Why I Won’t Be Seeing Fahrenheit 9/11

I was going to write something about how, even though I think in retrospect I was stupid to assume the Bush administration knew anything about Iraq that your average PoliSci undergrad didn’t, I’m not going to bother to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

However, my favorite movie critic has done it for me, and said it better than I would have.

The key line is this:

Two Fingers for Fahrenheit 9/11. I hate Bush, but I have better reasons than this.


TSA Learns NOTHING from 9/11

This entry in the Washington Times about flight attendants still being trained to submit to hijackers has made me more angry than anything I’ve seen in a long time.

Exactly how big of an idiot do you have to be to realize that the risk/reward ratio for resisting hijackers has changed forever to the side of reward? The reward is: possibly living. The risk is: possibly dying. The risk of doing nothing is almost certainly dying, and the benefit is, you may get to live until your plane is used as a murder weapon for people on the ground.

This, if for no other reason, is why I’m a libertarian. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a government to tell that child to allow people to murder him and others.

This is morally, rationally, ethically, and even aesthetically indefensible. The only moral framework from which this can be argued is pacifism (which I view as immoral, as it basically aids and abets murder by not opposing it in any meaningful way), and I highly doubt the same government who will try to throw you in jail for “embarrassing” them or invades the nation of Iraq because they didn’t like the cut of their leader’s jib is operating on the principle of pacifism.

Remember, if you’re for nationalized health care, you want the same decision-making quality that went into the TSA in charge of your cancer treatment: “It’s best not to treat cancer because there are nasty side-effects.”

Camino 0.8 Is Out

My default browser at home (at work I now use Firefox for its Web Developer toolbar), Camino, has just hit the 0.8 release. I’m using it and it’s faster than Firefox and quite stable. Plus it has a nifty “tabgroup” setting for toolbar folders that is more useful than the click->hold->scroll->’Open in Tabs’ function in Mozilla/Firefox.

Congrats to the Camino team.

An Open Letter from Paul Wolfowitz to the Beheaders

Thank you.

No, really. I mean it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Things were starting to look bad there for a while, what with Spain leaving what little of a coalition we had and John Kerry gaining in the polls. I thought I might have to move to Russia to institute the kind of foreign policy I dream of.

But you’ve saved me.

Every time you lop off a head, you make people that much more unsure they want to object to unilateral action against you people. Even if we’re not getting anything done, we can be seen to be Doing Something, and every beheading makes Abu Ghraib a little less bad by comparison.

So please, I beg of you, keep it up. I don’t want to have to move to Russia, because it’s so full of damn dirty Slavs and other untermenschen.

Your pal in conflict and big budgets,

Ouch. Ouch Ouch Ouch.

So my illustrious friend and coworker Oscar is getting married on Saturday, so last night I went to my first-ever bachelor party. For some reason, every wedding I’ve been associated with has been through the female, and, well, I haven’t been invited to any bachelorette parties. And that’s just OK.

Even though it was pretty tame by bachelor party standards (yes, Staci, it was entirely inoffensive–PG 13 for occasional strong language and drug references), I do have the hurt on this morning. I prepped myself well with plenty of water but failed to keep up the non-alcohol drinking during the event.

I did decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and cowardice the better part of discretion, and valiantly chickened out of the (rather large) shots after two rounds, continuing on with my beloved Boddington’s.

After my share of the nearly-$600-bill, I called it a night. The metro was still running and it seemed a good time to acknowledge that I’m not 22 anymore.

I do vaguely remember arguing with some overweight chick in a blue dress that, despite whatever rhetoric she may have about their contribution to society, going to law school made her a future lawyer, which made her evil. Hint: if you can’t out-argue an inebriated layperson, as I was somewhat pejoratively described, that you are not in fact evil…well, you may not be the best at being evil.

I do recall vaguely saying goodbye to Oscar and telling the woman, who was standing next to him, “Good luck with the evil!” on my way out.

Yep. Kinda drunk.

Kinda hurts this morning. Probably the God of Lawyers’s wrath for picking on the weaker members of the herd. But they were slow and stupid, which is why we have wolves and other large predators. It’s all part of the Circle of Pain.

A bit beautiful, really.

And, like most beauty, it leaves a pounding headache the next morning.

This post dedicated to Ginger, who likes this sort of thing much better than my boring political or Web development rants.

Why I Ditched Salon from My RSS Aggregator

No, it wasn’t the extremely self-involved whiny “think pieces” from the factory-like Salon™ writing workshops that they release upon the planet like a plague of bombastic locusts. No, it wasn’t the fact that it’s the Fox News of the Left. The former I can avoid, the latter is a useful check on the Fox News of the right.

It’s the fact that their RSS feed really, really sucks.

Salon insist on posting only titles to over half their newsfeed items. Now I realize they famously have problems staying afloat (I guess after public radio and television, the Fox News of the Left for radio and TV, respectively, the $100K/yr set is used to letting other people pay for their entertainment, and why not? Soak the poor!), but hint to the lefties who never took anything other than Keynesian macroeconomics, focusing exclusively on how government spending is a magical cure-all: in order for me to buy something, you have to give me a reason why I should even look at it, let alone see Yet Another Salon Workshops Ad to view your word-for-word transcript of the AP newswire.

I’m sorry, but your headline writers are not the Frickin’ Geniuses they clearly think they are. They only do what headline writers are supposed to do, get me to click the entry to see if the article is worth reading. However, I’m then presented with another screen that simply restates the title, as if it’s making the Emperor’s New Clothes argument: if I were Truly Enlightened, I wouldn’t need to question the authority of my betters at Salon (they of the most annoyingly-titled feature in the world, the “Xday Must Reads”–making even Rush Limbaugh look humble). I would just Read It. Cover to End of the Web.

I’m also ditching Macslash, for the exact same reason. They just don’t have the smug attitude, hence they get less vitriol, just a simple ‘no thanks’ from me.

Lech Walesa vs. George W. Bush

In his blog post about Poles liking Ronald Reagan more than we do, Tyler Cowen writes:

The irony is that Lech Walesa, author of these words, remains far more popular in the United States than in his native Poland. Taxi drivers told us that the Poles “hated” Walesa, even though we regard him as a hero for world freedom.

His taxi driver was partially right–Poles felt a much magnified version of what most educated people feel about George W. Bush, in terms of speech, education, and intelligence. Unlike Bush, Walesa came by it honestly. It’s ironic that only in the fall of communism did the working class actually take power anywhere in Central or Eastern Europe.

Walesa’s speech combined the accent of Bill Clinton with the grammatical, um, innovations of Bush, though maybe not as unintelligible as your usual MTV rapper. He tried to quote a famous Polish saying that translates to “I do not want to, but I must,” in regard to his Presidential ambitions in 95. Unfortunately, he used the wrong verb form, so it came out sounding like “I ain’t wanna, but I gots to.” In fact, when living in Poland at the time, I bought a t-shirt that would read in English: “I ain’t wanna, but I gots to GO TO SCHOOL.”

The Poles can be weirdly snobbish, especially about language. My theory is that since national identity in that part of the world is closely tied to language, there is an expectation that linguistic ability is part of legitimacy in the ruling class. They’re thrilled when you learn a little bit of Polish; but once you get partially fluent they seem to think you a bit dim, since you’re not well-spoken.

The degree of dislike of Walesa is a function of geography. Political attitudes in Poland map fairly well to which country ruled that part in the Partition of Poland. The Austro-Hungarian south leans right, the Russian east goes left, and the Prussian northwest is the swing state, so to speak. However, the area around Krakow is considered a bit toffee-nosed, so they, while liking his party (or the tens of “sofa parties”–parties in which the members could all fit on a sofa–that took its place after it collapsed), were a bit embarrassed by Walesa.

I like the guy, though I’ve never met him–I suspect however that it’s a fairly American rags-to-riches story, for which we have a greater cultural appreciation.

Conservatives and the Government Impulse

Looks like I made my comments about modern conservatives being a bunch of dirty statists none too soon. Senator Rick Santorum is enabling religious types to ‘take advantage’ of their freedom to practice whatever religion they want, whenever they want, however they want, and on anybody else’s clock through an expansion of government regulation.

The text of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act makes it sound as though it’s mostly about religious clothing or taking off religious holidays, but the ACLU worries its vague wording would force employers to countenance proselytizing on the job or even employee refusal to work with gay or female clients or colleagues.

Interesting side note: Santorum’s joined in sponsoring this one by Senators Clinton and John Kerry (the sponsor of a previous version of the bill in the late 90s).

To paraphrase Hannibal Smith, “I love it when a red-brown coalition comes together.”

Election Day (extremely) Redux

So I did my bit to fend off the Visigoths today at my local polling place, and I’m afraid things don’t look good for Andy Rosenberg, challenger to Jim Moran, the incumbent possible anti-semite and generally embarrassing guy, about whom the best I can say is that he voted to stop the DEA from raiding paralyzed people who use marijuana medically. However he also got into a fight with an eight-year-old, so…

Anyway, turnout was low…really low. I suspect this works in Moran’s favor, especially if the ratio of lawn signs in my neighborhood is any indication.

This was my second opportunity to see the newfangled voting machines that Alexandria uses in operation. It was the same as last time, but I noticed that they only had a limited amount of space on the confirmation screen to show who you voted for, so I suddenly thought I was voting for “Andrew Rose” and had to go back and check.

Once again, there was no paper confirmation system. This is a sticking point for me…when something is so ill designed that they haven’t even thought of names longer than “George Bush” in their confirmation screens (they had plenty of space left over, so it wasn’t a technical limitation), I would feel a lot more comfortable if a paper trail were available to spot-check against the machine totals.

I’m all for technology, but I’m not for stupid, insecure technology(…and thankfully Apple just released a fix for their vulnerability so I’m free to get in a dig at Microsoft here).

Consider doing as I did and sign the petition in support of requiring paper trails for every electronic voting machines. Really, if they’re so good, the companies manufacturing these things have nothing to worry about.