Archive for May, 2004

Several weeks ago my father sent me an allegedly humorous list of “Things You Have to Believe to be a Republican”. I figured turnabout would be fair play, and since this kind of political humor is invariably symmetrical I looked for the equivalent list targetting Democrats so I could mail it back to him. Sadly, the anti-Democrat version is of significantly poorer quality.

Most of the items on the anti-Republican list are of the form “You have to believe A and B”, where there is some sort of seeming contradiction between A and B. The list is trying to identify internal inconsistencies in Republican ideology, which should make any intellectually honest person at least a little uncomfortable. The anti-Democrat list has some entries like that, but too much of its content is of the form “You have to believe A” where A is a belief that is just widely considered absurd within the conservative movement.

The anti-Republican list is aimed at the center. It is a kind of outreach. The anti-Democrat list is aimed at Republicans. It is preaching to the choir.

So, I decided to write up my own version. I’m willing to take additional entries.

Things Democrats Believe

  1. People who use drugs deserve compassion and understanding — unless their drug of choice is tobacco.
  2. Children can be exposed to years of violent and sexually-explicit imagery in popular culture with no ill effects, but an adult who is exposed to a racially insensitive remark is emotionally scarred for life.
  3. Banning abortions will only drive them underground, but banning guns will make them disappear.
  4. Teaching children about safe sex in school will make them sexually responsible, but teaching children about safe gun handling in school would make them violent killers.
  5. The Enron accounting scandal is an indictment of free markets as such, but UNSCAM is no big deal.
  6. An unemployment rate of 5.6% during the Clinton administration was unusually low, but an unemployment rate of 5.6% during the Bush administration is unusually high.
  7. Successful government programs should be praised and publicized — unless the program is welfare reform.
  8. A work of art portraying Jesus submersed in urine is daring and avant garde, but a work of art portraying Mohammad submersed in urine would be bigoted and hateful.
  9. George Bush invaded Iraq for the oil, but the many profiteers from the oil-for-food program opposed the war out of principle.
  10. Janet Jackson’s breast is protected by the First Amendment, but political advocacy ads are not.
  11. Scientists and engineers can’t build a safe nuclear reactor, but global warming activists can accurately predict the weather.
  12. Education should be value-neutral, except for values like multiculturalism and environmentalism.
  13. We need to move beyond 9/11, so we can get back to obsessing over Vietnam.
  14. The Second Amendment does not protect the right to keep and bear arms, but the Fourteenth Amendment mandates race preferences.
  15. Fetuses do not have rights, but animals do.
  16. Parents should have a choice over whether their children are born, but not what school they attend.
  17. American corporations outsourcing jobs to poor foreign workers is bad; taxing American corporations and sending money to foreign dictators who promise to give it to poor foreigners, but actually squirrel it away in Swiss bank accounts, is good.

A week or so ago I got a letter from my alma mater informing me that a hacker had broken into one of their computers that contained some of my private data (birthdate, social security number, etc) — the raw materials necessary for identity theft. (Thanks a lot, guys. As if I didn’t dislike you enough for being a bunch of gutless left-wing appeasing weasels. But I digress.) They recommended placing a fraud alert on my credit records as a precaution, which I did. This resulted in my getting copies of my credit report from the three different reporting agencies so I could check them for bogus entries.

The bad news is I found a bogus credit account in one of the reports. The good news is that it was opened in 1967. (For those of you keeping track at home, I was -4 years old at the time, and I’ve never lived in Arizona, so I’m pretty sure the loan wasn’t mine.) So tomorrow I get to call the agency and get this turd purged from my credit history.

Institutions like credit bureaus make me sympathetic to the otherwise bletcherous concept of the “stakeholder”. These companies compile information whose accuracy has a major effect on the lives of individual people. Problems on your credit report can prevent you from buying a car or house, getting a credit card or even a job. But because the reporting agencies don’t derive their income from the individuals whose credit they track, they don’t have an economic incentive to correct errors in individual cases. They’ll only suffer if their records get so bad that the information they provide cause banks and other major financial institutions to make systematically poor lending decisions; as long as the error level stays below a dull roar, there’s little incentive to clean things up. And to make it worse, there’s another economic incentive to err on the side of caution, in that a loan unfairly rejected doesn’t look as bad on a bank’s balance sheet as a default from a loan unwisely extended.

I have a stake in the accuracy of my credit report. But I’m not a customer of the credit agency, so my leverage with them is very limited. Governments pass laws to try to balance this out, but laws can only help so much when the economic incentives push for minimal compliance.

On the other hand, a credit reporting agency that was economically beholden to the people it was reporting on would suffer different incentives to distort their records in other ways. So I’m not sure what the right solution is.

What I do know is that I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s phone call. (Just watch, though… now that I’ve ranted about this I’ll probably have a short and pleasant customer service experience.)

Oh, and the next time the alumni association calls and asks for a donation, they get nothing.

Al Gore has gone completely off the deep end:

Raising his voice to a yell in a speech at New York University, Gore said: ”How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace! How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein’s torture prison!”

”Donald Rumsfeld ought to resign immediately!” Gore bellowed. ”Our nation is at risk every single day Rumsfeld remains as secretary of defense. We need someone with good judgment and common sense.”

Rice ”ought to resign immediately. She has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy. This is a disaster for our country,” he said.

Is anybody actually listening to this guy? Every time I hear about him these days, he seems to be yelling into a vacuum. That’s just as well, since he never says anything worth listening to. The fact that he’s using that disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” as a springboard to talk about the dangers of global warming is causing even some of his fans to roll their eyes.

Jim Dyke of the Republican National Committee sounds a little bemused that he even has to comment on this:

”Al Gore’s attacks on the president today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror or he has amnesia[.]”

Dyke very manfully refrains from adding, “or he’s completely fucking insane and makes John Kerry look like a moderate.”

Gore’s rabid environmentalism is not news — he’s been like this for years but managed to somehow keep it mostly off the radar of the general public. His vitriol for the Bush Administration, however, can’t help but strike me as a very personal hatred that is probably rooted in his failed bid for the presidency in the 2000 election.

Pathetic. This guy needs to get a calmer hobby before he pops something.

UPDATE: Junkyard Blog has created a wonderful webad using material from Gore’s speech. 2.3 MB .avi – dialup beware. Outstanding work, gentlemen. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Whittle.

Sometimes corporate marketing drones think up things for which there are no words.

Raisins joke in 5…4…3…

Thanks to Sekimori for this investigative journalism. Via Instapundit.

Yesterday, I came out to my car to go home from work and discovered someone had splashed something nasty on the driver’s side window. Tried cleaning it off with Windex and a napkin and that just made it worse. And it smelled foul.

Went to the gas station to clean it off more thoroughly. It was a considerable amount, like maybe someone had taken a cup of coffee or soup and chucked it at the glass. A little bit of oversplash on the roof and body, yellowish in color.

After pondering the crime scene, how the stuff was applied, its apparent texture, color, and smell (ugh), I have decided that it’s pee.

Someone urinated on my car.

I’m still pondering the motive for this. Unlikely that it’s the car itself. A 12-year-old Lexus doesn’t draw that much ire in a garage full of BMWs, Mercedes, and Porsches. So it must be the Bush/Cheney ’04 sticker on my back window. That would be consistent with the political climate here.

However, as I am interested in the academic study of Macroglossius lunarius, aka the “Barking Idiotarian Moonbat”, I feel I should view this with the aim of adding to the body of knowledge concerning this highly varied species.

INDC Journal has been most helpful with their Science Series concerning seasonal moonbat migration in Washington DC, and their photo blogs of this important event are quite interesting.

I think that this incident with my car may represent a close encounter with the elusive Macroglossius lunarius incontinentis, or Peeing Moonbat. This species has never been successfully identified in photographs, due to the secretive nature of its namesake habit, and has never been “caught in the act”, so to speak. It is likely, however, that they strongly resemble other moonbat species enough that they blend in, and may be mistaken for more common varieties.

This urinary marking behavior is believed to be a passive-aggressive expression of contempt and anger toward non-Moonbats, usually in response to some sort of conservative political declaration. The Peeing Moonbat is cowardly by nature, and will never directly confront the object of their wrath. Instead, they mark some material possession, typically a vehicle, presumably with the intent of disgusting the owner. This may also be a method of scent-marking to allow ready identification by other Moonbats, but this has yet to be proven.

I had, of course, anticipated this sort of “attractive nuisance”, and placed a Glock sticker on my car as well. It does not seem to have deterred the Moonbat, perhaps because it was on the other side of the vehicle and the Moonbat didn’t see it.

Has anyone else had an encounter with this species? I’m curious to see if the M.O. is the same in other instances.

Doc Rampage has some important stuff to say about the terrorism, rape, and murder that’s going on — in the Sudan. Arab militiamen are waging all-out genocide on the black Muslims in their region. Women are raped to death. Entire villages are starved, tortured, or killed outright. Doc Rampage asks:

Where is the coverage? Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for resignations in the UN? Where are the damn photos? This is a true news story. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are suffering and dying from the deliberate depredations of a sadistic militia. The government of Sudan is either helping, or condoning. The UN is doing nothing more than registering mild objections.

Clearly the UN doesn’t care. They only care about maintaining the status quo where they get to live lavish lifestyles and take graft while being acclaimed the great hope of the world. Clearly the American news media doesn’t care. They only get riled up about atrocities (or minor abuse) when it can be used as a stick to beat a Republican president.

This stuff going on in the Sudan isn’t new. It’s an ongoing crisis in a country that only exists because the rest of the world recognizes its borders. It is a lawless, anarchist land with no government to speak of (and what there is, is military elite and Islamists), ruled by petty thugs and monsters like these militiamen. Islamic law is the law of the land. Sudan has been embroiled in civil war almost continuously since 1956, when it gained independence from the UK. War and famine have killed more than 2 million people since 1983, and rendered 4 million homeless.

So one must ask, what’s the United Nations been doing down there all this time? Twiddling their thumbs? That would be bad enough. But no, they’re stealing the money that comes through as humanitarian aid and lining their own pockets (and mansions and vacations and private planes) with it. As a result, millions of people who desperately need assistance are not getting it.

Go ahead and do the math there. Go on. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, UN corruption is directly murdering large numbers of people in the Sudan.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we kick the UN out of New York, and build them a brand new, shiny, HQ right in the middle of Khartoum. Let’s see how long they last when forced to confront the problems in the Sudan.

My guess is they won’t last long. Their building in Baghdad was bombed and they all scattered like spooked pigeons. In Khartoum they will either be hiding in a bomb shelter, or dead, inside of a year.

And what is the media talking about? How a few scumbag terrorists in Abu Graib had to stand around naked with bags on their heads and be humiliated because they were being “treated like women”. Oh the horror.

You know what? Fuck ’em. There are way more important things going on in the world than the humiliation and discomfort of a few terrorists being abused by a few American soldiers (who are going to all wind up in the stockade, and justly so, because we are Americans goddammit and we don’t act like that).

What matters? What sticks in my mind? Nick Berg having his neck sawed through while he’s conscious and aware, screaming. 27-year-old Zahara in the Sudan being raped until she died, while her husband was forced to watch. Islamists dancing in the streets on 9-11. Journalists who want to see us fail in Iraq, who want people to die if it means Bush won’t get reelected.

This is sick. Beyond obscene.

Vote November as if your life depends on it.

Thanks to MiiPandaa on Fark.com, we now have the following amusing term which I intend to use as appropriate when discussing moonbats:

“Weapons grade obliviousness to reality.”

Like many skeptics, I have always been interested in natural explanations for UFO phenomena. I am open to the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation, but I’ve read about enough weird natural stuff that I believe natural explanations should be pursued first, and as rigorously as possible.

This film shot in Mexico by the Mexican Air Force was released recently. It is a very rare example of a governmental agency not only having shot the footage, but backing its existence as genuine (whatever the explanation behind it). This lends important credibility concerning the source and authenticity of the film.

I am certainly not an expert on film analysis, but this is some of the most intriguing footage I’ve seen in a while.

Apparently the objects were visible and filmed in infrared. It’s unclear whether they were visible to the naked eye, but if not then there is at least an implication of some kind of thermal phenomenon. The pilots stated that the objects surrounded and followed them during a routine patrol, and when chased responded to the jets’ attention. Only three of the objects observed were visible on radar.

I’ll be curious to see the results of any detailed digital enhancement and analysis of the images.

As to natural phenomena that might be responsible for this, I only have a few thoughts. I’m not a physicist or any kind of expert in atmospheric science. Ball lightning, while definitely peculiar, doesn’t behave the way this film shows. The UFOs seem to be very coordinated and they move in steady paths like aircraft. The lack of a radar signature could indicate some sort of energy presence rather than material, or something in a state of material flux, such as plasma (back to the ball lightning again).

I know of no weather phenomena that behave like this. One would suppose that any aircraft in the vicinity would be acknowledged by their government. As to spy craft, who wants to spy on the Mexican jungle? Can’t be that interesting. Such craft would be visible on radar unless stealthed, and currently I believe that only the United States has stealth technology. Even so, stealth craft are not invisible. They just have a very low profile. But if you sent spy planes out over Mexico, why would you send a bunch of them? Why not just one?

So I’m pretty stumped by this. If anyone has opinions, of course I’d love to hear them.


A commenter on the WMD post provided a link to some very disturbing photographs of alleged rape of Iraqi women by American soldiers. The top selection of pictures you will recognize as those involving an investigation into Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski and those under her command.

Scroll down, however, and there is another set of photographs that Albasrah alleges to have received from a reader (caution: sexually explicit photographs, not safe for work):

The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos (UPDATE: This link is broken now, as the site appears to have been taken down. The pictures are spread out in various locations in the internet but I will see if I can find another link for them).

I have two immediate gut reactions to these pictures:

1. If they are real, the people responsible should be court-martialed and executed.

2. Albasrah may have a vested interest in faking such information to make the U.S. look bad.

Rather than discuss the possible truth of these pictures, let me discuss what I notice about them that makes me believe they are fake (excluding the bottom two, which I think are probably real):

1. Blurry images
Most of these pictures are taken at a close range, yet they are out of focus. Getting past the question of why soldiers would be stupid enough to take pictures of stuff like this (we’ve already established that Brigadier-General Karpinski’s soldiers were), I have to ask why are they blurry? To disguise the ethnicity of the soldiers? Bad quality camera? Karpinski’s pictures were sharp and clear.

The soldiers do sort of hide their faces in some of the pics, but in others, their features are blurred out just enough to make ethnicity uncertain. Also, in some of the pics where their faces are not covered, they are wearing camo face paint to further disguise their features.

And is it just me, or does the woman in picture 5 look rather, um, Asian to be an Iraqi pow?

2. “Porno Film” body language
I’ve watched a fair bit of commercial porno in my time, as well as some “amateur” porno done by people who aren’t experienced. The commercial stuff has some hallmarks, particularly in the way the actors position their bodies for the benefit of the camera.

Notice in picture 3 how the man on the far right has his body angled slightly toward the camera, one hand on the woman’s rump and the other arm pulled back out of the way. That’s not a natural body position for sexual intercourse. It is, however, very typical of staged pornography, in order to give the camera the best view of the action. Picture 4 shows a little of this, too. I can’t really explain beyond saying that the man on the right, who appears to be the same one as the man discussed in picture 3, is exhibiting what one might call “porno actor’s stance”.

In picture 8, two of the men have removed their trousers entirely, but are still wearing their boots and socks. Huh? That seems pretty awkward to do when they could just shove their pants down to get them out of the way. It is, however, a common feature of porno films intended to preserve the military “fetish” look of the boots.

And finally, in picture 9, the man on the far left has his body angled back toward the camera to give a nice view of the penetration, and has considerately moved his arm back out of the way in the classic “hand on hip” pose common in porno.

3. “Comfort” trappings for the “victim”
Notice in that pictures where the woman is kneeling or lying on the ground, that there is a blanket neatly spread out there for her comfort. That’s something unobtrusive that is commonly done in porno films, but it seems rather odd for these cruel rapists to have gone to such trouble.

4. Generic uniforms
The men are wearing camouflage fatigues, but if you look closely, they are completely generic. There are no patches, no markings, no flag or other identifying insignia that American uniforms (or probably any country’s uniforms) would have on them.

Come to that, these guys are all wearing forest and jungle camo. In Iraq? Dude, we all know that our soldiers over there are wearing the desert camo pattern. It’s visible in the last 2 pictures (which are probably real, unfortunately) and all the images sent to us by the media. What kind of idiot wears green jungle camo in a pale tan desert environment? Also, they’re not wearing helmets. I guess the folks staging the pictures couldn’t find any that looked real.

That gun in picture 8 doesn’t look like any of the issued military weapons I’ve seen in pictures of our soldiers. It definitely doesn’t look like an M-16.

So, in conclusion, I call bullshit on pictures 1-9 in that second set. Those are fake as hell, and not very good fakes either.

UPDATE 8/23/04: Just so people know, requests to “send me all these pics plz” will not be honored. I’m not going to email them to you. When I finally put them up they will not be capturable or downloadable. I’m not interested in helping you with your fetish, or providing ammo to the America-haters.