Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

I may be off-line for a week or so.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

sexy border jumpers

I just noticed in my referals that someone found my blog by searching on for "sexy border jumpers". Doc Rampage is the first site found for that search phrase.

The searcher probably didn't find what he was looking for.

And here's a surprise. I'm only second in a search for "caramelized underwear". Who would have thunk?


The new Storyblogging Carnival is up over at Back of the Envelope.

the trials of Delay

By the way, Rhymes with Right has been a good source of information on the indictment of Tom Delay. See here and here for recent developments.

I don't think he like Ronnie Earle very much.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


This is really interesting. When I read about these national security leaks over at Malkin's blog, my first thought was, "whoever leaked that information should be tried as a traitor and sent to prison." I didn't blog about it because I already have a reputation (among the two or three people who remember my name) as something of a hot-head, and I didn't want to make it worse.

So imagine my delight when I saw this post by Michael Williams, Master of None, who wants the leakers not only sent to prison, but executed. Michael Williams is a pretty level-headed guy and he is more angry about this than I am.

Then I saw this post by Dean who also wants the leakers executed, and Dean is also a ... well ... OK, Dean is something of a hot-head like me, but he also has a reputation for seeing both sides of the issue. After all, he's the atheist that is always standing up for Muslims and conservative Christians and taking a lot of grief over it.

Do the leakers really deserve the death penalty? My first reaction is that it depends on their motivation. They may very well have thought that they were doing the right thing. My more considered reaction is that their motivation is irrelevant. Innocent people will almost certainly die over this leak and it was reasonable to expect that it would cause innocent people to die. No matter what their reasoning, whoever leaked this information did it with callous disregard for the consequences.

So I guess Williams and Dean are right: this offense does deserve execution.

But it won't happen. There won't be any serious penalties at all. And the N.Y. Times, who I hold equally responsible will not suffer legal consequences of any kind. That's because too much of the decision-making infrastructure of this country has been taken over by our enemies.

Yes, I said "enemies". Told you I'm hot-headed.

The federal, state, and local governments, courts and bureaucracies, the news organizations, the schools, the unions and other civic organizations have been heavily infiltrated, and in some cases completely taken over by people who hate traditional America and will do anything to destroy it, even if that means making common cause with vile criminals and terrorists like Tookie Williams and Osama bin Laden.

Until the last five years or so, I had believed that our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies were still in pro-American hands, but I've lately come to doubt that. The only really significant government organization that is not heavily influenced by the enemy is the military, and I worry about them. In the last few years, the military has been a crucial political ally for people who love America and I'm afraid that he left has seen this and will begin to target the military like they have the other institutions.

OK, that was kind of of off the subject, so before I wander any further, I guess I'll sign out. I have to do some Christmas shopping anyway.

Monday Evening

For anyone who wonders why Monday Evening has been down for a few days, I asked Tom Harrison about it and thought I should pass along his reply:
Thanks, I'm fine. We had a power failure that damaged some of the hardware.
I'm still in the process of assembling and configuring another Frankenbox;
Then I'll restore from the backups. I hope to be back up later today or
tomorrow. I have a static page up at
http://tfharrison.homeip.netexplaining, but I guess that's not visable
to everyone. Thanks for your
concern, I appreciate it.
Tom Harrison
That link doesn't work for me though.

I just noticd that my side bar still says "Monday Afternoon" but I'm pretty sure Tom changed the name to "Monday Evening". I'll have to check when the site is back up and maybe change my sidebar.

People shouldn't be allowed to change blog names to similar names. See what kind of trouble it causes? There ought to be a law.

Friday, December 16, 2005

"paintball" begins with "pain"

There were a couple of years back in Tucson when I used to go paintballing a lot. We didn't have a dedicated facility; just me and a few guys would get together out in the desert or occasionally in the woods up on Mt. Lemon. We would break up into two teams and play last man standing or capture the flag. It was a blast. Not only was it a lot of fun, it was a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise.

I always had trouble with my goggles. I wore glasses, and that gave three internal glass surfaces to fog up soy the end of a game, I was usually blind. That's why I eventually gave up paintballing in Arizona.

But I wear contacts now, so I was really looking forward to paintballing with a group of friends last weekend. About 14 of us went to ... well I don't know what you would call it, maybe a "paintball place".

The paintball place is just a shop that rents paintball equipment and has a couple of big open rooms in it with inflated barriers. The paintball place supplies the gun, the paint, the room and the referees, and you supply the murderous intent.

I talked three women into going by promising that the paintballs don't hurt that much. I'm a ba-a-a-ad boy. But I wasn't really lying; I was mistaken. The painful memories had faded into the mists of time; I had just forgotten how much it hurts. And anyway, when you are crawling through cactus to sneak up on someone, the snap of a paintball is relatively not all that painful.

So anyway, paintball guns hurt. At close range (like two or three feet) they can draw blood. But what difference does that make? After all, the goal is to not get shot. You don't go into a game expecting to get shot, you go into a game expecting to win. Only the other guys get shot. If you let someone shoot you, you LOSE. Of what significance is that little snapping pain compared to the humiliation, the agony of inglorious defeat?

I tried to explain this to Sarika and Shreya but they weren't buying it. All three of the women were out by the end of the third game.


You usually get hit on your way back to the safety area. Those are the hits that really hurt. It sort of works like this: you charge forward, your adrenalin pumping, firing high-volume paint at the enemy, looking for an opening, then THWAP, THWAP. You get stung by one to three balls. You go "nuts". Being out of the game is the bad part; you hardly notice the pain.

Then you turn around to trudge disconsolately back to the safety area, your head down, your shoulders slumped in defeat. Then THWAP. A paintball hits you in the back. You go, "OWW! Gosh, durn it, I'm out. Quit shooting!" And you decide that instead of retiring from the field in a slow walk, you should be retreating in a jog. Then THWAP. THWAP. THWAP. And one hits you in the rump where it really stings. "OWW. I'm %#*% OUT! QUIT %%*# SHOOTING AT ME." Of course you are yelling as you convert your jogging retreat into a full sprinting rout.

Frankly, indoor paintball isn't much fun. As I said, you get hit more after you are out than you do during the game. And there isn't any strategy or woodcraft involved. It's just: get behind a barrier and poke your head out as little as possible while you try to hit the little bit of someone else that is poking out from behind a barrier. Bo-o-oring.

That said, it's still something I'd encourage everyone to do once, especially if you can do it outdoors.

This particular session had another problem: the referees. One referee especially, kept yelling at us like a camp counselor at a camp for wayward high schoolers. This guy also gave us the orientation and he immediately got my hackles up with his attitude. I don't have any trouble taking instruction. Really. But this guy was just obnoxious about it.

If it had been just me, I probably would have laid into him right then, but there were the other people in the group and I didn't want to ruin things for everyone so I just kept quiet. I told myself that I could kick his butt later if need be. No, that's not really true. I was really thinking to myself, "This guy is probably really good with high schoolers and that's who he is used to dealing with. I'm sure they don't get a lot of adults in there. He just doesn't know how to adjust his orientation for adults; he's not deliberately trying to provoke us. He may live for now."

Well, that held out for two games. This guy spent the first two games screaming at people for safety infractions. Now, I don't mind the fact that he was just yelling. But you can yell relatively politely, or you can yell with an angry, aggressive voice. And that's what this guy was doing. Fortunately, I followed instructions so the guy didn't have any cause to yell at me directly. Unfortunately, Sarika didn't follow instructions. The guy started screaming at her as she stood right next to me.

I couldn't put up with that. I mean this guy was probably over six feet and close to three hundred pounds, screaming at a slight woman of 5' 2". Not that he intimidated her at all; she just ignored him, but I couldn't ignore it. So I yelled back at him to stop screaming at us like we were a bunch of high schoolers. That led some other referees to gang up on me. If I had known where they were, there would have been a huge fight, but I couldn't see them. I just looked around in bewilderment as these two knew voices joined in the argument. Where the heck were they? It turned out they were right above me on this catwalk, but I couldn't see them because the goggles restrict vision so much.

After that game we had another orientation. This time the guy used a less aggressive tone of voice. He explained again how important the rules are and that they were just trying to protect us. I told him I had no problem with them enforcing the rules but I expected them to do so with courtesy.

There was no more screaming after that, but it may be in part because the people who provoked the screaming didn't play any more.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the execution of Tookie Williams

I'm watching a special news show covering the Tookie Williams execution. Although I'm for the death penalty, there is no doubt that taking the life of a human being is an enormous and terrible thing. It is hard to sit here and follow the death watch.

Williams has had nothing but oatmeal to eat on his last day. He refused his last meal and has only had milk and water. His last visitors left around 6 pm and he has been alone since then, except for corrections people. He did not accept the offer of a clergyman visitor.

Although he originally said that it would be "disgusting" to ask friends and family members to be witnesses for the condemned, Williams changed his mind and he will have his five witnesses. I speculate that as the end of life draws near, the superficial things like pride become less important and the comfort of friends becomes more important.

Williams has already been taken to the building where the death chamber is. He may already be in the chamber. They will (or have already) insert two I.V. needles into him. One is a backup so that the execution is less likely to be interrupted. They will first give him a sedative through the I.V. Then they will give him a saline solution. Then a drug to paralyze his voluntary muscular activity. This will stop his breathing. Then they will administer another saline solution. The last thing they put through the I.V. will stop his heart.

The process will be watched by three groups of witnesses. One group from the media, one group from the families of the victims, and one group by special invitation of the condemned. The different groups of witnesses will not come into contact with each other, and their names will not be made public unless they chose to come forward.


As of 12:36 am on the thirteenth day of December in the year of our Lord 2005, Tookie Williams has gone before his maker to give account of his actions on this earth. I am reminded that some day this will be my fate as well. And I am no more worthy of God's mercy than Mr. Williams. So I say, may God have mercy on his soul.

Interview with a crowd member:

"Why did this execution bring out such a large crowd?"

"I think it's because of what Tookie Williams means. He shows us that we have a chance of change, of redemption."

They said that there were 1,500 people there. A small group was in favor of the execution, but according to the news people, the large majority were opposed.


A press witness describes the execution. Williams did not struggle. He spoke to his witnesses during the process. It took almost ten minutes to find the second vein.

Two men and one woman among Williams's supporters made black power signs during the process. At death announcement someone shouted that California has killed an innocent man. The witnesses were told when they went in that they were not allowed to make outbursts. It comes as no surprise to me that Williams was the kind of man who attracted friends to whom the rules do not apply.

Dora Owens, stepmother of a victim, who had stared passively at Williams throughout the execution, began to cry after the outburst. Maybe she was crying at the end of her long wait for justice or maybe she was crying at the tragedy of a man, the man who shouted, who doesn't grasp the concept of justice.

The man who shouted that accusation used the words of justice, but he didn't really care if Tookie Williams was guilty or innocent. This man cared only about his clan, his tribe, his own people. He took the side of Williams, not because he really believed Williams was innocent, but because Williams was family. He took the side of a murderer and felt righteous about it. And not for one moment will he be humbled by the thought that if the people of California, those who he condemns in such self-righteous terms, shared his own morality, then Williams would have died long ago.

Monday, December 12, 2005

you heard it here first

Dean and Instapundit have posts up with some stories about how Muslims are starting to join the war against terrorism. This is clearly a direct result of George Bush's foreign policy. He is making it safer for Muslims to oppose terrorism and he is making it look like terrorism is the losing side (and nobody wants to be on the losing side).

I predict that the leftists will continue to scorn Bush's foreign policy, insisting that the problems of the Muslim world are too deep, that the "Arab street" will always be full of irrational hatred and anger, and that it is just too dangerous for us to respond to force with force, until it becomes obvious that things really are changing for the better. At that point, these critics will do a 180 and claim that the problems never were that serious, that the "Arab street" never really was behind terrorism, that the whole thing was a historical hiccup that was destined to fade away, and that anyone who was paying attention should have known this.

That's how they responded to Reagan's strategy in the Cold War. The Communists were unbeatable and it was horribly dangerous to resist them until they were beaten. Then they were a paper tiger that never posed us any danger and Ronald Reagan's strategy had nothing to do with it.

Pajamas Media

I got a link from Pajamas Media for that story on the AAP and I'm seeing a lot of traffic from it.

Ironically, I'm sitting here in my pajamas as I write this (I usually log on for a few minutes before I get ready for work).


Donald Crankshaw is accepting submissions for the next Storyblogging Carnival. If you have ever posted a story on your blog you can enter it into the Carnival. There are no date limits.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

without pessimists, all the optimists would be dead

That's an old saying that Donald Crankshaw just made up.

He should put it on his blog business card.

I had to come up with one too: "The optimist dies a thousand deaths, the pessimist only one. And he saw that one coming."

what the AAP won't tell us

Here is an article from the AAP about some mob violence in Australia (via Instapundit). The AAP is the Australian Associated Press, the Australian national news agency.

Go ahead and read the piece. See anything missing? You have to wonder whether the AAP is trying to report the news here or to conceal it. After all, this is a story about mob violence, one group against another, yet the article, throughout most of the narrative, fails to reveal what group the various actors are. If we don't know who did what, we really don't know what happened, do we?

Let's go through some of the article:
an ambulance called to the scene to treat five people injured in today's violence has been attacked by a mob who shattered its windows.
What group were the five people? What group were the ambulance drivers? What group was the mob that broke the windows?
police have been pelted with beer bottles, and their patrol cars stomped on, as the outnumbered officers struggled to maintain control.
Did both groups attack police or only one of the groups?
"What has been occurring on some fronts is that people of Middle Eastern backgrounds that have been seen in the Cronulla area – a swarm of the crowd has approached these people with vile abuse, in the most un-Australian way," Mr Goodwin said.
Ah, finally. Nine paragraphs into the article we learn who the groups are. It seems from this quote that a bunch of people of Middle Eastern backgrounds who were peacefully using the beach were violently attacked by a crazed mob of white Australians. We'll come back to that "it seems" in a moment.
"... we have sections of the crowd that have swollen towards young Arabic males and females, who have been using this beach."
More unprovoked violence against those innocent Arabs?
Earlier today, police rushed to Cronulla train station where a mob ran there from the foreshore after receiving a text message saying a group of Lebanese people were trying to leave. Mr Goodwin said the text message was wrong, but sparked a scuffle at the station between the crowd and police.
Ah hah! Here we have it again. The Lebanese just wanted to leave and a bunch of white hooligans were attacking them and attacking the police.
Earlier, a police spokeswoman said two men, aged 32 and 20, had been charged with offensive behaviour.
A third man had been arrested and was expected to be charged with assault, she said
What group?
Authorities had expected trouble today after two violent incidents at the beach last week – an attack on two lifeguards on Sunday and a brawl later in the week in which youths turned on a media crew. A series of text messages then began circulating, encouraging members of two rival groups of beach users to attack each other.
What race the attackers, what race the lifeguards and what race the media crew? This is apparently where the violence began, but the AAP doesn't tell us what happened. Did a bunch of white Australians beat up some Arab lifeguards? Did a bunch of Arabs beat up some white lifeguards? What started the beating? If it was Arabs beating up the lifeguards, did they do it because the lifeguards were baring too much skin for sensitive Muslim eyes? If it was whites, did they do it because they they don't like brown people? What motivated the violence?

What was the media crew doing there? Were they covering the lifeguard beating or just hanging out? Were they white or Arab?

Were there any arrests in either incident? What did the police do? Where are the quotes from police and civic leaders about those incidents?

Who were these two rival gangs? Was it the whites and the Arabs? If so, this is the first hint that the Arabs weren't passive victims in the event; they may have had a gang too, but the AAP is too coy to tell us outright.

Actually, if you read carefully, there was earlier the faintest breath of a hint that it was Muslims who attacked the news crew also. See the word "youths" there? Recall any recent news stories with the word "youth" being used for a group of violent people? That's what the MSM was calling the rioters in Paris a few weeks ago. Is this a new raceless racial code word? Are we now supposed to translated "youth" to "someone from one of those troublesome Muslim countries" when we read news stories?
One of the messages had urged "Aussies" to take revenge against "Lebs and wogs". Another urged locals to rally at a point on the beach today to take retaliation against "middle eastern" gangs.
Ah, "revenge" and "retaliation" against "Lebs and wogs". So apparently the whites thought that the Arabs had done something worth retaliating against. What? I dunno. I have some guesses, but these are only inferences from vague information; the AAP doesn't tell me. By now, if you are a careful reader, you have realized that perhaps this wasn't an unprovoked attack against peaceful Arabs. It only seemed that way because of the way the AAP reported it.

Fortunately for us, there are blogs. If the professional reporters won't tell us what happened, then blogger Splat Guy will (via Tim Blair):
* Last weekend some people, probably Lebanese Muslims, bashed a bunch of lifeguards at Cronulla Beach, including knocking one unconscious. They also harassed girls and women on the beach.

* Residents, pissed off by the violence, got angry at the lack of police attendance and presence.

* The anger morphed into a rage that the beach was being "invaded" by people from the western suburbs (i.e., a euphemism for Lebanese Muslims).

* Some people started texting to incite others to "defend the beach" from thugs.

* Today they did that by forming a violent, rowdy mob.
Ah hah! So it was the Arabs who attacked first. Even more, it wasn't just one incident. The AAP also failed to tell us that the Arabs were Muslims and were going around harassing white females. We wouldn't know this at all if not for bloggers. Most likely the lifeguards were defending some girls that the Muslims were harassing and they got beat up for it.

Then the police did nothing. We have seen this before in Europe where Muslim violence is met with passivity by officials. If this is actually what happened, then the Aussies had good reason to be angry. The AAP carefully avoided telling us that the trouble started with Muslims using intimidation and violence against non-Muslims.

The offense against good reporting continues in another AAP article (via Tim Blair)
There have been a number of incidents of property damage in the past hour-and-a-half that included broken windows and damage to motor vehicles," he said.

Reports on radio station 2GB indicated up to 50 vehicles with passengers armed with "baseball bats" had been causing trouble in Maroubra, in Sydney's east.

Police have set up a command post in the area, 2GB reported.

Sky News reported that a group of people in cars and with baseball bats, bits of wood and stakes, had "slammed every single car" in some streets.

"The windows were smashed out", one report said.

One eyewitness reported every car in a section of Maroubra Road had had their windows and windscreens smashed, and glass was littering the road.

In Wride Street, a group of 50 local people chased after the offenders on foot before disappearing into units in the area.
Without Tim Blair, we wouldn't know that the bat-wielding thugs that are going around destroying cars are Arab Muslims. Why does the AAP think it's important to report that whites engage in mob violence against Arabs and that local officials are horrified about it, but when Arabs engage in organized mob violence against whites, the details aren't very important, and no one cares enough to say that it's a bad thing?

Here's more from that second article:
There were also reports of crowd trouble at beachside suburbs of Kyeemagh and Brighton Le Sands, in Sydney's south.
Couldn't the AAP find out any details about this violence? Tim Blair didn't help us out with this one but here is my guess based on what the AAP doesn't say: the violence at the other suburbs is organized intimidation by Muslims against Aussies. Following the trends of the rest of these two articles, if the violence in the other suburbs were by Aussies against Muslims or if it were mutual violence, then the AAP would have been sure to tell us that Aussies were getting out of control again. It seems that whenever they won't tell you who is being violent, it's Arabs.

What's interesting about this is how the bloggers, both Tim Blair and Splat Guy can mix news with editorializing and still give me more factual information about what happened than the professional news outfit can give me in a straight news piece.

This is why the MSM is fading.

Steven Malcolm Anderson, RIP

My favorite frequent commenter over at Dean's World, Steven Malcolm Anderson, has died suddenly. I am surprised at how sad I am. I never met the man and all that I knew about him was what he wrote, but I feel that I have lost a friend.

How is it that I feel so bad about a man I never met? Many authors, actors, and performers that I knew have died. What was different about Steven? I suppose it was that I didn't just read what he wrote, but responded to him, and he would sometimes respond to me. We interacted, even if only through the comments at Dean's World. We were aware of each other, not merely as a collection of written ideas, but as living souls.

Rest in Peace, Steven Malcolm Anderson.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Malkin on the Japanese internment

Harry Eager posted the following in a comment over at Pharyngula as a response to something I said. I wanted to respond to it, but since my response is long and I thought we had already hijacked that thread sufficiently, I decided to post my response here, along with his entire comment. I hope he doesn't mind.

Harry Eager write:
IN DEFENSE OF INTERNMENT: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror, by Michelle Malkin. 376 pages. Regnery, $27.95.

The dust jacket of Michelle Malkin’s frankly, even offensively provocative "In Defense of Internment" matches photos of two men, Richard Kotoshirodo and Mohammed Atta.
So what did Richard Kotoshirodo, a Nisei chauffeur at the Japanese consulate in Honolulu in 1941, do to be equated to the most notorious mass murderer of the 21st century? Well, nothing.
He drove a Japanese naval officer who was undercover at the consulate as a spy around places like Pearl City, where they counted battleships in Pearl Harbor. From this, and interrogations made by the Internee Hearing Board in 1942, Malkin presents Kotoshirodo as an example of a dangerous, disloyal Japanese-American, thus justifying the
imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans on military security grounds.
Malkin quotes Kotoshirodo as being asked whether he was "100% American" or "100% Japanese." And he replied, "As I recall, I was 100% Japanese."
Malkin conveniently reproduces a photocopy of the original transcript, which shows that Kotoshirodo meant that during the war between Japan and China, he was for Japan.
It’s true enough, as Malkin claims, that many, maybe even most Japanese-Americans had divided loyalties in 1941. It is little to their credit, but they backed Japan's war on China.
However, when the choice came to be between Japan and America, the Japanese-Americans in 1941 were overwhelmingly loyal to America.
It should have been no surprise in 1941 -– and it is a scandal in 2004 not to know it -- that Japanese-Americans felt this way. As early as 1912, in the first issue of the Hawaii Hochi newspaper, publisher Kinzaburo Makino gave this as his goal: "<\q>.<\q>.<\q.> to acquaint (the Nisei) with <\q>.<\q>.<\q.> American government and social systems, not only to enable them to fully utilize their rights and privileges as citizens, but to further develop them into patriotic American citizens <\q>.<\q>.<\q.>
"We shall be fair, but we shall protect the interests of the Japanese."
By the early 1920s, according to the sociologist Harry Kitano, almost every Japantown in the western states had its Loyalty (to the United States) League.
In order to reinforce a point about present-day politics, Malkin, a widely circulated opinion columnist, needs to prove that American authorities in 1942 had a well-founded concern about the likelihood of a Japanese invasion of the western states, or of sabotage by Japanese-Americans living there.
The invasion fear can be easily disposed of. As early as 1934, the leading naval theorist of the time, Adm. Sir Herbert Richmond, had quoted an American assistant secretary of the Navy in 1919 who "had dismissed the possibility (of a naval landing) even if there were no (U.S.) navy."
That was Franklin Roosevelt, the man who signed Executive Order 9066 that drove Japanese-Americans citizens out of their homes in 1942.
But about a third of the Japanese-Americans sent to concentration camps were not citizens, and Malkin makes much of the fact that enemy aliens could, according to ancient law, be interned, arrested or imprisoned in time of war.
That’s true, but Malkin, who freely accuses her critics of intellectual dishonesty, dishonestly ignores the fact that Issei (immigrants from Japan) were forbidden to become naturalized citizens. Malkin mentions this, just barely, but never bothers to analyze what it means. It is enough for her purposes to label them, accurately, as enemy aliens and let it go at that.
No doubt many would have become American citizens if they had been allowed to, if only to get around the racist California laws that prevented them from owning real estate.
The sabotage scare can be as completely dismissed, since the roundup did not get well under way until the war was six months old; and by that time there still had not been any sabotage reported.
Malkin pins her greatest faith on intercepted Japanese coded cables ("MAGIC"), many of which she also conveniently reproduces, to prove the existence of active Japanese spies in America. So there were, many of them serving officers in the Imperial Navy, but the decrypts do not, as she pretends, prove that there were many –- or any -- Issei or Nisei spies helping them.
Malkin has made a prosecutor’s case, a weak one further weakened by misrepresentation, misinterpretation and omissions. A historian would have used more evidence and reached a different verdict.
It’s unfortunate that Malkin chose such an approach, because her main point is worth discussing: whether Islamic terrorism should be combated as a matter for the police or as all-out war.
Malkin favors war, as opposed to "civil liberties purists" who contend that, "Not only must suspected terrorists be charged with a crime, <\q>.<\q>.<\q.> but the crime they are charged with must be related to terrorism."
Hers is a sensible position, and her pro-police antagonists are on shaky ground when they equate Guantanamo Bay cells for fighters with barbed-wire villages for farmers in the California desert. The correct response from Malkin should have been to ridicule their confusion, not to pervert history.
Would profiling be helpful in a war against Islam?
The religion claims to be a universalizing one, but it is a fact that it is largely local, restricted for the most part to citizens of 49 nations, who share a few languages, and many customs such as dress, food and rituals, which are almost completely absent among their target, the infidels.
The Islamists have no problem profiling their enemies.
First, Malkin didn't use Kotoshirodo as "an example of a dangerous, disloyal Japanese-American", she used him as an example of how the justice system was inadequate to deal with espionage. Kotoshirodo didn't just drive someone around, he went around himself, taking pictures of and recording details of Naval operation. He admitted that he knew or suspected that he was gathering information to aid a Japanese attack. Charges were brought against him and either they were dismissed or he was found not guilty (I don't recall which) on the grounds that he had not done anything illegal; he only wrote down and photographed public events. Actually, this incident showed two things, that our justice system could not protect us from Japanese spies and that American racism, even after Pearl Harbor, was mild enough that they would release a Japanese guy who had aided in the Pearl Harbor attack.

As to your statement that "when the choice came to be between Japan and America, the Japanese-Americans in 1941 were overwhelmingly loyal to America", Malkin provides a lot of evidence that this is not the case. You can disagree, but you can't just say so and expect us to take your word for it; you have to counter her evidence. For example, you quoted a newspaper to support your view, but you didn't mention the newspapers that Malkin quoted: the Japanese-language papers that supported Japan even after Pearl Harbor. And if almost every Japantown had it's loyalty league, almost every one also had its Japanese school where they taught Emperor-worship as part of their religion. One thing that we have all forgotten, and that Malkin tried to remind us, is that the Japanese religion demanded that they be loyal to Japan (or, more specifically, the emperor).

I don't think that Malkin made any distinction between citizens and non-citizens in her discussion of historical internments, so she had no reason to bring up the fact that Japanese were not allowed to become citizens.

I think it would have been enormously reckless to just "dismiss" the sabotage scare, just because nothing serious happened in the first six months. Sabotage plans can take years to mature and for all we know, the internment could have prevented a planned attack that would have set the war effort back by years. It's pretty easy to sit here six decades after we know how things turned out and second guess their decisions. Back then, they were in severe danger and they had a right to take severe steps to protect themselves.

Finally, I don't think Malkin ever claimed that the MAGIC cables proved that all the Japanese were loyal to Japan. What they proved is that Japan fully expected the Japanese in America, both citizen and Nisei, to rise up and support Japan in any way they could. Surely if the enemy believed it, then it was wise for us to take it seriously. And if it was racist for Americans to believe that, what was it for the Japanese?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ink Magic continued


Ink Magic (part 6)

A cab took me from the airport directly to a friend's house. I explained the problem I was having --in very general terms-- and my friend gave me a little love in the form of a 22-caliber Gatling gun that he had built himself. It was a sweet piece of hardware; hand-cranked, but it would pop out .22 LR bullets at over a thousand rounds per minute. And of course there was the highly illegal spring-loaded cranker which I kept in a separate pocket in case something happened and I got picked up by the cops. The last thing I needed right now was to be stuck unarmed in a jail cell.

The gun was big enough that I needed to wear my trench coat to conceal it, but as luck would have it, I look awesome in a trench coat.

Another cab dropped me off right in front of the tattoo parlor, wearing my coolest black trench coat with Gatling gun strapped underneath. The tattoo guy was sitting out front but he gave no sign that he remembered me.

"Hey, thanks for sic'ing that hoodoo on me." I said.

"You're welcome." he answered without looking up.

"That thing wouldn't have attacked me if you hadn't given me the tattoo." I continued.

"I know." he shrugged.

"You know?! You know?! Then why did you give me the tattoo?"

"Thought you'd want to know about the hoodoo."

"Well ... OK, I did."

"Come inside and give me a look at her. See how she doin'."

The old man walked inside and I followed. He motioned at me impatiently and I opened the shirt for him to take a look at the tattoo."

He grinned. "I see she been out to play already. How do you like her?"

"We didn't have a chance to get acquainted," I answered shortly, buttoning my shirt back up. "We were both kind of busy."

"I figure." the old man barked out a harsh laugh. "How does a thousand dollars sound?"

I stared at the old man for a moment and then without a word I took out my checkbook and starting writing him a check. As I was writing I told him, "I ran into that hoodoo twice."

"You run into it? I don't think so."

I looked up in surprise, "Why do you think the cat came out? The hoodoo was big, about the size of a small couch. Black. With tentacles that it could shoot out."

"Humph." the old man gave me a derisive snort. "Solid black like the cat? Hard to see?"


"That weren't no hoodoo, it were a sending, jes like the cat."

"A sending?"

"The hoodoo is in Hell, it couldn't come its own self so it inflicted the sending on you."


"Yes, Hell, boy. Don't you believe in Hell?"

"Well, what if I don't? If the hoodoo is in Hell, how is it following me?"

"Hell is all around us, boy. There's demons walking the same streets we walk but we can't see 'em or touch 'em. And they can't touch us either."

"It's like another world, sharing the same space as ours?"

"No! This is the World. That other place is Hell."

I bent back to the check for a moment, finished it and carefully tore it out. "So they can't touch us but they can send these ... sendings."


"OK." I wondered if the old man really did know something about the other world that my father had discovered, or if this was just some sort of magical mumbo jumbo. "I killed that sending with a nail gun," I told the old man.

He laughed at me. "Sendings ain't so easy to kill, boy, you just squeezed it out of the World and sent it back to Limbo."

"Limbo? You mean Hell?"

"No! If I meant Hell I would have said Hell!" Sendings come from Limbo. Limbo is like Hell, surrounding us, but there's no demons there." The old man held out his arm which was covered in tattoos. A beautiful black and green serpent tattoo wound about his forearm. As I watched, the serpent began to writhe and expand, its colors darkening, until it was a black-mercury rope circling the old man's arm.

The thing crawled snake-like down to his hand and then dropped on the floor where the old man put a foot on it. His foot only covered about half of the serpent, so I was able to see as he put pressure on it how the snake suddenly vanished, just like the monster had done.

I looked up in amazement. "Do all of your tattoos do that?" I asked.

"No, different tattoos, different magics," the man said. "But did you see how when I stepped down it kind of squirted away?"

"No. It just vanished."

"Well, it vanished because there weren't room in the World for it any more. If you had the Sight, you could see how it never really was in the world. It was kind of just poking into the world from Limbo like when you poke your finger into a balloon. I stepped on it and sort of pushed it out of the balloon."

I dropped down on an old folding chair. It creaked ominously under my weight but I was too distracted to notice. "I killed my sending with a nail gun. I put forty nails into it. That's not like stepping on something."

"Sure it is." he assured me. "You just got to put enough world stuff into the space where the specter is that it can't be there any more. You can do it pushing hard on a big space or by pushing a pointed thing deep into it. Or, I guess, pushing lots of little pointy things into it."

"So the hoodoo that's after me, he can see me from Hell when he's nearby in space?"

"Ayup," the old man said. Then he gestured at a place to my left, "Bugger's right over thar."

With an effort I resisted looking over my shoulder. "He's watching me right now?"


Now I looked over my shoulder. Of course I saw nothing. I was beginning to wish that I had never come to talk to the old man.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

they got what they had coming

The California Republican leadership is upset that Schwarzenegger has betrayed the party. All I can say is that they got what they had coming. They rallied behind a man with no political background, with almost no identifiably Republican principles, and with no qualifications for the office of governor, just because he had star power and he could get elected. To them having an "R" in the governor's column trumped principle.

They betrayed Tom McClintock, a real Republican with real principles who has put decades into serving California, by throwing their support behind a man whose loyalty was a matter of pure guesswork. And now the man who they betrayed McClintock for is betraying them.

What did they expect?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

get a picture

Professor Paul Mirecki of Kansas University has reported that he was beat up for his views about religious "fundies". Michelle Malkin raises some serious doubts about his story.

Can anyone there at Kansas get a picture of the guy's face? If he was really beat up, there should be obvious signs on his face. If not, then he is almost certainly lying.

the free fall research page

Here is a cool web site about people who have survived long falls --thousands-of-feet-long falls.

Thanks to waka waka waka for the link.


I was just showing my blog to young lady named Shreya and she thought she saw her name on it as I was scrolling by. She seemed a little disappointed that it was really a reference to Sheya and not Shreya.

Sorry, Shreya. I expect that one day I'll mention you on the blog. Just keep reading.

What is it with women's names anyway? I now know a Sheya, a Shreya, a Sheena, a Shawna, a Sia, and a Sarika. Whatever happened to, like Beth and Jane?

UPDATE: I had an attack of good sense and decided that I should qualify the above by noting that I think those are all lovely, feminine names. I'm just annoyed because I have a bad memory for names and it's hard to keep them all straight.

My poor father wasn't much older than me when he started "going through the names". You know, there were three boys: Dave, Bob, and Ed. Dad would be calling Ed and go "Dave ... Bob ... Coky ... Ed."

Coky was the dog.

Those names have nothing in common and the old man had trouble with them anyway, so what chance do I have with Sheya, Shreya, and Sarika?

And why don't chicks want cool names like "Doc Rampage"?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

what are the law schools really up to?

The Solomon Amendment is being argued in the Supreme Court. This law says a school that does not allow military recruiters on campus cannot receive federal funds. Some law schools refuse to admit military recruiters to their campuses on the grounds that the military discriminates against gays. These law schools are challenging the Solomon Amendment on free speech grounds.

But the current policy on gays in the military is a presidential directive handed down by President Clinton. It isn't a military policy; it is a policy of the federal government. Yes, the policy is only applied in the military but it isn't the Pentagon that made the discriminatory policy.

What if there were some corporation that did not discriminate against gays in most of the company, but had a policy that gays could not work in its security branch? Can anyone imagine that the law professors would only ban the company's security services from recruiting on campus?

Clearly this is silly. If a company had a policy that only discriminated against gays in one branch of the company, the law schools would ban the entire company from recruiting on campus --especially if that policy came from the CEO of the company. So on what basis do they ban the military from recruiting on campus, but not other branches of the federal government?

This banning of military recruiters is not really what it claims to be: a response to discrimination. It is in reality a thinly disguised anti-military policy.

Monday, December 05, 2005


The Storyblogging Carnival is up over at Tales by Sheya.

I have three sections of "Ink Magic" in the Carnival and was planning to get the fourh done on Saturday but I didn't make it. I was forced to spend the weekend killing Nazis in "Call of Duty 2".

I really hate those guys.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

more on Chistmas music

I just saw a Honda commercial. They had a Chistmasy themes with some carolers singing "We Wish You a Happy Holiday". Doesn't sound familiar? That's because it's just new words to "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

I'm thinking about writing a letter to Honda suggesting that if they are ashamed to have their company associated with Christmas, why don't they just leave it out of their commercials entirely?

UPDATE: a commenter says I got the words wrong; that they were really singing "Hondaday" rather than "Holiday". If so, this would be an instance of a less distressing class of religious offenses.

O Holy Night

I was just in McDonald's having lunch (I know, I know) when I heard some woman singing "O Holy Night". It kind of surprised me because you don't often hear religious Christmas carols in the public square any more. The woman was a talented singer, but she just didn't have the pipes for that song.

"O Holy Night" is one of the all-time great solo songs for someone with a really powerful voice. That surging crescendo will shake you to your bones when it is done right. But the melody is too slow and simple to work on its own; it really needs that crescendo. A soloist without the vocal power, even a good one with an interesting voice, should stay away from this song. As a congregational song it can be downright grating.

Another great song for a powerful voice is "It Is Well with My Soul". The crescendo in that song can wring your heart.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

new book

Tom Bethel, a contributer to NRO, has written a new book, The Policially Incorrect Guide to Science. I may actually go look this one up and buy it.

Here is an NRO article that Bethel wrote. (thanks to Back of the Envelope for the link).

Bethel mentions that George Will and Charles Krauthammer have spoken disparagingly of Intelligent Design. Donald at Back of the Envelope mentions that John Derbyshire has done the same thing. So has Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. There are a class of conservatives who are embarrassed by fellow conservatives who don't believe in evolution. They think such conservatives are primitive, irrational, unscientific.

But how would they know? None of these four is a biologist. I venture that none of them could write a convincing scientific argument in favor of evolution. These four, along with the large majority of conservatives who are embarrassed, are simply relying on the scientific community. They are appealing to authority, just as they so often accuse Creationists of doing. And the authority they are appealing too is clearly infested with people who are philosophically and politically opposed to Christianity. So I also think that none of these three could explain why the scientific community should be trusted in this area.

Too many people think of Science as a single edifice. We get TVs and computers and airplanes and atom bombs from Science, so Science must be really good at understanding nature. But this isn't the case. Science isn't an algorithm. You don't teach grad students a few rules and then send them out to Do Research. Scientific investigation is an art and individual scientists vary dramatically in skill level.

Furthermore, each science has different criteria for success, different goals that the scientists strive to fulfill. In no field related to evolution is there any drive to produce actual inventions or other practical results. The theory of evolution could be proved entirely 100% wrong tomorrow and it would have no effect whatsoever outside of classrooms and museums.

It is reckless to take the success of physics and engineering and from it to presume any special quality in the evolutionary sciences. There is virtually no overlap with the hard sciences, either in personnel or methods. There is not much more overlap with the biological and medical sciences that have produced practical results. These sciences did not begin producing substantial results until after the field of biology had become very specialized and the evolutionary fields had branched off.

The evolutionary sciences are isolated branches of study. They have no track record of practical results, no history of predictions made and fulfilled, nothing to qualify them as especially reliable sciences; nothing but a tenuous historical relationship and a name they claim in common with the more respectable sciences. But George Will finds these weak sibling fields so respectable that he considers any critics of the fields to be "the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people".

Roscoe on WP

Roscoe has a couple of good posts up about the latest anti-American campaign clothed in the costume of humanitarianism. Money quote:
If we aren't serious enough about this war that we are willing to trade the lives of our grunts to satisfy anti-American propagandists, then lets get the hell out now before we lose any more guys.

Friday, December 02, 2005

sometimes virtue is its own reward

I was reading some blogs near me in the TTLB Ecosystem (checking out the competition) and found this wonderful story at a blog called Echo9er.

India, public displays of affection, and charity

My post about public kissing in India attracted some negative publicity at an Indian blog because the blogger didn't get the irony of my comment. This just goes to show how easy it is to misinterpret people (especially if the writer is not writing in your native language) and why life is nicer if you read charitably.

Reading charitably means that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, you assume the author is intelligent, reasonable and good natured and that if what he says doesn't match up with that assumption, then you are probably misreading and need to work a little harder at understanding.

Only if you make a sincere effort to interpret the author as a reasonable person and your efforts fail, should you conclude that he is not being reasonable.

death and squirrels

From Cosmo (Jonah Goldberg's dog) at NRO this story about squirrels attacking and killing a dog. According to the article, it sounds like this is just being treated as a curiosity. I'd be rather concerned if I lived in the area. If the squirrels can kill a dog, they can kill a child.

On the other hand, the more likely explanation is that the dog was already dead and the squirrels were just eating it. Most animals will eat meat when it is available. Passers-by probably just heard a different dog barking and assumed it was the one the squirrels were eating.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Patterico joins the Dark Side

Fortunately, his commenters seem to be firmly on the side of all that is right and good.

Patterico is upset about proposals to eliminate the home-owner's interest deduction and the state-income-tax deduction from the federal tax code. He is upset for a good reason, because it hits him in the pocket-book. As he points out, this is really a tax hike.

But there are good reasons for this tax hike beyond the fact that it makes the tax code more fair. If the Republicans can pass this change, then it will eliminate a lot of the resistence against the flat tax.

I think that is really what they are doing: divide and conquer the opponents of the flat tax.

Democrats and soldiers

The Republicans would be a more manly party if they would listen to Ann Coulter.

I am so sick of these two-faced Democrats who react with mock horror when any Republican criticizes any Democrat who either (1) served in the military or (2) had a son killed in the military, as though this sacrifice should forever protect them from criticism from their fellow citizens, while showing no respect at all for any Republican who has given the same sort of sacrifice. It is pure partisan, cynical, hypocritical, bald-faced exploitation of the military by people who despise the military and all that it stands for.

But what sickens me even more than the Democratic hypocrisy and posturing is the weasely Republican bowing and scraping to this exploitation. Republican politicians are terrified of criticizing Democrats who sacrificed because they know the MSM will trash them for it. But if they would just stand up like men and take their lumps and defend themselves now, during an off-year, this putrid strategy might have lost its usefulness by election time. Instead, the Republicans are allowing the formation of yet another tradition where Democrats can criticize Republicans but Republicans cannot criticize Democrats.

Republicans already can't criticize a Democrat who happens to be black or female or gay without being roasted over a slow fire by the press for "intolerance", but Democrats can say any racist, sexist, homophobic thing they want and suffer no consequences. Thinks are shaping up so that by election 2006, the same one-sided rule will apply to soldiers and families of soldiers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

story notes

Since I got out last week's installment of "Ink Magic" a bit early and since it was short, and since it was a major cliff-hanger, I decided not to wait for next Saturday to publish the next one. You will find it just below this post. The new section isn't a cliff-hanger, but hopefully it introduces enough mystery to leave you with an interest in discovering more. I hope to get out another section on Saturday.

How do you like the plot twist of a mad scientist who discovers another universe? Pretty original, huh? But come on, it's a common plot device because it's neat.

Sheya is hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival over at Tales By Sheya. Get your stories in by Saturday. I actually saw a significant traffic boost from the last Carnival; I'm hoping that means the Carnival is growing more popular.

I really should volunteer to host the Carnival again. Maybe after Christmas.

Ink Magic continued


Ink Magic (part 5)

I clutched at the two by four but before my hand could close on it, the tentacles jerked my feet out from under me and I landed hard on the cold concrete floor. Desperately, I scratched at the web-covered end of the two by four but all I got was a hand full of spider web. The black tentacles jerked me across the floor toward the staircase.

As I was pulled past the desk, I grabbed one of its short wooden legs with one hand and hung on for dear life. As the creature tried to pull me loose I used the other hand to reach for the power cord of the nail gun. The monster pulled so hard that the desk swiveled out from the wall just as the nail gun fell to the floor. Before I could grab the gun, the desk and I were pulled further, leaving the nail gun again out of reach.

I grabbed the cord and jerked the nail gun forward but now it hung up on the back of the desk. My feet were starting up the stairs toward the black blob as I jerked at the power cord again and the gun stuck again. The tentacles hauled my feet up to the third stair as I forced myself to calm down and pull the gun carefully under the back of the desk.

The nail gun finally came free with my feet only inches away from the monster. A quick jerk on the cord brought the gun flying to my hand where I caught it and in one motion turned it to the monster and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.

The bastard had unplugged my nail gun.

The old desk was jammed in place and the monster was not strong enough to break the death grip I had on the desk. I guess that's why it gave up on pulling and instead started oozing down the stairs toward my feet. As the creature began flowing around my ankles and up toward my knees, a tremendous feeling of ... something ... overwhelmed me. It was like my heart was being squeezed from inside.

I took a deep breath and let out with a primal scream of outrage as I let go of the desk to sit up and attack the monster with my hands and teeth. It was an act of pure defiance; I didn't really think I had any chance to escape the monster, but I was going to do whatever I could to hurt it. As I was trying to sit up my shirt burst open and a black blob swelled up from my chest.

In a moment, the blob on my chest had grown large and very heavy. It coiled itself like a huge cat and lunged at the monster on the stairs, nearly caving in my chest with the power of its spring. I lay there stunned and gasping for air as the two black mercury monsters joined in combat.

The battle was eerily silent. There were no screams or shrieks, just a sound like wet rags thumping against the floor and walls. There was a louder thump when they fell from the stairs to the floor of the basement where they kept fighting.

The thing that had leaped from my chest was shaped like a giant cat. It looked like the tattoo the old man had given me except that it was solid black, the same color as the ink in the tattoo.

The tentacle monster had let go of me when the fight started, so as soon as I could move, I began dragging myself up the stairs. The black-ink cat was clearly losing and I didn't want to still be there when the tentacle monster had time for me again so I struggled to the top of the stairs before I collapsed. As I lay there I saw that the monster had indeed unplugged my nail gun. It seemed that this tentacle thing wasn't some dumb animal.

The tentacles found my ankles again as I was wobbling to my knees. They hauled me roughly back down the stairs, my face bouncing on each step. I landed in an aching pile at the bottom of the stairs, gazing about in a red daze. The black-ink cat was gone. The tentacle monster just squatted there like a spider in a web, holding my ankles in a rubbery grip. The creature seemed to be gloating at me, giving me time to suffer before it consumed me.

My right hand found the nail gun almost without conscious thought. The blob started flowing toward me as I struggled to raise the nail gun. The gun barked out a ratcheting whine and in seconds it had unloaded forty inch-and-a-quarter brad nails into the blob. The creature vanished abruptly, silently, like a shadow when the light comes on.

Good thing I had plugged the nail gun back in while I was at the top of the stairs.

I lay back in exhaustion and my eye fell on the tatters of my shirt, on my bare chest. The magic tattoo was gone, vanished like it had never been there except for the two red slits where the eyes had been. So, the black-ink cat was a one-shot deal. Well, I figured I still owed that tattoo guy a big check. As soon as I had the strength, I got the hell out of that house, but I didn't forget the journal or the letter.

My mother was at Vicky's Coffee House when I finally caught up with her. She was having her usual after-church lunch with friends --Vicky's Cup of Soup and Half Sandwich Sunday Lunch Special. Beet soup and crab-salad sandwich. After Mom got over her excitement about the state of my face I got her to read the letter. The letter told her that Dad had been kidnapped for his invention some fourteen years ago by some foreign power. The two of us must disappear so that we couldn't be used to control Dad any longer.

Very neat. For all I knew it may even be true for a sufficiently generous reading of "foreign power".

Mom and I flew to Denver where Mom caught a connecting flight to points further east. I stayed in Denver, telling Mom that I had some business to take care of. Is it my fault if she assumed the business was in Denver? But I don't run from no steenking monsters; I was going back to the Bay. Besides, I had to pay the tattoo guy.

The hotel was one of those low rent affairs where you stay when you are too tired to look for someplace better. The walls were so thin I could hear the guy next door clear his throat. He did it a lot. I called room service and asked them to send him up some cough syrup on me, but they said they didn't have any. The room heater had two settings: boiling hot and off. The chair looked very comfortable but that was a cruel illusion. It felt like sitting on a cardboard box with a leaf spring underneath.

I spent the evening in the comfortable-looking chair scanning through my father's journal, trying to get a quick overview.

The gravity lens, it turned out, was not a way to control gravity but a way to focus gravity waves into an image. Dad called the imaging device a graviscope. According to the journal, Dad had succeeded at least to the extent that he could get images out of the graviscope.

The images were ghostly and indistinct but there is nothing opaque to gravity. The graviscope could see though anything. Also, Dad seemed to believe that with enough work he could get the device to show what was happening at any spot on Earth.

Hello, big military contract. Goodbye any hope of privacy, ever again.

Dad was having serious problems with what he called phantoms: ghostly images of people who were not in the spot that he was imaging. He spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was causing the split imaging, but failed. Finally, he decided to try to focus on the phantoms and study them, trying to figure out where they were coming from.

Dad had a lot of trouble focusing on the phantoms. They always came out badly distorted, inhuman. Well, the bipeds were inhuman, and there were apparent quadrupeds that were in-canine, in-feline, and generally unearthly. At first, Dad recognized none of the phantoms but eventually he found some that had recognizable shapes: some humans, some animals, depending on where he looked.

Of course that caused some theoretical problems for Dad. Why would one phantom look human and the one right next to it be so badly focused that it looked like a monster? In some cases the human-looking phantom was clearly interacting with the monster phantom.

There was another problem, one that Dad described in disturbing detail. Even allowing for the bizarre distortions, there were things going on that Dad couldn't imagine happening anywhere nearby --acts of grotesque cruelty and violence by many different creatures on many other creatures.

Eventually, after months of investigation, Dad came to the conclusion that he was actually seeing another world. Here is the entry where he put forth his theory
I finally have a hypothesis to explain my phantoms, creatures that seem obviously real but that can be detected by no means other than gravity waves. It is almost as if they exist in a parallel universe that has no connection to ours other than gravity.

It is well-known that there is not enough matter in the universe to explain the way that galaxies and clusters of galaxies move. That is, there is more mass in the universe than astronomers can account for. Therefore, astronomers have postulated the existence of dark matter, a form of matter that we cannot detect using the traditional tools of astronomy.

As all of our detection methods, prior to my graviscope, have relied on various forms of electromagnetic energy, this dark matter must be matter that does not produce or absorb such energy. This suggests that the matter is electrically neutral, but does that necessarily mean that the matter has no binding forces at all? What if this dark matter possesses another force, dark electromagnetism? This dark EM would have no causal interaction with bright EM, the electromagnetism that we know, but it could follow exactly the same laws on different matter. There could be similar dark analogs to the nuclear interactions and the world of dark matter could form a universe just like ours with suns, planets, and even life.

There could be an entire universe of suns and planets sharing the same space as ours, and the only way we could detect it would be by gravitation. Since the universes share gravitational attraction, we might expect massive bodies of the two universes to attract each other and to share the same orbits --dark sun sharing the same space with the bright sun, dark planet sharing space with the bright planet.
Later he wrote this:
I am now fairly convinced in my theory of a dark matter universe. There is a dark planet that shares the Earth's orbit, circling, no doubt, a dark sun that shares the orbit of our sun. I wonder how many of the other planets have dark companions.

Dark is a good name for the phantoms in my graviscope. They are monstrous creatures of great cruelty. In fact, I have taken to thinking of them as demons: invisible, intangible, evil creatures that walk among us. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night.
And thanks to the journal, I had a bit of trouble sleeping myself that night. Dreams kept me restless: dimly-remembered nightmares of otherworldly spies with a graviscope, demons who could follow me anywhere. How to hide from such a menace?

The black-ink cat came to me in my sleep. I woke in the darkness to find two glowing red eyes staring at me. The cat that had climbed out of my chest to fight the monster now sat on my bed looking hungry. This time the cat wasn't all black; it had the red eyes and white fangs of the tattoo. I wondered if it was a pet now or if it thought I owed it an arm for protecting me.

The cat gave a low rumble, then it slashed out with a huge paw, glowing claws extended to rip open my chest. I gasped in pain and my back arched involuntarily, but I couldn't move. The slash opened a cavity of raw meat where my chest had been. There was little blood but the white ribs were exposed, along with some organs and a still-pumping heart. As I gaped in horror, the cat leaped into the chest cavity. It was far bigger than my chest, but somehow the cat managed to pass smoothly into the cavity and disappear.

I awoke with a shock, bolted upright in the bed, and clutched at my pounding heart, gasping for air. I ripped the sheet away to feel my chest in the pitch-dark room. The skin was intact but it didn't feel quite right; it was too smooth, too slick. I fumbled for the switch on the bedside lamp. It clicked on with a dim 30-watt glow to show me why the skin felt so funny. The black-cat tattoo was back.

Monday, November 28, 2005

torture and question-begging

Charles Krauthammer has an article in which he argues against the McCain "torture" amendment. He makes a very good point in the last couple of paragraphs, showing that McCain himself doesn't really believe in the amendment, but overall, I think he made a weak argument as can be seen by Ramesh Ponnuru's response:
I still resist Krauthammer's conclusion, because the example seems to go a lot further than he suggests. Doesn't his bomb end up blowing up any categorical moral prohibition? If we're talking about saving a city, for example, would it be permissible to torture the terrorist's innocent elderly mother or infant child to get him to talk?

It can't be the case, can it, that this example serves as a succinct proof of consequentialism in ethics? If it isn't, then we're left with the idea that what we can do to someone we're interrogating depends on his guilt and the gravity of the situation.
The position that Ponnuru describes is, of course, highly suspect. Surely there are acts (such as torturing an infant) that are universally morally wrong, no matter the need. But is torture one of these universally wrong acts? I have argued before, here and here, that is not.

By comparing torture of a guilty terrorist to the torture of an innocent baby, Ponnuru is begging the question. But to be fair, Krauthammer and others, by the way they put their argument are inviting critics to beg the question in this way. They start out: "Yes, torture is bad, but suppose..."

I put it differently: torture is just another form of violence. It has moral rules of application similar to beating, killing and other forms of violence. A moral society outlaws these things. We find violence in general to be morally repugnant. But a moral society also recognizes that sometimes violence is the right thing to do. Sometimes killing is a moral imperative, just as sometimes torture is a moral imperative.

Killing an innocent baby is universally wrong. Killing a murderer is not. Similarly, torturing an innocent baby is universally wrong. Torturing a terrorist is not.

Torture, like other forms of violence, is something that is so wrong in so many circumstances that we tend think of it as generally wrong. Torture for gain, for revenge, for entertainment is horribly wrong, just like beating or killing for gain, revenge or entertainment is horribly wrong. But just because torture is often wrong doesn't mean that it is always wrong.

What Krauthammer and others appear to be arguing is that torture is an evil that is sometimes necessary. I would argue instead that torture is an act of violence that is sometimes evil and sometimes good.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Beetles lyrics

Anyone remember the Beeltes song where they sang about how they prefer rotund women?
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round. [emphasis mine]
And then it continues
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?
I always pictured a guy with his wrist tied to a bunch of helium balloons, starting to fly off like a cartoon character, and then a big, round woman grabing him by his ankles and pulling him back down to earth. He thanks her with a warm embrace and then... Well, I never got past that point because my mind wanders but ... You know? I forget where I was going with this.

Never mind.

Friday, November 25, 2005

pain, suffering, and kittens

Xrlq points with approval to this article about a woman who was being punished for abandoning some kittens. Her sentence was a night out in the woods without sufficient clothing or shelter. Xrlq and some of his commenters think justice was done. They think that the woman's suffering is similar to what the kittens suffered, but this is because they are making the mistake of attributing human morality to animals.

I pointed out that the woman will suffer but that the kittens did not suffer. A commenter responded by asking me if I was drunk when I wrote that. The answer is, "No". I had just taken a shot of of ice-cold peppermint schnapps in celebration of the holiday season (great stuff, by the way), but I wasn't dunk.

Animals do not suffer. They can be in pain, but animals do not have the necessary moral sensibility to suffer. That is a good thing because otherwise nature would be one huge awful torture chamber: otters eating fish tail-first, lions killing zebra colts by strangling while their mothers watch, alligators killing cattle by drowning, adult chimps tearing baby chimps away from their mother to kill and eat them.

Animals are innocent; they have no sense of right and wrong. That means in particular that they cannot feel that something is wrong when they are in pain. Suffering is a moral sense, not a physical sense. It is caused by pain or loss, but pain or loss alone is not suffering. You have to respond to the pain or loss with a moral sense of outrage, rejection, or hopelessness in order to turn it into suffering.

I used to get spankings from my father. These punishments caused me great suffering as a child. Then one day my mother got irrationally angry at me and insisted that my father spank me for no good reason (this only happened once; I don't mean to give the impression that my mother was a harridan because she wasn't). My father knew that the spanking was unfair, but he felt he had to do it to keep peace in the family. I knew that it was unfair and I understood why my father was doing it.

For the first time, I reacted to a spanking not by rejecting it, but by accepting it. I could tell how badly my father felt, so I decided to not cry and fuss because I didn't want him to feel even worse than he already did. I accepted the spanking. I volunteered to take the pain. And you know what? I didn't suffer. For the first time, I took the lashes and I realized that it was only pain. I didn't have to suffer if I chose not to.

My father never spanked me again. He realized that I was past the point where I could be effectively punished with a spanking. I had learned the secret of suffering: it is a choice.

People feel pain and loss all the time and don't suffer when they have chosen the pain or loss. Giving a thousand dollars to charity does not cause suffering, but having a hundred dollars taken by a mugger does. Policemen regularly subject themselves to mace as part of their training and many soldiers attend simulated prison camps where they are roughly treated and abused. But many of these people don't suffer from the mace and the abuse. They don't suffer because it was their own choice. They accepted the pain.

Now I don't mean to imply that not suffering is always an easy choice. It is much harder to chose not to suffer when the pain or loss is great and when it is not by choice. I don't mean to imply that I could be tortured and not suffer; I couldn't. We all have our limits, and my own limit is well south of having my fingernails pulled out.

But animals don't have such limits because they do not have the capacity to suffer at all, no matter what happens to them. They just do not have the moral sensibility to feel outrage or rejection or hopelessness. Animals are morally innocent, and that innocence protects them from suffering.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Ink Magic continued


Ink Magic (part 4)

"You have violated the pact, Steven."

"What pact?" I asked. "I don't know no steenking pact."

"I made a pact to protect you and your mother," the stern voice told me, "The pact was intended to keep you from ever discovering .... Well, never mind. By entering my office, you have violated the terms."

"If I'm expected to keep a pact, it would have been prudent to let me in on it."

"The encloudment was supposed to keep you out! How did you find the basement?"

"I don't know. I just came home and noticed the door."

"You just..."

"After I escaped from the hoodoo."

"The what?"

"A sort of black-mercury blob that can shoot out tentacles. You know: a hoodoo."

"Some sort of monster attacked you?"

"Well, if a black-mercury blob that can shoot out tentacles counts as a monster, then yes, a monster attacked me. I called it a hoodoo because that's what the tattoo guy called it."

"The tattoo guy? Did you get a tattoo, Steven?"

"Tattoos are a lot more common these days, Dad. It's not just ex-cons and sailors..."

"Is the tattoo surprisingly life-like? Did you pass out while you wre getting it done? And did you feel different after you got it?"

"Yes, yes, and ... yes, now that I think about it. I started getting intuitions. I knew that something was following me before I ever saw the blob. And I knew to run from the blob even though it didn't seem very fast."

"And then you came home and saw the door."


"OK, I know what happened now. Some mystic quack managed to invest you with a minor charm of some sort. He probably bought the ink from a fey and then got lucky in applying the tattoo. But it wasn't lucky for you because it broke the encloudment that enforced the pact."

"The old guy said I was going to be attacked if I didn't get the tattoo. It probably saved my life."

"No. You wouldn't have been attacked at all if you hadn't broken the encloudment."

"So ... the tattoo that protected me from the danger is what drew the danger in the first place? That's rather ironic, isn't it?"

"It doesn't matter now," my father said in a resigned tone, "What's done is done. You and your mother have to get out of that house immediately. In fact, you should get out of California. Don't even pack. Go to the East Coast. Don't tell anyone where you are going. Don't ..."

"Just who am I supposed to be running from, Dad?"

"It doesn't matter! Just do as I say!" he sounded angry. Angry or frightened.

"You expect me to spend the rest of my life hiding from some mysterious unknown menace? That's not very realistic."

"No," he admitted, "I guess it's not." Dad sounded calmer now, resigned. "Look, Steven. I don't have time to explain it all to you because you have to get out of the house, but please take my word for it that you and your mother are in grave danger."

"OK," I said. "I believe you." After all, I had barely escaped from a monster only a few hours ago.

"Good. Good." he paused again. "There is a book on the bookshelves. Third shelf down, second shelf in from the left as you face the books, near the middle of the shelf. The title says 'Tables of Physical Properties of Materials' but it is really my journal. Grab it and get the hell out of there. Right now. Don't pack, just get to an airport and get out of the state. Please, Steven."

"OK, Dad, I believe you, but how am I supposed to talk mother into this?"

"There is a letter in the top desk drawer addressed to your mother. Give it to her to read." I opened the drawer as he spoke and saw the letter. "When your mother reads the letter it will lift the encloudment on her as well. It will also tell her that I was kidnapped and that you two are in danger."

"OK, Dad."

"You will do it?"

"I said, 'OK'".

"OK. Go right now, Steven. I can't express how urgent this is."

There was a click and then dead silence on the phone. No buzz like you used to get on these phones after someone hung up on you.

For the last couple of minutes I had been feeling that same odd certainty that I was being stalked; the one I had felt before the first time I saw the hoodoo. But after the freaky conversation I'd just had with my missing father about pacts and feys and encloudments, I figured that I was just generally creeped out so I didn't pay as much attention to the feeling as I should have.

That's why I didn't even bother to look back at the staircase. If I had looked back, I would have seen the streams of black mercury coursing down the basement steps, but it would have been too late anyway. I was trapped.

I picked up the nail gun again but the extension chord didn't have any more room. Since I was in a hurry, I set it back down on the desk so that I could go over to the bookcase and look for my father's journal. As I stood there looking at titles, the mercury streams must have been crossing the floor behind me, because I began to feel near panic but I firmly pushed it way, telling myself that it was only a sense of urgency.

Then, genius that I am, I set down my last weapon. I leaned the two by four against the bookcase to pull out the journal and check that I had the right book. As I was scanning through the book, I felt something brushing at my pants cuffs and I looked down to see my feet encased in that black mercury.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

more on "torture"

Jeff Goldstein is having an interesting discussion on so-called torture (really just abusive treatment). So far he has gotten about a hundred more comments on his post than I got on mine.

Here was my comment on the thread:
To the people who have compared Jeff and the others to moral relativists and utilitarians: you don’t know what you are talking about. Moral relativism and utilitarianism are not the position that the morality of an act is relative to or dependent on the situation. Nearly everyone believes that.

Cutting someone open with a scalpel is bad if you do it for fun, and good if you do it for surgery; it’s relative. Punching someone in the nose is bad if you do it out of anger and good if you do it out of self-defense; it depends on the situation. Killing is bad if you do it out of greed but good if you do it to save someone’s life from a homicidal maniac. See a pattern here?

To extend the pattern: abusing someone with sleep deprivation, water boarding, threats, or whatever, is bad if you do it for the wrong reasons but good if you do it for good reasons. And saving people from homicidal maniacs is a good reason.

The only excused for disagreeing with any of these statements is that you are an absolutist or a puritan in certain areas. I could argue why that is a bad thing, but I don’t have to. I can just explain why, unless you are an absolutist in all areas, you are being inconsistent.

To see this, tell me which is worse to do to a person: killing him or water boarding him?

If you have trouble answering that, then let me ask you: if you have a choice between being killed or being water boarded, which would you chose? OK, good; glad we cleared that up.

Now, is it good to kill someone in order to prevent him from blowing up a busload of school kids? If you say “yes”, then how can it not be good to do something less extreme (like water boarding) to the same person for the same effect?

If you are not an absolutist pacifist and you are an absolutist against all kinds of prisoner abuse, then you are being morally inconsistent.

Monday, November 21, 2005

If you think gourmet food is crap...

Here is an extremely expensive gourmet coffee that really is crap. No shit.

The Maverick Philosopher calls it Crapacino.


The new Storyblogging Carnival is up.

I actually had the first entry this time, due to my efforts to post a section of "Ink Magic" every Saturday. I'm aiming for about 20,000 words on "Ink Magic" and then I'll go back to "Scale 7 Artifact".

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ink Magic continued


Ink Magic (part 3)

I slept fitfully and woke up in the late morning; woke up groggy, but could not get back to sleep. Then I remembered the creature and that woke me right up. I scrambled out of bed and searched for liquid monsters in the house. None presented themselves.

My mother was gone. No doubt she was in church for the morning, so this would be a good time to explore behind the mysterious door. I had woken up with memories of the door from my childhood. It didn't lead into a closet under the stairs, but into a cellar --the cellar where my father had kept his study.

My father. I hadn't though of my father in years. Not since he had abandoned my mother and myself fifteen years ago. Apparently I had been so traumatized when my father left us that my mind had shied away from thinking about him and his study. But that explanation wouldn't work, would it? Not unless my mother had come down with exactly the same psychological malady.

So the first thing I did was call my neighbor for a sanity check. When Randy answered the phone, I asked him if he remembered the door under our stairs. He didn't, so I asked him to come over. When I showed him the door he acted just like Mom had: Randy's mind refused to notice the door even when I juggled the handle. A moment later he had even forgotten that I had asked him. Randy never knew my father, so the psychological-trauma explanation wasn't very persuasive at this point.

After I sent Randy home I stood before the door thinking. Maybe it was me who was seeing things. Maybe the liquid monster and this door were hallucinations spawned by something that old man had given me. Maybe I would try to go through the door and my poor mother would come home to find that I had brained myself on the wall behind the staircase.

I pulled up my pants and pulled down my sock. The welts from the liquid monster were fading but still there. No, I wasn't seeing things. I wasn't hallucinating and I wasn't dreaming. Something was going on. I wanted to know what that something was and I had a feeling the answers lay behind this mysterious door.

Well, no, actually I didn't think the answers lay behind the door; I just wrote that for dramatic effect. I thought that what lay behind the door was just a dusty home office. I could picture in my mind the bookshelves, the workbench, the desk sporting an old IBM PC with an incredible 10-Meg hard drive. There would be a dot-matrix printer on a stand next to the desk...

No, there would be no answers downstairs, just memories. If there were any answers to be got then the way to get them was to ask the old man that started all this, but he probably didn't work on Sunday.

Of course even if there were no answers, there could still be a liquid monster down there. I decided to get better prepared.

A few minutes later I stood before the door again with a two by four in one hand and a nail gun in the other. I hadn't been planning on carrying the nail gun; it was supposed to stay upstairs with the other boards, ready to nail up the door in a hurry if I had to. But then I thought how long the extension cord for the nail gun was, and I remembered the little catch that I had installed shortly after I bought the gun.

That little catch could be engaged to turn the nail gun into an actual gun that shot nails. I had installed it on a whim shortly after I bought the nail gun. Well OK, the truth is I just bought the nail gun to make that modification in the first place. I'd become pretty good at tacking cardboard from ten feet away.

With the nail gun under my arm, I carefully turned the knob, standing well back in case some monster poured out as soon as the door opened. Behind the door was a dark staircase --rude wooden stairs stretching down into the shadows.

I hadn't thought to get a flashlight, and I didn't have enough hands for one anyway. There was a light switch just inside the door but I didn't expect it to work after fifteen years of disuse. Luckily, I don't know anything about light bulbs, and when I flipped the switch the entire room below lit up nicely. It was bright enough that now I could see the spider webs. Lots and lots of spider webs, clogging the stairway.

I'm not especially afraid of spiders but I didn't fancy the idea of having one crawling down my neck, especially since the size of those webs made me think that the spiders were black widows. I'm not an expert on spiders, but the webs were really big and they seemed thicker than normal spider webs.

I ducked down to look into the basement and see the old desk with the old PC still on top. Apparently my father hadn't taken it with him. Actually, my father had just taken off one day and never came back for anything. That was kind of odd now that I thought of it.

The stairs were the open kind, the kind that a kid can stand behind to reach out and grab your ankle as you go down. A kid or a liquid monster. With this thought, I got down on my hands and knees to try to see under the stairs. I couldn't see much.

Something tickled my ear and I jerked back and stood up. Then, muttering under my breath, I used the two by four to clear out all the webbing I could reach by stepping down a couple of steps. By the time I was done, the board was coated with dusty white fiber.

I crouched down again to look under the steps from the second one down but I really couldn't see anything. It's hopeless, you know, trying to see what's under the steps that you are going down. The only way to see what's hiding under a step before you step on it is to go down head-first on your hands and knees. But if you do that, the mean little kid will just crouch down. Then, when you get low enough to see him crouched down, he just stands up and suddenly has access to your entire prone, upside-down, helpless body to poke, pinch, and give purple nurples to. At least that's what I did when I was a kid.

The idea of getting caught upside-down on the stairs by one of those hoodoo things didn't appeal to me so I decided to take my chances on my feet. I went down sideways, ready to bolt back up, watching my feet carefully when I wasn't watching the rest of the room or clearing out the spider webs.

I got to the bottom of the stairs and looked under the staircase. It was a bit shadowy, but there was nothing underneath except for some boxes, a couple of large filing cabinets, some old sports equipment, and the other kind of junk that usually accumulates under staircases. No spider webs, though. I thought that was odd.

The rest of the room was just as I remember it except for the thick layer of dust. I was starting to feel a bit silly for my precautions. There was the bookcase taking up most of an entire wall and filled with serious-looking hardcover books with titles like "Heat Dissipation In High-Voltage Environments" and "The Insulation and Dielectric Properties of Ceramics" and "A Theory of Quantum Gravity". A couple of them had been written by my father.

There was a work bench covered with circuit boards and soldering equipment and fragments of wire and electronic parts. Over it hung his parts cabinet, dozens of little drawers containing resisters, diodes, transistors, chips and other electronic circuit-building stuff.

The old desk still had the PC on it, the reference books at the corner, a big can full of pens and pencils, an ancient rotary telephone. I pulled the extension cord down so that I could walk over to the desk with the nail gun. I put the gun down just long enough to flip on the PC and then picked it back up. Silly or not, I was holding on to the nail gun.

The PC came to life with a dusty wheeze and the dot matrix printer rattled in sympathy as the ancient hard drive struggled to come up to speed. As I waited for the computer to boot, I set the nail gun down again to pick up the phone and blow off the dust.

I put it to my ear to listen for a dial tone. Nothing. I should have realized that the phone wouldn't work anymore since we had rewired for DSL. In fact, the phone company had only installed three drops: two bedrooms and the living room. This old phone wouldn't even be connected. I set down the phone and picked up the nail gun again.

Next to the desk was Dad's big Project, his gravity lens, the one that had kept him from getting tenure at Berkeley. Everyone thought Dad's theories were too wacky. Yes, that's right, too wacky even for Berkeley.

The gravity lens didn't look much like a lens; more like a refrigerator that had grown fur and scales in the form of wires and circuit boards. Dad had never gotten it to work, because, well, it was a wacky idea.

I was shocked to see that Dad had abandoned this project; he had been so obsessive about it. And it hurt a bit to realize that I was more surprised about Dad abandoning his gravity lens than abandoning my mother and myself. But that was Dad.

I tried to recall the circumstances of his leaving. Had Mom gotten a restraining order so Dad couldn't get his things? No, that made no sense. The judge would have let him get his property. Besides, I couldn't remember any fights or bitter words or anything else that would lead to a restraining order.

As I thought back, I found that I couldn't recall anything at all about when Dad left. It just seemed that one day he had been here and the next day he had been gone, and Mom and I had started telling people that he left us.

Was I suffering the same kind of mental block that kept people from seeing the door? It didn't seem like it. It was more like there had been a mental block to prevent me from seeing how strange Dad's disappearance was and now that block was gone. Now I began to wonder if Dad had left us or if he had been taken against his will. Until this moment, it had never occurred to me that we should have called the police to report a missing person when Dad vanished.

The phone rang.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. The old rotary phone was set on loud and I could see it jangling with the vibration of its old mechanical bell. The ancient phone that wasn't even connected any more was ringing. The one with no dial tone.

On about the third ring, I set down the nail gun to reach for the handset but then pulled my hand back. I sat down in the old desk chair, ignoring the cloud of dust that burped from the cushion and stared at the phone. RING ... RING ... How could that old phone be working? Who would be calling? RING ... RING ...

Finally, driven by curiosity, I picked it up and answered in the traditional way, "Hello?"

"Steven!" the stern voice on the other end of the line sent a shiver down my back. "What have you done?"

"I don't know, Dad," I answered as reasonably as circumstances allowed, "what have I done?"