log (2003/03/07 to 2003/03/13)

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Thursday, March 13, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

calves land and home a face
more art lower right a kiss

Wednesday, March 12, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Q: Ari, two questions on Iraq. In response to an earlier question, you said the President still hopes to avoid war, and that Saddam Hussein could avoid it by completely and totally disarming, and by going into exile. I'm wondering, are you -- is that now the standard? Previously, you've obviously said disarmament. But is it now the combination of disarmament and exile?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think the President made it perfectly plain yesterday in the Oval Office and he has said this repeatedly, it's disarmament and regime change.

"Our chief goal is disarmament... disarmament and regime change... regime change and disarmament... Our two goals are disarmament and regime change... and a source of cheap oil.... Our three... no... Amongst our goals... Amongst... are such elements as disarmament, regime change -- I'll come in again."

Various people including Steve have been heartened by this piece, which claims that even Pappy has been getting on Dubya's case:

The first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity...

He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany.

This would be cool; unfortunately, Calpundit rather throws a wet blanket on things by pointing out a different article about the same speech that interprets the words in almost exactly the opposite sense. Anybody got a full transcript? Probably not.

More Bush Behaving Badly, seen on Geegaw: now he's even threatening Mexico. Words continue to fail; was he off-script again, or does someone in the administration think that this kind of thing is actually a good idea?

And seen on Medley,

7. The White House asked if President Bush could address the European Parliament, Baroness Williams revealed on BBC One's This Week show on Thursday. But, she said, Euro-MPs were told there was a condition attached to him making the speech: a standing ovation should be guaranteed. The speech has never taken place.

This one sounds rather Urban Legendary to me, although here's another place on the Web with the same story.

So I've bravely allowed myself to drift into politics again. On that topic, amptoons has pointed us at a "Which Political Stereotype Are You?" quiz.

I hafta say I don't think it's a very good quiz; if you check any answer that mentions the environment at all, you get labelled Ralph Nader (ick!), and if you avoid those and still check something that mentions defense, you're Ronald Reagan (ick! ick!). It took me three tries to get to the first thing I could believe: "Libertarian: Thomas Jefferson". (I never did get E. V. Debs, which was sort of disappointing; I also think he's cool.)

Fiddling a little more (as a sometime Left Libertarian, for instance, I'm torn in answering "the goods of society are best distributed through", between "a free market with taxes for a few things like national defense" and "numerous small autonomous collectives", since I'd love to see numerous small autonomous collectives arise in a free market economy; in general the quiz doesn't let me say "by the freely chosen actions of individuals, restrained only from force or fraud" nearly often enough), I came out with "Anarchist: Naom Chomsky".

Now I'd never thought of Chomsky as an anarchist before, so I looked around the Web a bit, and came up with a couple of interesting Chomsky quotes:

"The basic anarchist idea is that any system of authority has to prove its legitimacy: if it can't prove its legitimacy then it ought to be eliminated. Occasionally a system of authority can justify itself. If it can't, and it's important enough, well, you have to undermine it. How you do so depends on the situation."

"Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas."

Not exactly my simplistic "no government" notion of anarchism. Don't the U. S. founding fathers come out as anarchists under this notion? All that "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it" stuff.

But I suppose that's okay. "A government founded by anarchists" has a nice ring to it.

From here to kuro5hin to "It pays to be tough on drugs": a piece about how an anti-drug campaign in Australia actually seems to be working. One quote:

The naysayers cite America's prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s as the great failure which proves prohibition of drugs is doomed. But alcohol use did fall significantly in the US during prohibition, as did cirrhosis. Suicide rates dropped by 50 per cent, as did alcohol-related arrests, according to US drug policy resource, the Schaffer Library.

Interesting revisionism; so Prohibition wasn't really so bad? There was that whole "rampant growth of organized crime syndicates" thing and all.

One of the kuro5hin comments points to a number of sites presenting "the other side of the story". Truth is left as an exercise to the reader.

Done with politics! Now it's the Spam Subject Line o' the Week:

Jetzt bei karstadt.de: Gunstige Fluge & Last Minute Angebote!

What's English for "Last Minute"?

Remember Broken Koans? Those were fun.

Speaking of the past, I like this Alamut idea:

So here is my new plan: I propose, for the next five years, in addition to recording my current attention, to read and elaborate upon the entries of the last five years on a day by day basis.

If it's worthwhile doing once it's worthwhile doing again.

And finally, indirectly via Judith: "alien: about an alien who shared his name with a skin disease". Read and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Open Mike Incident o' the Week (the mike was only open to the remote sites, not to the auditorium where the speaker was actually standing, so he may never have realized; at one remote site, at least, it came out really loud): "No four-letter words; you can't say 'fuck' or anything."

Those annoying spinny gears again

Can Jesus be called Shiva?

An interesting question! The obvious identification would be Jesus and Vishnu (Savior and Preserver) rather than Shiva (Destroyer). But identifying Jesus with the destroyer fits with a more radical vision, where Shiva is the destroyer of an old life that is transcended, of a false reality that is escaped, of a bland complacency that does not fulfill.

I love the practice of personifying parts of, aspects of, the universe. It's a good way to build a religion. Tarot cards are fun that way, too.

Just as long as you don't take it too seriously, or convince yourself that your personifications disapprove of certain actions, or that people who don't use the same personifications are deluded or evil, or anything silly like that.

Our readers write! We're just too lazy to post their words.

Hardly ever:

swear a big big D

Jim-jilly winny-binny glum, rim-rilly watanabi periodic scum, frim-frilly ookie-moogie highly trantic fun.

do I see animated gifs, because I disable the damn things!

And on the subject of RSS feeds:

No Mr Chess! RSS is nice and sweet and FeedReader tells me when you update your diary, or any news in my software world happens... couldn't live without it (plus the Moreover news feeds are very handy for finding out what Mr I-know-history-will-show-I'm-right-Blair is professing these days.


I can often explain what others consider the vagueries of daily existence. It's not just that I am privy to certain insights, or that I have channels of information that others lack. It's that my brain can sense the connections that are hidden to others. Today, a man, looking in a shop window, muttered "Seven of these" as I passed. Do you see? I knew just what he meant.

And of course:

iris chacon

"The President reminded the allies that since the Turkish legislature had turned down the U.S.'s request to base troops there for an Iraq attack, 'Turkey's $30 billion in prize money remains unclaimed.'"

Some fun and topical art (I especially like the Infringement series).

Okay, so everyone's seen the latest mind-reading trick by now (one of my neighbors "called" me on the "telephone" last night for an explanation). The deeper puzzle, though: who the heck has the time to make something like this? Vast amounts of design effort must have gone into all the artful little symbols and the crystal ball and everything. I guess a graphic designer teaching emself Flash could sensibly have spent the time.

(Or maybe some people just have "free time"; I've heard a rumor that such a thing exists.)

"Nobody is fooled by all this talk of theft and piracy."

Monday, March 10, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Is it just me, or is non-ironic use of the word "proverbial" a high-quality indicator of cluelessness?

I was just reading a document, and in that document it said that some particular thing or other had become "the proverbial ball and chain" of something or other else. Now of course everyone knows what the writer meant.

But what's the proverb about the ball and chain?

I don't know any proverbs about a ball and chain.

The writer could have wroted "the metaphorical ball and chain", and that would have been kinda funny, in an obvious PoMo way (sort of like using "wroted" as the past tense of "write"). But the most bestest thing would have been simply to write (to simply write) that the one thing had become "the ball and chain" of the other thing, with no self-conscious "hey, look, I'm being metaphorical here, just in case you didn't notice; don't want anyone to think that I mean a real ball and chain, all iron and heavy and probably a violation of OSHA regulations or anything".

Curmudge, curmudge...

Sunday, March 9, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Quail frowned at the stranger, his eyes squinting, and his heavy mouth twisted. He reached one arm around the tatooed girl sitting on the log beside him and pulled her over, the back of her head against his chest, one meaty hand holding her chin.

His other hand still held the knife.

"All right," he said, showing the stranger his teeth, "so I can't hurt you. But maybe if you tell me what I want to know, I won't hurt her. You don't want me to hurt her, do you?"

There was a breath of wind, and the stranger vanished. Did not back away into the gloom, did not dodge behind a tree, but vanished.

The pitted skin of Quail's face reddened, and he pressed the point of the knife against the girl's neck. A strangled sound came from her throat where his hand, now tense, held her tight.

He threw his head back and shouted up at the stars. "I'll cut her!" he yelled, "Come back or I swear I'll cut her!"

There was only silence.

"I swear it!"

And then with a curse he pushed the girl away and slumped backward against the tree. Quail thought he had seen something on the stranger's face, just before he vanished. Had it been surprise, or fear, or anger? Or just resignation?

"Would you really have cut me, Quail?" the girl asked hoarsely.

He cuffed her casually on the jaw, where an old bruise lay dark under the skin.

"Oh, right," he growled, "like I've never cut you before."

Hm, not a very nice man he turned out to be.

It's funny; I'm sitting here on the couch in the playroom writing in my log, and the little daughter is next to me playing SMACX on the iBook, and she's keeping up a steady stream of commentary and imprecations and singing (right now she's repeating "so evil; so evil; so evil"). And this isn't a problem at all right now, when I'm just nattering on in this voice.

But when I was writing the fragment of fiction above, I found her talking completely distracting, disabling. I had the idea firm in my mind from sometime earlier in the day, but with her next to me here constantly vocalizing, I couldn't put it down in words; I had to run off to the bedroom where it was quiet before I could do it.

So (and this is probably not a surprise to anyone, and I suppose it isn't a surprise to me either, but I'm going to write it down here so it has more of a chance of actually making it into the set of Things that I Know and Don't Forget) it seems that not only are there verbal tasks and verbal states of consciousness, but there are various kinds of verbal tasks and verbal states of consciousness, and they're different in significant ways.

Whaddya know!

Found on kottke: Barbie's own weblog! And it's, like, totally nauseating!

Various referers have been coming in lately from Syndirella, another one o' them-there RSS readers. I really ought to start using one, or write my own, or incorporate a page-update monitor into my toy Swing app, or something like that.

Or I could just read Web pages pretty much at random, like I usually do.

But for people who do use RSSing things, I've added the magical RSS autodiscovery tag to this here page, which means it will probably be on all future log pages. Aren't I a nice modern guy?

(Hm, well, okay, the constant stream of verbiage from my right is perhaps interfering a bit with my ability to think of things to say even in this part of the log entry.)

There were two insights I wanted to write down earlier in the day. One was abstract and sort of frivolous, but I don't remember that one anymore. The other one was about the problem with being nice to people.

On NPR the other week, I heard someone lamenting the fact that a child is born into poverty every forty-seven seconds, and saying that we have to make sure that health insurance is available to all of those children.

Now that's a really nice thought, and given any one of those children, I'd certainly like him or her to have health insurance. But if you actually implement some program that does this for everyone, I would expect that one of the effects you get is that there's now a child born into poverty every forty-two seconds instead. After all, if you don't have to worry about paying for health insurance, that's one less reason not to have another child.

(It occurred to me later that another effect might be that some families will avoid being in poverty at all, because they won't have to spend all that money on health insurance or health care. On the other hand, some other families may end up being in poverty, because taxes are higher or more businesses move offshore or fail or whatever. So it's at least plausible that one effect of providing free health insurance to poor children will be more poor children.)

A similar case is the various programs I've heard of where mothers can abandon their newborns at certain hospitals or whatever, without fear of questioning or prosecution; this to reduce the number of newborns abandoned in trash cans or alleyways. Another case where it's good in the small, but arguably questionable in the large (in the long term there may be significantly more unwanted babies born, since everyone knows that the State will take care of it if you decide you don't want to).

What's the right thing to do when actions that are good in the small are likely to have bad consequences in the large? I don't know what the answer is. And maybe it's the case that in the long long run the things that are good in the small turn out to be good in the large also; those kids who grow up healthier may be more productive as adults and contribute to their communities and poverty will diminish; those mothers who know there's a safety net under them and their newborns may cope better with life and lead to more good for everyone.

But it'd be nice to know for sure.

So I was listening to the various TV preachers spreading memes about their Imaginary Friend in the Sky this morning, and one of them said "Once you've prayed, consider it done"; meaning that once you've asked the IFITS for something, you should then act as though it had been, or was definitely going to be, granted.

And I thought what a bizarre thing that was to say.

Friday, March 7, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Yeah, I'm feeling quite a bit better tonight. Thanks for asking! *8)

I resolved successfully not to play any Alpha Centauri today, and the little daughter had some little daughter friends over, and M's gone out to a sewing party, and the little boy is over there playing Rock Raiders on the playroom computer, and there's some random CD on the speakers (Nora Jones, I think; interesting comment on our times that the Number One song on the Pop Charts is about female orgasmic dysfunction; how far we have come (so to speak)), and I'm generally in a better mood.

"Early peeks have revealed colorful, transparent screen icons and moving features such as a 3-D, animated music player". Yeah, baby! Just what modern operating systems are missing.

(Hey look, I even have some links tonight. Is that a good sign?)

2002 U.N. Resolutions (including the infamous 1441, which it turns out doesn't actually contain the words "or we'll bomb you back to the Stone Age").

- 3 for "when liquid splashes me none seeps
    through when i am moved a lot liquid i spew w"
- 2 for "iris chacon pictures"
- 2 for "iris chacon pictures vagina"
- 2 for "tanya harding"
- 2 for "tanya harding nude pictures"
- 2 for "turing test"
- 2 for "webcam"
- 1 for "anti allergen pollen dust mites"
- 1 for "harding"
- 1 for "iris"

"Spec takes the next step toward the vision of true smart dust."

So I got the Audible stuff reinstalled on the laptop here, and this morning I was once again able to listen to Susie Bright talking cheerfully about sex.

(This explains that metaphor about ball-gags and handcuffs that I used at the meeting this afternoon, guys. Really.)

So I'm happier, but not much more brilliantly inspired. But that's okay, too! I'll just say Good Night, refer you to an old classic, and wander off.

Good Night!


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