Friday, August 26, 2005

impersonating a ten-year-old

Via Michelle Malkin, this story about a newspaper hoax where a woman pretended to be a little girl writing news columns. I don't blame them so much for being credulous in the first place, but I think a bit of judgment would have made them suspicious because of the writing. I've read children's writing and I've read the writing of adults trying to write like children, and the adults usually don't do such a good job. It seems to be no different in this case. Do these quotes really seem authentic to you? To me they scream "adult woman trying to write like a child":
"Hey dad I dug a fox hole. It is regulashin ... Can you kill all the bad guys now so Air Force One can bring you home?"
"I'm rily mad at you and you make my hart hurt,"' she purportedly wrote in one published letter to the president. "I don't think your doing a very good job. You keep sending soldiers to Iraq and it's not fair. Do you have a soldier of your own in Irak?"
Often, it is even possible to tell the difference between a man and a woman trying to write like a child. When men do it, they tend to be over-humorous and sound too clever. When women do it they tend to be over-cute and sound too naive. Kids are not as clever as adults and they are not naive enough to be as cute as the women would like. And don't kids know how to use spell checkers?

Of course this is not to say that I couldn't be fooled. I probably have been and didn't know about it. But I think this one should not have fooled so many people. It just isn't that good.

UPDATE: Rhymes With Right has an extensive summary of the story.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Curtis Schweitzer is hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival. Get your entries in!

I'm not sure I'm going to make it this time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

making stuff up

Some people just don't get it. When you blog, there are these things called "links" that you can put in your blog to show people what you are talking about. When you don't have these links, people think you are probably talking out your ass. Like for example this guy (link from Atrios). He is all gung ho to chastize the press for being unfair to ... Bill Clinton. He points out some poll numbers that show Bush has lower popularity than Clinton and then he asks why the press always says that Bush is popular and that Clinton was unpopluar. Thing is, I can't think of any press that matches his description. And since he doesn't link to any, I'm inclined to think that he can't think of any either.

The fact that he couldn't find any links to back up his claim didn't stop him from titling his article "Big Media Lie -- People Like Bush" and it doesn't stop Atrios from repeating the stupidity. The article is worth reading, though, if just for this howler:
But since the mainstream media get their talking points from Fox News Channel...

So this is how the left counters the growing realization that we have a biased left-wing MSM. They know it's not good for them if Americans come to realize that the MSM is just a branch of the Democrat party, so they try to help out by making charges opposite to what the Republicans say. The Republicans say that the MSM is opposed to Bush? Well the Democrats say that the MSM favors Bush. The Republicans say that the MSM is opposed to the war in Iraq? Well the Democrats say that the MSM is in favor of the war in Iraq. The Republicans demonstrate thousands of blatant examples of skewed reporting like the Killian memos, the coverage of the Swiftboat Vets and the coverage of Cindy Sheehan? The Democrats make shit up.

That's all this is. The Democrats realize that their pet media are losing credibility so they are trying to shore it up by mimicking the evidence that Republicans have used to damage that credibility. The difference is that Republicans can actually point to thousands of MSM reports about comparable incidents and show how the MSM always seems to do things in a way that favors the Democrats, while the Democrats have nothing comparable. But that's OK, because the Democrats don't mind lying. After all, they got away with it for forty years.

Unfortunately for them, the reason they got away with it for forty years was because they had a monopoly on the mass media. As that monopoly crumbles, their dishonesty starts to exact a price, and we have seen them paying that price in the last few elections.

It's about time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

Does anyone else think it's pretty durn convenient that Cindy Sheehan had to leave to look after her mother just before the arrival of a group of people with family members who are serving or have died in Iraq? It almost looks like she knows she doesn't have anything worthwhile to offer except for her "moral authority" derived from the death of her son. I suspect that she just wants to avoid anyone she can't browbeat with moral authority.

UPDATE: Just to clarify: I'm not suggesting that Sheehan only went to care for her sick mother to avoid the meeting, what I'm suggesting is that Sheehan may have lied about her mother being sick. The woman has been caught in enough lies that she has lost the benefit of the doubt for anything she says. I'm not saying that I believe she is lying, only that I don't know whether she is or not. It would be interesting to interview her mother's doctor.

Gods and denotations

Michael Williams points out that in official Catholic doctrine, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but Michael disagrees. I think before you can really answer this question, you have to understand what "being the same" is, and it's not as simple as you might think especially as regards distant objects.

Suppose that you and I are talking about a historical figure, say Aristotle. We have some different beliefs about Aristotle. I believe that he wrote the Metaphysics and you don't. I believe that he was Greek but you believe that he was Macedonian. I believe that he was a student of Plato but you don't. Are we talking about the same man? Yes, but we just believe different things about him.

Now lets go further. I believe that Aristotle was known in Athens before he became Alexander's teacher, but you believe that he was just a con man who fooled a Macedonian king into thinking he was a respected philosopher. You have this theory about how he claimed most of the writings of an obscure student of Plato as his own and used his political power to create his historical reputation. According to you, Aristotle never wrote anything that I think he wrote.

Are we still talking about the same man? Well, if I'm right, then we are. But if you are right, then it's not so clear. When I talk about Aristotle, then I'm talking about the man who was a student of Plato and who wrote all of Aristotle's books, not the man who taught Alexander. Almost everything I have to say about Aristotle applies to this unnamed student of Plato and none of it to the guy named Aristotle who taught Alexander the Great.

But we are still talking about the same Aristotle. Aristotle is not identified by his writing. The name "Aristotle" does not have the same connotation as the description "the man who wrote the books commonly attributed to Aristotle". Rather, "Aristotle" is a name that takes its meaning from a historical chain of references.

Some guy who actually knew Aristotle, teacher of Alexander, mentioned him to some guy who didn't know Aristotle. The first guy was wrong in thinking that this teacher of Alexander wrote the Metaphysics, but he was still referring to someone he knew. The second guy gets this historical reference from the first guy and passes it to a third, and so on down through the ages (through both speech and writing) until I use the term myself. You're own usage of the term shares a history with mine so we are talking about the same man named Aristotle, it's just that I have some false beliefs about him that were passed down along with the reference.

A technical way to say this is that the denotation of a name (the thing the name "points to") is defined by the historical usage of the name. This is one way in which names are different from descriptions which usually denote something that satisfies the description.

When Mohammed preached about Allah, if he intended his hearers to understand that he was talking about the God of Abraham (as I believe he was) then he was using a name with a history, a history shared by our word "God". Therefore the two names denote the same Being, even if one of them is associated with a truckload of false ideas.

Monday, August 22, 2005

being fair

Remember the handicapped kid that got tossed out of the theater for laughing too loud? John Hawkins argues that the theater manager did the right thing. Good for John Hawkins. Bloggers on the right are a bit too eager sometimes to show that they aren't the hard-hearted monsters that the left always tries to portray them as. This leads them to taking up questionable causes like a kid who was ruining the theater experience for dozens of other kids.

He couldn't help it? Fine. I'm not blaming him. And being put out of the theater was not a punishment. It was just an adjustment to a problem that the kid was causing. If it made the kid happy to throw hammers at other kids, would you let him do it so that you aren't being mean to a poor handicapped kid? Of course not. You wouldn't punish the kid but you would take away the hammers. And although ruining a movie experience isn't as serious as throwing hammers, it was one against dozens or hundreds, and I don't see how you can reasonably take the side of the one.

There is another side to the story. There were other people involved. Those who automatically take the side of the mother of the poor handicapped kid are saps for a sob story.

depleted uranium

Radiation was made a hobgoblin by the left in order to frighten the United States out of a course that would have led to energy independence back in the 70's. Now they are using it as yet another way to attack the US military. But Odysseus has the real scoop on depleted uranium rounds (link from Emigre).

crew-served paintball weapons

I'm sitting here in my office watching the professional tree trimmers feeding branches into an industrial-strength brush chipper. Looks like fun. The chipper has a spout that shoots wood ships into their big panel truck. The first thing I thought of when I saw that high-velocity stream of wood chips is ... paintballs. Imagine taking off the chipper and just using the powered spout to shoot paintballs. I bet you could get a thousand paintballs per minute out of one of those bad boys.

I got to get me one of those.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

on an important topic

Tom Harrison doesn't think a post of all links is cheating. He argues that a concise pointer to something interesting is better than a long, rambling article that wastes everyone's time. I guess I agree with him on that point. Someone writes a long, rambling post that wastes your time and you end up being sorry that you visited the blog. I would never do that. Long rambling, and especially repetitive discourses are not done on this blog. This blog entirely avoids posts that are long, rambling, and repetitive. I don't like those kinds of posts so I don't post them. They make the reader feel like his time has been wasted reading a long, rambling and repetitive post because of the length, the rambling, and the repetitiveness.

After all, you came to the blog expecting to read something interesting. Maybe some incisive political commentary or a humorous anecdote, or an inspiring tale of dangers braved and obstacles overcome. It's OK for posts like that to long as long as they aren't rambling and repetitive. Which no one likes. Well, actually I guess I shouldn't say that no one likes them because maybe there are some people somewhere that like long, rambling, repetitive posts, but I don't know any of them. Well actually I may know some of them because I haven't asked everyone I know how they feel about long, rambling, repetitive reading material because you normally just assume that people don't like that sort of thing. But I guess that if you just always assumed that and never asked, then you might actually know someone who actually likes long, rambling, repetitive reading material and they just never mentioned it. Maybe because they assume everyone likes long, rambling, repetitive reading material or maybe because they know that it is unusual to enjoy long, rambling, repetitive reading material and they are embarrassed about their preferences.

But if that is the case, how would we know that it really is unusual to like long, rambling, repetitive reading materials? Maybe everyone likes that kind of stuff and just assumes that everyone else doesn't like it and they are too embarrassed to say what they like. I'd like to say for the record, though, that I personally don't like long, rambling, repetitive reading materials and I'm not just saying that because I think it's the expected attitude. I wouldn't like about something like that. I might lie about having committed a felony like a murder or something, or I might lie to a girlfriend and say that I like her new hair color, but I wouldn't lie about whether or not I like a certain kind of reading material because it's too trivial.

Of course there might be circumstances where I would be inclined to lie about what kinds of reading materials I like. For example if I was in Russia in 1969 and someone guy comes up and flashes a KGB badge at me and asks if I like to read communist literature I might lie and say that I did. Of course that's assuming that I was lying. If I were actually in Russia in 1969 then maybe I would have liked reading communist literature. Of course that's doubtful because I was only eight years old at the time and it's hard to imagine that many eight year olds enjoy reading communist literature. Of course I suppose that statement suffers from the same weaknesses as my claim that most people don't like long, rambling, repetitive reading materials, namely that this could be a social construction sort of like the way that people say they like pineapple on pizza when it is blatantly obvious that no one could like such a barbaric food.

The best pizza is thin crust with pepperoni, sausage, garlic and extra cheese. It's OK to add onions if you want. Onions are good in other Italian food like spaghetti sauce, but frankly, I don't think they add anything to pizza. They are essential to Mexican food, though. In Tucson, Mexican food always comes with onions, but in the Bay Area, onions are usually not put on the food directly, they are put in the salsa bar in a tiny bowl with tiny little tweezes to take them out when you really need a big, honking bowl of diced onions and a big, honking spoon to scoop them out with.

Salsa bars are another thing that's different about the Bay Area. Mexican restaurants can't decide on one kind of salsa so they give you a selection, some of which have disgusting ingredients in the salsa like mango. Not that mango is disgusting. I like mango. But it does not by any means belong in salsa. It's good in a mango lasi though. That's a drink from India. I'm not sure I'm spelling it right. It's sort of a smoothie with mango and milk and probably some sugar because they are very sweet. I'm not sure it has sugar though, because mangos are naturally pretty sweet, but I'm pretty sure that when you get a young coconut in a Tai restaurant, they put sugar in it to make the milk sweeter. I just don't think coconut's are naturally that sweet.

When I was a kid in Venezuela, I remember someone giving me a piece of sugar cane one time and I loved it. For a year afterward, every time I would see bamboo, I'd chew on it, hoping it was sugar cane. Lots of disappointment in that series of experiments I can tell you. I sometimes wonder if that experience contributed to my pessimistic attitudes. Not that I'm unusually pessimistic, but I do tend to expect the worst. Not that expecting the worst is a bad thing, it keeps you prepared, and it makes you happy when the worst doesn't happen.

Well, gee, I'm staring to ramble here, so I think it's time to cut this short. No one likes to read long, rambling, repetitive posts, and sometimes you even feel betrayed by a blogger who would do that to you. Well, at least I don't think many people enjoy reading those kinds of posts so I won't subject you to one here. Although if you do enjoy long, rambling repetitive posts then I think you should come out of the closet and admit it. Use my comment section if you like, I promise to be non-judgmental as long as you don't endorse grotesque horrors like fruit on pizza or in salsas. And please don't bring up that silly canard about tomatoes being a fruit. I'm not using the word in the botanical sense, I'm using the word in the comestical sense, and in that sense if it isn't sweet it isn't a fruit. And if it's hard it's a nut even if it isn't exactly the correct sex organ to be called a nut. And by the way, I don't think it's entirely necessary to be referring to plant sex organs and implying that my hay fever is an allergy to plants having sex. That's really gross.

So, I have a lot more to say about this issue, but I think the post is long enough and I'll end it here. Bye for now. And try to avoid those obnoxious blogs with long, rambling, repetitive posts because they will just annoy you and waste your time.

messed up

I'm finally getting on-line from home and I decided to try using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox since I have Norton Internet Security which does a lot of the things I originally used Firefox for. But I find I can't get along without tabbed browsing so I guess I'm going to have to install Firefox.

While using Internet Explorer though, I noticed that the formatting for the Bear Flag box is all messed up. It gets moved to the bottom of the page instead of staying over in the right margin where it belongs. Do you other poor benighted Explorer users see that?