Saturday, August 05, 2006



According to the wires this morning, scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator are right now in the process of deciphering THE LOST PAMPHLET OF ARCHIMEDES!!

And Da Vinci's secret works are the subject of a new film.

Even still, nowadays it's pretty much just the pancake breakfast.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Folow up on Mel

Somebody replied to my last post on Mel Gibson in the media "this war is the perfection of Mao's treatise on insurgency. and Israel IS fighting a justified war." (see the whole reply under comments--it's very well reasoned).

I should note that I'm not convinced Isreal acted with disproportionate forceL and even if they did, they are in the middle of a shooting war now and have to do something. My first reaction when I heard about the killings and kidnappings was "Dammit! What would happen if Isreal just adopted Sherman's policy and marched to the sea buring everything in their path?" Yes, that's anger talking, but sometimes Anger is not so bad a thing.

The other day a friend of mine who is Jewish and very pro-isreal posted on his livejournal blog a scene from the West Wing in which Preisdent Bartlet, angry that a friend of his had been killed by terrorists, when offered choices for a proportional response demanded "what about a disproportionate response?" suggesting that if you kill one American it should bring down the wrath of heaven upon you. In the end, of course, Bartlet launches a proportionate attack agaisnt Syria.

That's make believe. It's not real. Real is what Regan did when he bombed Kadafi's palace, killing some of his children, and basically cowing him into submission.

Isreal is only doing what we did when Pershing went into Mexico after Pancho Villa. Yes, that was pre-Geneva and pre-Nurmemburg, but it is still policy. What would America have done if somebody had come into our country, killed a bunch of our soldiers and kidnapped two more?

On Hardball yesterday I saw the host of Democracy Now, one of the few truly liberal shows on television, insisting that we negotiate right now. But there is an old axiom that you don't negotiate with terrorists, and Hizbolah are terrorists, aren't they?

Or are they? It's an interesting question. They are fighting this war right now with conventional weapons. They are launching rockets into Isreal. They aren't in the suicide bomb business, at least not at the moment (they certainly have been in the past). This isn't a terrorist war. This is a conventional war. There are two reasons why you don't negotiate with terrorists. The first is becuase if you negotiate with terrorists you provide an incentive for further terrorism. Isreal's position on this has always been rock solid, and I believe it to be the correct one (after all, look waht we ourselves wrought by negotiating an arms for hostages deal with Iran back in Regan's day). The second reason is becuase it's really not possible to negotiate with terrorists becuase they have so little to lose and are so disorganized. There is often little command and control over terrorists, so that there are likely always to be some cells that refuse to cut a deal. Armies, real armies attached to nations, have an incentive to negotiate because in addition to fighting the war they have to keep the lights on and the trash pickups going. All a terrorist has to do is fight.

But is Hizbolah a terrorist organization or not? Certainly they are paramilitary: this is not the army of Lebanon, though it might be considered to be the army of Syria. But they have a big army, not a bunch of individual cells. They have tanks and rockets, not just mortars and strap on bombs. I'm not sure you can call them terrorists.

But it isn't Hizbolah Isreal needs to negotiate with anyway. It is Syria. Hizbolah doen't blow its nose without Syria's ok.

One thing I'm not sure of is the status of Lebanon in all of this. Isreal insists that they are at war with Hizbolah, not with Lebanon, and cast themselves as Lebanon's liberators much as we did with Iraq. But Isreal has invaded Lebanon and killed Lebanese civilians. What should be Lebanon's reaction to this? If I were the president of Lebanon, I think I'd have to declare war on Isreal.

Isreal was certainly attacked by Hizbolah preciptating this war. Isreal cannot be said to have commited either a crime against peace nor a crime against humanity.

Of course I know people (uncle Phil for one) who are involved in a campaign to have all ariel bombing declared a war crime.

If Isreal realy wants peace in the middle east then they have to abide by the UN resolutions that call for them to return to their pre-1968 borders, giving up not only the West banka nd the Gaza strip but also the Golan Heights. They don't get to pick and choose which UN Resolutions are going to be enforced and which are not.

I think Isreal was justified in responding to Hizbolah's attack but now I think they've gone too far, as they were bound to do. Let's face it: all war is a crime against humanity.

Mel Gibson: A Jew's Best Friend

Mel Gibson is the best friend Jews have--or at least Isreal. World wide outrage over the killing of 54 innocent civilians in an Isreali attack has reached a boiling point. Every nation in the world is calling for a cease fire but us. The US is alone and isolated in its aproach to the Lebanese conflict. Presure is mounting, bridges are being burned, and we are in danger of losing what few allies we still have by sticking by Iseal. And the news is completely dominated by Mel Gibson and his drunken tirade. We're America after all. We love nothing like we love celebrity scandal. We know what's important in this world.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wikiality, Part II

Apparently an entry on wikiality was posted last night on the Wikipedia site for the Colbert Report (which Stephen had shown on his show). I'm pretty sure it was the entry Stephen had posted *while shooting the segment*. It was taken down sometime this morning. As I had predicted, traffic on the site after the broadcast came close to crashing it. On the discussion page there was a lively debate about whether or not wikiality was worthy of a entry, since it had only been introduced literally yesterday. Only a few of the people posting responded to the bigger issue: that wikiality is a critique of Wikipedia as a whole, and that Wikipedia cannot now be seen as a passive, objective purveyor or knowledge in this case because, like a newspaper at the center of a plagiarism scandal, it is now part of the story. Can Wikipedia present an objective entry on wikiality? In fact, there's no such thing as an objective entry in Wikipedia. Can they ignore it? Ignoring it would look like criticism; leaving it would look self-agrandizing. They are in a damned if they do/damned if they don't scenario. But more importantly, they are now faced with a serious critique of their own model. It is delightfully postmodern (as is Wikipedia itself).

Think about this for a second. Wikipedia is a democratic encylcopedia in which anyone can edit an entry. They are often beset by spin doctors and vandals posting erroneous info to their site. But they can also end up printing erroneous ino simply because enough people believe it to be correct that they keep posting it. Wikiality is a word used to describe this phenomenon--not only on Wikipedia but in our spin doctored world in general. And entry was created for wikiality on Wikipedia. At once it is self-reflexive. It challenges the truthfulness (but not the truthiness, obviously) of Wikipedia itself while becoming part of the Wikipedia. That it's down now really shows how problematic a term it is.

I am so loving this!

Tucker's New Doo

Well, Tucker Carlson is back in the studio and the conservative diatribes are back as well. Still, the bow tie hasn't made a return yet. The hair is still unkempt and he was wearing an open collar shirt. I think he's serious about this make-over, and it's a good thing, too.


Last night on The Cobert Report, Stephen Colbert's word for the night was "wikiality." That's a view of reality based on the internet encyclopedia "Wikipedia," which can be changed by readers--if enough readers agree that something is true it is published in the encyclopedia. It is supposed to democratize knowledge, but it runs afoul of an old axiom, that if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it and eventually it will become the accepted "truth."

Case in point: AP ran a story this morning about the immanent opening of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, a natural history museum filled with dioramas in which dinosaurs and people walk side by side. Why do people believe this completely un-scientific crap? Because enough Christian loonies out there keep insisting that it's true. It's kind of like Weapons of Mass Destruction and Sadaam's link to Al Queda.

Well, I've always said faith trumps reason. So, I've discovered, did Thomas Aquinas, who said that faith was superior to reason because, while reason is required to comprehend the material world, faith is required to comprehend God. But these loonies are now officially a threat to America, to our economy and to our national security. It's not just that intelligent people all over the world will continue to laugh at us. Who cares? It's that these continued attacks on science could eventually destroy our nation, by further eroding our education system and our national intelligence. This country and this nation hates science and scientists. We attack climatologists as "doomsayers" and paleontologists and physicists as "unbelievers" and then we wonder why China and India are catching up to us and passing us as producers of technology. We latch on to whatever pseudo-science makes us feel good or doesn't challenge our faith and now Russia is arguably leading the building of the international space station. We declare evolution to be "just a theory" and stand by while most of the important AIDS research is being done in France (AIDS is just God's scourge anyway).

conservatives are destroying America.

Conservatives like to say that liberals are "unrealistic" and then turn around and insist that Adam and Eve rode vegi-saurs in the Garden of Eden. It's ridiculous. And it's got to stop.