Saturday, August 12, 2006

Whose Side Are You On?

Posted by codemorse






From the Navy Times:

During World War II, the U.S. unleashed more than just its military against the Axis powers. In the pages of comic books, a new and timely generation of superheroes — Captain America, the Submariner and the Human Torch — took on the enemy as well.

Every GI who thumbed through the dog-eared pages of a comic knew exactly where the superheroes stood. With him.

But in “Civil War,” a seven-part comic book series that pits Captain America, Iron Man and other heroes against one another over issues grown out of today’s war on terrorism, Marvel Comics is throwing out a challenge not only to its pantheon of superheroes, but also to its readers: “Whose side are you on?”

The question is not about the hot war in Iraq but the battle being waged at home over warrantless wiretaps, watch lists, data mining and loss of privacy.

In a nutshell, popular and government fear of superheroes comes to a head in “Civil War” after a group of second-rate heroes who star in a reality-TV show bungles the takedown of some supervillains in Connecticut. The battle triggers an explosion that kills as many as 900 people, many children among them.

Faster than you can say “campaign donation,” the superhero registration act is hammered out in Congress and Marvel’s great heroes and antiheroes break into two camps.

Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, billionaire industrialist and arms manufacturer, takes the government side.

“Becoming public employees makes perfect sense if it helps people sleep a little easier,” Iron Man tells a roof full of superheroes gathered at Fantastic Four headquarters to discuss the pending legislation.

Captain America, who has been wearing the Stars and Stripes as a uniform and fighting America’s enemies for more than 60 years, comes down on the other side.

“Superheroes need to stay above [politics] or Washington starts telling us who the supervillains are,” he tells the government’s heavily armed “superhuman response unit” sent to sign him up or take him down.

....the plot — which already is developing beyond the core seven-book series into existing Marvel comics and new spinoff comics — has generated buzz among comic book enthusiasts, including many in uniform.

In Fayetteville, N.C., home to the Army’s Fort Bragg and also to Dragon’s Lair, a 25-year-old comic book shop, owner Bernie Mangiboyat said he quickly sold his 200 copies of the first issue, and people are still asking for it.

He said about 75 percent to 80 percent of his customers are service members, and so far, most are lining up with Captain America.

“The big thing is Captain America,” he said. “He stands up for the ones who don’t want to give up their names [to the government]. ... Ninety percent of the customers coming in say they look at it in the Captain America way.



I remember sitting with a group of Navy guys at a bar during Fleet Week in New York a few years ago. Jabs and I bought them a round of drinks, and a few of the guys and I started talking comics.

Man, I thought I was a geek.

Those guys loved their super heroes, and I had a blast talking to them for a bit before we moved on for the night.

I love that this article was published on the Navy's site. The article clearly mentions that most of the servicemen who have bought the book are, thus far, siding ideologically with Captain America (who is currently defying the government). It goes to show that (treatment of homosexuals excluded) the military and it's people are perfectly intellectually-capable of real maturity and thoughtfulness, despiite the caricatures painted by anti-war extremists.

Even if that "maturity" comes out in something as "immature" as a debate in a comic book, its still a telling example of how we all share the same doubts, insecurities and questions about our democracy. Just because you choose to serve your country doesn't mean you have to agree with it, and it makes the sacrifice our men and women make for us even more powerful for that fact.

This article's worth a read because Civil War is actually a comic I'd recommend to someone who doesn't read comics. It's well-written, beautifully-drawn, and deals with very relevant stuff, while still giving us what we crave - grown men and women in tights beating the four-color snot outta each other.

The writer of the book puts genuine effort into painting both sides of the debate fairly. There are good reasons for being a supporter of registration. There are good reasons for protesting it. There is no "right" side, and it's that element that makes Civil War seem so refreshingly mature and engrossing.

Knowing the way comic books work, there will probably end up being some secret supervillian plot behind the event (see the article's mention of Skrulls for one possible culprit), and that would be a shame. The debate on social issues like security vs. liberty is a fascinating one, and having our country's heroes reflect that debate without easy resolution is a powerful way of examining the debate in a fun, lighter way.

Do yourself a favor and pick up the Civil War books. If you've enjoyed the X Men films, you're almost guaranteed to enjoy these.

Oh, and as for me?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cybercrime Treaty...

Recently the Senate ratified The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. For the most part it's a pretty good thing. It's inteded to do a couple of things. First, countries that may not have the legal infrastructure in places to police internet crimes get these guidelines. Second, those countries who participate in it will cooperate on cracking down on cybercrimes globally.

Unfortunately it, like DOPA has some issues. The biggest one in my mind is that an act under criminal investigation by one country (say Russia) doesn't have to be illegal in another country (say the US) in order for the first country to ask for help. And the second country is obligated to do it.

Danny O'Brien, activism coordinator with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, said: "Our primary concern is that there's no dual criminality within the mutual assistance provisions. The United States is now obliged to investigate and monitor French Internet crimes, say, and France is obliged to obey America's requests to spy on its citizens, for instance--even if those citizens are under no suspicion for crimes on the statute books of their own country." - source ZDNetAsia

That sounds less than good to me. Maybe our resident law dogs can assuage my fears?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Talkin' Loud, And Sayin' Nothing (A-Come On, Now!). Sayin' Nothin'.

Posted by codemorse

From CNN.com:


British authorities have arrested at least 21 people suspected of plotting to blow up passenger jets heading from Britain to the United States. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the plans were "suggestive of an al Qaeda plot."

CNN's Tony Harris discussed the plot with senior investigative producer Henry Schuster.

HARRIS: Henry, first of all, talk to us, if you would, about the details of this plot and how those details to conceal liquid explosives into carry-on luggage bags is indicative of kind of the evolving thinking of these terrorist groups.

SCHUSTER: Well, Tony, I spoke just a little while ago with a former Scotland Yard inspector who was involved in many of these counterterrorism cases, and he says that there is a couple of things that you have to pull away from this.

One is that obviously we're talking about, as he said, initiated devices, suicide bombers. Two, how would they over the period of years from 1994, when we first saw from al Qaeda this sort of planning to put bombs on airplanes. In fact in 1994, al Qaeda actually pulled off a test run of one of these bombs that was assembled on an airplane using liquid explosives and a detonator. In that case, it was a Casio watch. Here the thinking is that it might have been one of these electric key fobs....

In 1995 and 1996, there was a plot to bring down up to 11 transoceanic flights from the Pacific into the United States. This plot is very reminiscent of that. So you begin to see where there's an evolution of the al Qaeda playbook here.


First and foremost, heartfelt congratulations and thanks are in order to those agents and members of the government, both Pakistani and British, who worked to stop this plot before it could be implemented. You are heroes. No matter what the far "left" says about you, unfairly, in their furious rage over the administration. No matter what the far "right" says about you, unfairly, when it becomes politically expedient to distance themselves from their initial congratulatory remarks, or when their furious rage over the far left boils over.

You are heroes. Thank you.


Now, let's talk briefly about Chertoff and Bush's statements. Today, as CNN notes, Michael Chertoff told us that this attempt was "suggestive of an al Qaeda plot. President Bush said the arrests are a 'stark reminder' that the U.S. is 'at war with Islamic fascists.' "(Watch Bush say what the arrests mean for the U.S. -- 2:37)


According to the administration, talking about our anti-terrorist plans is a terrible idea. They "help the enemy." We've seen this on numerous occasions, whether it's the NY Times report on warrantless wiretapping, or simply discussion of the war at all.

So then, wouldn't announcing the U.S. government's suspicions of al Qaeda's involvement also fall under that general umbrella? Doesn't this announce to terrorist operatives, who might otherwise operate cautiously, but with the thought that America had not identified their group as the ones responsible - that we're wise to them? Won't that - as talk of wiretaps supposedly did - make it harder to track and find the enemy when they're more aware of our gaze?

This gives ammunition to administration critics who will see this as a baldy-political move designed to associate the efforts of British and Pakistani agents with the American war against a specific terrorist organization that remains unconfirmed. They will see this in the same way they saw the association of Saddam and 9/11.

Conflating the foiling of this plot, which our government apparently had nothing to do with, and the American struggle against al Qaeda would seem to prove Glenn Greenwald's below-posted point (see the post below this one, he added, unnecessarily).

Bush's comments add nothing substantive to the struggle we're in. They simply add fear. Do we need a reminder that we're at war with Islamofacism? No one does. No one is arguing that terrorists are like unicorns. What we're arguing about is how to fight them, and Bush's remarks again frame the debate in such a way as to focus it on our supposed inability to see a threat.

We GET it, Mr. President. We're at war. We've been at war for quite a few years now.

So what are you going to do about it, besides scaring my parents?

Where were our men on this? Were they assisting? It sure doesn't seem like it. Does that mean that once again we were unaware of the plot? Does it mean that without British and Pakistani intervention we'd have again born witness to suffering that no human being should endure?

Because if that's so, maybe it's you who needs reminding on the whole war thing, Mr. President.

Examples Of Intelligent, Reasonable, "Liberal" Argumentation

Posted by codemorse

From Salon.com:

Roughly 12 hours have elapsed since it was disclosed that the British police thwarted an attempt to blow up transcontinental airplanes. Few facts are known about how the plot was uncovered and exactly who was behind it. Nonetheless, supporters of President Bush have wasted no time attempting to exploit this event to make what they evidently perceive are powerful political points in defense of the president and his most controversial policies....

The White House is sure to follow suit any minute now, insinuating -- or explicitly claiming -- that this incident proves that Bush was right about the whole array of our country's foreign policy disputes, from Iraq to the current Israel-Lebanon war. This naked exploitation of terrorist threats for political gain occurs every time a new terrorist plot is revealed, no matter how serious or frivolous, no matter how advanced or preliminary, the plot might be. Each time a new plot is disclosed, administration officials and their followers immediately begin squeezing the emotions and fears generated by such events for every last drop of political gain they can manufacture.

But this effort is as incoherent as it is manipulative. Nobody doubts that there are Muslim extremists who would like to commit acts of violence against the U.S. and the West. No political disputes are premised on a conflict over whether terrorism exists or whether it ought to be taken seriously. As a result, events such as this that reveal what everyone already knows -- that there is such a thing as Islamic extremists who want to commit terrorist acts against the U.S. -- do nothing to inform or resolve political debates over the Bush administration's militaristic foreign policy or its radical lawlessness at home.

Opposition to the war in Iraq, for instance, is not based upon the premise that there is no terrorist threat. It is based on the premise that that invasion undermines, rather than strengthens, our campaign to fight terrorism.

Invading and bombing Muslim countries do not prevent terrorism or diminish the likelihood that British-born Muslims will blow up American airplanes. If anything, warmongering in the Middle East exacerbates that risk by radicalizing more and more Muslims and increasing anti-U.S. resentment. And the more military and intelligence resources we are forced to pour into waging wars against countries that have not attacked us, the less able we are to track and combat al-Qaida and the other terrorist groups that actually seek to harm us.

There are few things that have more enabled terrorism than turning Iraq into a chaotic caldron of anarchy and violence -- exactly the environment in which al-Qaida thrives.

Nor is opposition to the president's lawbreaking somehow undermined when it is "revealed" that there are terrorists in the world who are trying to attack the U.S. Opposition to warrantless eavesdropping, for instance, is predicated on the fact that a constitutional republic that exists under the rule of law cannot tolerate a president who defies the law at will, and is further based on the indisputable fact that the president is fully able to eavesdrop on terrorists in compliance with the law, i.e., by obtaining warrants.

Screeching about terrorist threats as though it justifies such illegal conduct is a complete non sequitur. Nobody opposes surveillance of terrorists.

But Bush followers who exploit terrorist threats for political gain and to gin up support for the president's policies are not pursuing rational arguments. They leap at the chance to manipulate terrorist stories because they want to ratchet up the fear levels, precisely because fear obviates rational analysis and increases the willingness of citizens to cede more power and control to the government, to place more blind faith in political officials in exchange for a feeling of protection.

James Madison, in a 1798 letter to Thomas Jefferson, warned about this manipulative tactic: "Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad." And Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper No. 8, observed: "Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates."

Burn Baby Burn...

I'm like some kind of weird Nostra-dumbass (to steal a word from another famous Scott). I was talking about downloading movies and how it sucks that right now only porno maker Vivid allows you to put their downloaded smut on DVD. Well according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer soon you will be able to walk into a store, up to a kiosk and dl and burn a movie.

The DVD Copy Control Association (hereafter known as DVDCCA) will be relaxing copy protection on DVDs. MovieLink and CinemaNow currently allow burning to DVD, but the result doesn't work on all DVD players. That will require the DVDCCA to work with disc manufacturers and produce compliant discs.

With all this alphabet soup and bureaucracy don't expect it to happen overnight. I'm sure (thanks to lawyers) that it will still take a great amount of time and money. I also expect that NetFlix, BlockBuster and anyone who doesn't want to get Left Behind will need to ramp up their plans along these lines. Personally I think their settop box idea makes more sense, but then having a physical disc isn't a big deal to me as long as I can watch the movie.

UPDATE: Apparently CinemaNow service sucks and not just due to format issues. The software causes most DVD players to be unable to play the DVDs.

Call And Response

Posted by codemorse

Over at RedState.com, some enterprising soul has posted the following so-funny-I-forgot-to-laugh graphic:






The problem with stuff like this is that it easily cuts both ways, as evidenced by this graphic - created specifically in response to RedState:






How is it possible to deal with the War on Global Whateverism (Is it extremism now? I believe it is) when our own citizenry uses these kinds of rage-invoking, simplistic, horribly unfunny tactics to taunt and wedgie the opposition?

The short answer is that it's not possible.

More than the politicians in Washington, I hold our general populace responsible for the rift between "red" and "blue" these days. We've played right into the hands of those who are actively seeking to divide us for political or personal gain.

Those who engage in this sort of thing may consider themselves to be satirists of some stripe, and a case can be made for that, I suppose. But this isn't satire to me - it's sandbox-style "Yo' Momma" talk, and it's sort of pathetic.

Perhaps those RedStaters who will inevitably be offended by the second picture should ask themselves why they feel the need to resort to petty stupidity in order to advance their opinion. Perhaps those Blue Staters who feel the need to respond to juvenile behavior with the same should ask themselves if they are doing themselves or their liberal brethren any favors by agreeing to enter into the sort of exchange that belongs in the Monkey House of the Bronx Zoo, not in politics.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cracking RFID...

posted by Scott Roche

Back in mid July I opined on a new chip that HP is putting out that does more than RFID chips. After I posted that I found out that the government will be using the RFIDs on our passports. Right now they're used as anti-theft devices, SpeedPass devices to pay tolls, and keyless ignition in cars just to name a few things.

Every year the computer security community gets together for Black Hat Briefings to discuss the latest issues. This year, in addition to revealing

Fox News - Security Problems With Electronic Passports
ZDNet - Security problems should plague RFID's future

I Cannot Help It

Posted by Jabawacefti

I can't stop laughing at Borat. And the World feels sort of depressing right now, so a good laugh was sorely needed.

Spam A Lot

Posted by codemorse

Ah, spam. Somewhere in my internet travels, I apparently attracted the interest of "male enhancement drug" advertisers. I've been getting countless emails telling me to "increase your stamina!" and "pump up your love life!"

But the single greatest subject line I've yet to see arrived this morning:

enjoy the confidence of more explosive ejaculations

Explosive ejaculations? Does that sound horribly painful to anyone else? Just me? 

Alternate subject lines for future advertisers:

"enjoy the confidence of having your genitals go nuclear"

"Realize the power of owning WMD's...in your pants."

"Create your own rigid dictatorship."


 

Mid-Terms: Collegiate or Political, They Continue To Suck

Posted by codemorse

From CNN.com:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman conceded to cable executive Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for the Connecticut Senate nomination Tuesday night but vowed to run as an "independent Democrat" this fall.

With 94 percent of the precincts reporting, Lamont led Lieberman 52 percent to 48 percent, according to The Associated Press.

The three-term senator said he was disappointed by the results but said he was more disappointed in how the primary campaign was conducted.

"The old politics of partisan polarization won today. For the sake of our state, our country and my party, and I cannot, I will not let this result stand."

Mr. Lieberman, with due respect toward the service you've shown your country - you're the proverbial pot, and you're black.

Partisan polarization was as much a factor in the running of your campaign as it was in Lamont's. If anything, the both of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

What Do We Want?! When Do We Want It?!

Posted by codemorse

From DailyKos:

On March 28, 2002, 22 members of the Arab League unanimously approved a Saudi-crafted peace initiative at a summit in Beirut. The "Beirut Declaration" as it came to be known had the appearance of a dramatic gesture, promising to explicitly recognize Israel's right to exist, in exchange for a return of the Occupied Territories.

Had it been pursued, the carnage and chaos now unfolding in Lebanon could have been rendered impossible. What's more, such a peace agreement would have deprived al Qaeda of a major grievance to exploit, and made it much easier to strengthen moderate voices throughout the Arab world and among Muslims generally. Instead, the Bush Administration remained focused on invading Iraq, under the false assumption that this would benefit Israel as well.

"They totally ignored it," Mideast expert Steven Zunes told Random Lengths. "It was a major breakthrough offering pretty much what Israel had been wanting all these years--land for peace."


There's a line of argument I hear a lot. It goes something like this: "X event has already occured. Since it has already occured, there is nothing we can do to change this event, or it's consequences. Therefore, it is useless to continue discussing X event." To put it in relatable terms, it's the argument we've heard regarding criticism of the buildup to the Iraq war. But that argument is poppycock for one reason:

We learn from history, or repeat it.

And we need to learn from history if we're to have any hope of helping create some sort of peace in the middle east. Looking at stories like this one, we're able to see how devotion to one course of action at the expense of alternatives (what Bush might refer to as "staying the course") ends up being a terrible idea, historically-speaking.

Had the US not adhered to an unwavering policy of non-interference with Nazi Germany for so long, we might have prevented WWII. Had we considered peace agreements like the above, we might have prevented much of the violence that's since occured.

What's the point, critics argue? It's already happened, and now we have to deal with things as they are, over-intellectual, ivory-tower liberal! Get down from your ivy-covered collegiate walls and join the real world! Where men are men!

That seems to me to be a little like asking why you'd review a test you did poorly on. Or reflect on poor decision-making on that night out last week. Human beings are not sharks. We have no need to keep moving ceaselessly forward or risk dying. In point of fact, the ability to reflect somewhat-logically on life and one's past is perhaps the largest differentiator between us and the animal kingdom. It's what allows us to realize that touching a hot stove is painful, to learn from that experience, and to think twice about touching it again without proper preparation.

Elephant Talk

Posted by codemorse

From Bloomberg:

President George W. Bush's hopes of attracting a new generation of voters to the Republican Party may be fading, as younger Americans are far more critical of his job performance than the broader population.

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of Americans age 18 to 24 found Bush's approval rating was 20 percent, with 53 percent disapproving and 28 percent with no opinion. That compares to a 40 percent approval rating among Americans of all ages in a separate Bloomberg/Times poll.

....Bush's 2004 re-election strategy also may have damaged his party's standing with younger voters by stressing things intended to drive religious voters concerned about social issues to the ballot box, such as opposition to gay marriage.

``The very cultural issues the president wants to use to rally his party's base are exactly the issues that are alienating younger voters,'' said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. ``Across a broad swath of social issues, younger Americans see the administration as being out of line with what they believe.''

The war in Iraq is also a major factor driving down public opinion among young voters, said Hans Riemer, political director at Rock the Vote, a group that works to get young people involved in civic life.

``Young people take it very personally,'' he said. ``They feel like it's their generation that's been asked to sacrifice.''

One poll participant, K.C. Chojnacki, an 18-year-old starting her first year in college, expressed those concerns in a follow-up interview. ``I disapprove mostly because I don't agree with the war,'' said Chojnacki, who is from Andover, Minnesota. ``We're going to have to deal with the repercussions, like having to pay for it.''

....David Kirby, executive director of the Washington-based America's Future Foundation, which says it exists to groom young libertarian and conservative leaders, said the president's low approval rating reflects disillusionment with politics, not Bush or the Republican Party.

``It's overly simplistic to say people hate Bush, people hate the war,'' Kirby said. While ``Republicans could do a better job'' winning over young Americans, Kirby said, ``Democrats aren't offering ideological vision for the future that's exciting to young people.''


Well, I can't disagree with him there. The Dems offer excitement the way puritans offer sex - begrudgingly, if at all.

But there's something aggravating about the tactic of turning every criticism into a case of "everyone's in trouble, therefore there is no problem/we won't address that problem". Let's concentrate on the meat of the poll, and not negate the exercise by shrugging our shoulders and relegating the entire thing to "problems we won't concern ourselves with, given their ubiquity".

I would like to point out, for the sake of our conservative readers, that the stated concern of K.C. Chojnacki over the war centers clearly around an issue that isn't subject to much partisan rigamarole. Namely, the war's cost.

That's an incredibly "conservative" view of things, and it's a view that Republicans could harness, if they were able to steer away from the path they've set before them - one that sees us spending MASSIVELY abroad at the expense of our own domestic concerns.

The article above also notes just how out of step the Republican party, and Bush in particular, has been in courting young voters via "social issues," or, as they're more often known, "family values." Sure, it's fun and easy to appeal to base prejudice, but it's ultimately going to bite you in the ass, as Republicans discovered in the wake of the civil rights movement.

It's going to be very interesting to see party affliiations shift as these issues shovee themselves insistently forward in future elections. Young whippersnappers don't like being told that their gay friends are evil. They don't like the idea of the government abandoning them to "private" social security accounts after having supported their parents, and their parent's parents, with the current, supposed "ponzi scheme" of social security.

And by and large, they really don't like Bush.

This is the great challenge of both parties: how to lure young voters? What polls like this one make fairly clear is that current tactics are not the way to go about doing so.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Little Hatred for Everyone

Posted by Jabawacefti

Don't hate the playa, they say, hate the game.

As empowering as hatred and/or anger is, it often produces nasty results. In any case, if anyone thought that Ann Coulter was the sole owner and shareholder of Hatred, Inc., think again. Everyone's getting in on the action:

But the issue is not just emotional outbursts by these usually anonymous bloggers. A friend of mine just returned from Connecticut, where he had spoken on several occasions on behalf of Joe Lieberman. He happens to be a liberal antiwar Democrat, just as I am. He is also a lawyer. He told me that within a day of a Lamont event--where he asked the candidate some critical questions--some of his clients were blitzed with emails attacking him and threatening boycotts of their products if they did not drop him as their attorney. He has actually decided not to return to Connecticut for the primary today; he is fearful for his physical safety.

* * *

Mr. Lamont and all other liberal Democrats should remember the McCarthy era and not fall into the trap of the hypocrisy of the double standard--that it's not OK when Ann Coulter dispenses her venomous hatred, but it is OK when our side's versions of Ann Coulter do.

It's a bird, it's a plane,

posted by Scott Roche

no it's a Superman laptop!




Since my brain is turning into tapioca today I thought I'd just share this sweet looking laptop from Alienware. It's limited edition and if you're that "special" sort of geek you can buy one here.

An Ugly Looking Future

Posted by Jabawacefti

The future ain't looking so bright, according to Stanley Kurtz:

Call me a gloomy hawk. It’s not just that I’m a hawk who’s disappointed with the course of fighting in the Middle East. My concern is that our underlying foreign-policy dilemma calls for both hawkishness and gloom — and will for some time. The two worst-case scenarios are world-war abroad and nuclear terror at home. I fear we’re on a slow-motion track to both.

Tru' Dat

Posted by codemorse

I hate Doonesbury. There, I've said it! I'm free!

I was always more of a Bloom County fan - I like my politics with funny animals, thank you. But this Doonesbury is pretty insightful.

It's not "funny," per se, but it is spot-on in it's observation. Being a comic strip, it eliminates all the needless words I like to use and gets down to the bare bones of it:


"The 'debate' you're willing to have is always between options of your own choosing."

That's one reason why there's so much "liberal anger" right now. We'd love to join the debate, but our opinions aren't really wanted/valued. What we're expected to do is accept the parameters that Bush sets.

Who Wants Some Freedom?

Posted by Jabawacefti

According to Rich Lowry, not necessarily everyone (at least not yet):

Bush’s emphasis on the inherent hunger for freedom is powerful. It clothes his foreign policy in an undeniable idealism. It puts his liberal opponents in a tight spot, because it is awkward for them to object to the kind of sweeping universalism they have always embraced. It might be simplistic, but that is often an advantage in political communication.

The problem with Bush’s freedom rhetoric is that it appears to not be true. Hezbollah and Hamas, and the populations that support them, desire the destruction of Israel above all, and are willing to endure warfare and dysfunctional societies to bring it about. The Sunni insurgents in Iraq want power more than anything else, and are willing to kill and maim to gain it. The Shia militias, in turn, desire revenge against the Sunni.

All around the chaotic and violent Middle East, human hearts are yearning for many things, but freedom isn’t high on the list.

The Hit List

Posted by codemorse

In an effort to bring world peace a few steps closer, I'd like to suggest the total destruction of the following pop songs:

1) Promiscuous Girl (Nelly Furtado) - Remember when Nelly Furtado was allowed to be talented, quirky and appealing? Me too. Unfortunately, Furtado's last album didn't do so well, Stateside, so she's returned in a belly-baring shirt to sing this half-assed club anthem, which replaces everything unique about her sound with the same thuddingly-generic Timbaland beat we've heard for years. It's a sad fact that women in pop end up whoring their images to the public 99% of the time, but it's especially sad when the woman's as talented as Furtado.

2) Unfaithful (Rhianna) - An unending funeral dirge of a pop song, in which the singer goes on (unendingly) about how she "doesn't want to hurt him anymore" by being unfaithful. Save us all the time and attention. Just. Stop. Fucking. Around. End of song.

3) Stars Are Blind (Paris Hilton) - Ignore, if you will, the processed-within-an-inch-of-its-life vocals. Ignore, if you can, the shameless aping of Gwen Stephani's breathy croon and the Stephani/No Doubt pastiche Hilton sings over. Ignore, if you're able, the mismatched, vacant eyes and empty smirk that is Paris Hilton's mask/face. In fact, ignore this song entirely. It is the "professional" equivalent of coked-up karaoke.

4) SexyBack (Justin Timberlake) - We've thoroughly exhausted the pop song possibilities of tits and ass, apparently. We've moved on to....the back? It's sexy as body parts go, I suppose, which puts it one-up on Timberlake's song. Also, worst lyrics ever.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Battle in the Constitution State

Posted by Jabawacefti

One more take on the rise of the far left in Connecticut:

If Mr. Lieberman goes down, the thought-enforcers of the left will target other centrists as if the center was the locus of a terrible heresy, an emphasis on national strength. Of course, they cannot touch Hillary Clinton, who lists rightward and then leftward so dexterously that she eludes positioning. Not so Mr. Lieberman. He does not camouflage his opinions. He does not play for safety, which is why he is now unsafe.

Now Mr. Lamont's views are also not camouflaged. They are just simpleminded. Here, for instance, is his take on what should be done about Iran's nuclear-weapons venture: "We should work diplomatically and aggressively to give them reasons why they don't need to build a bomb, to give them incentives. We have to engage in very aggressive diplomacy. I'd like to bring in allies when we can. I'd like to use carrots as well as sticks to see if we can change the nature of the debate." Oh, I see. He thinks the problem is that they do not understand, and so we should explain things to them, and then they will do the right thing. It is a fortunate world that Mr. Lamont lives in, but it is not the real one. Anyway, this sort of plying is precisely what has been going on for years, and to no good effect. Mr. Lamont continues that "Lieberman is the one who keeps talking about keeping the military option on the table." And what is so plainly wrong with that? Would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be more agreeable if he thought that we had disposed of the military option in favor of more country club behavior?

Finally, the contest in Connecticut tomorrow is about two views of the world. Mr. Lamont's view is that there are very few antagonists whom we cannot mollify or conciliate. Let's call this process by its correct name: appeasement. The Greenwich entrepreneur might call it "incentivization." Mr. Lieberman's view is that there are actually enemies who, intoxicated by millennial delusions, are not open to rational and reciprocal arbitration. Why should they be? After all, they inhabit a universe of inevitability, rather like Nazis and communists, but with a religious overgloss. Such armed doctrines, in Mr. Lieberman's view, need to be confronted and overwhelmed.


Almost every Democrat feels obliged to offer fraternal solidarity to Israel, and Mr. Lamont is no exception. But here, too, he blithely assumes that the Palestinians could be easily conciliated. All that it would have needed was President Bush's attention. Mr. Lamont has repeated the accusation, disproved by the "road map" and Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza, that Mr. Bush paid little or even no attention to the festering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And has Mr. Lamont noticed that the Palestinians are now ruled, and by their own choice, by Hamas? Is Hamas, too, just a few good arguments away from peace?

The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic party will lose the future, and deservedly.

Computing Bareback...

posted by Scott Roche

Charlie White over at Gizmodo has quite a bit to say about antiviruses. He says that they're fraudulent, unnecessary, and even harmful. Putting his money where his mouth is, he says that he hasn't run an anti-virus program on his machine in years. Sounds pretty brave, no?

No. Actually if you follow his advice you'll be pretty safe.
  1. Don't open ANY attachments unless you know 100% where they came from and what they are.

  2. Don't use Internet Explorer, it's full of security holes. Try Firefox or Opera.
  3. Don't use Outlook. He recommends Eudora. Thunderbird is also good.


In a corporate environment your e-mail server scans things as they come in and go out, so why have one on your desktop? My company spends countless man hours patching and updating and I'm sure yours does too. Oftentimes these updates are too little too late. There's also typically a very serious hit on system resources like memory adn processor usage. It makes that brand new machine run like a moped instead of that righteous Ducati. Does that mean that these programs should be done away with? No.

They do have their use. In a business environment or any place else that you have a bunch of users, you can't make sure that they do what they're supposed to. If you have kids at home you aren't going to be able to enforce the no attachment rule very easily. And kids today lurve their file sharing.

If you're going to have one installed, I say get one that's free. I use AVG on my system. It doesn't bog me down and gives me a little peace of mind. Above all, make sure that you set your program to update the virus definition files automatically. These files come from the software manufacturer and tell the program what to look for.

Inflammatory Transubstantiation

From Think Progress (all emphasis mine):

"...you have what I think is a legitimate insurgency in Connecticut, which needs to be met head on and debated head on, which is people who say this is so hard, it is so frightening, it’s so painful, can’t we come home and hide? And I think if Lamont wins next Tuesday, it will be the beginning of extraordinarily important period in American politics, and in American history. For all of us to have this debate. How dangerous are the terrorists? How dangerous are the dictatorships? And what does America have to do in that kind of a dangerous world?"


It is a hallmark of extremist ideology to suggest that opposing viewpoints cannot be allowed to exist. It is similarly an extremist hallmark to suggest that the election of one state senator will usher in a new era of death and destruction.

This sort of alarmist rhetoric has no place in our national debate at this time. It inflames the fear of the people for baldly partisan goals and lowers the discourse to a level of ideological "he said/she said".

Do you know how "insurgency" is defined? I didn't. What I know of the word is what it's typically associated with - namely, the terrorists in Iraq. Hell of a comparison, no?

But what Gingrich says is that what we have in Connecticut right now is "a legitimate insurgency".

So let's see how "insurgency" is defined.

Dictionary.com:

1. The quality or circumstance of being rebellious.
2. An instance of rebellion; an insurgence.


Cambridge dictionary:

1. Someone who is fighting against the government in their own country: "All approaches to the capital are now under the control of the insurgents."
2. Someone who opposes especially political authority

Got that? Anyone who disagrees with current policy, or who would seek to install someone critical of current policy, is fighting against the government in their own country. They oppose political authority.

None of this is false, per se. In a way, this is what LaMont's supporters are doing. But they're doing it for the same reason Americans always have - because they disagree, not because they want to bring America down. And they're doing it with words and votes, not guns and terror.

Gingrich's comments suggest that unless you support the Republicans' preferred candidate, you are supporting a rebellion. The carefully-chosen "insurgency" suggests that rebellion is similar to, or supportive of, the one occuring now in Iraq.

It's irresponsible, anti-American and wildly-transparent. Which doesn't surprise me. Disgust, however, is still a valid alternative.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Sermonizing

Posted by codemorse

Come over to Sunday Sermonizing for the first in a series of sermons/reflections/spiritual exercises designed to explore faith in a fun, thoughtful, and occasionally irreverent way.

The first, "Who Am I?" is up now.