Didn’t the Berkeley deans get the memo…?) How can the allegedly superior high IQ man not know the value of the cosmetic diversity that the Republicans use to cover the fact that they’re destroying diversity efforts nationwide or why they have to court the Hispanic vote? (Just to answer this one: It’s because you’re out of your field and don’t know enough about politics, not unlike someone whose speciality is nanotechnology talking about biology…


Or to put it another way: if we’re so smart how come we have a president who’s such a blithering idiot? We voted the right way. Is it because we’re genetically deficient? Or is it because of the two party system that routinely offers up mediocre, business party candidates? Or is it the failure of an unmalleable constitution that doesn’t allow for modest improvements in the mechanics of democracy such as smarter balloting, runoff voting or proportional representation? And knowing these factors: what should we work on changing and improving? But onward with the debate…


We've criticized many other groups in the past, including our own: see here and here for Republicans (gasp!), here and here for Chinese, here and here for Hispanics, here, here and here for European whites, here for Nazis, here and here for white nationalists, and here and here for Indians. That's not an exhaustive list - trawl through our archives and you'll find more. A lot of our posts cover black/white differences in the US simply because there's a lot more data on it than on any other racial topic. It's the "particle in a 1D box", the E. coli , and the linear system of race relations all rolled into one. If we try to talk about any other genetic differences, the discussion will always eventually wind its way back to a check of the first corollary of the fundamental axiom of equality: are the differences between blacks and whites partly genetic? Try it sometime with your friends, and tell me what happens. Now, that said, I can understand that my posts seem harsh. For the most part, I try to keep the discussion clinical, and that's offputting to some. Furthermore, as an ENTJ, I'm not really the most sensitive of people. (Yes, yes, understatement of the year, thanks.) I know that the things I talk about are unpleasant, but if I don't talk about them pretty much no one will (save for the few on the HBG blogroll). For the record, I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. However, I won't allow truth to be a casualty to feelings. If I say something inaccurate, I make a point of publicly retracting it and publishing a correction. Please catch me in the comments section if I forget to do this. I can be argued with, and if you feel that I'm wrong, please tell me why.



Okay several problems here. If you take a look at GC’s posts through August so far it trends heavily against African Americans. One post talks about the evils of affirmative action (Even though affirmative action mostly benefits white women), then we have another post about testosterone and starts promisingly enough about how men are more violent than women—a new seemingly impartial meme for GC—then it devolves into, of course, black men are more violent than anybody thus their incarceration rates, then there the four points I quoted earlier and all of them could be interpreted to mean that blacks are bad. Now, say, just theoretically, that I was anti Semitic. I respond by saying “No, I’m no anti semite.” The accuser then points to my last 10 links, which an objective person might define as being anti-semitic. I should also point out that during many a time both on your old blog and in comment board exchanges you’ve said things that I thought were racist. I think the most prominent point is that it wasn’t worthwhile to pour resources into inner city schools because of those dumb black kids. As if black students would benefit from inspired well-paid teachers and/or state of the art computer networks. What a silly proposition I suppose. I should point out that this is only a trend with GC and not the other bloggers. Razib seems to be more dispassionate and the others, when they choose to blog, seem to have other interests going. And again, I have to wonder: there are so many impoverished groups in the world, why pick on the blacks? Actually, it’s kind of funny. Razib and GC are always saying, well, we’re not white people so we’re not racists, which is demonstrably and overwhelmingly false. In fact, in California, where we think GC is from but we’re not sure, there are just as many hostilities between Asians and Blacks as there are between Blacks and Whites. It’s not a defense to say I’m not white. The proof of that statement "I'm Asian and/or Indian" isn’t that “I’m not a bigot”.


Philip makes a good point - we should consider India and China more frequently, though (as I said above) we have criticized them pretty harshly in the past. Presenting Africa's woes in isolation does skew the picture, so we (or at least I) will make a conscious effort to throw my net a bit wider. In my defense, I think that the post that garnered the most attention was my first post on the economic situation of Africa in two months, though there have been several posts on AIDS in the interim. The most recent analysis indicates that poverty rates are highest in Africa. They are also very high in India and in China. It's my opinion that India will never catch China, because India lacks the human capital to do so. India's highly multimodal genetic structure means that it has a cognitive elite who can program, do mathematics, and design nuclear bombs, but the vast majority of the country is composed of low IQ groups who cannot compete without massive quotas and set-asides. No intervention short of genetic engineering can ameliorate this situation. India may well become a developed nation, but its development will be highly uneven. Look for it to be the most radical expression of Murray and Herrnstein's cognitive elite scenario. Forget about gated communities - think about gated cities .

I have to be honest: You have horrifically misconstrued my point. Let me clarify: if you were to use that same kind of thinking about the poor in China or India then you would be committing equally horrible reductionist crimes. I guess we’re going to have to disagree about this. First, I believe that there is a tie between intelligence and nutrition. In other words, poverty and hunger lower not only intelligence but intelligence potentials. For some reason, you never mention this in your often hostile attacks against affirmative action and, oddly enough, the EEOC. To my mind’s eye, if you’re really concerned about intelligence—which is mutable by the way—then you would have to concern yourself first with nutrition and ameliorating the harmful effects of poverty first. This is, by the way, the same decision reached by the world’s wealthiest man in regards to Africa. Bill Gates came to the quite sane conclusion that computers were little help to hungry kids. You have to solve the problem of poverty first. Even the world’s richest man knows this…What’s wrong? Isn’t the $60 billion dollar man a worthy enough capitalist for you? So my solution for the Untouchables is not hatred, but at the very least a nationwide investment in prenatal care. I suppose your position is that they are simply lost. I might note this is the racist position. Blame the victim, ignore discrimination based on class or caste…Why, the Untouchables must have created themselves…The position I advocate isn’t equality of results but equality of opportunity. We don’t have more equality of results because right now there is no equality of opportunity or at least not in places where groups of varied racial and ethnic identities have to fight for limited resources. And this is where your reductionist approach to IQ—about as useful as hair color in certain instances—falls apart. You would think our blithering idiot President or the notoriously dopey Brit royals would tell you all you need to know about the innate “superiority” of the ruling classes. But no. We just can’t figure it out can we. But that’s a discussion for another day and that involves changing the very social structure of life and figuring out what it means to live in a world, accurately portrayed I think by nan guru Eric Drexler: The Post Scarcity World.


Ah, and therein lies the rub. How to discuss a group's positive traits without implying that those outside that group aren't deserving of accolades? How to discuss a group's negative traits without implying that no member of the group is worthy? Surely there are those who would derive succour from an incessant litany of other's failings. Schadenfreude is an all too human trait. Though my disavowal may seem unbelievable, I am not among this group. I take no pleasure in pointing these things out, but my passion for the truth matters more than the opprobrium of society. My own interest in human biodiversity, and the subsequent crystallization of my thoughts was sparked by my joint interests in human evolution and engineering, not because of hatred.


Actually, and this is something that’s troubled me below the surface, but what do any of your so called necessary harsh truths of racial reality actually have to do with the science of genetic improvement? I thought that the experimentation was done with mice? In other words, you tweak a gene or a set of genes in the hopes that you get certain reactions. In other words, tweak one set of genes and you’ll get better memory or longer hair or a quicker tan. What does any of that have to do with race? For example, say that you come up with the set of genes that improves intelligence in mice and say, subsequently, for argument’s sake, that when you tweak the genes in people—preferably after birth and not in vitro—that you get the same response, or higher intelligence. How would that be racial? I suppose there would be people who wouldn’t want to be more intelligent—we can guess that the usual lot of fundie zealots that we both despise will oppose it—but what color will be the mouse? Is the mouse black, white, blue…what? Now you might counter that the genetic tweaks might vary among the races and, ah, there’s your bell curve at work…But how do you know that blacks or Indian untouchables will be on the low end of the genetic therapies? Remember: blacks used to be not good at sports and it was a scientific fact. We know now that wasn’t the fact and it was horrible science, at least as the Williams sisters routinely show. In fact, you could argue the reverse: that blacks or the rural Chinese have more genetic potential after “treatment”. Right now, how is race even relevant to the experimentation going on. We really don’t know. And your position, right now at least, is as good as mine.

To me, the question you ask—how to talk about group traits and I’m sorry but this is the Nazi tradition—isn’t relevant. For example, you mention the New York doctor who was profiled who notices differences in how people of different ethnic backgrounds respond to different therapies and treatments. But I believe that she’s truly trying to help her patients. She’s not declaring that the black female is inferior because she doesn’t respond as well to stimulants. Where, GC, and forgive me for saying this, you often mix the hideous ideology of the Bell Curve—an ideology of hatred that uses science toward the worst ends of capitalist ruthlessness (“They don’t need good schools they’re genetically inferior anyway…It’s all just objective science afterall…”). The truth is that you can divorce racial considerations from Genetic engineering because genetic engineering will change the whole notion of what race and “humanity” mean. In twenty years, for example, let’s assume that the great change is exponential and that Leon Kass has lost big time. You will walk into a room either here or on Mars and there will be people with antler horns and exaggerated phallic areas and three breasts and jacks hardwired into their heads and striped skins and you yell out: “This isn’t the future I dreamed of…who are the inferior races and who stands apart…?” And some guy with functional spider silk wings will slap you around some and tell you: “That doesn’t matter anymore…doesn’t matter anymore…”

One final note: I think you do take pleasure in pointing out these imagined differences.


I give short shrift to those who baselessly insult reductionism. Usually in such situations several different things are conflated: 1) Simplifying the problem by neglecting unimportant factors 2) Simplifying the problem by consciously neglecting important factors 3) Simplifying the problem by unconsciously neglecting important factors The first is acceptable and desirable…… In other words: If my reductionism is flawed, genetic engineering will fail. But those who fear Gattaca - like Philip - fear reductionism because they know it will succeed.

I’m going to go with Three. And I run a site called Three River Tech Review. I once wrote an article for Tech Central Station, notoriously pro tech right wing site. I’m probably a closet extroprian if I was actually forced to identify with a religion. Actually, I don’t understand your model. Are you going to do mass testing on racial groups? How will that work? And how does that fit into nanotechnology? Even though any real good Nan Tech should probably know a lot about chemistry and biology, isn’t nan purely mechanical right now? Where you use quantum physics to perform a kind of engineering of the very small…? What exactly is your experiment and what are your proofs? And what does that have to do with black people not having protection in the workplace? I mean, the experiments on non racial mice will be extended to people and race will be sort of a moot point. Perhaps the hair gene works better on blacks…who cares? It’s a silly meaningless point…


Phil - you may be right that such terms might be more interesting to look at. They would certainly be politically safer. But I'm interested in why we have crime and poverty. Human capital is part of the story; so is the political system. Both capitalism and a sufficiently smart fraction are required for modernization. If either is lacking, then penury and deprivation will be the order of the day. Is it "reductionism" to postulate these two factors as most important, and all else as secondary? If so, I'm gladly guilty as charged.
Now, if you feel that this reduction is invalid, show me a counterexample in which prosperity and modernization are accomplished without these two prerequisites, or else the converse: in which a high-IQ capitalist society degenerates into anarchy. I'm not denying that problems exist all over the globe. But my interest isn't in sympathizing with the natives. I look for causes and answers, and then I look for solutions. Indians - like Africans - should be allowed to participate in the genetic engineering revolution. The Chinese won't need to be "allowed" - they're just going to go for it.


Well, we’re going to just have to disagree here on some points and I suppose it also touches on the question of what you value in societies. First, American multinationals have a tendency to keep nations poor, and with poverty, suffering and malnutrition you will find lower intelligence rates. You might want to ask where you would like to live: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Cuba? I would take Cuba because in Cuba you have an educational system and a health care system. Any country that produces an Irakere can’t be all bad. But why are our client states so poor? Why is there more poverty in Guatemala than in Cuba? Is it because they’re bad dumb people or is it because American multinationals prefer dictators? I think it’s the latter. We’re not interested in the average person in Bolivia reaching their potential. We want puppet governments that allow us free access to their natural resources. Advanced capitalist economies require tender loving care, lots of luck, natural resources and the lack of a dominant bullying hegemon. Thanks to the United States there’s no such luck for a lot of countries in the world.

Second, I have to confess I even find your answers to be unconvincing. Say that you create the genetically enhanced pill that increases intelligence. So, 100 million rural Indians have an IQ of 150 and they can all do proteomic equations in their heads, what difference would it make without access to food or arable land or water supplies (the cause for the next great wars) or schools…I don’t see your utopia unless you address other issues first, such as religious intolerance, dumb state policy, rampant sexism in the Third World…What good is being able to do rocket science if you don’t have access to a computer? Of if you have to work in a theocracy…I find your thinking bizarre here…And yes, genetic engineering will work just fine without race even being a factor. Mice and flies and worms don’t represent ethnic races.


Look, Phil, your side has its share of notorious liars: Lysenko (a villain comparable to Mengele), Gould, and Lewontin prime among them. Lysenko's name is already mud, and Gould's name is following fast behind him. Lewontin has some actual science to his credit, but his memory too will be consigned to the dustbin of ideologically motivated scientists. Furthermore, these "scientists" are far more representative of your views than Mengele is of mine. He did experiments on innocent humans and considered Jews and blacks little more than animals. I've said it a million times, but it's worth saying again: I'm against coercion. Identifying a problem doesn't mean posing a violent solution or dehumanizing the people in trouble. If you say someone is poor, does that make them a bad person ? No, of course not. If I say someone is a bit slow, does that make them a bad person ? No! There is no moral judgment here, no assignment of fault for something that's not their fault. Do you understand my position now?


Well you’re not exactly posing those last several questions separately. You’re arguing that people are poor because they’re stupid, which is a stupid argument and one which I’m having a hard time relating to any kind of viable, real science, at least not in nanotechnology. I also don’t see where you think Lysenko is out of “my tradition”. I’m not a Stalinist. I’ve never advocated locking away scientists and I’ve always supported the right of scientists to pursue meaningful research, with the thought that scientists probably know better about promising lines of research than, say, ministers or even philosophers. I mean, to be honest, if I was really interested in helping people, I would aim at nutrition. As a I understand it , there’s a much more direct link between nutrition—and the overall political problems of intransigent poverty—and intelligence than say race and intelligence. I mean, you can give me a white kid and a black kid. I’ll starve the white kid and feed the black kid, give the black kid every educational advantage and then claim the black kid is superior because of genetics? That’s your “fair” competition? That’s your scientific “position”? How is it to sympathize with the natives by wanting to feed them? That’s the Bill Gates position afterall. Forgive me if I look askance.

I could face real consequences if anyone were to find out who I am. It is an academic death sentence to question the fundamental axiom of egalitarianism - that there are no significant biological differences between races and sexes. If you don't believe me, check out the fates of Jensen, Brand, Rushton, Wilson, Murray, Bannister, Entine and many others who had the temerity to state the obvious - that there are real and significant differences between the races and sexes. I would welcome the day when I could speak my mind without fearing retaliation. However, I want to get tenure, and there is no way that I could survive the process if I was on the record as having said "the mean IQ of blacks is less than the mean IQ of whites, which is in turn less than the mean IQ of Asians". Regardless of the quality of my science, I would be hung out to dry and possibly subject to physical violence. My academic career would be over. Murtaugh feels that signing one's name to a blog forces accountability for one's statements, and to some extent I agree.
But there is a difference between people who claim anonymity to make trouble and people who claim anonymity to avoid trouble. In the former category I would place spammers, trolls, and internet vandals. In the latter I would put holders of unpopular opinions. I don't think I'm deluding myself about the backlash that I would face if those in charge of my academic destiny could trace my name to my opinions. In this case anonymity is protection against character assassination. To paraphrase Djerassi, the inventor of the pill: "The outrage of the "anti-racists" was understandable because the internet promises to decentralize the provision of opinion to a person's laptop, which can neither be bombed nor picketed."


ON ANONYMITY: “If you don’t believe me, check out the fates of Jenson…Rushton…Murray”. Needless to say, I don’t believe you and here’s what I found, all of those guys have nice academic and/or think tank jobs. Arthur Jensen is a Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology, graduate school of education, Berkeley. Are you talking about another Jensen? Charles Murray has a nice job at the American Enterprise Institute. There are always think tanks or private labs for amoral corporations if you don’t get the opportunity to mold young minds. And, Philippe Rushton works at the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. So, two out of three work as educators in their field. Should I check the rest? Why bother….By the way, nobody is arguing that you shouldn’t do research or even be censored—again, as I’ve stated elsewhere, scientists should be allowed to pursue the research that they want. But there is a right to question the effectiveness of your research and, yes, to impugn your motives and even your rationalizations.

Epilogue: I’ve learned this one from debating Pejman. I always look for what he doesn’t respond to for that means that I’ve either scored a point or that he doesn’t have an answer for it. One point that he really didn’t address very well is Eric Tang, who sort of works for the Asian American version of the NAACP. One thing that he points out is that it’s a myth that all Asian Americans are the model minority and that they’re all doing really really well. In fact, the poorest minorities in the United States, using those unassailable scientific facts that GC likes to trot out so often, are Cambodians and the Vietnamese, refugees from the Vietnam War. Are they genetically inferior? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. I think it has to do with the problems of assimilation and language. It also might have to do with coming to the United States without a plan. That’s why slavery matters so much. Someone who comes to the country with a plan and a purpose will always do better than someone who is brought here under coercion or fear. Here are some quotes about not only that problem, but the glass ceiling that many Asian American executives face. Sure, they work in Silicon Valley in greater percentages than say blacks or latinos, but they don’t get promoted either. Is this the fault of their genetic superiority or the persistence of bigotry?

Here are those quotes:


http://www.arc.org/C_Lines/CLArchive/story_web00_06.ht


Many of our members are undocumented immigrants and/or survivors of the racist criminal justice system, and are therefore at risk if they attempt to leave the U.S. and travel to South Africa. Our communities also lack the resources to travel. That’s why we are mobilizing around the World Conference locally.

We are working with Third World Within, a network of NYC-based organizations of color, to hold Racial Justice Day 2001 on August 31st, to run parallel to the World Conference. This day will include a tribunal on U.S. white supremacy and racial violence. Third World Within has already convened two forums: Racism in the Movement, Race, Color, Caste, and Class Within, and one on U.S. military war crimes in the Third World.

What outcomes do you expect from the conference?

We want to strengthen a global movement that recognizes the international nature of the issues we work on. For example, the legacies of U.S. and western colonialism in Southeast Asia are inscribed in the struggles of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees living in urban poverty in the U.S. Or the way in which today’s low-wage Asian immigrant labor in “global cities” of the west function as an extension of the low-wage labor found in the free trade zones of Asia. We are drawn to Durban to make these connections apparent on an international scale.


http://modelminority.com/coolies/dirty.htm
Lost in the clamor are some nasty secrets no one likes to acknowledge. These issues are not addressed, not discussed, not even by the Asian Americans themselves, when they congregate at their weekly soirees or at the Asian American business associations, business leagues, and chambers of commerce.


The elephant no one likes to talk about is the glass ceiling. It is a well-known fact that there are a very large number of Asian American engineers working in Silicon Valley. It is not a widely acknowledged fact that very few of the major corporations in the valley have Asian American directors, vice presidents or CEOs. The few Asian American CEOs that do exist are ones who head the companies they helped launch themselves.


Human resources managers at IBM, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard, when confronted with the glass ceiling issue, often volunteer the pipeline theory. That is the very argument that is employed when these very HR managers try to explain why there are so few African American and Latino engineers in their companies.

(I also placed this over at Warblogger Watch. It's a defense of Glenn Reynolds and a critique of Godless Capitalist.)

(Update: I misspelled "athiest" , which is really "atheist". I'll keep it in for posterity, afterall I never claimed I was a genius...Not only that, but when I write for fun I'm not that concerned about typos. That's just the way it is.)

 

I just wanted to make two overall points here.  First, I want to offer a rare defense of Glenn Reynolds. Keep in mind that not everybody who writes for Gene Expression is quite as obsessed as Godless. There are four writers and only two of them veer toward the New Genetic Fascism. (To give an example: Godless really thinks there were no downsides in the film Gattaca. Didn't see that Gore Vidal character as heroic in some way...) In fact, Reynolds has taken the side of  articulate science writers Charles Murtaugh (whose politics I don't always agree with, but he does oppose Godless which makes him a kind of enemy of my enemy is my friend sort of ally) and Paul Orwin--both impressive by the way--against Godless on the racial stuff. In other words, just because he links to a site doesn't mean that he endorses all of it's views. Now, Glenn does do a kind of propaganda. But he's not completely and predictably evil like Pejman "Can't You Tell I Sold My Soul to Satan?" Yousefzadeh. Keep in mind that Glenn wrote a pro bono legal brief for the ACLU and he's been openly critical of the civil liberties crackdowns, quotes Talkleft, all of which is to be commended. Now, where he kind of loses us, is this affiliation with the Republican Party. It just seems to me if you really care about civil liberties more than, say, rationalizing civilian casualties abroad, then the intellectually consistent position would be the anti-republican stance, or at least taking a stand against this completely vicious, brain dead, hemp-suppressin'. word mispronouncin' , Saudi family/corporate crime appeasin', worst hideous possible face of Republicanism that I've seen in my lifetime of almost two score. And, of course, the other defense against Glenn's propaganda machine is the wonderful medium of the Internet itself. We can create websites and blogs that counter and debunk the sillier things that Glenn or Pejman or Mike the Dog routinely spout off. To be honest, we do a kind of propaganda ourselves which is why I feel free to quote pro war advocate Doubting Thomas to my advantage, period. But unlike TV, it's rebuttable.   Get your own goddamn blog. On the other hand: Try creating your own Fox News sometimes. What I could never figure out is that if you're like Reynolds or Postrel and you want your Corporate Dominion without the Christian Right then why don't they just join the Democratic Leadership Council? They're pro-corporate domination and they can pronounce words...wouldn't that be better? Better even for business?

Now, as far as Godless, yes there is a kind of racist element to his writings. You can tell that he's immersed in the Bell Curve stuff. For example, you can make the argument that there are poor black people, and perhaps they don't test well. But Godless and sometimes his less offensive more palatable cohort Razib, usually start their every sentence with something like this (At Gene Expression as we speak by the way...):

crime (Does racial profiling work?)
-education (Is black academic performance due to white racism?)
-corporate policy (Is the EEOC unfair?)
-foreign policy (Will aid to africa work?)

Notice the minority that he (or she? Black, white, Indian Brahmin who knows...) targets. He also targets the entirety of Africa, not unlike targeting Europe--no big diff between those Swedes and Spaniards--by the way. And he does it daily. He could target Indian untouchables or the Chinese rural poor or the poorest demographic group in the United States: the Vietnamese, who have double the poverty rate of American blacks. But no mention of these other low achievers. No daily suggestion that they could use a genetic boost intellectually. (It's hinted at that both Razib and/or Godless might be brown-skinned too, either Indian or Asian. But that's not necessarily a defense. Dinesh D'Souza is brown skinned and he's probably one of the most hostile critics of affirmative action in the country. His book on race was so offensive it made black intellectual Glenn Loury turn away from conservatism. I like to think that Dinesh doesn't represent the majority view of Indian Americans, but he's not the most sympathetic spokesperson.)

The other thing that gives ol' Godless away is that Asians and indians--groups that never get the raw end of his Bell Curve schtick and that we think Razib and Godless belong too--are always written about with praise and honor. Actually, if you were evil like Godless and you hated a different ethnic group, you could talk about world rates of poverty, here, and you could in fact conclude that the majority of the world's poor are in fact Asians (in fact they   led by large margins and they didn't even include China...). In fact, if I became Godless' blog adversary and became the equally evil Athiest Imperialist (Get my card from the Society of Twisted Evil Bloggers and so forth...) I could argue that Asians and Indians need a genetic boost (not forcefully of course because I'm no fascist but how long can the world sustain their infinite drag I'd ask with a fake innocence,  in my condescending Dr. Evil pinkie extended to cheek kind of way...), their mediocrity speaks for itself.  You might wonder who my intended audience is. For if I happened to be one of these genetically inferior Asians and/or Indians I probably wouldn't find this line of argument ("You know, your poverty is proof of your genetic inferiority...shouldn't you accept your lowly pathetic genomic heritage and thereby attempt to raise yourselves up out of your deserved Untouchable status...") to be at all persuasive and in fact I might find it to be just a tad insulting. You never know. Nope, I don't think this would be aimed at those genetically wanting Asians and Indians.  I think my most receptive audience would be people who hate Asians and Indians.

Godless might say to Athiest Imperialist that "Ahhh but yes," as he sits in a wheelchair and strokes his white cat wondering how to kill that infernal Mr. Bond: "I'm using science to argue that intelligence proves poverty. You're arguing that poverty itself is a kind of ultimate test of value. You're not being scientific like me old boy." "But you know what," as my mythical strawman destroyer Athiest Imperialist might say, "It's exactly like your science: reductionist and stupid."

I mean, let's step out of the Godless Capitalist/Athiest Imperialist Bizarro World for a sec. What are other rationales for deep and systemic poverty in China and India? It could be the horrendous caste system in India that creates losers from the date of birth. It could be the lack of running water, available food and educational opportunities in the Indian countryside. The majority of poor Indian farmers have never seen a computer...They probably wouldn't score as well as their growing middle class neighbors in Bangalore, but does it mean that they're stupid? It's an idiotic assumption whether it's applied to American blacks or Indian farmers. What about religious bigotry? And of course in India, as I understand, it's a bloody theocratic three-way between Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Not to mention, whereever you find fundamentalism you'll usually find a predictably hideous form of God-sanctioned sexism to go with it. I know, for certain, that there are Madam Curies in the rural Indian and Chinese hills but what would it matter if you're not taught to read? What's that have to do with IQ? Well, absolutely nothing. What about China? Perhaps China has a large poor rural population because it's in a constant war to feed itself. Communism may not be a very efficient wealth creator. When Mao asked for a thousand flowers to bloom and then killed the buds it probably had the same effect as Pol Pot killing anybody who wore glasses: a decimation of the intellectual classes. But do I hate the Asian or Chinese or African or African American poor? Of course I don't. And what kind or reductionist scientific moron would ignore factors like class or religious influence or educational opportunity or racial and class and sexual hostility or dumb government policy or the multinational love of continuously impoverished Third Worlders or any of a thousand factors that specifically or cumultively would be more interesting variables to look at when determining the great truths like crime and poverty? A reductionist moron scientist like Godless Capitalist, that's who.

So, no. I reject your science Godless and the terrible terrible way that you go about selling it. I happen to be pro technology but you have no idea how much you setback these promising areas of research by your every poorly disguised utterance of statistic backed hatred. Yours is a sick legacy inhabited by other such science luminaries as William Shockley and Joseph Mengele and William Pierce (rocket scientist). How appropriate that you should hide your true name.

 

 

 

W

This commons story points out a couple of important aspects about how not only about how capitalism does and doesn't work , but also how capitalism should and shouldn't work. Take a look at these graphs concerning the Big Pharma and the growth of the Internet.

Here's what the writer says about the Internet:

The commercialization of the Internet since the mid-1990s certainly helped to extend the infrastructure rapidly to millions of new users. But it also set in motion new commercial forces that may also threaten the Internet's vitality. The dark side of the digital revolution can be seen in the aggressive efforts of businesses to enclose the cyber-commons by erecting new proprietary barriers of control over infrastructure, information, and users.

In terms of the Internet infrastructure, attempts to impose proprietary standards on key hardware and software protocols used by the Internet are intensifying. Privately owned standards can constitute a kind of monopoly power in the e-marketplace. So far, Internet standards have functioned as a common resource, accessible to and modifiable by all users. But in a number of areas—instant messaging, the new Windows XP/.Net platform and eBooks—individual companies are seeking to capture the standards and effectively "own" the information commons. 35 Worse, vendors of e-books are seeking to use contract restrictions and encryption systems to prohibit users from re-selling or sharing digital content, or buying it anonymously. In some cases, e-books may be available for only a specified number of readings or period of time. 36

This is all bad for business of course. But check out what he says about the horrible deal we cut with Big Pharma, horrible from the consumer point of view anyway.

Numerous studies have confirmed the paramount role of government research in developing medically significant drugs. A 1995 study found that eleven of the fourteen new drugs that the industry identified as the most medically significant of the past quarter century had their origins in government-sponsored work. A Senate Joint Economic Committee study of thirty-two innovative drugs introduced before 1990 found that approximately 60 percent of these drugs would not have been discovered or would have had their discoveries markedly delayed without federal funding. 11 The invaluable role of public science is reflected as well in medical patents. According to a study commissioned by the National Science Foundation, "more than 70 percent of the scientific papers cited on the front pages of U.S. industry patents [were products of] public science"—government or academia—while only 17 percent were industry sponsored. 12

A study by James Love and Ralph Nader on the government's role in developing new cancer drugs found that the federal government was involved in the preclinical development of twenty-eight of thirty-seven drugs developed since 1955. 13 For cancer drugs that reached the clinical stage of research, The National Cancer Institute (NCI) was involved in thirty-four of the thirty-seven cancer drugs developed. 14

One of the most lucrative new drugs on the market has been paclitaxel, also known as Taxol, which is used to treat breast, lung, and ovarian cancers. Using Pacific yew trees on federal lands, the NCI spent fifteen years and $32 million to develop Taxol, before giving Bristol-Myers (now Bristol-Myers Squib) exclusive access to the government-funded research, including raw data and new studies.

Although the government requires companies to agree to a "fair pricing clause," the NCI has no clear standards to enforce. 15 The cost of manufacturing Taxol, according to Love, is about $500 per patient for an eighteen-month treatment regimen. Bristol-Myers Squibb charges more than twenty times that amount, thus earning between $4 million and $5 million a day on Taxol. 16 In 1999, the drug generated an estimated $1.7 billion in sales for the company.

So, Andy Sullivan, don't blame socialist parasites for your health woes. Blame the weak American deals that our country cuts with Big Pharma.

 

Interesting quote from a debate between Gore and Dinesh. I read this somewhere about how  more people leave the United States to go to Europe than vice versa. I've got to find that piece. Anyway, here's Gore on that point.

Gore Vidal: I certainly meant it and I'd love to know about all these people who want to come--who immigrate here. It's been a long time since a Norwegian has asked for a green card. People don't leave Europe for the United States. We get a lot of people from south of the border, particularly countries that we have destroyed as a rogue state--Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, we've had our heavy hands in their affairs, so we get a lot of refugees from south of the border. Also from Southeast Asia where we ran amok for some thirteen or fourteen years. Yes they try to come here and that's perhaps their revenge in a way. And but the first world countries do not regard us with anything except some irritability and at times fear.

 

 

 

 

I actually saw this book at the Borders and I thought it was an older book so I didn't really pay it any mind. I found out it was recently published and that the writer is in his mid 80s, so he knows his stuff I guess. He makes the argument that I've been making tirelessly that the American constitution is flawed. I don't think it matters that much here in the United States but it's a huge point to make if you're looking to build new societies in space. My one or two fans may have noticed in my Tech Central piece how I  openly wouldn't want to live under the American constitution in space. This book makes me feel prophetic.

I've discovered through Eric Alterman that the reviewer, Hendrik Hertzberg, is a big fan of proportional representation as am I. Anyway, here's a pertinent quote or two.

Dahl's main points form an argument that goes roughly like this. Wise and great though the framers were, their vision was circumscribed by what they knew, what they mistakenly thought they knew, and what they lived too soon to have any way of knowing. Even within those limits, they were hobbled by the political necessities of a particular moment, which forced them to swallow provisions to which the most eminent among them were strongly (and rightly) opposed. Later, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an explosion of democratic theory, experience, and practice yielded up an abundance of new democratic norms and mechanisms. A few of these (such as the direct popular election of senators) were incorporated into the formal Constitution, and a few more (such as the idea of competing political parties and the practice of allowing citizens to vote for Presidential electors) were jury-rigged into the informal constitutional structure. But many others were not, and, despite American power, the American system has not been a model for other democracies. Although it's difficult to separate constitutional systems from other factors affecting national well-being, there is no reason to believe that the American system does a better job than the democratic alternatives, and quite a few reasons to believe that it does a worse one.

It's must reading for anyone interested in making democracies better.

 

 

Who's Killing the Microbiologists and Who's Watching the Watchmen?
(Is Adrian Veidt Behind It All?)

If I were to put on my conspiratorial hat, keeping in mind that there's about 20000 plague researchers out there who haven't been killed, then these were scientists already involved in something controversial and they have to be silenced or someone is planning a plague and they're working to winnow out those researchers who would have the best chance at solving the artificial plague's puzzle. Theoretically, I guess, if you were smart enough to design a killer plague then you would also be smart enough to figure out the techs most able to solve it. Or it could just be a wonderful coincidence of odd tragic deaths. What you believe depends on whether you were scared or not after watching JFK...(Just for the record, I am not a suicide and would not have a dizzy spell walking off a bridge...) The massive scale of the killing would seem to suggest a country or a wealthy corporation...

Who is Adrian Veidt?

 

He's a comic book character in Watchmen who wanted to save the world but decided he had to kill a lot of people to do it. The book features the disappearance of a number of the world's most talented minds and scientists.

 

Godless Capitalist Part II:

The other point that he's made lately that's quite striking is that he thinks the Chinese are going to move ahead in genetic engineering.  They're motivated and who could stop them? He makes this point because it would be a way of reaffirming the Chinese identity. I guess that Watchmen line will have to be changed: "The Superman exists and he's Chinese." I sure hope we'll compete.

Godless Capitalist Part One:

I can't say that I agree with the ruthless capitalism or even more ruthless Bell Curve influenced science of the Godless Capitalist--that's why he's under a part of links that I'm ashamed of, but I do concur with his godlessness.  This is a long quote but I agree with it. It's a stunning and persuasive case for the secular or rational outlook toward life, as if scores of predatory and infallible Catholic Priests weren't enough for you.

From Godless Capitalist:

"I'm sorry, but you are mistaken. I have never claimed that an old idea is necessarily less valid than a new idea. Rather, I claim that religion is an old idea that has been replaced by a new idea - science - with incomparably better explanatory power. Religion is essentially a window dressing applied to ignorance. When we didn't understand the physics behind thunderstorms or rainfall, we created Thor and Zeus to comfort us. In our ignorance, we thought that appeasing these "gods" would somehow improve our material welfare. Now that we understand basic atmospheric physics, we are no longer dancing around fires and beating drums to affect our future. We can engineer rainfall and predict the weather days in advance, because we now have a way of understanding and affecting nature that actually works .

Atmospheric physics is just one example. The explosion of science that began with Newton's publication of Principia began to roll back the fronts of ignorance. Science replaced religion in one arena after another. The geocentric model and creationism were two of the most prominent victims, but the most important triumph was the dawn of a purely materialistic worldview. Nowadays, there are really only three things that religion seriously claims to explain:


1. What happens after death
2. What happens in the mind
3. What happened at the beginning of the universe

The first two of these barriers will fall within this century. Our understanding of death is rapidly advancing, and we will soon be able to attain immortality by telomere engineering. I find it unlikely that we will not be able to raise people from the dead as well, given suitably advanced nanotechnology. Within this century we shall also understand the mind well enough to engineer intelligence and moods. Given radically more intelligent scientists, I feel certain that we will fully understand the human mind by 2100 en route to bootstrapping to even higher intelligence. Furthermore, I guarantee that there will be no extracorporeal "soul" involved in our understanding of such processes, as such a "soul" would by definition be undetectable in experiment. It would thus be of no use in prediction, engineering - or understanding .

The third barrier may never fall to everyone's satisfaction because we can't rerun the beginning of the universe. But I feel certain that given enough intelligence, we will excise that portion of our brains that biases us towards supernatural explanations. At that point, humans will be able to understand the physics involved in reconstructing the birth of the universe, and will be able to critically evaluate competing theories without resorting to "god".

(As an aside: Note that young earth creationists are unable to understand that the physics behind the atomic bomb provides the theoretical grounds for radiocarbon dating. While they will concede that the atom bomb works, they do not realize that the theory that allowed the construction of the bomb makes predictions in other arenas as well. Such scientific illiteracy will be a relic of the past once human intelligence has been sufficiently increased.)

For those who feel that science and religion can "coexist", it cannot be denied that religion and science have provided competing explanations for the same phenomena. Look at the geocentric model or creationism, for "god's" sake. Furthermore, it cannot be denied that the explanations offered by science are superior in terms of predictive value and explanatory power. No Bible or "holy" book would ever help us get to the moon. The upshot is that religion is all well and good as a means of crowd control, but it is useless as a means to understand our world and predict natural phenomena.


That said, I advocate the abandonment of religion as a tool to justify policy on the grounds that religion is make-believe . I think it far better to base our policy on axioms such as "The Golden Rule". Such rules may be religiously inspired, but they should be modified to be devoid of supernatural content. I do not want fantasy - no matter how dearly prized - to affect the laws that govern me. We would think it intolerable for a doctor to consult a Bible or rub a rabbit's foot to make a diagnosis. We should likewise stigmatize references to superstition in public policy. "


If you wanted to know what's wrong with the American health system (and the American dream itself) then check out this story at the Utne Reader. The writer got state of the art kidney transplant surgery but now he can't afford the drugs.

Here's an excerpt:

Stunned w"With gratitude and helplessness, I looked once more into the box. Within lay a stuffed penguin, the company's mascot, on top of a staggering itemized bill: $3,047.38 for a two-month supply of medicine. For the rest of my life, I would have an expensive drug habit if I wanted to keep my kidney.

Despite this nation's unprecedented prosperity, 45 million Americans have no health insurance, a number that has increased by about one million a year since 1994, according to a recent Kaiser Foundation report. While 85 percent of the uninsured work, or live in a family where someone does, most are the medically indigent: too poor to afford the high premiums of private insurance, yet too "wealthy" to be eligible for Medicaid. And millions more Americans - not just the elderly, whom presidential candidates like to woo - lack adequate prescription drug coverage. As one of them, my struggle to get the drugs I need every day reaches beyond the problems of someone with an organ transplant. It illuminates the troubles of all Americans, both healthy and ill."

 


This new Orwellian-named Consumer bill is what you get I suppose when your congress has tacitly accepted bribery as a part of the daily ritual. It seems incredible to me. Any new technologies would get a year review in the Congress. Oh, that will be helpful. Meanwhile, as we've already seen in China and stem cell research, the world will run away from us. It would effectively kill Open Source, the only thing that would save us from complete domination from Microsoft--although it's not even clear that they're too excited by the bill. This is just a monumentally bad idea. To quote Son of Satan Glenn Reynolds: Keep your grubby government hands off of my computer. (Update: It looks like Sen. Pat Leahy has at least put a year long halt to the bill. Still waiting for Glen and the other neocons to mention the Democrat who did the right thing. Sigh.)

 


Much Needed Digital Rights Organization

We certainly need the digital rights foundation. It's also full of good links about the history of the copyright movement and the Evil Lurking behind both the SSSCA and the DMCA.


There's a long screed both condemning Ted Rall and respecting Rall's right to free speech over at the great new Tom Tomorrow blog. I have to admit that while I think Rall is one of the better political cartoonists of our time, I didn't think this (the now infamous ones where he picks on war widows) was one of his better cartoons. I might assume for example that when he says on television that he was satirizing the wives who weren't that sad about their husbands death well okay I'll buy that I'm a fan. I guess I'm like a Bush Sympathiser who doesn't want to know where Bush was the last year of his alleged National Guard Service. But how was picking on the wife of  Daniel Pearl funny? She clearly went to the airwaves in order to get publicity for her husband and to tell the attackers that there's a family here. I don't get it. The other side of course is that now he's created all kinds of enemies, namely the Glenn Reynolds new punditocracy. Of course, he was completely courageous when he went over to Afghanistan and did some of the best reporting of the war. Now, it gets all overshadowed by this cartoon. It just seems self destructive career wise. Of course, I thought going to Afghanistan was also self-destructive. Does he kind of have a death wish, possibly pushing his luck in terms of both his his work and his life? I hope not. The left needs Rall, and we also need leftists who aren't nice and have a mean streak. That certainly defines Ted.  When he picks the right targets, not grieving widows, he's hard to beat. So, take care Ted. We need you. And when they dish out those assignments for visiting embittered war-torn and possibly radioactive Iraq, stay home. Let that comfy chair pundit Glenn Reynolds take that one way trip to Baghad...

 


 

Fission Powered Rockets (Written by Homer Hickham)

 

I actually don't agree with Homer that nuclear fission is the safest fuel we have. He might ask the residents near Nevada's Yucca mountain how safe nuclear waste is. But if  he's willing to switch to alt fuels here on Earth, then I would consider using nuclear energy in space, especially if it leads to the development of fusion energy.

 


 

I have to admit that I don't find the raid on Raise the Fist to be that disturbing afterall. It turns out that our radical young man was also a proud hacker who didn't do things like hide his tracks or even watch the so-so movie Hackers. It's more a hacker story than a freedom of speech story, until the troops come crashing down my door I guess...

I have to admit: I find the Fed raid of the "Raise the Fist" Website to be quite disturbing. His site looks like about a thousand others, including my own Bush Watch page. Of course, I'm no danger to the Commonwealth, I simply believe that the right to dissent means something. Then again, there are thousands of sites like this across the country. Come and get us all boys...


3 Big Science Stories: Ultra Wideband, Compression Breakthrough and Possible Zero Point:
Working Zero Point? Has A Working Prototype...!?
Some Debunking At Plastic and Slashdot Screams Faaake!
and Jasker Company Website
(Doesn't Sound As Fake As Youngstown Entropy Machine...Guy Says He's Powered His House Last 17 months From The Machine...)
Perfect Compression? The Implications Mean T1 Lines For Everybody
And:
Company Website (Called Zeosync)
Expanded Cringely On What UWB Means

 

Three real big science stories broke this week. If any of these stories are true,then they would truly be Singularity level events. One of the breakthroughs involves a working zero point device reportedly out of Ireland. There was doubt over at Plastic and clear contempt over at Slashdot. But  its been rumored that this kind of of energy is out there...The guy says he's been running his house on the energy source for the last 17 monhts. Then again he might just be a liar. Should be easy enough to verify...

The second story involved a company, with the very science fictional name of Zeosync, that has claimed to have created a kind of a Holy Grail compression. What it means, if true, is video quality images over your old 56 k modem. That means thousands of new TV stations, music downstreams, news outlets. The revolution will have arrived. But the scieniist is open about still having to make refinements. Very cool if perfected.It would also help along VR as well over phone lines. Unlimited potentials. The third story has to do with Ultra Wideband, which is a miracle tech already in use. Robert Cringely writes about it in glowing terms but wonders if the powers that be will allow it to flourish. I concur. It's a pretty disruptive tech although I'm certain that it would help create another boom time in the United States and globablly. Still, we'll have to see...

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Well, well whadya know...Virginia Postrel doesn't want the Senate to turn Republican because she's seen just how evil that Leon Kass commission happens to be. The commission will rationally decide to turn the clock on biotech, crippling research here and giving the future to   Japan, Britain, France  and anybody else with the courage to take it. I've always thought that if you wantt business interests in control politically  without the involvement of that messy american taliban of ours then your clear choice is the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Al Gore was a member. I can tell that she's constantly rethinking her Bush vote...couldn't happen to a nicer guy....

 

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There's the distinct possibility that we could watch the most devastating loss of human life in history if Pakistan and India exchange nuclear weapons.   Our pal Instant Pundit Glenn Reynolds tells us that this is because India hasn't followed the wise and prudent course set forth by the United States of a limited response. What limited response was that? Blowing what's left of Afghanistan to smithereens? Apparent disregard of the puppet government's request that we stop indiscriminately bombing them and killing innocent civilians and anybody who just happens to be walking their goat in the freshly munitioned air? I thought India was taking the United States lead quite appropriately, namely: We will destroy an entire country just to get at a handful of terrorists. I also thought they were following the other implicit american subtext of bombing raids infinitum: It's better to use force than to give a toss about weak kneed "negotiation" and acknowledging that the other side might have a legitimate beef. Afterall, the other side is evil and not as pure and good like we are. Plus, we have more nuclear warheads sez an Indian general...Is that intimidation or posturing? Or is that a radical plan by both countries to solve the population problem in Southeast Asia?...Oh, by the way, Happy New Year...

 

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Did I forget something about the conflict in the Middle East? CNN Tells me that Isreal will strike back, hosted by the very impartial Wolf Blitzer, as if Isreal was just kind of an innocent, standing around shocked that they had been attacked. I seem to remember, over the last several weeks,  Palestinians being shot and killed daily, a state authorized assassination list of Palestinian leaders (Two names were crossed off I believe...), and 5 Palestinian kids gettin' blow'd up real good...What did the Isreali citizen think would happen? Fresh roses? For all you war mongers out there check out how  Eye for an Eye works in the Middle East. I don't feel it to be particularly comforting...

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Welp, I just got done watching "IT" in action on ABC and I thought that it was distinctly unimpressive. It doesn't seem practical in the cold or for carrying home groceries, or those reasons that people generally cite whenever asked why they forego public transport for their SUVs. Still, the X Game sport potential for these things seem impressive. I'd like to see one go really fast... I'm still of the opinion that the French car that runs on air pressure (which I hope isn't a hoax) is a more revolutionary idea. The photo and link are further down the main page...

 

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Yep. I'm moving Glenn's site to links I'm ashamed of. I like his civil liberties views, but his warmongering isn't just annoying, its wrong. It's clear that the war has been a disaster. There are tons of things even a Patriot like Glenn could question. He should be up in arms over that Homeland Security deal, which sounds a lot like the Nazi SS. Scary stuff.

 


Everything that’s wrong about America’s New War I’ve learned from the Internet. Jon Katz wrote about this over in Slashdot. Where the Big Networks quickly take suggestions that it’s not a good idea to show videotapes of the other side, I could probably find anything I wanted to about the war on the net in about 5 minutes, 5 seconds if I was feeling motivated. So why is it that Unknown News can write an angry anti-war screed just a day after the bombing (where the writer makes the commonsense points that our undemocratic foreign policy—where we support corporate-backed junta thugs over democracy movements every frellin’ single time—led to those plane attacks) or Robot Wisdom guy can state in bold “If you want peace, work for justice” or I can link to news items about our dependency on oil or why we haven’t shut down those nuclear plant bombs in waiting…It’s because blogs aren’t news sources run by multinationals. We can actually write what we think is the truth. I can say that I don’t believe George Bush is a very convincing leader and the fact that he stole the election from a more competent man makes him somehow more evil—especially now on the brink of World War III, it would be nice to have a president who can speak and think. I can say that the war effort without an effort at addressing global poverty and global slave labor means absolutely nothing. I can openly wonder about whether destabilizing Pakistan, that has a rumored two dozen nuclear warheads, is a prudent move. I can even make another jump in logic and question why all of our new friends have a record on human rights almost as bad as the Taliban’s. I can seriously question if this war on terrorism will turn into another war to gain control of the oil resources of the Stan countries. By the way, I think these are questions and concerns that should be addressed in a free media, which we really don’t have. Look at all those firings of reporters who were just doing their jobs in questioning American foreign policy. What kind of free press is that? The answer is “not much”. It ‘s just like that old Leibling quote the only person who has freedom of the press is the person with the money to own one…

…Or at least that’s what I thought until I read about how the FBI has closed down a so-called “terrorist” site. It was a pro IRA site. What was uncomfortable was the FBI’s rationale as terrorist support. You could see very easily how sites like Democratic Underground and Robot Wisdom and Unknown News could be defined as “terrorist” sites and then closed down, for our protection no doubt. Afterall, the only dissent that you read about the war is on the net. If they’re as crazy as I think they are they’ll probably go after the net in a big way…

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The teleportation they’re talking about regarding quantum particles isn’t quite like Star Trek. If this teleportation were ever perfected, then you would die everytime you took a trip. There’s actually a pretty good science fiction story about that called “Think Like A Dinosaur”, which was recently adopted by the Outer Limits. The aliens, advanced raptors, will give us the teleportation technology but only if we kill the person who’s left behind. In other words, whenever you Xerox somebody, the aliens would insist that you throw away the copy. Fred Pohl explored a kind of teleportation like this as well in one of his more recent novels. What I find exciting about this is that it’s instaneous over distance. Sounds like it would be a perfect way to communicate across space…But how would you build a quantum receiver? Hmmm…better get out my legos and start buildin’…

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I like the new Enterprise Star Trek. But that theme has got to go. You could at least get somebody interesting to sing it like Beck or Bjork or Prince or Joe Jackson or Bowie’s background singers or just about anybody…It just makes me question the validity of the whole thing. This is the kind of singer that those South Park guys make fun of…Has Rick Berman seen the theme song for the Cartoon Channel’s Cowboy Bebop? Now that’s a theme…

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You know, I'm beginning to think that I should have put the Glenn Reynold's site Instant Pundit under links that I'm ashamed of. I don't understand his thinking behind believing that everybody who thinks that the bombers may been more complicated than just plain old evil. That simply isn't an intelligent or honest position to take in any kind of confllict analysis: I'm good and you're evil. Thanks George and Glenn. That explains a lot. I thought evil was cowardly and lacked the discipline to aim its plane directly into a building. It's like Glenn investigates a murder and he says "Welp, the murdered guy is innocent and the murderer is truly evil." Glenn's hapless easily overruled assistant points out that the innocent guy is a drug dealer and somebody may have shot him in self defense or that the drug dealer may have pulled his weapon or perhaps he had the wrong position on Isreal...in any event we should try to figure out motives, so that we can nail the killer and figure out how to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future and then Glenn bellows "Nooooooo! The victim is innocent and the killer is evil! Case closed! Now let's go kill whoever did this thing without the use of analysis, history, or past political disputes..." And Glenn thinks he's an intellectuall for not asking those kinds of questions...(Update: He's turned into a jingoistic monster. Thus, he hath been moved!)

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By the way, I hope this puts the nuclear energy debate to rest. It now appears that the terrorists have access to over 100 nuclear bombs. And these plants are renown for their poor security. We can only hope that the terrorists were headed back for the capitol and not the nuclear power plants either in Beaver or Harrisburg. As one security official put it: No one is calling me and asking how do we protect our windmill farm from terrorist strikes.

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I'm very depressed about the bombings. I think our foes are real and I'm almost certain that we're going to retaliate which will only ratchet up the war ahead. What's that about living in interesting times...

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Well, I guess this son of DMCA bill is it. It's what we should all fear. It essentially would make every computer now in existence completely illegal. The Slashdot comments were both dark and hilarious. The idea of rogue hard drives being sold on the black market. The Neuromancer future looks more prophetic everyday...Where's Case and can he help me download that new Limp Bizkit single...(Update: Looks like as of November 1st, the SSSCA has been shot down. Industry doesn't even like it...)

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I know I've been known to rag on Ms. Postrel on occasion, but the reason why there's a link to her site here--albiet one that I'm ashamed of--is that her ideas are too important to ignore. She's been the first to note that Leon Kass is a horrible choice to lead this new biotech commission. She picked her own choices to lead the commission and readers were also allowed to pick their choices as well. Now, if she only had the guts to get a message board...

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I was amazed and disturbed by this Salon article. It’s probably true that the censorship trends pro rightwing. There’s an accompanying story on Salon about how trying to “protect” kids actually hurts them. I just think that people should be free to surf wherever they want. I assume that there’s a teacher in the classroom so they’re always being monitored. Then again, judging from the response at Plastic, I guess people are sympathetic to the oppressive school forces. The worst argument has to be , well, that’s the way things are at work, why shouldn’t they be that way at school? Actually, the question that occurred to me is why is it that way at work? True, I’ve worked under many a fascist regime at many jobs but should it be that way? There’s a book called The End of Bureaucracy and the Rise of the Intelligent Organization where the writers make the argument that the workplace of the future needs freedom to excel. I thought it was a compelling argument. You need more organizational intelligence but you usually don’t have it because of the backstabbing and ruthless nature of most American workplaces. Any info I give to my coworker can be used against me. If you really want to improve productivity, then give your workers basic human rights and internet freedoms. Does freedom in the workplace actually work? Compared to your usual Microsoft motivators of fear and greed? I don’t know. But it sure would be nice to try, both at school and at work

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Please check out the Village Voice this week. First, its front page, or default page, features a very cool flash-like animation that advertises its lead stories very very effectively. It looks like a very cool film. This is also the potential of broadband. Magazines could essentially become video producers, and you would have the start of a much more diverse broadcast media.

There's also a very good story about the dark side of genetic profiling, namely using a person's specific genetic markers to kill just him or her. This is nothing new if you've been reading science fiction about the future uses of nan and I think the method was even used in an episode of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict, but I think this is the first time its been mentioned in the public press. The story is also an exploration of what's happening on the Left Biotech front. The writer lists a whole range of interesting sounding groups and websites.

The writer also states that no one she spoke to came up with a way to counter such a DNA-specific killer cocktail. She should take a look at the story to the left about Zyvex and the artificial cells. If you could create thousands of artificial cells, then you could vanquish any cellular attacker. You could be in control of your own virtual white blood cell  army.

 

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The Salon piece on Barbara Ehrenreich's journey as a person who was attempting to live on the working poor's wages (at left) is an eye-opener. Actually, as someone who's worked dead-end jobs many a time (and will probably do so again if my current dotcom writing gig dries up...I will feel like Cliff Robertson watching the dead mouse in Charly saying my fate is to become what I used to be...Telemarketing here I come!) it sort of confirmed what you had always known. Still, its nice to see someone else say it.

It's also interesting, at least from this account, how readily the poor have bought the ideology of the rich. Unions and social revolution don't seem to occur to them. The article also brings up the one very interesting thing about what the elimination of the social safety net means: If you're poor you have to work those lousy jobs or become homeless, if you can even afford a home. Get a low wage job and you become stuck in a feedback loop. Sort of a timely update on Studs Terkel's Working...

 

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Too lazy to actually read these days, I listened to an unabridged version of the first Harry Potter book on a recent trip to Washington D.C. some days ago. I can see why the series is so popular. It is at turns hideous, wondrous and engaging. It is also a textbook of structured plotting and characters that you can root for. On the side, I’m reading something in my usual radical hard SF/cyberpunk diet: Stylish, whip-smart and I’m not sure I can even remember or care who the characters are. Whereas Potter was so engaging I can remember us sitting in our car outside the garage and listening for the final 10 minutes to end. It was that entrancing. We couldn't "put it down" so to speak.

It’s at once both a radical and conservative book. Kind of hard to pigeonhole. I guess its radical in the sense that its characters almost always choose a higher ethics: if it’s a choice between saving a friend’s precious bauble or violating the broom usage rule, then choose the friend. If it’s a choice between violating school curfew rules and saving a friend, then, again, choose the friend. Or near the book’s end, if the choice is between expulsion and saving the world, then choose the world, although I thought that was kind of an easy one. You can see where this would have a nice left orientation. If the choice is between allowing the environment to be destroyed by rogue corporations or saving the earth from evil pollutants, then choose the Earth. If the choice is between kowtowing to inane censorship laws or saying what you think to be the truth, then choose the truth. Of course, in the book, all the kids are rewarded for their higher ethics as opposed to being murdered by death squads or thrown into gulags and tortured. Hey, it’s a narrative for kids. Let’s show them the way the world should work.

As for the conservative part, there is just the one line earlier in the book about how Harry’s odious fat brother uses his computer mainly just to blow things up and such. I suppose that J.K. Rowling’s son won’t be seeing a lot of quality DOOM hours.

This brings me to one or two complaints about the book. As an aspiring science-fiction writer, I couldn’t help but notice that all the “magic” in the book could be explained by cutting edge science, sometimes one or two more of the disciplines at once. Flying brooms? How about a working anti-grav or even a miniaturized conventional fuel system with a VR overlay control system? A house that builds new routes and doors within itself? How about a house composed of nano assemblers and that exists in more than several dimensions at once? Elves, ghosts and goblins? Holograms would make great ghosts and future biotech should makes elves and goblins look like something quaint, cute and desirable. Successful tracking of a family on the run? Good old fashioned GPS trackers and in Britain Hagrid could have just used all those cameras they have about. Something that only a science fiction fan would find annoying I guess. But it was a great read. I certainly want to read and/or listen to the rest of the books.

I suppose, a writer of ambition, could write that alternative book, fill it with an interracial cast of kids, set it in the industrial rustbelt and use the technologies I’ve just described to make those same points. Hmmm, something to ponder…



Hilarious Tom The Dancing Bug Cartoon that lampoons not only the aforementioned Kamen invention but also that new action hero Judge Scalia!

Genius inventor Dean Kamen is the man behind the "It" machine, which looks a lot like some kind of fancy, motorized scooter. Further extrapolation insists that its not just the scooter, but the perfection of a certain kind of engine that might be revolutionary. We should hope that it runs on fossil fuels or our Republicracy presidency might take a dim regulatory liking to it. Here's a picture.

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Well, I haven't really said anything about the election and judging by my paltry hits I could conclude that nobody cares if I did, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. This is why I pay that big $15 a month  to be my own publisher. First, I'm deeply ashamed to be an American. What an embarassment: To live in a country that doesn't count the votes. I've always thought that the United State is a flawed aging Democracy that really doesn't do the job of Democracy very well. I have this ongoing debate with a friend of mine that says that when we explore space we should do it under the American Flag. I've always argued that by flying the American Flag into space you would be setting your sights too low. We can build smarter, better democracies. Who knows maybe we can even write into the constitution that the Supreme Court should forward partisan matters to an impartial arbiter. Maybe the Hague, or the United Nations.

It's early December 13th now and the Supreme Court has written a blatantly partisan pro Bush decision... Now, I get to listen to those right wing hacks at Fox news call for an immediate Gore resignation and the "respectable" centrist media on CNBC and ABC talk about the good of the nation and about how bad the Gore people for not being more gracious in defeat. And what should he say exactly? Congrats to my opponent, who lost the popular vote and who in all likelihood lost the Florida popular vote, and wish him well? Reward him for undermining the Democracy by arguing that votes don't matter, that speed is a higher value than actually who won the election?

I can't wait for the Chinese leadership to sarcastically comment back to us whenever we bring up our now apparent empty blather about "human rights". I can see them now chuckling in their mono colored Mao suits about "You Guys ignore the votes of confused old people and minorities and you're going to preach to us about how to live? Get a grip. Actually, we should do the same thing here in China. Allow our wealthy elites and the military industrial complex to buy the 'election' every four years or so and then proclaim ourselves a Proud Democracy. What a great scam." I mean, I don't know what Al Gore can do at this time, but if he doesn't humbly concede I won't hold it against him if he's angry and bitter. God knows I am. If this Supreme Court decision stands, then I heartily say Fuck Chris Matthews, Fuck Fox News, Fuck the United States, Fuck this election and Fuck Bush. If I ever see Bush on the street I will be happy to spit on him , loudly proclaim that he is not legitimate, and take my beating from the Secret Service like a man.

 

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Anyone who gets death threats for his invention can’t be all bad. That’s precisely the situation that the inventor of the air car finds himself in as his first cars will soon be available in both Mexico and South Africa. I strongly suggest that the inventor, who’s German, rent himself versions of both Coppola’s "Tucker" and that TNT production "The Water Engine". Then again, both of those stories were set in the United States. Maybe Europe will offer salvation. Where they’ve got some sense.

 

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People compare this new 3D product (without glasses) to that emergency message sent from Princess Leia in the first Star Wars film. Except that people who saw this product at Comdex thought it was much better. Obvious apps include military and commercial uses, but I kept on thinking of a whole new way of looking at movies, where maybe you sit below the screen and watch the realistic action or 20 foot realistic images of Jackie Chan tumbling through the air in all directions.

 

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Science fiction writer John Barnes once told me a story about how another science fiction writer, Bruce Sterling, reacted to the very destructive nanites that were featured in Greg Bear’s horror cyber classic Blood Music. Sterling’s reaction, and this shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any knowledge of his work, was along the lines of "Where can I get some of this stuff?"

Glowing green bunnies and implantable GPS tracking devices notwithstanding, I guess I sort of share Sterling’s crazed enthusiasm, even though I know the next years won’t be the Good Old Fashioned Futures that I grew up with. Who needs tricorders when you’ve got ultrawide bandwidth?

There are some people out there who aren’t all agiggle about the prospect of life looking like some out take of Blade Runner. And they’re posting ads in the New York Times in order to express their opinions.The group is called Turning Point.

I suppose they’re the outgrowth of the Jeremy Rifkin school. Rifkin, for those of you who haven’t seen him speak or haven’t read his fount work on the dangers of biotech, Algeny, is setting himself up as the latter day Ralph Nader of, what might affectionally be called, the Neo-Luddite movement. I suppose their writings also take on the tone of Bill Joy’s famous essay where he warns us about the dangers of the future.

Personally, I thought the world benefitted from Ralph Nader and the world would probably benefit from an effective Jeremy Rifkin. I also think that the points that were brought up in the Turning Point ads make some sense: There should be serious debate about all these technologies and how they’re handled. Not only to prevent the nightmarish Blood Music scenario but also the related gray goo problem that’s been discussed often by Nan Fans. (check out Nanodot on the left hand side.)

I guess where they kind of lose me is when they argue out loud that I shouldn’t use technology that they don’t like. That there are tech ideas that should be trapped in a bottle and locked away from everyone.

Hey, if I want to glow a bright neon red at dusk, grow lovely spider silk bat wings, make certain body parts resemble that of the Rhino, then that’s my life and my choice. I will vociferously bark loudly about my freedom through my newly grown Walrus teeth.

 

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You know, I sent that Youngstown company, Entropy Systems,  a proposal sometime back. If only they had listened to me, then we could've been rich. And I coulda been a contendah. I coulda been somebody...

 

 


 

 

For a few years now, I've been waiting to get a look at those Moller Air Cars. I've been hoping to see them actually in the air. But so far, nothing... Looks like Millenium Jet is moving a lot faster. Not just in terms of a helicopter/jet pack, but an air car as well. It does come with ballistic parachute in case you're worried about those stall outs over the river...

 


 

The very cool thing about Nanodot, kind of slashdot for Nan Fans, is that Eric Drexler actually writes in and makes corrections and points.