Archive for August, 2006

i don’t know what she said…

August 28, 2006

…but that won’t stop me from objectifying and exotifyng her.

(my love of country music turns awry.)


wish i had said that #104

August 28, 2006

exclamation points are pretty much the rhetorical equivalent of a backwards baseball cap

rude pundit

tragedy, farce, hangover

August 28, 2006

some time ago, i linked to an article by father gregory v coyne (then director of the vatican observatory) arguing that intelligent design actually diminished God to being “too small and paltry”.  it was impressive, well thought out, and led me to reconsider my longstanding dislike of the catholic church.

so, of course, it turns out he’s been replaced.

and the current pope is looking into embracing creationism reborn, intelligent design.  perhaps the church would like to revisit that matter of the planets.  you see, pluto wasn’t the only one THEY wanted off the list…

wish i had said that #103

August 23, 2006

“If by ‘candy,’ you mean ‘ancient forbidden evil,’ then yes, I told you not to put it in your mouth.”

-scifi channel

he had to insult farmers now?

August 23, 2006

apparently, insulting firefighters wasn’t enough.  conrad burns had to go and call farmers lazy.  could he be more out of touch?

(the tester interview in newsweek, btw, is quality)

[update:  we need a futures market for who burns will pick on next.  little old ladies?  our troops?  babies?]

hollow people

August 22, 2006
  • what i’m looking for in a partner:  warmth, feeling, heart.  compassion.  the sort of person that lights up the world, and makes it a better place… and so on
  • qualities i seek, on this list:  none.

sure.  beauty, education, wealth are all powerful indicators of status.  as is socioeconomic class.  they’re all quite seductive, i suppose.  i have no doubt that to many, these make for a “high quality” partner.  and i’ll confess to my own indulgence in those pursuits.

maybe if i wanted a narcissistic and screwed up relationship that would creep me out and waste my time, sure.

but for a partner?


best of luck to those seeking ‘quality’ in ephemeral beauty and status.  philosophy (except the deranged kind) already figured out that those pursuits lead nowhere.  you don’t have to be a theist to think that the world needs more goodness, and less inhumanity.

[shakes sis is probably right.  most of what appears admirable on a first pass is actually something of a pretense.  she just seems so hollow, it is more tragic than anything.]
[i really need to learn not to stare at train wrecks]

i’m going to start allocating my rage

August 22, 2006

at some point this morning, i realized that my brain had, in fact, overloaded from reading pandagon, and my ‘outrage’ center had been put into safe mode.  why? 

maybe if i just stop reading, all the bad news will go away?  seems to be the president’s strategy…

sunday cartoon wrap-up

August 22, 2006

i wonder if it is appropriate to put these on my desktop.

poincare conjecture

August 22, 2006

the math community has been abuzz, since they are getting closer to understanding grigori perelman’s (potential) solution to the poincare conjecture.  for those just tuning in, the poincare conjecture is generally understood as:

Every simply connected closed (i.e. compact and without boundary) 3-manifold is homeomorphic to a 3-sphere.
[wikipedia – whose page on the conjecture is superb]

that isn’t quite fair, though.  perelman appears to have proved the more fundamental conjecture (thurston) that every 3 manifold can be reduced to a simple geometry (eight possible).  from this, the poincare conjecture is a direct consequence.

i’m not going to re-hash all that has been written, since this is well outside basically everything i know about math.  but the MSM’s coverage feels like a bit of a tease.  since it seems that getting to the deeper stuff is something of a mess, here are the relevant links:

keep in mind, kleiner & lott’s “notes on perelman’s papers” (arxiv) is 192 pages long.

wind, sun, montana version

August 22, 2006

the missoulian calls for racial profiling in airport screening.  the argument itself is pretty damning of the author.  in, short it argues that racial profiling is more effective than x-ray machines or ‘hostile intent’ screens.  why?  xrays miss stuff, and hostile intent is overbroad.  profiling a whole race apparently suffers from neither prblem.  you know, because no white person has ever tried to blow up a plane or anything.  and most muslims definitely hate america.  oh, oops.  (hear that sound?  it is reality crashing in.)

it isn’t nativism if you tap into panic, after all…

there really is no excuse for this hatred.  the missoulian owes a big appology to our state, for feeding fear, and defaming several distinct groups of people.  oh, about that…  what crazy tree did these people fall off of? 

“we are at war with people who are more homogenous than the general U.S. population”

i don’t even understand what that means.  did they hit shift+F7 for the thesaurus and find a smart-sounding word?  egypt, turkey, morocco, pakistan, iran, indeonesia… yeah.  i bet that there is absolutely no variation between those countries.  also.  all muslims.  totally alike.  that shite – sunni division causing all the mess in iraq?  the fact that saddam was a secular leader and al qaeda radical sunni?  apparently, the missoulian has declared it all to be irrelevant.

the article is, in fact, so crazy, that it runs past the actual important point

It will allow us to focus scarce time and resources screening the people who are members of the class that is the most likely threat. (emphasis mine)

so maybe – and i’m going out on a limb here – the solution is to increase the time and resources that go to airport security?  gasp!  a real solution!

the north wind and the sun

August 21, 2006

alternate titles here

say again?

if i had my way no arab would board a plane without undergoing a full luggage search and extensive searches of their persons… it causes only minor inconveniences to those involved while providing greater security to everyone else involved.  its a win win as far as i am concerned

and later on in our conversation…

it deprives them of nothing, and if they feel shame at being so treated i think that they should feel even more shame that there exists a rational basis for it

clearly, my friend is a racist jerk… but that isn’t the point. he also apparently no longer believes in the individual or the principles of our justice system… but that isn’t the point either. (both should be obvious.) my concern is that his being racist is threatening my life, and prolonging what should have been an easy war.

racial profiling makes america unsafe. in case that isn’t clear, let me start with the ideal.


i’ll be sitting on K street with a taser

August 18, 2006

washington lobbying firms are hiring well connected democrats in anticipation that the dems will win at least one house of congress this year.

[camera moves to ‘wrath of khan’ look-over, i drop to knees]


in anticipation of this, i suggest a democracy brigade be deployed to K street and barricade the lobbyists inside.  i mean, i’m happy about the weather signs.  and that my roommate will get that job he wants.  but can’t we quarantine k-street?  de-louse it?  throw the thing into the hellfires that forged it?

this kind of power corrupts.  corporate lobbyists will still pull for terrible bankruptcy laws.  they’ll still oppose a sensible healthcare policy (one that lets doctors be doctors, not file paperwork).  and don’t even think about campaign finance, or strict lobbying rules. 

when did i start agreeing with kevin drum?

August 18, 2006

‘security moms’ are trending toward the democrats, over issues like the iraq war, gasoline prices, and economic anxiety.  overall, the GOP advantage on terrorism has evaporated.  the democrats are percieved as too weak, the republicans too warlike.  but – only 2% of voters cited terrorism as their top issue.

since, according to the washington post, turning terrorism into an extended episode of fear factor is no longer working – what to do?  i tend to agree with kevin drum, the electorate is probably ready for a common-sense approach to fighting terrorism.  one that goes beyond “US angry, US smash!”  focusing on police action, targeted strikes to infrastructure, diplomacy, and intelligence gathering (checking cargo at ports, and so on…).  i’m going to try articulating this with friends/neighbors and see how it goes.

in 2004, the GOP’s noise machine turned kerry’s war record into a weakness by relentlessly attacking.  it is time the Dem’s took the GOP’s only remaining strength – terrorism – and turned it against them.

feminism fights jaberwocky, jaberwocky now cuddly

August 17, 2006

since the weekend, i’ve been having a series of interminable debates on sexism in america. among which, i keep being told:

no men truly want to be with feminists. all men really want is to be with a submissive little twit.

this, i think, is like comparing eating Krispy Kreme for the rest of your life, or having only complete and healthy meals, though entirely free of refined sugar. i can understand the attraction for a weekend, but in 20 years? i doubt i’d make it a month.

if that answer seems shallow, it is because a full explanation requires a jaberwocky, several thousand years of philosophy, and a pizza. more below.


the ten most harmful books

August 17, 2006

Human Events, a right-wing altar to ann coulter turned dating service with reports on on flowers growing in iraq, has published a list of the top 10 most harmful books of the 19th and 20th Centuries (HT:  doing justice).

  1. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
  2. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
  3. Mao Zedong, Quotations from Chairman Mao
  4. Alfred Kinsey, The Kinsey Report
  5. John Dewey, Democracy and Education
  6. Karl Marx, Das Kapital
  7. Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
  8. Auguste Comte, The Course of Positive Philosophy
  9. Friedrich Nietschze, Beyond Good and Evil
  10. John Maynard Keynes, General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Honorable mentions:

  • Theodore Adorno, Authoritarian Personality
  • John Stewart Mill, On Liberty
  • Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
  • Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization
  • Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa
  • Simone de Beauvoir, Second Sex
  • Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks
  • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
  • Sigmund Freud, Introduction to Psychoanalysis

just look at that!  on the top 10 most dangerous books of all time, On Liberty by John Stewart Mill, only gets an honorable mention!  not even top 10.  the shame of it all.  come on, i mean, doesn’t this deserve at least #7?

the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

right there.  we all have to be pro-choice, pro-feminist, support gay marriage, stop teaching creationism in schools, end the iraq war, play nice with our international neighbors, respect the first amendment, and otherwise behave like decent human beings.  what could be more dangerous than that?  the book is practically responsible for my whole view of the world.  come on – two entries from marx – thats just being lazy.

i’m actually offended, for mill.

(i have to agree with law and society – drop mao and hitler, and this is a decent reading list in critical thought)

no way i can top this…

August 16, 2006

abc news reports… 

Bush puts down his summer reading — including Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” and two books on Civil War President Abraham Lincoln — in favor of presidential briefing books.

lincoln I can see.  the republicans want to present that as the image of the party, he’s another embattled president fighting a difficult and unpopular war but is ultimately successful and vindicated by history.  so bush can identify.  we’re asked to identify the president with lincoln.

but the Stranger, after all, is about a man who shoots an arab for no reason whatsoever.  and feels no remorse.  please tell me he doesn’t identify with that.

A Fish Called Wanda:

Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it!

wish i had said that #102

August 15, 2006

“another full day of aimless mental loitering”   –phd

that wasn’t really supposed to describe my work life, was it?

why i’m rather picky

August 14, 2006

this weekend was fairly insightful. by late saturday night, i finally realized the source of my dating problems.

on friday, two girls and i meet up with some guys, lets call them torvald and HH. they’re both in their 20s, though neither is that cute (t suffers from early balding). since my roommate wants to sleep with one of them, my job for friday was to play the wingman. (keep in mind, the other girl and i had no idea who they were.)

by the end of the night, the torvald character had me in a virtually loony-tunes level of wrath. (i pictured taking out an oversized acme sledgehammer and shotputting him off the roof of the building). i’d never heard ‘pussy’ and ‘vagina’ used as an insult so many times. the attempted conversation about strippers went on well past the point where it was funny, and just started to make my skin crawl. but what set me over was the joke about sexually assaulting one of the girls we were with. at this point, wingman be damned, i mocked the guy into submission. he remained quiet for the rest of the night. (seeing a sexist deflate: priceless.) the roommate wholeheartedly (and a little drunkenly) agreed.

then, saturday. at the bar, i met a girl who thought many women used abortion as a form of contraception (as in, this was the source of most abortions [wrong]). not a feminist, because sexism is “pretty much over”. literally right as she said this, across the bar, two of the girls we were out with got offered $1,000 each for prostituting themselves. they run back, creeped out, and the anti-choicer doesn’t make the connection. (demeaning? huh?)

at that moment, i realized my problem. i refuse to associate with people who have the sexual politics of a viking raid.  i just don’t want to deal with non-feminists. i can’t stand women who expect me to act like torvald and HH. i don’t (i hope), i won’t, and while i won’t knock what gets people off… just… not with me, ok?


Godwin’s Law (of elections and Republicans)

August 14, 2006

Godwin’s Law (krauthammer variant): as the President’s poll numbers approach 0, the probability of a comparison between Democrats fighting terrorism and Nazi appeasers approaches 1.

Corollary Theorem: Description of policies / voting as “Disaster” or “Defeat from the Arms of Victory” may be substituted as a softer variant.

seriously. when democrats choose a candidate whose views represent the overwhelming majority of americans, why is it republicans feel the need to say we’ll lose? shouldn’t they keep their mouths shut and be happy? or, could it be, that they know the only thing that stands between them and pulling another over the american people is democrats standing up for what we believe in?

side note. internecine. i’m thinking that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. internecine to describe a peace group?!? … ugh.

in·ter·nec·ine adj
1. Of or relating to struggle within a nation, organization, or group.
2. Mutually destructive; ruinous or fatal to both sides.
3. Characterized by bloodshed or carnage.

not exactly my first choice.

oh, ps, krauthammer – as long as you’re predicting the future – where are those WMDs you mentioned were in iraq?

9-11, Derrida, and the West Wing

August 10, 2006

some 30% of americans cannot say “in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place”.

what is fascinating to me is that September 11th is intimately associated with time, though never year. from philosophy in a time of terror:

“Something” took place, we have the feeling of not having seen it coming, and certain consequences undeniably follow upon the “thing.” But this very thing, the place and meaning of this “event,” remains ineffable, like an intuition without concept, like a unicity with no generality on the horizon or with no horizon at all, out of range for a language that admits its powerlessness and so is reduced to pronouncing mechanically a date, repeating it endlessly, as a kind of ritual incantation, a conjuring poem, a journalistic litany or rhetorical refrain that admits to not knowing what it’s talking about. We do not in fact know what we are saying or naming in this way: September 11, le 11 septembre, September 11. The brevity of the appellation (September 11, 9/11) stems not only from an economic or rhetorical necessity. The telegram of this metonymy—a name, a number—points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize that we do not yet know how to qualify, that we do not know what we are talking about.

the event was unspeakable, literally. so it was associated with a time. so, if they’ve forgotten the year (and, as with most polls that show this, i often wonder at the question) – what impression did the event leave? is it eternally recurring? a floating point in the past?

even now, nearly 5 years later, we have no other word (beyond time). you’ll notice the great lengths the AP went to, without recourse to just “9/11”.