Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gotta Love Steven Pinker

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

The US and/vs. the Kurds

A nice summary of the information last 30 years.
The Beginning:
Foreign Policy In Focus | The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History
At the 1919 Versailles Conference, in which the victorious allies of World War I were carving up the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, President Woodrow Wilson unsuccessfully pushed for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan. Since that time, however, U.S. policy toward the Kurds has been far less supportive and often cynically opportunistic.

For example, in the mid-1970s, in conjunction with the dictatorial Shah of Iran, the United States goaded Iraqi Kurds into launching an armed uprising against the then left-leaning Iraqi government with the promise of continued military support. However, the United States abandoned them precipitously as part of an agreement with the Baghdad regime for a territorial compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

The Middle:
Foreign Policy In Focus | The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History
The March 1988 Iraqi attacks on the Kurdish town of Halabja--where Iraq government forces massacred upwards to 5,000 civilians by gassing them with chemical weapons--was downplayed by the Reagan administration, even to the point of leaking phony intelligence claiming that Iran, then the preferred American enemy, was actually responsible. The Halabja tragedy was not an isolated incident, as U.S. officials were well aware at the time. UN reports in 1986 and 1987 documented Iraq's use of chemical weapons, which were confirmed both by investigations from the CIA and from U.S. embassy staff who visited Iraqi Kurdish refugees in Turkey. However, not only was the United States not particularly concerned about the ongoing repression and the use of chemical weapons, the United States actually was supporting the Iraqi government's procurement efforts of materials necessary for the development of such an arsenal

And Now:
Foreign Policy In Focus | The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History
In terms of regional security, the most dangerous policy of the U.S.-backed Kurdish Regional Government has been its decision to allow its territory to become a base for separatist guerrillas to launch attacks against neighboring countries.

Iraqi Kurdistan has become the base of an Iranian Kurdish group known as PEJAK, which has launched frequent cross-border raids into Iran, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Iranians. Unlike the more conciliatory line taken by the traditional Iranian Kurdish opposition groups, PEJAK has been inspired by the quasi-independent status provided their brethren in Iraq to take a much harder line toward the Teheran government. There have been numerous reports that the U.S. government has provided equipment, training, and targeting information for PEJAK guerrillas. In retaliation, Iran has shelled and launched small-scale incursions into Iraqi territory against suspected guerrillas, actions strongly condemned by the United States.

What can be done?
Foreign Policy In Focus | The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History
On the Turkish side of the conflict, the United States should pressure the Turks--save for the right of hot pursuit--to honor Iraqi sovereignty and cease their attacks against suspected PKK targets inside Iraqi territory. Following the October 21 cross-border raid by PKK guerrillas, resulting in the deaths of 12 Turkish soldiers and the kidnapping of eight others, the United States condemned the attack but also called on Turkey to show restraint. However, given the strong bipartisan support given to Israel for its massive military onslaught against Lebanon following a cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of two others, Turkey may have little reason to take Washington's pleas seriously. Any pressure on the Turkish government, which is dependent on the United States for much of its arms imports and foreign military training, to refrain from attacking neighboring countries must therefore be part of a broader critical re-evaluation of U.S. support for comparable actions by Israel and other allies.

The United States should also pressure Turkey to more carefully calibrate its counter-insurgency operations inside their country (and anywhere else) so to minimize civilian casualties. Indeed, such "collateral damage" has proven to be one of greatest recruitment tools for insurgencies. The United States should also encourage the Turkish government to offer amnesty to Kurdish nationalists willing to put down their arms, more fully recognize Kurdish civil and cultural rights, and allow the country's Kurdish minority to advance their concerns nonviolently without fear of repression. Given the widespread civilian casualties resulting from U.S. counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and U.S. rejections of amnesty and other political compromises with Iraqi insurgents, the Turks may again have reason to reject such advice. As a result, these needed efforts to alter Turkish policies must be concomitant with a critical re-evaluation of U.S. counter-insurgency policy in Iraq and elsewhere.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If there are allegations like this, stop transferring prisoners to the Afghans...

Jesus, people. You're making all Canadians look bad. Knock this shit off, fucktards!

JURIST - Paper Chase: Canada denies new claims that detainees transferred to Afghans were tortured
The Canadian government Monday rejected fresh allegations that members of the Taliban captured by Canadian troops in Afghanistan were tortured by Afghan investigators after being transferred from Canadian custody.

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Looks like the LIHOP/MIHOP crowds are going to get a conspiracy-gasm out of this one...

I mean seriously: A Saudi leader saying anyone else isn't doing enough to combat terrorism? How the fuck does that happen?

Saudi King says Britain failing to tackle terrorism | Top News |
In an interview with the BBC before a state visit to Britain, King Abdullah accused London of failing to do enough to combat international terrorism.

"We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy."

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Largest English School in Japan files for Bankruptcy Protection

Links basically without comment.

Scandal-ridden English language schools close doors | | Guardian Unlimited Business
Nova seeks court protection from creditors | The Japan Times Online
Nova was founded in 1981 as Nova Planning Ltd. According to METI, Nova told prospective students they could book language lessons any time they want and at any school nationwide. However, many clients complained that they were not able to reserve lessons during busy periods.

Nova students give poor grades to management | The Japan Times Online
Nova files for court protection / President fired; firm seeking rehabilitation : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
Four NOVA executives quit, including founding board member - Mainichi Daily News
Nova founder Sahashi took dictatorial approach : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
Nova students, teachers up in arms : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
Nova files for court protection / President fired; firm seeking rehabilitation : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
Teachers trapped as English school, Nova, goes bust - Times Online
Western teachers in Japan face redundancy as Nova language schools close - Times Online
BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | UK embassy to help Japan teachers
Slashdot | Nova Scotia to Build Space Tourist Launchpad
Ottawa considers $45-million boost for Cape Breton space project
Wait. Those last two are the wrong Nova. Never mind.

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Didn't Laurier say this sort of thing a century back?

We'll be the world's wheat basket, oil tank and water cooler in the next 50 years if global warming and the boys keep up the way they're going.

Canada will become one of the most powerful nations: Tony Blair
Canada is poised to become an economic and political powerhouse in the world, former British prime minister Tony Blair said Friday.

In a speech to an oil and gas industry crowd in Calgary, Blair forecast that Canada's energy reserves and, what he called its "modern spirit," make for a bright future.

Umm, Mr Blair, is there any way you could tie this to the GWOT?

Canada will become one of the most powerful nations: Tony Blair
He told members of the audience, who paid nearly $400 each to attend the event, that being tough-minded with Afghanistan's insurgency will "send a message to [the] terrorist" in the war-torn country.

The long-time Labour prime minister also paid tribute to Canadian forces in Afghanistan, saying they are doing a "marvellous job."

Thanks. I'd hate to have a day that didn't come up.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Canada and Human Rights. Howzit goin', eh?

Good news. Maher Arar got an apology from the US. Actually, 2 apologies. From Congressmen. Not the country. Okay, so he got 2 apologies from members of the House of Congress; apologies that were barely better than they would be had they come from private citizens.
JURIST - Paper Chase: US lawmakers apologize to rendition victim Arar
US lawmakers apologized Thursday to Maher Arar [advocacy website; CBC timeline], a Canadian engineer who was detained in the US in 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Ottawa after a holiday and later deported to Syria, where he was tortured. Appearing by video before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, Arar accepted apologies from Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass) [press release; opening statement, recorded video] and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif) [official website], and reiterated his hope that he would one day receive an official apology from the US government.

So what's Condi Rice got to say?
JURIST - Paper Chase: Rice admits shortcomings in US Arar rendition, but offers no apology
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified [recorded video] Wednesday in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee [official website] that the rendition [JURIST news archive] of Canadian citizen Maher Arar [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] was not "handled as it should have been," but stopped short of apologizing to the 37 year-old Syrian-born engineer. Arar was detained in the US in 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Ottawa after a holiday and later deported to Syria, where he was tortured. Rice added that the US government has told the Canadian government that it will "try to do better in the future." This is the first time that the US government has admitted any mistakes in its handling of Arar's case.

Shorter Condi Rice: We made mistakes and will try to try to better in the future. But still, fuck you.

On the upside, all this shower of shits about one of ours being shipped off for torture has made Canada more careful about the treatment of others.
JURIST - Paper Chase: Canada government stalling Afghan detainee torture case: Amnesty
The Canadian government is trying to derail a lawsuit over whether the Canadian Army [official website] in Afghanistan is transferring custody of detainees to Afghan forces to face torture by bogging it down with a flurry of technical arguments, Amnesty International Canada [advocacy website] said Thursday.

JURIST - Paper Chase: UN rights chief chides Canada on weakened rights advocacy
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] Monday chided the Canadian government for not doing enough to maintain Canada's reputation in the global community as an advocate for human rights [JURIST news archive].

JURIST - Paper Chase: Canada government introduces new security certificates bill after high court debacle
The Canadian government Monday introduced a new security certificates bill [press release] in the House of Commons [official website] in response to a February Supreme Court decision [text] that gave it one year to re-write existing law or have that voided as unconstitutional. Security certificates [PSC backgrounder] allow the Canadian government to detain and deport foreign terrorist suspects in private hearings without the presence of suspects or their lawyers

JURIST - Paper Chase: Canada bill would reinstate controversial anti-terror measures
The Canadian government introduced a bill [S-3 text] Tuesday that would revive two controversial anti-terrorism provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act [materials] that expired earlier this year. The bill, brought forward in the Senate, would force anyone with relevant information on terrorist actions to go before a judge and would allow police to detain any person thought to be planning an attack. Several safeguards have been added to the provisions, including the requirement that police demonstrate to a judge that they have exhausted all other means before asking for an investigative hearing.

Oh. Never mind.

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Oh, yeah. Canada needs one of these.

Terrorist watchlists are such a good fracking idea. If it's stuck at smaller than a hockey team, then I'm okay with it. And not one person more.
US terrorist watchlist "galloping toward the million mark" - Boing Boing

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Calgary Herald, voice of reason. Wait, Calgary?

If I remember correctly, (trans: I can't be arsed looking up) the first post I put up here was about the Creationism/Evolution debate. At the time, it was largely the province of whack-a-doodle yanks with their Bibles over their eyes blocking out nasty images. I didn't use the word fuck as I thought it would lower the tone of the discourse. Thankfully I got over that.
Not long after there was the problem and mild controversy surrounding Brian Alters, who was denied a social sciences grant because his application was based on an unproven premise, evolution. Evidently creationism was gaining a little traction.
Then there was the John Tory incident in Ontario. And by incident I mean 'clusterfuck.' John Tory? What, did he come out of central casting or something?
So when I saw this editorial in the Calgary Herald I was very surprised:

Schools should put faith in science
In recent years, creationists have become more aggressive in their attempts to undermine science education. The movement, originating in the U.S., has gained political support in Great Britain and Canada. The Alberta government has been quietly increasing funding to faith schools -- to 100 per cent in the case of "alternative" programs -- and allowing creationism to be taught alongside the Alberta curriculum. Currently, this movement is most visible in the Ontario election campaign where Conservative Leader John Tory has promised a free vote on funding for all faith schools, pointing to Alberta as an example.

Now the Cretinists may love the theory/pulled-out-of-my-ass-guess confusion sprinkled with a bit of no-supporting-evidence but the Herald is having none of that.

Schools should put faith in science
A theory is not the bottom rung on the ladder of truth that aspires one day to attain a higher rung called fact.

Humans evolved over millions of years from hominids in Africa and share a common ancestor with the chimpanzee. That's a fact. Whales evolved from land-dwelling carnivores, another fact. The facts tell us "what" happened, whereas the theory of evolution interprets the "how" -- the mechanisms by which evolution works.

When Tory states "there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs," he refers, of course, to biblical creationism or its latest disguise, intelligent design. His use of the word "theory" ducks under the scientific meaning, yet is used to imply creationism is just as valid as evolution.

This is a common ploy by creationists and is unacceptable for a political leader in a secular society that depends on science and technology.

[Emphasis mine]
It's nice to see someone standing up and being 'politically incorrect' in Canada and telling the cretinists to STFD, STFU, and GTFBTW.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

What's the big fuckin' deal, bitch? It doesn't hurt anyone. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckitty fuckin' fuck.

I have loved Stephen Pinker's books since an acquaintance/co-worker turned me on to The Language Instinct many years ago.
His latest appearances on the web seem to centre around one of my favourite topics, swearing.
Oh, and I'm back from Singapore. That should be a separate post however.
TNR Online | What the F***? (1 of 3) (print)
The FCC's decision raises another mystery about swearing: the bizarre number of different ways in which we swear. There is cathartic swearing, as when we slice our thumb along with the bagel. There are imprecations, as when we offer advice to someone who has cut us off in traffic. There are vulgar terms for everyday things and activities, as when Bess Truman was asked to get the president to say fertilizer instead of manure and she replied, "You have no idea how long it took me to get him to say manure." There are figures of speech that put obscene words to other uses, such as the barnyard epithet for insincerity, the army acronym snafu, and the gynecological-flagellative term for uxorial dominance. And then there are the adjective-like expletives that salt the speech and split the words of soldiers, teenagers, and Irish rock-stars. But perhaps the greatest mystery is why politicians, editors, and much of the public care so much. Clearly, the fear and loathing are not triggered by the concepts themselves, because the organs and activities they name have hundreds of polite synonyms. Nor are they triggered by the words' sounds, since many of them have respectable homonyms in names for animals, actions, and even people. Many people feel that profanity is self-evidently corrupting, especially to the young. This claim is made despite the fact that everyone is familiar with the words, including most children, and that no one has ever spelled out how the mere hearing of a word could corrupt one's morals.

Ahem! Fuckin' A, Bubba.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

If you've ever wondered about the Speed of Bureaucracy you may have your anwser...

It does take a while for certain organizations to get around to certain things. I mean, take a look at the Japanese and how long it takes to get around to apologizing for comfort women or for Nanking. And Galileo -- that took more than 6-8 weeks for delivery. Not to mention blood libel. (Yeah, Jews needing Christian blood for their passover meals? Heh, didn't really mean that. Sorry. My bad.)
And now, waiting since 1314 for their forgiveness and exoneration, I give you - the Knights Templar. (From another perspective, when George W. Bush says that history will judge him correct, he's really leaving the field open, isn't he?)

Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar - Telegraph
So, what's up with this then? Well, turns out the Vatican is ready to say the Knights Templar weren't heretics. Lost the paperwork as it were.
A new book, Processus contra Templarios, will be published by the
Vatican's Secret Archive on Oct 25, and promises to restore the
reputation of the Templars, whose leaders were burned as heretics when
the order was dissolved in 1314.

The new book is based on a scrap of parchment
discovered in the Vatican's secret archives in 2001 by Professor
Barbara Frale. The long-lost document is a record of the trial of the
Templars before Pope Clement, and ends with a papal absolution from all

Prof Frale said: "I could not believe it when I found it. The paper was put in the wrong archive in the 17th century."

Interesting. I've been interested in the Crusades for a long time, and have read a bit on the various fighting monk orders of the time. The Templars were never as insidious as portrayed in pop culture.
Of course, in other revelations: The Da Vinci Code is fiction. Also, swimming can make you wet.
Anyway, I'm off to Singapore until the weekend. Back at you in a few days. Gotta pack.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mission Accomplished! Again! But a Different Mission! But It's Accomplished!

Any article that starts off with this headline:
BBC NEWS | Americas | US claims success in war on drugs
US claims success in war on drugs
John Walters - 1/3/2005
Mr Walters credits Mexican efforts for part of the success
The top US drugs official has said anti-drug efforts are having the best results of the past 20 years.
John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said cocaine shortages had led to a jump in prices in 37 American cities.
is just going to get better and better.
Keep in mind that if there are price jumps in 37 cities, that means they only looked at 37, or the price stayed the same or dropped in every other city they looked at.
The drugs tsar credited Mexican President Felipe Calderon for some of the success.
He said US investigators had been working closely with Mexican authorities in their fight against the drug cartels.

Everyone's been saying: man, Mexico is free from drug violence these days.
Since Mr Calderon took office in December he has sent 25,000 soldiers and police to Mexican provinces plagued by drug violence and it seems to be working, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico City.
Several high-profile Mexican traffickers have been extradited to the US in recent months.

Ah, the other surge.
Now I wonder if there's a challenge left for the DEA and it's types.
The real challenge, he said, would be maintaining the results over the long term.

Surge on, surge off.
For a counter opinion, I give you this.

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More Blackwater stuff

Global guerrillas
Global Guerrillas: JOURNAL: Is Blackwater Evil?
Here's another example of dysfunction in our societal discussion about the future of security: rather than an informed/constructive debate on the future of private military contractors in warfare (a big topic that WILL NOT go away), we end up demonizing Blackwater with hyper-ventilation from Scahill, Singer (Salon) and the New York Times.
Were we expecting something different?
No, the real issues lie much deeper than this. It has to do with the underlying shift from "defense" to "security."

There's always good analysis at Global Guerillas. Do check out the site from time to time.

Blackwater head defends firm before Congress
Blackwater a scapegoat for bigger problems: Prince
On Tuesday, Prince vigorously defended his employees, describing his guards as courageous individuals who face the same threats and high-stress environment as U.S. military personnel.
He noted that 30 of his employees have been killed, but no Americans have died, while under the company's watch.

I'm not sure their a scapegoat, but they sure as hell are a lightning rod.

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And now for the best news in weeks, maybe months...

The Beeb has announced that the fantastically charming and funny duo Wallace and Gromit will be returning to TV.
If you haven't seen Curse of the Were-rabbit you missed the best lit and funniest movie of the year. Their 3 previous shorts were fantastic, absolutely fantastic.
This, this has made my day.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Wallace and Gromit return to TV
Wallace and Gromit are to return in a half-hour television adventure - the first since 1995's A Close Shave.

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Cause Boston can't monopolize over reaction to nothing

You know, after the lite-brite thing, I figured what my father always called 'good old yankee overkill' would more or less stay local and Fark would need a Boston tag.
But after the years of bomb threats and other Xian terrorism that London had to put up with would make them more or less immune to these sorts of over-reactions. Or, at a minimum, the number of people who go to Indian restaurants, of which there is more than one, would know what chilli peppers smell like.
Thai food sparks terror alert in London - Boing Boing

Somewhere some right-wingnut is going to come along and say something of such blithering stupidity that I will find myself pulling out a thesaurus to find a new word for it, such as:
"Why didn't those people come forward and tell people where the smell was coming from? Were they hiding something after all?"
Scenario time: You're at home and cooking a dish you've been around your whole life, let's say Irish stew. Suddenly the police come by and tell you there's a potential chemical attack in the neighbourhood and you have to get your ass out of the cordon immediately. Is your first thought going to be, 'Gee, I wonder if it's actually my stew they're thinking of?' Or do you listen to the police and assume that your fellows know the difference between cooking and terrorism.
As someone from the restaurant said:
BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Burning chilli sparks terror fear
Supranee Yodmuang, the restaurant supervisor, was above the restaurant when she received a phone call from her boss. "It was about 4pm when I saw the police who were closing off the roads but I didn't know why. "My boss rang me and said I had to get out of the building because of a chemical attack." She added: "Because we're Thai, we're used to the smell of chillies."

Now, memo to the inhabitants of London, Toronto, NYC, Boston, especially Boston, etc.
Not everything that is slightly different is a terrorist attack. Brown people cooking is just lunch. Return to your daily life and put down the 999 call.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

And now a collection of Blackwater Links

JURIST - Paper Chase: Blackwater Iraq killings highlight lack of legal recourse against US contractors: NYT
Dispatches from the Culture Wars: The Blackwater Scandal
Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Think This Conversation Ever Took Place?
Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Blackwater Hearings Today
Blackwater founder defends role in Iraq - Los Angeles Times
Think Progress » FBI sending investigators to Iraq to probe Blackwater.
JURIST - Paper Chase: Blackwater CEO insists employees never intentionally killed Iraqi civilians
And for an interesting opinion on an unspoken reality surrounding the company:

Global Guerrillas: JOURNAL: An Inconvenient Truth about Private Military Companies
An inconvenient truth missing in the debate over Blackwater (which is currently in trouble with the Iraqi government over a shooting incident), is that the US military is completely dependent on private military companies (PMCs). This dependency can't be wished away or reversed. If anything, given the trend lines, PMCs will increasingly replace conventional military forces well into the future. The reasons are simple.

Your regularly scheduled sarcasm and high-handed treatments of whack-a-doodles will continue tomorrow.

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Thought Experiment Time

Gedanken. Hell, it brought us the Theory of Relativity.
As a little gedanken though experimenty thingie, I'd like you to compare two sites.
The first is an introduction to the 70th Skeptic's Circle. When you read this page understand that it's tongue in cheek, but read it as if it were serious. This will be important.

Conspiracy Factory: 70th Skeptics' Circle
Imagine, if you will, a large boardroom. It is dimly lit. There is a large table in the middle of the room, and high-backed wooden chairs placed at several positions around the table. A small glass of unfluoridated water is ready at each chair around the table.

Now, please read the following post at this site:

The Brave New World Order: King Solomon's Freemasonic Temple Of Doom?
Can you tell the difference? Try reading the Freemasonic one in a sarcastic voice. How about now?
Really, there ought to be a law.

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Do read this essay...

Go. Read it.
Stop talking about economics or the wisdom of crowds until you do. Period.

Reason Magazine - The 4 Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters
Almost all the “respectable” economic theories of politics begin by assuming that the typical citizen understands economics and votes accordingly—at least on average. By a “miracle of aggregation,” random errors are supposed to balance themselves out. But this works only if voters’ errors are random, not systematic.

The article is loosely taken from the book The Myth of the Rational Voter.

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Please support the cause. For the children. Of 9/11.

This seems a worthy cause.

Crooks and Liars » What Every Good Democrat Should Have On Their Christmas List
Help build the impeachment momentum by wearing and encouraging others to wear this symbol of commitment to restoring our Constitution. Good quality silicone, comfortable and eye-catching. As low as 75¢ each. Fund-raise by selling for $1. or $2. each. They sell like hotcakes. In a test sale at a recent rally a team of two sold 600 in just three hours.

Available here:

Buy an Impeach Bush and Cheney Bracelet |

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hindu Literalism in the Media

What's new in religion? Any wacky aeronautical goat sacrifices out there? No? How 'bout this article from the Beeb?
The Indian government has withdrawn a controversial report submitted in court earlier this week which questioned the existence of the Hindu god Ram.
Oh, Christ. No, wait, let me rephrase that. Oh...Haruman?
The report was presented to the Supreme Court on Wednesday in connection with a case against a proposed shipping canal project between India and Sri Lanka.
Hindu hardliners say the project will destroy what they say is a bridge built by Ram and his army of monkeys.
Scientists and archaeologists say the Ram Setu (Lord Ram's bridge) - or Adam's Bridge as it is sometimes called - is a natural formation of sand and stones.
That's right, gentle reader,
In their report submitted to the court, the government and the Archaeological Survey of India questioned the belief, saying it was solely based on the Hindu mythological epic Ramayana.
They said there was no scientific evidence to prove that the events described in Ramayana ever took place or that the characters depicted in the epic were real.
Is there any kind of empty assertion that can be made that would allow a partisan political group make hay with this, and maybe even stir up some divisiveness?
Hindu activists say the bridge was built by Lord Ram's monkey army to travel to Sri Lanka and has religious significance.
In the last two days, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a scathing attack on the government for questioning the "faith of the million".
So what does the government do: about face! Some work is continuing but not without touching Ram's bridge.
Once complete, the canal will reduce the travel time for ships by hundreds of miles and is expected to boost the economic and industrial development of the region.
By the way, there's no hope for anyone in the Asian sub-continent if any attempt at developmnet will lead to this kind of crap. Seriously, muzzle stupid fucks like the BJP if you want to have a chance.

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Leaving a brain shaped whole in the middle of the conversation

Back in the day, the US gubmint funded a defence program called Stargate. Not to disappoint Richard Dean Anderson fans, but it's not that Stargate. It's psychic warfare type stuff.
The Stargate program focussed on remote viewing and a few other bits and bobs all united by the common theme that it doesn't fucking work.
Relevance? Why thanks for asking, ma'am. Guess which many headed hydra of bullshit refused to die?

DHS pondering Russian "mind control" "science" to fight terrorism - Boing Boing
The Department of Homeland Security is considering granting a terrorism detection contract to a crackpot Russian "mind control" outfit called the Psychotechnology Research Institute. PRI's technology shows "subliminal" pictures of terrorist attacks to travelers and "detect" terrorists based on how they respond. Wired has a great long feature about these kooks and the feds who love them.

Full Wired Article here.
These people are nuts. How it it that no one notices? The leap from Stargate to these loons is so small that it could be achieved by an one-legged 90 year old with a zimmer frame and arthritis.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

LIfe just writes itself

Have you been in Japan too long?
Do you do these things?

You've Been In Japan Too Long When...
You've Been In Japan Too Long When... notice you've forgotten how to tie shoelaces. rush onto an escalator, and just stand there. find yourself bowing while you talk on the phone. think US$17 isn't such a bad price for a new paperback. don't hesitate to put a $10 note into a vending machine.
Call 1-800-HELP-GAIJIN for your free pamphlet and a list of programs in your area?

Hat tip to Mari

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Well, that's unusual

Rush Limbaugh has been saying...well let's just call it shit...for years and the only person who ever called him on it was Al Franken. Does Limbaugh's fact checker even have a To Do list?
So when he says summit (yeah, British English. Next life announcement later when I admit it to myself.) dumb, the Democrats actually took him to task. Wow.

Crooks and Liars » If a blowhard smears the troops in a forest…
Democrats and their allies acted with unusual efficiency yesterday to condemn Rush Limbaugh, who smeared U.S. troops who support a withdrawal policy in Iraq, calling them “phony soldiers.” The next question is seeing which traditional media outlets picked up on the story.

Crooks and Liars » Limbaugh Outrage Amplified! Limbaugh’s response is to name Jack Murtha!
Crooks and Liars » Mark Udall to introduce resolution to condemn Rush with UPDATES
Crooks and Liars » New Vote Vets Ad: The Real Phony Is Rush Limbaugh
What we need now it the right to say something...[chirp, chirp, chirp]
I'll get back to you with updates on that soon enough.

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A little smackdown...

Sam Harris definitely took this one; Rick Warren is no David Warren, but he's a close second.
God Debate: Sam Harris vs. Rick Warren - Newsweek Beliefs -
If you don't have any patience, there's video.

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Can't help but love Blade Runner

1) It's a great movie, one of the best ever made.
2) Ridley Scott is from my wife's home town and the industrial landscapes at the beginning of the movie are based on the skyline there.

Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined
Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined

Bonus Additional Article:
Blade Runner: The Final Cut - Movies - New York Times

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RIP Ms Moneypenny Arts - Canada's Lois Maxwell, who played Moneypenny, dies
Canadian actress Lois Maxwell, who played the definitive Miss Moneypenny in 14 James Bond films, has died. She was 80. Maxwell died in hospital in Fremantle, Australia on Saturday.

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