Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Sheya is hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival. If you have ever posted a story on your blog, we'd love to have you enter it in the Carnival.

I've been summoned for a command performance for Ink Magic, so I'll try to get another section done by Friday since the previous one is so short.

Monday, February 06, 2006

who says witch trials don't happen any more?

Don't read this article by Phyllis Schafely unless you are in the mood to get really angry about something.

I should have listened to Patterico

Patterico challenged the Bush-hating commenters at his site to either agree or disagree with one of his other commenters who said that George Bush is a bigger threat to America than Osama bin Laden. This was on the theory that anyone who would not disagree with this sentiment is not rational enough to get into an argument with. (Patterico calls these Bush haters "lefties", but there are plenty of Bush haters that don't seem like leftists).

I should have listened. Then I would not have entered into the pointless exchange I had with blubonnet in the comments to this post. I started out treating the girl as a rational interlocutor, and then she comes out saying that 9/11 was a conspiracy involving the US government and generally acting like a paranoid wacko. I could have saved myself the effort because no one has ever changed the mind of a paranoid wacko with rational argument.

UPDATE: changed blubonnet's gender due to a comment from Dana. Thanks, Dana, and enjoy your pet wacko.

Ink Magic 8


Ink Magic (part 8)

I stared at the screen in shock. The old man was a hoodoo himself. What was going on here?

The skeleton worked methodically as I examined it: a skull elongated front-to-back, an extra shoulder blade below the first to support the extra pair of arms, the four arms with an extra joint and the too-long fingers, the legs arched outwards. It was impossible that this creature could pass for human, absent ... what had my father called it? An encloudment --some sort of illusion or mass hypnosis.

But my tattoo was supposed to make me immune to encloudments. Wasn't that what had started this whole business? The old man had given me a tattoo, thereby breaking the encloudment that kept me from seeing the door. That was why the hoodoo was trying to kill me.

Wasn't it?

The old phone rang and I nearly jumped out of my chair. It rang again and I looked around the room before answering it, trying to tap into the sense that the tattoo gave me. I didn't want to be caught off guard again.

Finally, I answered the phone and said, "I've been expecting you to call."

"These calls aren't as easy as you might think, Steven."

"So, where are you, Dad?"

"I had to leave in order to save your mother and you."

"Well, it looks like we are in danger anyway, so are you going to see Mom?"

"She doesn't want to see me, Steven."

"Of course she does! She still loves you."

"I know, Steven, but she has grieved and moved on. Seeing me would do nothing but open old wounds. Things could never be the same between us. Better to let me stay dead."

I thought about that for a long moment. "In other words, you have remarried."

"And there's that. It wouldn't be fair to my current wife."

"Any new sons?"

"I've had two children since I left you, Steven, but you will always be ..."

"Yeah, yeah, spare me." I interrupted. "I'm not looking for emotional comfort here, I just want to know what's going on."

"Fair enough." I was about to ask more questions, but my father began talking again. "I did some research on the tattoos. There are different kinds of tattoo, but if it can protect you from encloudments, then the tattoo has probably created a link between you and some kind of entity, some kind of mind. This mind would have a rudimentary sort of communication with yours."

"What do you mean, 'some kind of mind'?" I asked. "Do you mean a dark-matter creature?"

"No." he hesitated. "No. Nothing so natural as that, I'm afraid. People who know of these things call them spirits. I'm no longer inclined to argue the matter."

"You mean that you now believe in spirits?" I asked dubiously.

"There are mysteries in the world, Steven, things that I can't explain through science --spirits and magic." He paused for a long moment, but before I could say anything he continued in a subdued voice. "And there are Dark Powers, Steven, evil, malicious, depraved. And very, very powerful."

Well, that got my attention and I waited through another long pause. Finally he continued, "I was once convinced that these spirits and Powers are only the physical, natural denizens of a physical, natural universe, perhaps a dark-matter universe. But now, now, I am leaning toward the hypothesis of supernatural beings: spirits, as well as demons that feed on human pain and suffering. It's funny, isn't it, how when my life was sheltered and the greatest evil I ever saw was pettiness and jealousy, that I believed everything that exists is physical; but now that I have seen pure, stark, raving Evil, only now do I believe in souls. Why are radically evil souls so much more plausible than merely imperfect souls, Steven?"

"Good question, Dad. I'll look it up and get back to you. For now, can we concentrate on these Dark Powers and how they effect me and Mom personally? Not that I want to seem pragmatic or anything."

"You haven't changed a bit, Steven. You always wanted a short, pure answer. You never had any patience with ambiguity or uncertainty."

"Once again, Dad, you are getting off the subject. The subject is Dark Powers and what they can do and why they do it and how I can avoid having it done to me and Mom. I'd really appreciate it if you would stay focused here, Dad."

"All right, all right." I recognized the pause as Dad took a moment to shift his mental gears back to practical matters. "OK, well, shortly after I started getting real results with my graviscope, one of the Dark Powers took an interest in me. These Powers are territorial and the one that holds dominion over the San Francisco Bay area is unusually sensitive about what is going on in his principality.

"One day, when I was home alone, I had a visitor --a minion of the Power of San Francisco. It was a small black man who looked about a hundred years old. Tattoos all over his body. He told me ..."

There was a click and the phone went dead.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

nonspontaneous demonstrations

Milblog has some great posts about the Muslim outrage over the cartoons in the Danish newspapers. Most of the other commentators seem to uncritically accept the idea that these demonstrations are simply the Arab street rising up in outrage over an offense to their religion, but demonstrations are almost never spontaneous. They are organized. Someone has to get the people all there at the same time and all headed in the same direction; and as Jerry points out, someone has to get all the Danish flags.

Then, to make matters even more interesting, he comes up with a speculation about why all this happening now: Denmark about to take the chair of the UN security council.

The Islamists have a history of organizing artificial spontaneous events and western media has a history of falling for it. This is just another kind of asymmetric warfare. Guerrillas tactics, terrorism, riots, bribery, the intimidation of news services, and allying with out-of-power factions among your enemy are all just strategies of making war against a much more powerful opponent.

Events of the last few days demonstrate that the strategy of intimidating news services has worked well. CNN has declined to show the offensive images because if they do, CNN people in Syria, Iran, and other countries would be endangered. CNN has admitted that they let ruthless dictators like Saddam and Castro dictate their coverage. Now it is obvious that they will let any group of thugs who can present a credible threat dictate their coverage.